Eeny Meany Miny Die (Cat Sinclair Mysteries)

BOOK: Eeny Meany Miny Die (Cat Sinclair Mysteries)
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EENY MEANY MINY DIE

Cat Sinclair Mystery #2

Carolyn Scott

 

Copyright 2014 Carolyn Scott

Visit Carolyn at
http://carolynscottbooks.com

 

 

ABOUT THIS BOOK

When Cat Sinclair's Hollywood friend breezes into Renford and asks Cat to locate some missing money, she thinks her first case as a P.I. will be easy. After all, the member of the popular kids entertainment group already knows her manager is defrauding her. Cat just has to prove it.

But when the fraudulent manager winds up dead, Cat's case - and her life - fall apart. She gets embroiled in a world of spoiled stars, fake friends and dangerous deviants. And she thought she'd left Hollywood behind.

Then there's her love life. Not only does she have to contend with the advances of a sexy one-eyed cop, but her fledgling romance with her boss is looking shaky. It's enough to make a girl think Hollywood wasn't such a crazy place after all.

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

"What the fuck are you doing down there?"

From my vantage point under the desk, the unfamiliar voice seemed to be coming from a pair of polished men's shoes and trouser-clad legs blocking my getaway. I swallowed a retort about minding his language around ladies, because I wasn't a lady. Nor could I afford to draw extra attention to myself and risk blowing my first undercover assignment.

I scooted out from under the desk on my knees, butt first, bumping into legs that were attached to a young guy glaring down at me. I turned on a cute smile, but it didn't wipe the scowl off his face. If anything, his frown deepened.

He crossed his arms and pulled himself up to his full height, a good six feet of solid male. "I said, what the fuck are you doing?"

I hadn't met Clive Bankler before, but I recognized him from his corporate security photo. His profile said he was in his late-twenties, but he looked older thanks to the premature balding he tried to cover by shaving his head. Unfortunately the cueball look, which is sexy on some men (Yul Brynner anyone?), didn't suit his elongated face. It made him look like a horse.

I tossed my head and whipped myself in the eye with my ponytail. "I'm fixing your cables." I held up a blue cable which Will had given me as a decoy in case I got caught by Clive or one of his colleagues.

When my boss, Will Knight, informed me that morning that I'd be going undercover to plant a bug, he'd made sure I had everything I needed, including props. "Props are a P.I.'s best friend," he'd said. A director once said the same thing, only swapping P.I. for actor. The two professions had some eerie similarities.

I'd taken Will's advice on board and accepted the cables and toolbox. But my acting instincts weren't satisfied, so I went home and changed into overalls. I also removed all my makeup, tied my hair up, and added some smudges of dirt to my forehead and cheek, courtesy of my one and only indoor plant. I would have used a brunette wig to cap off the disguise since all tradeswomen seem to be brunettes, but I only had a blonde Marilyn Monroe one that smelled faintly of smoke from my apartment fire a few weeks ago.

"My cables don't need fixing," Clive said, not budging an inch. He wouldn't even let me past him, so I was wedged up against the desk.

"Sorry, bad choice of words," I said. "Not fixing as such, just replacing. It's an occupational health and safety initiative from management. All cables in this department have to be upgraded."

He still looked skeptical, although the mean edge disappeared from his eyes. "You don't look like an electrician."

I arched a brow and took a step closer, which brought my nose only inches from his chest. "Yeah? And what should an electrician look like?"

"A man."

"That's sexist."

He shrugged.

The confrontation wasn't going well. He didn't believe me—and me a professional actor! I'd lose my credibility if he suspected something. Will had convinced his client, Slim, that I wouldn't get caught. Like Clive, Slim had said a female electrician wouldn't fly. So much for girl power. Seems the twenty-first century hadn't hit some guys. Nor had the twentieth.

I gave the cute smile another outing and leaned forward to whisper in Clive's ear. "There're many things a woman can do that a man can't."

He snorted and moved closer. He didn't smell unpleasant. In fact, he didn't smell of anything at all. I found that creepier. Give me garlic breath, B.O. or too much cheap cologne any day.

"Like what?" he said.

"Our fingers are more dexterous." I wiggled my fingers seductively at him. "It's amazing what we can do with them." God help me, I was using my feminine wiles to get out of a sticky situation. Not my finest moment, but a girl's gotta do etc. Besides, everyone knows men think with their dicks (or stop thinking, maybe). Nobody ever accused me of letting feminism get in the way of saving my ass.

"Really?" Clive snickered like a schoolboy who'd found a way to see into the girl's locker room. "How about you show me later." He picked a business card off the pile on his desk. "Call this number after five."

What an asshat. He didn't even flicker an eyelash at the photo of the bikini-clad woman on his desk. Maybe she wasn't his girlfriend then. Maybe she was just a random person he'd photographed at the beach. It made more sense than the alternative—that a gorgeous girl would go out with a sleaze like him.

I tucked his card into my bra, since it seemed like something my character would do. Then I winked and sashayed out of there.

When I got into the elevator and descended the seven flights to the ground floor, I expelled a long breath. Mission accomplished. Bug planted. Will could listen in to Clive's phone conversations to his heart's content.

Slim had come to us when he found he was losing potential clients only days before they signed lucrative contracts with his freight company. Will had found out that National Trucking and Shipping had been undercut by thousands of dollars at the eleventh hour by their competitors. Not always the same competitor, either. We'd narrowed down the suspects to the Sales department, with Clive being the most likely. He'd recently bought a new car and boasted about flying to New York for the weekend to woo a girl. I wondered if it was the same girl in the photo.

So far we had no proof. We'd checked Clive's emails and hard drive and come up with zip. He might be making the deals on his work phone, hence the need for the bugging device, but if you asked me, only a fool would use company time and resources to cheat. But as Will said, we needed to examine all avenues before taking a more radical course of action.

Yawn
.

I left the NTS building in Downtown Renford, Illinois, and headed back home to my apartment to change. An hour later I drove to the Knight Investigations office in a northern suburb of Renford not far from the center of town. Known for its ethnic roots, the suburb had gone through gentrification in recent years thanks to a booming housing industry which seemed to have bypassed Knight’s office building. Located on High Street and squashed beside a florist and a furniture shop, it needed a coat of paint at the very least, and a complete renovation at the most. Will said he had neither the time nor the money. I would have added that he lacked inclination too.

I parked outside the office and waved to Gina, my best friend and owner of Gina's Flowers. She waved back but was with a customer, so she didn't come out for her usual gossip. As I opened the door to the Knight Investigations office, I sighed deeply. Back to being a secretary. My little foray into private investigating had been short lived. It was all Will would give me, despite my begging, pleading, and ignoring the growing pile of filing.

Christ, I was going insane. If I had to work another day as Knight Investigations' office manager (a.k.a. Will's personal slave) I might do something desperate, like quit. Again.

The last time was when he got all grumpy and tried to stop me investigating my first case. I returned to work only because he promised to make me a P.I. after we slept together.

Will and I tried to be lovers outside working hours and colleagues in the office. It wasn't easy separating the two. Sometimes we got confused and ended up having hot sex against the filing cabinet or talking about a client in bed.

Our trouble boiled down to the fact that he was my boss and my job sucked (the slave part, that is, the P.I. part was cool). Oh, and it didn’t help that if I didn't want to do something, I just didn't do it.

So I was still trying to manage the office while learning to be a P.I. on the side. I hated the first, and the second was taking too goddamn long. Not surprising since Will had no time to teach me. Ever since his last partner, Carl Fortune, tried to kill me, Will had been doing twice as much work. If I could take some of the load off him it would help, but there was still the phone to answer and invoices to send out. Although, I did leave the filing in a stack on the filing cabinet where he couldn't fail to see it—I didn't want him thinking I was
too
competent or he'd
never
hire another office manager.

Bugging Clive Bankler's desk was the one and only real piece of work he'd given me. I suspected he was reluctant to give me a case of my own. I didn't know why. I had a one hundred percent strike rate. My single investigation had been successfully solved, and I'd only been kidnapped and beaten up once in the process.

I dropped my bag on my desk and turned on the computer. Nothing happened. I tried the lamp. Still nothing. I headed up to the kitchen at the back of the long office and switched on the kettle. It didn't boil. None of the lights worked either. Shit. I'd forgotten to pay the electricity bill.

Will wandered in and threw his bag on the floor. He gave me a brisk kiss. "How'd it go?"

"Um, Will…"

"That sounds ominous. Wait till I have a coffee, then tell me. I think I need caffeine before I deal with a Cat Sinclair saga."

Saga? Well, huh. I crossed my arms and watched as he unplugged the kettle, filled it with water, plugged it back in, and switched it on. He got a mug out of the cupboard and stood by the kettle. When it didn't boil he looked at me, looked back at the kettle, then tried the light switch.

"Cat, this is not good enough!" he yelled.

"Relax. I'll get you a coffee from Trendz Cafe."

"That's not the point and you know it." The initial anger was already gone from his tone, replaced by bone-dead weariness.

I touched his fingers and drew him after me up the hallway to his office. I rummaged through the stack of papers in his IN tray and found what I was looking for.

"What's that?" He stretched out his free hand, the other still held his empty mug with the slogan
I'm only grumpy until my fifth cup of coffee
.

"The check you were supposed to sign so I could pay the electricity company."

"Oh." He flashed one cheeky dimple in an apologetic grin. "Sorry." He signed the check and handed it back to me.

Fortunately he didn't look too closely or he would have noticed it was made out to the surveillance equipment supplier and not the electricity company. Just another white lie to save my ass.

"I'll go pay this," I said, "on one condition."

He raised an eyebrow.

"You hire an office manager so I can concentrate on taking on a larger case load." Make that
a
case load.

"But I don't have time to—"

I reached up and placed my hand at the back of his neck and pulled his face down level with mine. "No time? Poor baby. We'll have to stop seeing each other after work to free you up."

"I'll call the recruitment agency."

"Thought you might." I let go and he straightened. Since he was in an accommodating mood, it seemed like a good time to tell him my first job as an official P.I. hadn't gone exactly as planned. Then again, he didn't need to know the details, just the outcome.

***

The next day, Faith arrived on Knight Investigations' doorstep and announced Will had hired her as the new office manager.

Um, excuse me, when was I going to be told?

I quickly got over my annoyance at being left out of the loop—or is it just a line when there's only two people?—when I remembered she was taking over the crap part of my job. I embraced her.

"Welcome to Knight's!"

She reacted like a mistreated puppy, recoiling and jumping out of my reach. "Is Will Knight here?"

"He's out."

"Oh." Her thin shoulders drooped. Everything about Faith MacIntosh was thin and kind of loose. Her long limbs hung aimlessly at her sides and her dark brown hair fell straight, past her hollow cheeks, to her shoulders. Even her clothes—black pants and a white blouse—didn't fit her properly and billowed in the summer breeze drifting through the open front door.

It was difficult to determine her age, because she kept her head bowed and wouldn't maintain eye contact. I couldn't decide if she was an undernourished, timid forty-year-old or a prematurely aging twenty-something. Reality was probably somewhere in between.

BOOK: Eeny Meany Miny Die (Cat Sinclair Mysteries)
3.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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