“I would pay good money to have seen that!” Ada hooted.
“Hold up.” Country stepped further into the room. “You two carrying on about me?”
“I was just telling her ... about that time out ... at your folks’ place,” Gladys gasped like she was trying hard to catch her breath. “When the dog knocked you ... into that puddle. You remember?”
“Yeah, I remember just fine. Don’t see why you gotta tell Ada about that,” Country pouted. “It was like a hundred years ago.”
“Feels like yesterday to me, and if I wanna tell a story, I’ll tell it. Don’t need your permission,” Gladys scolded.
Hoping to smooth things out a bit, Ada smiled as she admitted, “I’ve told a few of my own.”
“That you did.” Gladys smiled. “I look forward to hearing more.”
“That’s good ’cause I’s has more to tell, lots more.” Ada turned her attention back to us. “You boys needs somethin’?”
“No, ma’am. Just wanted to let you know we were heading out,” I answered.
“All right, then. You boys stays out of trouble, ya hear?” Ada warned.
“We’ll do our best.”
Country followed me outside and over to my bike. As I slipped on my helmet, a relieved smile crossed his face. “They actually look like they’re gettin’ along in there.”
“Yeah, they sure do.” I slapped him on the bicep. “She’s gonna be all right, brother. You’ll see.”
He nodded, then got in his truck with the others. It was getting late, so Widow and I decided to head on over to Stilettos. We’d be early for our shifts, but I needed to go through the previous night’s receipts for Menace. Since the receipts were going to take some time, I figured I’d check in with Marlowe first. When I walked up to the bar, she was on her cell phone, only she wasn’t actually talking. Instead, she was just standing there with the phone to her ear and a wide-eyed expression on her face. It was clear she was disturbed by the call, but I had no idea why. I leaned over the counter as I whispered, “Everything okay?”
She blinked, but no answer. I reached out and placed my hand on her arm as I pushed, “Hey, what’s going on?”
“My sister Kate just called.” She was still holding the phone to her ear like she was in shock. “She’s here...in Nashville, and she’s coming to see me.”
“Your place is just...adorable, Marlie,” Kate announced as she sauntered into my living room with her flashy new boyfriend at her side. “It looks just like you.”
It was clear from her lackluster tone she wasn’t impressed by my apartment, but I wasn’t surprised. If there weren’t diamond-cut chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and expensive furnishings positioned in every corner, then she would snub her nose at the place—just as she’d done mine. All of my furniture and rugs were secondhand, the paint was peeling off the walls, and the pictures were there when I signed the lease. Needless to say, it wasn’t the greatest place in town, but it was mine and I was proud of it. “It’ll do in a pinch.”
“Well, if it was a little bigger, Eric and I might’ve been able to stay with you.” With the fakest smile, she shrugged and said, “But it’s just as well. Eric got us a room at the Omni. You should see it, Marlie. It’s just beautiful.”
“The Omni is really something. I’m sure you both will enjoy it there.”
“You know, I’ve been planning to make the trip up to see you for months, but I’ve just been so busy. You know how hard it can be to get away.” She slipped her hand through her boyfriend’s arm, pulling him close. Kate had always gone for the preppy, rich-boy type with trendy hair and the most fashionable clothes. While Eric was well-dressed in his expensive black Armani suit, he was far from preppy. His dark hair was brushed back with thick gel, and with the slight crow’s feet in the corners of his eyes, he looked to be at least ten years older than her or me. “When Eric mentioned he had business to take care of in Nashville, I insisted I come along so I could come by and spend some time with you.”
“That’s great.” I walked over to the refrigerator and took out a diet soda. “How long will you be in town?”
“Just a few days.” Kate looked up at Eric with starry eyes as she told me, “It just depends on how long it takes Eric to close this deal he’s been working on.”
“Because it is. That’s why Eric came here to handle it himself,” she answered proudly. “Everything has to be done right.”
“I see.” I looked over to Eric and asked, “So, what kind of business are you in, Eric.”
“I buy and sell real estate,” Eric answered coldly.