Also, I really don’t want to. I’m sure he’s not a great guy, given his line of work, but personally I’m having a blast.

The problem is, I can’t change my mind.

Antonio Castellanos made it very clear what would happen if I did, and if there’s one person I’d kill for, it’s my daughter.

Even if that someone is Mateo Morelli.

Easing off the bar stool, I decide I need to regroup. Pointing toward the bathroom, I say, “I’m just gonna…”

“Of course,” he murmurs.

As I go to grab my purse, he goes to hand it to me, and somehow afflicted with a case of butterfingers, he manages to drop it. My eyes go wide as it topples, the contents spilling out all over the floor. I immediately bend to gather them, but he hops off his bar stool to help me.

“I got it,” I say too quickly, my heart hammering in my chest as my eyes seek out the fake lipstick. Did it roll under the bar? Is it still in the purse? Fuck.

And then I see the lipstick… trapped beneath the toe of his expensive Italian loafer. My heart stops beating as I stare at it, but I try to keep cool, shoving the rest of the items back into my purse, then reaching for the lipstick. I glance up at him, a chill moving through my veins looking up at him like this. “Uh… my….”

Obviously he knows that, since he’s the one who stopped it, but he waits several seconds before lifting his foot so I can retrieve it. “Lipstick?”

I force a smile and nod, popping back up once I’ve retrieved it. “Yeah.”

“Lovely shade,” he remarks.

I frown a little, looking down at the orangey base. You can’t see the actual lipstick through the dark case, but it looks like a real lipstick, so it has a colored base to indicate the shade.

“Thanks,” I say, flashing him a smile. Lightly touching his shoulder to reassure myself more than him, I lean in and murmur, “I’ll be right back.”

He doesn’t touch my hand, only looks at it, then meets my gaze warmly. “I’ll be waiting.”

Breathing a little easier, I head for the bathroom. I put my purse down on the sink, bracing my weight on the counter and taking a breath.

I can’t do this.

No part of me wants to. Not just because I’m not a killer, but I like him. I’m having a great night with him. I wish… I wish this was a real date.

I recall Antonio Castellanos telling me he had a crew following me to clean up the mess, and I feel a cold sweat break out on my forehead. The mental image of the man on that barstool next to me, still and lifeless, being ‘cleaned up’ by any crew…

What if I told him?

He’s already caught me in the receptionist/bookkeeper lie, what if I just told him Antonio Castellanos sent me, but now that I’ve met him I know I can’t do it, and… and what? This isn’t even a first date, it’s a hook-up. Sure, he seems to like me, but there’s a gulf between liking a girl enough to have a one-night-stand with her, and liking her enough to look past the mess I’m in, let alone save me from it. Even if he believed me—me, this stranger he’s known for a couple of hours, the one who’s admitting to having lured him out with the intention of poisoning him—would he be able (let alone willing) to get to Lily before Castellanos? What would he do with me?

He may want to take me home tonight, but that doesn’t mean anything. This only means something to me because I’ve been married to an asshole for four years. This is probably every night for him, and every time with a different woman.

I can’t tell him, but I can’t poison him, and I don’t know what the hell to do.

I pull the lipstick out of my purse again, checking to make sure the stick didn’t come dislodged and start leaking out when it got dumped. There’s a real lipstick above the vial of powder, but I’m too afraid it’s contaminated to actually put it on my lips, so I grab my other lipstick and apply that instead.

Staring at myself in the mirror, I struggle with what I must do now.

I could ask him for the money to pay off Castellanos. I’d much rather owe Mateo Morelli a debt than the humorless old bastard who showed up on my stoop the night of Rodney’s wake, but… you can’t really ask the guy you’ve been on a date with for an hour for that kind of money without explaining why, and “I need to pay off your rival, so he won’t make me kill you” probably isn’t the best opener.

This is so shitty.

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