The Keystone wasn’t exactly a dive, but it wasn’t the glitzy Vegas you see on TV. The lighting was dim, the furniture dated, and the bar itself was in need of varnish. The bartender’s beady eyes locked onto me as I walked in. He could be the father of one of the twin goons I’d met in the alley. His beefy build, close cut hair said, Don’t Bother.
My Goddess eyes didn’t have to adjust to the light, but no one knew that. I walked straight to the bar.
“Where’s Bill?” I asked. The only customer was a guy in a gray hoodie and white running shoes. He didn’t look up, continuing to stare at the almost empty glass in front of him.
“Who’s asking?” the bartender growled.
“A friend of Ravi, and don’t bother coming back with a, ‘he’s not here’. I know he’s here.”
The bartender’s lips pressed together as he rubbed the counter with a towel, then wiped his hands. He refilled the glass of the hoodie-guy with top-shelf vodka.
“I’ll be right back,” Beady-eyes whispered to the customer, but of course I heard every word. The customer didn’t glance up or even pick up the drink. I walked past him and the scent of almond extract wafted over me.
I glanced back and he was gone.
I whirled around. “Where did…”
“Oh, Jack? Yeah, he has a tendency to do that. Don’t worry about it. Vegas,” the bartender replied.
I was not okay with magic tricks that weren’t on my radar. I’d be back to check it out.
Beady-eyes led me through a door and down a paneled hall. The door at the end had a push-button lock on it. He stopped before that and knocked on the last door on the right. It cracked open.
“Lady here to see Bill.”
“He’s not expecting anyone.”
I shoved Beady-eyes to one side without touching him and pushed the door open.
“I don’t need an appointment. Everyone sees me when I want them to.” The two goons hanging out by the other door in the room which likely led to the alley. They stood up with their hands going for their guns.
I wiggled my empty fingers at them. “No need, I only want to have a chat. I have a message from Ravi for Bill.”
“It’s okay. I have a couple of minutes,” Big Bill said lifting a hand with a gold signet ring on it.
I switched my attention to him as the goons relaxed. Bill wasn’t big at all. He was shorter than me by a good six inches, and his black suit made him even less imposing. The slicked black hair enhanced his receding hairline, making his sharp nose more prominent. The stylist shows I’d been streaming would have a ball giving him a makeover.
The gold of the signet flashed as he drummed his fingers impatiently.
“What about Ravi?” he asked.
“The debt he owes you? He’s paying it right now.”
“I see no Ravi, who’s paying?”
“Great. Where is it?”
I slipped a hand into my jacket and the two goons at the door jumped up, going for their guns again.
I shoved my other hand into my pocket and fingered the silver key there. The energy coursed through me as the key dissolved into my palm. The black bag flashed with a silver light, but I bet none of them noticed.
I whipped out the velvet bag and held it up. “No guns guys, chill out.”
I dropped the bag in front of Bill.
He stared at it. “You open it,” he said.
“Don’t trust me, huh?” I picked up the bag and spilled the diamonds out in front of him.
“Easy ten there, probably closer to twenty. Keep the change and keep away from Ravi. Got it?”
I turned to leave, but the bartender stepped between me and the door.
I glanced back at Bill, who had a loupe covering one eye and was ogling the biggest diamond.
“Nah, let her go,” Bill said. “Nice doing business with you—what did you say your name was?”
“Cate.” The short form of my name scraped across my tongue. It was a necessary evil. Even Goddesses have to make sacrifices.
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