“I know exactly where Maize would be,” he replied. “That’s exactly what I’m trying to prevent.” Grabbing her shoulders, he gave them a quick shake. “To stop you from ending up where my sister did.”
“I’m not going to end up anywhere,” she retorted.
Scooter wanted to shake her harder, maybe rattle some sense into her, but he knew that wasn’t going to happen. Josie thought herself untouchable. Not just because she was one of The Night’s daughters, but because her ruse had worked too well for too long. He knew exactly when it had all started—three years ago, when his sister Maize had been found missing after taking a job at the Plantation nightclub. Galen Reynolds had owned it back then—and he was a crook like no other. The man had been selling women, and like most everything else of the criminal nature Galen embarked in, he’d gotten away with it.
Scooter knew all about Gloria Kasper, too. She was now the resident physician at Nightingale’s but back then, when Maize had gone missing, Gloria still lived in town, in the house she and her husband had lived in for years. Long ago, when Gloria had been a young bride, she’d discovered her husband was doing more than tending to certain patients while on house visits and had put a stop to it. However, she’d been a bit too late. Her husband had already been infected. Gloria took it upon herself to find a cure, or at least a way to stop the disease he’d caught from spreading. She’d jumped on the condom bandwagon faster than the army. A few years later, after her husband died, she had become a doctor.
She’d also become a vigilante. Gloria understood prostitution was the oldest profession known to man, and knew no amount of protesting or rallying would put a stop to it, so she set out to make it as safe as possible for those involved. Men and women.
Astute, but also very secretive, Gloria had known about Galen Reynolds’s trafficking. She’d also been the first person Scooter’s mother had contacted when Maize hadn’t come home one night. Which was also why—though it had never been proven—her home had been burned to the ground after Maize had been rescued. Another reason Scooter was dead set on stopping Josie. Galen Reynolds may be in prison for counterfeiting, but Josie was getting herself involved with other people, men and women, some far worse than Galen.
He wanted to tell Roger everything he knew and put an end to Josie’s shenanigans, but that could backfire. Just like his plan had backfired years ago when his sister had gone missing. He’d gone to the Plantation that night, to find out what Galen had done to Maize. If Brock Ness hadn’t been delivering milk the next morning, Scooter had no doubt he’d have died in the ditch he’d been pitched into.
Brock had hauled him home and, to Scooter’s shock, when he’d awakened, his sister was home. No amount of questioning had gotten him a straight answer from either his mother or sister, but he cobbled enough bits and pieces together to know Gloria had been behind Maize’s rescue. Since Josie’s arrest, he’d discovered she was Gloria’s right-hand gal, and that her father knew nothing about it.
The Night had a reputation that far preceded him, and would be furious to learn what his daughter was up to, but that wasn’t what scared Scooter. It was what Roger would do that frightened him. Roger would go after the top dog, barrel in to put a stop to it, much like Scooter had done when he’d gone to see Galen Reynolds. That had taught him a valuable lesson. Top dogs were always protected. Roger Nightingale was no fool. Scooter understood that, and the man had a fair amount of protection circling him and his family, but Roger’s night watchmen wouldn’t be enough in this case. People—namely Josie—would get hurt.
Scooter had thought long and hard about this. He had no choice; it kept him up at night. The girls on the third floor of the resort proved Roger didn’t believe prostitution rings were dangerous. Scooter, however, knew the opposite. He hadn’t been able to rescue Maize, hadn’t been able to protect her from what had happened, but he wasn’t about to let history repeat itself.
Some of Josie’s anger had receded, as had his. Scooter let go of her shoulders. In truth, his fury should have increased. She had no idea of the danger she was playing with, how close she may be to having her life snuffed out.
“Dang it, Josie,” he growled. “This has to stop.”
“I don’t have a choice, Scooter,” she said, rather despondently.
“Yes, you do,” he insisted.
The shimmering green beads covering her blond hair flapped near her shoulders as she shook her head. “No, I don’t. I’m the only one who can get in and out unseen.”