I poked Ian with my left foot. “Hey. You’re awful quiet.”
“Sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt Abbot and Costello.”
“Weren’t they both men?” I poked him again, harder this time. “What’s going on in that detail-orientated mind of yours?”
“You say detail-orientated like it’s a bad thing. You’ve benefited from my attention to detail numerous times, I’ll have you know.” Ian frowned at the computer, picking up the connected headphones, holding one muff to his ear. “There’s some kind of shipment coming in.”
“Probably liquor. We’ve been low on some of the top-shelf stuff for the last week or so.” I turned my attention back to Jack just in time to catch him swallow, grimacing. “Really? It can’t be that bad.”
“Shut up and let me eat this garbage. Actually, tell me which club we’re going to target next. Maybe work will take my mind off what I’m eating.” He looked at the half-eaten slice in his hand, shuddering. “Or not. But I’m willing to try.”
“Don’t the Iskovs own two other strip clubs? Why don’t you see about transferring to one of them?” I bit back a giggle at the pained look on Jack’s face as he took another bite. “Just because one is mostly legitimate doesn’t mean the others are.”
“Good point. Let me talk to Boris, see if I can swing a transfer over to The Tea Room.” Huffing out a breath, he looked at the pizza then looked at me. “Do I have to eat the crust, too?”
“No, you don’t have to eat the crust.” Rolling my eyes, I leaned my head back against the sofa, lifting my hand to chew on my thumbnail. I needed to get a pack of gum, quick, before all the little smoker tics became obvious. “Ian?”
“Working. You two amuse each other.” He shot a glance over his shoulder. “And I don’t mean have sex.”
“You talk about sex more than we do.” Both men snorted. I kicked Ian with my toes, elbowing Jack in the ribs at the same time. “Careful, or nobody gets dessert.”
“I rest my case.” Ian grabbed my foot before I could kick him again, gripping my toes. “Stop that.”
“Once a lawyer, always a lawyer.” Sighing in relief, Jack dropped the mangled crust in the box, flipping the lid closed and setting it on the floor on the far side of the sofa. Throwing his arm around my shoulders, he hauled me against him, his fingers tickling my ear. “Casey Lynn still doing fine at Diamonds?”
“Took to it like a duck to water. Guess all those acting classes really did pay off. There are days she gets back from work and it takes her an hour to drop the accent.”
“Which one? The fake Russian used by the English girl or the fake English one used by the American?” Jack pinched my earlobe and I elbowed him again, harder this time. He knew how much I hated that. “She has so many it’s hard to keep up.”
“Her and I both. I slipped up a few weeks ago when I dropped a glass and cut myself. Thank God the only person around was Timur and he was half-comatose.” My entire body went cold at the thought of trying to explain the sudden change from a cockney accent to a Kentucky twang. “He woke up and asked me what American show I’d been watching on the television.”
“You need to be more careful, Frankie.” He pinched my earlobe again, all the teasing gone. “One slip up is all it takes to sink all of us.”
“Guys. I think we got something.” Ian yanked the earphone jack free, his hands flying over the keys. Jack and I both winced at the high pitched jibberish that erupted from the speakers. “Sorry, rewinding.”
“Do they still call it rewinding if it’s on a computer?” Jack grunted when I drew back enough to punch him in the ribs. “Hey, I broke those a few months ago.”
“And I was shot. I win this battle of the scars.” Leaning forward, I squinted at the green scales and squiggles on the screen. “What’s up, Ian?”
“Your boss, Aleski, had a conversation today with a Sven Ivasoski. Sven talks about a shipment coming in to the Port of London in three days.” Ian used the touchpad to adjust various levels, things I’d given up on after only two sessions. Jack had a slightly better grasp, but this was really Ian’s territory. “Listen.”
I blinked at the mechanical voice coming from the speakers. “That doesn’t sound like Sven. Or Aleski.”
“It’s a translator, not a replicator. I told you, listen.” Ian raised the volume, leaning back against the couch. “This is what I’m talking about.”
It is a good shipment, Aleski. Many fine products.
Is the special item on there?
Yes, it is on board this time. The captain has assured me.
If he is lying, you will see to it he never does so again.
Of course, Aleski. And the special item?
I will take possession. The buyer has waited long time for his product. He is impatient.
The other products?
The Tea Room has first pick this time. A half dozen girls.
“Guess I should hold off on getting that transfer.” Jack squeezed my shoulders, rubbing at the tension knot between them. “Do they get more specific?”
“Sven says he’ll be back the day the ship is due to confirm everything with Aleski. Then they talk about the bartender—that would be you, Frankie—and Sven asks how long Aleski is going to play with his little flower before plucking its petals.” Ian coughed, red creeping up the back of his neck. “It goes on like that for a bit and then you come back on and the conversation is over.”
“Three days. Doesn’t give us much time.” Jack scratched at his chin, arching a brow. “You ready to go to work, Frankie?”
My smile was all teeth. “Oh, definitely.”