"How long ago did all this take place?"
"At the beginning of the summer, so about six months ago. You went out to Afghanistan in July."
"How did you get out? That must've been some fall if you hit your head and lost your memory. Are you injured...I mean physically?"
"I'm sore, bruised, scuffed up, but all parts are in working order...except my mind."
She wouldn't mind testing out the working order of a few of his parts. She put her hand over her mouth just in case the booze loosened her tongue. "How'd you get out of the country?"
She slid the hand from her mouth and dropped it in her lap, ready to bring it back into service if those naughty thoughts about Jack Coburn clouded her brain again. "How did you leave the country?"
"With the help of this black bag--" he patted the duffel squeezed into the banquette beside him "--and a boy named Yasir."
"Another round, Lolita?" Carlos called from behind the bar.
She lifted an inquiring brow at Jack, but he held up his hands as if he couldn't take any more when he hadn't even knocked back his tequila. "No mas, Carlos. Just the check, por favor."
Shifting her gaze back to Jack, she asked, "Anything in that black bag about my brother?"
"I'm sorry, no."
Her nose tingled and tears pricked the back of her eyes. When she hadn't heard from Jack after several months, she'd hoped it meant progress. How could she ever hope to get Gabe home now after she'd pinned all her expectations on this damaged man sitting across from her?
She dropped her lashes and then jerked back, her lids flying open, when the pads of Jack's fingers brushed her cheek. His fingertips glistened with her tears, and she mopped her face with a damp cocktail napkin.
She blew her nose with the napkin and crumpled it in her fist. "Sorry. You came here with me to find out about yourself, and I'm laying a guilt trip on you."
He cocked his head. "I don't feel guilty. Why should I? I may have information about your brother buried in my brain somewhere. It's not within my grasp right now."
"I can put you in touch with the man who referred you to me. Maybe he even knows you. He didn't cop to that when he suggested I engage your services, but maybe he wanted to be discreet."
"That's a start. Do you know where I live?" His lips quirked at the absurdity of the question.
"I don't. Like I said, we exchanged some emails and a phone call. You never gave me your address. I left the money in a locker at a bus depot. Everything was very hush-hush." She shoved the glasses out of her way and folded her arms on the table. "Where are you staying?"
"Little motel near the water. I like the water...and books. I like books." He closed his almost ebony eyes and massaged his temples.
Her heart skittered in her chest. "Do you remember things?"
"I have flashes sometimes. Headaches." He shrugged. "I probably need a good psychiatrist or neurologist. Too bad you're a pediatrician."
"I know a good psychiatrist, and she uses hypnosis. Would you be willing to talk to her?"
"Maybe, but I'd like to talk to the man who set us up first."
"I'll call him tomorrow." Lola dug into her purse for her wallet, but Jack flipped a few bills onto the table before she could find it. She shoved them back. "You shouldn't be tossing your money around, since I'm sure you don't have much of it."
He pointed to the black bag. "I have a lot of money, but it probably belongs to you."
"Oh, no. I paid you that money for taking the job and going to Afghanistan. For all we know, you earned it already. You should at least keep it as compensation for losing your memory. What do you think? A million bucks for a man's mind?"
"Depends on the mind."
Shouts from outside the bar cascaded through the open window. Jack jumped to his feet, reaching into his jacket, probably for the weapon Lola still had stashed in her purse.
The man was definitely on edge.
Mario's bartender, David, scuttled from behind the bar, a white cloth in one hand and a Louisville Slugger in the other. "What was that? Mario went out back to take out the trash a while ago. That was his voice."
Lola half rose from the booth when Mario himself staggered through the front door of the bar, his face bloodied and his shirt ripped.