It wasn’t funny, but Pauley struggled to not laugh at Vivian’s vehemence.
Sitting on the edge of the table, she held out her hand for the offending note.
“Whoa, slow down there Morticia.” Pauley wadded the paper, and stuffed it into her shirt. “We’re going to need Danela. We can turn this around on them. If we take care of her now, we’ll lose that element of surprise.”
“How can you be so cavalier?” Vivian sputtered. “That little wench set up you up to be killed.”
This time Pauley let a giggle escape, causing Vivian to glare at her with white-hot hatred.
“The menina estúpida doesn’t have a clue who I am, and neither do the even stupider Sampas.” Pauley stood up, taking Vivian by the shoulders. “Again, this is to our advantage. I’m not worried.”
Vivian set her jaw, and looked away, but tolerated Pauley holding her arms.
“I don’t like letting this sort of insult pass.” Vivian lowered her head and glared up at Pauley. “When this is over, I will exact my pound of flesh.”
A full-throated laugh exploded from Pauley. Wiping tears, she pulled her friend into a rare and unexpected hug.
“You were born in the wrong era,” Pauley said, releasing a shocked Vivian. “You belong in Caligula’s court or are a Borgia reincarnated.”
Vivian allowed herself a small smile at the mention of the infamous arsenic-poisoning family. Trying to regain her composure, she smoothed her blouse and skirt.
A movement at the corner of her vision caught her attention. Danela was standing in the doorway of the storeroom, torn between entering the room and leaving the women alone.
“Did you need something Danela?” Vivian asked between clenched teeth. Raising an eyebrow, she grabbed Pauley’s hand.
“I don’t think she heard anything,” Pauley pried Vivian’s grip from her wrist, whispering. “But, I do think she understands and probably speaks better English than she pretends.”
Pauley stood, and swept past Vivian. Closing the distance between them and Danela in two strides, Pauley put her arm around the younger woman’s shoulders, guiding her into the room.
“We haven’t met formally,” Pauley purred. “Eu sinto muito. Meu nome é Pauley. Eu sou amante de Vivian da América.”
Vivian raised both hands to cover her mouth, her eyes wide in disbelief.
“It’s okay sweetheart,” Pauley kept Danela close, smiling at her friend. “We don’t have to hide here.”
Helping the younger women to a chair, Pauley turned her back and winked at Vivian, then mouthed, “play along.”
Holding out her hand, Pauley was relieved when Vivian grasped it, smiling.
“Danela, I want you to watch the store today,” Vivian pulled Pauley closer, grabbing her arm too. “I’m… I want to show Pauley the city.”
The younger girl tried to sneak a look at the wall clock. It was a quarter til noon.
“You are leaving?” She forgot to mimic her halting English. “You cannot.”
Squeezing Pauley’s hand and arm to the point of pain, Vivian took a deep breath.
“I can and I am,” she spoke calmer than she felt. “You will be fine without me here. If you have any problems, you can call my cell.”
Glancing up at the clock, Pauley nodded toward it so Vivian would also see the time.
“Good luck,” Pauley said, following Vivian out the back door. “Don’t forget to lock up after us.”
Watching the door shut, Danela stomped over to the exit, and kicked the wall. Leaning against the door, she started patting at her pockets, looking for her phone. When she couldn’t find it, she began panicking.
A familiar ringtone sounded from the debris on the desk. Rifling through the papers, she picked up her phone, wondering how it got in the storeroom. Seeing the caller ID, she let it go to voice mail.
Locking the back door, she also laid the security bar across the frame and turned on the alarm. With only a few minutes before the security system went active, she hurried through the empty store. After locking the front door, she looked around the busy street, then began walking east as quickly as she could.
For more from Pauley and Vivian, and their Brazilian Job:
Girl from Ipanema
Hello, It’s Me
I want you around
Point and shoot
Ain’t It Heavy
Out going mail