The Hitwoman and the Gold Digger
Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman Book 19
Just when she thinks she may be catching a break, Maggie Lee is saddled with babysitting her psychic friend, Armani, whose spirit guides have suddenly deserted her. They never warned Armani that she’d be robbed while waiting for an online date who stood her up or that someone would break into her home.
But investigating the trouble in her friend’s world isn’t Maggie’s only problem. Someone shoots her avian pal, Mike, and Maggie is determined to find out whom.
Neither task is easy, but Maggie’s difficulties are intensified by trying to keep her unruly household running in the absence of Aunt Susan, who seems to have dropped off the planet.
And oh yeah, Maggie’s ne’er-do-well dad has returned to town.
Can Maggie successfully juggle her investigations, cops, bad guys, a reporter, her menagerie and her crazy family? Or will it all be too much for her?
You know it’s going to be a bad day when the phone rings at 3:24 in the morning. I mean, is there anything else that can simultaneously trigger the thoughts of “where am I” and “someone died”? Needless to say, my heart was beating triple time and I was barely able to choke out two syllables. “Hello?”
“Hey, chica,” the voice on the other side of the call said cheerily.
“Who’s dead?” God, the talking anole lizard, asked.
“Dead?” DeeDee the Doberman panted worriedly.
“Why the hell are you calling me at three in the morning?” I asked my friend Armani Vasquez. Since she’s psychic, I needled, “Didn’t you know I was sleeping?”
“Miss Lee?” a male voice asked. “This is Detective Brian Griswald.”
Just when I’d started to relax, my anxiety ratcheted up. I found it hard to breathe.
“I don’t know if you remember who I am.”
“Of course I remember,” I wheezed nervously. Not only was he the nephew of my Aunt Susan’s fiancé, but I’d met him in a professional capacity. Thankfully, not in the professional capacity of him arresting me since I’m a semi-professional hitwoman. Still, any interaction with law enforcement tends to make me very anxious.
“I’m here with Armani,” Brian Griswald continued. “We’re sorry to have disturbed you.”
“Where’s here?” I asked.
“At police headquarters.”
“Is she in trouble?”
“Is who in trouble?” God interjected. “Is it Darlene? Mike says she’s been acting squirrelly.”
I ignored the fact that a lizard was pointing out that a crow was saying that a human was acting like a squirrel, and focused on the detective’s reply.
“No, she’s not in trouble.” Brian chuckled knowingly, which reminded me that Armani had played matchmaker for him, so he understood my assumption that she’d done something crazy.
“There’s been a bit of an…incident.”
“What kind of incident?” I asked, wondering why they’d chosen to wake ME in the middle of the night. ”And how is she involved?”
“The Incident at the Haunted House,” God intoned dramatically.
I covered the phone. “Will you shut up?”
“Are you familiar with Soliloquy?” Brian asked.
“Sure.” Everyone knew the most famous restaurant in New Jersey since it had been featured prominently on a reality show where a number of the senior citizen cast members had gotten into a knockdown, drag-out brawl over their sexual shenanigans.
The news had had a lot of fun with the Sexy Seniors Smash Soliloquy.
“Well,” Brian continued, “Armani was there during an incident tonight.”
“Robbery!” Armani yelled in the background. “An armed robbery.”
“An armed robbery,” Brian confirmed.
“Was she hurt?” I asked.
“No. She’s fine.”
“Then why did you call me?” I sighed my exasperation.
“She’s a witness…” the detective explained slowly.
“Okay.” I still had no idea what any of this had to do with me.
“And according to her, the ringleader looked like Santa Claus.”
My heart sank at the implication. They were saying that my father, who has at times borne a striking resemblance to Jolly Old Saint Nick, was suspected of being involved in the heist.
“Sorry, chica!” Armani called from the background.
“I didn’t want to show up at the B&B and set off the chain reaction of chaos a police visit would start,” Brian explained. “That’s why we called.”
“Good thinking,” I said drily.
Detective Brian Griswald had interacted with my crazy family enough to know that any little thing could set off a tsunami of hysteria that was overwhelming to mere mortals.
“Thank you for that,” I added.
“Have you seen your father?” he asked.
“No.” Not lately, anyway.
“Had any contact?”
“Not recently.” Technically, that was the truth. I hadn’t had contact with him, though I knew from my uncle, Thurston, that he was heading to town. I frowned—my dad’s twin brother could also pass for Santa Claus.
“Well, he does fit the description,” Brian said.
“I don’t think he has a beard,” I told him. In fact, since I’d seen him not too long ago when I’d gone on a road trip with Armani, I knew for certain he didn’t have one, but considering Dad’s in the Witness Protection Program, I couldn’t very well tell the nice detective that we’d had a family reunion.
I heard Brian and Armani having a conversation, but their voices were muffled.
“Gotta. Gotta,” DeeDee whined.
“No, you don’t,” Piss, my one-eyed cat, meowed, clearly unhappy that her beauty sleep had been interrupted. “You were snoring before the phone call.”
“Gotta,” DeeDee insisted.
“It’s me,” Armani said through the phone.
“Are you okay?”
“Of course. I’m sorry I had to tell them about your dad, but everyone else was giving their statements.”
“It’s fine,” I assured her. “And it wasn’t him.”
“So, can you give me a ride home?” she asked, her tone telling me she didn’t believe that it wasn’t my father who’d committed the robbery.
“Well, when you get here,” she replied magnanimously.
“I thought my chauffeuring duties were over,” I said even as I stood up. I’d learned I didn’t have the appropriate temperament to be a professional driver after ferrying her around in an RV for our infamous road trip.
“Gotta,” DeeDee reminded me forlornly, forcing me to stumble in the direction of the cellar’s storm doors to let her out.
“I’ll be there in thirty minutes,” I told Armani.
Personally, I didn’t think it sounded so great, then again, no one was dead (yet), so perhaps things were going better than I believed.