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"Gio!" Trey bellowed when he stalked into 1520 after yet another disaster with Marina.

"What!" Gio barked back at him from Trey's table, watching, drinking, smoking. Yes, it was only noon, but they had enough Sunday sinners to justify being open this early. The only reason Trey didn't kill him right then, witnesses be damned, was because he wasn't sitting in Trey's chair.

Trey slapped the back of Gio's head as he went by then dropped in his own seat. "Goddammit, you completely fucked up yesterday."

Gio glared at him. "We already had that conversation."

"Yeah, well, today it was just as bad."

"I wasn't there, so you can't blame me."

"What I can blame you for is Marina bringing up the topic of whether I am paying you to be Dot's date."

His eyebrow rose. "The girl's sharper than I thought."

Trey ignored that. "I didn't say yes or no, but then she said I should so you'll do the fucking job right. She didn't say 'fucking.'"

"She said that."

Trey was pretty goddamned proud on her behalf, he had to admit.

"Damn," Gio drawled, clearly as impressed as Trey.

"Exactly. I'm paying you. Do the fucking job. You know how to treat women, so what the fuck about this girl's got your nose out of joint?"

"I don't want her to get the wrong idea about my intentions."

"That's what I told her. She informed me that Dot's future plans do not include men."

"Pretty sure they don't include women," Gio said dryly.

"They include college," Trey said archly, also strangely proud of that. Before he could wonder why, he realized he shouldn't have said it at all because now Gio was slumping in his chair.

"College," he muttered, pressing his fingers into his eyeballs.

Trey glared at him, his patience almost at its breaking point and he wasn't even a week into this con. To be fair, today's disaster wasn't all Gio's fault. Marina's mother was in a snit over Trey's attentions—or so he assumed, since that was how he would expect a mother to be if her sixteen-year-old daughter was being courted by a twenty-four-year-old man. But Marina was damn near devastated by her mother's disdain, and watching her confusion and hurt was painful. Marina's pragmatism as to how to solve the Dot-and-Gio problem was surprising, but it was a problem she could solve, which she couldn't do with her mother.

"I know you want a nice girl—"

"And I have no hope for one, for anything better than this—" He gestured around. "—and she reminds me every minute I'm with her. And now I find out she plans to go to college. This girl's so far above me I can't see the soles of her feet through the clouds."

"So what. She's perfect for you to practice on, which is one reason you agreed to this. So do it and quit acting like you're about to strangle her. You are in no danger of becoming an object of that future Carrie Nation's affections. All you gotta do is ask her questions about herself and listen. You act like you've never been around a girl you like before."

"I haven't," he drawled contemptuously. "I'm twenty-two. I've been working for you for four years. The last time I was around a girl I like was five years ago and I wasn't any better at it then than I am now, particularly since her father and my father have hits out on each other."

Huh. That was a problem. Trey had the luxury of going with nice girls because, even though his home was a speakeasy, he didn't have to do what Gio did when he got home. Trey's father was also not engaged in a turf war with any girl's father. Trey's father had died of a broken heart.

Trey chewed on the inside of his cheek. What to do, what to do. "Alice!" he roared.

Soon enough, his favorite girl clattered down the stairs while wrapping herself up. "Yeah, Boss?"

He pointed at Gio. "Teach him how to act around nice girls he likes."

Alice blinked.

"No, it's not you," Trey said impatiently. "He needs practice at being around nice girls."

"I'm a nice girl?" she asked incredulously.

"Used to be. You didn't forget all that, didja? You came up in a wealthy family. You got a week to turn Gio into a goddamned Gatsby."

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