A matronly honey badger waitress learns one of her diner’s semi-regulars has an abusive boyfriend. It’s none of her business…but she has a way of being very persuasive.


Arilin Thorferra

As she picked up the check from one booth and slipped the tip into her apron, Gracie tilted an ear toward the corner booth, the one with the timid vixen and the loud bunny guy. The vixen, Kelly, was just a few visits shy of a regular, and she’d started to remember Gracie’s name. (Gracie remembered hers, but she remembered just about everybody who’d been in more than two or three times.) She’d only been in with her new boyfriend twice, though. She couldn’t remember the mug’s name, and didn’t care to learn it. One look had told her everything she needed to know about him, and every second she watched him just strengthened that first impression.

“Are you saying you don’t like my friends?” Bunny Guy was saying, voice rising in exasperation. “The fellas I work with?”

“No, Bruce, that’s—”

Gracie couldn’t help but pause, listening.

“You’re a fine girl and I want to show you off. You know that, right? You’re like Avery’s Cadillac. He wants everyone to see it and know it’s his.” He snorted. “Even if it should be mine. Still haven’t forgiven him for buying it out from under my nose. I should be showing you off in it.”

“I don’t mind that you don’t have a car.”

Bruce narrowed his eyes. “Yeah, sure you don’t.”

Gracie didn’t like the bunny’s look. She headed over toward their table with her best waitress smile.

Kelly swallowed, ears lowering. “What I mean is that it’s nice you wanna show me off, it really is. It’s just that some of your friends are…kind of…you know, pawsy.”

“Oh, a vixen’s complaining guys think she’s a knockout.” He threw his hands in the air. “I got the one shy fox in the whole fuckin’ state.”

“That’s not what I—”

“So.” Gracie cut in with her best sports announcer voice. “Can I get either of you two lovebirds anything else?”

Kelly jumped. The bunny—Bruce, she guessed—jerked back, then stared up like he was just seeing Gracie for the first time, even though she’d taken their orders. She got that from people a lot. When they looked at her and saw diner waitress, she read as matronly. When they saw honey badger, five and a half feet tall and a foot and a half shoulder to shoulder, she read as a little scary. Kelly got diner waitress; Bruce got honey badger.

He cleared his throat, trying to look cool again. “What you got for desserts?”

Gracie turned toward Kelly and smiled. “We have some of that lemon meringue pie I know you like, sugar.”

Kelly’s ears lifted and she smiled back. Before she said anything, though, Bruce cut in. “You don’t want nothin’ else, doll. Girls are always watchin’ their figures, right?”

“Yes.” Kelly swallowed. “That’s probably a good idea.”

Bruce looked up at Gracie. “I want a peanut butter brownie.”

“We don’t have those.”

“They’re on the menu.”

“We’re out.”

Bruce snorted and waved her away. “Just get the check.”

Kelly’s eyes met Gracie’s for a flash, a pained, apologetic glance, then turned back to Bruce.

“Coming right up.”

As she walked away, she heard Bruce mutter something under his breath. She didn’t catch it, but she heard Kelly’s reproachful response: “Everybody loves Gracie, so maybe the problem isn’t her.”

They left almost the moment she set the check down, Bruce slapping a dollar bill down on top of it and sliding out of the booth without looking at her.

She looked after him sourly. One cheeseburger (his), one hamburger (hers), and two fountain drinks came to exactly one buck, so while he hadn’t stiffed her, he hadn’t left a tip.

Avery and his Cadillac, though. That tickled something in the back of Gracie’s mind. One of Logan’s boys? Came in here last year a couple times with the boss? Maybe.

Finally, she shrugged, shaking her head and taking the money up to the register. It didn’t look like Kelly was too happy with her new boyfriend, but she was a grown fox, and it wasn’t any of Gracie’s business.

But now she knew Bruce’s name. And she’d remember.

She didn’t see Kelly again for nearly a month, when the vixen slunk in alone, beelining for a back booth. Hopefully going solo meant she’d dumped him, but the furtiveness gave Gracie a bad feeling.

“Good to see you, Kelly,” she said as she ambled over.

“Hi, Gracie.” The vixen kept her head down, as if studying the menu intently. “I’ll just have a coffee, for now, okay?”

“Sure, sugar.” She hesitated. Something about the way Kelly held herself seemed off, like she was trying to keep Gracie from seeing all of her face.

Kelly started to look up quizzically, then jerked her head back down, but not before her puffy, bruised right eye was visible for a moment. “Sorry.”

“Honey.” Gracie set a hand lightly on Kelly’s shoulder. “You’re not the one who should be apologizing.”

“What? No, it’s not—it was just a fall.”

She left her hand on the vixen for a few seconds, silently, then nodded. “Okay.”

After a minute, she returned with a mug of hot coffee, making a detour to the pie case so she could pick up a slice of lemon meringue. When she set them both down, Kelly perked up, then looked abashed. “I didn’t—I mean, I’m not sure I can—”

“It’s on the house, and I won’t tell him if you won’t.”

She smiled gratefully. “You really are sweet, Gracie. Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it.” The ratel leaned over, speaking more softly. “If you fall again around Bruce, just let me know, sugar.”

Kelly’s eyes widened. She didn’t reply, swallowing and looking down at her pie again.

She didn’t see Kelly or Bruce again the next week. The week after that, Logan came in.

She knew he was coming because one of his guys called ahead, like always, to have her reserve one of two specific booths. Those booths were as close to protected cubbyholes as the diner had, hidden from street view but affording direct view of the entrance. And, she knew if she was on shift when he ate here, she’d be his server. The other waitresses acted spooked when they were around him. They were. Gracie was a little, too, but she rarely got more than a little spooked by anyone. And he was a great tipper.

After he got settled, with another younger, silent wolf standing guard, she headed over. Both Logan and his soldier wore grey pinstripe suits—the older wolf’s immaculately tailored, giving him a dashing air despite the extra sixty pounds he carried. The pup’s looked decidedly off the rack.

Before she said anything, he spread his arms wide and grinned. “Gracie, my friend! What’s the special tonight?”

“Something new the cook’s trying out called ‘Polynesian Chicken.’ A soy and pineapple marinade and glaze, and comes with carrots, snap peas, and rice.”

Logan wrinkled his nose, and looked up at the soldier standing to his left. “What do you think?”

The soldier’s ears skewed. He looked flummoxed to be asked. “Ah, whatever you want, sir.”

The older wolf rolled his eyes and looked at Gracie as if to say see what I have to work with here. “And you?”

“Honestly, Papa Salerno?” Gracie glanced to the kitchen as if making sure that the cook wasn’t looking, then leaned over—she knew just how far away to stay to keep the soldier of the day from getting twitchy—and lowered her voice. “I’d stick with your regular.”

He laughed. “The steak it is, then.”

She nodded, smiling back, and headed off to the kitchen to put in the order: New York strip, rare, brandy peppercorn sauce, carrots and mashed potatoes. The sauce was an off-menu special, but people around Logan tended to go the extra mile to keep him happy.

When she brought the plate over, she dropped in a question in her most casual tone. “Does a kid named Avery work for you? Drives a Cadillac?”

“Yeah, I think so, I think so. Works at the garage on Fifteenth. You know him, right, Sal?” He looked up at the soldier.

“We’ve met, sir. A bunny kid.” Sal sounded faintly disparaging. A lot of the folks in Logan’s profession seemed to look askance at anybody evolved from herbivores.

“Why? He’s not giving you any trouble, is he?” Logan lifted a brow.

“Truthfully, I don’t know him. I’m just keeping an eye on one of his friends, another rabbit named Bruce.”

Logan shook his head as he cut into his steak. “Doesn’t ring any bells. Keeping an eye on him, why?”

She waved a hand. “I shouldn’t bend your ear about other people’s problems, sir. Just say I’d like to give Bruce some friendly advice.”

“Huh.” He looked at her keenly a couple of seconds, then waved a bite of steak at Sal. “Gracie here and I go way back. Before she was a waitress, she nearly worked for me.” That was a half-truth—he’d wanted it way more than she had—but discretion was the better part of valor and all that.

“Really.” Sal looked Gracie up and down. “Doing what?”

“This and that.” He chewed the steak, swallowing noisily, and waved the fork at the honey badger. “If we can help you, just ask.”

She nodded. “Thank you, Logan.” She managed to keep her smile from becoming a smirk at Sal’s wide-eyed expression: he wasn’t allowed to use his boss’s first name. “But I think it’s something I can take care of.”

Logan chuckled, attacking his steak with cheerful ferocity. “I bet you can.”

When Gracie walked into the little front office of Pronto Auto Service, a gaunt rat behind the counter was talking to a portly wolf in overalls leaning against the entrance to the service area. She was pretty sure she’d met the wolf before. Neither of them looked over at her at first, but after nearly a minute passed, the rat turned toward her, stubbed out his cigarette on the counter, and flicked it into a trashcan before smiling widely. “How can I help you, little lady?” His voice hitched on little for a split-second as he registered that she not only was not little, but could very well snap him in half like dried spaghetti.

The wolf’s brows lifted in recognition, and he broke out in a grin. “Gracie!”

The rat looked between both of them. “Friend of yours, Tony?”

“She’s everybody’s friend. Best waitress in the city. Makes you feel like family.”

She laughed. “Thank you, Tony.” She’d been prepared to name-drop Logan, but she wouldn’t have to now. Good. As much as she appreciated his offer of help, those offers always came with entanglements. She looked back to the rat, keeping a bland, non-threatening smile. “I just wanted to ask if I could talk to Avery for a minute about one of his friends.”

The rat shook his head. “He ain’t working today.”

“Really?” She waved back at the parking lot, at a yellow LaSalle convertible. “I thought that was his Caddy.”

“It is.” Tony shrugged. “He lives a few blocks away in one of those row houses with crappy street parking, and he’s afraid somebody’s gonna jack it. Thinks it’s safer to keep it here. Who’s the friend?”

“A rabbit guy named Bruce.”

“Oh, that kid. Don’t know what Avery likes about him. What you want with a punk like that?”

“I just need to get his address.” When the rat’s eyebrows shot up, she added, “He left something at the diner, and I don’t have his phone number.”

Tony shrugged. “Let’s take five and walk down to Avery’s place. You okay with that, Mr. P?” He looked at the rat.


As they headed out down the street, Tony looked down at Gracie. “So what’d Bruce leave at the diner?”

“It’s sorta personal.”

He lifted a brow, and leered a little. “Huh.”

“Not like that.” She couldn’t help keep her voice from getting a little sharp.

“So more like a polite way of saying ‘mind your own business, Tony.’” He raised his hands, grinning. “Got it. I just wanna make sure you’re not in trouble I can help with, that’s all.”

She shook her head. “No, but thanks for the offer.”

They walked in silence for another couple minutes, until Tony pointed to the right. “Over here.”

She nodded, following him around the corner. If the businesses around the garage—and the garage itself—had a tired look, the row houses looked positively exhausted. They didn’t even go a quarter block more before Tony led her up a few steps to a faded, pockmarked front door, and rapped on it hard.

After ten seconds, the door cracked open, then opened all the way. A shirtless tan rabbit guy, nearly as tall and beefy as Tony, looked out with a wary expression. It tipped over into confusion when his eyes settled on Gracie for a second. “Yeah?”

“Avery. How you doing? This is my friend Gracie.” Tony put a hand on the honey badger’s shoulder for a moment. “She wanted to ask you about your friend—what’s his name?”

“Bruce,” Gracie cut in. “The one who wants your car.”

Avery snorted rude laughter. “He’s still not over that, is he. Maybe I should have somebody watch the parking lot. What about him?”

“I’d just like his address. I’m a friend of Kelly’s.”

“Good for you. What for?”

“What’s it to you?” Tony snapped. “Gracie asked nice and she’s my friend. And Papa Salerno’s friend.”

Avery’s nose—and left eye—twitched. “Fine. Let me get a piece of paper.”

He stepped back inside, but left the door open, so they could see him get a notebook. Gracie didn’t miss Tony’s hand moving to hover under his suit, right where a hidden holster might be. If Avery noticed, though, he didn’t respond. As the rabbit handed the scribbled note to Gracie, he said, “So how’s the girl doing?”

Gracie felt a chill run along her tail. “What do you mean?”

“She broke a few ribs the other day. Laid up in the hospital.”

She swallowed. “Which hospital?”

“Queen of Angels, I think. Can I go? I have a stew on.” He jerked his thumb back toward where the kitchen might be.

“Sure, Avery. Thanks.” Tony nodded. The rabbit looked wary for another moment, then closed the door.

As they walked away, they both remained silent until they turned the corner again. “You need a ride to the hospital?” Tony said.

Gracie took a deep breath and looked up at him. “If you can drop me off there, Tony, that’d be much appreciated.”

“You know I’m not supposed to let anyone in to see her who isn’t family.” Despite her words, the nurse was leading Gracie down the second floor hallway toward Kelly’s room.

“I know, Veronica. You’re a peach.” She did know that. She also knew Veronica loved peaches, or at least peach pie. And that she’d like the special she’d warned Logan away from. And that even though she’d never correct anyone who called her Ronnie, she wanted to be called her full name.

“Only to you, because you are, Gracie.” The mink grinned, and stopped in front of room 214. “Here you go.”

“Thanks.” She smiled, then stepped inside the room.

Kelly was sitting on the edge of the bed, still in her hospital gown, holding her side and wincing. She looked up with a startled expression when the honey badger came in. “Gracie!”

“I heard you were laid up, Kelly. How’re you doing?”

“I’m okay. They wrapped me up, but not too tight, because they said it’d make it too hard to breathe. But they also said there’s not much else they can do for broken ribs. They watched me last night and they’re letting me go home today. You might have missed me if you’d gotten here an hour later.”

“How many did he break?”

Kelly opened her muzzle without saying anything, then closed it, staring at the honey badger for a few silent seconds before looking down at the floor. “I got four broken, but there wasn’t any other damage. Just a few bruises.” She looked up, ears going back. “And I know what you think, but he didn’t do…I just…”

Gracie tilted her head expectantly as Kelly fumbled through denials, but kept her muzzle shut.

“He’s not like what you think,” she finally said. “He has a temper, yeah, but I talk back a lot, and he loves me.”

“What he loves is showing you off.” Gracie spoke softly. “If he loved you, you wouldn’t be here.”

“When I said I talked back, I meant I told him you said I should tell you if he laid a hand on me,” Kelly burst out, voice rising. “I thought it might stop him. I thought he might be a little scared of people knowing, you know? But he’s not. He pushed me down and kicked me in the side and said, ‘go ahead and tell her.’” She let out a tense, pained breath, then closed her eyes.

Gracie set her jaw. “Well. Now you’ve told me.”

Kelly opened her eyes, looking at her in alarm. “So what do you think you’re going to do about it?”

“Just have a little chat with him.”

“And what’s that going to do? He’ll just get angry. You do not want him coming after you. I know you mean well, Gracie, but leave it alone.”

“Sugar, I don’t care if he comes after me. I don’t want him coming after you. If I don’t try, then what happens next time? Because we both know there will be a next time.”

Kelly looked back down at the floor, and spoke in a voice so small it was hard to hear. “There won’t be if I behave.”

Gracie clenched her fists, counting backwards from ten until she could respond calmly. “Kelly, if you really want me to walk away from this, to leave it alone, I will. I don’t want to. But I will.”

Kelly remained silent, motionless, for what seemed like minutes. Finally, she just whispered, “Be careful.”

When Bruce opened the door of his shitty flat, it was clear from his expression he didn’t recognize Gracie out of her waitress uniform. She thought she looked pretty good in the one-piece dress she was wearing—she called it her drop-dead outfit—but she hadn’t chosen it just for the looks. “Yeah?”

“Hi. I’m Gracie,” she said. “The waitress from the Eighth Street Diner who told Kelly to let her know if you hit her anymore.”

Recognition flashed across his face, then annoyance. “Yeah? If she said I hit her, she’s lying.”

“You put her in the hospital.”

“I didn’t—” He looked off to the side, gritting his teeth. “Look, things got a little out of hand, okay? She’s gonna be fine.” He looked back at her accusingly. “And I don’t gotta explain myself to the waitress. Stick to slinging hash and mind your own business.”

“Or what?”

He stared at her dumbly, then snarled, raising his arm as if to backhand her, giving her a challenging move or I’ll do it glare.

She didn’t move. Or even flinch.

A shadow of trepidation crossed Bruce’s features for a moment, as if a little voice in the back of his head had just screamed, don’t pick a fight with a honey badger. Then his ears flushed with anger and embarrassment—yeah, but she’s just a woman—and he swung his arm.

She caught his wrist in one of her hands and closed her fingers around it like a vise. “See, I’m pretty good at reading people.” Gracie walked inside slowly, forcing the taller rabbit to hop backward. “The moment I saw Kelly, I liked her. She’s sweet. The moment I saw you, I didn’t like you. But I thought, ‘Gracie, you ain’t her mom, and you could be wrong about him.’ So I did mind my own business…until Kelly came in with that bruise.”

“Jeez Louise, lady, what do you want me to do? Huh? I’m sorry I nearly slapped you, okay?”

“I’m gonna let you in on a secret, Bruce. Honey badgers are real strong for our size.” She twisted his wrist, forcing out a startled, pained scream. “See?”

“Oh my god I said I’m sorry—”

She waggled a finger. “That’s not the secret.”

Gracie took a deep breath, and as she let it out, she grew. Visibly, in all directions. In a couple of seconds, she stood taller than the rabbit did, her hand still wrapped around his wrist. The dress pressed tighter to her, shifting audibly against her fur. Sharp pops sounded along her side as fasteners gave way, but the cloth didn’t rip. The outfit was designed to do exactly what it was doing.

Bruce’s eyes got as wide as baseballs as he looked up at her.

Gracie grinned, letting her teeth show, and grew again, until her ears nearly touched the ceiling, nine feet off the floor. The dress’s remaining fasteners let go almost all at once, the outfit sliding to the floor around her legs. Her bra broke away, too. That one hurt, but at least she’d be able to put it back on.

“My secret”—she hauled him up into the air by his arm, her hand now engulfing his—“is that I’m real strong for this size, too, Bruce. And I can get so…much…bigger.”

“Jesus. Jesus. Fuck. Please let me go, lady, I’ll—”

“Gracie.” She fixed her eyes on him. “My name is Gracie.”

“Okay. Gracie. Gracie.”

She sat down, still holding him up in the air, then brought her other hand up, thumb and forefinger together, and flicked him in the side. Bruce howled in pain, her knife of a claw shredding the side of his shirt and leaving a gash across his fur that quickly welled up with red. “That’s ‘Miss Gracie’ to you.”

“Miss Gracie! I swear I’ll never hurt her again, Miss Gracie, Jesus, please—”

“I know you won’t, Bruce, because you’re going to leave town tonight.”

He stared at her, going limp in shock for a moment. “What? I can’t just…”

He trailed off as the honey badger grew even bigger, growing until her ears nearly touched the ceiling again. Her left paw pushed his coffee table into his threadbare sofa, smashing both against the wall.

The rabbit whined, kicking his paws, then tried to steel himself, despite dangling comically from her giant hand. “L-look, shifters can’t just go around making threats like this! If I call the cops on you, what are you gonna say? Huh?”

“I’m gonna say that you’re a lowlife liar who hangs around with known criminals, because you are and you do. And what the cops are going to say is, ‘Wait, kid, you’re accusing that nice waitress from the diner? Come on. Everybody knows Gracie. She wouldn’t hurt a fly.’ And they’re right.” She put her free hand to her chest. “I wouldn’t.”

He looked at her uncertainly.

“But sadly for you, Bruce,” she swung him forward until he bumped against her bared teeth, “you’re not a fly.”

“Ahh!” He tried to push back, his hands sliding on her black lips, which just made him panic more. “Please let me go my arm hurts I think you’re dislocatin’ my shoulder or somethin’—”

She snarled.

Bruce screamed, a long, high-pitched wail, covering his face with his free hand. A stain spread on his shorts.

Curling her lip, Gracie let him drop to the floor. He yelped again, this time less a scream than a little, pained whine. He looked up at her but kept his face covered, moaning.

“Like I said, Bruce, you’re going to leave town tonight. You understand?”

“I don’t…I can’t just start over somewhere else. I don’t even have a car!”

“I don’t, either.”

“You’re a girl.”

She rolled her eyes. “Good lord, you’re a piece of work.” Leaning over, she slammed a massive hand down on the floor next to his head. “I don’t care how you get out of town, Bruce. Take a bus, take a train, steal the car of your dreams. But if you’re still in town when the sun rises, this girl is going to eat you alive.”

He trembled. “You can’t—you can’t do—”

She wrapped her hand around his waist, picking him like a rag doll, and opened her mouth wide. Bruce wailed again, wriggling frantically, but was held helpless as she lowered her muzzle over his head and shoulders, clomping her jaws shut just hard enough to make him feel all her teeth.

“Please!” he screamed inside her mouth. “Please don’t eat me I’ll leave I’ll leave I’ll leave I’ll be gone by midnight!”

She let go of him, setting him back down on the floor. “So what are you going to do?”

He spluttered, taking in a shuddering breath, eyes to the floor. “Leave town.”

“And if you don’t, what happens?”

“You’re gonna…gonna eat me.” He shuddered violently.

“I’m so glad we understand each other, Bruce.” She smiled down. “Now thank me for not just killing you now, go change your pants, and get out of here.”

“Th-thank you, Miss Gracie.” He bolted toward the bedroom.

Gracie snorted, changing back to her normal size and pulling her clothes back on.

The next morning, Gracie went by Bruce’s apartment on her way to the diner. Truthfully, she wasn’t sure what she’d do if she’d played her cards wrong and he was still there. She knew she could hurt people if she had to, but she did her level best not to have to.

But the door stood open, a maintenance man surveying the damage inside and shaking his head. When he caught sight of Gracie standing outside, the squirrel walked up to her and jerked his thumb back at the living room. “You friends with this guy?”

She shook her head. “No, no. I was just walking past, and couldn’t help but notice the mess.”

“Yeah, looks like this palooka trashed the place and skipped town.”

Most of the obvious trashing had come from her growing to twenty-odd feet tall and just moving around, but it didn’t seem wise to make that correction.

“Ouch. Well, good luck.”

“Thanks. Say, don’t you work at that diner on Eighth?”

“That’s me. Come in sometime.”

He nodded, giving her a thumbs-up, then went back to work.

Kelly showed up at the diner the next week. Gracie headed over to the vixen’s table after she was seated. “How are you feeling, sugar?”

“As good as expected. It’s going to be a long recovery.” She looked up at the honey badger with an unreadable expression, silent for several seconds. Finally, she said, “Bruce is missing.”


“Did you have something to do with this? Did you say something?”

“I talked to him after I left you at the hospital.”


Gracie folded her arms, half-smiling. “What else do you think I might have done?”

“I don’t know.” Kelly sighed. “I just have a bad feeling. His friend at the garage wouldn’t talk to me, he just said Bruce had tried something real stupid and I was better off without him. And better off not asking questions.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

Kelly frowned, looking straight up into Gracie’s eyes. “Are you?”

She put a hand on Kelly’s shoulder. “I’m sorry to hear you’re unhappy. But I’m not sorry Bruce is out of your fur. I hope that doesn’t make you mad, but you deserve better, sugar.”

“I don’t know if it makes me mad.” She looked down at the menu, falling silent again, then finally started scanning it. “Could I get the chicken blue plate special?”

“Coming right up.” She tilted her head. “You haven’t ordered that in a while.”

Kelly looked up. “Except for a few times I came in on my own for coffee, this is the first time I’ve ordered my own meal in a while.”

Gracie smiled just a little and headed off.

As she brought Kelly her food, a wolf she recognized came in, nodding to her. She nodded back before she could place him: Sal, the guy who’d been guarding Logan the last time he’d come in.

A moment later, Logan himself walked in. He waved Gracie over.

“Good to see you, Papa Salerno.” She tilted her head. “I’m used to you having someone call ahead, but I think one of your tables—”

He waved a hand. “No, no, that’s fine. I’m just here to pick up a pie to go. A whole chocolate cream pie. And a pitcher of coffee.”

“You got it. Wait a few minutes and I’ll brew you a fresh pot.”

“You’re a peach, Gracie.”

As she started to turn, he said, “So, those bunny kids you were asking about, Avery and Bruce.”

“Yeah?” She turned back.

“The damnedest thing happened a week or so back. Bruce tried to steal Avery’s Cadillac.”

“Really.” She put her hands on her hips.

“And he might have gotten away with it, if somebody hadn’t called up Tony an hour earlier and warned him about it. An anonymous tipster.”


“Avery and Tony showed up just a few minutes before this Bruce kid sneaks in and tries to cut out the ignition lock. When they stop him, he’s screaming that if he doesn’t get out of town, he’s gonna be eaten.”

“Well, isn’t that something.” She started the new pot of coffee brewing.

“Yeah.” He lifted a brow at her, half-smiling. “Almost like somebody scared the shit out of him—pardon my language—knowing just what he’d do in response.”

“The kid would have to be pretty stupid to be that predictable, wouldn’t he?”

Logan lifted his other brow, too, and laughed. “Yeah. Yeah, he would.”

“So what did Tony and Avery do?”

“They gave Bruce a ride to the docks.”

She got out a pie from the case. “That was nice of them.”

He snorted. “Yeah, let’s say it was.” Then he rubbed his chin. “I just can’t help shake the feeling my guys were…hmm. How would you put it, Sal?”

“They were set up.”

“Yeah. Set up. See, what they did would be pretty predictable, too, I’m thinking.”

“No harm done to them, it sounds like, though.” She poured the coffee into the pitcher.

“No. No, there wasn’t, but there was a risk. Just something to keep in mind for the future. If I was that anonymous tipster.” Logan looked over at Kelly. “Looks like a nice girl, though. I think she’s better off without someone like that.”

“I do, too.” She held out the pitcher and the pie. “On the house tonight.”