For the next seven days, anyway.
“Only two things bring a smile that wide to a woman’s face. Sex or chocolate. And if you’ve had both today, I might actually punch you.”
Liberty didn’t move; she waited for Odette to stand beside her. “Start punching.”
“Damn. I gotta do something to get that spark back with Steve. The bag of M&M’s I scarfed down ain’t cutting it.”
Liberty pointed to the chocolate fountain in the corner. “Maybe have yourself a mandue instead of fondue. Coat him in chocolate and lick him clean.”
Odette blinked at her.
“So much for me thinking that you’re the shy, retiring type behind closed doors.”
She grinned. “Still waters don’t run deep; beneath the surface they run very dirty.”
“Liberty!” Odette giggled. “You are awesome. I’m so glad you’re on tour with us. You’re part of the family now.”
That caught her off guard. But it was true. She genuinely liked the band and the road crew. They had a lot of respect for Devin and looked out for him. “Thanks.”
“Thank you for the mandue idea.”
“You’re welcome.” Liberty leaned closer. “I need a really huge favor.”
“I need to talk to Devin alone. It seems every time he has a spare minute, we get interrupted or intercepted. So once I get him out of here, could you keep an eye on the room? See if someone follows us?”
“You want me to try to stop them if that happens?”
“No. Just keep watch.”
“Thanks.” She would’ve asked Crash to run interference if he’d been around, but she hadn’t seen him since the show ended. As she cut through the crowd, several women were downright nasty about letting her pass. One skank even stomped on her foot, then offered a lame “Did I do that? So sorry.”
Liberty flashed her teeth, thinking that she’d much rather be flashing her gun. She finally reached Devin. Without breaking the conversation with his fan, he held his hand out and tugged Liberty against his side. She caught the eye of the foot stomper and smirked. A girl had to take tiny victories where she could get them.
Devin said, “What’s up?”
She put her lips on his ear. “I need to speak with you alone. It’ll take just five minutes.”
Devin smiled at the people in line. “Duty calls, but I promise I’ll be right back.”
The only exit in the room was also the entrance. They had to wend through the throng to escape.
Once they were in the hallway, Devin said, “What was so all-fired important—?”
Liberty clamped her hands on Devin’s cheeks and kissed him, trying to keep an eye on who’d followed them out of the room.
Devin wasn’t on board with a mini make-out session. He twisted out of her lip-lock. “This was why you pulled me away from a fan meet and greet?”
“Sort of. You looked like you could use a break.”
They weren’t alone in the hallway. Liberty grabbed his hand. “Let’s go backstage where we can talk in private.” She towed him behind her and didn’t stop until they were in the wings.
“Liberty, sweetheart, have you been drinkin’? ’Cause this is unlike you.”
“I never drink on the job. Have you seen Crash?”
“Gotta be more specific.”
“Have you seen Crash since the show ended?”
“Not that I recall.” His gaze turned suspicious. “Why are you so interested in what he’s doin’?”
“Because he was supposed to help me,” she lied, “and he’s been MIA. That’s not like him. Usually he hovers around you as much as I do.”
Devin kissed her forehead. “He’ll turn up. He always does.”
Stall. Think of another reason to keep him back here to see if anyone followed you.
“Anything else? I need to get back in there so we can leave at a decent time tonight.” He traced the scoop neck of her shirt. “Because I have plans for you.”
“What kind of plans?”
“Naked with a can of whipped cream and a Ping-Pong paddle kind of plans.”
“Yum. And ouch. My two favorites together.”
He whacked her butt. “Take me back before I blow off my responsibilities and f**k you right here.”
She took his hand and returned him to the room but didn’t go in.
Odette waved at her from down the hallway, and Liberty sauntered over. “I’m afraid I’m not a good Nancy Drew. Only person I saw follow you out was JT. Then he got a phone call and took off like a bat outta hell. All the rest of the people who left just went to the bathroom.”
“Thanks for your help. I did get to talk to Devin about what I needed to.”
“Cool.” She turned to head back to the party room.
“Odette, which direction did JT go?”
She pointed to the only side exit where there wasn’t a guard stationed.
Even in Northern California the night air held a chill. Liberty shivered in her jacket and strode over to the bus. No sign of JT in the driver’s compartment. Out of habit, she rounded the front end of the bus and checked to see that the alarm was armed.
That’s when she heard it. A muffled thump.
What the hell was that?