H Is For Homicide Page 52

’’This driver's license is a fake.’’ He tossed the license on the floor and turned his attention to the other items in the.

’’If it's any of your business, my license was suspended about a month ago,’’ I said snappishly. ’’A friend of mine put this one together for me. You have a problem with that?’’ I crossed the room and snatched it from the floor, plucking the plastic pouch from him in the same agitated movement.

’’I don't have a problem,’’ he said. He seemed amused by my display of temper. ’’How'd you get your license yanked?’’

’’I was picked up on a DUI. Two of 'em since June. ’’

I could see him digest the information, undecided at this point whether he believed me or not. ’’What happens if you get stopped by a cop and he runs the fake?’’

’’I'll end up in jail again. What difference does it make?’’

’’So what's your real name?’’

’’What's yours?’’

’’Where's your car at?’’

’’Out of commission. I need some work done on the tranny, but I don't have the bucks.’’

We locked eyes. His were large and darker than I remembered. He needed a shave, his jaw shadowed by a day's growth of beard. He'd changed into casual slacks and a short-sleeved silk shirt in a teal shade that made his eyes look very warm. His taste in clothing was sure classier than his taste in household furnishings. I had to guess he was making money, especially if what Santos said was true. Raymond's neck jerked, after which he turned his head and yelled something with his hand against his mouth as if coughing.

I heard the door to the master bedroom open. A moment later, Bibianna padded into the room. She was barefoot, wearing a short white silk shift that made her skin seem dark by contrast. She stood in the doorway while she lit a cigarette, watching me with interest, her eyes unreadable. She had her hair pulled up in a slatternly knot on the top of her head. Her gaze slid over to Raymond. ’’Where's the telephone?’’

’’It's broken.’’

’’It's not broken. I saw you using it a little while ago.’’

’’Now it is. You don't need it.’’

’’I want to call my mother.’’

’’Some other time,’’ he said.

She pushed away from the doorframe and turned on her heel, disappearing down the hall toward the living room.

He stared after her. A nearly imperceptible tic had started near his mouth. He did a neck roll and moved his right arm in its socket to ease the tension. The man had to be exhausted at the end of a day. He shook his head. ’’I don't get it. I've done everything for her. Bought her clothes. I take her fancy places, get her anything she wants. She doesn't have to lift a finger. She doesn't even have to work. I took her on a big cruise. Did she tell you about that?’’

I shook my head.

’’You ask her. She'll tell you. All the food you could eat. They had a six-foot swan made of ice, this fountain pouring champagne. I get her this apartment. You know what she says to me? It's trash. She hates the place. What's the matter with her?’’ His bafflement was mixed with belligerence. ’’Tell me what I did wrong. Tell me what I have to do yet.’’

’’I'm not exactly an expert on what makes a relationship work.’’

’’You know the problem? I'm too nice. It's the truth. I'm too good to the woman, but I can't help myself. That's just how I am. We were all set to get married. Did she tell you about that?’’

’’You mentioned it, I think.’’

’’She broke my heart and I can't figure out why she did it...’’

’’I got news for you, Raymond. You can't hang on to someone who doesn't want to be here.’’

’’Is that it?’’ He studied me so intently that for a moment I thought I might actually persuade him to let go of her. He shoved his hands in his pockets, his look brooding in the fading light.

’’Raymond?’’ Bibianna called him from the living room. ’’What's this?’’


A moment later, she reappeared. She had a knife in her hand, a narrow switchblade with a bone handle. The blade was dark with dried blood.

His eyes settled on the knife. ’’Where'd you get that?’’

’’It was on the kitchen counter. This is yours. I recognize it.’’

He held his hand out, ignoring the original question. I thought about the smashed mirror tiles and the broken chair leg, blood splattered on the wall. Hesitantly, Bibianna placed the knife in his hand, her expression troubled. Again, the power had shifted. He pressed a burton on the handle, easing the blade into its slot. He tucked it in his pants pocket. He blinked. He jerked his head to the side and his mouth opened wide.

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