"Planning on using it?"

"You just said this was a lousy neighborhood."


She unzipped her large handbag, grasped the barrel of his .45 and handed the butt to him. A woman who knew her way around a weapon.

He fished some bullets out of his inside pocket, loaded the gun and slid it under the seat. "What are you doing hanging out in a joint like this, anyway?"

"I like it, and I like Mario. I figure I owe him." She flipped down the visor and swept a layer of gloss across her lips.

Was she trying to drive him crazy with that mouth?

Jack coughed and shifted into reverse. "Why do you owe Mario?"

"My father was responsible for his father's death."

He nearly sideswiped a car. "What?"

Lola held out her hand, showing him her palm. "Long story, not going there."

"Gotcha. Where to?"

"Make a right at the corner, and then stay left. You're going to take the freeway ramp heading south."

He followed her directions, the only words out of her mouth on the drive to her place. Lola seemed to regret spilling that piece of information about her father, not that Jack had any right to pry. But her life seemed as complicated as his own right now.

With the lights of South Beach beaming several blocks to the west, Lola directed him to a pink Art Deco building bordered by towering palm trees.

When he pulled into her parking space in the underground garage, she turned to him. "How are you going to get back to your motel?"

He shrugged. "How I've been getting around all along-- bus, foot, taxi."

"You didn't rent a car with all the cash you have?" Her low voice in the darkness of the car sounded seductive, even saying the most mundane words.

"You still need to leave a credit card when you rent a car, and I don't want to produce a trail."

She tossed her dark ponytail over her shoulder. "Why don't you come up? I can give you the name of my father's associate--the one who recommended you."

Should he? If he sank into her pink-frosted building, maybe he'd never want to leave. Never want to face what awaited him when his memory returned. What if he had a wife? Children?

"Sure." He cut the engine.

As Jack followed her to the elevator, he watched the sway of her hips in her tight jeans. She moved like a temptress even in those canvas Vans she wore on her feet. Not the typical uniform for a doctor, but she hadn't been on duty. He knew her schedule.

She jabbed the elevator call button with her knuckle, and they watched for the orange arrow to move down the floors. Tapping her toe, Lola sighed. "This elevator takes forever."

When it arrived they stepped inside, and Jack leaned against the back wall, crossing his arms. "You were off duty today, weren't you?"

"And you've been following me around too long." She punched the fourth-floor button until he thought her finger would fall off.

"Why were you at the hospital if you weren't working?"

"Special patient." Her eyes clouded, shifting to brown.

"Since you see kids, there must be a lot of those."

She nodded, sealing her lips into a thin line.

He didn't blame her for clamming up about her little patients. It had to be tough taking care of sick kids, but it was obviously a vocation she embraced--just like shelling out millions to rescue her brother or patronizing a bar out of some sense of remorse or duty.

And what about him? He apparently had a very dangerous career rescuing people he didn't even know.

Lola slid her key into a dead bolt and then shoved it into the door handle, twisting it to the right. She pushed open the door into a dimly lit room and slapped the wall to turn on a set of recessed lights.

The room came to life in a riot of bright colors and varied textures. If the outside of the building was like pink frosting on a cake, this room occupied the center of that cake--a burst of flavor, delicious and inviting.

Lola tossed her handbag onto a floral couch, and the leaves of an exotic-looking plant shivered and bobbed. Bunches of flowers scattered about the room emitted a swirl of sweet fragrance. Slashes of modern art shared wall space with Cuban street scenes and landscapes.

Jack stood in the center of the room and turned slowly, taking it all in. This room could only belong to a woman named Lola Famosa.

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