“Come on, Baby. What’s the matter? ‘My not good enough for you?”
A month ago, Miranda might have considered the man. He had a good head of hair, broad shoulders, a nice tan, and strong jaw. He also had a full compliment of alcoholic fumes.
He was already sitting at the bar when she arrived, but moved closer when she tried to get the bartender to talk. A month ago, she’d have gotten the drunk’s phone number even if she didn’t intend to take him home, but now, she found him repulsive.
She knew what the difference was, and it freaked her out. She couldn’t take another man seriously because she’d already slept with Vin. Though right afterward she said it was a mistake, and wouldn’t happen again, she couldn’t help comparing all other men to him. They didn’t exactly come out on top even when she visualized him sleeping in front of the TV, remote in hand, skin pale and clammy.
“No.” Miranda turned back to the bartender. The sooner she got what she needed the sooner she could check up on Vin. “Are you sure Sean and Joseph have never been here before?”
“No, I didn’t say that. It isn’t like I take names before I serve beer. I can tell you this, no one going by those names is a regular.” He nodded as if pleased to have come up with the comment.
“Have you seen two red haired men, mid-twenties, gray eyes, thin…”
“What are you, a cop?” The drunk asked. He leaned forward and tried to look down Miranda’s black, stretch-knit top.
“Want me to take you in? I’m sure there’s still room in the drunk tank.” She knew she should have been more polite, but she’d had her nose out of joint since leaving Drew and Suzie hanging all over each other at the Cardinal.
That had certainly backfired. Instead of Drew staying at the house like she’d expected, he insisted on coming along, which meant they HAD to go to the Cardinal. Then he’d enjoyed himself pawing Suzie on the dance floor.
Miranda didn’t much care for the Cardinal anymore. It was a wild and crazy place, which suited her up until a few years ago when she looked around and realized she was the oldest woman there. Now every time she went there, she felt old and lonely. And pathetic. The Cardinal made her feel like a looser.
She sipped her beer as she looked around at the handful of people in The Caribou. She didn’t much care for it here, either.
Apparently her comment to the drunk about taking him to the drunk tank took a while to get through to the man next to her. He finally reared back, almost falling from his stool.
“Hey! You can’t throw me into the drunk tank. I’m allowed to be drunk here. Aren’t I Lenny?” The man blinked owlishly, a slight wrinkle of concern between his unfocused eyes.
“Be nice to the regulars.” The bartender glowered at her over a glass he dried with a dishrag.
Miranda leveled a look at him. She might not be a regular, but she was a customer and deserved more respect. The bartender, a balding, over weight man who probably owned the joint, shifted uncomfortably, and put the glass down.
“So? Have you seen them? Two red-haired me. Brothers. Christina said I could find them here.” It wasn’t really a fib. Christina had said she meet them here, not that Miranda should come here to get them.
“I know the two you’re talking about. Came in by themselves a couple of weeks ago and left with Christina.”
“They don’t come here all the time?”
“No, can’t say that they do. Least wise, not while I’m here.”
So Christina had told the truth about something. But probably not everything. The thing was, she didn’t seem anything like Miranda’s boss, who was a congenital liar. She didn’t seem to be lying to make herself look better. Miranda could sense it, but couldn’t make sense of it. The one thing Miranda was sure about was that Christina wasn’t the woman’s real name.
They might not even be talking about the same Christina. Except how many Christina’s hooked up with two redheaded men in the Caribou?
Miranda shook her head at herself. The point was they were back to square one with no leads on either the man who shot Vin or the one who tried to kidnap Ben. Miranda took a tentative sip of her beer while she tried to figure out where to go next.
Vin’s face came to the forefront. He was home, suffering, with no one there to watch out for him. She was wasting her time here when she could be there. She slammed down the rest of her beer and stood up.
“Hey Baby! Where you going?” The drunk on the stool next to hers seemed to have forgotten all earlier insult.
Miranda cut a look his direction. She could tell he was the kind of guy who would follow her home. He was already getting off his bar stool.
“I’m going home to my husband.” She only said it to get him off her case. As soon as the words were out of her mouth a cold draft ran down her spine.
The fact was, if she wasn’t careful, it could become the truth.
Miranda turned toward the door. Two women stepped inside together. Miranda’s neighbor, Cindy, and Christina.
“Hey, Christina!” the bartender called. “You know this lady?” He jerked a thumb toward Miranda.