Henry continued, ignoring the apology, “Who do you think I use when I want information? If you didn’t want me to use Creed, you should have said so. Be glad I did. Usually when I want the information you need, it takes a couple of days to get it back. Creed already had it.”
“If he already had it, why did it take so long for you to text me?”
“He was in court,” he explained, despite the irritation Stump could hear in his voice.
“Did Creed say why he had her checked out?” Stump already knew, but he wanted his suspicions confirmed before he told Creed to back off. Zoey was already spoken for, whether she knew it or not. He might not have made up his mind as to where it was going with Zoey, but he didn’t want Creed beating him to the punch before he did.
“I didn’t ask.” Amusement flickered through the line.
Henry might be a hard-ass when he was disrespected, but it never lasted once his point was made.
“You want me to call him back?”
“No, I’ll ask him my own damn self when I see him. Thanks.” Stump disconnected the call as Grace and Penni returned from lunch.
“There’s no record of Zoey before Queen City,” he told them, taking the brown bag from Penni with his lunch.
“What does that mean?” Penni came farther into the room, as did Grace, both wearing curious frowns and darting quick looks toward the empty hallway.
“She doesn’t have another appointment for twenty minutes.” Stump alleviated the fear that someone approaching the doorway would overhear their conversation. “I also put a motion detector at both ends of the hallway.” Seeing their nods, he continued to answer Penni’s question. “It means that we don’t know anything more about her than before. Legally, she doesn’t exist.”
“That’s not possible.” Grace pointed toward the hallway. “She has to have identification to rent the office space and have a license to drive a car.”
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you?” Stump agreed. “Unless she didn’t tell you or her followers her real name.”
“That makes sense, doesn’t it?” Penni didn’t leave the doorway, even though he assured her no one would catch them unaware. “I told you how private Zoey is. So, giving everyone an assumed name with as many followers and clients she has is smart. It actually makes me feel better about her situation. At least I know she has taken some precautions to keep herself safe.”
“Maybe so, but it definitely makes it hard for us to find out if someone from her past is the one who is trying to take her out now.”
“There’s another way to find out.” Penni bit her bottom lip hesitantly.
“Shade. He can find out anything about anyone.”
“Call him.” He knew he was bypassing Ice, but he would deal with that later. Penni would accomplish it faster and easier than Ice could by asking Shade.
Penni went to her office, closing her door so that neither he nor Grace could eavesdrop.
Grace remained in the front office until Penni opened the door, coming out to tell them that Shade said he would call as soon as he could.
“He didn’t say how long it would take?” Stump probed.
“No. He just said he would call when the information came back then hung on me. Shade doesn’t like to talk a lot.”
Stump had seen some scary shit since he became a Predator. One of them was meeting Shade. He was an emotionless bastard. Ice was, too, but with Shade, you would find yourself questioning if blood ran through his veins. At least Ice was human.
His phone lit up, showing the motion detector had been tripped. He put a finger to his lips as an attractive woman halted by Zoey’s door.
He kept his eyes on the hallway for the remainder of the day, watching the comings and goings, only catching brief glimpses of Zoey.
As the day wore on, Stump expected her to look less enthused as her line of clients never stopped. She didn’t. She greeted each one as if they were the first one of the day. At six, when there was no one else waiting and the last man was leaving, Zoey told him, “It’s your turn.”
“My turn?” Stump picked up the key that Penni had made for him, getting out of his chair.
“You haven’t forgotten our deal, have you?” Zoey placed her hands on her hips as if she was prepared to argue with him.
“No, I just thought we would postpone it for another time. You did promise Penni that you would file a police report.”
“I’m going to do that on the way home.” Her carefully neutral expression gave no clue whether she was telling the truth or not.
“Then let’s get this over with.” Stump closed and locked Penni’s office as Zoey returned to hers.
Closing them inside, she motioned for him to take the same seat on the couch he taken the last time he was in there.