The Night Is A Harsh Mistress
by A. Catherine Noon
Viktor’s smirk widened. “I can find it because I know where to look.” He paused. “You’ve had no contact from the boy?”
He digested that. “No other contacts?”
She almost didn’t answer him. What right did he have to question her? But the fact remained that he saved her life, and that she probably owed him at least a little for that. He seemed to be her biggest ally in this mess, even though that didn’t mean much since he refused to actually share any of his information. “I saw Mrs. Dawson today and followed her.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “Oh? And where did she go today?”
“Mario’s, again. Same as last time.”
“Same as… You mean you’ve already followed her there once?” His attention seemed sharper somehow.
“Yes. Viktor, maybe if you told me what is actually going on I could give you better answers.” She was proud of herself. She didn’t shout or snap at him when she said it. No matter how much she wanted to.
He seemed startled. He studied her without speaking, his blue eyes intent and slightly less empty than they seemed usually. Finally he inhaled and sat back. “There’s more going on here than you realize, Raych. Not all of it is safe.”
“I realize that,” she snapped.
He nodded. “Yes. But what you don’t realize is how much danger you,” he pointed at her in emphasis, “are in.”
Her stomach tightened. “What are you talking about?” Her voice came out breathy and even squeaked a little.
“You’ve managed to stumble on something that has nothing to do with your business. How the Greenes managed to get to you in the first place is beyond me. They never should have come to you. But now that you’re involved, I’m trying to keep you from coming to the attention of people you really don’t want to meet.”
“Viktor. Stop it. You sound like a bad crime novel. ‘You’re in danger.’ ‘There are people you don’t want to meet, more going on than you know.’ Talk to me, like I’m an adult! I’m not an infant, and I can take care of myself. If you gave me enough information to actually make better decisions, then maybe I wouldn’t be in so much danger!” She was shouting by the time she finished her little speech but stared at him, seething. She meant every word.
For his part, he just stared at her. A buzz caught her attention and she watched him reach inside his jacket to pull out a handheld. He glanced at it and his face went blank.
When he met her gaze, he was back to his remote, dangerous self. “I’m sorry. I have to go.” He held up a hand when she started to argue. “I promise. When I come back, I’ll explain as much as I can. Please, Raych.” His eyes, as he stared into hers, seemed intense suddenly. “Just stay here. Keep the door locked and don’t go anywhere until I get back, okay?”
And then he was gone. Just like that.