Happy Spring, everyone!
I'm sharing a snippet from the 2nd Alex O'Hara mystery novel, The Case of the Fabulous Fiancé. Alex is a P.I. in the small Lake Michigan resort town near Grand Rapids. I'm continuing from where we left off last week. Pete Cuddy, her self-proclaimed receptionist, had just fixed her phone.
Some changes were made to the original.
Immediately, the message light started blinking. On Friday when I closed the agency, I transferred calls to my cell, as I always did. When I didn’t get any biz calls yesterday or today, I was grateful for a quiet weekend. But when I couldn’t access the internet yesterday, I knew something was wrong. That's when I called my tech buddy, RJ.
Pete, who’d come out from under the desk hit the speaker button. I was about to chastise him—he shouldn’t hear my private messages—when the automated voice began with “Sunday, two oh six p.m.”
Then came a gruff, raspy voice. “Back off or you’ll regret it. Quit poking around in other people’s business.”
And now a little more:
“Holy shit,” Pete exclaimed. “That was a threat.”
I almost said, “No shit, Sherlock,” but refrained. Not to sound too blasé, I’d had threats before. Most were just words. Unfortunately, others had some follow through.
“Do you get messages like that very often?” Pete asked in a tentative voice.
Oh, sh—shoot, he was still here and listening in on my messages.
“I’m not interviewing for a receptionist until tomorrow morning at nine.” I waved toward the front door. “Please see yourself out.”
I went into my office and turned on my computer. If the phone worked, I sure hoped I had internet service again. I glanced at the bottom of the computer screen. Ta da. I was connected to the internet. I went online to make sure. I don’t know what Pete Cuddy did, but I had internet service. Maybe I needed to rethink dismissing him.
Through the open door to the outer office, arguing male voices assaulted my ears. I had to see what was going on.
RJ, who only got angry when losing a computer game, stood with his hands fisted on his skinny hips. Under his open shearling jacket, he wore a Star Fleet Academy T-shirt. Pete sat in the receptionist’s chair, hands folded, as if he belonged there.
“Whoa, guys.” I walked out. “Take it down a notch. Pete, what are you doing here?”
They both turned to me.
Pete stood. “Ms. O’Hara, I told this gentleman his services weren’t needed.” His snide rendition of ‘gentleman’ made me wince.
RJ glared at him then turned that glare on me. “Alex, I told you I was going to the RPG convention in Chicago this weekend.”
Crap. I’d forgotten about the show for gamers and developers of computer role-playing games. Of course, he would go. He’d probably beta-tested the newest ones, especially those featuring starships. I was surprised he came back early. For me. Now that’s a great friend.
“I tried calling you,” RJ went on. “Isn’t your cell working, either?”
Whoa. He did snide almost as good as Pete. Lord save me from dueling roosters.
She’s at it again. Alex O’Hara just can’t say no to a new investigation. What do a 45-year-old boyfriend, a deadbeat dad, and a teenage runaway have in common? All new cases. With no receptionist, phone and internet problems, and her own boyfriend in the wind, Alex has no idea how she’ll manage. But the question for the past three months is why did Nick disappear. Is this the end of O’Hara & Palzetti?