Thirty-Two and a Half Complications Page 100

Skeeter snapped his fingers. “Merv, go find out who logged in as number fourteen and keep an eye out for that paddle.”

Merv walked off and Jed stood next to us, his arms at his sides.

I shifted my weight and kept my eyes on the crowd. “I thought this was supposed to go down tomorrow.”

“Let’s just say the wrong ears were perking up,” Skeeter said. “It was safer this way.”

“You don’t think I had anything to do with that, do you?”

He turned his gaze to the front of the room, his face expressionless. “You wouldn’t be here if I thought you did. And you sure as hell wouldn’t be at home cookin’ that turkey you’re so set on gettin’ back to.”

What the hell had I gotten myself involved in?

“Why did you threaten that guy who patted me down?” Skeeter had answered all my other questions and curiosity was getting the best of me.

He turned to face me and lifted his eyebrows. “Your suggestion was genius. Look at all these idiots with their bimbos. They’re a dime a dozen. But you’re dressed sexy as hell yet still classy and not only are you acting like the freaking Queen of England, but I’m treating you that way and making sure everyone else does too. They’re dying to know who you are and it makes me look important. And it’s all about appearances, R—” He grinned. “You need a name I can use in public.”

I blinked, not that he could see me very well. “That’s not necessary, seeing as how this is a one-time venture.”

He grinned. “Lady in Black. Lady for short.”

“That’s the stupidest name on the planet.”

“You got a better one?”

“No.” I looked around, getting impatient. “When does this thing start and how long will it last? I’ve got a—”

“I know, you’ve got a dinner to get back to. But think bigger than your family dinner,” he leaned close and whispered in my ear. “This here’s poetic justice when you think about it. You ended the Crocker empire and you’re here to see it reborn from the ashes.”

I hadn’t considered it that way, but I had to admit he was right.

Merv sauntered back, wearing a scowl, which I took to mean that he had bad news. “No dice, Skeeter. They say the list is confidential. They have a new page for each bidder so I couldn’t even look over his shoulder.”

Skeeter frowned as he surveyed the room. “Merv, take Lady here around the room to seek the guys out.”

He wrinkled his nose. “Who?”

Skeeter shook his head. “This is Lady. That, and only that, is how you will address her. Got it?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

I didn’t wait for Merv. My only purpose here was to find the robbers and point them out to Skeeter. He would have to handle the rest. At this point, I’d be happy to swing by the pool hall later tonight to collect my money. My first problem popped up when I didn’t see any of them. My next problem occurred when my phone vibrated in my hand with a call. I glanced at the screen and cringed. Mason. He would expect me to answer it if I was at Neely Kate’s. If I didn’t, he’d start to get worried.

I had to move this show along.

I made another pass through the crowd and saw two of the guys from church—Lars Jenkins and Eric Davidson. Lars had a paddle with the number six on it and Eric was hanging back at the edge of the crowd, looking like he wanted to blend in with the shadows.

I made a beeline to Skeeter, Merv trailing behind me like an abandoned puppy.

I turned to face Skeeter and leaned in toward his ear. “Lars Jenkins is here. When I had my vision at church, he was one of the four men near me. He fits the profile and he’s pretty rough. I wouldn’t put it past him to kill someone to get what he wants.” I took a breath. “Lars had a paddle, but the number on it is six, not fourteen. And he wasn’t the bidder in my vision.”

“And the other guy?”

“Eric Davidson. He works at the Burger Shack. He’s hanging at the edge of the crowd. He doesn’t even have a paddle.”

“And the guy who was bidding in your vision?”

“He was the guy from the grocery store. The one who wore the Batman mask in my vision. I don’t see him here. But it could have changed. I’m sure there are four of them. Maybe Lars is going to do the bidding instead.”

His face hardened and he held out his hand to me. “Make yourself have another vision.”

“Here? Now?”

“I need to know what I’m facing and your job is to help me do it.”

I shook my head and grumbled. “This is a terrible idea. You know I’m going to blurt out what I see. And there’s no guarantee I’ll even see anything related to the auction. I could see you sittin’ on the toilet for your morning constitutional.”

“Do it.”

Sighing, I reached for his hand and closed my eyes. I was anxious and nothing happened for nearly half a minute.

“What’s takin’ so long? They’re about to start.”

“You are making me nervous,” I hissed. “Apparently, I have to be relaxed to force one.”

“Then calm down.”

“You calm down. You’re making it worse.”

I could see Jed over Skeeter’s shoulder, his eyes widened in shock. I supposed not many people spoke to Skeeter that way and got away with it. “Okay, I’m going to try again, but don’t tense up.”

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