Late. Quincey. Downtown Seattle.
I wasn’t going for that.
“What time are you going to be there?”
“She wants to meet me at six.”
“Will there be others there?”
“No. It sounds like it’ll just be her and me.”
That’s all I needed to know. I was up and moving out of my office, going in search of Emily and Nova. “That’s fine. You do your thing, and we’ll be excited to see you when you’re done.”
They were in the toy room, and Emily was on the floor as Nova was throwing stuffed animals across the room. I came to the doorway. Emily looked up at the same time that Nova ran to me.
“Babe. It’s your thing. Do your thing.” I knelt, picking Nova up, and immediately she was wriggling to get free. I put her back down, and she ran back to pick up Miss Penguin. She was bringing her back over to me.
“Okay.” I frowned, not sure why Quincey was feeling bad at being asked to stay late for extra time. “We’ll talk to you later.”
“Okay.” Now she sounded relieved.
We hung up, and I asked Emily, “Interested in overtime tonight?”
She smiled at me.
The dance studio was a large brick building, and there wasn’t anything special about it. A simple sign hung over the door, so that and the address were the only indicators I was even pulling up to the right place. That and the girl lingering in the doorway, peering outside.
I parked and headed for the door, and seeing me, she glanced at her phone.
I raised my eyebrows, then she let me in.
A gust of heat blasted me as she stepped back inside. I followed, the door swinging shut behind both of us.
“Jesus. Now you’re hoping I am, aren’t you?” I meant it as a joke, but fuck. She was someone’s daughter.
I was now looking at females this way.
“I am, by the way. Next time, ask for ID, or you could’ve made me text you.”
She raised an eyebrow back at me. “Yes, Father?”
I grunted. “Better.” Now it was my turn. “How do you know my sister?”
When I first brought up Quincey, Aspen told me she knew a few dancers. I never cared before, but I called in a favor figuring it was after hours, and this place would be locked up tight.
“She took one of my community classes. I almost fell off my chair when she called tonight and asked if I had keys to this building.”
I nodded toward the inside of the building. “Are you in this production?”
“I have keys because I teach a class here on the weekends. The whole building is empty except for the showcase room upstairs. It’s Showcase 1. There’s a watching area that you can sneak in and hang out.” She began edging back toward the door. “Word of advice?”
“I overheard a couple of dancers leaving when I was here earlier. Your girl is up there with Patrice, and that’s a big deal. Don’t let either of them know you’re here.”
“Noted.” I gestured for the door. “How far is your vehicle from here?”
“I’m parked around the corner. I’ll be fine.”
“Yeah. I’d be more worried about your vehicle. That’s a brand-new Mercedes-Benz G.” She gave me an up and down. “Too bad you didn’t visit your sister more when she lived here.”
She gave me a wink and slid out the door.
I gave a short nod before I headed for the stairs, intending to heed her advice. I knew the dancing world had its own culture and rules. I didn’t want to mess anything up for Quincey.
The hallway was dark, half the lights were turned off, but the room where Aspen’s friend said they’d be in was empty. It took a little until I heard music coming from a room near the back of the building. I was going on a guess, and there was a door on one level. A few stairs went down, then a pair of double doors were right next to it. The music was coming from all of the doors.
With the setup, I was wondering if they’d moved to some form of a stage.
I chanced it, moving the door, and it was quiet.
I could breathe easy, and it was also dark.
I slipped inside, heading up the walkway.
Quincey was on the stage. Her choreographer was beneath her, standing.
“No, no, no. Whatever you felt earlier today, that’s what I want you to feel. I need emotion.”
Quincey was dripping in sweat and panting slightly. Her hands were on her hips, her feet apart. She looked hot in both ways.
My phone started buzzing, and I reached into my pocket, hitting the button to stop the buzzing. Moving through my screens, I was hoping that I was hitting the screen dimmer, but I moved farther up and backed into a corner before I pulled my phone out.
Mason: Call me when you can.
Logan: I know Mase is texting you. Don’t listen to anything he says.
I took a breath, then silenced my phone and put it away. I loved my friends, but not tonight. Being here, sneaking in here, I felt like this was a sacred environment. This was Quincey’s world.
I wanted to soak it up.
I moved to the very back, the very far corner, and I eased down into one of the seats.
As I watched Quincey go through her steps and adjust to what her choreographer said, she was breathtaking. Everything up until now had been a whirlwind. Crisis, then crisis, then crisis, and another crisis. I was waiting for the day Duke showed up at the door or the day when Quincey broke, but so far, neither happened. I knew Quincey thought I was handling everything with ease, but I wasn’t.
I was faking it.
Faking it until I hoped there was a day when I felt like I got it.
That day wasn’t today or yesterday, and I doubted it’d be anytime soon.
What I was doing in the meantime was doing everything possible to ensure that my family was safe, and that meant Quincey now. I didn’t know when that started. At first, it’d been about pulling her in and taking her away from Dick Duke. Then it began about setting an environment where she could feel safe but also where I controlled everything.
That was the dick side of me.
She’d been a loose end. I tucked her in, pulling her under my power so she couldn’t do anything to hurt me. Or even attempt it.