Page 4 of The Good Bad Man

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“I’ll question her and decide what to do from there.”

Sham bows and moves to the door. Luca stays where he is until Sham returns and drags the other man out.

“You finished?” I ask the doc. He’s spent a lot of time working on the girl. Too much time for my liking. I peer over his shoulder.

“You’re blocking my light.”

“You once said you could stitch with your eyes closed,” I remind him.

He sighs. “Santino, if you didn’t pay so well, do you think all of us would work for you?”

“Yes. Because you like safety and security, and I provide those for all my people.”

“Right.” He puts in the last stitch and then ties off his work.

“Did you not come to me on your knees and say that you would be forever in my debt if I saved your wife and child, and did I not do just as you requested so that your Edith and Christoff are happy in your home today? Move aside. I’ll finish.” I don’t like his hands so close to her bare thigh.

“Fine.” He throws down the bandage he was about to tape on. “You’re insufferable,” he says as he gets to his feet. He jerks the stethoscope off his neck and pushes it into his bag.

I sit down in his place. “How long will she be out?”

“She’s awake,” Doc says.

The girl’s face twitches, but her eyes remain closed.

“If you need me, I’ll be at home with my precious wife and son.”

“Wait. I might need you to help me break her leg if she keeps pretending,” I lie. Not that anyone would be able to tell. I’m already agitated at the scar the stitches will leave. Not that it takes from her perfection. In fact, her wound tells me so many things about her. She faced death willingly while others would cower. How can that piss me off and intrigue me? I’ve never been more curious about a creature in my life.

Miraculously her eyes flutter open. “Wh-where am I? What happened?” she asks. She’s a terrible liar, and oddly, I find it adorable. A word I’m not sure I’ve ever used.

“I can give her a shot of sodium thiopental if you want,” Doc offers.

I cock my head. “Does the fine health professional need to shoot you up with a barbiturate to make you tell me the truth?”

“No!” She struggles to sit up. “You don’t need to do all that.”

I wait for the quiet schnick of the door that signals I’m alone with the girl. I give her a long, silent inspection, starting from her unpainted toes along her creamy golden legs up her narrow ribcage to a sizeable set of breasts. Her thin arms come across her chest, and when I finally raise my eyes to meet her face, she’s glaring at me.

“Why a cage?” I ask.

She blinks in confusion for a second and then rearranges her face to be blank. “Isn’t that what all men use? My dad was just more literal.”

“What did you do that made him put you in the cage?”

“He didn’t need a reason.”

He’s a dead man walking if he’s still alive. I take the protective strips off the adhesive of the bandage and press the covering onto her thigh. She trembles under my touch. Usually that kind of reaction is satisfying. I like that people fear me. I didn’t get to this point by being kind. No one in the world would accuse Kane Santino of that, but I want to tell her to stop shaking, to stop being afraid, which is dumb. She should be afraid and remain that way.

“I’m more imaginative than your father, so I do not have any kennels for humans. I also don’t trust you, so I will give you two options. First, you can remain with me at all times, or second, I will lock you in a room.”

“Like I said, aren’t cages what all men use?” she says bitterly. Her eyes are full of accusation, and I don’t like that either.

“You were a witness. I could kill you instead.”

“Do it then.” She flings her head back and exposes her neck. “Do it right now!”

I sigh and get to my feet. What a useless discussion. Over at my desk, I press a button. “Bring some food up. Steak, potatoes…” I consider her skinny frame. “...chocolate cake.”

“That better not be for me. I’m not eating a single forkful of your food,” she yells.

I hang up. “You’re irritating me.” I drop into my desk chair and start looking over the bid proposals for the new shopping complex I’m building. Now that the tenant has signed over the last bit of land, I can forge forward. Out of the corner of my eye, the girl is struggling to get off the sofa. “You’ll rip your stitches if you keep moving.”