“Go?” she parroted.
“Got a surprise for you,” I teased and kissed her knuckles.
Her eyes lit up.
“It was nice to meet you,” Tia said, getting up from the sand.
I grabbed the towel we were sitting on and passed it to her. She shook it out.
“We’re planning to be at the Hilton casino tonight. We’ve got a sitter. Be great to run into you two,” he called over, eyes meeting mine.
“Got somethin’ planned already, man,” I replied and grabbed her hand and tugged.
He blinked in surprise at my obvious brush-off.
No, fucker. I’m not about to suggest an alternative meet-up. Fuckin’ goof.
He and his wife were from Bend. Just because we were from the same state, did that mean we had to make plans together? A lot of people lived in Oregon. Did I need to be friends with all of them? Don’t fucking think so.
He’d introduced himself with his whole name. I’d given him just our first names. He didn’t need to know who I was.
Besides, what if this was a game? What if this was someone who knew who I was, trying to get close and trip me up on something?
I had already planned to rent us a house in Costa Rica that my PI Zack Jacobs hooked me up with. Zack had lived there for a few years so knew the area and still knew people there. I’d decided I’d had my fill of Aruba and we should go there now. Enough of this tourist bullshit, which I clearly wasn’t cut out for.
Costa Rica. The place I rented was in a more remote place with little to do besides be together instead of her trying to drag me all over the goddamn place. A hundred-minute drive to San Jose and only a few basic amenities within a short walk. A place where we’d be anonymous, where I could get a minute to breathe and think about what was next for me. For us.
There was more than just me to worry about here. She was everything to me. Protecting her was my priority. She was also my weakness. Anyone who wanted to hurt me might do it by hurting her. No fucking way. The very notion made my blood begin to boil. I had to be safe so I could make her safe.
I was getting us fake identities so we could be completely off-grid for a bit.
We were not officially on the lam, but I had a bug-out bag accessible for us and the rest of the clan if things went wrong, if Pop’s enemies wanted to move in or if Pop’s friends figured out the truth and decided to take me to task for it.
We were back in our cab and on our way to the hotel.
“What’s the surprise?” Tia asked.
“Huh?” I asked absently.
“Why are we going back to the hotel?” she asked.
I shook my head. “Couldn’t stand it. That fuckin’ tourist wouldn’t shut his trap, wouldn’t stop starin’ at your tits. Wanted to rip his fuckin’ head off.”
“H-he was not…”
“He fuckin’ was.”
“Tommy…” She rolled her eyes.
“No. I don’t wanna fuckin’ hear it. Had enough of this public bullshit. Calling about our new place. See if it’s ready. We’ll head there tonight if it is. And don’t roll your fucking eyes at me again.”
I glared out the window. She played with the fringe of the swimsuit coverup she wore.
It wasn’t until we stopped back at our resort that I looked at her face. She was visibly sulking. Well, too fucking bad.