Episode Ten (continued)

“Planet Hollywood? Big surprise,” Loretta snorts before she purrs out her gratitude. “Thank you so much. Do you think you can tell us which room?”

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t.” Roy gives us his regret in baritone. “We’re not allowed to hand out that kind of information. But if you talk to the police, they’ll have no problem from there. Would you like me to call them for you?”

“You know what?” I say, as Tommy walks into the room. “I think Loretta needs to take some time to think about that. Involving the police might make things worse for her. What do you guys think?”

Roy pulls a face. “I hate to say it but you might be right. Sometimes these things can escalate.”

“Why don’t we take a room here – where we know we’ll be safe – and let her think about it until she’s sure?”


I sense a nagging impatience in Loretta’s body language as Roy escorts us up to reception and has his friend Hailey check us in. He takes great care to make note of our room number. Loretta notices.

“That guy is going to turn into a grade A stalker,” she complains as we ride up in the elevator. “And why the fuck do we need a room here anyway?”

“We need a base. And we won’t find safer than this. Your grade A stalker will make sure of that. Either of those brothers so much as looks at this our hotel, he’ll be all over them like gravy on potato.”

She laughs at my attempted simile. “If you say so. So what now, we stake out Planet Hollywood until we find those bastards?”

“No need. Roy’s not the only one who can read a computer screen. They’re in room 1142.” I can feel her preparing to rush down the strip. “But before we go, we need to wash up and change. It’s important we look like we belong.”

For once she doesn’t argue. She’s seen Las Vegas security close up and personal. Understands we have to blend in with the crowd. “OK, but we’re getting our guns from Candy before we go anywhere.”

“Yeah, we are,” I say. “Also our bags.”

She lies on the bed, staring at the ceiling. I don’t know where she is, but Loretta’s not here right now. I can only imagine how she’s feeling. “Tell you what,” I say, “I’ll shower first. Give you time to clear your head and get your shit together.”

She nods and grunts and I peel off my top as I head towards the bathroom.

The water is hot and I love to be clean but I don’t want to waste any more of Etta’s time than is strictly necessary. I’m in and out in no more than five minutes.

Towel hanging off my hips and dragging on the floor, I shout into the bedroom as I tie up my hair, frowning in the mirror, certain I have to change my style for something less Emily. “Loretta, honey, you’re up!”

No response.

Perhaps she fell asleep.

No. She didn’t. It takes a moment but then I realize. Fuck. Throwing open the door, I confirm the truth. I should have known – Loretta is gone.


Page One

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