Divide & conquer, p.19
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       Divide & Conquer, p.19

         Part #4 of Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
Page 19


  Zane chuckled. “Thats some quality conversation there. Is Nick one of the Recon guys? The one I talked to on the phone in New York?”

  “The one you talked to on the phone?” Ty repeated in obvious confusion. “Oh! Yeah, the one that called and cussed me out for getting blown up. Yeah, that was Nick. He was Recon, but he was also with me pretty much from the bus to Parris Island. ”

  “So you two go way back,” Zane murmured, lifting his hand to rub Tys belly through the soft dress shirt. Zane idly wondered what color it was.

  “Yeah. Tried to get him to join the Bureau with me and Sanchez, but he was being stubborn and disillusioned with The Man. Went home instead. We sort of fell out of touch for a while, when I was undercover. But ever since New York, hes called or sent me a text almost every day. ”

  “Hes not around here, then,” Zane concluded. “Else youd be barhopping with him. ” Ty laughed softly. “You have that low an opinion of me, huh? Barhopping,” he joked in a warm voice as he leaned more against Zane. “Hes in Boston. ”

  Zane grinned. “Would he have gone bar maid hopping with you?” “He has in the past. ”

  Zane poked at Tys ribs gently.

  Ty flinched and jabbed back at him. “Quit that,” he hissed. Zane could feel him rubbing at his ribs as if it had tickled, but he belatedly remembered Tys run-in with Tank and the bruising his ribcage had taken.

  Zane patted Tys thigh in apology. “Thats great, still in touch with a friend from that far back. ”

  “Im thinking youd probably hate him,” Ty said thoughtfully, and then he laughed. “About as much as you hated me at first. ” “And that was a lot,” Zane agreed. “Hed probably hate me too. ” Ty made a dismissive noise and stood, taking a step away from the couch. “Are you hungry? Im going to start fidgeting if I dont find something to do soon. ”

  “I could eat,” Zane answered, feeling the cool rush in after the warmth of Tys body disappeared. “Theres not much here, though. ” “You want to go out?” Ty suggested, his voice so even that Zane couldnt determine Tys preference from it. Zane had always thought Tys emotions were easy to read. But obviously all those cues came from his body language. “Might do you some good. You pick. Ill take you there. ”

  “How about Chiapparellis? The foods really good. ” “That the Italian place youre always going to?” Ty asked. Zane nodded. “Theyve got a pretty good selection, and youve seen my lunches. The people there are really nice. Its a family business. ”

  “And I guess youll know the layout since youre there a lot, huh? Well, you look good enough. Lets go eat. ” Zane got up and self-consciously patted his hair after Ty riffled it in passing. He carefully edged along the couch and around it, then took one step to the bookshelf along the wall and touched the books, trailing his fingers along the spines until he reached the shelf with the dish where he left his wallet and keys. “I need a jacket,” he said.

  “How far is it? Can we walk?” Ty asked. “Go out the front door, turn right, cross the street, go to the end of the block, turn right, and its on the right at the end of the block,” Zane rattled off.

  “All righty, lets go, then,” Ty said.

  Chapter Eight

  “ THEREare a few steps up just inside,” Zane said as they stopped outside a full plate-glass door under a blue awning hanging off a red brick building. “Four, maybe? Its not like Ive counted before. ”

  “You dont have to tell me, baby. I can see them,” Ty reminded gently. Ty pulled the door open and guided Zane through. They went up the steps slowly, and Ty cast a critical eye around the restaurant. Hed never been there, but Zane was always producing leftovers in brown paper bags and seemed to enjoy the food.

  It was definitely an old building: exposed brick walls had been kept intact inside. The carpet was brown and red and sort of ornate floral in a vintage Italian style. There was a dining room full of patrons in front of them and another to the right. The furniture was dark, heavy wood, including a full wine case directly in front of them where an array of takeout menus, business cards, and a bowl of mints sat. The waiting area was quite small; maybe a dozen people could stand around, and it would be tight. Even the five people already there waiting made it difficult to look around.

  An older woman, slight and gray-haired, dressed in the black waitstaff uniform, walked out of the dining room to the right. “Good evening, gentlemen. Two for dinner?” Then Zane turned toward her, and she added, “Oh, Mr. Garrett, lovely to see you again. ” She had a thick accent.

  “I wish I could say the same, Leticia,” Zane murmured with a vague wave at his eyes. She broke out with a sharp question in a language that Ty definitely recognized as Italian. It made him flinch like one of Pavlovs dogs waiting to be hit with an ostrich leather hobo bag.

  Zane shrugged in answer to her. She tut-tutted him and turned to Ty. “This way, please. I have a table for you now,” she said, ignoring the other customers waiting who had been there first.

  Ty looked after her, then turned to frown at Zane. “You speak Italian now?” he asked dangerously. It was still a touchy topic, even almost three months after the cruise ship assignment where not knowing Italian had almost gotten him killed.

  “I have no idea what she said,” Zane said under his breath. “But it didnt sound good, now did it?” “I was about to smack you,” Ty grumbled. He kept a loose hold on Zanes elbow as the woman led them to one of the tables near a wide window. They didnt even have to weave around many tables to get to it.

  Ty glanced around the dining room as he took off his jacket. It was an okay place, but the food had to be spectacular for Zane to eat here three times a week. Ty much preferred his pub; it had character. And a bottle of Grand Marnier with his name on it behind glass over the bar. One-Eyed Mikes was four blocks from his house and almost halfway between his house and Zanes apartment. Much less classy and much more comfortable. He shook his head as he slid into one of the seats.

  Zane tentatively reached out to his side, and his fingertips brushed the glass window. “Okay, I know where I am,” he said, sounding satisfied as he shrugged out of his jacket.

  Leticia whisked by again, dropping off glasses of ice water, a basket of what looked like fresh-baked bread, a dish of real butter pats, and two large single-sheet menus printed on heavyweight paper. After a pause, she took Zanes menu back and patted him on the shoulder. “Ryan will be right out,” she announced before leaving.

  “Well. I guess its pretty obvious I cant see, huh?” Zane commented. Ty looked up from the menu. He narrowed his eyes, leaned forward to look at Zane closer, then reached out slowly and waved his hand in front of Zanes face. Zane didnt even blink. “Its… pretty obvious,” he said apologetically. He sighed and looked down at the menu again. When he and his brother had been little and gone to visit their great-grandparents, they had amused themselves by blindfolding each other and attempting to navigate various obstacles, just to see how Grandmother Griffin had done it.

  But there was a difference between closing your eyes and being blind. Even with a blindfold, there were still variances in light that could give you hints as to where you were and what was going on.

  Complete and total darkness—blindness—could be a lonely and frightening thing. Zane was taking it pretty well, considering. Ty returned his attention to the menu full of Italian dishes and grimaced. “You come here three days a week? Every week?” Zane edged a shoulder up. “Its right here by my place, and I love Italian food. Theres plenty of choices if you dont want traditional red sauce. Sometimes I just get the Baltimore salad. ”

  Ty looked up at him dubiously. “I dont get whats so special about…. ” He trailed off as he saw a waiter come around the corner and head for their table.

  The man was dressed all in black like the others, and he was impressively fit. The black T-shirt might as well have been painted over well-defined muscles. His shoulders were broad, and he was trim through the waist.
He had dusky skin and sharp, defined facial features, and his hair would have been dark if it hadnt been shorn down practically to the scalp. It made him look sleek.

  “Oh,” Ty muttered dejectedly.

  “Hmm?” Zane asked as he messed with his napkin. Ty shook his head and squeezed the bridge of his nose, trying not to laugh. The waiter stopped at another table briefly, then hurried over to them. His lips were pulled into a worried frown. “Zane,” the man said as he took the last couple of steps to the table. “Leticia told me something had happened. ” When he stopped, he put a hand on Zanes shoulder.

  To Tys mild surprise, Zane didnt flinch away. “You could say that,” he replied as he waved a hand at his eyes. “Work hazard. Got caught a little too close to the explosion at the shopping complex,” he added in a very short explanation.

  Ty watched Zane and the handsome waiter converse, knowing he had one eyebrow raised and his mouth hanging open. He couldnt help it.

  “Thats terrible!” the man exclaimed. “You cant see anything?” Zane shook his head. “Nothing at all. So I have to have help to get around. ” He gestured across the table at Ty. “Ryan, this is my partner, Ty Grady. Ty, this is Ryan Morelli. ”

  “Hi,” Ty said unenthusiastically. “Welcome to Chiapparellis,” Ryan said with a pleasant smile. “Thanks for bringing Zane by. If I dont see him every few days, I wonder if hes sitting at home starving. ”

  “Gee, thanks,” Zane muttered.

  “Thats… thats… nice,” Ty managed to get out. He cleared his throat and reached for his napkin. Ryan laughed and pushed at Zanes shoulder. “Ive seen that kitchen. Its a travesty. Mine is much better. Now, what can I get you gentlemen for dinner? Zane, weve got the gnocchi today,” he said, clearly trying to tempt him.

  “So its either sit at home and starve or eat here and spend an extra hour at the gym every night to work off the calories,” Zane said ruefully. “Yes, the gnocchi sounds good. And some fried provolone to start. ”

  “Ill bring you some iced tea. ” Ryan turned his attention to Ty. “Can I bring you a drink? We have a wine list and a fully stocked bar. And Im happy to describe anything on the menu for you. ”

  Ty was glaring at Zane, and he had a hard time wiping it off his face before he looked up at the waiter. He smiled woodenly and nodded. “You have Guinness?”

  “Yeah, we have to cater to the other Europeans too,” Ryan said with a grin. “A pint, then?”

  Ty nodded and shot another glare at Zane, irritated that his partner couldnt even see it. “Weve got all your traditional Italian favorites,” Ryan said, gesturing at the menu. “We also got in fresh fish today, if that sounds good. ”

  Zane chuckled quietly and covered his mouth with his hand, probably to hide a grin. Ty hadnt been fond of fish since the cruise debacle.

  Ty cleared his throat again and offered the waiter another smile that probably came across as more of a snarl. “Anything with white sauce,” he ordered as he handed the man his menu.

  “Can do. That comes with our house salad, unless youd like to substitute?” Ryan asked. He glanced at Zane briefly for about the third time.

  Ty bit his lip and shook his head. He offered the man another forced smile, then returned his death glare to Zane.

  “Okay, then,” Ryan continued. “Ill be back with your drinks and appetizer. ” He patted Zanes shoulder again.

  “Thanks,” Zane said, tipping his head back to smile in Ryans general direction. As soon as Ryan moved away, Ty leaned his elbows on the table and kicked Zanes shin under the white linen tablecloth. Zane yelped and jostled the table, setting the ice water in the glasses to rocking. “Whats that for?” he asked, a wounded look on his face.

  “You eat here three times a week,” Ty said through gritted teeth. “Sometimes,” Zane said, brow furrowing. “So?” “So? Jersey Shore over there is awfully pretty,” Ty grumbled. “„My kitchen is better than yours,” he mimicked under his breath as he reached for his water glass.

  Zane tipped his head to one side, looking thoughtful. “He brought my carry-out a few weeks ago when I called in an order and then forgot because I was talking to Freddy about a search warrant. ”

  “How thoughtful of him,” Ty said drily.

  Zane shrugged. “Hes a nice guy. I guess Ive been a pretty good customer lately. ” Ty continued to glare at him evilly. And Zane continued to be oblivious, since he couldnt see it. Damn him. “Thats not why he did it. Youre lucky I feel sorry for you right now or Id kick your ass,” he muttered as he looked out the window.

  Zane stopped picking apart the bread he had in hand. “What for?” Ty continued to grumble at him as he sipped at his water. Although Zane couldnt see, he was sitting right across from Ty, so it looked like his partner was peering right at him.

  Then Zane blinked a couple of times and sat back. “Okay, I just caught up with the „pretty comment. ”

  “Little slow on the uptake?” Ty challenged. Mischief chased across Zanes face before he cleared his throat and hid it. “Youd probably kick me again if I said the scenery here was as good as the food, huh?”

  “Zane,” Ty said warningly.

  Zane rolled his eyes and shook his head. “The food really is good,” he insisted. “It better be,” Ty warned. He peered at Zane, letting himself investigate the feeling rippling through him. It wasnt that he suspected anything was going on, because he knew Zane better than that. But the sensation of being jealous, no matter how slight it was, was something foreign to Ty. He almost liked it, safe in the knowledge that Zane was completely unaware of the attention.
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