Where the fuck was she?
“Where to next, sir?” Louis asked as I returned to the car.
“Eighth Avenue. Tig’s Tattoo Shop.”
When we arrived, I told Louis to wait outside; I was going to need that car ready to book it once I got Tig to tell me where she was.
Tig blew out the last of his cigarette. “Suit! What the hell are you doing here? It’s late. We’re about to close.”
“Where is she?”
“She’s not here.”
“Where is she?” I repeated louder.
“She’s in California with Del.”
“Yeah. They went on a girls’ trip. Just the two of them.”
“Where are they staying?”
“I’m not telling you where they’re fucking staying. You’re her fucking crazy ex!”
“I need to call the hotel. She’s not answering her phone. Actually, call Delia. Tell her I need to speak to Soraya.”
I approached him, getting uncomfortably close to his face. “Give me the info, Tig. You have no idea what I’m capable of in this state of mind.”
“Oh, I know what you’re capable of, pretty boy. You wrecked my cousin Marco’s jaw.”
Tig seemed to realize that he’d slipped up. His cousin. He was in on the act.
“He’s not her boyfriend at all, is he?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“I read the fucking Ida column, Tig. I know she made the whole thing up. Whether you admit to it or not, I know the truth. You need to tell me where she is.”
“What are you gonna charter your fancy jet to California? With your money, I’ll let you hire a private investigator. You’re not getting her whereabouts from me.”
A light bulb went off in my brain as I walked over to a small box hidden in the corner of the shop. “What’s this over here? Your stash of weed? I bet the cops would love to know about this.”
“You wouldn’t do that…”
“I will do anything to get to Soraya right now. Do I look like I’m kidding?”
“Jesus, your fucking eyes are demonic.”
“Tell me where she is, Tig.”
He angrily scrolled his phone then wrote an address down on a scrap of paper before throwing it at me. “Here. It’s Del’s brother’s condo in Hermosa Beach.”
I patted the paper to my chest and walked backward toward the door. “Thank you. No hard feelings. I wouldn’t have snitched on you. Soraya would never speak to me again. And I couldn’t risk that because I really fucking love that woman.”
“Whatever, MBP.” For the first time, though, Tig looked like he actually believed me. He shook his head, his mouth curving into a slight smile. “You’d better not hurt her, Suit.”
I’D HOPPED THE NEXT commercial flight to LAX.
When I arrived at the condo, no one was there. Soraya’s phone continued to go to voicemail as did Delia’s. At least, I knew she’d be coming back here. According to Tig, they were scheduled to be here another few days.
Taking a walk down to the beach, I decided I needed to let her know I was here. I started shooting off a series of texts to her, pouring out my heart, even though she hadn’t been responding to any of my messages.
I hadn’t been paying attention and somehow knocked into a muscular man walking a little spotted goat.
What the fuck?
“Watch where you’re goin’, Mate,” he said with an Australian accent.
“Sorry, man. My head is not together today.”
“I’m looking for someone.”
He nodded his head knowingly. “A woman.”
“What gave it away?”
“You remind me of myself a few years back, roaming this beach, lovesick over my Aubrey—oblivious to everyone around me. It all works out if it’s meant to be, you know.”
“Why are you…walking a goat?”
“It’s a long story. If you want to take a walk with us, I’ll give you the deets, get your mind off the woman for a bit…till you find her.”
His name was Chance Bateman. He was a former Australian soccer star, now living in Hermosa Beach. He told me the story of how he’d met his wife, Aubrey, at a rest stop in Nebraska. They went on an adventurous road trip together but ended up getting separated for some time after. But things worked out in the end.
I proceeded to share my own story with him. The one big similarity was that we’d each met our women in the unlikeliest of places.