Blow did not recognize the plump woman under the mountain of dirty-blonde curls standing by his truck when he exited Patmos Evangelical, leaving Joan Bismark and several parishioners, and Sgt. Connie Rodriguez, to prepare for a hastily called brunch/prayer service. He approached cautiously and was almost near enough to see the color of her eyes when she opened her mouth and said, quietly, “Give a girl a ride, Boo Boo?”
“Hop in.” He made a show of looking her up and down. “You’ve been eating well since I saw you last.”
She turned slowly, keeping her eyes on him. “So I guess these jeans really do make me look fat.”
“Just the more voluptuous, Jamie. That wig, though--good thing it’s not windy today.”
“Yes, it could pull me up like a kite, couldn’t it. Hope you’re not gonna make me ride in the bed.”
“Nah, not this one, anyway.” He grinned foolishly at her reproving sidelong glance, noting with appreciation the dumpy disguise’s failure to detract from her subtle feline grace as she pulled the door open and climbed in.
In the cab he admired her stoic poise when the tumbleweed hair immediately proved troublesome. After some nestling and hand pats as she tried to get comfortable against the raised seat back, she turned to Blow, with a smile instead of the grimace he expected. She kept a hand behind her head and puffed hair out along both cheeks.
“So you think I can start a new style with this? Don’t I look like one of those old presidents—Hayes or Buchanan? Or...oh, I know, Chester Arthur! Chester A. Arthur,
“I’m not sure which one, but you’re a tad prettier than either of them, as I recall.”
She punched his shoulder, a little harder than he felt appropriate. Her voice had lost its playfulness when she said, “I suppose you’d like to know where we’re going?”
“To your hideout, I suppose.”
“If we were, you would be sitting where I am, with a hood over your head, and I’d be driving. We’re going to see the client.”
Blow nodded. They were at the church lot entrance. “Okay. Right or left?”
“We’re meeting him at Hillside Motor Inn. He’s the guy lives by the island. Where those kids were looking for the treasure. It’s part of his property.”
Blow turned his head. “I saw him last night. I guess it was him. Little house right by the pier?”
“That’s the one. Talk to him?”
“I said hello. He wanted no part of me. Went back in the house without a word.”
She smiled. “That’s him. We can’t meet him there, though, No telling who has their eye on that place.”
They turned onto the road, drove in silence awhile. “You know,” Blow spoke first, “I was afraid that might have been you last night under the tarp. Until I saw the hair.”
“Aww, I didn’t think you cared about me.” Her voice was soft, no sarcasm.
“I wasn’t sure until then. How’d you get away?”
Blow let up on the accelerator, started looking for a place to pull off the road.
“Keep driving. You’re safe from me. For now, at least (quick grin). One of them was mine, the one who saved your life last night. Undercover. It was his idea to use me for bait to get the preacher out there. When that didn’t work they went back without me and got him.”
“They say why they wanted him?
“Nothing. They didn’t trust me yet. My op didn’t know either. He was low man on the team.
“So you’re working with Gladstone’s people?”
“They were recruiting me. They take orders from a guy they call Darryl. Didn’t meet him. No idea who it is. They work in cells. Never more than three operators. That’s pretty much all I know.”
“Your cover’s blown now, I guess.”
“Yes, Blow. Duh. My man’s, too. They’ll be sending out a new team for us. You’re probly on that list.”
“So after tonight we’ll be disappearing, my op and me. We’ll be nearby, though. I already have a new team watching you and your dad.”
“Spy versus spy.”
“Something like that. Want to know what’s really strange? The guy this is all about, the one we’re going to see? They’re actually protecting him. He just might be the safest person in Leicester County.”
“Hmmm, well if I’m supposed to be his lawyer wouldn’t that protection extend to me? So--”