Latasha expression darkened. “Gia, we won’t make rent without you. I’ve only got one more quarter to go. I can’t quit school now.”
Gia cast him a pleading glance and Vitaly sighed. With a curt nod, he pulled out his cell phone and placed a call.
“Pyotr, it’s Vitaly. I need a favor.” Without thinking about it, he spoke in Russian.
“Vitaly! It’s good to hear from you. What do you need, brother?”
“I am getting married tomorrow. My wife’s roommates live in an unsuitable neighborhood. They need safe housing. You’ll like the blonde. Treat them with respect and kindness.”
“You want me to find homes for two girls?” Pyotr’s tone conveyed incredulity. Vitaly wasn’t in the habit of performing good works.
“They’re college girls.”
“Why should I give a home to some snooty college girls?”
“They’re working their way through school, trying to better their futures. Have some respect for their effort, Pyotr. They need a little help and we can give it to them.”
“What will they give in exchange?”
“Their rent will be my responsibility, Pyotr. Don’t be foolish.”
Vitaly’s colleague sighed with regret at the implied denial of fresh flesh for his use. If Vitaly was involving his personal finances, then Pyotr would act the gentleman. If Pyotr did indeed fancy the blonde, then Vitaly’s patronage of the girl would ensure the other man’s good behavior.
He ended the call with a confirmation that a car would arrive shortly to pick up the girls, who looked at him with questioning eyes as they’d not been able to understand a single word of his side of the conversation.
“New accommodations will be found for Cecily and Latasha.” He spoke directly to Gia, then turned his attention to the two young women. “A man will be here shortly His name is Pyotr. He will take you to your new home. Pack only what you must. Your new home will be furnished.”
“Vitaly?” Gia queried.
“They will be safe.” She nodded, accepting his word. She could do little else.
“What the hell is going on, Gia?” Latasha hissed.
“You know, I’m not entirely sure anymore.” She glanced back at Vitaly. “But I trust him. I have to. And I trust his word that you and Cecily will be kept safe.”
“Pack your things, ladies,” the big man’s deep voice ordered. “Pyotr will be here shortly.”
“Pyotr?” Cecily repeated the name, tasting it on her tongue.
“My colleague. He will see you and Latasha to a new residence. Do as he says for your own good.”
Skinny Latasha bellied up to Vitaly, glaring at him without fear. “And what if we don’t obey orders like good little girls?”
Vitaly shrugged and said coldly, “Then Pyotr leaves without you and you take your chances against the Culebras.”
Latasha’s milk chocolate complexion turned ashen. “The Culebras?”