I had awesome night vision. It came from running around after dark, living my life on the wrong side of the law, and keeping my ass safe in prison. I saw the heavy object flying toward my head before it had a chance to make contact. I heard a soft voice swear and heard a dull thud as whatever it was hit the ground. I dodged around a swinging fist and moved just a fraction fast enough to avoid the static charge of a Taser that was shoved toward my side. I swore, got a hand around a delicate wrist, and twisted the weapon away. I saw her open her mouth to scream and clamped a heavy hand over it. She fought me all the way as I hauled her farther into the apartment.
“You call the cops already?” She nodded vigorously in my hold, which told me she hadn’t. If she had, she would’ve been stalling, buying time for them to get there, because it took forever for the police to show up in the Point.
“I just want to know where Race is. I know you know.”
She went still and stopped clawing at the back of my hand with blunt fingernails. She really did have coppery-red hair, a whole lot of it that was all up in my face as she tried to tilt her head back to look at my face.
“I’m not with the guy in the suit. Race and I go way back. If he’s in trouble, I want to help him, okay?”
I waited for what felt like an hour until she gave a stiff nod.
“If I let you loose, are you going to make me regret it?” She vehemently shook her head in the negative and I felt her hands fall to her sides. She was kind of tall for a girl. When I set her away from me and she spun around to glare at me in the dark, I noticed she just had to tilt her chin a fraction to look me in the eye.
“I’m getting real sick and tired of people thinking they can just bust in here and demand answers from me. Next time, I’m shooting them.”
She was pale, her milky skin a bright shadow in the darkened room. Her hair was a mess of red and gold curls and she had freckles. She looked like a kid. No older than sixteen or seventeen. She also looked like she should be on a farm somewhere in the Midwest. All kinds of earnest wholesomeness poured off of her, and there was no way her baggy jeans and frumpy plaid shirt belonged on someone used to making and taking in this part of the city.
“Get a better lock.”
She glared at me and pushed a handful of that wild hair out of her face.
“Good locks cost money and I still don’t know anyone named Race. So you and your buddy in the suit can still go f**k yourselves.”
Mouthy and brave. That was a dangerous combo when faced with a man who had nothing to lose. I didn’t have time to play games with her, so I took a threatening step forward just as she whirled around to turn on the light. I blinked for a second and saw her mouth tighten as we saw each other clearly. Her gaze locked on my face, but not on the battered and bruised part . . . on the star tattooed next to my eye.
“Carmen called me the second you left the diner. You don’t think when a guy who looks like you comes around we don’t warn each other? Paulie and Marco took down your plate number, and if I don’t flick the lights in five minutes, the cops are getting called and you don’t want to know what’ll happen to your very pretty car.”
I blinked like an idiot. No one ever got the drop on me. Not ever, and this girl, who looked like she should be out on a farm, sure as hell shouldn’t have been able to be the first one to do it.
“Why am I here, then?”
The cops didn’t scare me. Wild kids around my baby did.
She crossed her arms over an entirely unimpressive chest and narrowed eyes that were a pretty, leafy green at me. I tilted my head to the side, because for some reason, I thought she looked vaguely familiar.
“What kind of trouble is Race in?”
“I thought you didn’t know anyone named Race?”
She narrowed her eyes at me. “You have four minutes.”
“I don’t know. That’s what I’m trying to find out. I’ve been . . . indisposed up until about eight hours ago. I’m trying to put all the pieces together.”
She bit the corner of her lip and looked even younger. I didn’t know what this chick’s deal was, but I had a really, really hard time seeing her as one of Race’s pieces. He was all about long legs and big boobs with nothing between the ears. This one had the legs but she was obviously sharp, and her figure, from what I could see, was nothing to daydream about. She was too sweet-looking. Guys like Race didn’t do sweet, neither did guys like me, but that was because I never got the chance. Sweet ran the other way when it saw me coming.
“Can you help him?”
“I can try.”
She reached over and flicked the light, green eyes looking up at me.
“You’re Bax, right?”
I tried not to show any surprise at her question. I nodded stiffly. She bit her lip again and started to twirl a bright curl around one of her fingers.
“He told me if anything bad happened, if anyone came looking for him, to say we didn’t know each other. He scared me, but then the guy in the suit showed up with his thugs. I told Race and he freaked out. He told me to lay low, that he would take care of it. He told me if a guy came around, a guy with a tattoo of a star next to his eye, that I should trust him. He told me his name was Bax.”
That was all fine and dandy, but it didn’t help me figure out what kind of mess Race was in or who this chick was and the part she played in it.
“Who are you?”
I narrowed my eyes and crossed my arms over my chest to mirror her pose.
“Who are you to Race?” If she told me she was my buddy’s old lady, I was seriously going to have to question what he had been doing while I was locked up.
She blinked at me and I could almost see the wheels turning in her head. She cocked her head to the side and furrowed eyebrows that were the color of rust.
“I’m his sister.”
I stared at her for a full minute before bursting into harsh laughter. It hurt my head, so I rubbed my tired eyes and shook my head at her.
“Lady, I don’t know who you are or what’s going on with Race, but I don’t have time for this. I just spent a nickel in the pen, I need to sleep, need to get laid, and need to figure out what kind of shit Race stirred up. If you don’t want to help me the easy way, fine. I can do the hard way.” I took a step toward her, but she held up her hands in front of her.
“No, I swear. Race is my older brother.”
I swore. “I’ve known Race since I was a kid. He is an only child, Copper-Top.”