Read Alex Ames - Calendar Moonstone 02 - Brilliant Actors Online

Authors: Alex Ames

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Jewelry Creator - Cat Burglar - Hollywood

Alex Ames - Calendar Moonstone 02 - Brilliant Actors (10 page)

BOOK: Alex Ames - Calendar Moonstone 02 - Brilliant Actors
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“Are you all right now?” Terrence asked in a fatherly manner and took me by the shoulders.

I nodded. “I need a giant breakfast and sleep. I will call you tomorrow or the day after to discuss strategy with you.”

“Are you sure that you want to register with the local police on your own? It would be no problem for me to accompany you.” One of the bail conditions was the registration with the Redondo Beach Police Department.
 

“Thanks, that’s a formality, as you yourself put it. I’ll manage. Let’s concentrate on the important things.”

“I count on it. That is the spirit. We have about four weeks, and we should use it.” He pecked me on the cheek. “Have a good night’s sleep in your own bed. Take a stiff drink to shoo the bad dreams away, my dear.”

He patted me on the shoulder and walked back through the garden. I turned toward my door, unlocked it, and stepped into my living room. Before I switched on the light, as I would have done automatically in a normal situation, I hesitated. I didn’t know why—maybe because my nerves were tightly wound up by the last day’s events or maybe because the house smelled differently. My brain registered fear of a break-in first, and I got into my alarm mode immediately, dropping onto my left knee, ready to jump or retreat, and getting my head out of harm’s way. I opened my eyes real wide to take in the familiar shapes of the room in the dark and registered several changes, though I couldn’t sort them out right then. After a second of listening to an almost quiet house, I remembered that the police had searched my home and my shop, and I breathed in and out to relax. I got up slowly, reaching for the light switch again.

“Who…?” I could hear a muffled voice from about five yards to the right. I saw a shadow rising.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

A Fight Among Friends

My training for dangerous situations commanded me to instant action, and I did two things at once. I threw my key-bundle in the right hand into the far end of the room, where I hoped that it would make the most noise. At the same time, I jumped into the direction of the shadow with three quick, silent steps.

The shadow reacted as planned and turned toward the crash from the kitchenette as the keys hit the coffee tin container noisily. I tackled the intruder in full flight; his body gave a surprised and deflating sound, and we both fell over the couch onto the coffee table and rolled over it, me on top. I felt for the blanket that was usually lying on the couch, found it outspread, and threw it over the feebly fighting shadow. I got up quickly, ran over to the kitchen, and got my best and most menacing kitchen knife out of the top drawer—Japanese make, 15 inches, white ceramic blade, serrated edges. I held it in a mock professional stance at the tip with three fingers as if I knew how to throw it and switched on the overhead lights from the kitchen.

The living room area with couch, coffee table, and computer desk was bathed in light. The intruder and I blinked several times at each other.
 

“Mundy, why are you breaking into my house in the middle of the night?” I asked him, breathing regularly, which was part of the whole dominance thing.

Mundy Millar stood with his heap of hair and in his goofy jeans/sweatshirt combination with parts of my blanket still around him. Mundy’s eyes dropped toward the Japanese ceramic knife still dangling in my hand. “Are you able to handle that thing, or are you just posing?”

“I am able to handle it and will prove so on your right ear, if you don’t answer me,” I bluffed. “By the way, your nose is bleeding on my carpet!”

“Jesus, my nose! My beautiful nose!” He grabbed a tissue from his pocket and pressed it over his bleeding nose. The poor puppy was easily excitable.

I put away the ridiculous knife before I hurt myself with it and rummaged around my kitchenette to brew tea. Mundy disappeared into the bathroom to come back just in time for a steaming mug. In the meanwhile, I had restored order around the coffee table, dabbled some all-stain remover on the blood spatter, and taken a look around. As I had never experienced a police search of my house, I had expected worse, but everything was in good order, some things slightly off and positioned in the wrong places. But no overturned drawers or thrown around clothes or books.

Mundy accepted the tea, blew on it, and sipped it. He followed my gaze and muttered, “I fucking cleaned up your fucking place. Excuse my French, but I have been busy for the last six hours and am exhausted. I wanted to say ‘hi,’ so I lay down on the couch and must have dozed off.”

“You did what?” I stared at him and glanced around the room, a growing knot of embarrassment in my chest.

“You should have seen your place after the guys from the police left this morning. A mess! Every piece of clothing, every knick-knack, every book on the floor or hastily put back on shelves. Every piece of furniture removed, the carpets taken out. Some of their work is beyond repair. You should check out the walls in your bedroom gallery. Every hammer-thud of their search for hollow rooms in the walls can be seen. Complete makeover if you ask me.”

My face grew beet red; I could feel it. I put down my mug, took away his mug, wrapped my arms around poor Mundy, and gave him the hug of his life, kissing him all over his soap-smelling face and cooing at him for a while, tears streaming over my face. He patted my back awkwardly and probably enjoyed the whole thing.

“Thanks, Mundy, I don’t know what I would have done if I had stepped into a … raped home after the last day in jail. Probably had a nervous breakdown, a shit fit, and a binge drinking spree, all in no special order.” Poor Mundy. Poor Calendar.

“Cal, you are something else if you are in action. You were like a cat, but a dangerous cat, I have to say. I had no clue what was happening. It was all over me and then over. Is it kinky to become sexually excited afterward? Cal, you ever had to use something like that before on a job?”

“No, not really, usually I am very careful,” I lied. Mundy was one of the few people in my life who knew about my moonlighting hobby as a cat burglar, but there was no need for him to know everything.
 

“Mundy, would you mind leaving me now? I am dead tired, and I want to cuddle up in my bed, cry a little more, and sleep, sleep, sleep.”

“You want to join me for breakfast, or go out?”

“Poor Mundy, you must be dying of curiosity and worry.” I had to laugh a little. “My brain is overloaded and fuzzy and tired. But I promise, I will think about you tomorrow.”

Mundy didn’t look too disappointed; he was too much in love with me to take a brush-off personally. He pecked me on the cheek, hugged me once more for courage, and got up and left. I closed the windows, locked the door twice, disconnected the phone, took that stiff drink Terrence had prescribed, and walked upstairs to the little gallery that held my king-sized bed and my walk-in closet. Regretfully, I looked at the ruined wall-plaster.
 

Let it be a lesson to me.
 

Mercifully, sleep came the second my head hit the pillow. Sleep—and forgetting—was all that mattered now.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

The Duality Of Dating

I awoke to sunlight through my shades around noon on Wednesday, fourteen hours of sleep on my log. Half an hour of swimming in the pool, half an hour of jogging on the beach, and some stretching exercises brought my body up to speed again and cleared some of the dark edges in my mind. A late breakfast from the fridge got me nourished for the first part of my day.
 

I dressed demurely in black jeans and a dark shirt and tied my hair back. With a pullover over my shoulders and my little black Prada leather-backpack, I strolled over to my shop. My heavily censored story for Annie Otis concentrated on everything before the police raid on Swan Collins’ party. Mrs. Otis reminded me of the fact that my favorite star girlfriend Nicole Berg had not returned my ceremonial necklace yet. I promised I would ask her myself, another item on my growing to-do list of get-out-of-jail activities.
 

After that, I excused myself due to some errands because it was my turn to get registered with the local police. I rode five minutes in my little red Miata and parked in the public lot of the Redondo Beach Police Department. I had to think hard to remember any contact with the Redondo Police in the past and could recall a few occasions where Fowler Wynn had stirred the pot and had tried to put me under closer observation because of some unproven far-fetched jewelry thefts in other states of the union. And that was as far as he had gotten with the locals—they had asked for evidence, hadn’t gotten any, had taken a look at Fowler’s mad eyes, had rolled theirs, and that had been that. All contact had been with the last administration that had been completely blown out of office after a string of budget overdrafts and a small corruption scandal.
 

I entered the police station, and a whale-sized sergeant asked me for my business from behind the front desk.

“I am here to see the chief of police. Confidential court matter. Calendar Moonstone.” I waved importantly with the envelope, stating my situation.

The sergeant phoned for a minute, handed me a visitor badge, and described the way to the chief’s office on the second floor. I made my way up and repeated my spiel with an elderly lady that had probably survived fifteen administrations and eighty budget cuts ago together with her old desk and office equipment.
 

She nodded busily but cordially. “The chief is at the shift change meeting right now and will be back in about five minutes. He will see you then. Have a seat. Want some coffee, honey?”

I agreed in order to actually taste an original station house coffee and was not disappointed. The stuff was hot and from before the first shift, which probably indicated that the chief’s secretary had made me for a villain. I marveled at the mugshots posted inside the front office and at the different shades of Formica.
 

After five minutes or so, the chief arrived. He came around the corner, a stack of files under his arm and two talking guys at his side. As he discussed the last details of some affair or another, he glanced around his front office, nodded at the secretary, and noticed me. I sat on one of the waiting chairs, legs crossed, my court paper file on my lap, arms folded before my breasts. He gave me a second look over, and I held his gaze each time our eyes met. The first one was the professional look, to determine if I was criminal, witness, or lawyer, probably the only categories of visitors he entertained at his office. But his type of look shifted slightly while he was still talking to his detectives. He started a second look and, to my surprise, it was a look-over. I immediately started to think over my choice of clothes; had I dressed too flashy, sexy, tight, obscene, demurely? He had started at my feet—
so we have a leg man here
, I thought—and got to my eyes last. We locked eyes for a second, and he actually played with a little smile before he dismissed his guys with a “Come on, get detecting,” slapping one of them on the back and walking over to me.
 

I remembered the chief’s face from the local papers. His name was Henry Steward, and he was the new guy in the department, formerly head of detectives and second in command at a department somewhere in Orange County. Judging from what the papers said, he seemed competent. He had to be in his middle forties and lacked the typical inflated body of a higher-ranking police officer or politician his age. He had some soft edges here and there under his black uniform but all in all an athletic frame. Swimmer or track and field was my best guess. His hair was dark brown with gray lines, which gave him a serious look, and was cut in a fashionable short way and not in the paramilitary baldy-style most policemen nowadays wore. Not unattractive, I found.

“Mable, would you please type these memos? And prepare the files for signatures. And this has to be copied twice and FedEx-ed to Santa Monica.” He spoke unhurriedly, almost slowly, like someone who wanted to get a message across. A friendly voice—well, for the good guys, anyway.

“And who do we have here, madam?” He had picked up a stack of sorted mail and looked at me officially.
 

BOOK: Alex Ames - Calendar Moonstone 02 - Brilliant Actors
11.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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