“And the apartment building?”
“Darren will deal with it,” she said. “It’ll be good to get away from the whole Cooper/Talia situation. He may be hot as hell, but so far as I’m concerned, the man is pond scum. He’s got a girlfriend and he’s making moves on you, which means he’s dog shit in my book. I don’t care what the rules of their relationship are—he had no business dragging you into his mess.”
“It wasn’t like that,” I insisted. She raised her brows. “Okay, what he did was pretty shitty. But I shouldn’t have gone to his apartment, either. I’m adult enough to own my own mistakes, Carrie. It’s not like his relationship with Talia was a secret.”
“Let’s agree to disagree. Now, what needs to happen to get your ass to Seattle?”
Looking around, I frowned at the kitchen. The cleanup alone would take hours.
“No, I’ll take care of the mess here,” she said, apparently reading my mind. “You just grab your supplies and pack some clothes.”
I sighed. “I’ll need to call Brandon.”
“Call and leave a message with his paralegal. Treat him like he treated you, and if it’s inconvenient, that’s just frosting.”
The look on her face was so gleeful that I had to smile.
“Tell me how you really feel.”
“Just respecting the no-bullshit clause in our friendship, Tink.”
“I know,” I said. “That’s what I love about you. Well, that and the way you’re always bringing me food and booze.”
“Priorities, babe. It’s all about the priorities.”
“Ah crap,” I muttered, realizing I had another problem.
“There’s no way I can carry everything in the convertible,” I said, groaning. “What was I thinking, trading in my van for a Mustang?”
Carrie burst out laughing, and I glared at her.
“If I hear the words ‘midlife crisis’ I’m strangling you.”
“You were being impulsive for once in your life, which you deserve,” she replied. “Now, ask nicely and I’ll loan you my Suburban.”
“May I please borrow the great big giant SUV you drive because you’re short and compensating?”
“Yup. And I’ll even throw in a bottle of wine, just in case Brandon gets handsy. You can break it over a counter and cut him with it.”
“Oh, I like that idea. I like that idea a lot.”
“Made a helluva mess,” I told Picnic. I sat on my couch, feet up on the coffee table, considering my options.
“Sounds like it.”
“You’re a ray of fuckin’ sunshine, aren’t you?”
Picnic laughed, and I could almost see the expression on his face through the phone. “I like to look on the bright side.”
“So let’s discuss the next step,” I said. “I managed to patch things up with Talia. Wasn’t easy or fun. Never thought I’d be saying this, but I’m really over the sex. I’m also worried she’ll do something crazy to Tinker. Bitch was unhinged.”
“You gotta stay the course,” he said. “We don’t have the information we need yet.”
“How much proof do you need?” I asked, feeling frustrated. “The Nighthawk Raiders are fucked, it’s obvious. Why can’t we just sweep in and take over? They’re a support club—not like they have any rights in the situation. We come in, we clean house. Problem solved.”
Picnic sighed. “You know it’s more complicated than that. It’s not just about them. Marsh is working with someone north of the border and we don’t know who. We step in now, we’ve only solved half the problem. His partners will find some other asshole to work with. We need more information so we can shut them down for real.”
“I need Tinker safe.”
He didn’t say anything for long seconds.
“How important is this woman to you?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I mean, I want to fuck her. Can’t stop thinking about it.”
“So you want to blow a major operation because you’re horny?”
I considered the question, then figured I might as well lay it all out for him.
“No,” I said. “I mean, yeah, I wanna fuck her. But it’s more than that. There’s something about her. I can’t quite explain it, but I’m thinkin’ about her a lot. Maybe . . . I dunno.”
“Never heard you talk like this. Surprises me.”
“You and me both.”
“Okay. Hang on as long as you can and keep us posted. You’re the one with eyes on the situation. If you need backup or something, let me know. We could also extract her. If you’re serious about her, I mean.”
I considered the suggestion.
“Think I might be.”
Picnic gave a short laugh. “This should be entertaining.”
“Go fuck yourself.”
“I’d rather fuck London,” he said. “Hang in there, okay? We’ve got your back. And remember, pulling her out is still an option if you think she’s in real danger. I’ll ride over and do it myself. It’ll scare the shit out of her, though, so let’s not pull the trigger on that unless we’re out of options.”
“Sounds good,” I told him. Then I thought of something. “Pic, can you do me a favor?”
“You ever hear of a prosecutor named Brandon Graham? He’s the director of the King County criminal division.”
“Sounds familiar,” he said. “I can ask around, see if we’ve got any intel. Why?”
“Well, technically he’s married to Tinker Garrett.”
Picnic burst out laughing. “You have got to be fucking kidding me. You can’t keep it simple, can you?”
“Just tell me what you find out,” I replied, wishing he were here in person so I could flip him off. “I gotta get to work. Should probably make sure Tinker’s okay this morning, too. That’ll be a fun conversation.”
Picnic snorted, and I hung up on his ass. Then I stood slowly, running a hand through my hair. I’d well and truly fucked things up, no question. Still, remembering the feel of her mouth under mine I couldn’t quite regret it.