Eeny Meany Miny Die (Cat Sinclair Mysteries) (20 page)

BOOK: Eeny Meany Miny Die (Cat Sinclair Mysteries)
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The squeal of tires had me spinning round and my heart racing. A white car with heavily tinted windows came straight for me. It wasn't going to stop. I sprang out of the way and landed on my side.

The white car slammed into my Honda, reversed, and came at me again. Shit! I scrambled to my feet and ran. Tires screamed against the tarmac as the driver hammered the accelerator.

A gunshot rang out. Fuck! Now the driver was shooting at me?

But the car braked, reversed, and sped out of the parking lot. I stopped and doubled over, trying to catch my breath. My lungs felt like they were on fire, and my heart tried to punch its way out of my chest.

"You ok-kay?" It was Mad Max. He held a gun in one hand and a glass of beer in the other. He handed me the beer. I took it and gulped the contents down.

"Yeah," I said. "Did you shoot?"

"N-not at y-y-you, at the c-car."

Well huh. He'd just saved my life. "Thanks," I said. It didn't seem adequate enough, but I couldn't bring myself to hug him. He was still a scumbag.

"So what did you call me here for?"

He glanced in the direction the white car had gone. His left eye twitched, making it look like he was winking. "T-t-to t-tell you to stay out of Cindy's b-business."

"You mean her drug problem?" I didn't mention that I knew she'd bought them from him. He must have known that I knew, but there was no need to admit it.

"I was g-going to threaten you, b-b-but it s-seems irrelevant n-n-now." He tucked the gun inside his army khakis. "S-someone's g-got it in for you."

"No shit."

"M-mind your own b-business, Cat. You d-don't want to g-g-get in over your head or it m-might get used as t-target p-p-practice."

He walked off, and I was left standing there wondering what the hell had just happened. I'd nearly been run over, only to be rescued by a drug dealer who then threatened me to stay away from his customer. My life was getting complicated.

I looked at my wreck of a car and burst into tears. It was a mess. Most of the panels down the driver's side were damaged. I couldn't even open the door. I had to climb through the passenger side. Poor Hondy. Thankfully it started.

I drove to a park about a block from work and sat in the playground. Kids slid down slides and chased each other. It was innocent, safe. I sat there and thought about the car that had tried to turn me into a flat pack. It had been white, yet a black Lexus had followed me from the office. Were the two connected, or had I only imagined the black Lexus was following me? And were the plates actually different from Cindy's, or had I misremembered them?

And what about Mad Max? Why had he summoned me to The Grotto just to threaten me? He could have told me to leave Cindy alone over the phone. Had he wanted me there so his accomplice could try to run me down? Or so he could rescue me, maybe put me in his debt? If he had orchestrated it, surely he'd run a big risk. Having invited me to The Grotto, he would be the cops' first suspect.

Speaking of cops. I was just about to dial Scarface's number when my phone rang. It was him.

"Am I glad to hear from you!" I said.

Silence. Then: "Why? What's happened?"

"Someone tried to run me over in the parking lot at The Grotto."

"Fuck. You okay?"

"I'm still in one piece. Max scared them off."

"Warshenski? Crap."

"Why? I thought you'd be pleased that I'm still alive."

"You might be alive, but you owe him now. One day, he's gonna collect."

Yeah, crap.

"Did you get the number?"

"Not on that car, but I think another one followed me to The Grotto. They might have been working together." I gave him the number of the black Lexus, and he promised to check it out.

"So what did Max want?" he asked.

I warred with myself over whether to tell him, but decided I had to. For all I knew, Max was involved in the attempt to run me over and hadn't actually rescued me at all. "He was warning me to stay away from Cindy Belfour, Frank Karvea's ex-wife."

"Why would he do that?"

"I think he's supplying her with drugs." I waited for him to say something, but he didn't. "You already know, don't you?"

"I can't tell you that."

I waited some more, but he didn't crack. Scarface wasn't going to fall for the silence trick. Gina, on the other hand, would definitely fall for it. The compulsion to fill silences was in her DNA.

"Cindy's also my suspect for the hit-and-run," I said. "She threatened me last night and the black car was a lot like her rental."

"I'll see if I can find out her movements for the last hour. So you sure you're not hurt?" His voice was warm and soft, like melted butter. "Want me to come and check you all over?"

"I've got Will to do the checking."

"You're going to tell him about this?"

"Um, probably not. That doesn't mean you can."

"Your secret is safe with me. All your secrets." He hung up and I was left with that buzzing feeling through my body that I got whenever he flirted with me.

That was another reason I couldn't commit to Will. How could I when Scarface made my knees weak with just his voice? It wouldn't be fair on Will if I kept thinking about Scarface in
that
way.

I got back in my car and drove to High Street, parking far away from the office. I'd have to get the panels fixed immediately so Will wouldn't see the damage.

"Hi, Cat," Faith said as I entered. "How's your day going?"

"Great! Yours?"

"Good, thanks." She seemed to have thawed out a little more. It was nice to finally get through to her. Maybe we would even become friends, although I suspected that day was a long way off. She still gave me tentative smiles, as if she wasn't sure whether to treat me like a friend, colleague, or boss.

She had no such problems with Will. She beamed at him whenever he was near.

"You're back," he said, when I went into his office. "Learn anything from Bankler?"

"Only that he likes talking kinky to his girlfriend and she apparently likes to listen." I pulled a face. "I'll never be the same again after overhearing him tell her what he would do to her with ice cubes and silk ropes."

He laughed. "And you won't even talk a little bit dirty to me."

I swung his chair around and straddled his lap. "Actions speak louder than words." I kissed his throat and he groaned.

"You win," he murmured.

It wasn't lost on me that I'd just hung up after a flirtatious conversation with Scarface and now I was kissing my lover. I hopped off his lap. He clasped my hand to drag me back, but I pulled away and returned to the other side of his desk.

"I better get some work done," I said.

He frowned. "Okay."

"I'll be out this afternoon."

"Working on Slim's case?"

"Um, yeah. First I need to see Jenny about something, then I'll take the van. I'll be sitting outside NTS's office listening to Bankler telling his girlfriend all the weird things he wants to do to her."

He gave me a flat, closed-mouth smile which wasn't really a smile at all. "Sure. Do whatever you have to do. Report back later."

I left, feeling a little sick in my stomach. He hadn't suggested we catch up later like he did every other day. It made me realize how much time we'd been spending together lately. Maybe it was a good thing if we had a night to ourselves. I, for one, felt like I was losing touch with Gina. Losing touch with myself.

***

I'd lied to Will. I didn't intend to see Jenny straight away. I needed to get my car fixed ASAP so he wouldn't notice the damage. I took it to the shop, then caught the bus back to High Street and picked up the van. I parked outside NTS's office and listened to silence. I went inside and asked for Bankler, but was told he was out and not expected back for the rest of the day.

I drove to the Carleton. The parking attendant smirked when he saw the van. "When people get new cars they usually trade up," he said.

I tossed him the keys. "At least it's clean."

"How long will that last?"

"You're mouthy for a parking attendant."

"You're cute when you're huffy." He winked and got in the van.

I rode the elevator up to Jenny's floor. The doors opened and I stepped out into the alcove, but got no further. I could hear crying in the corridor. I flattened myself against the wall and listened.

"Stop the tears," came Angel's gentle voice. "It'll be all right."

"How?" Jenny cried. "How can it be all right after this?"

"Shhh, Sweetie. Dry your tears and calm down. You'll see. Everything will be fine. I've got it covered."

Jenny sniffed.

"You trust me, don't you?" Angel asked.

Jenny must have nodded because Angel added, "Good. Go back to the room and pour yourself a drink of something bubbly. I'm heading down to the gym for a workout. See you later, okay?"

Down to the gym. Crap, that was on the second floor, way below us. She would need to use the elevator. I crouched down behind the potted plant in the corner and hoped she didn't look.

Angel entered the alcove and punched the Down button. She was as cute as a Barbie doll dressed in her gym gear. Any guys working out would enjoy the tight leggings and low-cut top.

Thank God the elevator didn't take long to arrive. She got in and the doors slid closed. I headed down the corridor to Jenny's suite.

She opened the door on my knock. Her puffy, red eyes widened when she saw me.

"Have you been crying?" I asked her.

"Huh? Oh, yeah." She bit her lip.

"Is everything all right?"

"Fine now. I was just having a moment. It's been a tough couple of days and everything's so uncertain, you know?"

"I know."

She stepped aside to let me through. "I was just about to have some champagne," she said, heading into the kitchenette. "Want some?"

"It's the middle of the day."

She screwed up her nose. "So?"

"What the hell. Pour me a big one. I've had a bad day myself."

"You haven't broken up with that hot boyfriend, have you?"

"No!" What made her ask that? Was I that easy to read? "Why?"

She shrugged and poured champagne into one of the flutes. It spilled over the rim and she sipped the excess before it reached the bench. "He just doesn't seem like your type."

"He doesn't?" That got me thinking about my type. I'd only ever dated wannabe actors, wannabe singers and other losers, so I guess she was right. Will was the first guy who actually had a steady job.

She handed me a glass and lifted hers in salute. I thought about asking her advice, but I didn't think I wanted to hear it. Jenny's advice came from the point of view of someone who didn't think too far ahead.

It didn't stop her from giving it anyway. "You should just keep him around for a fuck, but don't let him get too serious."

"Um, right. Thanks. I'll keep that in mind. So tell me, how is everyone coping?"

"Angel's been amazing."

"What about the rest of you?"

"We're okay."

"I saw you crying earlier. It didn't look like you were coping."

Jenny went very still. "You saw me with Angel?"

"Yeah. She was telling you it would be all right. What was that about?"

She laughed, which seemed an odd thing to do considering the circumstances and her tears. "The cops have been hammering me about the embezzlement. I was called in for questioning again this morning. That one with the missing eye is really brutal."

"Yeah, he's thorough."

"Thorough! He's a mean piece of shit. I hate him." She drained her glass and poured herself another. "Anyway, I just told Angel. I thought it would freak her out when she learned Frank's estate might have to pay back the people he embezzled. Not me!" She held up her hands, sloshing champagne over the rim of her glass. "I wouldn't ask her to repay me. But you said your friend's boyfriend was a victim, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are others."

"And she was okay once you told her? Was she shocked?"

"She was surprised, but she didn't have a meltdown. I'm the one freaking out about it. Angel is a rock."

"How big is Frank's estate?"

"Huge. He was always splashing money around."

She should have known better than anyone that splashing money around didn't mean he had it. Some people lived on credit. A lot of credit.

"And Cindy? Have you spoken to her today?"

"No, and I don't want to. The less I see of her the better."

"Don't you want to ask her about her plans for the group?"

"She told us she's not making any decisions until after Frank's killer has been arrested. I think she'll try to replace all of us, but it won't work. Angel says Play Group is a childhood institute."

"Institution."

"She said the kids won't like change, and their parents will hate it even more. They'll stop going to concerts and buying the CDs. Angel's always right about these things. Her business sense is amazing. She could have run Play Group way better than Cindy. Why the fuck did Frank leave it to that bitch and not his current wife?"

Good question. Angel and Frank may not have had a happy marriage, but to leave his half of the group to his ex-wife was a slap in the face. If he'd wanted to hurt Angel, that was the best way to do it.

"She should contest the will," I said.

"She's going to. She's already spoken to her lawyer, and he said he could make a good case. Apparently Frank changed his will only a few months ago. In the old one, Angel got everything."

Whoa! Now
that
was interesting. "Was that about the time their relationship turned sour?"

Jenny shrugged. "I don't know. I didn’t really notice."

I tried to read her and gauge whether it was a lie, but I couldn't. Either she was a good actress, or she really didn't care. I was going with the former. Jenny may be dumb, but she used to get more callbacks than me. Or maybe that's just because she slept with most of the producers.

Acting skills would only get her so far, though. I suspected if anyone in the group would break a confidence, it would be Jen. She just wasn't tough enough, or clever enough, to keep it up for any length of time.

BOOK: Eeny Meany Miny Die (Cat Sinclair Mysteries)
5.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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