“Hi,” I whispered. “I’m looking for Kaylee?”
“Cat got your tongue?”
“Laryngitis.” It was the only answer I could come up with that would make any sense. Telling her a part of me thought using my voice would shatter the world might have seemed a little crazy.
“You putting up a bond?”
“Yes. I don’t know how.”
“You got cash?”
“Go on and sit by the desk at the front.”
I did, slipping into the cushioned office chair placed in front of it. The bronze plaque that was really made of plastic had the name KAYLEE RECONAIRE cut into it. I had about two hundred dollars on me, which was more than usual because I’d never emptied my bag from my last shift at the Stock.
The lady with the sludge coffee placed herself on her chair with a sigh. “Do you have the forms?” She held out her hand.
I handed over the stack. She had exactly enough clear space on her desk to look at them, spreading them into three neat piles. The pink stub, the stapled and clipped form, all had a place.
“Any relation?” she asked.
“So?” She leaned her elbows on the desk. “We have to assess if he’s a flight risk. It’s our money you’re talking about, so there will be personal questions. Like, does this gentleman care if you’re responsible for him? This is not just assault.” She indicated the papers. “It’s battery with a deadly weapon, honey.” She raised an eyebrow as if I were some girlfriend battered into bailing out her own personal douchebag.
I leaned in so she could hear me. “We broke up a long time ago. He’s like a brother to me. He’s not some ex I can’t stop f**king because I’m insecure.”
Kaylee looked at me for a second before laughing. “You nuts, girl. You got a job?”
“I’m a waitress at the Stock downtown.” I swung my thumb behind me since it was about five blocks north.
“How much cash you got?”
“I have two hundred on me.”
“You’re short three.”
“I can go to the ATM,” I said.
“You can only get two hundred from the machine.” She blinked. I blinked. Then she said, “I ain’t letting you off the hundred. I’m running a business here.”
“You take collateral?”
She gave a knowing, snorty kind of laugh. “Whatever collateral you got I gotta hold in my hand, and it’s gotta be worth ten times what I need. I don’t see any jewelry on you I’d take.”
I stood and picked up my shirt, showing her the Harry Winston navel ring. I was stepping in a pile of shit, and I knew it. Using my current boyfriend’s gift to bail my past boyfriend out of jail was the stuff Jerry Springer shows were made of.
Kaylee leaned forward, dropping her glasses low on her nose. “That real?”
She held out her hand, her face a mask of disbelief. I took out the diamond and handed it to her. She snapped open the top drawer of her desk, pulled out a jeweler’s glass, and used it to inspect the diamond, which to me, looked like the hugest, most sparkly thing ever dug from the earth. I sat back down as she made little humming noises, turning the rock around under the glass.
She slid it back to me. “I can get in big trouble, young lady. I don’t think you understand I’m running a business here. I don’t take stolen merchandise.”
I gasped. How could she? Was she insane? I was absolutely stunned wordless by the implication.
A lone, male voice cut through my distress. “Whose Bentley’s in my spot?” A man with a crutch and a leg of his jeans rolled up over a missing calf wobbled in.
I raised my hand, whispering, “Sorry.”
He sat at a desk. “Well, have that driver move it.”
I looked back down at Kaylee. She was already slipping my diamond navel bar into a baggie. “You come back with the rest soon, you hear? Or for the love of three hundred dollars, your new man’s gonna be pissed.”
I hadn’t realized how big the Bentley was until Darren sat on the other side of the backseat as if he wanted nothing to do with me. It had taken me hours to get him out. Money had to be wired, forms shot over the internet, phone calls made, signatures garnered, and he had to be driven from a holding area two blocks away.
When they’d brought him, he looked tired but made a funny face when he saw me waiting, as if to let me know he was okay. When they took the cuffs off and released him into my custody, he hugged me so hard I thought he’d break something.
“Thank you, thank you,” he said into my neck.
“You’re welcome. Now we have to go, or we’re going to be missed.”
He nodded, and I wondered if he’d gotten himself in trouble to avoid the funeral.
“Why are you whispering?”
“What? You weren’t sick—”
I pulled him into the hallway, wanting to be away from the bulletproof glass and linoleum flooring. Then I stopped and moved my wrist like Debbie so often did to let him know it was time to get moving on the story.
“I went to Adam’s,” he said. “He stayed with me all night, but he had to go to work, and I just walked around Silver Lake. I sat at a table at Bourgeois for half the day. Fabio knew what happened, so he just kept bringing me new cups.”
The elevator doors opened, and a carload of people got out. I pulled Darren to the side.
“He should have called me,” I whispered.
Right. I’d rejected calls and ignored texts while I lay in my undercover cave.
We got into the elevator with twenty other people.
Darren spoke softly into my ear. “I realized while I was in there that I left you alone. I’m sorry about that.”
I shrugged and waved his concern away. I was unhappy about it, but I didn’t have the heart to hold it against him. And it had brought Jonathan to me.
Darren continued, “Theo came in for coffee, like he always does. I knew he went there all the time. I didn’t realize I was waiting for him. But anyway, some girl at the table next to me had one of those pomello sodas. I smacked the bottle against the floor and went for his throat.”
“Holy shit, Darren!” I managed to whisper loudly and with emphasis. I glanced around at the people in the elevator. No one was staring, but they must have been listening.