Or the fact she wasn’t ten feet away from him, that hot little body alone in that big bed.

He did not want to talk about what he did with the extra four hours he had that others didn’t.

In fact, Mo wasn’t a big fan of talking at all.

“I work out,” he said.

“For four hours?” she asked.

“Havin’ a job with Hawk isn’t nine to five. I also work missions.”

“Missions?”

“Yeah.”

“You call them ‘missions,’ not ‘cases?’”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

Lord save him from chatty women.

“Because we’re all former soldiers, not ex-cops,” he shared.

“All of you?”

“Yeah.”

“How many of you are there?”

Good Christ.

“Lottie, go to sleep.”

He heard her loud sigh and then, “I can’t. I’m always jazzed after a night on.”

She should be exhausted.

She only worked at most thirty-six minutes in the four and a half hours she was at Smithie’s (not counting the hour and a half she needed to be there before her first set to get ready), but when she was dancing she gave it her all.

Not to mention, she did new full makeup and changed her hair for each set, not just the outfit she took off. It was an all-new Lottie every time she appeared on stage.

No one could say she didn’t work for her percentage of the cover, if she got one. But no one bought a house like this on Gaylord a block from City Park who didn’t make some cake.

Mo wanted her to be exhausted. Needed her to be. Not only so she’d shut up, but because he didn’t need to be thinking she was “jazzed” which would only make him consider the varied ways he’d help her work that off, how much he’d enjoy them and how much more he’d enjoy making her enjoy them.

“Count sheep,” he advised.

“Does that work?”

Fuck if he knew.

“Put your body to sleep inch by inch,” he said.

That always worked for Trine, Sister #4. She was always on the move. Constantly busy. Found it hard to shut down. Even as a kid.

When they were little, Mo would sit with her and whisper, “Start with your toes, Treenz. Point. Flex. Then put ’em to sleep.”

Always, by the time he got to her belly, Trine was out.

“Say what?” Lottie asked.

“Start with your toes,” Mo said. “Point ’em. Flex ’em. Then put ’em to sleep.”

He gave it a sec.

“You doin’ that?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she told him.

“Now your feet,” he ordered into the dark. “Point, flex, then feel ’em get heavy and let them go.”

Another second and he let that go to two.

“Now your calves,” he continued. “Tighten ’em. Let them go. Feel ’em relax. Then put ’em to sleep.”

Mo gave it another sec.

And another.

And one more.

“They asleep?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she answered. “I think so.”

“Now your knees.”

“Is this what you do?” she asked.

“It doesn’t work if you talk through it,” he told her.

“Right,” she muttered.

“Knees, Lottie.”

“’Kay,” she mumbled.

It took to her shoulders, Mo making his voice quieter and quieter, giving it more time in between, before he started on the neck and she didn’t answer.

Good.

She was asleep.

Mo stared at the ceiling but could see nothing but Lottie in that nightie.

The nightie morphed into her dancing.

Fuck.

Torture.

He rolled to his side and closed his eyes.

And saw her face, terrified, eyes filled with tears.

He opened his, moved his hand, found his gun under the toss pillow right where he put it.

Mo drew in a big breath and released it.

He tried that again.

After that, he started with his toes.

They were still in boots.

He gave up after getting all the way to his scalp and fell asleep two hours later with his hand curled around the butt of his gun.

Chapter Four

Whitening Strips

Mo

The next morning, Mo sat on the couch he’d slept on while Lottie was in the bathroom doing whatever she did first thing in the morning.

He was on his phone with Hawk.

It was eight thirty and he was surprised she was up that early.

He’d been up since six.

“No on the prints. Got a sample to the DNA lab to see if we can catch something on that, but if he’s not in the system for his prints, even if they can pull some, he won’t be in the system for DNA,” Hawk briefed him. “FBI is still running the language. That might take some time.”

“And?” Mo asked.

“And, customers Smithie, Jorge, Joaquim and me tagged as possibles got tails home last night. We’re goin’ into their places today to take a closer look.”

“I’ll take odds that he didn’t send that letter and knows Smithie’s gonna get it around about yesterday and he’s gonna show at the club. He’s gotta know Smithie is gonna call someone in.”

“He’s also probably expecting cops.”

“You and Jorge don’t look like titty bar regulars, Hawk.”

“You want us to work this situation or sit on our hands for a coupla days?” Hawk asked.

Mo shut his mouth.

His boss was older than him, not by much, so it wasn’t like he was a father figure.


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