Steamed (A Maid in LA Mystery)

BOOK: Steamed (A Maid in LA Mystery)
11.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub





A Maid in LA Mystery

(Book #1)


by Holly Jacobs



The characters and events in this story are fictitious.  Any similarities to real people, living or dead, is coincidence and not intended by the author.


Copyright 2013 Holly Fuhrmann





For Pam Hanson, You’ve been a wonderful, supportive friend for years and I love that you love my singing…well, at least when you hear it through a thick wall! You’ve been a fun and super talented writing partner.  And now you’re my editor.  I’m a very lucky woman!


For Dee J. Adams, a great friend, a great writer…and a nice LA Connection!  Any mistakes
about LA or Hollywood are all mine, and let’s pretend they’re not really mistakes but rather artistic license! And a very big thanks for suggesting the “Mortie.” 



Dear Reader,


I know you’re accustomed to seeing my books set in Erie, or nearby cities.  But this story needed to be set in LA.  I mean, there aren’t too many award winning television writers in Erie.  I’ve had fun visiting LA with this book.  (You’ll still find an Erie connection!)

I’m so very excited about Quincy Mac.  She’s one of those characters I’ve had in mind for years.  She’s simply been waiting her turn.  Quincy’s a mom.  She’s a business owner…she’s a maid.  She’s also the family’s black sheep.  She’s a character I can identify with on so many levels.  I’m a mom.  And you can consider my writing a business, so I’m technically a business owner.  And since I am a mom, I’m sort of a glorified maid…well, actually, there’s not much glory in it.  As for being a black sheep, well, I might not be a maid in a family full of doctors, but I am the girl who grew up with her nose in a book…and now writes them for a living.  My family and friends have been known to give me an odd look or two (see the reviews that follow), and there’s definitely been a few headshakes and shoulder-shrugs in my general direction.

I so hope you enjoy Quincy and her friends.

Be on the lookout for Maid in LA mysteries!  The next one,
: A Maid in LA Mystery
, is out now, and Quincy’s going home for the holidays in Spruced Up this holiday season!







Hey, at least it’s not a romance.”
Holly’s son. 


“Dear God, not another cop character.  Any police procedural inaccuracies are all Holly’s.  They are not the fault of her personal police models.  Of course, the fact that she portrays cops as hunks is totally accurate.”
Holly’s husband and two brothers (aka her cop models)


“Holly is a fantastic writing talent…not that I’m biased
.”  ~Holly’s favorite daughter*


Holly Jacobs is an auto-buy for me. Not that I buy her books…she gives them to me.”
~Holly’s favorite daughter*


Holly makes me laugh…so do her books.”
  ~Holly’s favorite daughter*


*DISCLAIMER: Holly has three daughters…she has no favorites.


Holly always had a vivid imagination... but I never thought it would lead her to think up innovative ways to kill people.  She sure knows how to make a mother proud!”
~Holly’s mom





Chapter One


When I moved to LA, I was an eighteen year old with stars in my eyes.  Well, not exactly in my eyes, but rather
my eyes.  My high school best friend bought me sunglasses with lenses shaped like stars for when I
Made It.
Lottie always said the words in such a way you just knew they were capitalized. 

Made It.

Yes, I graduated from high school and moved to LA.  I planned to be a famous actress.  Lottie made me promise I’d wear my star-shaped glasses on my first Oscar red carpet walk.  My goal was to take Hollywood by storm.

These days, those glasses are in a drawer in my bedroom and I have two much smaller goals.  One is that I want to wear my jeans without a muffin-top.  After three kids, I’d developed a bit of a baby-pooch that wants to creep out above the waistband of my jeans.  I longed for the days when pants had waistbands that were higher.  Back then you could tuck your baby-pooch in.  These days your options are exercise, wear Spanx, or learn to suck it in.

I tend to suck it in…when I remember.

My second goal is an empty nest.

It’s not that I don’t love my boys.  I do.  I have three sons—Hunter, Miles and Eli.  They are eighteen, seventeen and sixteen.  I’ve been a parent practically my entire adult life.  I’m ready for a time when I simply have to worry about me and no one else. 

This summer is my trial empty-nest. 

The boys left last night to spend four weeks in the Bahamas with their father and his most recent wife, Peri. 

Now, my place isn’t exactly a dump, but compared to their dad’s house, my three bedroom bungalow in the out-of-the-way neighborhood of Van George is a cardboard box in some alley.

And while thirty-eight isn’t exactly over-the-hill, next to Peri, the twenty-year-old, I am ancient.

I miss my boys (and I realize the irony in longing for an empty nest, but missing them when they’re on vacation).  I try not to mind when my ex takes the boys on fabulous vacations—and most of the time I don’t mind—but getting ready for work in a quiet house, I minded.

My ex, movie producer Jerome Smith, is a nice guy...a nice guy with a taste for younger women.  Specifically women between the ages of twenty and twenty-five.  The exact ages I married, then divorced him.  Or rather, he divorced me.

Jerome had two marriages before me, and three marriages since, all within those same parameters.  His current wife’s my favorite.  I really like Peri despite the way her breasts perk and mine just sort of...well, hang loosely if they’re not strapped down.  I think Peri sort of appeals to my maternal instincts.  I don’t have a daughter.

Maybe I’ll adopt her when Jerome divorces her.

TGIF, I told myself.  I’m thirty-eight, and until the boys come home from their summer visit with their father, I’m footloose and fancy-free.

Maybe it isn’t exactly the life I’d dreamed of when I moved to LA, but it’s a good life.

Oh, sometimes I still wish that I was starring in some movie of the week instead of heading into Mac’Cleaners.

Yes, that’s right—I no longer have stars in or on my eyes.  Rather than achieving stardom, I have three sons and clean houses for a living.  It’s honest work, and it’s flexible enough that when I was younger I could take time off and go on auditions.  Now that I’m part owner and thirty-eight, I don’t go to many auditions. 

Okay, so I haven’t been on an audition in five years—I’ve discovered that I’m a size twelve girl in a size two world.

I missed the fame and fortune boat.

Okay, so I could live without fame or fortune, if only I could figure out what I wanted to do with my life sometime before menopause hit.  Owning a business keeps the boys and me afloat financially but lately, I’d had a feeling that it was time for a change.  The kids weren’t such kids anymore. Hunter would start college in the fall.

That empty nest is just around the bend.  Soon I’ll be able to live my own life.

And I know I want something more.

I’d said I wanted to act since I was six.  I never gave any thought to doing something else.  But it’s clear that acting isn’t going to be my ultimate career.

So while I wait to figure out what I want to do, I clean houses.  I need to figure out soon because I’ll be turning forty in a couple years.  Forty sounds so very grown up, and grown-ups should have some idea about the direction they want their lives to take.

But I wasn’t going to think about direction today.

Today, I was going to get my work done and then go do something decadent.

I’d like to say I was planning to go to a bar and pick up guys—well at least pick up a guy—but I’ll probably end up going to the store and picking up Ben and Jerry’s, then head home and try and catch up on all the chick-flicks the boys make me miss.

Feeling a bit better, I walked into the small brick storefront that was only a mile from my house.  It proudly proclaimed Mac’Cleaners on the plate glass window with a tartan weaving through the letters.  I walked through the small reception room and back to my partner, Tiny’s office.

Big mistake.

There’s nothing worse than starting the day as a single, directionless, mother of three and then walking into the middle of the wonderful world of weddings.

Tiny’s marrying Salvador Mardones in September.  September 30
to be exact.  And she’s going slightly insane...a bit further over the brink each day.

“Tiny?” I called, hoping she was somewhere in the sea of tulle and satin.

“I’m here, Quincy,” she said from the back corner.

Tiny’s not very...tiny that is.  She’s five eight and looks like a model.  Skin the color of strong tea and dark hair with a tendency to curl.  She’s gorgeous and simply a beautiful soul.  We make an interesting pair, what with me having Irish fair skin, a light sprinkling of freckles that might have been cute when I was in my teens, but aren’t as much when at thirty-eight.  And my hair...well, it was blond when I moved to LA thanks to Lottie and Miss Clairol.  These days, it has gone back to its brownish roots...literally.

Tiny smiled as I walked in, and I couldn’t muster up true annoyance that her smile was messing with my grouchy mood because she radiated happiness.  The kind of happiness I knew she deserved.

“It’s getting worse, isn’t it?” she asked, gesturing at her office.

I surveyed the room.  “Yeah.”

“I just can’t help myself.  I want this wedding to be perfect because Sal’s perfect.”

Truth is, Sal is perfect.  He’s my five five height, balding and has a beer belly that makes my small baby-pooched stomach look like washboard abs.

But he’s truly one of the nicest guys in the world.

Tiny had a history of dating losers.  But that was over because Sal...well, he’s a winner.

“The wedding will be perfect,” I promised. 

I’d see to it, even though I’d rather have wisdom teeth pulled than plan a wedding this elegant. 

Me, if I ever get married again, I’m eloping.  Something fast and simple.  Someone saying the official words, then me and my new husband back at some hotel having sex.  Lots and lots of sex.

It had been a while, which might explain why my mind skipped right over finding Mr. Right and a wedding and went right to the sex.

“Speaking of help,” Tiny said slowly, “we need some today.  Theresa’s out.”


“It’s my turn, isn’t it?” I asked, though I knew the answer.

She nodded.

When one of our employees calls in sick, we take turns filling in.

Today it was my turn to fill in.

I should have just gone back to bed this morning.

Grumbling to myself, I left Tiny to hold down the fort and took Theresa’s folder for the day.  The nice thing about working outside the office is that the day always went fast. 

Today was no exception.  By three in the afternoon, I was on my way to the last job.

As soon as I finished Mr. Banning’s, I’d decided that I was going shopping for a new pair of shoes rather than Ben and Jerry’s.

More money, less calories.

I thought the trade-off was worth it.

On a day like today, I didn’t just want new shoes—I needed them.  So, I grabbed Mr. Banning’s printout from Theresa’s folder.  I was anxious to finish this last job.

Mr. Banning’s was a BWP/wL.

A basic-weekly-pickup, with laundry.

I knocked on his door, even though the file said the odds of him being home at three o’clock in the afternoon were slim to nil.

I used our key and let myself in.  I surveyed the living room with disgust.  There was nothing basic about this job. 

The place was a mess.

I mean, a real pig sty.  Worse than my boys’ rooms...and that’s saying something.  Teenage boys are very toxic. 

Mr. Banning was a whole new level of toxicity, though.  Underwear was hanging from a chandelier, empty glasses and plates were scattered through the room. 

Oh, geesh.  Mr. Banning had a Mortie.  All TV Network, ATVN, had begun to hand out the award ten years ago and it had quickly become one of the premier Hollywood awards.

Hey, I might not be an actual actress, but I know stuff.

I noticed not out of some sort of awe that I was cleaning a Mortie winner’s home, but rather because the award was sitting in the middle of the leather couch, covered in something.  Maybe someone had dipped it into some of the food.  Ugh.  It looked like they’d tried to wipe it off before throwing it on the couch, but they didn’t wipe hard enough.

To top it off, there were footprints on the light beige carpet.  Big footprints.  Whoever wore those shoes had really big feet.  Thankfully, there were only two.  As if whoever made the prints realized they’d tracked in mud and took off their shoes, because those two prints were it. 

Well, there’d been at least one considerate person.

I tried to make a mental list of how best to approach this job.

In the end, there was nothing to do but start.  I gathered dishes and cups and the pots and pans in the kitchen and had the dishwasher running minutes later.  I even hand-washed the Mortie—which was about as heavy as a bag of sugar, heavier than I’d thought the old-fashioned silver television would be—and gave it a thorough polish. When I was done, the inscription on the silver television screen really stood out.  Steve Banning. 
Dead Certain

I remembered that show.  It was a comedy about a medical examiner’s office.

I set the Mortie on the mantle, thinking that was a more appropriate place for it than the couch. 

There was a desk next to the fireplace.  It had an old relic of a computer on it.  The keyboard’s cord dangled over the edge of the desk.  Yeah, that wasn’t going to work well. 

I plugged the keyboard into the back of the tower. 

Next, I dragged a garbage can around the room and made short order of the rest of the mess.

I debated whether I should toss the chandelier’s panties out, but opted to put them in the wash with a load of clothes.  At least when Mr. Banning returned them to whoever they belonged to, they’d be clean. 

Maybe they belonged to him? 

The thought was enough to make me decide to concentrate on the job at hand rather than on the underclothing our Mortie-winning client wore.

There was a small steam-cleaner in the back of the Mac’Cleaners van.  It made short work of the footprints.  I worked on the laundry as I vacuumed and dusted.  By then the dishwasher was finished, so I unloaded it then cleaned the kitchen. 

I found the bra that matched the panties under the sink.

BOOK: Steamed (A Maid in LA Mystery)
11.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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