“You want anything with that?” she asked.
“Slice of pecan pie would be great,” he said, winking at her. “With a scoop of ice cream?”
“You got it,” she said, glancing over at me again. “Hey, are you sick? You don’t look so good.”
I managed to shake my head.
“No,” I said, my voice hoarse and weak. “I’m fine. I just … need to talk with the deputy, okay? Can you leave us?”
She sniffed, then strutted off, smacking her little order pad down on the counter as she passed into the back.
“Now you pissed her off,” Nate said casually. “If she spits in my pie, I’m making you pay for it. In fact, I think I’ll let you pay for everything anyway. So was that all?”
“Was what all?”
“Was that all you wanted to talk about? If that’s it, you should probably get going. Sounds like you got your work cut out for you. Good luck with that.”
“You’re a police officer,” I said, still stunned. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing,” he replied, taking another sip of his coffee. “Well, I guess I’m a little bored right now, but I love pie. I should eat up, sounds like it’ll be a long night. Crime scene to process and all that.”
“I can’t believe you—what’s wrong here? Is this some kind of joke to you?”
Nate smiled, so much hatred in his eyes that it scared me. Had I ever known him at all?
“No, Loni, this isn’t a joke. You’ve got a job to do, and if you want that little cunt Jessica to survive, sounds like you better stop dickin’ around and get it done. Oh, now don’t look at me like that. It’s not like I want her dead—kid’s fuckin’ great in the sack. Wouldn’t mind another run at her.”
I reeled. My brain seemed to shut down, incapable of accepting any new data.
“You were sleeping with Jessica?”
He rolled his eyes.
“God, you’re stupid,” he muttered. “Someone had to give her enough money to get down to Cali when you had your little fight. This whole thing was a lot of work to set up, but I have to admit that screwing her tight little ass was the fun part. Christ, you didn’t actually think I was into you, did you? You’re too old, used up … And now it’s time for you to go and take care of your business. Don’t bother trying to call the cops before it’s done, either. Nobody’s going to help you.”
Somewhere in the middle of his little speech, I shut down. I could still see everything, hear everything … but it all felt distant and unreal.
“You’re an evil person,” I whispered.
“I’m a man with a goal,” Nate replied, his voice serious and his eyes hard—nothing like the person I thought I’d known. He leaned forward, his words precise and clipped. “I know what I want, and I’m willing to do anything to get it. I fucked your girl and convinced her to go to San Diego, Loni. I rigged your house to blow so Hayes would take you in. Now you’re right where I want you, and you’ll fucking dance because I told you to. No more questions.”
“Here’s that pie,” the waitress said, walking toward us.
“Thanks, hon,” Nate replied with a smile. She leaned in to him just a little, her body language making it clear she had more than pie to offer.
They ignored me when I pushed up and out of my seat, trying not to stumble as I walked out of the restaurant and back to my van. I sat in the driver’s seat for several minutes, trying to process what the hell had just happened. But some things don’t make sense no matter how you look at them, so I turned my key in the ignition and pulled out of the parking lot, because I still needed to hit the grocery store. I had a list of things to buy and I was running out of time to get dinner on the table.
Why was I fixing dinner? I don’t know.
What I do know is that by the time I paid for the food, my side hurt where my purse kept thwacking me as I walked—the gun threw it off balance, I guess. I ignored the small pain as I drove home to cook dinner for Reese. Not like killing a man is less awful if you’ve fed him first, but what else was I supposed to do for the rest of the afternoon?
God damn Nate Evans to hell, and God damn me for falling for his shit. God damn the men holding Jessica, too. If there was any justice in the universe, Amber was burning in a fiery pit surrounded by demons right at this minute. I hated all of them.
Mostly, though, I hated me.
“Why bother playing it through? She’s got a gun in there and she’s gonna shoot you with it. Not many ways to spin that and get a happy ending,” Puck said, holding my gaze steadily. “I spent almost two hours gettin’ harassed on the side of the fucking road while she plotted your death. How much more proof do you need?”
The kid had balls, talking to me like that. Still, he’d been thrown into deep shit, headfirst, and he’d rolled with it and done his job. Nobody wants to be the one telling an MC president that his woman’s fixin’ to kill him. The Silver Bastards prospect had showed me respect without fucking around.
I still hated him for what he’d discovered.
“Hate to say it ’cause I like London, but I’m with Puck on this one,” Gage said. He sat back in an old office chair I’d hauled down to my shop a few years ago. Right now it was positioned in front of a long, low table with two monitors set on top of it. They each split into four screens, playing a live feed of different rooms in my house. Ruger had a gift for electronics, no question.
I’d have to make sure he didn’t forget to take any of those little fuckers out after this was all over, too. Last I needed were eyes on what went on in there on a regular basis. Been damned fuckin’ hard to act normal this week, knowing the brothers were watching everything I did.
Make that almost everything. I didn’t let them put anything in the bedroom, because fuck that shit.
We’d spent a good part of the afternoon down here—Gage, me, Ruger, Horse, Painter, Bam Bam, and Duck. Bolt was off at Maggs’s place. Not sure what drama was goin’ down with those two. Hopefully I’d never find out. Couldn’t even manage my own woman, didn’t need to worry about his.
“Christ,” I said, watching London bustling around the kitchen on the monitor and sighing. I’d fallen for her, I realized. Not just fucking her, but her. Comin’ home to her felt good, and havin’ her with me at the party? Hadn’t felt like that since Heather was alive.