Chapter 14

The cuffs stayed on until Sam was processed and thrown into the cell. Vargas was the only other person in it, and by the look on the man's face, he was definitely not happy to share it with Mr. Charles Finley.

"Hey," Sam said and nodded to him as he rubbed his wrists and took a seat on the opposite side of the cell, which left only a few feet between them. "Don't be upset with me, Vargas. I didn't call the cops! I was ready to settle it man to man, but my bodyguard, Michael...well, he gets a little too...excited...sometimes. Especially when he thinks I'm in danger."

" did he know?"

Sam looked thoughtful. "Well, when you came to the hotel, were you angry? Did you create a scene trying to get upstairs?"

"Of course I was livid! If you'd been there in the lobby, I would have..." He lunged forward, and Sam put up his arms in a defensive gesture.

"Uh uh, control yourself, Ignatius. They can see everything, hear everything, in here." Vargas sat down on the bunk, deflated but still breathing hard. Sam leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees, speaking softly, calmly, getting him to settle down. "Well, where was I? Oh yeah, Michael. You'll have to forgive him, Ignatius. I think he's seen too many of those action movies, you know? I think Eastwood is his favorite." He let out a short laugh. "Hey, I'm just glad he didn't pull a dirty Harry on you! That would have been awkward to explain! It was bad enough I had to cover your ass in the interview process."

"What? What are you talking about?"

Sam shook his head and looked around the cell before returning his gaze to Vargas. "You don't think they put me in here for my health, do you? I told them you were only defending yourself, because I got angry at you and started the fight."

Vargas's brow crinkled in incomprehension as he stared at Sam. "Why'd you do that?"

"It gets you out of here, and we can complete our deal. Otherwise, you're looking at some serious charges. Well, you still might be if Bella decides to press it, but I might be able to work that out so you come out with nothing against you." He lowered his voice and moved to sit beside him on the bunk. "Tell you what. You let me have Bella, she'll drop the charges, and I'll forget about the extra ten grand each woman. Does that sound fair to you?"

The man stared at him in disbelief. "You lied for me, you bargain with me for Bella, and now you stand to lose money on this deal...why are you doing this?"

Clamping a hand on Vargas's shoulder, Sam replied with a smile, "It's called building a business relationship. We do this, there'll be plenty of more women that I can get you. Top-notch women, and next time I'll make a profit. What do you say?"

"Why did your 'bodyguard' call you Sam?"

"Heh, that's another thing about my boy, Mikey. He and I used to run around together, until he fell on some hard times. He started working for me, and now...well, sometimes he forgets his place and calls me Sam. It's my middle name." He pulled away and studied Vargas. The man wanted to believe him, but he was struggling. "I'd show you my driver's license, but they took that along with the rest of my stuff. Honest! It's true!"

Finally, Vargas nodded. "If you can get us out of here...everything will go as we agreed."

"It's already in the works, pal." Sam grinned, because he knew Pearce was listening to the entire exchange thanks to a small camera and microphone he was outfitted with before being escorted into the cell. "We might have to sit here a little longer, but my lawyer will get us out before sunrise. I have no doubt about it!"

In an hour, a tired looking man in a tailored suit was led into the holding area and took in the sight of the two men talking in the small cell. "Chuck, Chuck, Chuck. What have you gotten yourself into, man?"

"It's nothing, Jesse. Just a...misunderstanding between two friends. Ignatius Vargas, Jesse Parker, my lawyer. Jesse, Ignatius Vargas, associate."

"Pleasure." Jesse glanced at Vargas and redirected his attention to Sam. "Chuck, you can't keep beating up on your business associates every time a deal goes bad."

"This had nothing to do with business. At least, not directly." Sam's shoulders rose and he looked at Vargas. "It's not like this happens all the time." He grinned sheepishly.

"It doesn't matter," Vargas spat. "Can you get us out of here?"

"I'm working on it. If you two fellas agree to play nice, I'll get the charges dropped."

"Oh we'll be nice. We'll be like best buddies, won't we, Iggy?"

Vargas gave Sam a look, then nodded. "Yes, we'll be on our best behavior. There are too many things at stake here right now to let this stand between us and our friendship. Right, Sam?"

Sam's eyebrow hitched up. "Yeah." He threw his arm around Vargas's shoulders and chuckled. "This'll be one of those things we laugh about later. But only if the charges are dropped and we get out of here." He looked pointedly at Jesse, who hid a smile behind a serious expression.

"It's being taken care of, and you should be released soon. By the time you return to the hotel, you'll find that the repairs have been made and billed to you, Chuck." Jesse looked at him sternly. "Just try to stay out of trouble for the next few days...okay?"

Sam laughed nervously as the guard let them out of the cell. "You've got my promise, Jesse!"

The three emerged from the police station and found the limousine waiting with Michael standing beside the open door. His feet were spread apart and his hands clasped in front of him, his face frozen in a scowl.

"Y-you don't seriously expect me to get into a vehicle he's driving, do you Chuck?"

"Oh, it'll be fine. Won't it, Michael?"

Michael pasted on a smile. "I promise I won't cuff you again, Mr. Vargas. I was just trying to protect my employer, but now that we've ironed all that can either accept a ride from Mr. Finley, or you take a cab home."

Vargas looked at Sam and Jesse, then sighed and slipped past Michael into the back seat. Sam gave him a crooked smile and got in with him. "Jesse?"

"No thank you, I came with my own vehicle. Good night, Chuck, Mr. Vargas. Stay out of trouble now. I don't want any more middle of the night calls."

"There won't be any, I promise," Sam replied and Michael closed the door.

Michael muttered to Jesse, "Did he pull it off?"

"I think so. Looks like we came away with little, if any, damage."

"Good. Thanks, Jesse."

"No problem." He walked to his car, and Michael got into the limousine.

Michael drove Vargas to his mansion on Star Island, and he smiled with a much less intimidating expression as he let him out. After Vargas went inside, he returned to the driver's seat grinning.

"You know, Mike, this wasn't an all bad thing."

"I know. We just found out where he lives."

"Yeah," Sam said with a laugh. "Think maybe this'll get me back out of the dog house with Pearce?"

"Maybe. I wouldn't count on it, but who knows?"

"Ah, who cares anyway? Once this is over, I'm done doing things directly for her. I really feel for ya, Mikey, that she's your boss."

"Yeah, well, I've been considering just sticking to the freelance cases. The clients are a lot more appreciative of my efforts."

"Ain't that the truth!" Sam yawned and settled himself into the seat. "I think I'm gonna kind of miss this limo when we're done. It's real comfy." He smiled, folded his arms behind his head, and closed his eyes.

"I wouldn't know. I've had to drive you all around town!"

When Michael arrived at the hotel, he found Sam asleep in the back. He had to shake him to get him to wake up, and then he was groggy.


"We're here, Sam. Time to get upstairs and go to bed."

"Oh, okay." Sam got out and said, "'Night, Mike. See you tomorrow?"

"I'll be here."

Sam entered the lobby and caught sight of the manager behind the desk. The man's eyes bored into Sam's and he hurried across the space as much as he could without losing a sense of decorum. Fortunately for him, there were few people about at that time of night other than the cleaning crew.

"Mr, Finley! Please, stop!"

"Oh great," he muttered. He stopped and held up his hands to hold off the manager's speech. "Look, I know what this is about, and payment for all the damages has been arranged. It won't happen again, I assure you."

"That's a relief. Mr. Finley, if you weren't such a...a good customer of ours...I would ask you to leave."

"Jeez, I just sent my driver home. Can't you wait until the morning?"

"No, Mr. Finley, I am not evicting you. You are free to stay here until your business has been conducted."

"Okay, so what's the problem, then?"

"No problem. I just wanted to make sure that this was an isolated incident."

Sam glanced at him. The guy was truly afraid he'd rented the penthouse to a dangerous man. He smiled at him. "I assure you, from here on out, it'll be smooth sailing."

"Alright, then." The manager smiled warmly. "You have a good night, Sir."

"Thanks. You too."

When Sam swiped his key card in the door, he wasn't sure what he would find. The door was repaired and looked as if nothing had ever happened in the suite. The mess inside was cleaned up, including the remains of his and Yvette's supper. He was a little disappointed. His stomach rumbled, so he checked the small fridge in the bar for a snack. Nothing but beer and sodas inside. He sneered, closed the door, and moved toward the bedroom. On the way, he turned out the lights.

The bedroom was completely dark, but he'd been there long enough to make his way around without illumination. He would have liked nothing better than to just hop into bed and curl up with Yvette, but he needed to clean up first. After a quick, hot shower, he would be ready for bed.