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Chapter 51

I slammed myself flat against my car as he approached, my heart pounding so hard, I was sure it would jump out of my chest like that thing in Alien. I opened my mouth to say something, but my throat was so dry, no sound came out.

Hed stopped just about a foot away from me. Too close for comfort.

On impulse, I jerked my leg up and out and watched him crumble as my foot connected with his groin. He grunted with pain, and as I got into the Bullitt, I could see it etched across his face.

I started the car, shifted it into reverse, and stepped on the gas. I left him on the pavement, breathing in my exhaust.

About a block away, I wondered if I shouldnt have tried to talk to him. Ask him just what was going on.

Nah. Probably wouldnt have gotten a straight answer anyway. And I might have found myself in the middle of an accident.

It was nice to know that in the moment, I could defend myself.

My hands were still shaking, though. I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and carefully made my way up Las Vegas Boulevard.

Kyles CRV was the only vehicle in the parking lot. I wondered where Bixby was. Must be a pretty bad accident. I gathered up my bag, slung it over my shoulder, and locked my car. Not that it would do much good, since the trunk was held closed only by a red balloon ribbon.

I walked across the lot and pushed on the back door, where Kyle and I had gone in yesterday.

Locked. I banged on it a couple of times, but no one came.

I went around the front of the building to the more formal entrance. The awning stretched over the walkway; the Christmas lights werent on, but they sparkled anyway in the sunlight.

The front door was locked, too.

I took a deep breath, irritated. I took out my phone and dialed the number Kyle had called me from. The phone rang twice before I got a recording saying that it was Chez Tango and I should press one for hours, two for directions, or three for that nights show lineup. I didnt press anything; I just put the phone back into my bag.

Being a little OCD, I double-checked the parking lot, walking all around the building, careful not to step on the broken glass in the back by the Dumpster. My Mustang still sat next to the CRV.

But something was wrong. The trunk was open again.

There was no sign of the ribbon. It was gone.

Panic started to rise in my chest as I stopped looking down and started looking up, across the lot, out to the street. Had Rusty Abbott recovered enough to follow me?

I didnt want to stick around long enough to find out. Id have to call Bixby and tell him I was standing him up. Considering Charlottes behavior the last few days, I was starting to think she might be perfectly fine and this was some sort of trick.

I opened my car door and took another look around. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that made my heart leap into my throat. But when I turned to look, it was merely a skinny stray cat scurrying past, the red ribbon trailing from its mouth. I let out a long breath. Id had enough of this place.

I scooted into the car as quickly as I could and slammed the door shut. I started the engine and shifted into first, ready to make my getaway.

Then a gold Pontiac pulled into the lot, heading straight for me.

What was Jeff Coleman doing here?

Because it was Jeff; he was getting out of his car and coming toward me with a little bit of a jog, a cigarette dangling from his lips.

I lowered the window but didnt turn off the engine.

What are you doing here? I asked as he stopped next to the car.

Rusty Abbott said you might be here.

I frowned. Excuse me?

Abbott called me, said something about you and a nail salon and you attacking him. A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, and the cigarette bobbed up and down.

So, did you decide to just jump in your car and find me to make a citizens arrest?

I was already in my car. About a block away. What did you do to Abbott?

I kicked him in the balls, I said matter-of-factly. He was coming after me.

Kavanaugh, you might want to ask a man what he wants before doing that, Jeff said. Because he just wanted to talk to you.

About what?

Jeff glanced at his watch and then up at Chez Tango. Weve got to get out of here. He tossed the cigarette to the ground. We dont have much time.

We didnt have any time.

Just at that moment, an explosion rocked the air.

Chapter 50 | Pretty In Ink | Chapter 52