“Why do you want to know?”
“I like to know things.”
He turned and walked off.
“I can find out, you know. On my own.”
He stopped and turned back as she drew closer.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“Maybe the same thing you want.”
“How would you know what I want?” “Perhaps you’re not as subtle as you think you are.”
Mecho stared right through her.
“The thing is, Mecho, I’m not sure we can both get what we want. Only one of us can.”
“Only one of us can,” he repeated.
He turned and walked off. This time she did not follow and he did not look back.
Mecho was thinking only one thing.
I will have to kill her after all.
“Jane, what the hell are you doing here?”
Griffin Mason stared back at Ryon as she stood on the front stoop of his cottage near Choctawhatchee Bay. He was dressed in a robe and his hair was disheveled.
“Actually, it’s a threesome,” said Puller as he appeared on the right of Ryon while Carson appeared on the left of the woman.
Mason paled as he looked at the pair.
Puller said, “We need to come in and talk.”
He glanced nervously over his shoulder. “This isn’t a good time.”
Before he could look back he was being propelled into the house by a hard shove from Puller. His robe flew open, revealing his naked body.
“I didn’t say it was a request,” said Puller as he stood over Mason, who had ended up on his back on the floor.
“Where are they?” Puller demanded.
“Where is who?” yelled Mason.
Puller grabbed him by the shoulders and jerked him to his feet. “The kids,” he barked. “Where are they?”
“Diego and Mateo.”
Carson glanced sharply at him.
Puller eyed her. “It occurred to me on the way over. This jerk-off can afford a thousand bucks to buy a kid.”
They all heard a noise from the next room. Puller raced to the door and threw it open.
Mason shouted, “Damn it, you can’t go in there.”
“The hell I can’t,” said Puller.
He froze in the doorway as the others joined him.
They all stared into the room.
Someone was on the bed.
It was not Diego. Or Mateo.
It was Isabel.
And she was naked.
She barely had time to lift the sheet to cover her body.
“Isabel?” said Puller.
She stared back at him, her face a ball of anger. “What the hell is going on, Grif?” she exclaimed, looking over at Mason.
Mason grabbed Puller by the arm and tried to jerk him around, but Puller was so big and strong that Mason merely ended up knocking himself off balance and falling to the floor.
He jumped back up and screamed, “I am going to sue your ass off.”
Puller turned to him. “What is she doing up here?”
“That is none of your damn business,” yelled an apoplectic Mason.
“It is my business,” said Puller. He looked at Isabel. “Are you here voluntarily?”
“Of course I am.”
“Now get your ass out of here,” yelled Mason. “And you better damn well lawyer up. I’m going to own your military pension and every other asset you have, including your aunt’s house.”
“What about the photos of the kids in your wallet?” asked Puller. “The black kid and the Asian?”
“How did you know about them?”
“Who are they?”
“They’re my kids,” exploded Mason.
“My ex and I adopted them years ago. They’re both grown now. But I carry their pictures in my wallet from when they were kids. Not that it’s any of your damn business.”
Carson said, “Isabel, how old are you?” “Sixteen,” she replied automatically.
“Isabel, the truth. It’s something we can find out easily, but it’ll be better coming from you.” Isabel hesitated and said, “I’m almost sixteen. In a year and a half.”
Puller looked at Mason in disgust. “You’re in bed with a fourteen-year-old?”
“She told me she was sixteen. Check out her rack. She looks eighteen.”
Puller said to Isabel, “How much is he paying you?”
Mason yelled, “I’m not paying her anything. This is not a prostitution thing.”
“Right. She’s just up here screwing an old fat guy because it’s so much cooler than doing the young bucks.”
“He just gives me things,” said Isabel.
“Like what?” asked Carson.
“Don’t say anything, Isabel,” demanded Mason. “They’re just trying to trick you. I’m calling my lawyer.”
“Stat rape is stat rape, Mason,” noted Puller. “Not much of a defense to that.”
Mason took a step back. “Look, we can work this out. It was just a misunderstanding.”
“It doesn’t matter. You’re going down either way, stat rape or not.”
“What?” said Mason, looking confused.
“We busted your scam.”
Puller looked at Ryon and Ryon looked at Mason.
Puller said, “I caught her with the stolen goods. She ratted you out. And now we know how an estates lawyer can afford an Aston Martin. So maybe you better lawyer the hell up.” Mason stared at Puller for a few seconds and then lunged at Ryon. “You stupid bitch!” His hands were around her neck and he was squeezing with all his strength.
Puller ripped him off her and threw Mason back against the wall.
Ryon slumped to the floor, gasping for breath and looking terrified.
Puller whipped Mason’s hands behind his back and secured them with plasticuffs.
“Okay, we also now have your ass for assault and attempted murder. Thanks for the favor.” “You dumb bitch!” screamed Mason again at the sobbing Ryon.
Carson said, “Yeah, we got it the first time.” Puller grabbed Mason by the neck. “And maybe you help your targets into the grave a little faster so you can cash in, Grif?”
Mason looked at him blankly. “What?”
“Cookie? Floating in a bathtub. You were there. You told Ryon to get over there and take his most valuable watches. Only way that works is if he’s dead.”
“I didn’t kill him.”
“Yeah, right. And what about my aunt? You make her do a header into the fountain? Hold her under?”
“I swear to God I didn’t.”