“Let’s talk quid pro quo.” Inclining his head, Flynn walked back to sit on the sofa. “You want to hear about the rest of the dream, and we want to know about the paintings. I show you mine, you show me yours.”
“You bargain with us?”
Flynn was amazed at the stunned outrage in Pitte’s voice. “Yeah.”
“It’s not permitted.” Again Rowena laid a hand on Pitte’s arm. But from the hot, impatient look he sent her, Flynn didn’t bank on her restraining him for long. “We can’t give you answers just because you ask. There are limits. There are paths. It’s important that we know what happened to you.”
“Give me something back.”
Pitte snapped something out, and though the language was a mystery to Flynn, he recognized an oath when he heard one. Following it was a bright flash, an electric slice through the air. Warily, Flynn looked down at his lap, and the banded stacks of hundred-dollar bills that now rested there.
“Ah. Nice trick.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.” Jordan had already leaped forward and now reached down and plucked up a stack of bills. He fanned them, then patted them against his palm as he stared at Pitte. “Definitely time for some answers.”
“Do you require more?” Pitte demanded, and Rowena turned on him with a kind of stunning female fury.
The words they hurled at each other were unintelligible. Gaelic, Flynn thought. Maybe Welsh. But the gist was clear enough. Their temper rocked the room.
“Okay, take five.” With three determined strides, Brad moved forward, stepped between them. “This isn’t getting us anywhere.” His voice was calm and controlled, and had both of them snarling at him. Still, he stayed where he was and glanced back at Flynn. “Our host just pulled . . . how much?”
“Looks like about five thousand.”
“Five grand out of thin air—and boy, have I got some stockholders who’d like to talk to you. He seems to think you want cash for information. Do you?”
“Tough as it is to turn down five thousand magic dollars, no.” It stung, he could admit it, but Flynn set the stack on the table. “I’m worried about three women who haven’t hurt anyone, and I’m a little worried about myself. I want to know what’s going on.”
“Tell us the rest, and we’ll tell you what we can. Tell us freely,” Rowena added as she moved back to Flynn. “I’d prefer not to make you tell us.”
Irritated now, Flynn leaned forward. “Make me?”
Her voice was winter cool against the heat of his when she spoke. “My dear, I could make you quack like a duck, but as I imagine your brave and sensible friend would say, such an incident wouldn’t accomplish anything. You think we wish harm to you, or to your women? We don’t. We wish harm to none. That I can tell you freely. Pitte.” She shifted, angled her head. “You’ve insulted our guest with this crass display. Apologize.”
“Yes.” She sat again, brushed at her skirts. Waited.
Pitte bared his teeth. He tapped his fingers restlessly on his thighs. “Women are a plague to man.”
“Aren’t they just?” Jordan agreed.
“I’m sorry to have offended you.” Then he flicked a wrist. The money vanished. “Better?”
“There’s no reasonable way to answer that question, so I’ll ask one instead. Who the hell are you people?” Flynn demanded.
“We’re not here to answer your questions.” Pitte walked over to the silver pot, poured coffee into a Dresden cup. “Even a journalist—which I warned you would be an annoyance,” he added as an aside to Rowena—“should be aware of certain rules of behavior when invited into someone’s home.”
“Why don’t I just tell you who you are,” Flynn began, then broke off as the delighted bark banged into the room seconds before Moe arrived. “Oh, shit.”
“There he is!” Rowena simply spread her arms in welcome, and had them full of dog when the women walked into the room. “How nice, how lovely. It’s like a party.”
“Sorry to burst in on you this way.” Malory scanned the room, then zeroed in on Flynn. “But there’s an issue of certain people thinking they should take over from the womenfolk.”
“That’s not exactly true.”
“Really? And what would be exactly true?”
“Just following a lead, that’s all. You were busy rushing into business partnerships, buying houses.”