She lowered down to the floor, turning her legs to sit somewhat ladylike in the extremely short shirt dress she still wore. God she had no bra on she remembered becoming suddenly aware of her appearance. What did her hair look like? She felt battered, that’s for sure. Every muscle screaming from all the near death. “I’m good with Math,” she offered. “I can maybe help with the books?”
“I hate Math!” Reginald said thrilled.
“You lie,” Bones bit back. “You goddamn love it.”
“I do not love it,” Reginald said, aiming a smile at her. “He thinks I do because I’m nice about it.” He angled his gaze left, again. “You’re so busy with your love of digging graves, you have no clue. I keep the books because you don’t want to. And guess what?” he said, back to looking at Winter. “He’s the Math genius. He even has a photographic memory when he wants to. Want being the key word with everything Bones does.”
“I’m not arguing with you over this,” Bones muttered. “She’s not doing anything for us. Did we all forget she’s got that pocket of puss called a life, still? As she said herself,” Bones aimed his glare at her, “her pimp will worry.”
“I never said he’d worry,” Winter mumbled, biting her tongue on a retaliation.
“Whatever. Worry, shit his pants, lose pennies, you know what I mean.”
She stared at him, the pennies insult burning her. Just leave it, Winter. Bigger fish to fry. Like winning his trust so he let her in.
“Well…” Reginald’s clear innocent eyes surfaced. “What if you let him know you’ve found another job? Or you decided to go to school? I’m sure there’s something you want to do besides…”
Bones shot out a laugh. “Fucking brilliant idea Reggie boy. She can just turn in her two-week’s notice. Tell him she’s done with fucking all the dirty men of Oregon.”
“All except the dirty grave digger,” she muttered, unable to stop herself.
The smile that spread over his face was all Reginald. “God, I love you,” he whispered.
“I’m not worried about my pimp,” she said, eyeing Bones. She could see his glare alongside the smile in Reginald’s pretty eyes. “I’m not scared of him.” Or you, she wanted to add. But that was a lie. And she needed to quit fighting and being a threat in his eyes. She knew one sure thing about Bones. He was protective of Reggie. But he also loved him and wanted him to be happy. That was the only angle she had. For now.
Bones lifted his chin and angled his head. “So, you’re just gonna… turn your two-week’s-notice in? Is that it?”
“Whores disappear all the time. You’re a grave digger. I’m sure we can figure something out.”
“I’m sure I could. But why would I?”
She pursed her lips, biting her tongue on the sarcastic why you think? “For Reginald.”
He seemed to fight a smile and she was sure it was Reginald’s. His jaw slid side to side a little as he eyed her. He was in that corner again. Caught between a rock and his undying devotion to his brother. Look at her go. Actually making a good difference for a change. She lifted her chin a notch, ready for the work that would be required to see that through.
“So you’re ready to just disappear,” Bones muttered.
“I’m ready to do something worthwhile with my life. Not being a whore I think is a good place to start.”
“You would have to pretty much be a customer at my graveyard for your pimp to be “okay” with that,” he said, seeming mildly amused for some reason. Or was that masked calculation.
“I could stand a vacation from life.”
Concern formed on his brow. Reginald. “But… that would mean we’d never be able to… do anything in public, or go to the park, or out on a date?”
Winter’s heart fluttered and tugged with the idea he’d want all those things. All those things she’d once fantasized about years before, a lifetime ago.
“You two are just a piece of work,” Bones said. “Prince Charming and Cinderella, ready to dance their lives away at the ball.”
Winter lowered her head, hiding her smile. “Snow White,” she corrected, chancing a look at him. “She goes with Prince Charming.”
He shook his head with angry eyebrows while Reginald managed a smile that reminded her of a star-struck teenager. The contradiction made them appear happily confounded, making Winter fight a laugh. Which she lost and immediately apologized for.
“What are you laughing at?”
The question came from the smiling Reginald while the angry Bones glared on, making it more funny. “You two,” she said, stifling chuckles. “It’s like Grumpy and Happy living inside the same body.”
Reginald managed an even bigger smile while Bones managed his glare. “He is such a grouch,” Reginald said. “You should try living with him twenty-four seven.”
Bones’ eyes rolled.
“Kidding Bonesy, you know I love you.”
“Stop,” he growled.
“Okay, too much mush.” Reginald grinned. “He’s not big on the mush,” he whispered.”
“I can hear you, dumbass.”
“I’m sorry,” Reginald said to him, doing that left look. “It was more a gesture of courtesy.”
“To restate the obvious? I think she gets perfectly that I’m not into mush.”
“Perfectly,” Winter agreed, trying to keep her voice fuck-you-free.