That particular information catches my attention and I look up from the papers to see Seth nodding. “Romano’s place?”

“The one and only.”

Just hearing that name makes me grit my teeth. “He’s a dead man.” My throat tightens as I speak. All I can see when I hear the word Romano is the picture of Tyler, dead on the wet asphalt; the water soaked into my hoodie he wore that day.

It was supposed to be me.

“Damn right,” Seth says and I check my composure. Refusing to let that fuck get in the way of this conversation.

“So, The Bistro,” I say to push Seth to continue the conversation, picking at the pages in the folder, and trying to rid my mind of the sight of Tyler. He was a good kid. That’s the worst part. No one really deserves to die, but if anyone in this world could have been spared, it should have been him.

Tossing the folders down onto the desk, I lean back, letting the information sink in. “So she’s got debt from college, can’t get the right job yet so she’s bouncing around to pay the bills. She lands a job at The Bistro and something there’s leading these girls down a dark path.

“We have eyes down there; what’d they say?” My voice rises on its own, demanding information.

Seth winces slightly before telling me, “You aren’t going to like this.”

“Don’t be a little bitch,” I tell him, losing my patience.

“They said she was there and gone. She was friendly and nice, but then up and quit. Miranda was working there at the same time and quit with her. No reason. She didn’t stand out and nothing did about the two of them leaving. Just two open waitress spots to fill when they left.”

“So they’ve got nothing?” I ask as my heart rate rapidly increases and the blood rushes in my ears. “We have a group of women,” I enunciate each word and Seth takes the opportunity to butt in.

“Two of them working there at the same time and quitting at the same time,” he adds and I meet his gaze, daring him to interrupt me again.

“A group of women with no prior history of any of this bullshit, getting hooked on some shit, all of them racking up charges in the past year and some of them stepping foot into my club. And you’re telling me the boys we’re paying to watch that shithole have no fucking idea what happened, or who influenced this shit?” I slam the bottom of my oxfords again on the inside of my walnut desk, kicking it as hard as I can on impulse. Needing to get out the rage. My muscles are tense, my body’s hot and I need to beat the shit out of something.

I have no fucking impulse control, no restraint today. Not a damn thing keeping me under control.

Moving my chair back into place, I set my elbows on my desk, lower my head and smooth my hand over the back of my neck.

“I’m losing my patience,” I tell him. Staring at my desk, I admit the obvious. “I don’t like not having answers when I want them. She’s one girl. A girl we’ve seen; a girl we’ve watched before. We should know who the fuck killed her and why.”

Seth grips the armrest, looking away from me, toward the blood-red leather walls that line the room.

“It’s like someone’s hiding it,” Seth speaks quickly.

“Hiding?”

“I can’t find a damn thing on her after she started working there other than what we had already with the sweets,” he says, and his frustration grows with each word.

“We know she was buying our shit in bulk, high on what was obviously coke. She gave the name of a fake brother when we questioned her, that was early December. Then there’s not a trace of her.”

“She ever come back after that night?” I ask him. I remember that night. Carter came down here, looking for answers about his drug. It hardly sold shit, it’s something that puts you to sleep. We only push it on addicts that can’t handle any more. It knocks their asses out as they go through withdrawal. They always come back though, but never for the sweets.

Not until recently.

“No. She never came back and the demand for the sweets dropped simultaneously.”

“She was buying for someone,” I remark. “Someone who backed off when they found out we were onto them…. maybe that’s who did this? He wanted her silenced so there were no loose threads?”

“It’s not Romano, we have ears on him, we would know. I’ve been through every fucking recording from December twenty-seventh to the fucking week she was discovered. He didn’t say a word about it. I don’t think she’s on his radar.”

“So it’s just a fucking coincidence that all her shit starts going downhill when she starts working for him?” I raise my finger, feeling the lines in my forehead deepen with anger.


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