“Can you believe it, Mark?” says Ashley.Â “I sang here as a favor to you, but it’s turned into my big break.”
“Congratulations, Ashley,” says Mark.Â “I’m glad to have helped.Â But, does that mean you won’t be singing here anymore?”
“Of course not.Â It would be great to test the market by introducing new songs here.”
“And if you become a sensation, I might receive some publicity.Â It’s turned out to be a nice arrangement for us both.”
“How appropriate that we’re celebrating at the place that has launched your career,” Nicholas chimes in.
“Yes,” says Ashley.Â “I had to let Mark in on it.”
“And to celebrate appropriately, everything’s on the house,” says Mark.Â He walks away.
Ashley turns to Nicholas.Â “I knew he’d do that.Â It’s just like Mark.”
Nicholas laughs.Â “But it’s not as if you needed a free meal.Â After all, aren’t I picking up the tab?”
“But I asked you out.” Ashley smiles suggestively.
“And you thought I’d let you pay?”
“I would have been disappointed if you had.Â On the other hand, it might have made you a little more pliable.”Â She runs her hand lightly along his arm.
“You didn’t tell them anything, did you?” asks Belle.
“Of course not,” says Gavin.Â “I just thanked them for coming to my rescue.Â It was obvious to them that I was the one they were meant to find.Â I had to keep my stories consistent with what I had already told those thugs.Â You never know what would leak to the media.”
“So, you didn’t get to check out the premises.”
“I tried to be helpful, but they sent me off.Â I dragged my feet, and I overheard them saying the place was completely deserted.Â Of course, the thugs had already removed whatever was there.Â There were several vans I heard taking off before the rescue squad arrived.”
“But they must have seen the vans leaving.Â Did they ask about them?”
“No, but I’m not sure if they did see the vans.Â There was a thick cover of trees and they had to land some ways away from the property, giving those guys a chance to leave unnoticed.”
“Hmmm,” Belle muses.Â “The unfortunate thing is that the thug saw your driver’s license, so he knows where you live.Â It’s possible they may trace you to make sure everything checks.Â That could make things difficult from this end.”
“With Ashley, you mean?”
“Yes,” says Belle.Â “And she’s out with Nicholas right now.Â Rachel called to let me know, hinting that Nicholas wanted me to interrupt them.Â This quadrangle needs to be broken up.”
“So that’s where you were about to go?Â Damn Ashley.Â She’ll be the undoing ofÂ usÂ allÂ and we can’t even trust her enough to tell her to go to hell.Â I may have to do that yet.”
“You got another job for me?” asks Carl, on the phone.
“Yes,” says Buster.Â “But it’s nothing to do with jewels.Â The boss wants you to trail a couple of people.Â I believe you’ve dealt with one of them before.Â Belle Silverman.”
“Belle Silverman?” Carl chokes.Â “What does he want me to do with her?Â She’s dangerous.”
“Really?Â You can’t handle a girl?” Buster mocks him.Â “We need to know about her personal life.Â Especially about her boyfriend, Gavin Sparks.”
“Gavin Sparks?Â I don’t know that name, but I do remember a man with her, when she came into the shop.”