“You can’t have the cops here before I shoot you,” Gabe reasoned.
Gabe cocked the pistol. “Try me.”
Gabe pointed the gun at a chair. “Sit.”
Ricky did as he was told, grumbling all the way.
“June Gardner. Everything you know,” Jodie spat
“You’re a real bitch,” Ricky shot at her.
“Yeah, I’m a real bitch. And you haven’t seen the worst yet.” Then she walked across the room and punched Ricky in the face. She pulled back howling and shaking her hand. But the crunch of Ricky’s nose breaking and the blood gushing from it were all too perfect.
“Bitch,” he snarled. He was bent over, holding his nose. “I don’t know shit about June. She worked here for a couple months two years ago. She was in and out like all the pathetic girls who filter through the place. She didn’t leave a forwarding address. She just stopped showing up. Christ.”
“What?” Jodie asked in horror. The realization that she’d been stripping here for no reason hit her. “But you told me you knew where she was!”
He shrugged. “That’s the biz, baby.”
“There’s really nothing else?” Jodie asked in dismay.
“Motherfucker,” Reyna spat.
Gabe shook his head. “A bullet is too good for you—but man, I would love to use one.”
“We need the tapes.”
Reyna ruffled through his office before finding the system that recorded the interior of the strip club. She gagged when she saw the video screens up for his viewing pleasure, including all the private rooms. Not so private.
“Ew,” Reyna muttered. “Going to need to sanitize myself after this.”
She ripped the machine from the wall and watched as the screens flickered and then the images disappeared. Reyna looked for something to destroy the machine with, but finally just shrugged and tucked it under her arm.
Gabe had passed Jodie a gun while he went ahead and started tying Ricky to the chair with some rope he’d had with him. Always prepared. Once that was done, Gabe clocked him across the head with the butt of his gun. Ricky collapsed forward, unconscious.
“Good riddance,” Jodie spat. She nodded her head toward the door. “There’s a back way.”
“You’re going to need to change,” Gabe said.
She nodded. “I’ll meet you out there after I grab my stuff.”
Reyna didn’t look happy about it, but Gabe hurried her out the back door with the recording machine. It was about ten minutes before Jodie dashed from the doorway in street clothes with a worried look on her face.
“No one was happy that I quit,” she said with a grimace. “We should get going. I bet they’ll all complain to Ricky soon. We do not want to be here when that happens.”
They jogged away from Bottoms, back to the car. They each kept glancing over their shoulders, wondering if someone was going to be chasing them. It was a long shot, but totally possible that someone would at least call the cops. Likely no one remembered quite what they looked like, but Jodie had worked there for nearly a week. She’d be much easier to spot.
The trio jumped into the car and zoomed away from the scene of the crime. They were tired and breathing heavy but jubilant and excited. Jodie even giggled from the back.
“That was amazing. I can’t believe we just did that,” she said. Then she seemed to sober up. “But…what am I going to do about June?”
“We’ll keep trying,” Reyna assured her.
“Yeah,” Jodie said with a sigh. “I thought this was going to be easier.”
Reyna frowned. She felt that way about most things at this point.
“Y’all said a lot had changed?” Jodie prompted.
Gabe and Reyna shared a look as if to ask who should start. Reyna chewed on her lip and turned back to face Jodie. “We went after Harrington but he knew we were coming. Penelope turned coat and became a vampire. Then Harrington bombed the bunker and killed…killed Beckham.”
Jodie’s mouth dropped open. “What?”
“So…yeah. A lot has happened,” Reyna said.
“The bunker? And Beckham?” Jodie asked. “Are you okay? Oh my God!”
Reyna didn’t respond to that. She didn’t know if she would ever be okay, but she was moving forward. She was doing what Beckham would have wanted her to do.
They made it back to Washington’s mansion an hour later. Meghan and Tye had come back hours ago and Washington was acting the part of the mad scientist in the basement.
The good news was that he’d gotten in touch with the housekeeper he trusted so they had food. And that was about it.
Meghan and Tye had checked out the bunker and it was destroyed. They couldn’t even get through the main entrances. They’d had to find another way in, and even then it was clear from the heat coming off the place from the fire that nothing could survive in that.
No one knew what had happened to the people. To Drew and Laura, who had been inside. Or Everett, who had been imprisoned for turning Reyna in to Visage and acting as a spy for Harrington. Or Sydney…their leader. The very person who had started Elle, who was Elle. Everyone thought Elle had died, and in some ways she had. They’d turned her and when she’d come back, she’d no longer been Elle. She’d become Sydney. Now it was possible that she was really gone.