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Posted by John on Wednesday, 17 January

mn Black Tide! Shiner gasped out the words. Amber looked inappropriately amused. He asked her what was so damn funny. Nothings funny. But it is sort of perfect. Glad you think so. Jesus, what about the Lotto! he said. And what about my car I hope you got Plan B. Amber said, Lets get going. When he balked, she lowered her voice: Hurry. Before they come back. She made Shiner drive, an enforced distraction. Soon he blabbered himself into a calm. In Homestead she instructed him to pull over by a drainage canal. She waited for a dump truck to pass, then tossed Chubs Colt Python into the water. Afterward, Shiner stayed quiet for many miles. Amber knew he was thinking about all that money. She was, too. It wasnt meant to be. It wasnt right, she said, not from any angle. Yeah, but for fourteen million bucks Know why Im not upset Because were off the hook. Now we dont have to make a decision about what to do. Somebody made it for us. But you still got the ticket. Amber shook her head. Not for long. Whoever came for that video knows who really won the lottery. They know, OK Yeah. Shiner went into a sulk. She said, Ive never been arrested before. How about you He said nothing. You mentioned your mom Well, I was thinking about my dad, Amber said. About what my dad would do if he turned on the TV one night and theres his little blond princess in handcuffs, busted for trying to cash a stolen Lotto ticket. Itd probably kill him, my dad. The rabbi She laughed softly. Right. Shiner wasnt sure how to get back to Coconut Grove, so Amber (who needed to pack an overnight bag, check in with Tony and arrange for her friend Gloria to cover her shift at Hooters) told him to stick with U.S. 1, even though there were a jillion stoplights. Shiner didnt complain. They were stopped in traffic at the Bird Road intersection when the car was approached by an elderly Cuban man selling long-stemmed roses. Impulsively Shiner dug a five-dollar bill from his camos. The old man grinned warmly. Shiner bought three roses and handed them to Amber, who responded with a cool dart of a kiss. It was the first time he ever got flowers for a woman, and also his first experience with a genuine Miami Cuban. What a day, he thought. And it still aint over. The videotape gave Moffitt a headache. Typical convenience-store setup: cheapo black-and-white with stuttered speed, so the fuzzy images jerked along like Claymation. A digitalized day/date/time flickered in the bottom margin. Impatiently Moffitt fast-forwarded through a blurry conga line of truckers, traveling salesmen, stiff-legged tourists and bingeing teenagers whose unwholesome diets and nicotine addictions made the Grab NGo a gold mine for the Dutch holding company that owned it. Finally Moffitt came to JoLayne Lucks, walking through the swinging glass doors. She wore jeans, a baggy sweatshirt and big round sunglasses, probably the peach-tinted ones. The cameras clock flashed 5:15 p.m. One minute later she was standing at the counter. Moffitt chuckled when he saw the roll of Certs; spearmint, undoubtedly. JoLayne dug into her purse and gave some money to the pudgy teenage clerk. He handed her the change in coins, plus one ticket from the Lotto machine. She said something to the clerk, smiled, and went out the door into the afternoon glare. Moffitt backed up the tape, to review the smile. It was good enough to make him ache. Hed left Puerto Rico a day early, after the de la Hoya cousins wisely discarded their original explanation of the three hundred Chinese machine guns found in their beach house at Rincon (to wit: theyd unknowingly rented the place to a band of leftist guerrillas posing as American surfers). Attorneys for the de la Hoyas realized they were in trouble when they noticed jurors smirking (and, in one case, suppressing a giggle) as the surfer alibi was presented during opening statements. After a hasty conference, the de la Hoyas decided to jump on the governments offer of a plea ba