The Hitwoman Pays A Debt
Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman Book 28
Maggie Lee is a woman who pays her debts and now she’s running herself ragged.
When the mysterious Ms. Whitehat asks her to work at a dentist’s office to gain access to a safe, Maggie can’t say no.
She probably should have turned down her murder mentor, Patrick Mulligan, when he wants her to tail a suspicious cop, but she owes him.
And she also couldn’t refuse to help US Marshal Griswald when he requests her assistance to solve one last case before he retires.
Speaking of his retirement, Aunt Susan is planning the party of the century for him and she expects Maggie to bring a date.
But making it to the party on time may prove difficult since repaying her debts has resulted in Maggie doing a dangerous dance with a killer.
You just know it’s going to be a bad day when you have to go shopping. I am not a retail kind of gal. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s people like me who are the reason catalogs, and then online shopping, was invented. I hate going to stores. I hate dealing with crowds. I hate trying things on.
But I’d promised my niece, Katie, that I’d take her shopping for clothes, and so I was doomed to venture forth to the cursed land known as “the mall”.
I stayed in bed for longer than usual, trying to gather my strength for the day. It’s not that I don’t love Katie, or that I don’t enjoy spending time with her, it was just the whole shopping thing. The thought of it made me pull the sheet over my head.
“You can’t hide in here all day,” Godzilla, the anole lizard who prefers to go by God, pointed out.
I threw off the sheet and glared at him. He was perched on a piece of driftwood, in his terrarium, judging me.
You haven’t been judged until you’ve been judged by God.
“I’m not hiding out all day,” I told him testily. “I’m just getting up a little later than usual.”
“Go? Go? Go?” Benny, the little white mouse, called from his box.
“Yes,” I told him. “I understand that God wants me to get up and get going.”
“No, no, no!” the mouse countered. “Go with, go with, go with?”
“You want to go shopping?” I asked the mouse incredulously, wondering why anyone would volunteer themselves for that particular brand of torture. Maybe all the time he’d spent spinning on a wheel had permanently addled his little mouse brain.
“Yes, yes, yes!” Benny cried enthusiastically.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” God moaned. “Just agree to take him so he’ll stop talking in triplicate.”
“Okay,” I told Benny. “You can come with me. I could use the moral support.”
“And I’m staying home,” God announced.
“Coward,” I muttered, secretly jealous that he had the option of skipping the ordeal. I threw off the bedclothes, stepped into a pair of slippers, and padded out of the room, letting DeeDee, the Doberman, Piss, the one-eyed cat, and Matilda, the pig, out in front of me.
The animals all stampeded toward the kitchen as though my getting up a little later than usual had forced them into starvation mode. I followed more slowly, unsure of who I’d encounter. Interacting with the wrong person first thing could potentially ruin one’s day. Still, the scent of coffee drew me in.
“Good morning, Maggie,” Templeton said with a smile. Without asking, he reached for a cup and began to pour me some of his magical brew.
My day was not immediately ruined.
“Morning,” I said to the man who had been my Aunt Loretta’s fiancé but, who now, since their breakup, was just a member of the family.
“Katie’s very excited about your outing,” he said, handing me the cup.
I nodded, hiding my grimace by raising the mug to my mouth.
He chuckled. “You don’t look enthused about it.”
I shrugged. “It’s not really my idea of fun.”
“But you’re doing the right thing, a good thing.”
I nodded and took a sip of coffee. I felt slightly better. Stronger. Ready to take on the rioting minions of the mall. Coffee tends to have that effect on me.
“Blueberry muffins are coming out of the oven in about three minutes,” he said, motioning for me to sit down at the kitchen table. I sank into the nearest seat, cradling the hot mug in my hands.
“How are things with Loretta?” I asked him.
He shrugged. “She’s not speaking to me.”
“I don’t think she’s speaking to any of us,” I muttered. My aunt had not taken well to the family vote to keep her ex-boyfriend living at the family compound. She’d cheated on him, but for some reason, she kept acting like he’d wronged her. She had been the only dissenting vote, which had made it very clear to her how we all felt about him.
“Loretta talks to Leslie,” Templeton pointed out.
I nodded. That made sense, after all, as twins, their bond is stronger than it is with anyone else.
We heard a sniffle, then a sob before the crier entered the room.
Templeton beat a hasty retreat, moving to stand beside the door that led outside as though he was ready to make a run for it at any moment. I just stared over the top of my steaming mug at my friend Armani Vasquez, who limped into the room. She was pretty close to wailing. There wasn’t enough coffee in the morning to make that an acceptable behavior, in my book.
“What’s wrong?” I asked with a heavy sigh. I really wasn’t in the mood for whatever her drama was, not being fully caffeinated yet, but I felt obligated to ask.
“We broke up,” she said, practically throwing herself into the chair opposite me.
“You and Jack?”
She sniffled and then blew her nose in a paper napkin.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this breakup. I actually thought that Jack Stern had been a good influence on my impulsive friend, but he was also a crime reporter, who I didn’t particularly like nosing around. Especially when you consider how many crimes I commit on a regular basis.
“I’m sorry,” I murmured.
“It’s not like it was a surprise,” she said. She looked around and found Templeton. “Is there any coffee?”
He nodded, pushing himself away from the door. “I’ll get you a cup.”
“Why did you break up?” I asked curiously.
“He said he needs his freedom,” she muttered.
I raised my eyebrows. It seemed to me that Jack and Armani had one of the most open and freedom-filled relationships that I knew of. The fact that he was saying he needed more didn’t ring right.
“It’s probably his stupid work,” she said bitterly.
I nodded. He’d had a pretty big scoop when revealing the wrongdoings of District Attorney Reese, who had, among other things, tried to frame my dad and Delveccio for murder.
“I thought he’d be celebrating,” I said. “That was quite the story.”
She shrugged. “I think he’s the kind of person who is never going to be satisfied with an achievement. He’s always looking to do the next great thing.”
Before she could elaborate, Aunt Susan burst in. “Oh, good, you’re here.”
I held my breath, wondering which one of us she was eager to see.
“You’re taking Katie shopping today, right?” she asked.
I let out a sigh. Apparently, I was her target. “Yes.”
“Don’t forget to get something for her to wear to Lawrence’s retirement party,” my aunt said.
I nodded. She was very excited about her husband’s upcoming retirement from the U.S. Marshal service. Griswald, her husband, wasn’t feeling the same way about it.
“And get something for yourself, Margaret,” she said sternly. “You can’t show up to the retirement party in jeans and a t-shirt.”
I nodded my understanding.
“Do you have money for this?”
She narrowed her eyes and looked at me suspiciously. “How? You haven’t had a real job in forever.”
“I had some money saved up,” I lied. I couldn’t tell her that I earned my money by doing jobs for the local mob boss, Delveccio.
“You need a job,” Susan told me.
If my time at Insuring the Future was any indication, I was not made for a regular office job. Thankfully, I knew just how to distract her before she ended up sending my resume out for me. “But first,” I said, “I have to take Katie shopping for Griswald’s party.”