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Chapter Four


I hadn’t gotten much sleep last night, but I hadn’t expected to. The walls were paper thin at the motel, and all night long, it sounded like the family in the room next door was playing basketball. I knocked on the wall a few times, but that only seemed to egg them on. I couldn’t deal with that two nights in a row, so I needed to meet with this Trixi lady and get this deal done.

I pulled into the parking lot of The Treasured Chest and surprisingly, I had to search for a place to park. It was good for her business, but a bad sign for me. I’d much rather Trixi be struggling. It would make my job a lot easier. That didn’t mean I’d offer high as I had with Carl, but I might need to bump it up a little.

If I had been able to obtain a phone number for Trixi, I’d be having this conversation someplace more…private. The last time I met with Carl, it had been at the club. Not that I minded the view or the entertainment, but I take business seriously, and some woman trying to talk me into a lap dance during a make-it-or-break-it deal just didn’t work for me. Hopefully that wouldn’t be an issue tonight.

As soon as I entered the club, I was met by a tall blonde. She was wearing too many clothes to be one of the dancers, but the way she walked and looked, she could be if she wanted. She was attractive and I’m sure she had plenty of men drooling all over her.

“Hi there? Want a table or a seat at the bar?” she asked.

I regretted coming immediately. “I’m looking for Trixi Worth,” I said, trying to get back on track.

She smiled and said, “It’s your lucky day.”

“You’re Ms. Worth?” Not what I expected. She was a bit older, but looked as though she belonged here. I was under the impression that Carl’s niece…didn’t.

“I am.” Her eyes roamed over me as she said, “Do I know you?”

I would remember if we had met. “I don’t believe so. But I have a proposition for you. Is there someplace you and I could talk in private?”

She snickered. “I’ve heard better lines than that.”

Straight-faced, I said, “Ms. Worth, I wasn’t hitting on you.”

Smiling she said, “And I’ve heard that before, too. Why don’t you quit while you’re ahead?” She raised a hand before I could speak and repeated, “A table or the bar, because I’m not on the menu.”

I’d been right. No way was I going to be able to conduct any type of business with her at the club. I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out a business card. Handing it to her I said, “Why don’t you give me a call in the morning? Maybe we can meet for coffee.”

She took the card but didn’t even look at it. “My answer is going to be the same.”

“Call me. And maybe then, you’ll be more…receptive to my questions. Good night, Ms. Worth.” With a nod, I turned and left the club. If she didn’t call, I’d have no choice but to return tomorrow night.

As I headed to my car, which I had parked behind the building, I saw a woman sitting on the steps by the back doorway. She was leaning against the door with an unhappy expression I couldn’t place. Whatever her issue, it wasn’t mine. I guessed she’d just caught her boyfriend or husband in the club and was nursing a broken heart. Lady, my night’s not going the way I planned, either.

I was almost to my car when I realized she was crying. I knew I should just get in my car and drive away. I’ve always been good at avoiding women’s emotions and didn’t plan on changing that now. I was just about to press the unlock button on my key when I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder. Her face was now buried in her hands, and I could see her shoulders rise and fall as she sobbed.


Pocketing my keys, I walked over and softly asked, “Are you okay?” She must have been so upset that she never noticed me back there, because she jumped up and looked around, wide-eyed and in a full panic.

“Sorry!” I said. “Didn’t mean to scare you.”

She wiped her cheeks and responded, “I…I was in…deep thought.”

A depressing thought.Fright seemed to have snapped her out of it. “He’s not worth it,” I said. No one is.

She looked puzzled, and her tone turned defensive. “You’re wrong.”

That was my cue to walk away. I took a step back and said, “Don’t spend too much time sitting out here alone. It’s dark and you never know when someone is going to…”

“Sneak up and scare the shit out of me? Because I think you’ve already done that,” she snapped.

And this is why I should’ve just driven away.“Once again, I’m sorry about that.”

She sighed and said, “No, I’m sorry. You were just trying to be kind and I’m…I’m a hot mess. Things aren’t going the way I thought they would.”

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