While Jacob Schmidt is obviously a main character in my Jacob Schmidt series, his business partner, Dinah Peterson, is just as important. Since she doesn't always get the screen time that Jacob does, I wanted to write a short story that focuses on her (even if Jacob does make an appearance). In fact, I plan to put Dinah in the forefront in my next installment of the series.
“Hey, baby,” the man said.
Dinah hadn’t even planted her butt on the bar stool yet when she heard those words. She looked the opposite way, towards the door, catching another gentleman out of her peripheral. He sat at a window booth. Head down, a couple of days unshaven, and wavy, brown hair long enough to cover his ears. A string of lights hung from the top of the window, forming an upside-down arc. Though Christmas was right around the corner, it was everyday décor for the joint.
“He with you?” the man asked.
Dinah turned. A forty-something man sat beside her. Balding with a U-shaped head of hair and a dark goatee.
“Can’t a girl look away and roll her eyes?” she said.
He chuckled. “That bad?”
“I might have been less offended if you grabbed my ass.”
He glanced down at her stool.
“Don’t get any ideas,” she said.
The man’s shoulders bobbed from laughter. “My name’s Donald.”
She hesitated. “Dinah.”
“See. We have something in common already.”
“And what’s that?”
“Both of our names start with the letter D.”
Dinah snickered. “Impressive. It would have taken me a few seconds to figure that one out.”
She normally donned a pantsuit during the workday, but it was an early Friday evening, so Dinah dressed casual, wearing blue jeans and a cream-colored, long-sleeve top. She gave her hair, often tied in a ponytail, free reign, too. The black locks rested over her right shoulder, extending all the way to her chest.
“You never answered my initial question,” he said. “You with that guy over there?”
It would have been so easy to say yes. In fact, the temptation gave her pause, but Dinah knew it wouldn’t get her anywhere.
“Would I be sitting here if I was with him?” she said.
Donald shrugged. “Maybe you’re putting in an order at the bar.”
“I am.” She waved down the bartender. “A Bud Light, please. I’ll take it in the bottle.”
The middle-aged man dipped his head at her. “Coming right up.”
“A beer gal,” Donald said. “I like you even more now.”
Something dazzled, catching Dinah’s attention. She noticed the glare coming from Donald’s leather vest, which he wore over top a flannel shirt. A patch on the front of the vest said Border Dogs Motorcycle Club, but it’s what she saw inside that interested her.
“Know what I like?” she said.
The bartender came back with Dinah’s beer, popping the top and resting it on a napkin in front of her.
“Thanks,” she said.
He nodded and then moved on to another customer.
“Really?” Donald maneuvered on the stool, turning his entire body to face Dinah. “What kind?”
She took a swig of beer before answering. “I really like the one you’re carrying.”
Donald glanced down at his vest. “You have a good eye.” He pondered, and the smile on his face eventually faded. “I have a permit, and it’s technically concealed, so I’m not breaking any laws.”
“My father was a collector.” She lied. “Despite being a modern piece, it’s pretty rare. I think only a few hundred were made. How much did it set you back?”
Donald didn’t answer.
“It’s OK. It’s none of my business. I can probably ballpark it, though.”
“So, you take after your father?” Donald finally said.
She nodded, taking another gulp from the bottle. “Know where I can find one like that?”
Donald’s gaze shifted away, and he put a hand on his beer. “There are a lot of gun shops around here.”
“And I’ve been to just about all of them. I haven’t seen one of those for sale.”
“It’s not a big deal, though,” she said. “It’s just a hobby of mine, and I probably couldn’t afford one as it is.”
He took a few seconds and then locked eyes with her again. “You have a car outside?”
“I didn’t walk here if that’s what you’re asking. Why?”
“Can we talk out there?”
“In my car?”
“No funny business,” he said. “I would feel more comfortable, though.”
Dinah thought about it, or at least she made it appear that way. “Fine, but just a warning. I carry, too.”
Donald nodded. “Fair enough.”
She left some cash on the counter, enough for the beer and a small tip, and took the lead. Donald followed her outside. Dinah grabbed the car key from her purse and pressed a button. A clicking noise ensued as the doors unlocked. Dinah could see her breath as she hurried inside, Donald sitting beside her in the passenger seat.
“Mind if I turn on the car?” she said. “It’s cold in here.”
Dinah turned the ignition and cranked up the heat. About ten seconds later, the clicking noise returned, this time the doors automatically locking.
“So, why the car?” she said.
“I don’t want everyone knowing my business.” He gazed out the window. “You never know who’s listening.”
“Should that concern me?”
Donald stared at her. “No. It’s just that the guy I bought it from is extremely selective in who he sells to.”
“Who is he?”
“He’s a very private person. I’m sure you can understand.”
“But I can act as an intermediary if you’re interested.”
“How would that work?”
“You give me the money, and I’ll get you the gun.”
A sarcastic laugh from Dinah. “And I’m just supposed to trust you?”
“You said you could ballpark the price,” he said.
“What’s your best guess?”
“I know they can run anywhere from five thousand to seventy-five-hundred dollars. Like I said, though, I probably couldn’t afford it.”
“I can get it cheaper.”
“How much cheaper?”
“How does three thousand sound?”
“A lot better, but what’s the catch?”
“Why does there have to be a catch?”
Dinah exhaled. “I don’t know. I’m just wondering what your angle is?”
Donald glanced out the passenger-side window, his breathing growing heavier. “I’d be doing you a favor.”
“So, you’d want something in return?”
He shrugged. “Would a date be out of the question?”
“I knew it.”
“Look,” he said. “How about this? What if I get the piece and you pay me once it’s in hand? I can put up the money.”
Dinah considered his offer. “That could work.”
“I’d need a couple of weeks, though.”
“A couple of weeks? Why so long?”
“But Dalgan usually moves stuff—” Dinah immediately stopped, realizing her mistake.
“What did you say?”
Her heart thumped, and she could feel the color draining from her. Dinah noticed Donald reaching for his vest. Her gun was in a small storage compartment between the front seats, but it would take at least two or three seconds to fully execute the plan. Too long given the situation, especially when Donald would see it coming.
Instead, she opted for a distraction, pressing one of the window buttons on her door. With Donald’s hand now hidden beneath his vest, the man’s fingers gripping the handle for all she knew, the passenger-side window lowered. A blast of cold air entered the car. And then a hand. Donald couldn’t possibly have anticipated it, and thankfully he didn’t.
A man’s forearm wrapped around Donald’s neck, jerking his head back. The biker grasped at the assailant with his free hand. Even with his breathing obstructed, Donald still had a hand on the gun, Dinah tracking it as it came into view. She turned sideways in her seat and leaned over.
As the gun came up, Dinah maneuvered both of her hands simultaneously. With a whipping motion, she clutched the barrel with her left hand, while her right hand clasped Donald’s wrist, successfully disarming him. Dinah held the gun, pointing it at the distressed biker.
“Let him go, Jacob,” she said.
He was the same man they saw inside, and he just happened to be Dinah’s business partner. Jacob obliged, and Donald immediately grabbed his neck, gasping for air.
“I’m sorry,” Dinah said.
Jacob removed his earpiece and took a position near the side view mirror. He was out of Dinah’s crosshairs, and it also allowed him to watch Donald’s hands. “Why?”
“I really screwed up. I can’t believe I mentioned his name.”
Jacob shook his head. “It could have happened to me, too. An easy mistake.”
Dinah appreciated the comment, but it made her feel only marginally better.
“By the way, I called Jeff, and the police are on their way.”
“Good.” She backed up and rested against the door, keeping the gun on Donald.
“I didn’t do anything,” Donald said, panting. “I’m within my rights here.”
“We have information that says otherwise,” Jacob said.
Donald sat up. “That’s bull****.”
“Easy,” Dinah said. “No sudden movements or outbursts. I might be inclined to shoot.”
“You’re a convicted felon,” Jacob said, “which means that firearm is illegal. Either you were lying about having a permit or you used a fake ID to get one. Regardless, you’re looking at five years.”
Dinah watched as Donald’s breathing picked up again, this time from nerves.
“I know where you can find him,” Donald said.
Jacob hunched over. “Dalgan?”
“Who the hell else would I be talking about?”
Jacob grinned, and Dinah knew he was having fun with Donald.
“It’s not our call,” she said.
Donald looked at her. Then at Jacob. The biker mulled it over. “Fine. I’ll wait for the donut patrol to arrive, but I want a lawyer.”
“Don’t worry,” Jacob said. “You’ll get one soon enough.”