Breaking Bones(9)

By: Amanda Washington

Carlo glanced at his watch before taking his seat. “I have to make a phone call. You know the way out.” He gestured toward the door.

Suspecting that my lack of enthusiasm at his offer had upset him, I left. Constanza caught up to me on my way out the door, filling my hands with foil-wrapped fresh tamales. They smelled great, and I thanked her, even though I no longer had an appetite. The meeting with Carlo had made me realize how screwed I was. How screwed we all were. Angel’s father had taken out the Pelino family’s heir apparent, and if the Pelinos had any chance at saving face they’d need to whack Angel as retaliation. As a Mariani son, Angel would always have some level of family protection, but his father couldn’t throw any more men at protecting the son who wanted out of the business. Then there was me. If I refused Carlo’s offer, my protection would be completely stripped. We needed Markie’s doctor to hurry and clear her so we could get the hell out of Vegas. In the meantime, I had to stay alive and keep myself from getting made.

My mind heavy with worry, I climbed into the Hummer as my phone buzzed with an incoming text. Angel sent me a list of groceries he needed me to pick up so he could cook dinner. Since Markie’s surgery, the two of them only left the condo for doctor visits. Her doctor had told her to take it easy, and Angel was making damn sure she did. With family tensions what they were, it made my job easier since I only had to watch out for myself.

Somewhere between Carlo’s house and the grocery store, I picked up a tail. A black, newer-model Toyota Camry hung three cars back but followed my every move. I changed lanes, the Camry changed lanes. I turned, it turned. I made a complete circle, and it was still behind me. Knowing I needed to find out who was after me, I changed lanes again and made a sharp turn down a wide alley. Parking the Hummer on the other side of a Dumpster, I killed the engine, grabbed the gun in my pocket, and waited. Time ticked by and the Camry didn’t show. Wondering if the perceived tail had been some sort of bizarre coincidence, I got the hell out of there.

While in the grocery store, I ran into a club waitress named Trixie. After asking me about Angel and feigning sympathy for Markie’s surgery, she said, “Whatever happened with that douche bag in the condom wrapper?”

My ears perked up. “Matt Deter?”

“Yeah. That jerk. You know, he pinched my ass and asked me if I wanted to unwrap him. As if. The loser was kicked out of our club last month for pushing drugs in the bathroom.”

Trixie was a nice enough girl, but trying to get her to focus was a losing battle. “Have you seen him lately?” I asked.

“Not me personally, but one of the bouncers had to run him off the other night. He was dealing by our back door.”

I thanked Trixie for the first lead I’d had on Matt since Halloween, and she promised to pass the word and have everyone call the second he resurfaced. Feeling hopeful, I made a couple of calls on the way back to the condo, but nobody else had seen the illusive Matt Deter.



I ENJOYED WORKING breakfast at the diner because it was our busiest shift, full of friendly old people who tipped well. But today was busier than normal because, in addition to my duties, I was training our new girl, Piper. Piper had short, dark hair with blue spiked tips which went great with her nose ring and thick, dark eyeliner. Most importantly, Piper was talkative and interesting, melting away the hours with each entertaining story.

“What’s Los Angeles like?” I asked her as I filled up the coffee machine.

Piper shrugged. “Loud. Crazy. Lots of really great bars. And you haven’t lived until you’ve been to a Dodgers game.”

“And you’re close to the ocean, Disneyland, and Hollywood. Ohmigod, I would kill to see Hollywood. Did you ever meet any big stars?” Vegas hadn’t worked out like I’d planned, but Hollywood… I was certain Hollywood would be incredible. It was the place of stardom dreams after all.

“Didn’t make it out to Hollywood much. Not really my scene.” Piper wiped down a table and grabbed the water pitcher. “I did see J Lo coming out of a restaurant once, though.”

“Jennifer Lopez?” I asked, feeling like a star-struck small-town girl, which I basically was.

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