Good morning Friends! *sips coffee* Need something to warm you up this chilly, chilly, January morning? I've got just the thing for you! This week I'm giving away copies of Keeping House to anyone who comments on this post... that's right. EVERYONE who comments wins! If you already have Keeping House, then you may choose any of my other titles, such as A Man of Unusual Talent, Heart of Clay, or Cranberry Pi. Just make sure to include your email in your comment so I can reach you.
The Fine Print: Contest prizes are awardable in e-format only. Contest ends on January 20th. Winners will be contacted on January 21st.
Truth or Dare Book #1
Mischa knows his brothers are up to something. He doesn't realize it will lead him to Donovan Holloway and change his carefree lifestyle forever.
Having grown up in a free-love hippie commune taking care of the parents who should have been taking care of him, Donovan Holloway, advertising executive, newly made vice president of the company where he’s worked for twenty years, has come a long way. He’s worked hard to put himself through school and achieve the American dream. All he’s ever wanted is a normal family life—house in the suburbs, two cars, two kids, a shaggy dog. A family to come home to, to care for, to care for him has been his dream since he was a small boy.
Green-eyed, liberally pierced, black-haired, Mohawk-wearing spoiled youngest son of a Hollywood producer and his actress wife, Mischa Blake has made a terrible mistake. In a fit of childish pique, he’s accepted a dare from his older brothers. The dare? Live on his own, supporting himself completely, for a year without accessing his trust fund. No problem. Except Mischa has never worked a day in his life, hasn’t finished college, and has absolutely no skills to bring to the table.
When he sees Donovan’s ad for a housekeeper/gardener, he has nothing to lose by applying, because really…how hard can it be?
The door slamming behind Mischa Blake drew all his brothers' eyes to him. Satisfied he'd gained everyone's attention, he sauntered slowly into the room, resisting the urge to run his hand over the hair he knew damn well still stood in four-inch spikes down the center of his head to the nape of his neck. The pins holding his once designer jeans together were cold against his skin, the silk T-shirt paired with them too tight. He looked like he'd just been out clubbing, which he had. He should have gone home and changed, had even given the idea some thought, but when one more dance led to another and then another, he'd run out of time. Which was fine, because he rather liked forcing his brothers to acknowledge the real Mischa, not the Michael they wanted to make him. He met each pair of familiar green eyes defiantly, refusing to look away.
"Hey," he ventured, hoping his voice wouldn't squeak. That was all he needed, to sound like a kid again. Then his brothers never would give up control of his trust fund.
"Damn it, Mischa!" Terry, Chief Financial Officer of the family-owned production studio that employed every member of the Blake family—except Mischa—immediately leaned away as Mischa took the seat at the green baize game table right next to him. His nostrils flared and his mouth twisted into a disgusted scowl. "You stink! Where the hell have you been?"
Dan, the creative brother, studio scriptwriter, the brother most like Mischa in personality—though even that was a stretch—leaned in and sniffed appraisingly. "Somewhere that beer and pot are readily had in great quantities judging by the smell." There was no judgment or accusation there, but rather a knowing sort of superiority that made Mischa want to sucker-punch his brother. Dan smoked, he was way too familiar with the scent of good weed for Mischa to believe he was innocent on that front, but Dan apparently felt no compunction about throwing Mischa under the bus.
The bus being Brandon, eldest brother, CEO of the studio, and all around royal pain in Mischa's ass. Brandon frowned in disapproval. "Are you hanging out in those clubs again? Damn—the fucking paparazzi would love to catch you in some club. I can see the headlines now. Blake's Youngest Son—Underage Alcoholic and Drug Addict—Caught in Gay Sex Club Scandal." Brandon had explained it all to a very confused fifteen-year-old Mischa. He could be gay, and his brothers would still love him, his parents would accept him. He just couldn't be gay in public because it was bad publicity for the studio. Which made absolutely no sense to Mischa, then or now.
Either it was okay to be gay or it wasn't. Regardless, he was, and if the sneaking paps wanted to follow him around taking pics of him making out with guys, then how was that any worse than them chasing down Dan's flavor of the week and touting pregnancy rumors about the self-proclaimed playboy of the family?
Mischa scowled in return, clicking the stud in his tongue against his front teeth, just because it annoyed Terry. That annoyance made the pain of the piercing and the six pounds he'd lost because he hadn't been able to eat for a week after getting it done worthwhile. A few weeks of privation and pain for a lifetime of guaranteed one-uppance on Terry? No comparison. "Fuck you all. Are we playing poker or not?"
These Wednesday night poker games between the Blake brothers were a long-standing tradition. He'd waited with all the patience a young boy could muster until at thirteen his much older brothers had finally deemed him old enough to join them. They'd begun the tradition before he was born, and being excluded had made him feel like an outsider for a long time. The first game he'd been permitted to attend, they'd all passed up alcohol and drunk soda. His brothers had patiently taught him the rules, and insisted on betting with chips instead of cash. Thanks to his superior private school education, he was already familiar enough with the game to take them unawares and win a few hands before they caught on that he wasn't a novice. Sometime that year they'd quit going easy on him, but he'd never let up on them.
Never would either. Not unless their attitudes changed. Because around this table, they had to treat him as an equal, not a baby or a nuisance.
With all the other traditions Mischa rebelled against, he couldn't even fathom why he'd rather die than miss this weekly game with his brothers. Unless it was because, here, he was as in control as they were. The rules of the game were the rules of the game, and birth order didn't play any part in them. Not that he'd let them know that, though. He made it a habit of either showing up late or insisting on leaving early—as though they were an added burden he could scarcely make time for in his busy life.
Mischa reached to his back pocket for his wallet and realized almost immediately that he must have left it behind at the party. He wasn't worried about losing his cards; probably Dex or Bella had picked up his wallet when he left it on the bar after paying the tab. If they hadn't, then he'd just get Terry to have new ones sent to him. Instead, he reached for Terry's wallet on the table to his right and rifled through it for cash to buy in.
"What the hell?" Terry demanded. "Are you broke already? I just deposited money in your account yesterday!"
"No. I'm good, for a while anyway. Just forgot my wallet at the party. And you wouldn't have to deposit money in my account all the time if you'd just loosen up the controls there and give me direct access to my accounts." Millions of dollars in trust funds and he had to beg for cash from his brothers before he could make a purchase, at least until he was thirty-five—fifteen long years from now. Terry's Spanish leather wallet yielded a wad of hundred dollar bills that Mischa extracted and tossed on the table in front of him.
Terry grabbed the wallet back and tucked it away in his jacket pocket, muttering dire insults under his breath. "You're paying that back."
Mischa smirked and clicked his piercing loudly. Trust Terry to be dressed for the office in a two thousand dollar suit at their poker game. At least he'd taken off the French silk Charvet tie. "You'll end up owing it to me in a few hours anyway!"
Brandon, Dan, and Terry did the older brother thing. Their eyes met in a circle around the table that excluded Mischa, and he flushed. That thing reminded him of the fact that even though they let him sit at the table and play cards, and take their money, he wasn't a part of them. He was a Blake, but not a blond-haired, green-eyed Blake. Oh, he had their father's green eyes, but they all took after their beautiful mother whose photos still graced the newspapers decades after her death; he resembled his own mother, dark hair, slim build and pale skin that just wouldn't tan, no matter how long he baked in the California sun. That thing they did made him an outsider, an inferior.
"Want to put your money where your mouth is, kid?" That was Brandon, pushing his buttons as only an older sibling could. Mischa hated being called kid, being reminded he was so much younger than his brothers.
"I'm not a kid. I'm an adult, a licensed driver, and a registered voter." He forced the words out, trying not to scream them. He'd made the same protest so many times before but it always fell on deaf ears. It really wasn't fair that his parents had left him in Brandon's care when they'd dashed off to pursue an active retirement in the South of France.
"When you support yourself and don't live off a trust fund, you're an adult. Until then, you're another rich kid with too much money and time on your hands." Brandon dismissed him, as though his entire existence were worthless if he didn't have a job at the family studio.
"Hey! You guys all have trust funds, too! If having one makes me a kid, then you're kids." He fucking knew he wasn't going to win this one, he never did.
"We also have careers with futures. You have nothing but a trust fund." That was Terry, putting in his two cents worth. Fuck that. Terry knew the value of a dollar—probably figured his two cents worth was actually worth two dollars.
"I'm an artist." That was the answer he gave his mother every time she asked, and it always resulted in an indulgent smile. She and his father had taken it into their heads to retire in the French Riviera last year, but they had traveled and been on set so much during his childhood that Brandon had really stood in more of a parental role than his parents had.
"Bullshit." Brandon spoke again. "Artists produce. We haven't seen any paintings, statues, photographs. You just use that as an excuse to get your mom to give you cash when your allowance runs out. She might buy it, but we don't."
There was no arguing with that. He did have a sketchbook, but as it was full of pencil drawings of the guys he'd fucked, or wanted to fuck, it was pretty useless at proving art was his career. Hell, it wasn't even much of a hobby. More of a scrapbook of awesome Friday nights…and Saturday nights…and— Disliking the way this train of thought made him feel more like a leech and less like a misunderstood genius, Mischa glared at Dan who was busily shuffling cards and had been for the past five minutes. "Fucking deal already so these assholes have something to think about besides my life and how they can ruin it."
Dan cleared his throat and swiftly dealt the cards around the table. "You guys up for a little side bet?"
Mischa peeked at his cards, not a bad hand to be dealt, then turned to Dan. His face was impassive, but there was no denying the fact that he was up to something.
Terry chimed in, equally impassive. "Money means nothing to us all, as the kid has pointed out, so how about we play for Truth or Dare?" Brandon was nodding before Terry had even finished speaking. "Yeah, last hand of the night. The winner chooses truth or dare, and the loser has to comply. And if he chickens out of the dare, then he owes everyone a penalty." Brandon was practically drooling over the idea, which made the hair on the back of Mischa's neck prickle.
Huh. He couldn't believe Terry actually came up with that himself. Creativity wasn't his strong suit. Numbers punching, multiplying dollars into hundreds, that was Terry. Devious, almost fun sounding games? Not really. It was a plot. Somehow, they were all in it together, and he was going to come out on the bottom of this someway. He picked absently at the loose threads in the rips of the five hundred dollar black jeans he'd bought, cut, and pinned back together while he considered his options. He had to make some move to salvage the situation, because protesting the game would mean he really was just a kid. The rules had to be established in the beginning, and he had to find a way to slant them in his favor.
"And if the loser follows through, he gets to claim a boon from each of the other players." It was the best he could do, and he knew exactly what boon he'd ask for too, because he was damn sure his brothers were going to manipulate him into losing. No way could his brothers come up with a dare he wouldn't fulfill. He'd do anything. There was no truth he wasn't willing to tell. This could definitely be worked to his advantage either way the chips fell. And if the cards fell in his favor tonight, they'd better look out because he had some pretty good dares he could lay on his superior older brothers. He wasted a few precious seconds imagining Brandon in drag, or forcing Dan to admit he smoked pot in his office with the writing team before getting serious. It was time to play some cards.
Two hours later his chances of being the big winner of the night looked good. Despite losing the last hand, he'd turned Terry's thousand dollars into twelve thousand, and was easily way ahead of his brothers for the night.
Terry shoved his chair back from the table and folded his hands in his lap. "Okay, guys, I'm done. That was the last hand."
Brandon and Dan made agreeing noises and Mischa stiffened in shock. Fuck. He was screwed.
"Wait a minute… You guys usually play a lot later than this. I mean, it's only eleven o'clock!"
"Nope." Brandon shook his head. "You usually leave around this time, and we always quit when you leave."
If that was the last hand, which he'd lost, that meant he'd really lost according to the game they'd proposed earlier.
Dan nodded in agreement. "And I make Brandon out as the winner of that hand, and you as the loser, squirt. So what'll it be, Brandon, Truth or Dare?"
It was so fake. So fucking staged; in hindsight, it was obvious. He'd been set up. The first hand he lost was destined to be the last hand they played no matter how many it took or how few. Mischa struggled to remain impassive, but anger at the injustice of being manipulated was simmering.
Brandon was a terrible actor. He smiled as he spoke lines that had probably been written by Dan expressly for the occasion. "Well, brother, I'm going to have to say Dare. But we should name the penalties before I tell him the dare, don't you think?"
"Oh, yeah," Terry was outwardly smirking now. "You owe one penalty per player, kid. If you welsh on the dare, I get to give you a complete makeover, new clothes, new hair, whole new style."
Surveying his brother's "style"—navy blue Brooks Brothers' suit, crisp white cotton shirt, Italian silk tie, and neatly trimmed blond hair—Mischa shuddered. He turned to Brandon, next brother in the row seated at the round table, and quirked his pierced left brow in what he hoped was a sardonic Spock-like inquiry and not a laughable dumb younger brother affectation.
Brandon smoothly responded with an elevated right brow and cough into his fist. "If you welsh, you take the assistant producer's job I've been holding open for you since you graduated high school. Join the family business and make yourself useful."
Damn. That was even worse. Terry might buy him new clothes, but he couldn't force him to wear them. He held his breath momentarily before turning to Dan. Dan could swing either way. He was the brother who understood Mischa best, but he was also the cleverest, most devious, and creative of the brothers. Sometimes he seemed almost conscience-less. No doubt he was the mastermind behind this whole plot.
Dan smiled broadly, tapping the playing cards against his chin gently as he considered his youngest brother. "If you welsh, brother, you attend the college of my choice for a full four years—or until you attain a degree, whichever comes first."
"That's a bit harsh!" Mischa protested. "In exchange for a single hand of cards, you guys expect to be able to run my life to suit yourselves for an infinite amount of time?"
"Oh, no," Brandon interjected smoothly. "We expect you to honor your debts, brother. Are you saying that you can't meet the dare? You don't even know what it is yet."
Good point. Given the penalties though, Mischa was pretty sure the dare was going to be something he would really hate. Didn't matter though. He'd do it. Even if it meant shaving off his beloved 'hawk, or…he couldn't really think of anything worse than the penalties they'd asked for. "Okay. What's the dare?"
They did it again, the older brother silent communication thing. This time Dan broke the silence.
"We dare you to get a job and support yourself without resorting to your trust fund for a whole year."
Mischa's mouth fell open. "That's all I have to do? Get a job?" He relaxed into his seat. He could do that, didn't everyone?
Terry shook his head. "No. You have to support yourself. No more sending your bills to me to pay. No more monthly deposits into your account. Take care of yourself."
If Terry had deposited his usual allowance into his account yesterday, that meant he had fifty thousand, plus the twelve on the table in front of him to get through the next year. People managed on less than that, right? So could he. "What if I can't find a job? I mean, I'll make every effort to find one, but if I don't get one?"
"Nope. Have to get a job." Brandon was insistent.
"But I have plenty of money to get through a year…even if I don't find a job."
Terry shook his head again. "No. You don't. You don't even have any idea how much your lifestyle costs, do you? The money I put in your account this morning won't last you a month at the rate you normally spend it. If you don't find a job, you'll be living a very different lifestyle next month, with a new hairstyle and a new wardrobe to match."
No freaking way. He'd find a way to beat his brothers at their own game.
The eviction notice fluttered to the floor, and he threw the checkbook after it. He'd known the rent was late. But he'd put it off because if he'd paid that outrageous sum, his account would have been completely empty. At first, he'd thought for sure he'd find a job and get caught up, but this past week he'd had to face the fact that getting a job was harder than he'd assumed it would be. Maybe he'd harbored a secret hope that Terry would break solidarity with his brothers and "accidentally" pay the rent.
Mischa threw himself onto his sofa, and leaned his head back to stare up at the ceiling of his loft. It was a soft, dove gray that he'd always found soothing, like when it rained ferociously fifty miles up the coast and the clouds hadn't quite lost the color of the storm, but you weren't in for any rain yourself.
He leaned forward and reached for his ebony box. He needed the smoke, needed to relax. It had been months, months of fruitless job searching, of watching the money in his accounts dwindle until he couldn't pay the rent, the payment on his Porsche, the credit cards and still put gas in his car and eat.
Jesus, the fucking credit cards had eaten up his allowance. How easy it had been to just swipe and sign and ignore the fact that one day that money had to be paid. He had thought that by the time the bill came due he'd be employed, earning the money he needed.
He'd been wrong. Everywhere he went he'd been laughed at, or treated with condescending disdain. Most of them hadn't known or cared that he was a Blake of Blake Studios. He had no degree, no experience, and no skills. In the job world, he was dirt.
Opening the black box, he extracted his pipe and a bag of fragrant prime bud. His cleaning lady had brought it to him, but since he'd had to tell her he couldn't pay her any more after this, it was probably the last time he'd be getting any of the stuff her son brought in on his monthly trips south of the border.
He'd miss Violetta more than the weed. In the week since her bi-weekly visits had stopped, his loft had gone from haven to chaos. Dust hadn’t covered the gleaming wood yet, but it would, eventually. For now, his mail was piling up and clutter was slowly gathering.
With a sigh, Mischa put the smoke back and picked up his laptop. The only way to get Violetta back was to get a job so he could pay her. He opened his browser and clicked on a link to a jobs website and began scanning for new leads. It was discouraging how many he'd already approached and been turned down for. From Coca-Cola distributor—who knew there was more than one kind of driver's license?—to file clerk—it was all alphabetical, wasn't it?—he was underqualified.
His phone chirped and he dropped the laptop on the glass-topped table to pick it up. That chirp promised distraction, and he desperately needed it. "Grady, what's up?"
"Hey, man. Where've you been?"
Hiding. Because he couldn’t afford the things he'd used to enjoy. "Oh, around. Just, busy. You know."
"We haven't seen you lately. Come on down to the club; the band is sick."
He could hear them, a deep throbbing beat and some howling guitar licks in the background. And, knowing the club they frequented, he'd likely find something besides dancing to take his mind off his troubles for a bit. "Okay, I'm in. I'll be there in twenty."
A little R and R and he'd be refreshed and ready to "job seek" in the morning.
Parking outside his favorite club was a bitch. Snagging one of the safety pins in his jeans on the smooth cream leather of his Porsche's upholstery was even worse. So he had a snarl on his face when he handed over the last twenty in his wallet to the bored-looking burly bouncer who guarded the door.
Inside, he was bathed in a cacophony of light and sound and smoke. It was pointless to try to find his friends in the crowd, so Mischa just pushed his way to the dance floor and threw himself into the music, letting himself get lost in sound and heat.
Faces blurred and hands came and went, on his hips, his shoulders, his ass. He danced with men and women alike until, suddenly, a familiar face popped up in front of him, laughing. The newcomer was pale-skinned, with bright blue eyes and artificially dark hair. His features were delicate, high cheek-boned and narrow chinned. If he were interested in acting, he'd have been cast easily as a vampire. "Trick." He smiled in greeting, pleased to see his friend. "Didn't know you guys were here too."
The dark-haired man leaned forward, pressing his lips to Mischa's ear. "Everyone's here."
The words were snatched away into the dull roar of music and people, and Mischa nodded, catching hold of Trick with one hand and wiping a stream of sweat off his brow with the other. "Yeah. Too many of them. Want to sit?"
Someone bumped into him from behind, a pointed chin dug into his shoulder as a warm body nestled close to him, rubbing against him. "We have a table in the back."
Mischa tipped his head back and received a friendly kiss in greeting. "Dex, I should have known where Trick was you weren't far away." The twins did everything together, and their obvious closeness made some people uncomfortable. Mischa didn't mind. They were both fascinatingly beautiful, mysterious and full of secrets. He enjoyed their company, the way they accepted him without question, listened to his dreams and plans without judgment.
They danced for a few minutes, Mischa sandwiched between the two brothers, savoring the closeness and the slow arousal that built between them. When his cock stiffened, and Trick's eyes flickered over his shoulder, he pushed gently, creating distance between them.
"Let's find that table. I could use a drink."
Dex's fingers tightened on his waist, and his lips were warm on Mischa's neck, nibbling their way up to his ear again. "You sure? We could go." He bumped his groin against Mischa's ass, long enough to show his own arousal. "The three of us."
Shaking his head, Mischa looped his arm through Trick's and stepped away. "I'm good. Don't think I haven't noticed how you two operate. I value our friendship more than any one-night stand, even if we are the three hottest things here."
"Let's go. I know Grady called you, but you know he's planning to stick you with the bill, same as always."
Mischa stiffened. Damn. That hadn't even occurred to him. "I haven't seen him."
"Don't look for him. Let's just…" Trick towed him toward the exit, Dex crowding from the rear again.
"Okay." And he obviously hadn't been as subtle about his monetary woes as he'd thought if Dex and Trick had noticed his reluctance to pick up the tabs when they were all out. Pride made him want to argue the point, to insist that this was where he wanted to be, what he wanted to be doing, but pride had learned to keep its mouth shut after his credit card popped the morning after the fateful poker game.
It wasn't his imagination that Dex and Trick seemed more relieved than disappointed either. They fell into a comfortable silence and maneuvered through the crowd to the entrance.
They'd nearly reached the exit when a hand caught his arm and Mischa jerked to a halt. Dex and Trick stopped seconds later, and the three of them stood face-to-face with a sneering Grady Otham, the more striking than handsome, occasional bed partner who'd invited Mischa to the bar.
"Where are you going? You haven't even had a drink with me yet. And we haven't danced!" They might not have had a drink together, but it was clear to anyone with eyes and a functioning nose that Grady had been drinking.
"I'm not feeling up to this after all. Dex and Trick"—Mischa waved at his friends—"and I are going somewhere quieter."
Grady's gaze barely flickered to Dex and Trick. They weirded him out, he always claimed, so he didn't even acknowledge them. "I thought…"
Dex stepped between them, cutting off Mischa's line of sight, and forcing Grady to release his grip. "Some other time. We have plans."
Grady jumped back as though touching Dex would contaminate him, and they were removing forward again, out the door and into the fresh open air. Mischa dragged in cooling lungfuls, but Dex and Trick kept him moving, dragging him past the crowd of hopefuls waiting to be let into the exclusive club, coming to a stop halfway down the block in front of an ice cream parlor that was closed for the night. During the day, Davyd and Saul, the proprietors, sold such delightful concoctions as peanut paradise, s'mores sundaes, and the straight up best, most decadent dark chocolate fudge sauce in the country while flirting with their customers, male, female, gay, straight, and undecided.
Too bad they were closed.
"Mischa? Where'd you park?"
He turned his gaze from the ice cream shop and glanced at Trick, who seemed apprehensive. "Down there, why?"
Instead of answering, Trick pointed, and Mischa followed the elegant gesture. What he saw made his blood run cold. His baby, his beautiful black Porsche, was being desecrated. "Hey!" he shouted, darting down the street as fast as dance weakened legs could carry him. "What the fuck are you doing? That's my car!"
The man straightened, and Mischa saw that he'd hooked a tow chain under the chassis. "This is your car?"
Mischa skidded to a halt, inches in front of the man, who towered over him. "I just said it was, didn't I?"
"I've been commissioned to repossess this car on behalf of the creditor. You're behind on the payments."
"Oh no, no. I’m not! I paid six months in advance because I knew…" He clamped his mouth shut and glanced over his shoulder at Trick and Dex who had followed him. "I paid ahead."
"You'll have to take that up with the bank. I don't do anything but take back the cars."
"But… You can't! I’m going to…" He grabbed for his phone, hitting Terry's number before he could think about it.
"Sorry, kid, I don't make the rules. You can contact your lender and make arrangements." Then the man loped off, swinging up into the cab of his truck and driving off while Mischa's phone bleated in his ear.
"'Lo?" Terry's voice was husky, as though he'd been asleep, or…
"Terry! What the fuck? They just took my Porsche. They can't do that."
"Seriously? Mischa, it's too fucking late for this. Come by the office tomorrow morning and I'll give you the phone number to call the bank."
An ugly, ugly suspicion crossed his mind. "You did this, didn't you? I paid up front for six months, just to make sure the payments were made."
A long-suffering sigh came down the line. Fabric rustled. "It's not my doing, dickhead. But it sounds like it's legitimate to me."
"Legitimate? They stole my car! I made my payments!"
"When you made that payment, Mischa, did you specify it was for six months? Or did you just send it in?"
Mischa started to protest that he didn't see what difference it made when Terry overrode him.
"Because unless you said it was for certain time periods, then they most likely just took it off the principal. Haven't you been getting monthly statements?"
He had. He just hadn't been opening them because he figured they were paid for. "Yeah."
"But I didn't open them. I thought it was paid."
"I'll give you the number tomorrow. You can call and straighten it out. Just pay what they ask for and you'll be good."
"I can't," he mumbled, staring at the toes of his boots.
"I'm not going to do it for you, kid."
"I didn't ask you to!" He shut down the phone and kicked at a green leafy thing growing out of a crack in the sidewalk. "Fuck."
"Need a ride back to your loft?"
He almost ran. If he'd sensed any amount of judgment at all in Dex's tone, any sympathy even, he'd have dashed off into the night. Instead, he ducked his head and nodded, then walked between the two of them, off in the opposite direction to a parking garage where a valet brought the keys to Dex's SUV.
He had to find a job. Whether he got his car back or not, he couldn't take the slings and arrows, the tension of wondering when he'd spend that last dollar. When the ordeal began, he was thinking in terms of thousands, as time progressed it was hundreds, and now…