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Authors: Susan Kandel

Shamus In The Green Room

BOOK: Shamus In The Green Room
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SHAMUS

IN THE GREEN ROOM

S U S A N K A N D E L

To Peter

Contents

Chapter One

Playing it cool wasn’t in my repertoire, but that didn’t…

1

Chapter Two

The cabbie driving us into the city had a buzz…

13

Chapter Three

It was alarming how easily I went into full-lecture mode.

19

Chapter Four

We made it on to a ten o’clock flight, but…

29

Chapter Five

Coffee still costs a nickel at Philippe’s, home of the…

39

Chapter Six

Oh, honey, not my Norma Kamali coat from the eighties!”… 45

Chapter Seven

Tuesday morning and Rafe and I were back at it…

53

Chapter Eight

I called Rafe at nine the next morning. He picked…

61

Chapter Nine

I sat in my car for a long time.

73

Chapter Ten

Detective Smarinsky wasn’t available the first time

I tried him…

85

Chapter Eleven

The one saving grace of the morning was Smarinsky

canceling… 93

Chapter Twelve

It didn’t occur to me to be scared. What I…

103

Chapter Thirteen

Knock, knock.”

109

Chapter Fourteen

I was still thinking about Flitcraft later that evening.

115

Chapter Fifteen

Lisa Lapelt Scofield lived in a modest Cape Cod–style

house,… 123

Chapter Sixteen

I spent the evening at Annie’s.

133

Chapter Seventeen

It was five in the morning when I awoke to…

141

Chapter Eighteen

In all the commotion I wound up missing breakfast,

which… 147

Chapter Nineteen

Another round of Beverly Hills iced teas later, we went…

153

Chapter Twenty

One hour later, while trying to load a microfilm cartridge…

163

Chapter Twenty-One

I saw Gambino through the shattered glass of the dining…

173

Chapter Twenty-Two

Nine-thirty on the Venice canals. The Chinese lanterns

were lit…

177

Chapter Twenty-Three

I don’t know why I did it, I thought, draping…

189

Chapter Twenty-Four

A person who lives in a trailer park probably has…

197

Chapter Twenty-Five

There was one place I wanted to stop on my…

205

Chapter Twenty-Six

It’ll take a miracle,” I heard someone say.

221

Chapter Twenty-Seven

But it was a black Land Rover that hopped the…

217

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Gambino came over sometime after midnight. He held

me close,…

223

Chapter Twenty-Nine

There was no scar on Rafe’s cheek. Not a trace…

231

Chapter Thirty

Eleanor Lonner didn’t live in the El Royale or in…

235

Chapter Thirty-One

The defogger in my rental worked brilliantly, which

surprised me,…

243

Chapter Thirty-Two

In point of fact, I was the reason Gambino no…

249

Chapter Thirty-Three

Banana cream, Bavarian cream, Dutch apple, black

cherry, pecan, pumpkin,…

259

Chapter Thirty-Four

At eleven-thirty, I heard Gambino’s key in the lock.

267

Chapter Thirty-Five

Even if she’d been expecting me, I don’t think Lisa…

275

Chapter Thirty-Six

Maybe. 283

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Later that evening, after Gambino had fallen asleep,

I wrapped…

291

Chapter Thirty-Eight

It wasn’t made of glass, but when I slipped the…

297

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Hey, Cece,” he said. “Fancy meeting you here! What’re

you… 307

Chapter Forty

That was Friday.

319

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Other Books by Susan Kandel

Credits

Cover

Copyright

About the Publisher

CHAPTER

ONE

Playing it cool wasn’t in my repertoire, but that didn’t mean

I couldn’t fake it.

I leaned against my silver Camry, ran my fingers through

my hair, and laughed insouciantly.

“You’re kidding, right?” asked my best friend, Lael.

“Ooh,” said my daughter, Annie. “You probably shouldn’t

have worn white.”

I swatted at a bee while trying to remember the last time I’d

gone to a car wash.

“Bees love perfume,” yelled my second-best friend, Bridget,

who was walking up the path toward my house. “And I can

smell yours from here.”

“Isn’t this exciting?” asked my neighbor Lois, of no one in

particular. “Don’t lose your place in line, now,” she chided her

twin sister, Marlene, who was placing a can of cat food in the

driveway for the local strays. The bees headed her way, favoring

2

savory salmon over spicy Oriental notes. “It isn’t every day that

Cece has a gentleman caller.”

My fiancé, Peter Gambino, glowered at her.

“For the last time, he’s not a gentleman caller.” I twisted

around to brush the dust off my fur-trimmed wool pencil skirt

(Pierre Balmain, 1959)—which was ivory, not white, and

hardly designed for such maneuvers. “It’s business. He’s hired

me for the week.”

“We’ve seen Pretty Woman,” said Marlene in a hushed tone.

Oh, they were evil, my friends and family, of which there

suddenly seemed to be far too many. I lifted up my Jackie O

sunglasses and frowned at the lot of them, lined up so inno-

cently on the front lawn of my house. Not for the first time was

I struck by the morphological similarity between welcoming

committees and firing squads. Poor man didn’t know what he

was in for.

“Cece needs a lint brush,” said my son-in-law, Vincent.

Like they cared.

“Do I have time to change?” I wondered out loud.

Eight people consulted watches.

“It’s one minute to ten,” cautioned Hilda, my gardener

Javier’s thirteen-year-old niece.

Five people hoisted cameras.

“Promptness is the politesse of kings,” said Lois, bending

down to wipe some grime off her scuffed patent leather pump.

I’d have gone for the stain on her dressing gown, which looked

like motor oil.

Three people clutched autograph books.

“How about one of those cookies?” Bridget asked Lael, who

slapped her outstretched hand.

Two women wiped lipstick off their teeth.

3

One little boy burped.

“Good job,” said Vincent, his father, at the very same mo-

ment that Rafe Simic, world-famous movie star, he of the rip-

pling biceps and laid-back attitude, pulled up in front of the

house and hit a fire hydrant, sending a torrent of L.A. munici-

pal water high up into the air.

“Water,” said Alexander, enraptured.

“Actors,” said Gambino under his breath. “Get a real job.”

The flashbulbs went off as Rafe stepped out of something

shiny, green, and foreign. Hitching up his jeans, which were

riding low on his slim hips, he ambled around to inspect the

front fender. Not even a scratch. He strode toward me through

a shimmering scrim of water, like the Southern California

born-and-bred Neptune he was.

I met him halfway.

Nothing fazes Cece Caruso.

“I’ve been meaning to get a new hydrant,” I said.

He brushed a strand of blond hair out of his depthless blue

eyes, which I barely even noticed. The smile I did notice. It

moved slowly, like molasses.

“Hold on, you got something there.” He plucked some ole-

ander out of my long, brown hair and handed it to me.

Nothing good happens when you refuse a gift from the gods.

“I’ll take that,” said Annie, who had been in love with

Rafe Simic since we’d moved to L.A. when she was still a lit-

tle kid.

“Your sister?” Rafe asked, looking at me.

“Her daughter,” said Annie, overenunciating each syllable.

She tucked the blossom into the pocket of her overalls.

“I was a child bride,” I explained.

“And now the matriarch of the clan,” said Gambino,

4

grabbing three-year-old Alexander from his father and wield-

ing him as proof.

That wasn’t aggressive. Not exactly.

“Peter Gambino,” he said, tucking Alexander under his arm

sideways and sticking out his hand. “LAPD.”

That was aggressive.

Little Alexander freed himself and scrambled over to An-

nie. “Tummy hurts,” he said, though it sounded like “twoots.”

He had a Jolly Rancher in his mouth.

“We’re leaving, sweetheart,” Annie replied. “Have a good

time in San Francisco.” She looked at me pointedly. “Oleander

is poisonous, you know.”

“Yes, dear,” I responded, kissing her cheek.

Rafe posed for a picture with Annie before she left. From

there, he worked his way down the line. He had a profound ef-

fect upon the womenfolk. Hilda’s mouth was hanging so far

open I could see the food stuck in her braces. My neighbors

Lois and Marlene, former showgirls now in their dotage (and

I do mean dotage), were openly salivating, having forgotten en-

tirely about my virtue.

“I’ve been enjoying your biography of Dashiell Hammett,”

Rafe said to me once Lois released her death grip. “It’s taking a

while, though.” He laughed self-consciously. “But there’s lots

of useful stuff.”

“Useful is as useful does,” said Marlene, who handed him

her tattered autograph book. “I have Fanny Brice in there.”

“Cool.”

“When he was a Pinkerton detective,” I interjected, “Ham-

mett investigated Nicky Arnstein, Fanny Brice’s husband. You

know, from Funny Girl ?”

Rafe looked at me blankly.

5

“I’m really glad we’re starting in San Francisco,” I contin-

ued, undeterred. “You’ll enjoy seeing the places I talk about in

my book. The offices where Hammett worked his cases, the

restaurants Sam Spade liked to eat at.”

“I’ve been working with a nutritionist,” he interrupted.

“Her name is Siri.”

“Excuse me?”

“Well, Hammett was so thin.”

“He suffered all his life from TB,” I said.

BOOK: Shamus In The Green Room
7.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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