Poppy grins, “Your guy in the fabric store?”
“I couldn’t really get a look at him. That was what alerted me and made me suspicious. If you’re being followed by a pro, he will never let you see enough of him to recognize.”
“And yet, somehow he made an impression on you.”
“Poppy, the guy could walk in here right now, I wouldn’t recognize him,” my cheeks are getting hot, though. “I hardly saw him in the shadows around the store. He was so inconspicuous.”
“You have spidey sense!”
“I did get a ‘vibe’ or something from him.” My breath catches in my throat, remembering. “Men are not usually trying to avoid being noticed.”
She says, “Around you, I bet they’re not.” We share a laugh.
“He hung at the back of the room, making like he was interested in the fabrics. But he didn’t ask any questions. And he left without buying anything or talking to anyone. Just came in after I did, left again before me.”
Daddy taught me all those tricks and dodges. Made it a game when I was little and we were out together. He would pick someone at random and follow them without their ever knowing. I know he taught my brothers a whole lot more. I was much older before I realized, what he was teaching me was surveillance and countersurveillance, so I would know how to spot somebody tailing me, and what to do if I saw someone.
When he taught me pursuit and defensive driving, I have to admit, I thought that was the best a thrill ride could get.
Poppy’s eyes widen and her mouth makes an ‘O.’ “You don’t think he followed you back here?”
I smile. “I know for certain he didn’t. I know how not to be followed. And I know how to tell if you can’t shake a tail. If you have of your evasive driving techniques down, and there is still somebody following you, you’re always going to see them.”
“I’d love you to teach me some of that.”
“Have you tried high-speed driving?”
“No,” her eyes stretch wider, “I haven’t. It sounds great, though.”
I laugh. “It’s great if you like being scared out of your mind.”
She folds her lips between her teeth. “Mmm. Maybe I do.”
I tell her, “I love it.”
And we both laugh.
I’d love to teach her some, to give her something back. Poppy lives over the store and she’s taking a big risk, letting me have a room there.
“So,” I give her the serious look. “Do we need to get you together with this Nick guy?”
If I ever was to crack for a girl, it would be a girl like her. I know it would. That’s the kind of an idiot I am.
Focus, Finn, I tell myself. Get the job done and then get gone. Get back to Boston where you belong.
I’m sipping a sharpener in the Kingpin VIP bar. Thinking maybe I’ll take a seat in a poker game. Clara, the curvy server, buzzes attentively around me. Telling me all the great things Vegas has to offer. This bar in this casino in particular. She leans forward and I get a scent from her cleavage as she gives me the view.
I’m just not feeling it. I have no idea why. She’s lovely, she’s fun, and and she’s my type in every way. She’s plainly hot to trot. And I’m just not.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of a slow flowing wave of raven black hair. I would do a double take, but the unmistakable swagger in her walk has a part of me standing up already. And it’s a bigger part than usual. Getting out of my seat, I’m so stiff my balls get bunched up in my jeans.
I leave a nice tip for Clara, but I pay no attention to her puppy-dog eyes or the jut of her lower lip.
Leaning by the door to the VIP bar, I watch the sway of Mia’s ass as she struts her way to a high-stakes poker room. Well, all-right. It makes sense that if she wanted to play, while she’s trying to stay off her family’s radar, she would come to an O’Malley casino, not a Moretti joint.
So, Finn, I think to myself, game on.
Anything short of a shroud, a sheet, or a hood is pretty normal at a poker table. I have on a pair of Aviator shades and a baseball cap.
I give her enough time to get herself settled, play a couple of hands. Then I step in. Quiet.
She’s seated at the end of the table, farthest from the door. I get an irrational thrill, seeing that she took her shades off. They’re on the blue baize next to her very respectable stack of chips. At this moment, she’s taking the pot.
From a glance at the other players’ chip stacks, I’d say it’s not the first time.