At the fifty, my breath started sticking in my throat.
The fourth, more twenties.
Then he came out with a gun clip and it clattered on the wood by the bills as he dropped it there.
My breathing stopped.
Another gun clip. Another roll of fifties. A box of ammo. Another roll of twenties.
Then a gun.
I sucked in air.
“Um, darling?” I called on the exhale. “I’m thinking we need a family meeting.”
Just his head turned, his body stayed bent over the bag and his light brown, almond-shaped, curly-lashed eyes hit mine. As usual, he did not speak.
I tipped my head to the unit. “What’s with the bank and the firepower?”
His eyes stayed on me. Then he straightened and turned to me.
I braced in order not to flee though I didn’t know why I didn’t attempt escape, probably because he’d proved his hands were fast and I didn’t want to find out if his legs were just as fast.
He still didn’t speak.
I carried on. “I mean, I’m no parole officer but it’s my understanding ex-cons aren’t allowed to be armed.”
He finally spoke. “You don’t have a record.”
I felt my head jerk at the same time I was certain my eyes bugged out.
Then I breathed, “What?”
“Hit trouble, the .38 is yours.”
At this juncture, I felt it was time to share.
I took two steps toward him and stopped.
“As I told you during our last and only conversation, Shift knows my boundaries. Any trouble we could,” I lifted up my hands and his beautiful eyes moved to them as I did air quotation marks and said, “‘hit’,” then I dropped my hands and his eyes came back to mine as I continued, “that would require a .38 and a half a dozen wads of cash is not within my acceptable boundaries.”
He stared at me.
Then he walked the four steps to me (that, for my legs, would probably be around seven) and then I found my purse being slid off my shoulder. I watched with no small amount of concern as he dug in it and was somewhat relieved when he pulled out my phone. He turned, tossed my bag across the room to the bed then turned back to me, flipped the phone open, used his thumb then put it to his ear.
I waited as it rang. So did he. Then he flipped it closed, opened it again then hit more buttons and put it to his ear.
I waited. So did he. Then he flipped it closed, opened it and repeat.
I waited. So did he.
Finally, he spoke. “It ain’t Lexie, scum, it’s Walker. What the f**k?”
I pressed my lips together because his face might still be blank but his voice was low and rumbling. Or lower and more rumbling than normal. I didn’t know him very well but I felt this indicated extreme unhappiness.
“Yeah, with her, yeah,” he growled into the phone confusingly (at least to me), paused then stated in a further growl, “Yeah, the bag ain’t light.” Another pause then, “She don’t know jack.” Another pause then, “Jesus Christ, you’re worthless.”
Then he flipped the phone shut and tossed it on the unit where it clattered. Then he looked at me.
“Family meeting,” he said.
I was suddenly not feeling like having a family meeting.
I had no choice.
“He told you dick, didn’t he?” he asked.
I nodded and wished he’d take a step back but still, I answered, “I’m sensing I didn’t get a full briefing.”
“What’d that piece of shit tell you?”
“That I was to pick you up and take you where you wanted to go.”
I thought about it. Then I amended, “Well, actually, his words were that I was to pick you up at noon, call him when you were out and then take further directions from you.”
And I had assumed by directions he meant directions to wherever Ty Walker called home or wanted to make his home. But I was thinking I assumed wrong.
“That’s it?” he repeated.
Yep, I was wrong.
“That’s it,” I replied.
He pulled in breath through his nose. Then he crossed his arms on his chest and his eyes locked with mine.
Then he told me what I’d already figured out. “He didn’t give you a full briefing.”
“Great,” I muttered.
“He owes me,” Walker stated, held my eyes but tipped his head to the desk to indicate what was on it. “Big,” he finished.
He continued to hold my eyes and then he jerked his chin out at me and said low and quiet, “Big.”
“What?” I whispered as I took a step back.
“Don’t move,” he ordered and I stopped because his order was firm and serious and I didn’t want to test how firm and serious he was. “He didn’t make it worth your while, I’ll deal with him. So I’ll make it worth your while.”
“What…” my voice sounded choked so I swallowed then started again, “Make what worth my while?”
“You and me are getting married.”
My head jerked again even as the rest of my body froze.
Then I said shrilly, “What?”
“I need a wife, you’re her.”
Oh shit. Shit. Shit. Fucking shit!
“Um…” I started, my heart hammering, the one room and marital status of check in explained, my need to flee overpowering, my sense of self-preservation keeping me rooted to the spot but I got no further, he started talking.
“He didn’t take care of you, I will. You need out from under him, I’ll make that happen. You marry me; I pay you fifty thousand dollars. At the end, I deal with the divorce. Once it’s done, you’re clear. I’ll see to it we’re untied, all you’ll have to do is sign the papers, you’ll never see me again and I’ll also see to it that wherever you decide to go, Shift doesn’t follow.”
“The end of what?” I asked.
“That’s need to know and when you need to know I’ll tell you what you need to know.”
In other words, I’d likely never know all of it just what I needed to know.
“The gun… the money?” I asked.
“I just got let outta prison. I wasn’t in there while the Pope considered my sainthood. I got enemies.”
“Oh God,” I whispered.
“You’re covered,” he told me.
I’d heard that before and now the person who promised me that was dead and the person he promised to cover me from was the reason I was standing right where I was.