Joe had never experienced fear like he did looking into Loomis's tiny brown eyes, but he gestured at the floor with his gun nonetheless, quite surprised that his hand didn't shake. Brendan Loomis laced his hands behind his head and got on his knees. Once he did, the others did the same.
Joe said to the girl, "Come over here, miss. We won't harm you."
She stubbed out her cigarette and looked at him like she was thinking about lighting another, maybe freshening her drink. She crossed to him, a girl near his own age, maybe twenty or so, with winter eyes and skin so pale he could almost see through it to the blood and tissue underneath.
He watched her come as the Bartolo brothers relieved the card players of their weapons. The pistols made heavy thumps as they tossed them onto a nearby blackjack table, but the girl didn't even flinch. In her eyes, firelights danced behind the gray.
She stepped right up to his gun and said, "And what will the gentle¬man be having with his robbery this morning?"
Joe handed her one of the two canvas sacks he'd walked in with. "The money on the table, please."
"Coming right up, sir."
As she crossed back to the table, he pulled one pair of handcuffs from the other sack then tossed the sack to Paulo. Paulo bent by the first card player and handcuffed his wrists at the small of his back then moved onto the next.
The girl swept the pot off the center of the tableJoe noting not just bills but watches and jewelry in there tooand then gathered up everyone's stakes. Paulo finished cuffing the men on the floor and then went to work gagging them.
Joe scanned the roomthe roulette wheel was behind him, the craps table against the wall under the stairs. He counted three black-jack tables and one baccarat table. Six slot machines took up the rear wall. A low table with a dozen phones on top constituted the wire service, a board behind it listing the horses from last night's twelfth race at Readville. The only other door besides the one they'd come through was chalk-marked with a T for toilet, which made sense, be¬cause people had to piss when they drank.
Except that when they'd come through the bar, Joe had seen two bathrooms, which would certainly suffice. And this bathroom had a padlock on it.
He looked over at Brenny Loomis, lying on the floor with a gag in his mouth, but watching the wheels turn in Joe's head. Joe watched the wheels in Loomis's head do their own turning. And he knew what he'd known the moment he saw that padlockthe bathroom wasn't a bathroom.
It was the counting room.
Albert White's counting room.
Judging by the business Hickey casinos had done the past two daysthe first chilly weekend of OctoberJoe suspected a small fortune sat behind that door.
Albert White's small fortune.
The girl came back to him with the bag of poker swag. "Your dessert, sir," she said and handed him the bag. He couldn't get over how level her gaze was. She didn't just stare at him, she stared through him. He was certain she could see his face behind the handkerchief and the low hat. Some morning he'd pass her walking to get cigarettes, hear her yell, "That's him!" He wouldn't even have time to close his eyes before the bullets hit him.
He took the sack and dangled the set of cuffs from his finger. "Turn around."
"Yes, sir. Right away, sir." She turned her back to him and crossed her arms behind her. Her knuckles pressed against the small of her back, the fingertips dangling over her ass, Joe realizing the last thing he should be doing was concentrating on anyone's ass, period.
He snapped the first cuff around her wrist. "I'll be gentle."
"Don't put yourself out on my account." She looked back over her shoulder at him. "Just try not to leave marks."
Excerpted from Live by Night by Dennis Lehane. Copyright © 2012 by Dennis Lehane. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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