“After I got locked up, right?”
Gus looked at me and stacked his hands on his potbelly.
“A few weeks before. He was all about getting the girl, making sure she was safe. He was talking like you. Novak would pay, he was tired of Novak pulling strings, then things went south and he disappeared. I don’t know why he brought the girl back here, put her not only in his old man’s face but in Novak’s as well, but he must have had a plan.”
I couldn’t believe Race knew about Dovie before I went to jail. He had never said anything, never mentioned he was in trouble. It didn’t add up and I didn’t like the way everything was circling back to the redhead.
“Right before he disappeared, Race was flashing a picture around, asking a bunch of questions about some rich guy. You know anything about it?”
“Yeah. It’s his old man.”
I blinked stupidly and rocked back on my heels. “What?”
Gus kicked his feet off the desk and lumbered to his feet. “Race figured that the only person his old man would’ve asked to handle the dirty work was Novak. He was trying to put the two of them together the second he got back into town.”
“What exactly are we talking about when we say ‘dirty work,’ Gus?”
“You know Novak, Bax. What do you think?”
I swore and followed Gus back into the garage, where welders and air hoses made it impossible to talk. If Race thought his dad had asked Novak to kill Dovie, that made things even worse and more complicated than I thought. What in the hell kind of tangled mess had Race wandered into?
We stopped by a pile of rust that would be one badass ride with a little work. There was nothing like old muscle. I put a foot up on the bumper.
“She’s a sweet girl.”
Gus looked at me out of the corner of his eye and leaned on the fender. “The sister? How do you know?”
I just lifted an eyebrow, which made him shake his head. “Race is going to kill you. He loves that girl something fierce.”
“Well, he’s doing a shit job keeping her safe. Benny and his goons are all over her, and I’m the one running interference.”
“You run interference with what’s in your pants?”
“I told you she was sweet, and apparently she played a bigger part in Race going to ground than I thought. I need to figure this shit out. It looks like I might have to take a trip up to the Hill.”
“Be careful. Those people would like nothing more than to put you back behind bars. You took a lot of their really nice stuff.”
We shared a laugh that had very little humor in it. I pushed off the bumper and pulled my hood up over my face.
“I’ll help you get the monsters running, but that’s it. I don’t want anything to do with Novak’s business.”
“I don’t want you anywhere near Novak, Bax. Jail won’t be his answer to dealing with you this time around. Don’t be stupid, son.”
We shook hands and I tried to draw a picture in my head of all the info Gus had just given me. Race knew about Dovie. His dad wanted her dead. Old Man Hartman had asked Novak to kill her. Dovie was still around, Race had helped kidnap the old man the night I got arrested, and somehow that was all tied into him coming back to town and subsequently disappearing. He had to have dirt on Novak; something nasty if he felt safe enough coming back to the Point for a whole year before my release. I was starting to think he had purposely waited until I was out, until I was free to make his move, even if I didn’t know what that move was. One thing was clear—I was a pawn in all of it. I had given up five years of my life for someone else’s goal and that just pissed me off. I didn’t like to be used by anyone, ever.
I was running it over and over again while I drove to the school to get Dovie. She told me just to wait for her in front of the main doors and she would be out at ten sharp. Only she was already waiting for me when I got there, and my blood heated up when she yanked open the door on the opposite side of the car and slammed it shut with way more force than necessary. Her pretty mouth was screwed up in a pout and there was a flush under the freckles on her cheeks. She was upset about something and all I wanted to do was get her naked and play connect the dots.
She tossed her head back against the seat and fixed her eyes on me. I liked the way the green got darker and deeper when she was feeling something strongly. They did that when I made her come, too.
“College, even community college, is impossible with no books. I hate that Benny guy, I hate whoever Novak is, and I’m pretty pissed at my brother right now for dragging me into the middle of this.”
“You need money?”
I looked at her and she glared at me.
“Not from you.”
I made a noise in my throat and tried to remember why I thought I’d missed her the last couple of days. She moved a little and under her baggy plaid shirt I caught a peek of her creamy throat. There was a very visible hickey on the side of it, and it all came back to me in a rush, a rush that made my jeans suddenly too tight.
“Would you take it from Race?”
She begrudgingly nodded and crossed her arms over those br**sts that I swore I would remember long after she was just a fraction of a memory.
“Well, Race isn’t here, so I’m the next best thing. Take the damn money so you don’t flunk your classes. Consider it going to a good cause.”
“I’m not a charity case.”
“Are you sure about that?” I liked to rile her up. It was fun to watch her get all huffy and puffy. “How was your weekend with the kids?”
She looked at me curiously, like maybe I was trying to set her up, but I really was curious. I didn’t know anyone in my world who cared about the future well-being of others. She was like a saint or something . . . a very sexy, very alluring saint.
“It was fine. Everyone was on good behavior, which is rare. They all thought your car was boss.”
I chuckled. “My car is boss.”
She moved some of her hair out of her face and bit her bottom lip. I wanted to replace her teeth with my own.
“Marco, my neighbor, said you promised him a ride. He asked me to remind you.”
“That little punk scammed me.”
She laughed a little as we got to the house. “You should still take him for a ride. It would make his day. He doesn’t have a lot to get excited about.”
I climbed out and followed her to the front door. “I’ll think about it.”