The Hitwoman’s Downward Dog
Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman Book 9
So many men….so little help.
Maladroit hitwoman Maggie Lee has never been one to ask for help. But now she’s found out that her niece, Katie, will soon be discharged from the hospital – making Maggie her guardian not just in name – and her semi-psychic friend Armani Vasquez has been kidnapped. Suddenly Maggie could really use some help.
While her crazy, but lovable, aunts are ready to help out with Katie, none of the men in her life are willing (or able) to lend a hand to save Armani. With both cops and bad guys telling her not to go after Armani alone, she knows the smart thing to do would be to listen to them. But Maggie’s not the type to abandon those she loves.
Even with Patrick, Maggie’s murder-mentor and almost-lover, and her old friend Zeke out of the picture, Maggie’s not desperate enough to bring herself to involve crime reporter Jack Stern in her quest.
Armed with only Armani’s cryptic clues, and assisted by her snarky lizard, her dumb, but extremely loyal dog, and a one-eyed cat, Maggie decides to take on whoever’s taken Armani.
Will the lack of human help prove to be her undoing?
Or will a special guy come through for her in the end?
You know it’s going to be a bad day when you end up sitting in the back of a police cruiser that smells worse than a New York City taxi.
I tried not to inhale. The mixture of puke, urine, cheap cologne, and a particularly offensive pine-scented air freshener had me on the verge of succumbing to nausea.
“You could have killed me,” Zeke complained for the tenth time.
My name is Maggie Lee. I’m a paid assassin, albeit not an adept one.
And yes, one of my oldest friends was right; I could have killed him.
“But the important thing is I didn’t,” I reminded him for the seventh time. The first three times he’d raged about me almost killing him, I’d apologized. Profusely.
But now we were sitting in the back seat of a police cruiser, the hitwoman and the con man, and it was making me very nervous.
We had more important things to worry about than one badly aimed swing of a tire iron. If I’d actually managed to hit him, Zeke would’ve had a legitimate reason to complain. Luckily, I’d missed.
I watched the growing crowd of police detectives and uniformed officers gathering in front of the home of my friend Armani Vasquez.
Detective Brian Griswald, who I’d called when I panicked that something had happened to Armani, had told me not to go inside, an instruction I’d disobeyed. Now he seemed to be in charge, barking orders, pointing fingers, and generally looking pissed-off. It was a look that didn’t suit the usually laid-back detective.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I asked Zeke without taking my eyes off the roll of yellow Do Not Cross police tape that was being used to “X” off Armani’s front door.
When Zeke didn’t answer, I turned to see why not. He shook his head slightly, a warning look in his eyes, letting me know that a cop’s car was not the time or place to be discussing his arrival.
Usually ridiculously handsome and charming, Zeke now just looked tired and stressed. Armani had told me on more than one occasion that Zeke had bedroom eyes, but all I saw in his gaze right now was worry.
Knowing he was feeling the same as I was didn’t do anything to help settle my nerves.
I turned back to watch the crowd of nosy neighbors who’d gathered on the sidewalk to gawk and gossip. “What a mess,” I muttered under my breath.
“She’ll be okay,” Zeke assured me.
“Did you see what happened?”
Worried because Armani hadn’t shown up for work and wasn’t answering phone calls, I’d left work in the middle of the day to check on her. When I’d gone inside her home, it was plain to see a violent struggle had taken place. That’s when Zeke had snuck up behind me and I’d almost brained him with a tool normally reserved for automobile repair… or in my case, setting off car alarms.
“She’s smart and resourceful,” Zeke murmured, trying to reassure me.
“She’s foolish and impulsive,” I countered. “I knew something was wrong. I told her to stay away from him.”
“Her new boyfriend, Ike Medd. The moment I met him I sensed he was trouble.”
“Maybe,” Zeke suggested gently, “considering everything you’ve been through lately, you’re imagining the worst when a perfectly reasonable explanation exists.”
I turned again to face him.
He didn’t wither beneath my disbelieving glare, but he did push himself deeper into his seat, like that extra millimeter could save him from my wrath.
“Explain to me why her place was trashed.”
He shrugged. “She is unique. Maybe she likes it like that?”
I heard the doubt in his voice.
“If something happens to her…” I trailed off, my eyes filling with tears.
Zeke didn’t hesitate to pull me into his arms. I sagged into him, grateful for the comfort of his offered support.
“I can’t take much more,” I whispered, the tears flowing down my face.
Zeke hugged me tighter. “I know it’s been rough lately.”
That was a massive understatement.
In the past few months, my sister Teresa had died, my niece Katie had been in a coma, I’d become a hired hitwoman, a couple of different people—including a guy I’d dated—had tried to kill me, my apartment had been blown up, I was being blackmailed by a secret organization, and, oh yeah, because of a head injury, I’d developed the ability to talk to animals, which sounds cool, but trust me, it’s as much a curse as it is a blessing.
Of course, in Zeke’s defense, he didn’t know about the whole paid assassin or talking to animals things.
He may be one of my oldest friends and may have confessed to being a con man himself, but a girl has got to keep some secrets… especially if she wants to stay out of prison, or worse, the nut house.
The car door behind Zeke opened and I found myself staring into the eyes of Detective Brian Griswald. He was blurry because of my tears, so I rubbed my eyes to dash them away.
Once my tears were gone, the grim set of the detective’s jaw became clear.
“You okay?” he asked as Zeke and I disentangled ourselves from one another.
“Is she…?” I managed to whisper, even though I was pretty sure I wasn’t breathing.
“She’s not in there,” Brian assured me, waving for Zeke to get out of the car. “And at first glance, we haven’t discovered any blood.”
Zeke climbed out and offered me a hand.
“But it looks like there was a fight,” I argued with Brian as I put my hand into Zeke’s and allowed him to haul me out of the back of the cruiser.
The detective nodded. “It does look like a struggle could have occurred.”
“Could have?” I squeaked incredulously.
“Maggie,” Zeke warned in a low voice, warning me not to antagonize the nice police officer.
Brian jammed his hands into his pockets. He glanced around to make sure no one was within earshot before confirming in a voice that was barely audible, “There was a struggle.”
I nodded. “I have to find her.”
“No!” Brian and Zeke exclaimed simultaneously.
Zeke grabbed my wrist and yanked me against his side, like he intended to act as a human anchor to keep me from flying off and doing anything stupid or dangerous.
“You have to stay out of this,” Brian warned. “Let the professionals do their job.”
“I—” I began to protest.
“I could bring you down to the station and question you as a suspect,” Brian interrupted, making a show of pulling out a pair of handcuffs.
“But I called you,” I reminded him.
“And I told to wait for me, but no, you traipsed through a crime scene, carrying a tire iron. You could have contaminated evidence. You probably did. You put a hole in the wall, Maggie.”
“You could have killed me,” Zeke reiterated once again.
“I’m sorry,” I huffed. Both men thought the apology was meant for them, but in truth, it was just a ploy to get them to shut up and leave me alone.
I knew I’d screwed up. I should have waited for the detective. I should have come looking for Armani sooner. I should have warned her against her relationship with Ike more strongly.
Whatever had happened to her was my fault.
I didn’t know how I was going to live with that.