The Hitwoman and the Chubby Cherub
Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman Book 13
Love and Murder are in the air.
In years past, Maggie Lee has not been a fan of Valentine’s Day, but this year, the holiday has warped into its own special hell.
She’s stuck working at her aunt’s lingerie shop during the busiest (and cheesiest) time of the year, someone volunteered her to help with the Valentine’s Day party at her niece’s school, and there’s a hitman in town, known as the Cupid Killer.
Maggie is up to her eyeballs in declarations of love, sex toys, and candy hearts, when all she really wants is to chase down leads pertaining to her missing sister.
Can Maggie survive a guy with a bow and arrow, the pain in the butt parents of school kids, and a romantic proposal?
Or will she succumb to her favorite fantasy?
The one where she runs away with her pets.
You just know it’s going to be a bad day when you open an envelope filled with glitter. That shit gets everywhere.
Which was why I swore loudly when I ended up spilling red, pink, and silver shiny stuff on my couch.
“Paper cut?” my one-eyed, one-eared cat, Piss, meowed sympathetically. She kneaded my leg, offering comfort, but all I felt were her claws digging into my thigh.
“Worse,” I explained. “Glitter.”
My hatred for the stuff piqued the interest of DeeDee my Doberman pinscher. She wandered over to investigate the source of my wrath.
“Don’t,” I warned. “Not if you value your life.”
“Don’t you think you are reacting a tad bit dramatically?” Godzilla, God for short, a brown anole lizard, mocked from his terrarium across the room.
“I hate glitter.” Slowly and carefully, with the precision of a bomb squad member, I got to my feet, carefully balancing the envelope, taking care not to spill the reflective, mini-confetti. Both the cat and dog knew to get out of my way.
I took my time crossing the room, determined not to spill even the tiniest bit. I navigated around all the potential landmines, the sneakers I had not put away yet, a bone that belonged to DeeDee, and a ball I’d purchased for the cat, who had never shown any interest in it.
All I had to do was reach the trash can and dump the offensive sparklers into the bag, from which they would never escape to wreak glittery havoc on the world again.
I was almost there when there was a thundering crash above me.
You’d think that living in the basement of a bed and breakfast, I would be immune to such noises, but, since I live my life in a constant state of stress (and often, paranoia) the noise startled me.
I jumped, inadvertently destroying the very balance I’d been trying so hard to maintain.
The glitter, given the slightest chance to escape, flew everywhere.
“Crap,” I muttered.
Unable to contain her curiosity any longer, DeeDee charged the sparkling pile at my feet.
“No! No!” I tried to body block her from reaching it. A move that backfired, and ended with me being knocked to the floor as the dog attempted to skid to a stop and inadvertently slammed into me.
Another resounding crash from above seemed to shake the entire house.
“What the–” I scrambled to my feet and half-ran, half-crawled up the stairs that led to the kitchen.
DeeDee bounded alongside me, almost knocking me over again.
“Go lie down,” I roared.
The dog slunk away, looking at me as though I’d both tortured and starved her for months.
“What’s going on?” I yelled, assuming that the crashes came from the main floor.
But when there was a third over-amplified thump, I realized it was coming from the second floor.
I ran toward the stairs, afraid of what I might find, and ran full tilt into another body. A solid body. A very solid body.
I would have landed on my ass, but a strong arm hauled me against a solid chest, a very solid chest. The move kept me upright, but created its own set of problems.
I had never been so physically close to Angel Delveccio. I’d known he was strong, and looked to be built like a tank, but I’d never experienced firsthand the strength of those muscles. I’d also never appreciated how delicate the lashes ringing his eyes were.
These were problems for two reasons. One, I kind of have a romantic relationship going with my murder-mentor Patrick Mulligan. Two, Angel works for me as my niece’s manny.
And yet in that moment, wrapped in his arms, I found myself regretting both.
“You okay?” Angel asked.
I nodded dumbly, not trusting myself to speak, afraid I might say something about his eyelashes, or impressive pecs.
“Sorry about that,” he said easily. He carefully and gently pushed me away from him a little. “We should go see what that racket is about.”
I nodded, and raised my palm upward inviting him to climb the steps.
“Chicken,” I managed to tease breathlessly. Grabbing the banister for support I hauled myself upward. Glancing back, I was pretty sure I caught him checking out my butt. I tried not to think about what that might mean. “Who’s home?”
“I thought it was just the two of us,” he replied. “Leslie and Templeton said they were going to visit Loretta, and Susan left early this morning.”
A niggling sensation of fear wormed its way into my gut. I’d almost been killed by a guy I’d been dating in this house. The front yard had been set on fire by an enemy of Templeton’s. And the Cupid Killer had murdered Kevin Belgard in the backyard.
I didn’t live in Home, Sweet Home. I lived in a bizarre booby trap.
“Hello?” I called nervously.
As we reached the top of the flight of stairs, Angel stepped in front of me, as though he too was worried that some sort of danger awaited us.
“Maybe I should call the cops,” I suggested. That was actually the last thing I wanted to do, considering that I’m a paid assassin. Sure, I’m more than slightly inept, but, and maybe it’s because my luck is so bad with the rest of my life, I tend to inadvertently pull off my assigned jobs.
“And tell them what?” Angel whispered. “That we can hear a ghost banging around upstairs?”
He seemed even less eager than I to call in law enforcement. I wondered if that was a result of growing up in an organized crime family, but I decided it wasn’t the best time to ask.
Yet another crash echoed through the house.
“That’s Loretta’s room. We know she can’t be in there.” A while back Loretta had decided to chase someone who’d stolen condoms from her lingerie shop. She’d been tripped up by her stilettos, taken a nasty fall, and been in rehab ever since as she recovered from her ankle injury.
“I’m doubting it’s the ghost,” Angel quipped grimly. Without any warning he sprinted ahead, threw open the door, and faced down whoever was inside. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Loretta wants the furniture rearranged,” Templeton explained.
Peeking around Angel, I saw Loretta’s fiancé leaning tiredly against the dresser.
“She can’t really think she’ll be climbing all those steps when she comes home,” I said.
Templeton shrugged. “I think she does.”
“And are you as delusional as she is?”
He shook his head. “I’m just trying to keep her calm. She made me promise that I would rearrange the furniture and send her a picture of it. What else could I do?”
I could think of a lot of things he could’ve done differently, but he looked so exhausted, probably from visiting my demanding aunt in the rehab center every day, that I kept my thoughts to myself.
“You should’ve asked for help,” Angel said, stepping into the room. “I’d be happy to give you a hand.”
Templeton’s gaze skittered over to mine. I knew what he was thinking.
Just the night before, when Angel was out with his buddies, I’d called a family meeting and told everyone to stop asking the manny to do them favors. I didn’t like feeling like I owed Angel, because he kept doing above and beyond what his job description entailed.
He’d been hired to help care for my niece, Katie. That was it. But somehow, if anyone needed anything done around the house, or anyone was in any kind of trouble that they needed to be bailed out of, Angel was the one who came through for us.
The former Navy guy looked at me curiously. “Something I should know about?”
I tilted my head to the side. “I may have asked everyone to stop asking favors of you.”
“But I’m happy to help out.”
I shook my head. “We’re becoming too dependent on you.”
Angel gave me a funny look, before turning away.
“Look, I didn’t mean to offend you,” I apologized.
Ignoring me, he asked Templeton, “What do you need where?”
Templeton glanced at me nervously.
I nodded my approval. While I didn’t like people taking advantage of Angel, the idea of Templeton hurting himself, or damaging Loretta’s belongings, or knocking the B&B off its foundation, was even less appealing.
Templeton pointed to the bed. “She wants that monstrosity moved. Apparently Leslie has been talking to her about feng shui.”
“We’ve got this, Maggie,” Angel said. “You can go back to whatever it is you were doing.”
“I can help too.”
Angel glanced back at me, amusement shining in his gaze. “Not unless you want to get glitter everywhere.” He pointed so that I’d look in the giant mirror hanging opposite the bed.
My reflection was sparkling.
I hate glitter.