drivetime DJs were yakking about an upcoming concert.
Driving across the river, I tried dialing Marvin’s cell phone again, thinking I’d catch him as he got out of bed. Still no answer. I left another message.
Ahead of me, Pittsburgh was in one of its pretty silvery phases—looking a little like Camelot with the tops of the handsome buildings poking through the fog. The fog hung low enough to hide the city’s less attractive issues. I’d lost track of what construction jobs were under way downtown.
I drove under the convention center and popped up on Smallman Street, heading upriver along with the usual morning throng of tractor-trailers making warehouse deliveries. I wasn’t sure what bee Flynn had buzzing up his butt this morning, so I decided to swing by the salvage yard and pick up Rooney in case I needed backup. Plus, after a night of patrolling my place of business, the dog would be hungry. Flynn might feed him.
Rooney jumped into the truck, dragging the gigantic bone he’d taken out of Clarice Crabtree’s basement. He made happy-to-see-me noises and tried to slurp my face.
“Hey, big guy.” I avoided his tongue and roughed up his head. “You eat any trespassers last night?”
I tried to shove the bone out of the way before it broke my windshield. Usually, Rooney could crush up a bone in a few hours, but this one must have been particularly resilient. In daylight, it seemed bigger than ever.
Rizza’s restaurant was a macho meat place that served steaks and pork belly and pig’s ears mostly to executives who thought they were Rust Belt tough guys. To keep that illusion alive, the place was located on the lower side of the Strip District—Pittsburgh’s still-thriving warehouse neighborhood. The restaurant’s owner had made his fortune in software and now liked to hang out at his own bar drinking scotch and making customers feel special. He had chosen the location because it sat near downtown, straddling the line between upscale and low rent. In the evenings, there was valet parking, and women came in wearing sparkly jewelry. In the early morning, though, you might find a homeless person sleeping on the restaurant’s pretty patio.
I parked in the alley behind the restaurant and let myself in through the back door to the kitchen. Rooney trotted after me with his bone in his teeth.
The restaurant kitchen looked bigger when it wasn’t jammed with cooks and waiters and busboys servicing the dinner crowd. This morning, the stainless-steel surfaces gleamed under dazzling overhead lights. All the dishes were stacked and ready, the pots and pans lined up in perfect order for the evening shift. Some cases of fresh produce sat on the counter near the door—evidence that someone had done his grocery shopping before dawn.
Patrick Flynn, the restaurant’s exec chef, stood before a gigantic stove. Wearing snug jeans and a black T-shirt that clung to his shoulders like powdered sugar on a doughnut, he’d wrapped a kitchen towel around his slim hips and wore a motorcyclist’s skullcap on his shaved head. He’d been a hellraiser back in our high school days, but a couple of tours in Afghanistan had given him some hard edges and wiped the merry gleam out of his blue eyes.
Part of me wanted to see that gleam again, but our history was messy enough already.
He shot one glance at Rooney and said, “Leave that animal outside. The Department of Health will give me hell.”
“If I put him outside, he’ll attack somebody. Besides, even the health department isn’t awake at this ungodly hour.”
“Where’d he get a bone that big? The zoo?”
“Good morning to you, too, sunshine,” I said. “Where’s my breakfast?”
Usually? I had a lot of self-control where Flynn was concerned. But I grabbed the front of his shirt, pulled him close enough to snuggle my breasts against his chest, and kissed him on the mouth.
He made a noise in his throat—half surprise, half protest, and a dash of gimme more .