The gun was in my desk drawer, inches from my hand. One quick move and years of military training, no matter how rusty—
"Are you listening to me, Mr. Monterey?” The shrill voice made my spine ache.
I sighed and relaxed my hand. Local law enforcement would frown on my shooting the woman with the blue eyeliner and flowered dress who perched on my leather visitor's chair. Then again, maybe they had met her.
Her face vibrated with irritation, and her eyes dug into me.
My P.I. license was already on thin ice, so I couldn't chance it.
"Of course, Mrs. Kelley. I still don't understand why the police aren't handling this."
"Because..." She spoke slowly, like I was a child who was willfully making her life miserable. "There is nothing to investigate."
I considered the gun again. "You were poisoned, spent two days in the hospital, don’t want to involve the police, and came to me because there is nothing to investigate?”
She smiled like a proud kindergarten teacher whose student just died his shoe for the first time. "Exactly."
“This really sounds like a waste of my time.”
Her eyebrows raised and she looked at my empty desk, then around the room.
“Mrs. Kelley, just because I’m not doing anything at this very minute…” I trailed off, hoping I’d made my point.
She reached over the side of the chair and grabbed her ridiculously large purse. "My sister fears for my safety, but I know it was some sort of freak accident.”
She pulled an envelope out of the purse and slid it across my desk.
"Here's two day's pay at your stated fee. I need you to come to my home, look around, and tell my sister that it was an accident."
Not that I wanted to spend another second with the banshee, but not haggling with me over the money put at least one mark in her favor.
The few gigs I'd gotten recently, following people with disability claims around with a camera, weren't cutting it. The lights were about to be shut off and I hadn't paid Frank in two months.
He'd taken the day off, something I couldn't hold against him under the circumstances. But his empty desk in the front office was what let Kelley march into my office and interrupt my mid-morning meditation session—also known as my 'please let this hangover go away' power nap.
"Fine, Mrs. Kelley. I'll start right away."
She struggled up from the chair. It really was some purse. “Good. I will see you in an hour. The address is on the envelope."
My temples throbbed. "Make it two."
She glared for a second, obviously not a woman used to being contradicted. "Fine."
As she turned to leave, I had to ask. "May I ask how you found out about my services?" I needed the name to add to my shit-list.
She stopped but didn't turn back to look at me. “I called, Sergeant Flynn, an old friend of the family. Without giving details, of course, I asked if there was an investigator he’d recommend. "
Without another word, she walked out.
I couldn't move. The only Sergeant Flynn in the Boston Police Department was Liam Flynn, and it was highly unlikely he'd recommend my services. Not after our last conversation. Or as he called it, an intervention.
Maybe he and I were okay and I just didn't know it. Either way, I still had a headache that needed getting rid of.
When I opened the bottom drawer of my desk, the contents made a familiar and comforting clink. I picked up the bottle of scotch and small glass, trying to ignore the other object in the drawer.
Some days I would take out the picture of Emilio and me from our fishing vacation in the Gulf, prop it up against the phone on my desk and drink a toast to love lost. Or, maybe a few toasts. That's why I left it in the drawer. I had work to do.
That’s also why I only poured one and half fingers of scotch instead of two. Temperance and self-control, that's me.
Boston’s China Town hustle and bustle floated through the window from the street three stories down. I'd been angry when I'd given up my office on Boylston Street for cheaper digs, but I was getting used to it. Besides, it was closer to my cheap apartment. That's how Frank had talked me off the ledge about it, anyway.
I took a sip. It burned my throat. Even the cheap stuff knew what to do though. My headache would be gone in a few minutes.
Frank should have been there. He'd have been proud of the calm way I'd handled Mrs. Kelley. That's not to say he wouldn't have pulled one of his Jimmy Choo's from beneath his desk and beaten her with the heel.
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