Butch hung up his cell phone, and began to pace around his office.
He had never heard Pauley so distracted. She wouldn’t tell him much more than the hit was done, but there was a serious breach in their cover.
A Cuban cigar hanging unlit between his teeth, Butch nearly chewed through the Corona. His plan had been good on paper. Pauley was a consummate professional, and would have never allow herself to be made. If Millicent blew their cover, Arthur would pay. He was a liability that Butch was tired of carrying.
Pauley asked for a face-to-face, telling him she needed help disappearing for a while until the heat from Niles’ death cooled down. Butch heard something in her voice that told him she wasn’t scared, she was angry. She was holding back, not telling him everything that went wrong.
Crossing the room, he opened his wall safe. Pulling out two, $20,000 bricks of cash, he also removed several passports. Spreading the blue folios over his desk, he sorted through them until he found he one he wanted. Flipping through the pages, he pulled out one made for Pauley. She might enjoy an extended vacation in Morocco, he thought
Picking up the handset of the old, black rotary phone on his desk, a throw back to easier times, Butch dialed Gail’s number.
“She’s in trouble, and we have to move up our plans,” Butch said without preamble. “I don’t know yet, she’s not telling me exactly what went wrong”
Butch listened for a moment, shaking his head at what Gail was saying.
“I’ll make her understand, she’ll listen to me,” Butch tried pacing again, but the phone’s coiled cord tethered him to the desk. “It’ll be okay, Gail. I promise. I can make this right.”
Opening his office door, Butch’s sargeant and driver Stanley was immediately at the threshold. Butch handed him the cash and passport, tucked into a nondescript manila envelope, then followed the man to a waiting Lincoln Town Car.
Butch told Stanley the address of where to meet Pauley, then sat back and tried to work out what he would say to her about Gail. He’d have to break the news of her faked death gently, try to explain why her mother felt it was better to leave than stay in a desperate marriage.
While Stanley stayed at the front of the restaurant, Butch made his way to the private dining room in the back. The owner had closed his doors to regular patrons, giving Butch and his guests the privacy they requested.
Pushing through the curtain, Butch was surprised to see Millicent was there too.
“Tell me what happened,” Butch pulled out a chair.
“I got made,” Pauley was a ball of nerves. Butch could see she was about to explode.
“By who, no one should have known you,” Butch poured himself and Pauley shots from the bottle of bourbon on the table.
“By Niles.” Pauley downed the shot in one gulp. “Except, he used the wrong name.”
“What are you talking about, wrong name? You said he made you.” Butch sat his glass down without drinking.
“Think before you answer this one, Butch,” Pauley kept her voice even, but slammed down the shot glass on the table. “Were you ever going to tell me my mother was alive?”
Butch turned toward Millicent, who was sitting quietly sipping a glass of Riesling.
“That son of a bitch father of yours is behind this ain’t he?” Butch demanded.
“Don’t blame Arthur for your screw up,” Millicent practically purred. “Niles called her Gail. It wasn’t difficult to figure it out from there.”
Turning back to Pauley, Butch held out his hands to her in an almost pleading way.
“Just tell me where she is, or where she’s been,” Pauley said, moving away from him.
“I can do better than that, I can take you to her,” Butch tried to smile.
The next chapters in Dead Money, a summer series written with Lance, he of My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog fame. His newest installment is “Getting Even.” To read what has happened before, check out “Dead Money.”