“How do you fit food in that body?” the client said. “If I eat rice, I gain ten pounds, and all you Chinese chicks are tiny. I don’t get it.”

“I’m Filipina, you f**ktard,” she said, flicking his ear, hard. He yelped.

I pressed my lips together, and walked back to the vestibule. A few minutes later, Trenton walked in, two large plastic bags in his hands. He set them on the counter and began pulling out different dishes.

Hazel walked up with her customer. “I already went over the care instructions, so he’s good to go,” she said. She took one look at the thin boxes on the counter and her eyes brightened. “I love you, Trent. I seriously, motherfucking love you.”

“You’re making me blush,” he said with a smile. I had seen the scary sides of Trenton more than once, in middle school, high school, and more recently, at the Red. Now he had the most content look on his face, just happy that he’d made Hazel happy. “And this is for you,” Trenton said, pulling out a box.

“I know. You said you weren’t hungry. Just eat so you don’t hurt my feelings.”

I didn’t argue. I peeled the cellophane off a set of plastic utensils and dug in, not caring if I looked like a wild animal.

Calvin strolled up from the back, clearly led by his nose. “Dinner?”

“For us. Go get your own,” Trenton said, waving Calvin off with his plastic fork.

“Goddamn,” Calvin said. “I almost wish I had a vagina so I could get fed around here.” Trenton ignored him. “Did Bishop ever come in?”

“Nope,” Hazel said, her mouth full of food.

Calvin shook his head and pushed out the double doors, likely on his way to Pei Wei’s.

The phone rang, and I answered, still chewing. “Skin Deep Tattoo . . .”

“Is uh . . . is Hazel busy?” a voice said, low pitched but feminine, like mine.

“She’s with a client. Can I take your name?”

“No. Actually . . . uh . . . yeah. Tell her it’s Alisha.”

“Alisha?” I said, looking at Hazel. She began silently mouthing every cuss word in existence, and flipping off the phone with fingers from both hands.

She chuckled. “Yeah, I guess so. Is she coming to the phone?”

“No, but she left a message for you. Eat a dick, Alisha.”

Trenton and Hazel froze, and the other end of the line was silent for a few seconds.

“Eat. A. Dick,” I said, and then hung up the phone.

After a few moments of shock, Hazel and Trenton burst into a duet of laughter. After a full minute of trying to stop laughing and making that tired sigh sound in between giggles, they both began wiping their eyes. Hazel’s thick mascara was running down her cheeks.

Hazel leaned in to pull a tissue out of the box sitting on the counter next to the computer. She dabbed under her eyes, and then patted me on the shoulder. “We’re going to get along just fine.” She pointed back with her thumb as she retreated to her room. “Land that one, Trent. She’s right up your alley.”

“She has a boyfriend,” Trenton called to her, staring into my eyes and grinning.

We just stood there for a few moments, exchanging small smiles, and then I righted my posture, looking for a clock. “I’ve got to go. Need to read a chapter before bed.”

“I’d offer you help, but school wasn’t really my thing.”

I slipped my red hobo over my shoulder. “That’s only because while you were there, partying and girls were your thing. It might be different now. You should look into taking a class.”

“Nah,” he said, pulling his cap off his head and turning it forward. He adjusted it a few times as he mulled over my suggestion, as if he had never considered it until that moment.

Just then, three college kids stumbled in, loud, obnoxious, and giggling. Even if they weren’t drunk, it was easy for us locals to spot the transplants. Two guys, probably freshmen, approached the counter, and the girl, wearing a pink sundress and thigh-high boots, followed behind. Trenton immediately caught her eye, and she began smoothing out her hair.

“Jeremy lost a bet,” one of the kids said. “He’s going to need a Justin Bieber tat.”

Jeremy let his head fall to the counter. “I can’t believe you’re making me do this.”

“We have money,” the kid said, opening his wallet. “I’m prepared to give everyone in here a tip that will blow your mind.”

“She doesn’t want your money, Clay,” the girl said with a smirk.

“She wants my money,” Clay said, leaning in. “You work at the Red, don’t you?”

I just stared at him.

“Working more than one job . . .” Clay said, thinking.

“I have a proposition for you to earn some extra cash. You’d make in one night what you probably make in a month here.”

“Tempting . . . but no,” I said, but before I could finish the sentence, Trenton had Clay’s collar in both fists.

“Does she look like a whore to you?” Trenton seethed. I’d seen that look in his eyes before—right before he beat the shit out of someone.

“Whoa!” I said, rushing around the counter. Clay’s eyes were wide. Jeremy put his arm on Trenton. Trenton looked down at Jeremy’s hand. “Do you want to die tonight?”

Hazel jogged to the vestibule, but she didn’t seem afraid. She just wanted to see the show.

Trenton kicked open the door and then shoved Clay out backward. Clay landed on his backside, and then scrambled up. The girl with them walked slowly outside, watching Trenton, twirling a small piece of her long, golden locks.

“Don’t be too impressed, Kylie. He’s that psycho that got that girl killed a couple of years ago.”

Trenton rushed the door, but I stood between him and the glass. Trenton immediately stopped, breathing hard, and Clay retreated quickly to his shiny black truck.

As the kids backed out of the parking lot, I kept a hand on Trenton’s chest. He was still breathing hard, and shaking from anger. He could have stared a hole through the truck as it drove away.

Hazel turned on her heels and returned to her room without saying a word.

“I know,” I said. I patted him a couple of times, and then dug my keys out of my purse. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” he said. His eyes lost focus, and I could see that he wasn’t. I knew exactly what it was like to get lost in a bad memory, and even over a year later, just one mention of the accident had sent Trenton down the rabbit hole.

“I’ve got a bottle of Crown at my apartment and some lunch meat. Let’s drink until we throw up ham sandwiches.”

One corner of Trenton’s mouth turned up. “That sounds pretty awesome.”

“Doesn’t it? Let’s go. See you tomorrow, Hazel!” I called.

Trenton followed me to my apartment, and I went straight to the liquor cabinet. “Crown and Coke or just Crown?” I called from the kitchen.