Lies and More Lies

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  • 7/31/2019 Lies and More Lies


  • 7/31/2019 Lies and More Lies


    When Lucy Derrider was laid off from her job as a librarian, father and son private

    investigative team, Harry and Danny Sullivan, hired her as their secretary. Withinmonths, her talent for lying earned her the unofficial title of assistant privateinvestigator.

    When Danny and Lucys latest case gets bungled, resulting in murder, Lucybecomes the prime suspect. In her quest to find the real killer so she can clear hername, Lucy encounters a plethora of roadblocks, including a dogged police detective,angry mourners, cheating spouses, and a lunatic in a red Camaro. The biggest barriersof all, though, are the lies she encounters, not only from strangers but from the manshe loves.

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    This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, and incidents are eitherthe product of the authors imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actualpersons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirelycoincidental.


    Copyright 2011 by Beth Pontorno

    All rights reserved.

    Except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews, no partof this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without theauthors permission. Contact information can be found
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    worth the extra money.The priest threw back the rest of his gin and tonic and slammed the glass on the

    bar. You two should be ashamed of yourselves. God is watching.If God is watching us, then hes also watching you get drunk. The bartender

    pointed to the priests glass. You want a refill, Father?Thank you, but no. Ones my limit. I just needed a change of scenery from the

    church.I almost choked on a sip of rum and Coke. I dont know if you came to the right

    place for a scene change, Father. Bars and churches are both filled with sinners.The priest huffed. My child, you should consider repenting and moving your life

    in a more Christian direction. If you continue down this path, I fear for your immortalsoul.

    The glass banged against the bar as I set it down. My immortal soul is none ofyour business. So take your concern and shove it where the sun doesntshine.

    The bartender chuckled.The priest stood, looking from me to the bartender and back again. You may be ahopeless case, he said to me. But Ill pray for you, nonetheless.

    Save your prayers, Father. I fumbled for my glass, and a drip of liquid splashedmy hand. I wont change. Im having too much fun screwing for money.

    With a shake of his head, the priest turned and walked away.I wiped my hand on a napkin. Then I checked my watch. Wonder where my client

    is.The bartender stroked the bar with a towel. Well, ifhe stood you up and youre

    free tonight, how about we hook up?

    I glared at him. Im sorry, but thats not how I work. No appointment, no sex. Butfeel free to contact me through my website if youd like to set something up.

    The bartender shrugged. Yeah, I might just do that.When my cell phone rang, I said, Would you excuse me? This is probably my

    client now. I answered and listened a moment before saying, I completelyunderstand. If youd like to reschedule, you can do so through my website. Idisconnected and took another sip from my glass.

    The bartender planted his hands on the edge of the bar. Let me guess. His wifeneeds him at home?

    I didnt ask, and he didnt say.

    My wifes done that to me before. Im cruising along Airline Highway, looking forsome action, and she calls and says she needs me at home. One time, she even calledwhile some chick was blow

    I held up my hand. Stop. Theres a chance you may be my client in the future, andI dont get personally involved with clients.

    He straightened and backed up a step. Oh.Well, yeah. I can see that.You have my card. I got to my feet and, in a nervous gesture, adjusted my purse

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    strap on my shoulder. Perhaps Ill hear from you soon.Yeah, maybe. But his attention had already returned to wiping down the bar.I left the bar, and as soon as the door closed behind me, the priest appeared in

    front of me. You should be ashamed of yourself, he said. Lying to that poor man.I know, but at least we got him to confess. His wife will be happy to have her

    suspicions confirmed. I wasnt so happywith myself, though. I feel like a whore,Danny.

    Dont. He stepped closer and ran his hands up and down my arms. Youre not awhore. Youre Lucy Derrider, undercover super spy for the Sullivan PrivateInvestigations Agency. You did good tonight. I think we got exactly what the clientneeded.

    I hope so, and I hope she gets the bar in the divorce. Mr. Cheaters just too full ofhimself. I rubbed the heel of my hand along my forehead where a headache brewed.What happens now?

    He hooked his arm around my shoulders and steered me toward his car. We gohome and get some sleep. In the morning, Ill call the client and ask her if she wantsany more evidence.

    God, I hope not.Now, Lucy. Be careful when you speak the Lords name, especiallyin the presence

    of a priest and while yourewearingthat outfit.Whatever you say, Father. I knew he was trying to be funny, but I wasnt in the

    mood for humor.We got in the car, and Danny pointed us toward home. As I watched New Orleans

    flash by outside the passenger side window, I thought back to my start as an

    undercover super spy.A little more than two years ago, I was working at the New Orleans Public Library.

    Then the library laid me off, and I had to scramble to find another job. Luckily, HarrySullivan, Dannys dad and the owner of the Sullivan Private Investigations Agency,took pity on me and hired me as the offices secretary. I was twenty-nine at the timeand still living at home with my parents because my measly salary from the libraryprevented me from moving out on my own.

    A few weeks after starting my new job, I was still too afraid to tell my parents Idbeen laid off from the library. I was on the phone with my mom, telling her a big lieabout a non-existent library staff meeting I had to attend later that day when Danny

    approached my desk.I stared up at him. I have to go, Mom. Theres a line of people wa iting to check

    out books. Okay, bye.I hung up, keeping my eye on him. He took a seat on the corner of my desk. My

    initial guess was that he would reprimand me for making personal calls while I wassupposed to be working. Instead, he said, You know, I might be able to help youwith the situation with your parents.

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    Although I was glad he hadnt yelled at me, I was wary of his offer. We hadnt evenknown each other two months. Why would he want to help me? I doubt it.

    No. Hear me out. How would you feel about moving in with me?My jaw almost came unhinged. Despite barely knowing him, Id developed a crush

    on him by the second day on the job. Yeah, he was thatgorgeous. So his propositioncatapulted a scary-exciting thrill through my gut. Are you kidding me?

    Not at all. I have an extra bedroom, and you can tell your parents that the roomrental came with a job offer.

    I dont know, Danny. My heart raced. Was this a freak show waiting to happenor a dream come true?

    I have to be honest, Lucy, he said as he fought unsuccessfully against a smirkinggrin. Its a little insulting that youhavent told them youre working here yet. Youmake me think youre ashamed to work for private investigators.

    Despite his joking expression, I squirmed and clamped my hands together in my

    lap. The only reason I havent told them is because they spent a lot of money on myundergraduate and graduate degrees. They wouldnt approve of me being a secretary.But you got laid off from the library. Theyd understand.Theyd be disappointed, and I wouldnt be able to stand living with their

    discontent.Then move in with me, and you can finally tell them you work here. Problem

    solved on both fronts.My foot wagged to a nervous beat. Whats the catch?He moved to the extra chair on the other side of my desk. I admire your ability to

    lie so effortlessly.Thats a useful trait in this business. So the catch is that, if you help

    me with my investigations, Ill give you a break on the rent.My foot stopped mid-wag, and I tilted my head, intrigued. What kind of help?I want you to take an active role in the investigations, do some undercover work.

    In my opinion, answering the phone and typing reports are not good uses of yourtalent.

    Since I was completely flattered by his admiration, I agreed after only ten minutesof contemplation. Two days later, I admitted the truth to my parents and moved intoDannys extra bedroom. In addition to getting me out of my parents house, livingwith Danny also provided me with an opportunity to see if my crush led anywhere,which was quite an exhilarating experience until

    The tires bumped the curb of our driveway and knocked the memory from mythoughts. As Danny shifted the car into park, I spotted the next door neighbor sittingon her front steps and rolled my eyes. She was a college girl, hot for Danny, and notshy about expressing her interest in him.

    I tapped Danny on the arm and, when I got his attention, pointed to her. Lookslike your girlfriends been waiting with bated breath for you to come home.

    He ducked low to look out of the passenger side window. Yep, he said, shutting

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    off the engine. Its sonice to have someone to come home to.I gave him a steely scowl. Har, har. One encouraging word from you, and shed

    tackle you to the ground and have her way with you.Danny let out a happy sigh. Yeah.I know youre only teasing, but shut up.Ms. College-Girl was confident and attractive, but she was also very young. At

    thirty-one, I had at least ten years on her, maybe more. Danny had another four yearsover me. But, despite their age difference, Ms. College-Girls flirting persisted.

    Danny and I got out of the car and met up where the driveway feeds into the frontwalk. As we turned toward the front door, he placed his hand on the small of myback, and unwelcome flutters flitted through my belly.

    Hey, Danny, Ms. College-Girl called with a smile and a wave.He waved back. Hey.

    We walked on, but that didnt deter Ms. College-Girl one bit. Great outfit, she

    said. Do you want to hear my confession? Then before she gave Danny a chance torespond, she simplyblurted out, I think priests are sexy.Jeez, she was pushy.Danny tugged at his collar. Oh, right. The outfit. Part of an undercover

    assignment I worked tonight.I hope that also explains why your roommate is dressed like a tramp.A hiss slid off of my tongue, but I managed to swallow the nasty curse that wanted

    to follow.Danny whispered, Stay cool. Shes baiting you, while his hand at my back urged

    me to keep walking.

    Yep, he told Ms. College-Girl over a light chuckle. Lucy was workingundercover as a hooker.

    Hey, maybe I could help you out with the undercover stuff some time.Oh, brother. Id gouge my own eyes out if I had to work with her.Sorry, Danny said. I dont thinkthatll be possible. Theres this whole thing with

    insurance and being on the payroll and training and licensing. We really dont have themoney to take on any new employees right now.

    Ms. College-Girl flicked her hand at that. Oh, Id work for you for free.That still wouldnt solve the licensing and insurance problem. I just cant do it.Her flirty smile never faltered. Well, if you change your mind, you know where to

    find me.Yep. I sure do.She leaned back, elbows on one step, legs stretched out, ankles crossed. Ill see

    you around then.Sure. See you around. Danny unlocked the front door and stood back so I could

    go in first.She has no use for me whatsoever, I said, moving past him into our cramped

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    living room.He followed me in and shut the door. Dont worry about her. Shes young and

    self-centered. Shell grow out of it.I planted a hand on my hip, more annoyed with Ms. College-Girl than Id ever

    been. Shes very dismissive towards me. Youd think shed try to make friends withyour roommate since shes so interested in you. But no. Irritated, I waved myotherarm as my complaints spilled from my mouth. She blows me off every chance shegets.

    Danny massaged my neck. Lets forget about her. We did good tonight. I think weshould celebrate. How about some ice cream?

    He always knew the right buttons to push on me because my aggravation dieddown faster than it had flared up. Yeah, ice cream sounds good.

    Good, he said, taking my hand and leading me to the freezer and a chocolatefudge ripple dream.


    In the morning, I burned off my residual irritation and most of the ice cream with abunch of sit-ups and some girl push-ups, which were the only kind my body couldmanage. When I finished torturing myself, I took a shower, dressed, and crossed thefront lawn to the Sullivan Agencys office in the other half of Harrys shotgun double.

    The two sides of the house where Danny and I lived and worked were almostmirror images, both having an inside hallway with one room in the front, followed bya bedroom, a bathroom, another bedroom, and a kitchen all in a row. The only

    difference was that, on the office side, tall filing cabinets separated the front roominto two smaller rooms: one for the reception area and the other for my office.

    Harry and his wife Clarissa had bought the double years ago when Harry startedthe agency. They lived in the apartment for a while, but when Danny was ready tostart the first grade, they moved across Lake Pontchartrain to Slidell. They rented theapartment out to numerous tenants before Danny decided he wanted to rent it forhimself. Since moving in with him, my commute to work had never been so easy.

    Danny stuck his head in my office before I could even sit at my desk. Lucille, Ineed your help with something, he said.

    I sent him a glare at his use of my real name, silently cursing my parents decision

    to name me after mymoms favorite aunt. How many times do I have to tell you notto call me that? I dropped into my chair, crossed my arms, and pouted. You know Ihate it, and you know I prefer to be called Lucy.

    Yeah, I know you prefer to be called Lucy. He winked. Youre just really cutewhen you get annoyed.

    You dont care if Im cute. A tiny twinge accompanied that fact. Id gotten overmy major crush on him long ago, but when minor longings occurred, like now, they

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    pinched a little.Danny stared at me, a thoughtful expression softening his features. By the time he

    shifted to take a seat in my extra chair, I was on the verge of full-blown nervousness.If I didnt know better, Id say passion lit his gaze.

    Youre right, he said. I dont.My building nervousness dissipated even as disappointment sparked. Then I

    reminded myself that Danny not caring about my level of cuteness was a good thing.We worked together, and we were roommates. In the interest of not losing my job ormy home, we could never be more than friends.

    I uncrossed my arms and cleared my throat. What do you need help with?I need you to help me catch a bail jumper.A bail jumper? Since when do we chase bail jumpers? The worst Id had to deal

    with in the two years Id worked here were cheating spouses and people duckingservice of legal documents in civil cases.

    Since this case came up today. And who knows. Maybe itll turn into regularwork. He tapped a file folder against his knee. This could be an opportunity for usto expand into the bounty hunter business.

    Hey, theres no ushere. Im just a secretary, remember?Come on, Lucy. Dont be that way. Youre more than a secretary.Youve helped

    me with investigations before. This wont be any different.Uh huh, I said, my tone dull with sarcasm.Would I lie?Then he shifted in his chair. Dont answer that. Look, all you do is

    the same thing you do with our cheating spouses. Get his attention and lure him outinto the open so I can catch him.

    And by catch him you mean handcuff him and take him back to jail. Thats notquite the same thing as dealing with a married man making a pass at me while youtake pictures.

    Ill admit its a little different, but Ill have my eye on you the entire time. Youll bewired with a mic too.

    Why doesnt that make me feel better? But I waved off his response. Forget it.How did this job even come up?

    A bail bondsman buddy of mine happened to see me in my priest get-up lastnight. He called me this morning to see what was up. We got to talking, and heoffered me the job.

    Wonderful.Would you stop with all the sarcasm? Danny said.I sighed. Fine.What would I have to do?Okay. He sat forward. So our guy likes to hang out at Igors on St. Charles most

    nights. All I need you to do is go in there, charm him, and get him to leave with you.My eyes went so wide that they almost fell out of my head. You mean you want

    me to go home with him?

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    With them standing side by side, I couldnt help but notice how similar they were,both physically and in their mannerisms. Harry was slightly shorter than Danny, alittle pudgier in the gut, and more wrinkled in the face. Otherwise, he and Dannycouldve been mirror images, including the fact that neither had bothered with a copcareer before becoming private investigators.

    Lucys going to help me nab my bailjumper. Danny waggled his eyebrows at me.Worry softened Harrys scowl. Are you sure thats a good idea?Yeah, Danny, I chimed in. Are you sure thats a good idea?Youll be fine, smart aleck, he said. Shell be fine, he said to Harry. Ill be

    watching her the entire time.Harry shook his head, frowning a little. You better take care of her, Danny.I will.You better, he said again as he turned toward the door to leave.

    When I heard Harrys office door shut, I told Danny, Hes right, you know. You

    better take care of me. Cheaters are one thing. Criminals are a completely differentspecies.Danny brushed off my concern. Youll be fine. Like I said, Ill be right there with

    you the entire time.Youd better be. I leaned back. So tell me what I should say to Billy Carlyle once

    I approach him at the bar.He shrugged his shoulders. I dont know. Pretend your car broke down after a bad

    day at work? Your best bet to get him to leave with you is to get him to offer you aride home. So that should be your goal, and if he doesnt offer you a ride, I suggestyou cry and beg for one.

    Oh, jeez. I blew out a breath. This job was not going to be fun.Come on, Lucy. Just use those feminine wiles of yours.I dont have any feminine wiles, Danny. If I did, I wouldve been able to reverse

    your gayness.

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    I shifted, looking anywhere but at him. Yep. Just a little chilly. My top wasbunched under my chin, exposing my bra.

    Think of me as a doctor, he said with a touch of humor.Shut up, Danny.Okay, then think of me as gay.Give me a break. Youre not gay.Danny pressed another piece of tape over the wire stretched across my belly.

    Actually, I am.My stomach muscles contracted, and I eyed him suspiciously. Youre kidding,

    right?No.His sudden seriousness was like a punch to the gut. My mouth gaped, releasing the

    hold my chin had on my top. The shirt tumbled over his hands.Thats not possible. Stunned was not the word. If what he said was true, Id be

    devastated.It is possible. He lifted my shirt. Hold this up, would you? Just for anotherminute. Im almost done.

    I held the shirt out of his way. Why would you tell me something like that?Something like what?That youre gay. Its so personal, and its not like I asked. He was just messing

    with me. He had to be.Its not something I hide, and Im not ashamed of it. An opportunity came up to

    tell you, so I took advantage of it.Devastation crashed over me like a wave, tossing me off balance and tugging me

    into its undertow. I wish you hadnt.He finished securing the microphone equipment and straightened. Whys that?I yanked myshirt down. Because I had no idea.None at all?Not a clue, and now I feel like a fool because No. I couldnt say what I was

    thinking. I just couldnt.Because? Danny drew the word out into a pressing question.Nevermind. I stepped to go around him, but he stepped with me, blocking my

    path.Does it bother you that Im gay? he asked.

    I inched back. Sort of.Let me guess.You dont like gay people.The accusation would have offended me if I hadnt been reeling with shock. No.

    No, I love gay people. I mean, I think theyre great. I have no problem with gaypeople. My best friends brother is gay, and I adore him. Hes great.

    Danny settled his backside on the edge of my desk and crossed his arms . I hear abut coming.

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    Yeah, theres a but. I just dont want to go there.Oh, come on, Lucille. When I narrowed my eyes, he gave me a cheeky grin.

    Look, he said. I just told you something really personal about myself. The least youcan do is return the favor.

    No.Come on, he urged. You know you want to.I do not.Do too.When he grinned and winked at me, I threw my arms into the air. How dare he

    wink at me in such a flirtatious way now that he was gay. Before the gay bomb, Icraved his winks like a starving man craves food. Since the gay bomb, they just mademe feel stupid. Youd do anything for a little gossip, wouldnt you? You really aregay.

    Danny raised his brow. Im surprised to hear you say something so stereotypical,

    Lucy.Im sorry, butHe shook his head. You only said that because youre trying to change the

    subject.Well, duh, I said.Well, Im not going to let you get away with it. So spill.I made a sound like a deflating balloon. Fine. The reason I feel like a fool is

    because I squeezed my eyes shut as the heat of a blush rushed over my face.No more stalling, Lucille. Just say it.His use of my full name again was another stab at my irritation button, and I

    wished more than anything that my still-unspoken confession would embarrass thehell out of him. I was ready to blurt it out. Then I opened my eyes to find him staringat me, so intense and interested, and the bravado Id worked up drained out ofme. Icant.

    Sure you can. You were almost there.His sweet smile almost convinced me except that the words wouldnt leave my

    tongue. I cant, Danny. Its too embarrassing.He tucked my hair behind me ear. Hed never touched me in such an intimate way

    before, and the fact that he was gay all but broke my heart.Nothings embarrassing between friends, he told me.

    My vision went watery with tears. Okay. I took a deep breath.Yesss? he prodded.The thing isYesss?Is thatYesss?I sniffed back the tears and closed my eyes again. I took another deep breath, let it

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    Why would Danny do a double take when it was just me? Hed seen me in a bra

    before, and he was gay.He averted his eyes, and I shook my head. I must have misinterpreted. Of course

    he hadnt looked twice at me. It was just my lustful imagination messing with mymind again.

    He held the wires up and secured the microphone to the center part of my bra, hisfingers brushing the valley between my breasts, reminding me of the dream I had the

    other night. When I mentioned it to him to fill the silence, he hummed in reply.Yep, I continued. A sex dream.Another one?Uh huh, but this time we actually had sex.He peeked at me through his lashes before returning his attention to the

    microphone equipment.And I have to tell you, I said. It was the best sex youve ever had in your life.Danny let out a strangled laugh as he continued to fiddle with the wire . How

    could you tell?You kept saying my name and telling me howgood I felt. I squirmed a little at

    the memory. Afterwards, you told me it was the most amazing thing youd everexperienced.

    Finished securing the equipment, he stepped back. That good, huh?I buttoned my blouse as a smirk lifted the corners of my lips. Well, you were

    having sex with me. What else would you expect besides awesomeness?Danny gave me a thin smile. If the sob story doesnt work, you should try that line

    on our bail jumper. Hell go anywhere with you if he thinks itll lead to amazingsex.The smirk slid off of my face. Mystomach rolled. Gross, Danny.His thin laugh matched his smile. Im joking.You better be.Lets do a test of the mic. He walked into his office and picked up the receiver,

    giving me a go-ahead hand signal.I stood in my office and whispered into the air. Testing, testing, one, two, three.Before he could respond, my cell phone rang. Hold on a sec. I looked at the

    caller ID and then hit the speaker phone button. Hey, Fiona. Whats up?Lucy, Lucy, Lucy, Fiona sang.Thats me. I placed the phone on my desk and adjusted my clothes around the

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    mic, wire, and transmitter.Wait until you hear. Youll die.Fiona had a pink streak in her long, blond hair. She wore gypsy clothes and created

    exotic eyes with her makeup. In every way I could think of, she was outgoing andcolorful. So, if anyone other than my flamboyant best friend had said, Wait until youhear. Youll die, I wouldve been awaiting spectacular news. Since those words hadcome from Fiona, the news could be anything.

    Tell me, I said.You remember when you asked me to keep an ear open for available librarian

    positions here at the law library?I dug in my purse for a brush. Yes.Well, good news. One opened up. Im going to email you the job announcement.

    If you send me your resume, Ill put in a good word for you.My gaze flew to where Danny stood in his office watching me, a mixture of hurt

    and disappointment flashing over his expression. Dread was a lump in my chest. Hedobviously heard the entire conversation. I guess the mic was working just fine.Hello, Earth to Lucy, Fiona said.I disengaged the speaker phone function, picked up the phone, and placed it to my

    ear. Im here. Just a little distracted.Do tell. Fionas voice brightened.Its nothing. Send me theemail. Ill let you know if I decide to apply.Will do. Love ya, honey.I laughed. Love you too, Fi.Bye.

    Bye.I disconnected and tugged the brush through my hair. Danny walked up behind

    me. Do you think youll apply for the job? he said.The brush snagged in a knot, and I winced. Untangling my hair, I turned to face

    him. I dont know. I really didnt. Secretarial work wasnt high on my list of careerchoices, but the investigations were fun. Plus, I loved working with Danny and Harry.No question Id miss them if I left. I really dont know, I said. And if I think aboutit right now, Im not going to be able to focus on this job. So lets just forget Fionaever called and go catch this bail jumper.

    Danny nodded and went to collect his things from his office. While he was gone, I

    worked on crafting my sob story. I was at the point of figuring out the best way tobeg, if it came to that, when someone walked into the reception area. Through theopen door connectingmy office to Dannys, I met his curious gaze.

    Is there an appointment scheduled I dont know about? Danny whispered.I shook my head.Whats your guess? he said.Your mom, I whispered back.

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    Dannys mother, Clarissa Sullivan,worked as a real estate agent in Slidell. She keptherself stylish and well-coiffed. She was pushy and opinionated, and she gave theimpression that she was never wrong and always happy to tell everyone around herwhat was right. One word popped into my mind whenever I thought of Ms.Clarissadifficult. She had the power to turn me into a bundle of nervous energy,and she drove Harry and Danny crazy. However, despite her difficult nature, one ofher good qualities was that she loved Danny and wanted him to be happy. I just wantyou to be happy, sweetheart. How many times had I heard her say that to him?

    Danny came into my office to look out ofthe front window. Yep, thats her carout front.

    So go talk to her. I sat at my desk. I would, but Im busymaking up a story thatwill fool Billy Carlyle.

    Yeah, yeah. Im going, he said and headed out to the reception area.I leaned forward, spying on them just in time to see Ms. Clarissa hug Danny. When

    she released him, her hands immediately moved to his hair. Daniel, you need ahaircut.For once, I agreed with her. The sides of his hair fell over the tops of his ears. In

    the back, depending on how he moved, the ends licked the collar of his T-shirt. Theextra length gave him a rugged, dangerous, sexy look. I swallowed and wrote a note toschedule an appointment for him.

    Danny motioned his mother into my office. I sat back and pretended to read somecase notes.

    Oh, hello, Lucy, Ms. Clarissa said when she noticed me. How are you, dear?I cracked a weak smile. Fine, thanks. And you?

    I have the blues, so I thought Id come see my son.Danny rolled his eyes behind his mothers back. Ma, what could you possibly have

    to be depressed about?Maybe its the fact that my one and only son She looked pointedly at him.

    That would be younever comes to see me.Danny shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Ma, Ive been busy with

    work. In factToo busy to even call your mother?Im sure dad keeps you updated.Yes, but it would be nice to hear your voice every once in a while. She patted his

    cheek.He shifted out of her reach. Tell you what. Ill have Lucy set up weekly

    appointments for me to call you. Lucy, whats my schedule like on Wednesdaymornings?

    I winced, my heart aching for Ms. Clarissa. Most of the time, she was a nuisance,but she was still his mother.

    Daniel, she said in her firm, stern mothers voice. Please dont speak to me like

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    that. I taught you better.To his credit, his face went pink. Sorry, Ma. Hectic day. How about we do this? I

    have a quick phone call to make. Then why dont you come into my office and we canvisit for a while.

    Thank you, dear. That would be nice.Danny disappeared into his office, leaving his mother to roam around in my space.

    I wished myself invisible, but my wish was not granted. I tried to finish crafting myBilly Carlyle cover story, but Ms. Clarissas mother vibes were a paralyzing force.When she settled delicately into the chair on the other side of my desk, I wanted tohang my head in defeat. Instead, I said, Can I get you anything to drink, Ms.Clarissa?

    Coffee would be great, but only if its fresh.Um. I made a cringing face. Yeah, its been sitting since this morning. How

    about a soda?

    Ms. Clarissa crossed her legs. No thankyou.My life-force was shrinking under her mother powers. We have some bottledwater.

    No thank you, Lucy. You go ahead and return to your work. I dont mean tointerrupt you.

    Oh, thats okay. Im at a stopping point anyway. I wasnt, but I couldnt thinkwith Dannys mother sitting opposite me, being so well, so his mother.

    She tilted her head as she looked at me. Am I making you nervous, dear?I opened my mouth, intent on lying, but Yes, a little, came out instead.I noticed youre a nervous girl, always fidgeting, she said.

    Oh, jeez. Would the humiliation ever end? Before I could think of something tosay, Danny returned to my office and saved me. Ma, leave Lucy alone. How about

    we go out for a cup of coffee?Confused, I shot him a look. I thought weWe have time, he told me.His mother got to her feet, her smile beaming. Coffee would be nice, dear.Shed

    already turned toward the door when she remembered I was in the room and said,Oh, goodbye, Lucy.

    Goodbye, Ms. Clarissa.Danny sent me an apologetic look. Ill only be a few minutes.

    Take your time. I gave him a little wave.A half hour later, Danny returned to the office, sans Ms. Clarissa. Sorry about

    that.Mothers. I lifted my shoulders. Cant live with them, cant live without them.Tell me about it.Well, my mom, she But I broke into a giggle when Dannys eyes narrowed.

    Sorry, just kidding.

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    Danny checked his watch. So, are you ready to go catch our bail jumper?I collected my bag. I dont know about being ready, but the sooner we get it done,

    the better Ill feel.I followed him to the car, strapped myself into the passenger seat, and hoped my

    talent for lying was strong enough to fool Billy Carlyle.

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    No. Every breath I sucked deep into my lungs cleared a little more of myapprehension. I can do this.That first real look at him just creeped me out. I drewin a final deep breath, released it slowly, and said, Im ready.

    Are you absolutely sure?Yes. I gave him a smile, forced and wobbly, but a smile nonetheless. The sooner

    we get this guy, the better Ill feel.Okay.Hes going inside now. Be careful in there. If it doesnt feel right, I want

    you to walk away. If you feel threatened in any way, get away from him.Youll be listeningthe entire time?Of course.Ill be right here.Then theres nothing to worry about. I grabbed the door handle, but Danny

    caught my arm.Be careful, okay, he said.I will be. I got out of the car and walked across St. Charles to the bar. For a

    moment, I stood on the sidewalk in the chilly air of late-November, assessing thesituation. The door to Igors stood wide open, and even though most of the bar stoolsand half of the tables were occupied, the inside was relatively quiet. The people seatedat the tables seemed to whisper instead of shout like drunken fools. The bar stoolswere occupied mostly by loners like Billy Carlyle. He sat at the end of the bar closestto the door, hunching his lanky frame over a dark drink. The stool next to him wasvacant.

    I walked to the stool, plopped my bag on it, and mustered up my sweetest voice.Do you mind if I sit here?

    When he shifted to look at me, his expression registered surprise. He lowered the

    glass at his lips as his gaze perused me.No, I dont mind. He motioned for me to have a seat. Go ahead.I gave him a relieved smile and sat. Thanks. I set my bag in my lap, rested my

    forearms on the bar, and slouched like the miserable human being I hoped to conveyto him I was. Jeez, what a day.

    He took a sip of his drink, still watching me, and set the glass on the bar. Badday?

    The worst. My shoulders hunched in defeat. You wouldnt believe how bad.Try me.I straightened a little, sliding him a speculative glance. Okay, but you asked for it.

    He gave me a slight nod. Warningnoted.Well, as I was driving to work this morning, I ran over a dog, or at least I thought

    I had. I gave him a reassuring look. I hadnt, but when I got out of my car to check,the dog snapped at me and chased me down the street.

    I shifted, settling my arms more firmlyon the bar. So there I am sprinting downthe street, heart pounding from fear and exertion, about to pass out, when the dogsowner whistles, and the dog turns and runs away. I was so busy looking over my

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    shoulder at the dog that I tripped and twisted my ankle. I know, I said when he madea grimacing face. Once I managed to limp back to my car, I dont think I drove morethan ten miles per hour the entire drive into work. Thats how bad I was shaking.Other drivers kept honking their horns at me, which, let me tell you, did not help mynerves. And, of course, I was late to work because of all of this. I blew out a breath.Stupid dog.

    Billy Carlyle let out an unsure chuckle and looked around at the other bar patrons.I smiled and touched the back of his hand. I know. Its a little ridiculous. I held

    up myright hand. But I swear it happened. I dropped my hand to the bar top andfidgeted with an ashtray. My underarms began to sweat. Was he buying any of mywoeful tale?

    Then he said, That really sucks.I perked up. I know. Right? So anyway, after I got a talking-to about being late,

    my boss made me spend half the day making copies and the other half at the

    receptionists desk answering the phones and greeting clients. It sucked. I work for apersonal injury attorney, and some of the clients, Ive got to tell you, theyre scum. They make their living by getting into accidents and suing.

    For emphasis, I shook my index finger at him. This one guy came in today, and Icould tell hed been drinking, but if I had to guess, Id say he mixed his pain med swith the alcohol. Horrible combination. He stumbled all over the reception area andactually tripped as I was coming around the desk to show him to the back. If I hadntsmelled the alcohol on his breath, I wouldve thought he did it on purpose becausewhen he fell against me and I had to catch him, he groped my chest. I scrunched upmyface. I mean gross, you know.

    Billy Carlyle laughed even though his mouth was hanging open.I rushed on before he could voice what I feared was his skepticism. Then when it

    was finally time to go home and Id made it to the parking lot without getting rundown by any of these lunatic drivers because I have to walk three blocks to get there,my freakincar wouldnt start.Can you believe it?

    He grinned, drank from his glass, and then set the glass on the bar. Sounds reallybad. It also sounds like you could use a drink.

    I let out the breath Id been holdingwondering if he believed me. Guess he had.Yeah. I could. I leaned on the bar, searching for the bartender. Too bad thebartender seems to have disappeared.

    Ill go track him down for you.Hes a buddy of mine. He slipped off of the stool.What do you want? I mustve looked a little alarmed because he said, Dont worry.Im just going to put in your order and tell him where youre sitting.

    Oh. Well then I turned on a bright smile. A rum and Coke. Light on the rum,though. I havent eaten since lunch.

    Not a problem. Rum and Coke, light on the rum. Be right back.He sauntered off, head down. Jeez, the way he walked really gave me the creeps. A

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    chill ran across my back, and I rubbed my arms to fight off goose bumps. Thebartender appeared at the far end of the bar, and I watched as Billy Carlyle talked withhim, pointing in my direction. The bartender nodded, and Billy Carlyle made his wayback to his stool.

    Hes getting it for you, he said. I thought it would be presumptuous if I paid forit without asking you first, but if you dontmind, Id like to buy you a drink. Thisdrink if you dont mind.

    His charm was impeccable, which only creeped me out even more, but I had toplay along. That would be nice.Thanks.

    When the bartender brought my drink, Billy Carlyle laid some bills on the bar andlifted his glass. Cheers.

    I tapped my glass to his and took a sip. I tasted mostly Coke, the sting of the rumvery slight, so I swallowed a bit more with the second sip. Umm, that tastes good.Thanks for treating me. I set the glass on the bar.

    No problem. He grinned as he lifted his glass to his lips.I jumped a little when my cell phone rang, and Billy Carlyle laughed softly into hisglass.

    Thats my phone, I said, digging in my bag to retrieve it. I left a message withmy friend, asking him for a ride home. I hope thats him.

    Dannys name flashed on the caller ID, and I tapped the answer button. Hello.Dont drink too much, Dannyinstructed me.Im okay, I said, and then for the benefit of Billy Carlyle, who was staring across

    the room as if that would give me privacy, I added, My car broke down, though.Nice story, by the way. I especially like the bit about the dog.

    I was hoping you could come pick me up.You amaze me, Lucy.My brow furrowed. Why do you say that?Ive never seen anyone as adept at making stuff up on the spot as you are.I made a little grunting noise like Id just heard something disappointing. Thanks

    for the insult.Thats not the only reason I ever call you.Youre a natural, Lucy.My expression crumbled with the threat of tears. Why are you saying this to me?Keep it up.Youre doing great. Just remember not to drink too much.Well, screw you. I was practically sobbing now.

    Bye.I stabbed the end button and buried my face in my hands, making sure my

    shoulders shook.I take it hes not coming to pick you up, Billy Carlyle said.No. I dragged my fingers under my eyes to wipe away imaginary tears. The

    jerk.Yeah, guys are jerks. He watched me with an elbow on the bar, his head in the

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    buckle, but I stiffened my legs.As soon as he walked away, my cell phone rang. I answered it without looking at

    the caller ID. My eyelids were just too heavy. Hello. Even to my own ears, myspeech sounded slurred. Id only had a glass and a half of rum and Coke.

    Were ditchingthis operation, Lucy.I shook my head, trying to clear the cobwebs. Danny?Who else, he said.I dont know what happened. I feel so sick.Either you cant handle alcohol at all, or he slipped you something. Since Ive seen

    you drink before, Im betting its the latter.I shook my head again. But I dont know how.I never let him near my drink.

    Hadnt I made sure he didnt go near my drink?He said he was friends with the bartender.Even through my sickness, the light dawned. The bartender was the only other

    personwhod touched my drinks. Oh, fucking hell.Im driving around now to pick you up.Hurry, Danny.Im on my way.I hung up, rested my head against the brick, and squeezed my eyes shut, resisting

    the urge to sink to the ground. My chest heaved, and my stomach churned.A horn honked, my eyes snapped opened, and panic dug its claws into my belly.

    Billy Carlyle had gotten to me first. He stopped his car in the middle of the travel laneand hopped out. Ignoring the obscenity the driver behind him yelled, he jogged up tome.

    My cars right over here, he said.Can you make it that far?I slumped to the ground, my butt smacking hard against the sidewalk. My friend

    just called me. He changed his mind. Hes coming to pick me up.Billy Carlyle crouched down so we were eye to eye. Youre a liar, Lucy, and not a

    very good one.My heart pounded. What do you mean?Your friend didnt call you back, and hes not coming to pick you up.Yeshe did, andyeshe is.He tsked and reached for me, slipping one arm under my knees and the other

    around my shoulders.

    Hey. I stiffened and kicked out, but I struck only air. I pushed at his chest, but itdid no good. What do you think youre doing?

    Im carrying you to the car, he said.I dont want to go with you. Where was Danny? My friends coming to pick me

    up.He opened the passenger door and dumped me inside. Before I could get my

    muscles to cooperate enough to jump out, he opened the drivers side door and slid in

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    behind the wheel.Fine. Since you insist on driving me home, I said, fighting to speak through a

    combination of fury and panic. My address isI dont need your address, he cut in.Im not taking you home.Were going to

    my apartment in Metairie.Dread was a lead ball in my belly. I cant go to Metairie with you? I need to get

    home. I dont feel well.Shut up. Billy Carlyle sat close to the wheel in a car that was too small for his

    lankiness. As he drove, his eyes darted around, looking everywhere at once.I watched him out of the corner of my eye. Youve never done this before, have

    you?Done what?Drugged and kidnapped someone.He flinched, glancing at me before his eyes went back to darting around. I told

    you to shut up. Now, zip it.I tried to push myself up in the seat, but my muscles were as limp as cookedspaghetti. You dont have to do this, I said, hoping to reason with him since Icouldnt physically fight him off. You can drop me off right here. I wont tell. Ipromise.

    I told you to shut up.I rolled my head toward him. Whatever you do to me, you wont get away with it.

    My friend is already looking for me. If you hurt me, hell make sure you pay.His laughing snort resonated through the car. You mean the friend who wouldnt

    come pick you up from the bar? Some friend he is. He doesnt even care enough

    about you to give you a ride. He wont care what I do to you.What areyou going to do to me?Were going to have a nice private party at myplace, just the two of us.Nausea turned my stomach and made my head ache. My skin went cold. Even if I

    dont want to?He looked at me again, and the evil intent in his eyes was like a window into his

    demented mind. It wouldnt be any fun if you wanted to.I hungered to rant and rave and fight, but I could barely move. I kept my mouth

    shut until Billy Carlyle turned right off of Veterans Memorial Boulevard a little pastLakeside Mall and, a few blocks down, turned into the parking lot of an apartment

    building. This is Fat City, isnt it? I only asked in the hopes that Danny was stilllistening, but I knew exactly where we were. The Sullivan Agency had donesurveillance in the vicinity numerous times.

    Billy Carlyle parked, shut off the engine, and stuck his index finger in my face. Imnot going to warn you again about keeping quiet.

    He got out of the car and walked around to the passenger side. I ordered mymuscles to tense in preparation for fighting him off, but theystill werent cooperating.

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    He swung the door open and grabbed me by the front of my jacket, his knucklesjamming into my breast bone. I hissed in a breath.

    Why are you doing this? I squirmed and wiggled, hoping to deflect his attentionaway from the feel of the mic under my shirt.

    Because I can. He hauled me out of the seat and stood me up against the side ofthe car.

    Youre disgusting. I spat the words at him like machine gun fire.He shoved his face at mine, and I flinched back. I know, but Im also in control.He wrenched me away from the car and dragged me across the parking lot. His arm

    was slung tight around my shoulders, forcing me to move even though I could barelylift my feet to walk.

    A haze settled over my line of sight. I blinked, but it remained. Before I could blinkagain, everything went black.

    When I came to, I was propped against a door. Number two, I said for no good

    reason other than that was the number on the door. My mind was a blank wasteland.Who was this guy fumbling with the lock?He opened the door and pocketed the key. Then he grabbed me by the shoulders,

    lifted me off of my feet, and placed me just inside the apartment. When he releasedme, I swayed. The floor rushed toward me.

    Oops, he said, grabbing me around the waist and righting me. Mustve givenyou too much.

    What didyou give me? I asked, but my words slurred against my thick tongue.Just a little something to relax you. He marched me past a dinette set and sat me

    down on the couch, setting my bag beside me. Well, this is home sweet home. What

    do you think?My eyes moved, but my chin wouldnt budge from its resting place on my chest.

    Why am I here?My heart pulsed in my ears, but I couldnt feel its beat in my chest.A string of drool spilled from my bottom lip.

    He scrunched up his face. Ew. Definitely gave you too much. Ill get a washcloth,he said as he walked away.

    A cell phone rang inside my bag, but my hand was too heavy to reach for it.Eventually, the ringing stopped, leaving me with the silence of my numbness. Thelight began to fade. I blinked my eyes, but the darkness kept expanding. Then theblack nothingness swallowed me.

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    Drool slid from the corner of my mouth. The couchs upholstery scratched my

    cheek. My left nostril was jammed against the cushion, and I inhaled the smell of wetdog. I tried to open my eyes, but my lids wouldnt budge. I tried to push myself up,but my armswouldnt hold me. I slumped even before the scent of canine cleared mynose.

    My arms and legs tingled, which I decided was a good thing. At least I could feelthem. The buzzing in my head had also begun to soften. I finally managed to blink my

    eyelids open only to have them drift shut again.From a distance, I heard a man and a woman shouting, their words vibrating across

    the slight buzzing in my ears. Over the buzz, I heard a distinctive you pig and shutup and hate you and crazy bitch.

    When the buzz receded, I began to hear complete sentences.I cant believe you would stoop so low, the woman screamed.I cant believe you set me up, the man yelled.My foggy mind cleared enough to recognize the mansvoiceit belonged to Billy

    Carlyleand to remember how Id ended up sprawled on his couch.You deserved it, the woman shouted back.Youre disgusting, and you deserve

    this too.Dont! Wait, wait, wait!The next instant, a gunshot boomed, cutting off Billy Carlyles screechy panic.I squeezed my eyes shut.Thundering footsteps stomped and then squeaked across the linoleum. Water

    splashed.Bastard, the woman said through a sob.Billy Carlyle didnt make a sound.The water shut off, and the footsteps squeaked again before landing heavy on the

    carpet.My gut clenched even as I forced the muscles in my face to relax.The light against my eyelids darkened, and I tried not to breathe. Above me, the

    woman sobbed uncontrollably, the sound snapping against my eardrums.She touched two fingers to my neck, and my body jerked. I itched to open my eyes

    but kept them shut as I groaned and slumped deeper into the couch cushions.The woman removed her fingers from my neck and touched my hand. I held my

    breath. My already queasy stomach revolted. Rage burned my jaw. Whatever the

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    woman wanted to do to me, I wouldnt be able to stop. First creepy Billy Carlyle.Now this wackadoodle.

    When she opened my hand, I barely stopped myself from flinching. An object,smooth and cool, brushed my palm and then rested heavy in my hand. My heartthumped madly as Ms. Wackadoodle folded my fingers around it. What the hell wasit?

    Im sorry, she whispered. This is the only way.All I could do was lie there, frozen, my hand wrapped around an unknown object

    and drool running down my chin.The shadow disappeared, and the overhead light smashed against my eyelids.

    Reflex had me blinking my eyes open. Ms. Wackadoodle was nowhere in sight.I glanced down and found a gun in my hand. I squeezed it in my grip.Behind me, Ms. Wackadoodle sobbed. I stilled, stiff as cement, but my mind went

    wild. If I got a firm grip on the gun and moved really fast, I could swing around and

    aim at her before she had a chance to evade and attack.I tightened my grip on the gun and lifted my arm. Then I rolled toward the edge ofthe couch, lowered my feet, and slid down until my knees landed on the floor. Myface was smashed into the cushions. The hand holding the gun was jammed into mybelly. If Iwasnt careful, Id splatter my guts all over Billy Carlyles living room.

    With a heaving breath, I pushed myself up and saw Ms. Wackadoodle by the frontdoor with her hand on the door knob.

    Freeze. The demand croaked from my throat as Ms. Wackadoodle yanked thedoor open. I swung the gun around and aimed for her back. She stepped forward.

    I swallowed some drool and shrieked, Freeze.

    When she stilled, I almost soiled myself. What now? What if she turned and dovefor me? What if I had to shoot her? I really would soil myself.

    But Ms. Wackadoodle didnt turn and dive. Instead, she jerked her knee up, and agrunt of pain flooded the quiet room. She shoved past the person shed just batteredand escaped out the door. I almost fired at her, but suddenly Danny was in the way.

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    Danny sniffed. Considering she just kneed me in the balls, yeah, I can believe hernerve. Do you knowwho she is?

    No, but she and Billy Carlyle definitely knew each other. They had a screamingmatch right before she shot him. I nudged my chin at him. Did you happen to seeher face when she kneed you?

    He straightened and leaned his hands on the tabletop. No, she was in theshadows. Then she rammed me with her knee. By the time my vision cleared, she wasgone.

    I didnt get a good look at her, either. All I know is that she was wearing tight,black clothes, and she had wide hips and slim arms. What are we going to do aboutthis, Danny?

    He glanced toward the back of the apartment. Youre going to stay here while I gocheck on our bail jumper.

    He went to walk past me, but I grabbed his hand, stopping him. Danny?

    What? Worry brightened his eyes.Just be careful, I said. Thats all. Just be careful.He pulled his hand from my grip to tuck my hair behind my ear. Dont worry. Im

    not about to let you down again. Then he made his way into the bedroom.I leaned forward in my chair but could only see the bottoms of his shoes and part

    of his back. He was crouched down on his toes, probably checking Billy Carlyle spulse. When he stood up and walked farther into the room, I bent at the waist tofollow his progress. In the process, my butt slipped to the edge of the chair. The chairtipped, spilling me onto the floor and clobbering me on the head.

    In attempting to escape from beneath the chair, my arm pushed through the back

    slats, and I slipped again. The chair was like a Chinese finger trap. The more Istruggled, the more tangled I got. Exhausted, I slumped, and my face ended uppressed into the seat. At the rate I was going, Id be lucky to make it out of BillyCarlyles apartment without maiming myself.

    Eventually, I untangle my arm and crawled away. I didnt want to take a chance ofstanding when the chair was still nearby, so I stayed on my hands and knees until Imade my way to the short hallway leading to the bedroom.

    I grabbed on to the door handle of a closed door and tried to pull myself to myfeet, but the door swung open, tossing me into the opposite wall. A tower of towelsfell to the floor, and I kicked them out of my way as I stumbled to the bedroom door.

    I sagged against the door frame, slightly breathless from the struggle of getting mybody to walk on command. Is he dead?

    Danny stood in the walk-in closet, his eyes to the ceiling. I thought I told you tostay out there.

    You did, but I didnt listen.I can see that. He twisted to give me a once-over. You dont look good, Lucy.Thanks.I dont feel good, either. I lifted mychin in Billy Carlyles direction.Is

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    Itwouldnt do any good. Hes dead.Are you absolutely sure? Maybe I should shoot him again just to be absolutely

    sure.No. Danny grabbed me by the waist and lifted me to my feet. You cant touch

    the gun again.Why not? I grabbed handfuls of his jacket so I wouldnt fall over. My

    fingerprints are already all over it. The police are going to blame me, and ifIm goingto be accused of shooting him, shouldnt I at least get to shoothim?

    You wont be accused.I looked into his eyes, and my belly flipped over. How can you be so sure?Because Im going to wipe your fingerprints off of the gun.Oh. I slumped. Oh.Hang on, he said just before he lifted me into his arms.My belly flipped again. Billy Carlyle picked me up like this outside of the bar. My

    head dropped to his shoulder. Im enjoying it much more with you. Then I went tosleep.


    I blinked my eyes open and licked the corners of my mouth.How are you feeling? Danny said.I lifted my head and found him sitting on the couch at my feet. Did I drool? I

    wiped the back on my hand across my lips.Not this time.How are you feeling?

    Out of it.What happened?You passed out.My head dropped back down to the cushion. Crap. Not again. How long was I

    out?A minute or two.And youre sure I didnt drool? I used both hands to push my hair back from my

    face. My head throbbed.Im sure, but you were mumbling a little. Danny lifted my feet. Try to sit up.My head is killing me.Probably a residual effect of the drug. He placed his arm behind my shoulders

    and helped me to a seated position. Moving around might help work it out of yoursystem.

    I shifted my legs over the edge of the couch and planted my feet on the floor.Thanks, I said, resting my elbows on my bent knees. I propped my head in myhands and groaned. Stupid Billy Carlyle. I glanced at Danny. What was Imumbling?

    I believe it was something like, Oh, Danny, I love you. I want you. Kiss me,

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    Twenty minutes later, after the patrol officers had shown up, secured the scene, and

    told me and Danny to stay put until someone could take our statements, a tall guy in agray trench coat approached us. He held a mini notebook and a pen, ready to writedown anything we said, so I assumed he was the detective in charge of theinvestigation.

    His short hair was a mess, yet he was attractive in that clean cut, bad boy way copscan be. He had a dark gaze and thick dark hair, which was just starting to go gray in

    places. Laugh lines etched his cheeks and flared out from the outer corners of hiseyes. Except he wasnt laughing.He wasnt even smiling. I figured he had to have atleast ten years on me.

    Im detective Jack Landry with the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office, he said.You two want to tell me what happened here?

    Ummm, I began as Danny said, WellMr. Detective held up a hand to stop us, and then he pointed at me. You go first.I cut my eyes to Danny, looking for reassurance. He gave me a subtle nod. When I

    turned back to tell Mr. Detective my story, I met his narrowed gazenot the usualcold, hard, disinterested cop stare, but a very interested, very suspicious stare.

    I coughed, cleared my throat, and only then managed to form words. Danny and Iwere trying to catch a bail jumper.

    And what does that have to do with what happened here?I pointed toward the bedroom where several officers worked the crime scene. The

    dead guy in the other room. He was the one who jumped bail, and we were trying tocatch him.

    I see.I nodded. Uh huh.Mr. Detective scratched his head. Okay. So how did the bail jumper He

    checked his notes. Whom weve identified as Billy Carlyle, end up dead?Well, you see, what happened was And I told him everything. I even gave him

    the entire story Id made up so Billy Carlyle would feel sorry for me and offer me aride home. After I explained the part about hearing Billy Carlyle and Ms.Wackadoodle shouting and arguing and hearing the gunshot, I said, Then I passedout again, and when I woke up, Danny was here, Ms. Wackadoodle was gone, andBilly Carlylewas dead in the bedroom.

    Mr. Detective blew out a breath. Can you give me a description of the woman?

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    I glanced at Danny. Well, ummLucywas passed out, remember, Dannysaid. She never sawthe woman, but I

    got a brieflook at her.Mr. Detective motioned to Danny with his pen. Describe her.I had just gotten to the front door when she opened it to leave, so I didnt get a

    great look at her.Of course you didnt.Danny frowned. She kneed me in the groin and pretty much incapacitated me for

    a few minutes. Needless to say, I couldnt run after her. All I can really tell you is whatshe was wearing.

    Please do, Mr. Detective said as he scribbled in his notebook.Baseball cap. Tight, black clothes. Leggings or skinny jeans, something tight. Long

    sleeve shirt but again tight. And she had wide hips with skinny arms. She was one ofthose small on the top but big on the bottom women.

    What about her hair? Mr. Detective asked.It was dark.I couldnt tell if it was long or short because of the baseball cap.Anything else, like jewelry or tattoos.I dont know. Nothingthat I saw.So she was all in black, wearing a baseball cap. She kneed you in the groin, and

    you didnt see her face. Is that what youre telling me? His tone relayed a lack ofbelief.

    Yeah, thats what Im telling you.The muscle in Dannys jawworked. Look, theguy drugged Lucy. Id like to take her to get checked out by a doctor. Can we gonow?

    Mr. Detective glanced up from his notebook. No.Then he bent back to his note-taking. When he was finished, he crooked a finger at one of the patrol officers.Watch them, he said before walking off toward the bedroom.

    He came back a few minutes later and told the patrol officer to take Danny outsideand get a full description of the woman who attacked him.

    Dannys gaze flared with anger. I already gave you a description.And youll be giving this officer a description as well. Maybe the chilly night air

    will help you remember something.It wont.I already told you everything I know.At Mr. Detectives urging gesture, the officer started toward Danny.

    Danny stood up and, as he passed me, touched my shoulder. Ill be right outside ifyou need me, Lucy.

    I looked up into his worried eyes. Ill be okay.On his way past Mr. Detective, he said, She better be.When Danny was gone, Mr. Detective moved closer, looming over me. Does your

    boyfriend have a problem with cops?Not that I know of, and hes not my boyfriend.

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  • 7/31/2019 Lies and More Lies




    No. He wiped beads of sweat from his brow. But you seem to be unable tomove on your own.Youre pretty much dead weight at this point.

    You shouldve seen me earlier.I was drooling on myself.Gross.Yeah, thats what Billy Carlyle said right before he went into the bedroom and

    ended up getting shot.Youre lucky the shooter didnt shot you too.Dont I know it. She mustve thought I was already dead. God knows I feel close

    to it even now.He held up a hand. All right, Ms. Derrider. I can take a hint. Im going to get the

    crime scene guy to take some of your blood for testing. Then you and Mr. Sullivan arefree to go.

    I peered at him through my droopy eyelids. Thanks.Dont thank me yet because I have to request that you dont leave the State.

    A rush of unease ran through my veins. Am I a suspect, Detective?Maybe. Maybe not. Something seems off with this whole thing. Although, for thelife ofme, I dont know why youd lie about what happened here tonight.

    I told you the truth.My gut tells me you didnt.Not the entire truth, anyway.I lifted my chin the best I could and managed to look him in the eye, hoping to

    stare him down, hoping to seem tough even though I felt as helpless as a newbornbaby. Why let us go then?

    Because its just a hunch, he told me. I have no real proof that you lied atleast not yet.

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    When the crime scene guy was finished taking my blood, I left Billy Carlyles

    apartment, scanned the parking lot, and found Danny leaning against his car. Hestraightened and approached me. How did it go? he said and then reached out as ifto steady me. I waved him off, but as soon as I got to the car, I slumped against thefront bumper.

    Are you all right? he asked.Im fine. But my breath raked my throat.

    I should take you to the hospital.I shook my head.LucyNo.Ill be fine. I just need to My stomach rolled, and my jaw burned. I need

    to throw up. The words came out in a rush, chased by vomit. I bent at the waist, andthe contents of my stomach spilled to the pavement.

    Jesus, Lucy.Youre not fine. He squatted next to me and rubbed circles on myback. Do you need to throw up again?

    I raised my head. I dont know, but you shouldnt stand too close to me, just incase.

    He pushed my hair out of my face, holding it at the nape of my neck. Ill take mychances, he said as he massaged my shoulders.

    My eyes drifted closed. God, that feels good.When he didnt say anything more, I opened my eyes to find him staring at me. A

    thrill darted through my belly. Only a man who was in love with me should stare atme that way, and Dannycouldnt be in love with me. I eased out of his grasp. I thinkIm okay now.

    We both straightened.Are you sure? he asked.I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. Yeah. Much better.Thanks.Are you sure you dont want to go to the hospital?I shook my head. I just want to go home and go to sleep.He put his arm around me. Anything you want, Lucy. Im so sorry about this. He

    walked me around to the passengers side and opened the door for me.You should be, I said as I dropped into the seat. I meant it as a joke, but Danny

    didnt laugh.Ill make it up to you. He dragged the seatbelt across my body and buckled me

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    I slept on and off until noon two days later and wouldve slept longer if my ringingcell phone hadnt woken me up. I put the phone to my ear and croaked out a hello.My voice pounded through my head like a drum. An ache beat at the base of my neck.

    Lucy, is that you? The frantic note in mydads voice only worsened the ache.Yeah, Dad, its me.Danny told me what happened the other night. Are you all right?I rose up onto one elbow, and the ache swam to my brow line. Oh, crap.Lucy?Im here. I rubbed the back of my hand over my forehead.Are you all right?Yeah, Dad, Im fine. I wasnt. Not really. My scull squeezed my brain, and my

    stomach revolted against my movements. But he didnt need to know that. He seemedworried enough, and I didnt thinkI could stand him babying me right now. Despitemy thirty-one years on Earth, my parents still thought of me as a little girl who neededthem for everything.

    They definitelydidnt like that I worked in the private investigations business. Intheir opinion, my job was not only a waste of my library sciences degree, butdangerous as well, even though the other night was the first time since Id begunworking for the Sullivan Agency that Id been in real peril. They took everyopportunity to try to get me to find a different job. Not because a different job wouldnecessarily be good for me, but because they wouldnt have to worry so much.Theyd

    rather see me working in the food services industry making minimum wage thanworking for private investigators. Needless to say, I didnt want to give them anyrealammunition to use against me.

    Im fine, I told him again. Nothing happened.Thats not what Danny said. He told me you were drugged, and the guy you were

    investigating was killed. And before you make a smart remark, Danny called mebecause he was concerned about you, and he was very vague about what happened.

    Dad, I said, cutting in before he could go on. It wasnt a big deal. Im perfectlyfine now. Well, except for the lingering nausea and headache, but he didnt need toknow that. Does mom know?

    Yes. I told her. Shes here with me.Is she freaking out?Of course shes freaking out, Lucy.Blowing out a sigh, I sat up. She doesnt need to freak out.Im fine.You know, the catering business is booming.Here we go, I thought. Thats great, Dad. Im glad to hear your business is doing


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  • 7/31/2019 Lies and More Lies




    normal, I shut off the water and wrapped myself in a towel.Back in my room, I checked my cell phone and discovered Fiona had called. I got

    dressed, slipped my shoes on, and called her back.She didnt even bother to say hello when she answered. Oh, my God, Lucy. Are

    you okay? I almost died when I heard.Heard what?Your dad told me what happened to you the other night.I frowned. Let me guess. He also asked you to try to convince me to quit my job.For a moment, Fiona was quiet. Then she said, Well, duh. Of course he did. But I

    know better than to try to get you to do something you dont want to do.Thats whyIm not pushing you about the librarian job.

    Dont rule it out.Im still thinking about it.Then dont take too long. It closes next Friday.A week and two days. I had a week and two days to decide what direction I wanted

    my future to take.I wont dawdle.I promise. I checked the clock. 1:34. I should go.Ive got to gettowork.

    Youre working today?Are you sure youre up for it? Your dad said you weredrugged. Shouldnt you rest?

    Ive got to get up and move around. I need to get back to my routine before I gettoo used to being lazy.

    Well, call me if you need to talk.Yeah, Ill call you. I choked on a sob. I hadnt seen my best friend in what felt

    like forever. I miss you, Fi.

    Fiona promptly burst into tears. I miss you, too.Your job keeps you so busy, itslike were not even living in the same city.

    Well, technically we arent since Im in Mid-City, and youre in Metairie.You know what I mean. We live fifteen minutes apart and never see each other. I

    cant get used to not seeing you all the time. Its no fun without you.I laughed over my own tears. If thats really true, you just made my day.She sniffed. Its true.Nothings the same without you around.Oh, come on. Its not like Im your only friend. I swept a finger under my eyes,

    wiping away the dampness.I know, but we have the same group of friends. Everyone misses you, and the

    coffee shops not the same without you.I coughed to cover another sob. I better go, Fi, before I start crying again.Honey, dont do that because Ill start crying again too, and they hate it when I cry

    at work.Through a chuckle, I said, Ill talk to you later, Fi.Okay, sweetie.And, Fi?

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    Right. So, how are the interviews going?Well, Harrys the only one Ive talked to. Hes been really busy, though, so mostly

    I just sit around thinkingup every conceivable question Id ever want to ask a privateinvestigator.

    How many questions do you have?Elliot rifled through her papers. About four pages front and back.My eyebrows winged up. Thats a lot of questions.I know. The more questions I write down, the more I think up. Then her

    expression turned serious. You know, I was just kidding about the on-the-recordthing. If you ever need to talk, Im here to listen.

    Thanks. That means a lot to me. I made an awkward motion with my hand.And the same goes for you.Weve never really talked about what happened to you,but if you want to

    Elliot scrunched up her face. I had a boyfriend who hit me. Big deal. Who are we

    kidding, Lucy? The Derrider family doesnt talk about stuff like this. We all justpretend like nothing bad ever happens. Dont talk about, and it never happened. Isntthat how it is?

    Maybe its time that changed.Her response was a shrug.I looked toward the quiet hallway leading to Danny and Harrys offices. So where

    is everyone?Harrys out of the office, but he didnt say where he was going. Dannys here,

    though. Bad mood and all.

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