“Naw. You’re fine. Though you do need to straighten up your act. But your pretty mama? She needs a good man to keep her straight. And I could be that man, you know.” He’s always making statements like that. Maybe I should take him up on it. But I figure that as usual, he’s joking.
“Right, right, in my dreams you’ll become my stepfather, Cash.”
He laughs. Wheezes some more. The man needs to lay off the cancer sticks. “It could happen. You’re the one who throws the roadblocks.”
“Uh-huh. Look, I’m going to grab a few things over the next few days. Nothing too big, but I’ll need fast cash.” I clear my throat, fighting off the guilt that threatens. Guilt that I haven’t felt in a long-ass time because damn it, I do this to survive. I shouldn’t care what other people think of me, especially Rose. “Will you still be in the city next week?”
“Yeah, though listen. There’s a little something I want to discuss with you. Hold on.” I can hear him as he exits his office and I assume he’s just walked outside. “I have a proposition for you.”
“What sort of proposition?” It better not be some crazy scheme. The man used to come up with some outrageous shit, especially when I was younger and more daring—or stupid, take your pick—but he’s laid off that stuff, thank God.
“Nothing bad, son. I swear. This is actually legit. Like a real job—no criminal activity involved.”
Now that piques my interest. If I want Rose to take me seriously—and holy shit, I’m pretty sure I do—I need to go straight.
I need to leave my past behind.
“They should be here any minute, mate,” Nigel says, glancing at his iPhone. He’s texting some female who’s clearly not interested, since he keeps muttering under his breath every time he gets a reply he’s not happy with.
“No problem.” Rose had called me and asked that I meet them at the White Swan since it’s so close to the hotel, and I agreed. When I arrived, though, only Nigel was waiting for me, with a half-empty beer in front of him and a morose expression on his face.
Woman problems, I learned once I settled in and ordered my own beer. I let him ramble on, griping about a certain Clare who works at Fleur. A woman he’s had a crush on for far too long and she knows it but doesn’t seem to fancy him, and now she’s just turned into this enormous tease and good God, all his chatter is exhausting.
Considering I’ve dealt with Mom’s constant chatter and Cash all in one day, poor Nigel is not gaining my full attention. I’m like the beautiful, aloof Clare at Fleur. She’s not giving him his full attention, either.
Jesus, I feel like a prick.
I rub my hands over my face and drain my beer, the alcohol flowing through my veins easily since I never really ate lunch. I still can’t wrap my head around what Cash offered me. I think I’m going to take him up on it. And if I do, there won’t be any need for me to cash in the Poppy Necklace to Dexter. He’s going to be furious, but … fuck it.
I can make my own money—legitimately. I have no idea what that’s like, but I’m willing to give it a try.
Especially if Rose is willing to give me a try.
But I can’t talk about my potential new career with anyone. I have no friends. Mitchell knows what I’m all about, but that fucker doesn’t know shit about having a career. He’s never had to work a day in his life. Neither have I. Not a real job, at least.
“So what exactly do you do anyway?” Nigel the mind reader asks, slurring his words a bit. Sounds like someone’s already had too much to drink.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” I say, deciding to fuck with him. The guy needs to loosen up a little. Constantly sending the noncaring Clare texts is probably annoying the shit out of her. He needs to focus on something else.
“Ah, you can’t say something like that and not expect a demand that you tell me exactly what it is you do.” Nigel lifts his hand, garnering the attention of the barmaid. “Two more for us,” he calls.
“Make it four,” I say after him, earning a strange look from Nigel. I shrug. “May as well be prepared for the next one, right?”
“Right. Bloody good call.” He nods in affirmation. “So tell me. Are you a spy?”
“Yes. I am,” I answer, my tone grave. “My secret spy number is double-O-five. Or Hawaii Five-O.”
Nigel laughs. “Don’t you Americans have a show called that?”
“Yep.” A spy. Ha. I wish.
“So you’re definitely not a spy. How unfortunate.” He shakes his head. “An actor?”
Sometimes. When need be. “Can you imagine? But no.”
Nigel wags his brows like an exaggerated cartoon character. “Rose’s butler?”
“Well, I am servicing her.” We both crack up over that just as the barmaid brings us our four mugs of beer, the tiny round table we’re sitting at now crowded with them, though at least she takes away the empties. Hell, by the time the working stiffs show up, I’m afraid Nigel and I will be good and drunk.
So that’s what we do. We drink and I let Nigel continue guessing, which helps distract him from his texting Clare, not that I point out that little fact to him. His guesses at my profession get more and more ridiculous until … he finally fucking nails it. After my third beer and God knows how many he’s had, he gets it right.