I drove fast because she sounded tweaked.
Tweaked in her business was not good.
Tweaked in my business was not good either.
It was worse. She wasn’t calling Knight. This meant bad things because it meant bad things were happening. Not bad, bad.
If Knight knew something bad was going down, he’d lose his mind which meant someone might lose the use of an appendage. She knew, if I hit the scene, I’d have a mind to carpet stains.
I screeched to a halt on the road outside her house in my blue 1968 Corvette Stingray then reversed, parallel parking expertly between two cars. In a second, I was out, hand to the gun under my leather jacket shoved in the holster attached to my belt at the small of my back. I shoved my keys in my pocket and approached the front door of her tiny house, my eyes peeled and scanning.
No noises, no sound.
It was late, after three in the morning. Her neighborhood was quiet. It was a nice neighborhood, not flashy, not family. Just a neighborhood if a bit rundown.
I hadn’t run Serena’s check. Another of Knight’s team did it. I didn’t know much about her, though I’d taken her to a few of her early appointments and stuck around until they were over. This was a service Knight provided to his new girls. Strike that, it was a service Knight insisted his girls have.
I pulled up what I knew about her and remembered she was an art student, earning cash to go to some fancy school in France. Parents gone, a car crash. If she wanted it, she had to do it on her own.
Fucking whacked, that shit. Sure, you couldn’t pull together money to buy a plane ticket, pay tuition and living expenses in a different country by waiting tables unless you had a decade to do it.
Each girl had their own story. Most of them were way worse than Serena’s.
Which meant Serena might not be all there upstairs.
Please God, I thought, do not let this bitch be seeing clients at her house.
I checked in the window first, seeing light coming around the blinds but they were closed. I couldn’t get a lock on what was happening inside.
I moved to the door, stood to its side, reached out a hand and knocked hard twice.
“Serena!” I called. “It’s Sylvie.”
I heard the locks open immediately.
Shit, she was waiting at the door.
It was thrown open and I saw her.
I heard the blood roaring in my ears and didn’t move except to speak.
“You need a doctor?” I asked.
She shook her head.
Then she whispered, “Sylvie –”
I cut her off, “You report this to Knight?”
“I… he’ll…” she shook her head again, “no.”
“You call someone other than me to help you out? Get you cleaned up?” I pressed on.
She nodded. “Cher. She’s on her way. She’ll be here soon.”
Good. Cher. That bitch was smart, had her shit tight. She’d see to Serena.
I nodded back then, “Who was he?”
“He was… he was new.”
I nodded again then, “Tell me you didn’t see him here.”
She shook her head. “Never.”
At least there was that.
“He do more than what I can see?” I asked.
She closed her eyes. I held my breath. She opened her eyes.
“No,” she whispered.
I studied her, not getting it.
She’d been worked over, eye swelling, lip fat and busted open but only a small tear. It didn’t look like she needed stitches. It looked like it hurt like hell but it wasn’t that bad. Unacceptable but not that bad.
Why didn’t she call Knight? For this, Knight would make a statement then cut the ass**le off, he wouldn’t lose his mind.
She had to be lying.
“Serena, you gotta talk to me,” I pushed. “Why’d you call me direct? Why haven’t you reported this to Knight?”
“The girls say he gets angry,” she replied.
“He does and babe, he should. Your face is messed up. He does not offer protection so his girls can get messed up. He does not like that shit one bit. A statement needs to be made.”
“He’s scary when he’s angry,” she whispered.
That was the God’s honest truth.
“Uh… just sayin’, Serena, some ass**le worked you over. He’s a new client. You wanna tell me why you’re protecting him from Knight?”
“I don’t want Knight to get in trouble.”
God. Serena was relatively new. This had never happened to her.
“That is not yours to worry about,” I educated her.
I leaned into the door and dropped my voice. “Serena, babe, it’s not yours to worry about. It’s what he does. It’s who he is. That’s why you’re with him. If someone works you over, you report it to Knight. Immediately.”
She held my eyes for a beat then nodded.
I went on, “Now, you meet this guy at his place, a hotel, what?”
“Hotel,” she answered.
I nodded. “Where, when, how long you been home?”
She gave me the details.
I nodded again. “I’m paying him a visit, Serena, and I’m reporting this to Knight.”
She bit her fat lip on the side where it wasn’t as fat, then she stopped doing that and nodded back.
“How long before Cher gets here?” I asked.
“She said ten minutes and that was about ten minutes ago.”
I gave her another nod.
“Ice,” I whispered, dipping my head toward her face. “Take some painkillers. Lie down.”
She nodded again then whispered back, “Thanks, Sylvie.”
I caught her eyes and locked my gaze with hers. “Anytime. Know it, babe.”
She nodded yet again.
“Lock doors,” I ordered. “I’ll check in tomorrow.”
“Ice,” I repeated.
I looked meaningfully at the door, she closed it and I didn’t move until I heard it lock.
Then I moved quickly to the car but I didn’t jog. I didn’t run. I kept it controlled.
When I got in my car, I called Rhash, Knight’s right hand man.
“Yo,” he answered.
“Yo right back at ‘cha,” I replied. “Got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?”
“Good,” Rhash replied, a tremor of humor in his voice.
“Right, I’m in an ass-kicking mood and I’m already in my car so there are no delays in going out to kick ass.”