19 1 0

The next afternoon, Trey got summoned to the Jackson County Democratic Club, which he had expected to be any day now. Trey took Boss Tom his books on or around the first of every month, but not until he was summoned.

"Yeah, Boss," he drawled as he swaggered into Boss Tom's very small, modest office in a very small, modest building on 19th and Main, his books tucked under his arm.

Boss Tom tapped his finger on his desk and Trey dropped his books on them, then dropped himself into a chair.

Pendergast thumbed through them and checked random lines against a book he already had open. Trey had every confidence in his own bookkeeping. He had no confidence in whoever did the bookkeeping Tom was checking against.

"Why's it say you took delivery of forty-eight cases of whiskey, but you only show thirty-six?"

"'Cuz I only got thirty-six." Trey remembered that delivery, too. "Brody checked that delivery and called me out back, said I got shorted a dozen cases. I counted 'em. Thirty-six. Called Vern out. He counted 'em. Thirty-six. Cat says, 'Oh, no, I got another dozen comin'.' I say okay, sign off on thirty-six—bill of lading's right there, see the bookmark—and bring me the dozen you owe me. Cat never shows up. An' I remember that 'cuz I knew he wa'n't gonna come back. Damn near called up a notary, I was so sure."

Boss Tom pursed his lips, pulled the lading slip out and saw that it had Brody's initials, Vern's initials, Trey's initials, and the delivery man's signature.

"You can't prove he didn't."

"No, I can't," Trey said firmly. "But ask your Mormons."

"I'll do that," Boss Tom said vaguely, snapping the ledger closed, "and if you're right, I'll have you take care of it."

"Boss," Trey said flatly. "I ain't got a murderin' interest in this cat an' I'm busy with Marina Scarritt."

"How's that coming along, by the way?" Tom asked pleasantly enough. "You never were one to let grass grow under your feet."

"If you know that much, you know how I'm doin'," Trey shot back. "Handlin' her and her little friend's a delicate operation."

"Yeah, I wanna talk to you about her little friend. You don't catch Dot in whatever crossfire you and your gigolo—"

"Assistant manager."

"—gigolo are setting up, you hear me? Last thing I need is Rev Albright in my office."

Trey suddenly realized Boss Tom actually feared Albright and having Gio mess with his daughter was a bit short-sighted on Trey's part. At this point, Trey was convinced that for the last five years he'd been traveling too fast for his headlights and his brakes had just gone out.

"Might be too late," Trey mumbled. "Gio went an' got himself smitten. He's due at her church tonight to see some show they're puttin' on."

Boss Tom groaned. "Good Lord."

"On the bright side, now he has a reason to keep her out of the crossfire."

Pendergast conceded that point with a grunt. "And if Albright finds out, it's not on me."


"Now, Dunham, I'm a little concerned about your lack of firepower over there."

Trey's eyebrow rose and his spine began to tingle. "I didn't think I needed much."

Boss Tom's eyebrow rose. "You've got a Maranzano underboss's runaway hitman who now makes his living with his dick—" Oh, shit. He did know who Gio was. "—the daughter of a Mormon bishop I don't want to piss off, my gin mill which is now in play, and the head Mafioso in this town who might want a piece of your action whether you win the bet or not, and you think you don't need much?"

"I'll rethink."

1520 MainRead this story for FREE!