Chapter 6: Vangie Donít Take No Mess
Layla and I sit at a table in Rodiís, waiting for Nora to arrive. I have a nettling feeling at the back of my neck, like the one I always get when something is going to happen, but I shake it off to be being paranoid.
I glance across the room at the armed guards John has on Layla and I. Layla seemed pretty tickled when John told her she had to have a guard watch her all day. She said she always wanted to be so important she needed a bodyguard. Nobody has to tell me that my baby sis is a bit loony.
A few minutes later, Antonio walks in and comes straight over to our table.
"Hey Evangeline. Hey... Layla?" How do you two know each other?"
"Laylaís my sister."
Layla gets up, comes around the table and sits in my lap, putting her cheek right up against mine. "Canít you see the family resemblance?"
Antonio laughs. "I should have known you two were related the minute you stepped into Capricorn.
"I met your mother. You all exude confidence and beauty just by walking into a room."
"I walk into a room just as cool as you please, And to a man, the fellows stand or fall down on their knees.í Itís our motto."
I roll my eyes and poke Layla. "No, itís from a poem. You, stop showing off. And you, Antonio, stop flirting. Youíre taken."
"Iím not flirting. Iím just telling the truth."
"So um, Hot Boss Dude."
Antonio flushes bright red and looks away.
"Layla! Behave please. Can you go get our drinks and give my legs a break? Theyíre starting to go numb."
She gets up and goes to the bar and I pull out a third chair from the table closest to us and motion for Antonio to sis.
"Donít think Laylaís coming on to you or anything like that. Sheís just teasing, she seems to get a high off of making people squirm.
"See now I know you two are related."
I laugh. "Thanks Antonio. I havenít laughed all day."
"Any time. I heard about what happened last night. If thereís anything you need, just tell me."
"Can you clean my apartment?" I joke.
"I stopped by earlier to see if there was anything I could do. Someone took care of it already."
"Wonder who did that. Oh! Movie Night at my apartment tomorrow at 8. Can you make it?"
"Yes, but I thought you cancelled it."
"I did. But I need some semblance of normality in my life. I feel bad trying to have fun while Natalie is out there, but weíre all doing whatever we can to find her. John needs to relax, Bo promised to make him go home, 9 the latest. If he doesnít heís going to collapse. And besides, I want you guys to all get to know Layla and Layla to get to know you guys."
"Soon, everything will be back to normal."
"I know, thatís what John keeps telling me."
"Oh. So the only reason you agree with me is because John already said it first? Donít I feel important."
I reach over and hug him quickly. "Youíre the best Antonio."
Layla comes back, bearing three drinks. She hands me my martini, sets down her wine and gives Antonio a mojito.
"I didnít know what you wanted, but I though this was you."
"Thank you Layla."
She sits, in her own chair this time, and takes a sip of her drink.
"Okay, so I promise I wonít call you Hot Boss Dude again. Wouldnít want you to have a heart attack. Can I ask you a question though?"
I glance at her warily and Antonio sits back, amused. "Shoot."
"Is this ĎIíd give the shirt off my back to save youí love that everyone has for Vange extendable to me? Because I get into a lot more trouble that she does for the most part."
"Itís extendable until we come up with a kind of love specific to you. So can I ask you a question now?"
"You took so long to get drinks, Iím inclined to believe you either had to make them yourself or you were flirting with the bartender. Whatís the matter? My bartender not good enough?"
I smile. "Layla, I think someoneís jealous."
"Maybe a little." He frowns as he catches me looking at my watch. "Is something wrong?"
"Nora was supposed to be here an hour ago and she hasnít called or anything."
He gives me a sheepish look. "Sorry. O was supposed to tell you, Nora said sheís sorry but she canít make it, something important came up."
"Well I guess we can order lunch then. You gonna join us Antonio?"
"Yes. I just have to take care of some business really quickly. Excuse me."
He gets up from the table, leaving Layla and I.
"You know, I think Iím going to like living in Llanview. I just got carded at the bar."
"Layla, youíre only 25, youíre too young to be happy about getting carded."
"And youíre only 29, but you still grinned when the guy at Ultra Violet carded you. Letís go refill our drinks."
I shake my head and follow, knowing that there is no use trying to argue with her. At the bar, I see one of my clients and I excuse myself to go talk to him. Almost immediately, I wish I hadnít. Hayes walks over to Layla and begins talking in a low voice, but Layla looks extremely uncomfortable. She flashes me a "help me" look and so I say abruptly to my client, "Mr. Barney, would you like to meet my sister?"
"If sheís as beautiful as you, yes."
"Okay. Just let me go get her."
I go over to them, and after smiling tightly at Hayes, say, "Layla, one of my clients would really like to meet you."
She politely tells Hayes good-bye, but mid stride, he calls out, "Layla? As in Layla Williamson? Iíve heard of you. You had to leave LA because you slept with pretty much every producer out there. And still not one solid role? Well, if you think Mr. Barney here can better heighten your chances, youíre wrong. Youíd be better off doing me, I might even give you a good recommendation."
Well if they didnít hear that in the White House, something must be wrong. I follow Layla to the bathroom, ignoring the whispers steadily escalating as we pass by.
"Vange none of what he said was true. There was this one producer who said I would get a major part if I slept with him. I told him where he could shove his little arrangement. He must have been passing rumours around all over LA."
How does Hayes even know that Layla is an actress? Thatís not something she would tell him in a five minute conversation.
"Layla, I know that. Nobody believes a word out of Hayesí mouth, so donít worry. Okay? I Ďll be right back."
I go back out into the dining area and walk straight over to where Hayes is standing by the bar. Antonio tries to ask me whatís going on as I pass, but I hold up my hand for him to wait.
He turns, a huge smirk on his face.
"Ms. Williamson the Eldest. How lovely."
"If I ever so much as hear that youíve spoken to my sister, the next thing thatíll come out of your mouth is going to be blood and teeth because Iím going to punch you so damn hard, youíre mother will piss herself."
Now, normally, I wouldnít bring anyoneís mother into an argument, but you mess with my little sister, and Iím doing everything I can to get you back. And even mentioning someoneís Mama is enough to start a full on war. Not with Hayes though. His gaze slithers down up and down my body as he says, "You know, I like a woman with spunk. Especially if she talks dirty. Is that how you talk to the Lieutenant after lightís out?"
Before I can even register it, Iíve kneed him in the groin and punched him in the mouth, but before my fist can connect a second time with his jaw, a strong arm restrains me.
"Antonio, get off."
"John would kill those guards if he found out they let you beat the crap out of someone. Even if it is this worthless asshole. But they also donít want to restrain you, and thatís clearly the only way they can stop you. Just chill, someone will deal with this scumbag later."
I turn and walk back to our table, my head held high like my Daddy taught me. It is hard though to be dignified after someone just defamed your sisterís name and you subsequently gave him some free facial reconstruction.
"Evangeline, have I told you lately that I love you and Iím very glad that I have a big sister like you?"
I grin at Layla. "No, but Iíd be glad to hear it again."
We all laugh and a waiter comes over to take our order with a bowl of ice. "Thought you might need it for your hand. Hayes was dripping blood all over the place when he skulked out of here, I figure it must hurt."
When he leaves, Antonio grins and says, "Holyfield has nothing on you."
"Speaking of which, Vange, the next big fight, we have to have every one you know over to watch it."
"You guys watch boxing?"
I smile innocently. "Didnít I tell you. Layla and I used to watch with our Dad, my mom always said it was the only smidgen of barbarism in him. And Johnís teaching me to box."
"Remind me never to get on your bad side."
Laylaís cell phone rings and she glances at the screen with a puzzled look. "Hello?"
I turn when I hear Johnís voice. Layla has put her phone on speaker mode.
"Layla, I need to ask you something really important. I would ask Evangeline, but I donít want her freaking out."
"Too late. Iím already freaked out. Whatís wrong?"
"Have you seen Hayes?"
Before Antonio or I could hush her, Layla burst out, "Yep. Evangeline just decked him. Kneed him in the nuts too. Which in it itself is a huge gift to mankind."
"She did what! Where are your guards?"
"John, calm down. Iím fine, didnít even break a sweat. I was stopped before I could do any real harm."
Layla gives me a Ďyeah rightí look, which I ignore. "Okay, fine. I canít argue with you about this now. Where is Hayes?"
"Do you know where he went?"
Itís a good thing Rodiís is crowded and loud or else everyone would be able to hear our conversation.
"If heís smart, a hospital, "Layla quips. Antonio clamps his hand over her mouth, shaking his head.
"What was that?"
"Nothing. We have no idea where Hayes went. Why are you so interested in his whereabouts anyway? Heís trying to make you lose your job and pretty soon heís going to talk the mayor into setting IAB on your tail if you donít lay off him."
John sighs. "If you see him, donít go anywhere near him. Tell the guards and then call me. Okay?"
"Nope. Not till you tell me whatís going on. If you want me to cooperate, youíre going to ave to give me the full story."
"Fine. Hayes Barber, the man that you just decked, is the Killing Club Killer."