Grace doesn’t mind someone that loves the sounds of their own voice. It means she doesn’t have to talk much. She prefers a big talker that has something interesting to say, but she’s not bothered by a blowhard either. Lance Blade (has to be a fake name) is somewhere between the two extremes. Within minutes of meeting Grace and 42561, he had bragged about not just being a PI, but also a bodyguard, a bounty hunter, and a stuntman. He did it in a way that fell on the entertaining side of the line more than the annoying side. Not by a lot, but enough.
The way he treated their waitress at the Kingman Chophouse was less amusing, but when you’re around wrestlers as much as Grace is, you get used to guys like that. One thing was for sure, Lance had mastered the art of manspreading. He had a laptop, multiple phones, and an iPad lain on the table around his plate, which itself was flanked by several smaller plates he had requested one at a time for various reasons. He also had the extra chairs loaded with bags of different sorts, and at one point asked the next table if he could nab one of their chairs as well. Lance was a man that liked to let people know he was in the area.
After Lance finished telling them about being Brad Pitt’s body double (which Grace found plausible, thinking him a fine looking fellow), he finally got around to asking them what he could do for them.
Desperate to get a word in edgewise, 42561 said that they had been tracking James as well and they wanted to compare notes.
Lance didn’t seem pleased by this revelation “Why are you looking for him?”
“Unpaid child support” 42561 said quickly.
Lance grunted “That’s strange, I thought he was gay. As long as you’re not horning in on my job, I don’t care though. There’s no notes to compare, I know exactly where he is.”
Lance waved for more steak sauce “Sure, he’s shacked up with the woman that runs the boob factory.”
“I thought you said he was gay.”
Grace frowned slightly “I don’t think they do breast augmentations there.”
He winked “Too bad. I don’t mean shacked up like they’re screwing, I just mean he’s staying at her place. He came to get his eye fixed and never went home. Now those two are thick as thieves. He runs a lot of errands for her.”
He shrugged “Not my pig, not my farm. I just find ‘em, I don’t explain ‘em. It’s damned odd, but in my line of work you learn that people are all pretty weird. So what are you two then? Lesbians from some kind of women’s group? Tracking down deadbeat dads?”
Grace jumped in before 42561 could object “That’s exactly what we are. So what’s happening now? Is your client coming here or how does it work?”
Lance grinned “Oh, he doesn’t know yet. Just padding the bill for a couple extra days, right? Dinner’s on me, ladies, or actually on my client!”
He laughed raucously. 42561 seemed perturbed but Grace wasn’t surprised. Based on what she had observed so far, padding a bill is pretty low on the list of scummy things their dinner date had probably done in his life. Grace asked why he had been hired to find James, but Lance wasn’t in the mood to share – confidentially and all. And Grace isn’t good enough at talking to people to get them to tell her things they don’t want to share. When Lance got up to “drain the hog”, Grace and 42561 looked at each other.
42561 frowned slightly “So, have we learned anything useful?”
Grace gestured with her knife “I don’t think so, but I’ll take a free steak dinner when I can get one.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Well, if James is hanging out with the cosmetic surgery woman, maybe she’s a bug too. Our new best friend must know something about surveillance, maybe we can ask him to help us check her out.”
“Why would he do that?”
“Ask him nice. Smile at him. Do something with your boobs, push them up. Or together maybe. I don’t think the waitress is into his Mad Men bullshit, he’s probably looking for a fallback bang.”
She laughed sourly “Seduction? That’s not really my kind of thing.”
Grace smiled “You have to be better at it than me.”
“And what’s going to happen if she is a bug and he sees it?”
“I don’t know, but I’m interested to find out if he’s a real badass like he claims or if he’s going to shit himself and run home crying to momma. I know which one I think is going to happen. You want to put some money on it? Make things interesting?”
“An invasion of bug monsters isn’t interesting enough for you?”