4. Pachinko Palace (5)

Lou Lou let out a quick gasp. Her hand covered mine.

“By the time I saw him, Orison already knew about the betrayal. Carlyle offered me lotsa yen to get that chip back for Orison,” muttered Miura, “but, I wouldn’t turn on my yakuza brothers, wouldn’t ruin their blackmail scheme. But you . . . you Ryu, you’re up to something, eh? Come on. Where is it? Are you making a deal of your own?”

Miura slapped the table with a large, hammy hand, startling both Lou Lou and me and making us jump.

Ryu looked over at us, then back at Miura. “You talk too much, Miura,” snarled Ryu.

“Oh, yeah? I don’t think so. Anyway, who’s listening? You’re not giving the chip back to the Consortium. You’ve made some kind of side deal with Orison. How much? I want a cut.”

Ryu’s fair face had actually turned scarlet. His eyes were incendiary. If they could set Miura afire, they would have. Miura shook his big head as if to clear it and turned his smashed nose toward me.

“Oh, what a pretty girl,” he sneered. “Pretty as her picture. You know, little lady, you have a very bad dad.” He laughed. His fat hand reached across the table and toward me. I looked at Ryu.

“Oh, what?” laughed Miura. “What? You think he will protect you? Ryu? Yakuza number one hit man? Ha, that’s funny. Think again. That’s the guy you should watch out for.”

“That’s enough. Yamero!” barked Ryu and he grabbed Miura’s hand, twisting it behind the yakuza’s back and escorting the huge man, with surprising ease, across the dance floor, up the stairs, and out of the club.

I was speechless.

“Ryu,” whistled Lou Lou, shaking her head.

“I don’t understand,” I murmured. “How does Ryu manage to put so much muscle on Miura?”

“Well, the knife that he had at Miura’s back helped,” whispered Lou Lou. “Ryu’s known for that knife, and he likes to use it.”

“Oh,” I said simply.

“Here, Erin,” said Lou Lou. “Let it go. Have another drink.”

I nodded and lifted the cocktail to my lips: a cosmopolitan—very sweet, very pink. How did Miura know so much about my father? What was the Consortium and what did they have to do with me? Miura claimed he had killed Carlyle a week and a half ago. Impossible. We’d seen him just eight days ago at the airport. What was this chip he was talking about and what, exactly, did Miura mean when he said I should be worrying about Ryu?

I could see Ryu again, in my mind’s eye, moving Miura up the stairs, his knife at the big man’s back. Lou Lou rested a protective hand on my shoulder then she slipped back into the crowd. I’d discover later that Miura was right. The men I most had to fear were those upon whom I depended. But what neither Miura nor Ryu could imagine was the wanton spirit behind the cabal. That awareness would come later for Ryu, too late for Miura, and far too quickly for me. I took another sip of my cosmo and waited for Ryu to return.

  • Juana Loca

    You go, ghoul!