Waitress Wanted (Kit Tolliver #5) (The Kit Tolliver Stories)

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Book: Waitress Wanted (Kit Tolliver #5) (The Kit Tolliver Stories) by Lawrence Block Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lawrence Block
 

     
    F our.
    Four men who’d been with her. Four men, each of whom could see her walking down the street, nudge a friend, and say, “You see that one? Nice, huh? Well, I had her once.”
    There’d been others, of course, who could have made that claim. You couldn’t say there’d been too many to count, but it was true that she could no longer count them, because they weren’t there to be counted. They no longer existed. They were dead, and their successes with her—if you wanted to call them that—had been expunged from the record books.
    Her pattern for a few years now had been simple enough. She found a man, or was found by one; she went to his bed or took him to hers; she left, and left him dead. If he had money, she took it with her, but the money was never the point. It was useful, certainly. It let her live with a degree of comfort and paid her way from one hunting ground to the next. She’d take a job now and then, but she worked only when she wanted to.
    And the jobs never lasted. Because sooner or later she’d hook up with one of nature’s noblemen, and she’d give him what he wanted, and then take it all back with interest. And then, of course, it would be time to get out of Dodge. Or Philadelphia, or Toledo, or Louisville, or Kansas City, or—well, wherever. The places all tended to merge in her memory. So did the men. And why make an effort to bring their images into focus? They were gone, and once they were gone it was as if they had never existed.
    In Toledo she’d erased a man from her past, and even as his body was approaching room temperature she was on her way to Denver. She stayed a few days at the Brown Palace, where she flirted with a few suits—a corporate lawyer, a real estate guy, a venture capitalist—but didn’t let any of them get any further than a little conversational double entendre.
    She flew from Denver to Phoenix, checked into a Courtyard by Marriott, and was walking down a street near the hotel when a sign in a diner window caught her eye. Waitress Wanted. The place was unprepossessing, and none of the handful of customers struck her as a potential big tipper. Could she even take home enough to cover her hotel room?
    Still, it might be interesting, slinging hash at the Last Chance Café, or whatever it called itself. And what did it call itself? She looked up above the window, where a sign read STAVRO’S DINER.
    She went in, unfastened the Scotch tape that held the Waitress Wanted sign in place, took it down and carried it to the counter, where a stocky man with a moustache raised his abundant eyebrows and watched her from beneath them. “You must be Stavro,” she said. “You can put this away. I’m your new waitress.”
    “Just like that? How you know I wanna hire you?”
    “What do you want, references from Delmonico’s? A letter of recommendation from Wolfgang Puck? You need a waitress and I need a job. So?”
    He gave her a look, and then a look-over. His eyes were a sort of muddy brown, and she could feel them on her breasts. Their expression said it was his place and his eyes could go where they wanted. And so could his hands.
    “Steve,” he said.
    “Steve?”
    “My name was Stavros,” he said. “Not Stavro. Idiot who made the sign, thinks if you put an S you gotta put an apostrophe in front of it.”
    “Couldn’t you make him do it over?”
    “ ‘I ain’t payin’ you,’ I told him. He said he’d do it over. ‘I still ain’t payin’ you,’ I said, and that’s where we left it. Stavros, Stavro, what’s the difference? Everybody calls me Steve anyway. You can call me Steve.”
    “Okay.”
    “What do I call you?”
    What indeed? She hadn’t bothered to figure out that part, and didn’t want to use the same name she’d written on the registration card at the hotel.
    “Carol,” she said.
    “Like a Christmas Carol? You probably hear that all the time.”
    “You’re the first.”
    “Yeah, I bet. You wanna start now? There’s an

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