All The Sky (Signal Bend #5)(3)

By: Susan Fanetti

But then things had turned around. Almost four years ago, after all the shit with Ellis, when Signal Bend got famous and had a movie made about it—one that had won some Oscars a few months back. Now, people came to visit Signal Bend. They shopped in the shops, and they stayed at the B&B, and they went looking for a drink of an evening. Some were even moving the fuck in. The town wasn’t what anyone would call prosperous, and it was too far off the interstate ever to be, most likely, but it had climbed some way up out of the pit it had fallen into long years ago.

The outsiders weren’t so keen on Tuck’s lively atmosphere. At first, Tuck and the Horde tried to settle things down, limit the fighting and take what there was outside. But that sucked. It changed everything. Everything everywhere was changing, and it sucked.

All the Horde felt it, but Havoc knew he’d been the most vocal about it. They’d decided to open a place where the Volvo set could have a drink and stay away from Tuck’s. C.J. had been given the job of getting it started. But C.J. had turned out to be a traitorous piece of runny shit, and the job had fallen to Havoc. A wine bar. Havoc didn’t know a cabernet from a cabaret—or he hadn’t, anyway, when he’d started. He did now. It sucked.

But Valhalla had been a popular place almost from the first day. It had started to turn a profit after a few months—even more profit than they had known, it turned out.

Dom’s voice shook, but he answered the question Isaac had asked Havoc, and he answered like he knew that he knew his stuff. “From what I could put together, he started small, just pushing some numbers around here and there, padding tabs, probably skimming straight out of the register, shit like that. He started right off, looks like, before we even had a good sense of how the place would run. I’d say he was bumping his income the first several months by a grand or so each month, no more.

Now Havoc leaned forward. “Until about six months ago. Don’t know if he’s got some kind of trouble or if he just got greedy and cocky, but he got motivated. Started fucking with the accounts payable, adjusting invoices and shoving the difference in his pocket. The skim now is 5K plus a month. Last month, with the Spring Fest and all, the books are more than 7K off.”

In early May, spurred by Lilli, Isaac’s old lady, and Shannon, Show’s, the town had reinstated an old tradition that had died about twenty years earlier—the Signal Bend Spring Fest, an old-school country fair that had started out generations ago as a celebration of the sowing season. This “Second Inaugural” Spring Fest, after the Oscars and everything, had been huge. People had come from everywhere.

“And we know it’s Bellen?” As was usually the case, Isaac calmed as the picture filled in. The clearer the picture of a problem, the more his attention turned to solving it.

“Yeah. Not like there’s a lot of people with access. Us, and him.”

Show turned his chair and faced Dom. “His check show anything?”

“No, Show,” Dom actually looked a little pissed at the question. “He came up clean when we hired him. Since then, he’s started some new accounts, though. I found them when Hav and I started thinking something was off. One in his name, one in each of his sons’ names. So far, he’s just saving it, so I’d say it’s not gambling or anything like that. I haven’t done a full check yet into what he needs the money for. Gonna do that next. I’ve just been chasing the money. ”

Havoc laughed. “Maybe he’s saving up a college fund or some shit.”

Apparently, Isaac wasn’t ready to see any humor in the situation, because his brows drew sharply together. With all of his hospital bills, which Havoc guessed were huge, Isaac and Lilli were just climbing out of some big money trouble. He didn’t know the details, and he didn’t care to know, but he did know that he shouldn’t have tried to make light of this. He also knew that Larry was fucked.

But Isaac was calm when he spoke. “You in the business of sending other people’s kids to college, Hav? Cause I’ve got two kids of my own to take care of, and that asshole is stealing from them. We’ll get the why straight out of him. Through one hole or another. I want him in here, and now.”