I went back up to Carelli Cadillac on Wednesday, arriving just before noon. The sales-drone I'd dealt with on Saturday recognized me and had apparently been told I was expected, as he already had the phone in his hand as I approached.
"Mr. Carelli, sir? Mr. Schneider has arrived, shall I send him up? Yes sir."
The drone told me, "Go ahead on up, Mr. Carelli is waiting." I thanked him and headed for the stairs.
Rico's door was open, so I stepped inside. Rico was at his desk, leafing through paperwork. He smiled at me and gestured for me to shut the door. "Even when you're stealing the damn things, there's paperwork," he said. "I'm sending thirty Porsches to Columbia, and they've gotta be cleared for shipping. The buyer is taking care of re-keying the ignitions at least, so I don't have to worry about that. It took us over a week to round them all up. Coke?"
"Sure, what the hell." I pulled a small bag with forty yellow pills in it out of my jacket and set it on the desk. "Your Ecstasy, sir."
Rico began arranging lines on the desk. "How is it?" he asked.
"Lab fresh," I told him. "Pure rocket fuel. One of these will keep anyone happy and grooving for eight to ten hours. You could throw one hell of a party with this bag."
"Some are for me and my wife, and I'm gonna take your advice and give out some as bonuses to my salesmen. They can liven up their days off, party with their girlfriends, whatever. Are these the same ones the family is starting to move?"
"The same," I said.
"Hot damn," Rico grinned. "I got a couple of those as samples, and me and my wife had a blast. Here," he said, handing me a tube.
I snorted up one of the lines and thanked him. He took the tube back and did the other line, rubbing his nose with his finger and thumb.
"Hey, let's go get some lunch," he said. "There's a sushi place not too far away that kicks ass. Mind if we take you car?"
"Fine with me," I said. "I really dig driving it."
He locked up his office and we headed down the stairs and towards where I'd anchored the Fleetwood. We got in and headed out, him giving directions. On the way, I told him, "This thing really is a blast to drive. Super smooth, quiet, and does what I tell it to. I haven't tried drifting it yet, but I'm confident it will do what it should. Have you driven it?"
"Only around the lot, when it first arrived."
"Tell you what, you take the wheel when we head back."
We got to the restaurant and went in. Once we were seated, he asked, "So who is that blue-haired little chick you were with? The gator bait girl?"
"Oh lord," I chuckled. "That is Jane. She's a sixteen year old throwaway kid from Florida that Bekka and I met on our honeymoon. Her parents threw her out when they caught her screwing some dude, so she came out here to California and looked us up. It was either us or end up strolling on Hollywood Boulevard. She's a good kid. She's back in school, and helps us around the house. A good driver, too. I picked up a '71 Cutlass hot rod from a friend for her to drive, and she handles it like a pro. She's a good student, too. Our goal is to get her into UC Berkeley when she graduates high school."
"Is she gonna work for you and Bekka?" Rico asked over the rim of his drink.
"Dude, she's only sixteen. My lawyer isn't that good." I sighed. "She's got the mentality for it though. Jane spends a little too much time thinking with her pussy. She's boy crazy."
"So are you and her, uh...."
"Shit no. She broached the subject, and I told her she had to get Bekka's permission. Bekka responded to the request by slapping her. Besides, screwing a teenage girl is trouble I don't need."
"Aren't you worried about having a runaway living with you guys? You could get in some deep shit, even if you are trying to do the right thing by her."
"We got that taken care of. She's legally emancipated. That's how she was able to get back in high school, she enrolled herself. Her parents know where she is. We're covered, legally speaking. The only real change is that I've had to tell my performers to cover up when they're wandering around the mansion."
Our plates arrived. Rico ate a salmon roll and said, "Well, you're trying to do the right thing. You really bought her a car?"
"Well, technically it's mine," I said. "But I bought it for her to drive. She's been driving since she was twelve, thanks to her parents' habit of getting drunk at restaurants. She has permission to drive whichever car she feels like to school, but she loves that Cutlass. Heh, the school administration is pissed at her because she has parking permits on three cars at once now. They don't know what to make of this punk rock girl who keeps showing up in different hot rods."
"Crazy," said Rico. "Bekka doesn't mind her driving that big Plymouth of hers?"
"Like I said, Jane is a good driver. We trust her. I let her take the Fleetwood to school yesterday. She showed it off a little, gave rides home to a couple kids in her drama club so they wouldn't have to take the bus. She's driving the Fury today so she can get the last parking permit."
"So you're, what, twenty-two? And now you got a teenage daughter?"
I laughed. "Yeah, that's how it's worked out. I call her Gator Bait, she calls me daddy."
Rico laughed at this. "Daddy, huh? Lenny, I gotta say, you live different."
"It's been noted," I said, sipping my Sapporo.
"So she's boy crazy, huh?"
"She's sixteen and she thinks with her pussy. I gotta admit, that worries me. Bekka and I may not be her legal guardians, but we're the adults that she lives with, and if she gets some boy in trouble with his parents we're gonna be the ones to hear about it. Legally she's an adult, but it'll still come back to us."
"Do you think she's headed for trouble?" Rico asked.
"We've laid out guidelines, and we've made it clear: our roof, our rules. She's a good kid, she's not gonna run wild on us."
"Does she have a boyfriend yet?"
"As a matter of fact, she's inviting a boy from her drama class over to hang out in the spa this afternoon. Me and Bekka already told her we want to meet him. Bekka's shooting her last fuck scene for the new feature this afternoon, so it'll probably be up to me to shake hands. I just hope she doesn't pounce on him the moment they get in the spa."
We finished our meals and headed back to the dealership, Rico at the wheel. He'd told me in the past that he had a lead foot, and he wasn't kidding. We rocketed through Anaheim, disregarding speed limits for the most part. Rico drove with the confident aggression one would expect from a professional car thief.
Back in the lot we gave each other the Italian man-hug. "Take care of that girl," he told me. "You got a lot of responsibility now."
"I know it," I said. "Don't worry, we'll keep her safe." I rolled out and headed back for La Costa.
By sheer luck of timing I pulled up behind Jane in the Fury on the La Costa Ave. off-ramp. I honked and waved my hand out the window. She saw who it was and waved back. I could hear her blasting my Mr. Bungle tape on the stereo, naturally playing the song "Girls Of Porn."
My hand gets tired and my dick is sore
But the girls of porn want more
So I pass through the pages one more time
And I get the jism flyin'
I followed them into the driveway at the mansion.
Jane got out and gave me a hug. "Hi Lenny, how was Anaheim?"
"Sedate," I said. "How was school?"
"I'm on the volleyball team now. They like my vertical leap, my pass, and my dive. I'll be playing for the team instead of boring old P.E."
"Too cool. So who's your friend here?"
Jane gestured the kid over. "Lenny, meet Lance. Lance, Lenny."
We shook hands. He had a good handshake. "How are you, sir?" he asked.
"Doing just fine. What are you two up to?"
Jane said, "We're gonna go relax in the spa. Is Bekka around, or is she working?"
"I'm just getting home myself, so I don't know. I'll go up and have a look."
"Okay. Lance, come on upstairs, I'll show you where you can change."
We went in. I went to the second floor and checked: the red light over one of the soundstage doors was on, so Bekka was still shooting. I continued upstairs and told Jane as much.
"Well.... Shit," she said. "You think she'll be much longer?" She began stripping down to change into a bikini.
"She shouldn't be. Tell me, what have you told Lance about what goes on here?"
Jane smirked. "I just told him you and Bekka run a video production company and left it at that. I didn't say what kind of video."
"Good girl. No sense in him thinking we're too crazy right off the bat."
Jane finished stripping down and stood in front of me nude. "He's cute, huh?" she asked, pulling on the lower half of her bikini.
"Sure he is," I smiled at her. "I'll be in my office working if you need me. I'll tell Bekka to go out and see you two when she comes down." I made my exit.
Jane and Lance came downstairs a few minutes later, towels at the ready. (Jane loved this aspect of our having a linen service: unlimited clean towels.) Not too long after, Bekka came down, wearing her kimono robe. She flopped in my lap and asked how my trip to Anaheim went.
"Just fine," I said. "Rico got forty hits of Ecstasy, we had sushi for lunch. Jane and her prospective boy toy are out in the spa, if you want to say hi."
"I'll go upstairs and put on underwear first," she said. "No sense in scandalizing the kid just by standing above him." She hopped up and headed for the stairs, then came back. "How long have they been out there?" she asked.
"No more than ten minutes," I said. "Why?"
"Okay, not long enough for them to have started making out yet," Bekka answered. "Shall I ask if he wants to come to dinner? Evelyn's, around six or so?"
"That works. That'll give them a good ninety minutes of privacy."
"Back in a few."
Bekka came back down in jean shorts and a t-shirt. She returned a few minutes later, trailing Lance behind her. "He needs to call his house," she said. "Okay if he uses your phone?"
"Knock yourself out," I said to Lance, pushing the phone across the desk.
Three things grabbed his attention as he stood in my office making his call. The first was my Wendy O. Williams poster. The second was Bekka's centerfold from Penthouse, which I'd tacked up on the wall above the couch. And the third was the fact that I'd taken off my jacket but left my holster on, displaying my Beretta. The combination of the three gave his voice a nervous tint as he spoke with his parents, telling them he'd been invited to dinner by his friend Jane. He finished the call, thanked me, and hurried back out to the spa. He and Jane remained there, soaking in hot bubbly chlorinated water, for an hour and a half.
Now it's 6:30 and the four of us are showing up at the chop house with dinner on our minds. Jane and Lance are holding hands, a positive sign. Lance keeps looking at Jane with an adoring expression, another positive sign (for Jane). We're seated in a booth, with me and Bekka sandwiching in the two kids.
"So Lance," I ask, "besides drama club, what are you into at school?"
"I'm on the track team," he answers. "I run the 440."
"Right on," I say. "The only way you could get me to place a good time at that is to put someone in a police uniform behind me."
"Lance's dad is a cop," says Jane, acid in her voice.
"Encinitas PD, sir," responds Lance.
I gulp. "What's his name?"
"Richard Ross. He's a detective. He's my stepdad."
I give a weak smile. "We've met Detective Ross. There was a death at a property we own on Neptune Street, and he interviewed us. Isn't that right, dear?"
Bekka sets down her now-empty Tecaté and says, "Oh yes, we've met. Tell me Lance, did you know another detective by the name of Donner?"
Lance smiles. "Oh sure. His family and mine are close. You know Mr. Donner?"
"Quite well," says Bekka. "He accused Lenny here of trying to murder me."
I quickly say, "But we proved him wrong, and we haven't had any more trouble with him, have we dear?"
"Aside from losing my Banker's Special to him, no," Bekka scowls. "Yes Lance, Lenny and I are intimately familiar with both your stepfather and Donner."
Lance says, "I.... Don't understand. What did you lose to Mr. Donner?"
"A .38 revolver, made in the 1930s, called a Banker's Special, made by Colt. It was a damn nice sidearm, and Donner took it away from me because I had the audacity to use it in an appropriate manner."
Jane said, "What the fuck are you talking about?"
Bekka gave her an eel's grin and said, "I'll give you the full story some other time. So tell me Lance, how are things going on track?"
We ensconced Lance back at his home and headed towards ours. Jane leaned between the seats and asked, "So what's all this about you having a gun you lost to a friend of Lance's stepdad?"
Bekka said, "You know our friend Boss? Someone tried to kill him in the parking lot of the fish restaurant we ate at. I shot back. Donner, a friend of Lance's stepdad, charged me with discharging a firearm within city limits, booked me, and threw me in jail. He also confiscated my gun, which I've yet to get back."
I said, "If Lance's stepdad finds out that you and us are intimately acquainted, the shit may possibly hit the fan. Donner told Ross to keep an eye on us. We're not his favorite people."
Jane got a worried look. "Do you want me to break things off with Lance?"
"No, not at all," Bekka sighed. "Just.... Keep things subtle around him. Make us out to be really boring, okay? Don't attract attention to us. This is in your own best interest."
"Um.... That might be a problem. Lance saw that centerfold of you from Penthouse up in Lenny's office, put one and one together, and asked me about it. I told him the truth, but asked him to not tell his parents. I'm hoping that's what you mean by keeping things subtle."
"That'll work," I said. "Did you tell him exactly how me and Bekka make a living?"
"I didn't give much detail," Jane said.
"Good. Having some cop's kid convinced you're living in a sea of depravity would be bad news, especially if he tells his stepdad as much."
Bekka leaned over the back of the seat. "So did Lance like my centerfold?" she asked.
"He didn't say. I was busy keeping him distracted."
"Oh? And how?"
Jane giggled. "I asked him if he was a virgin, and he said yes. He was really embarrassed about it for some reason. That's when I put his hand on my left boob and got my tongue in his mouth."
Bekka reached over and slapped Jane on the leg. "Girl! You...."
"In the interests of honesty," Jane said with an evil smirk, "I gave him a hand job in the hot tub. I think I set the hook. The way he acted, I don't think he'd ever even touched boob before today."
"Great," I said. "You're corrupting the stepson of a cop that hates us."
"It was just a hand job," Jane said. She kept the evil smirk on her face. "Now if I'd blown him, he'd still be laying out at the spa, trying to recover."
"You have a lot of confidence in your skills," said Bekka.
"I can get letters of reference," replied Jane.
I said, "Please, just keep your abilities between you and him. That's all we ask, is a bit of subtlety."
"No problem. But he's losing his virginity within the next week and a half."
"You're confident," said Bekka. "How do you know he's not holding onto it?"
"He's a eleventh grade boy, in Southern California, in a public school. I'm not too worried about any barriers."
Bekka laughed. "You're getting the hang of this."
Jane smirked again. "I plan on getting damn good at this."
I took my hands off the wheel and ran my fingers through my hair. I said, "This is gonna end up with me in a courtroom, refusing to speak except through my lawyer, isn't it?"
Jane said, "No, it will just mean that your fake daughter spends a lot more time feeling satisfied and blissed out. Can you handle that, daddy?"
"Dirty girl," said Bekka.
"I'm not dirty, just horny."
"Just keep it confined, okay?" I requested.
"I have," Jane protested. "I haven't tried to climb in bed with you two yet, have I?"
Bekka said, "And self-preservation says you never will."
"I know, I know. I'll be good."
A mile passed in silence. Then Jane said, "And for Lance I'll be very good. Or very naughty, take your pick."
"Go with naughty," I said. "Fear will make him last longer in bed."
Jane caressed my neck. "Will do," she said.
"Our little Gator Bait. Corrupter of young men."
"At least one. I'm going with your advice. I'm gonna train him."
"Good, pet," said Bekka.