I don’t have any brain cells to spare for fresh blog content today — it’s shaping up to be a major week at the Evil Day Job — so I decided to post the next section of Vicki.
Warning: some language, sexual situations discussed.
Vicki dialed the number and laid the phone down on the counter in speaker mode. Chopping chocolate, she counted the rings, mentally arranging her questions in the most logical order that would lead to the best possible outcome with the least amount of suspicion.
By the sharp bark of Elias’s voice, she knew he was already frustrated. Hell, he was always frustrated. Working on a narcotics task force overwhelmed by the Mexican drug cartels tended to frustrate even the most patient of men. A lot could be said about Elias Reyes, but he wasn’t exactly patient.
She decided to be professional and not friendly. He hadn’t been by in months, and she couldn’t remember the last time they’d had sex. Okay, that was a lie; she’d never forget a moment with Elias, even though they’d fought constantly about their jobs. Then his partner had been killed in a drug bust gone bad by one of her old clients.
He still hadn’t forgiven her.
Now that she’d started her own business, she was still too busy, and he certainly hadn’t bothered to come by. “I need you to run a name through your database.”
“Vik,” he drawled out his nickname for her in that low, sexy voice that always made her want to throw her head back and moan deep in her throat. “I thought you quit defending assholes I put away.”
“I did,” she said evenly, refusing to allow her tone to sharpen defensively. “I need a background run on somebody and you’re the only person in the Dallas PD who will still take my calls.”
He grunted. “What’s the name?”
“Jesse Dean Inglemarre.”
“What exactly are you looking for?”
She heard him typing. He must be at work and already looking up the data for her. Who was she kidding; Elias was always at work. “Any warrants, recent arrests, known gang affiliation. Standard stuff.”
“Got a soc?”
A few moments went by. She didn’t hear any voices. Usually his office was loud and rowdy at any hour. The war on drugs never slept.
“Looks like your boy last got in trouble five years ago, but nothing recent. No known address. How do you know him?”
“He’s a street artist.” She tried to keep her tone casual and strictly to the truth. Elias could sniff out a lie quicker than a bloodhound. “I used to see him when I worked at Wagner & Leeman Thanks, Elias. I hope you’re not out in this snow tonight.”
“Not so fast, Vik.” Mentally, she groaned. He always was too damned smart for his own good, which meant he was a fine cop who always suspected the worst in people. Unfortunately, he was almost always right. “Why the sudden interest in a homeless street artist in the middle of a snow storm? Surely you’re not thinking about letting this punk into your home.”
“Thanks,” she said firmly. “I’ll talk to you later.”
“Fuck.” In her mind, she could see him at his desk, jumping to his feet and raking his hand through his hair. “You did. You invited this asshole into your home. Are you insane? He’s a druggie. A scumbag. You know they can never come clean. Give them a ten and they’ll buy a hit instead of food.”
“He’s not like that,” she said quietly, trying to calm him down before he decided to get on his white horse and charge over here like a knight in shining armor. “He just needs a little help.”
“Jesus, Vik, does he have any weapons? Did he bring drugs into your house?”
“No!” Although she hadn’t thought to check. “I can handle this, Reyes.” Deliberately, she emphasized his cop name, the cold and formal relationship they’d used at their jobs even when they shared a bed once in awhile. “I don’t want you to interfere.”
“You should have thought of that,” he said tightly through clenched teeth, “before you invited a homeless junkie to spend the night.”
“I have my phone right here and you’re on speed dial. I promise I’ll call you if I get even a hint of a weird vibe from him, but he’s barely more than a kid, Elias. He’s not going to hurt me.”
“You’re damned right he’s not.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“He’s not a kid, Vik, even if he looks helpless and innocent to you. He hasn’t been a kid in a long time. One of his raps was for prostitution when he was barely sixteen. Yeah, he must be a real pretty boy, huh? I’m surprised he came on to you; seems like a rich queer is more up his alley.”
The thought of Jesse’s brilliant eyes scrunched up with pain or staring up at a jerk forcing him to give a blow job made her knees quiver hard enough that she had to sit down in a bar stool. She’d known he must have had a hard life, but the reality made her stomach heave. “He didn’t come on to me.”
“Maybe he’ll come on to me, then.”
“He’s not like that,” she insisted, but her voice quivered. “I saw him in the snow and cold—he was helping me because I fell on the ice!—and I just couldn’t leave him out there.”
“If you used to see him over at the park near Wagner & Leeman, then why the hell was he way out by your place? He was staking you out, Vik. He knew exactly what he was doing when he just happened to walk by. I bet he seemed real shocked to find you, didn’t he? They’re damned good actors when they need to be.”
Torn between outrage and concern, she tried to remember if she’d ever told Jesse where she lived. Would he really come dozens of blocks in the cold just to give her a birthday card? Surely, he couldn’t have pretended that much surprise when she asked him to come inside. She was a good judge of character. She’d seen more than her share of bad guys willing to sell their mamas if it would get them out of prison.
“Jesse’s not like that. He’s not one of the bad guys, Elias. I can see it in his eyes. He just needs someone to give him a break.”
Wheels screeched on the street below so loudly that she jumped up and ran to the window. Elias jumped out of his truck and stormed up to the door of her building. “I’ll give him a break. I’ll break his fucking arm if he even lays a finger on you.”
“Bastard,” she retorted, glaring down at him. “I told you I could handle this!”
“Let me in, Vik, or I’m going to owe you a new door.”