Chapter 1, page 8

If I had not mentioned it earlier, this would have been a fair question. The only thing that absolutely had to be real was my entrance fee, the rest I could have simply made, but where would the fun be if I cheated even a little bit? And since everything I had, from the cash all the way down to my shiny new accessories, was legitimate, I felt like boasting. “I can’t speak for the money that I used to buy it all, but everything I have now is nice and clean.”

“Wait a minute!” I could hear the shock in his voice, it was so thick I had trouble recognizing his voice. “That would mean that your current car is nice and legal.”

Chuckling, I tried to comment but I was unable to get the words out past my genuine amusement. When I was finally able to speak my voice was still tinged with laugher. “That was an odd experience. Did you know this is actually the first car I’ve legally owned?”

I could hear laughter emanate from the other side of the call as Matt replied, “That’s a disturbing little fact Marcus.”

“Isn’t it?” Securing the phone with my shoulder I pulled my wallet out of my back pocket and started fishing through it as I offered a quasi-explanation. “But I figured that I should get some practice at handing over that kind of money, so in an effort to grow in character, I decided to buy the car.”

“Is that it?” Matt asked in amusement as I thumbed through the contents of my wallet.

“What’s so funny?” I asked as I finally found what I was looking for.

“What was her name Marcus?”

Taken aback by his question I managed to respond without a significant break in the conversation. “Matt, what are you talking about?” I somehow managed to keep my voice from cracking.

“If you won’t tell me her name, at least tell me you got her phone number.” Matt said, all too eager to pounce onto this topic.

For the briefest of moments I actually wished that we were still talking about Dempsey, then I realized what I was wishing for and I hit my head on the wall. Did I really almost drive the conversation back there? Matt knew that there were only a handful of topics that I considered off limits with him, just a handful. This was one of those topics. There were some things that we simply don’t need to share. He knew this would get under my skin, and I knew he was already trying to get payback.

“Who said the dealer was a woman?”

With a snort he replied, “Yeah and…”

Growling a warning I immediately cut him off, “Off topic, Matt.”

Clicking his tongue, I could hear the glee in his voice. “So after spending all that money, you failed to get her number. No wonder you’re a little cranky.”

Unable to restrain myself any longer, I released a pent up sigh as I pulled a card from my wallet. Turning it over I was able to see Robin’s cell number scrawled in crisp, clean numbers. I knew I was allowing Matt to run wild with an assumption, but I rather enjoyed guiding him down that path. It was good for my soul, letting him think he got back at me, just a little. “Matt, if you’re just going to give me grief…”

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