Luis shoved his hands in his pockets. Everything had been arranged for their plan. He and Cristobal would sneak into the Rodriguez house, and hopefully, this time they turned up something. He’d forfeited his visit with Gervasio two weeks ago. Around the time he’d managed to get the paperwork resolved for Cristobal. If the Grim Reapers hadn’t caught on to his betrayal yet, they would soon enough.
His place may have been located in Desemper Ridge, but he had to avoid being spotted by anyone he knew. It was the reason, when lunch had been required, he’d walked down the alley to get to a diner in neighboring Amorte Cliffstone. Now, Luis hugged the wall of the restaurant’s building and peered around the corner.
What the hell? The girl under his protective charge … talking to--
“Thanks, Tommy. I really appreciate you doing this for me.”
“I told you. Anytime.” Tommy hooked his thumbs into his back pockets.
“I’m certain this will be the last time.”
Last time, for what? Luis scanned the sidewalk, then slipped across the parking lot toward the VW Beetle where Tommy and Bella chitchatted. He’d watched her for weeks. How had he missed this connection?
Tommy glanced over his shoulder. “Swifty?”
“Yeah. Hey, man. Long time no see.” Luis clapped one of Tommy’s hands and squeezed.
“Yeah. Been busy.” Tommy turned toward Bella and ushered her to her car door.
“So, I see. Who’s your friend?”
“No one you need to know. Besides, she’s leaving. Got somewhere to be.” Tommy draped a protective arm around Bella’s shoulders and opened her driver side door.
Luis narrowed his eyes. This was a guy he used to trust. But the way he wrapped himself around Bella touched nerves he didn’t know were in his body. What was with this brotherly concern for the girl.
As Bella slipped into the driver’s seat, Luis grabbed Tommy’s arm. “We need to talk.”
“Now really isn’t a good time.”
Smiling politely at Bella, who was watching the two of them, Luis said, “I don’t want you to think I’m rude, but I need to borrow Tommy, here. You should go ahead and leave.”
“Sure, no problem.” She started her car.
Without waiting for the squeal of tires, Luis dragged Tommy back toward the alleyway. “Care to tell me what the hell you were doing with her?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“Wrong answer. Try again.” Luis growled. He’d picked up a few tricks from Gervasio.
Tommy swallowed. “Come on, man. I thought we were friends.”
“Screw you! I don’t work for Gervasio no more.”
“Have it your way.” Luis socked him in the gut.
Tommy grunted and doubled over. He wrapped one arm around his waist and reached for the wall with the other. “Customer.”
“What did you sell her?”
“Why does it matter?”
Luis refused to answer. He cared about the girl, but hadn’t ever been able to explain why he cared quite so much. But none of that was Tommy’s business.
“Not important. What did you sell her?”
Some opiates were stronger than others. People didn’t usually start on cotton. They worked their way up to it. If Tommy had sold her OxyContin, she had to have been on opiates for a while. Or going through them like candy. Wait a second, hadn’t Bella mentioned this being the last time? Shit! How the hell was he going to be in two places at once?
“Give me your phone.”
“Give me your damn phone.” Luis held his hand out and snarled.
Looking wary, Tommy placed his phone in Luis’s hand. “Just be careful with it.”
“Sure, I’ll do that.” Luis pried the cell phone apart and removed the SIM card, as well as the memory card and battery. Then he dropped the thing on the ground and stomped until it was cracked into pieces.
“What the hell, man?”
“You’re officially out of business.” Luis walked away.