Lie or Die: A Shelby Nichols Adventure (20 page)

BOOK: Lie or Die: A Shelby Nichols Adventure
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“She owns a lingerie shop, so she’ll be bidding on them. Actually, she’s the reason I checked. She was asking about auctions and said there was no way the police would ever have lingerie to auction, since that was the only thing she’d ever be interested in bidding on. We were both surprised to find not one, but two crates of lingerie up for auction.” When I didn’t say anything he asked. “Are you still there?”

“Yes, sorry.” I had to ask, even though I already knew the answer. “Um…is her shop called Betty’s Bra Bar by chance?”

“Yes it is!” he exclaimed. “How did you know?”

“Darn! I hate to tell you this, but with my investigation of the stolen money, I’ve been watching her shop.” I gentled my voice. “She knew Keith Bishop, the bank robber. He sent lingerie to her a couple of times from his aunt’s shop, Novelty Creations. He was working there before he got arrested.” I let that sink in before continuing. “I think she might have something to do with the stolen money. But I don’t know for sure.”

“Huh,” he said.

“Listen,” I rushed into the silence. “I could be wrong. Maybe she doesn’t have anything to do with it.”

“No, no, it’s all right.” He found his voice. “It kind of makes sense to me now. Her bumping into me and all.” He sounded so sad it broke my heart.

“What do you want to do about it?” I asked.

“Hmm…I think we should see this through. I was planning on going to the auction with her, and I can still do that. Maybe you could come and see if you get any premonitions from her. You’ll know if she’s part of it or not, right?”

“Yes. I should pick up something. Do you think it would be all right if I told Keith’s cousin about the auction too? She’s the owner of Novelty Creations now. If she’s in on it, I’ll know that too.” I had to give him an out, and this seemed the best way to do it.

“That’s a good idea,” he said, more like his old self. “Especially if you think she might know something about it. Between the two of them, maybe you’ll pick up where the money is.”

“Exactly,” I agreed. “You never know. It might help me solve the case.”

“That’s right,” he said. “And just to be on the safe side, I’ll go over the crates ahead of time. Just to make sure the money’s not hidden inside and we missed it.”

“Great idea,” I said. “If you find it, could you please give me a call so I can let the bank know?”

“Of course,” he agreed. “But don’t count on it being there. The police department may have problems, but we’re not that incompetent.”

“I’m sure that’s true.” I quickly wrote down the time and address for the auction. Before disconnecting, a thought popped into my head. “Hey, do you remember the FBI guy we talked to? About the gangs?”

“Oh yeah, Henry.”

“That’s right. I might have something for him about the gangs. Do you think I should talk to him?” I asked.

“Are you sure you want to get involved with that?”

“I don’t know,” I answered. Involving Dimples and the FBI might be stupid or brilliant, depending on what happened. Should I tell him? I took a deep breath and went for it. “I keep getting premonitions about that kid. I think he’s in trouble. The name Lanny, or Larry keeps coming up in my mind. And it’s like the kid’s fighting, and then there are lots of guns involved. I know it sounds weird, but it might be worth checking out.”

I hoped that was vague enough to pique his interest, and not get me in trouble at the same time.

“Let me talk to Henry,” Dimples said. “I’ve heard of a guy with that name. He owns a club. In fact, I think it’s a fight club. So you might have something there. I’ll get back to you on it.”

“Great! Thanks so much. Call me if you hear anything, all right?”

“Sure,” he hesitated. “Is there something you need to tell me?”

Maybe I’d been a little too specific. Too bad I couldn’t read his mind over the phone. “I’m just nervous about it. Sometimes, that’s how my premonitions work. Once I know everything’s okay, I’m sure I’ll feel better.”

“Oh, okay,” he said. “I’ll let you know what happens.”

“Thanks.” We disconnected, and I hoped I’d done the right thing. At least I had a solid lead on the stolen money. But if the money was in the shipment, how did the police miss it? Betty must think that’s where it was, and she’d gone to a whole lot of trouble to get close to Dimples to find out. Her using Dimples that way really made me mad. I was glad he’d called about the auction tomorrow. I’d know if it was her, and probably what she did in that shop as well. I just hoped that by then I would still be alive to find out.

My phone rang. This time is was Uncle Joey, and I heaved a sigh of relief. “Did you find out anything?” I asked.

“Not yet,” he replied. “Ramos went to the meeting last night and he hasn’t returned. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear from him.”

“Is he okay?” I asked.

“I don’t know, but it’s Ramos. He should be fine.”

“Let me know when you hear from him,” I said.

“I will,” he answered. “In the meantime, I need you to be careful. Why don’t you go to the trial where David can watch out for you? I’ll see about Ramos.”

“Okay.” We disconnected, and my stomach clenched. I hoped Ramos was all right, but I couldn’t shake the bad feeling his absence caused.

I backed out of my driveway, my senses alert for anything out of the ordinary. I couldn’t spot anyone following me and soon pulled into Chris’ parking garage. I left my big bag with the stun flashlight in the car, slinging my little purse over my shoulder, knowing I could never get it through security.

I hurried to the courthouse, through security, and up to the third floor courtroom. More people were crowded into the room today, but I found a place to the back on the right side and sat down.

From everyone’s thoughts, I gathered that Chris was wrapping up his defense, and maybe even today the jury would be sent out to deliberate. I couldn’t help admiring my husband. He looked so handsome and confident. Everything he said and did was impressive.

Lots of people were thinking the same thing, and my heart swelled with pride. One thought stood out over the others, sending a spike of alarm into my chest. It’s one thing for me to think my husband is hot, but it’s a different matter for someone else. Especially when that someone sounded an awful lot like Kate. How dare she? What was she doing here?

This time, I kept my cool. I wasn’t going to let her catch me again. Keeping my back ramrod straight, I glanced over my shoulder. She was sitting one row behind me in the center section. She’d been waiting for me to find her. As our gazes met, she winked.

I turned my head away, but not before I caught her amused smile. Yuck. Did she really think that would faze me? Probably. Jerk. I caught a glimmer of amusement from the man sitting beside her and glanced at him. It wasn’t her partner, Doug Carter. Nor was it anyone I’d ever seen before. He had close-cropped dark hair, a hard-edged face with deep-set eyes, and a hawk nose. His mind was like a cavernous black hole, full of dark things like greed, hate, and envy.

The power of those feelings shook my senses, and I recoiled from them like I would a poisonous snake. Bile rose to my throat in revulsion, and I instantly threw up my shields. Who was this guy? Was he Kate’s partner?

My phone vibrated in my pocket, signaling a text message. I glanced at the message, anxiously chewing my bottom lip. Before I could read it, I heard the words in my mind,
Run Shelby! Get out!
I was sure it came from Kate. But why would she be telling me that?

Confused, I checked the text message. It was from Ramos, and it said, “Get out of there. Now.” What? He was telling me the same thing? How did he even know where I was? With my heart pounding, I decided to follow Ramos’ advice, and left the courtroom in a rush, hurrying down the hall to the staircase.

Footsteps pounded behind me, and I doubled my speed. Kate and her partner weren’t supposed to be following so quickly. How did they get out so fast? I glanced back to find two men in suits rushing down the stairs. One of them was wondering where I was going in such a hurry. The other guy was thinking about his client, and hoping she’d wait until he got to the office. I slowed down, relieved they weren’t after me.

After they passed me, I continued through the lobby and pushed through the double doors leading outside. I spotted Ramos standing beside Uncle Joey’s black car, and started toward him, dizzy with relief.

All at once, something sharp jabbed me in the ribs, followed by a harsh whisper in my ear. “Keep walking. Don’t make any sudden moves, or I’ll put a bullet in you.” It was Doug Carter. He clamped his hand on my shoulder and roughly jerked me against him.

He was thinking I’d messed everything up by leaving the courtroom so fast. He pulled me toward the parking garage and down the steps to the bottom level. I knew I had to make my move soon. If I got in a car with him, I might as well be dead, so what was the difference?

I listened to his mind again, but his thoughts kept repeating,
don’t think about it, don’t think, don’t think, she’ll hear it, she’ll hear, she’ll hear
.

Good grief! How many people had Kate told? At least he was lousy at covering his thoughts. Beneath his mantra, I picked up his intention of throwing me in the trunk. But that’s as far as I got before I heard my name.
Shelby! Drop!

I let my legs go limp and sagged to the ground, catching Doug by surprise. As I slipped from his grip, a bullet hit him in the shoulder, and he lost his hold on me. He spun around and took aim, firing several shots muffled by the silencer on his gun. I covered my head and cowered until the whizzing of muffled bullets stopped.

Dropping my arms, I found Doug lying in a pool of blood, his eyes glassy in death.

“Shelby? Are you all right?” Ramos hurried to my side.

“Yes,” I answered, my voice shaking.

“Come on, let’s get out of here.” A car came to a stop beside us, and he helped me stand. He opened the back door, and I caught a glimpse of Uncle Joey at the wheel. He had a baseball cap on his head and wore dark aviator sunglasses. Ramos pushed me inside and jumped in behind me. As he pulled the door shut, the car took off. 

“That was close,” Uncle Joey said. He circled the car to the main floor exit and gave the attendant his ticket. She opened the gate, and we were free.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Let’s go back to my office, and I’ll explain everything,” Uncle Joey said. He was thanking his lucky stars they’d got to me in time. With this victory, he could put his plans into action, as long as I went along with it. There was some risk involved, but it was the only way out of this mess.

“What mess?” I asked.

Uncle Joey sighed. He’d forgotten I was listening to him.

“Never mind,” I said. “I’ll wait. We’re almost there anyway.”

Uncle Joey glanced in the rearview mirror and smiled at me. Ramos was thinking I didn’t have to worry so much on his account. That mind-reading thing I did probably saved my life. It was pretty cool too. He could imagine whole conversations where he didn’t have to say a word. How sweet would that be?

We pulled into the parking garage to find Ricky waiting for us at the elevators. “All clear?” Uncle Joey asked.

“Yes sir,” Ricky answered. He pulled out a radio and talked to someone on the other end. “They’re waiting for you upstairs.”

“Good,” Uncle Joey said.

We entered the elevators, and Ramos positioned himself between the doors and us. Since he couldn’t secure the entire building, he wasn’t taking any chances of someone getting to me by stopping the elevator on one of the other floors. 

Picking up on his apprehension, I could barely breathe as we passed each floor, finally relaxing when we stopped on twenty-six. The doors opened. Vic and Jimmy were standing guard. They nodded at Ramos, and followed us into Thrasher Development.

There was no sign of Jackie, and I picked up that Uncle Joey had packed her up to a safe location with his son, Miguel. Wow, if he was worried about them, this was super serious. My motherly instincts flipped into overdrive, and panic clawed up my spine. As soon as we entered Uncle Joey’s office, I blurted, “Are my kids okay? And Chris? What’s going on?”

Ramos closed the door, and Uncle Joey sat down behind his desk before answering. “They’re fine,” he assured me. “Once I explain what’s going on, you’ll know what I mean.”

The panic slowed, and I sat heavily in the vacant chair in front of his desk. Doug’s death was catching up to me, and my legs couldn’t hold me any longer. “Doug knew about me. He kept thinking that he shouldn’t be thinking anything. I wonder how many other people Kate told. This is terrible! I knew something was wrong with Doug when he worked here. He was guarding his thoughts then. I should have picked up on that.”

“You had no idea,” Uncle Joey said. “This is all Kate’s doing.”

“What did you find out?” I asked.

“Apparently while Kate was in Seattle, she made friends with Eddie Sullivan, Seattle’s crime boss. He’s the force behind everything that’s been going on here. The drugs, money, guns, everything can be traced back to him. Last night, Eddie set up a meeting with Lanny to negotiate an agreement. I’m sure Lanny thought he could keep his lucrative business going in return for favors like he does with me, but Eddie didn’t see it that way.

BOOK: Lie or Die: A Shelby Nichols Adventure
10Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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