Diners, Dives & Dead Ends

Diners, Dives & Dead Ends by Terri L. Austin Read Free Book Online

Book: Diners, Dives & Dead Ends by Terri L. Austin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Terri L. Austin
Tags: Suspense
shook his head.  “Let’s be civil, Henry.  Why don’t you wait in the car?” 
    As soon as Scarface Henry
left, the mystery man began prowling around my apartment.  He slid his
fingertips across the bistro table and snagged my keys, twirling them around
one finger.  Then he paused and looked at the red rose keychain Axton had given
me as a joke.  “Original.”  He dropped them back on the table.
    Crossing my arms to hide my
shaking hands, I glared at him.  “What do you want?”  I kept hold of my
bravado, but my knees were knocking so hard I thought I might topple over.  
    He walked to the kitchenette
and looked at the paper hanging on my refrigerator.  Scotty had colored a
picture of me—my head was ten times the size of my stick body.  The mystery man
tapped the drawing.  “I can see the resemblance.”  Then he strolled to the
cluster of cheap frames arranged on top of my dresser.  He picked up the
picture of Roxy and me.  We had our arms thrown around each other and were
making smootchie faces at the camera.  He put it down and moved to the next
photo.  The one of Scotty when he was about ten minutes old.  I rushed toward
him and tried to grab it, but he held it just out of reach.
    “Put it down.”  I grabbed the
soft woolen sleeve of his overcoat and pulled, but he didn’t move.  I peered up
at his face, and he stared back at me.  Our gazes locked and held for a moment.   
    He leaned toward me.  He
smelled citrusy and spicy at the same time, like oranges and sandalwood.  “I
want my property.”  His voice was silky steel.     
    I let go of his arm and
stepped back.  “I…,” my voice cracked.  “I don’t know what you’re talking
about.”
    “Don’t play games, Rose.” 
He set the photo down and walked to the futon, gracefully folding himself onto
it, his arm spread along the back.  “You’ll lose.”
    “I don’t know what you’re
talking about,” I repeated, my voice stronger this time.
     He looked at me like he was
waiting for something.  Eventually, he nodded.  “Let’s pretend that’s true, and
for your sake, I hope it is.”  His gaze flickered from my face to my breasts
and back up to my eyes.  The whole process took less than a second, but I had
the feeling he’d categorized and labeled me in that brief instant.
    “Why don’t you just ask Axton
where the hell your property is?”
    He didn’t move a muscle, but
I noticed a shift in him.  His eyes seemed sharper and tension ran through his
body.
    I hadn’t realized until that
moment I’d been holding my breath.  Air whooshed out of my lungs as relief and
hope shot through me.  “You don’t know where Axton is, do you?”
    “Why don’t you stick to
serving pancakes and focus on your classes.  A C-minus in accounting?  Tsk,
tsk.”  He shook his head in mock disappointment.
    Hearing him casually discuss
the details of my life made me almost dizzy.  I stood straight and lifted my
chin.  “You seem to know a lot about me.  In the interest of fairness, why
don’t you tell me about yourself?  Like, who the hell are you?”
    “I’m not interested in
fairness.  And your interference could be detrimental to Axton’s health.”
    I took a step toward him, my
fists clenched.  “If you harm one wiry hair on his head—”
    “You’ll what, sling hash at
me?  If I wanted to hurt your friend, you’d never find the body.”  Then he
laughed.
    Anger rose up deep inside
me, crowding out the fear.  This smug asshole broke into my home, threatened
Axton, and was sitting on my own damn futon laughing at me.  I saw red. 
     I leapt on him, lashing out
with both hands and popped him one in the mouth.  All of the frustration,
anger, and fear I’d bottled up since Axton’s phone call bubbled to the surface. 
“You’d better not hurt Axton, do you understand me?”    
    He calmly pinned my hands
and held them behind my back, pulling me forward until my breasts smashed

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