Pres and Arlene’s romance had progressed to the point that they saw each other once a week at least. He no longer met her in public places; he picked her up at Lalique’s house. He realized he had to end his relationship with his lover, Sofia Giallelis, whether it was bad for his work or not. Still he put off the conversation from day to day.
He only took Arlene to nice places where, he hoped, they would not run into people he knew, that is, those that lived disreputable lives. One evening they ended up having dinner at Midnight Flows where, miraculously, Arlene talked him into singing karaoke with her. He felt like a kid again.
There was no way he could deny it, when he was with her he felt like Pres Everhart; like he had a future that could include being a plainclothes detective, or maybe even a full time mechanic, and a husband and someday even a father. He knew that he definitely wanted out of undercover work, but there were plans in place that had to be culminated before he could opt out officially.
Meanwhile Sofia already felt an undercurrent of fear, but she didn’t know what was causing it, exactly. She strongly suspected there was a new woman in Pres’s life. Pres had stopped staying overnight and sometimes when he kissed her it was more like the absent gesture of a platonic friend. She said nothing to him, too afraid to get an answer that would crush her.
All along Sofia told herself she could never really have Pres, but her hopes had been raised when her dream of going to beauty school became a reality, thanks to his help. She was working part-time as a shampoo girl at a local salon, under an apprenticeship and going to school in the evenings. The job didn’t pay much but she loved being in that atmosphere and she’d already learned a lot of practical information about being a good hairstylist.Thinking that now she was becoming “respectable”—that is, not hooking anymore—she’d hoped that Pres would consider her his girl and not just a “friend with benefits”. Of course most people in their crowd already thought she was his girl. Her former pimp, Lenny, blew a fit when she quit; but implied threats from Pres as well as Sofia's friend, Dana Conadera, kept him from doing anything about it. Now Lenny seemed to have accepted it or, at least, he was not bothering her. She never even saw him most of the time.
While Pres knew he had to break it off with Sofia as soon as possible he was still stalling. But he felt bad when he saw Arlene and, then again, he felt bad when he saw Sofia. Even though he had not been sexually intimate with Arlene; he not made any proclamation of love nor said they would be exclusive, he knew Arlene thought of it that way. And he knew he was falling in love, if he wasn’t there already. Yet he held off, not wanting to hurt Sofia when she was so vulnerable. He did not want her to backtrack to her former life.
The next night he hit the Lucky Cuss Tavern Pres sat down at the bar. After his drink came he noticed that Jerri Rasmus was installed on her favorite bar stool at the other end of the bar, the stool practically had her name proclaimed on the back. Jerri was also an undercover cop who worked with Pres from time to time. He moved to sit down next to her and she spoke very quietly, her eyes roaming the room restlessly.
“Word is you’ve fallen for a civilian--and I’m not talking about Sofia.”
“And if I have?” he bristled slightly. Did people know how annoying it was when they pried into your private life? How had anyone found out about Arlene, anyway? Really it was not how--that was Jerri's job--and his, in fact--to find out whatever people were hiding--but why him?
She turned to look at him and went on softly, “That’s always bad news, ace; it’s hard to stay sharp when you’re worrying about messing up your cover and putting a civilian in harm’s way.”
Of course Pres knew she was right, but it made him grit his teeth to even have anyone refer to Arlene, even if not by name. He wanted her to have no part of this side of his life. And that included the people who populated his shabby psuedo world right now.
“Then maybe it’s time for me to find another line of work,” he kept his voice mild, and his words vague. Jerri didn’t know if he meant get out of undercover work or out of law enforcement entirely. She thought it was a shame, but then again, she sometimes felt burned out herself. Personally Pres had a rough time picturing himself in a suit and tie any more. He’d worn one plenty before and thought nothing of it. Maybe his alter-ego Ray Nolan was stuck down in his soul now. The thought made him a bit depressed.
“You’d turn your life upside down because of a woman?” she asked, “Or, tell me, is it more that a certain person you know quite well is the one we seek and you’re not up for following through now?”
What Jerri referred to was that they’d been working on this case for nearly two years, and now his brother Prince was coming more clearly into focus. Pres didn’t want to be the one that caused his brother to take the fall, even if he was guilty of the crimes and deserved it. It would break his parents’ hearts.
“By the way, I ran into said person the other night. He was friendly but I was surprised to see him there. Usually he sticks to high class places. Add to that he was alone.”
“So? He was alone—big deal. As far as I know he’s not involved seriously with any one woman,” Pres took a swig of his beer and added dryly, “He prefers his love life to be universal, rather than specific.”
Jerri Rasmus with Pres' brother, Prince
“Wrong again,” Jerri informed him, “That was then and this is now. He’s in a very hot love affair with a well-to-do married woman from Pleasantview.
“You sure it’s ongoing? He loves women, all right, especially married ones. Guess maybe it’s the stealing aspect of it that he relates to," Pres said sarcastically, "But he hates it when any woman gets serious and always beats a hasty retreat.”
“I have it on good authority, let us say," Jerry assured him, "We know the woman, we know the places and times and it’s been a couple months. They meet more and more often. We’d actually like to approach her since she’s in a unique situation but,” here she shrugged, “She could be a loose cannon. There’s no telling if she could or would help us or not. Still we’d have the possibility of her husband finding out to use as a wedge.”
Pres snorted, raising one eyebrow,
“Great business we’re in, eh, Jer?”
“Hey, we’re the good guys. We do what we have to do to bring down the bad ones.”
Pres knew he needed to talk to his oldest brother Perry, and soon. He was the only one among his family and friends that Pres could be totally honest with and Perry always stayed calm and collected; he needed his advice.
Next update is Harvey and Lori Ferguson Ch. 19 A Learning Experience
The Brothers Everhart - Pres Ch. 5 Boys Will Be Boys
The Brothers Everhart - Pres Ch. 5 Boys Will Be Boys