The Wrong Side of the Bed 11

The Wrong Side of the Bed 11

by Anistasia Allread

Nikki was pleased to find that even with the all of the stresses over the past day that she woke up on the right side of the bed. She took a deep breath and tried to still her heart as she thought about what was to take place today.

It’s a day like any other. She told herself. It’s a concert like any other, it’s just for one of the most dangerous criminals in the city is all. But that didn’t seem to help her heart one bit. Detective Estrada was expecting her in just a couple of hours to go over last minute details and to wire her up before she went into the Lion’s den so to speak.

Nikki slipped her robe on over her pajamas and padded down to the kitchen.

“Good Morning.” Aunt Mary greeted.

Erika rolled her eyes when she saw her aunt in place of her father.

Aunt Mary smiled at her with a twinkle in her eye. “Parents have needs too, honey.” She chuckled.

“You’re going to ruin my appetite.” Nikki made a face.

“Don’t you have a performance today?” Aunt Mary inquired.

“Yes. I was going to eat before getting ready.”

“Well, eat up, I’ve made waffles.”

Nikki tucked into the warm, sweet goodness and was surprised at just how hungry she was even though she hadn’t morphed in days. Alicia padded down stairs rubbing sleep from her eyes as Nikki finished.

“Morning sis. Oh, Aunt Mary?” she seemed surprised as well.

Nikki excused herself and stepped into the shower. Legs and arm pits needed to be shaved. Scented lotion to be massaged into skin and an errant eyebrow hair to be yanked out.

Nikki put her new dress into a large purse and dressed in a nice skirt and blouse. She slid into a nice new pair of nylons and sat at her vanity and fixed her hair before applying a liberal amount of makeup.

“Wow.” Aunt Mary said from the door. “You look very nice.”

“Thank you, Aunt Mary.” Nikki smiled at her Aunt through the mirror.

Nikki stuffed a folder of music into her purse next to ‘the dress’ and trod downstairs. “I need to get going. See you later.” She announced. She hoped she would see them later. It all depended upon Detective Estrada and Lil’ Foot.

She slipped on her heels and clicked out of the front door.

Nikki walked into the locker room of the store. It was the only place she could think of to change before showing up at the police station for her meeting.

“I didn’t know you were working today.” Darlene greeted.

“I’m not. I just need to get out of the house and found myself here.” She lied. “I needed to bring my work clothes back after washing them anyway.”

Darlene nodded. “Well, the store will seem empty with you not playing.” She put her purse in her locker and locked it back up. “When do you work next?”

“Tomorrow.” Nikki smiled.

“Fantastic. See you tomorrow.” Darlene left.

Nikki pulled her new dress out of her purse and shook it out before hanging it up. She looked at the daring outfit and smiled. Her dad would definitely have had a cow if he had seen it. Even her mother would have disapproved. It wasn’t as if it was inappropriate, it was just daring.

Nikki slipped out of her skirt and blouse and hung them in the locker. She pulled out her latest purchase, an adhesive, backless, strapless bra. Having never used one, she pulled out her phone and watched a video on how to apply it to her chest. It was definitely weird feeling, but with this dress, she’d have no other choice except to go braless and there was too much of an opportunity for slippage to go without.

Nikki slipped on the dress and pulled and tucked everything into place. The corseted front left little to the imagination, the sweetheart bodice was deeply cut and would have to be taped to her adhesive bra to keep from falling out. The white beautiful fabric left her shoulders and back bare, but puffy, romantic sleeves were like cuffs of clouds around her biceps. The waist was corseted and was snug around her abdomen and then fell in an almost see through full pleated skirt that brushed against her thighs, just above her knees. Four inch pink pumps were the only color to this outfit.

Nikki inspected herself in the mirror. She turned around and felt the light skirt caress her thighs. She pulled out some simple, but sparkly earrings and put them in to finish the demure, but sexy look. She smiled at image in the mirror. Let those cops try to hide a wire with this dress.

Picking up her purse she clicked out of the store to her car well aware of the looks and stares she received from both men and women. She drove towards the police station and parked on the side of the road two blocks away.

Her phone buzzed an incoming text.

Det. Estrada: Where are you? You were supposed to be here fifteen minutes ago.

Nikki put the phone down and took a deep breath. Her heart picked up speed as she checked and rechecked her reflection in her rearview mirror.

Det. Estrada: Damn it Nikki, get your ass here. We are running out of time.

Nikki typed and sent. ‘Almost there. Don’t want a speeding ticket.’ She put the phone back down and watched as a mother pushed a stroller by while walking a boxer.

Det. Estrada: What’s your ETA?

Nikki sighed, checked the time and started up the car. She drove the three blocks to the station and checked herself once more before getting out.

Detective Estrada marched towards her out of the station. “Where the hell have you been?” he demanded.

“Getting ready.” Erika snapped back.

Detective Estrada looked her over really quick. “What the hell are you wearing? How are we going to hide a wire in that?”

“It’s called a dress.” Nikki stated.

“Well you need to change.” He growled.

“I don’t have time.” Nikki defended. “I have to be there in ten minutes.”

“Damn you.” Detective Estrada swore.

A woman jumped out of a nearby van. “Estrada.” She called. “Here.” She ran up to Nikki. “This won’t be as effective, but it’ll be better than nothing.” She opened her hand and allowed a locket on a chain to fall from her fingers. She looked at Nikki. “Turn around.”

Nikki did as was instructed and felt the silver locket’s weight against her chest just above her cleavage. The woman pressed something and looked to the van. “Test 1, 2, 3,.”

Nikki saw the driver give a thumbs up. Nikki’s mind screamed in frustration and terror.

The woman looked to Estrada. “Next time plan out the outfit so that she can wear a wire.”

“There isn’t going to be a next time.” Nikki told her.

The woman nodded and climbed back into the back of the van.

Estrada looked at Nikki. “Well, get going. Remember, we need names and information on times of shipments and or deals going down.”

Nikki just turned towards her car. If she hadn’t been wearing heels, she would have stomped back to her car.

“Remember this is for Vic.” Estrada called after her.

“Fuck you.” Nikki muttered as she climbed into her bug. “You weren’t even thinking about Vic, you prick.”

Nikki began ranting as she pulled out the police station and then realized that someone was probably hearing and taping everything she was saying.

“Fuck, you’re listening, aren’t you?” she swore. “Well, I just hope you can hear while I’m in this place, cuz if something goes wrong, I want you there quick, I don’t want to be one of the victims on a cop show.”

Nikki pulled up to the address that she had been given. She checked the time and took a deep breath before exiting her bug and grabbing her purse full of music. Having sheet music was mostly a security blanket, she had most of the music memorized.

Her heels clicked on the walkway up to the front door of the mid-century house. “You better be close.” She looked over her shoulder. She saw a van parked down the block flash its lights twice. “Can’t you park closer?” she grumbled. She adjusted her skirt, and the bodice of her dress before knocking on the door.

“What’s up?” a member of Lil’ Foots gang answered the door.

“I’m here to play music for Lil’ Foots grandmother.” Nikki swallowed.

The large guy waved her in. “No offense, girl, but I gotta pat you down.”

Nikki stepped back. “Not by you, I’m not.”

“Just precaution, baby.” He held his hands up.

Nikki looked past him. “Have her do it.” She told him.

The large guy looked over his shoulder and saw who she was referring. “Fine.“ He waved the young woman wearing too much eyeliner over. “Pat her.”

The woman smelled of cigarettes and cheep perfume. “Sweet dress. You going to a ball?”

“Just here to play piano.” Nikki flinched slightly as the girl pulled the fabric away from her bra, detaching the tape from the bra. “Really? You couldn’t be a little more gentle?”

“Sorry, Princess.” The girl shoved a hand between Nikki’s thighs causing her to squeak.

The large guy chuckled. “I’d have treated you right, Princess.”

Nikki was trying to settle her nerves. If she didn’t get her stress under control quickly, she’d be waking up on the wrong side of the bed for sure tomorrow. All she wanted to do was to race out the door screaming for her car. Screw the cops, screw Lil’ Foot. Screw everyone. Why couldn’t they be the ones in here dealing with this shit?

“She’s clean.” The makeup mishap stated.

“Just show me to the fucking piano.” Nikki growled.

“Whoa, the piano princess has a mouth.” The goon grinned.

“The purse stays here.” Makeup mishap ordered.

“It’s got my music.” Nikki protested, holding her bag to her chest.

The Goon stepped up. “It stays here. He pointed to a table with a few more purses, wallets and coats lay. “Nobody’s going to get into it.” He looked her in the eye. “We aint thieves.”

Nikki grabbed her sheet music and thrust the purse at him. “It all better be there when I leave.”

“I’ll keep my eye on it, Princess.”

“My name is Nikki.”

“I know. I seen you in the mall.” He stated. “Look, Princess….”

“Nikki.” Nikki asserted.

“Look Nikki.” The goon smiled. “I kinda like you. Nobody steals from nobody here. Lil’ Foot would shoot their hand off with a shotgun if they did.”

“Hey, Ogre, didn’t he do that to that one guy?” Makeup mishap asked.

The Goon didn’t look at her. “Don’t know, that was before my time.”

“Your name is Ogre?” Nikki asked. She could believe it. He was a big ogre like guy.

Ogre grinned. “Lil’ Foot names everyone.” He nodded over his shoulder. “She’s Fly.”

“Fly?” Nikki wanted to laugh, but kept it together.

Ogre leaned closer. “She thinks its because she looks ‘fly’, but really it’s because she is annoying like one.”

Trying to hold in her laugh, Nikki snorted.

“Watch it bitch, I’ll cut off your fingers.” Fly snarled.

“Fly.” Another person entered the room. “I thought I asked you to get ice.”

Nikki looked to see Lil’ Foot stroll into the room.

“I was on my way when Ogre tole me to pat this Princess down.”

“Well, go on, the party is starting soon and the lemonade and sun tea will need ice.”

“Okay, Foot.” Fly went scurrying off.

“I hope these two haven’t bothered you.” Lil’ Foot smiled as he approached.

“They want me to leave my purse.” Nikki looked from Lil’ Foot to Ogre and back.

Lil’ Foot exchanged looks with Ogre and smiled. “I’m sorry, but it is kinda a rule around here. It for our safety and privacy. I assure you no one will get into it.”

Nikki huffed. “Fine.” She handed the purse to Ogre.

Lil’ Foot offered his hand, but Nikki ignored it. He acted like nothing happened. “You look very pretty, Nikki. My Grandmother is going to absolutely love you.” He led her through the house.

Clean lines and large window that seemed to float between the floor and ceiling opened up beautiful views of a dated, but pretty garden. Two sliding doors led out to a large brick patio set with several tables with umbrellas and little tables of refreshments. Just inside and off to one side of the doors was a baby grand piano.

“I hope this will work.” Lil’ Foot led her to the piano. “I had it brought in yesterday and tuned.”

“She’s beautiful.” Nikki admired the instrument. “You said your Grandmother liked Classical music?”

Lil’ Foot nodded. “Classical, Jazz, blues. Can you play Jazz and blues?” he asked startled by his own question. “I didn’t think to ask when I hired you.”

“I play a little of both.” Nikki assured.

“Great. Great.” Lil Foot smiled.

Damn why did he have to have such a warm smile? Nikki wondered. I hate him. He shot Vic. How can I be admiring the smile of a drug dealing, killer?

“. . . Just ask.” Lil’ Foot was saying.

“I’m sorry, I missed that last part? I was admiring the house.” Nikki lied.

“I said, if you need a refreshment or a snack, just ask one of the servers.”

“Thank you.” Nikki set her music on the piano and touched one of the keys.

Lil’ Foot stepped away seeing something that needed his attention.

Nikki sat down and adjusted the bench, before playing a few scales to warm up but also to check out the piano, and make sure that it was indeed tuned properly. She had a tuning key in her purse just in case, but it didn’t seem to need that kind of attention. Her fingers feathered over the keys and began picking out a tune. Before she knew it, she was engrossed in her music.

The first guests arriving snapped her out of her trance. She smiled as they walked by.
“Looks like a few family members.” She muttered, hoping that the mic in the locket would pick up her words. “I hope you heard my conversation with Ogre and Fly.” She shook her head at saying the names of the two she had met. Who would accept let alone seem proud of being given nick names like Ogre and Fly?

A few older ladies arrived in their pretty garden dresses. Some even wore hats and gloves. Nikki didn’t report their arrival. She figured the cops could care less about a few old ladies.

Fly glowered at her as she arrived carrying two large bags of ice. Nikki wondered if the woman’s attitude would change if someone showed her how to apply makeup properly.

“Three men and their girlfriends just came in.” Nikki described them in as much detail as she could. The girlfriends wore dresses that were too tight and too short for the occasion. Their lips looked like they had injected too much fat or silicon in them and their hair was too straight and too long. Definitely extensions. Nikki judged.
Lil’ Foot came into the room with an older woman’s arm through his. He seemed to be partially holding her up as she shuffled more than walked beside him. Her very pink dress matched her shoes and purse. Nikki could only think of Pepto-Bismol.

“Nanna, this is Nikki the Pianist I was telling you about.” He introduced as they approached. “Nikki this is my Nanna, Eugenia.”

Nikki kept playing and smiled. “Happy Birthday Nanna Eugenia.”

“My, she is as beautiful as she plays.” Nanna grinned at her grandson.

“You’re too kind, Nanna.” Nikki wondered if Nanna knew that her grandson was a drug dealer and murderer. She hoped that the seemingly sweet old woman was in ignorant bliss.

“Why aren’t you bringing pretty girls like that home instead of those, those, those Tramps.” Nanna questioned.

“Its hard to find pretty girls like her.” Lil’ Foot’s smiling face lifted from his Grandmother to Nikki and winked.

Nikki didn’t know which was worse, him winking or her liking that he winked. Stop this silliness, Nikki. She ordered herself.

Nikki couldn’t help but smile to herself as she watched Nanna embracing old friends and cackling as old women do. She wondered if that would be her someday or if she’d be a grouchy old man drinking beer and shooting the shit with his buddies.

Two more young men entered the party and joined the others out in the garden, each holding a drink and talking. Nikki described them as best she could without drawing attention to the fact that she was talking to herself.

A few of Lil’ Foot’s posse dressed in black and white suits brought serving trays out of the kitchen and served the older women. Sandwiches, small quiches’ and other finger foods were taken from trays as they passed.

Fly emerged from the kitchen wearing black and white as well and with a little grace poured tea and fetched refreshments.

She was so consumed with watching what was going on outside, she didn’t see anyone approach. She almost squeeled when a person sat beside her on the bench. She looked up and was captured by the warm smile of Lil’ Foot.

“Didn’t mean to startle you.” He apologized. “Nanna begged me to come in here and play a duet with you.”

“You play?” Nikki almost stopped playing at the revelation.

“Only took lessons for a bit when I was a boy.” He confessed.

Nikki stopped playing and gestured for him to start.

“Here you go, Nanna.” He called out to her. He began playing and not too gracefully.

Nikki immediately figured out what he was trying to play and began to accompany him. A few bars later, his playing began to improve. It was like he was remembering long memories from a long time ago and was allowing his muscle memory to remember as well.

Nikki looked over at him and smiled as she watched his tongue poke between his lips in concentration. She could just imagine him as a little boy doing the same thing perhaps wearing a hat backwards on his head, his legs swinging below the bench, not long enough to reach the ground or pedals.

Stop it! Her brain screamed he is a monster, not a cute, harmless little boy!

The song came to a conclusion and the patio erupted in applause and cheers.

Lil’ Foot smiled out at his Nanna then he leaned closer to Nikki. “Thanks for making me look good.” He got up and bowed in jest to his audience before rejoining the party.

After a bite of cucumber sandwich and a sip of sweet tea, Nikki started tickling the ivory again. She started playing a bit of old jazz, a bit of Count Basie and even some Irving Berlin.

Movement coming from the front of the house caught her attention. She looked up and her fingers stumbled, missing a few notes badly.

Landon? What the hell was Landon doing here?

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