He shifted nervously on his feet. “Just wanted to make sure you were all right. That guy isn’t a joke like the guy in the suit was.”
“I know, Marco. It’s fine. He’s gonna try and find Race.”
“I know. He was on the phone when he got back to the car. Man, is that a sweet ride.” Envy colored his tone.
“What was he saying on the phone?” I bit my lip because I shouldn’t be pumping a kid for information, but if Bax didn’t want to let me help him, maybe I just needed to take the choice away from him.
“He was talking about someplace called Spanky’s over in the District.”
The District was where all the working girls lived and worked. It was where all the strip clubs and bars where girls were looking to make ends meet on their backs were at. It was still in the Point, just one more part of what living on the poor side of town brought you.
“What was he saying about Spanky’s?”
Marco looked at me questioningly and I tried to smile reassuringly. My anxiety made it more of a grimace, and he didn’t buy it for a second, but he answered me anyway.
“He asked if a girl named Honor still worked there. He told whoever he was talking to that he would be by tomorrow to talk to her.”
I didn’t know if it had anything to do with my brother, or if he was just worried about getting laid. He did say that was on the top of his priority list at the moment, but I wasn’t sure it was a lead I could let slip through my fingers. I reached out and messed up Marco’s hair. He swore and grabbed Paulie’s elbow to drag him back to his apartment.
“Be careful, Dovie. That guy isn’t someone you want to mess around with.”
If this kid at his age could sense the danger radiating off of Shane Baxter, then maybe it wasn’t the greatest idea to try and insert myself directly in his path. I ran the very real risk of getting run over. Unfortunately, I just didn’t know what other choice I had at this point.
“YOU’RE IN A HURRY to get out of here tonight.”
I looked up at the sound of the voice as Brysen Carter sat down next to me. We were both waitresses at the same corner restaurant that rested right in the part of town where the Point turned into the Hill. I was from one side of the road and she was from the other, but we got along pretty well, and if I was the type to have friends, I would’ve considered her one. She was nice to me, didn’t pry into my business, was always willing to pick up a shift for me if school or my other job called, and she didn’t take crap from anyone. And it wasn’t because she clearly came from money, but because she was petite and pretty and the restaurant was close enough to the Point that it made people think she was easy pickings. They were wrong.
“I am.” I was doing my count-out well before my shift was over and had handed off my last two tables to a new girl. I hated giving up money, but finding Race was what mattered to me most of all, and I could go without hot water for a month if that’s what it took to find him.
“Homework?” She was just being friendly, but I didn’t have the time to get into it. I had no idea when Bax would show up at the club, which meant I needed to get there before he saw and intercepted me.
“No, not tonight.”
My other job was working a few hours a week at a transition home for kids who had grown up like I had. While there were a lot of really good foster homes and people wanting to help out in the world, there were also a lot of really bad ones. I wanted to help. Wanted to give kids the option to have a normal life, like Race had done for me. I went to school at night because I eventually wanted a degree in counseling. I wanted kids in my shoes to have a fighting chance.
“Well, I know you don’t have a date because hell hasn’t frozen over, so where are you off to?”
I looked up at her and rolled my eyes. She was such a pretty girl, I always wondered why she was here and not in some sorority on a campus somewhere. She had a perfectly styled bob that was just the right shade of blond and lighter blond. She had kind blue eyes and a figure that was made for the tight black skirt and T-shirt she wore to work. She was lovely, and genuinely concerned about me but I couldn’t get into it with her. I didn’t need someone else telling me to be careful and to watch my back because Bax was trouble. Message received, universe, the guy was bad news; too bad there was nothing I could do about it. Instead of answering, I cocked my head to the side and lifted an eyebrow at her.
“Do you think I look like a farm girl?”
She stared at me like I had grown horns, and then barked out a laugh. “What? Who told you that?”
I shoved the money and receipts in the bag for the drop and pocketed my tips. “Just this guy. I thought it was crazy.”
She tilted her head to the side and considered me thoughtfully for a second, then tucked some of her blond hair behind an ear.
“Well, you do have this whole wholesome-and-wide-eyed-innocent thing going on, but I know you, so I know it isn’t really who you are. It was probably the clothes ten sizes too big and lack of makeup. Plus all that wild hair you never do anything with makes you look about five years old most of the time.”
Fancy clothes, nice hair, and a made-up face got you unwanted attention in this part of the city. Plus my hair was already a beacon, and I didn’t need anything else to make me stand out.
“That’s what he said.”
“Who is this guy?”
I shrugged as nonchalantly as I could manage. “Just a friend of my brother’s. He stopped by looking for Race and I had to tell him I hadn’t seen him in a while.”
She made a face. For some reason Brysen was not a fan of my brother. They had similar backgrounds and were both slumming it now for personal reasons, but they didn’t click. She was rude to him, and he dismissed her, and it was awkward for me because I genuinely liked her, and I didn’t like very many people as a rule.
“Did he have any idea where Race might be?”
I shook my head and shoved away from the table. “No, but I’m not sure he would tell me if he did. He didn’t strike me as the sharing type.”
“Sounds like the rude type if he called you a farm girl without knowing the first thing about you.”
“You have no idea . . . Look, I’ll talk to you later, okay? I have to go.” I didn’t wait to see what her response was before bolting out the door.
I didn’t have—had never had—a car and when Race disappeared he had taken his car with him. It was just one more reason I was worried about what happened to him because it was a really nice car and the likelihood of someone trying to steal it was as high as the junkie on the corner. I twisted my riotous hair into a ponytail and pulled a slouchy gray hat over the mass. If anyone was going to recognize me, it would be from the hair, and not the nondescript jeans, baggy black sweater, and worn-out Converses I had on. I looked just like every other street kid wandering around, and Bax had seemed entirely unimpressed with my minimal assets as it was, so it wasn’t like he would be looking for me anyway.