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Authors: Claudia Hall Christian

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Tax Assassin

BOOK: Tax Assassin
13.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Tax Assassin
A Seth and Ava

Claudia Hall Christian

Cook Street Publishing
Denver, CO

Also by
Claudia Hall Christian




The Denver Cereal
Celia’s Puppies



Black Forest


Gold Hill (late Fall, 2012)




The Fey

Learning to Stand

Who I am

Lean on Me



The Queen of Cool




The Tax Assassin

copyright © Claudia Hall Christian


Licensed under the Creative Commons

Attribution–NonCommercial–Share Alike 3.0


Smashwords Edition Licensing Notes:

Thank you for purchasing this ebook! You are
welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced,
copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the
book remains in its complete original form. If you enjoyed this
book, please return to your bookseller to discover the Denver
Cereal, the Queen of Cool, the Alex the Fey thriller series and
other works by Claudia Hall Christian.
Thank you for your support



13 digits
) :

Library of Congress:
2012919047 (print)



This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places and incidents either are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously.


First edition © October, 2012

Cook Street Publishing
PO Box 18217

Denver, CO 80218

For the Silent Partner.



So you think she’s coming

Seth O’Malley looked up from the ancient
upright piano he was playing.

You asked me the same
thing last night,” his friend and housekeeper, Maresol Tafoya said,
as she leaned against the doorframe.

I don’t remember what you
said.” His fingers continued their dance along the keys, unleashing
a familiar tune.

Otch.” She moved into the
room to pick up a crystal tumbler sitting next to the couch.
“You’re drinking! Twenty years of sobriety gone! Just like that.
The girl’s only been gone twelve hours.”

He felt his back burn from the heat of her
glare. He continued playing until he was forced to respond.

Dale,” Seth said of their
resident handyman. “He was here for a while last night. Plus, it’s
Scotch. I hate Scotch. Smell it.”

She held the glass to her nose and

It’s ten?” he

It’s ten,” she

You’re late for work,” he

She shook her head at him. She’d been his
housekeeper since he’d graduated from Eastman School of Music more
than four decades ago. They were closer than family and more
comfortable than lovers. She went to the small, built-in bar along
the wall and washed the crystal tumbler. She set it in the cabinet
before wiping down the sink and bar. Tidying the room, she folded
his mother’s hand-stitched quilt and laid it across the back of the
leather couch.

Well?” he continued

Do I think she’s coming
back?” Maresol kneeled down to sweep the ashes from the

Would you mind telling me
again?” he asked.

I think she’s having a
very difficult time,” Maresol said. “She’s had a lot of hard,
horrible times that would break most young people. I understand why
she wants to be with her mother now; so do you. She wouldn’t have
gone if you hadn’t encouraged her.”


Yes. I do think she’s
coming back to you, old man.”

Old man?” He

You’ll be fifty-nine in a
few months,” she said.

And you?”

Otch, don’t be mean,” she
clucked and set up another fire in the fireplace. “Maybe you should
start drinking again.”

He laughed. Standing up, she put her hands
on her hips to survey the small, wood-paneled room.

To what do I owe the
pleasure of your company?” He stopped playing and turned to look at
her. She scowled at him. “You’re right. I’m an ass. I’m

You have a guest,” she

Who?” he asked.

One of your war buddies,”
Maresol said. “He asked to speak with you in private, then had the
nerve to ask if I was making rellenos for lunch.”

He smiled.

I wasn’t planning to make
rellenos for lunch.” She gave him a sour look. He chuckled and she
shook her head. “Should I send him down?”

Who is it?”

McArthur, McAudry,”
Maresol shook her head.

McGinty?” Seth

Sure,” Maresol said.
Switching to Spanish, she added, “All you old white men look and
sound the same to me.”

Seth laughed.

Go,” Maresol said. “Wash
up. You’ve been up all night, and you smell of worry.”

You think he’ll

I care,” she said. “I’ll
bring him down on the elevator. With Ava gone, your puppy needs a
walk. I set clean clothing for you in the bathroom.”

Seth watched Maresol leave the room. His
fingers itched to return to the quiet space provided by the song
and this hand-me-down piano. He’d touched the keys for the first
time when he was four years old and had written his first concerto
right here when he was eight years old. He returned to the
sanctuary of this piano whenever he could.

He grunted when he stood. His stiff joints
were the only remnants of almost dying from First Responder’s
Toxin. He made a slow, stiff journey to the full bath he’d
installed in his father’s precious den. Five minutes, a brutally
hot shower, and a fast shave later, he was playing the piano

He looked up to see Maresol holding the
elbow of his old friend, McGinty. His hair and clothing were clean,
but an indentation around the oxygen cannula in his nose and his
unkempt fingernails told a tale of a long hospital stay. Seth stood
to greet his friend. Maresol left the room to make chile

Before you ask,” McGinty’s
voice came out in gasps. “I got the sarcoid like Mitch.”

Seth nodded. His best friend, Mitch Delgado,
died from sarcoidosis almost ten years ago.

Rained Agent Orange on
us,” McGinty said. “Didn’t it, Magic?”

Rain?” Seth smiled. “The
tunnels flooded with the stuff. I still taste it in my

Nightmares. You ever go
see the museum they made out of hell?”


The finality of Seth’s ‘No’ spoke volumes.
McGinty shuffled to the couch. As if he’d walked a long way, his
eyes closed with relief when his ass hit the cushion. Seth sat on
the piano bench and waited for his friend to collect himself. When
he was ready, McGinty opened his eyes and looked around the

How ‘bout you, Magic?”
McGinty asked. “Anything?”

Nah,” Seth

We didn’t call you Magic
O’Malley for nothing,” McGinty smiled, coughed, and closed his eyes
again. His face took on a blueish cast. He waved his hand. “You can

I’d rather talk,” Seth

Heard you had some hot,
young girlfriend,” McGinty opened his eyes to wiggle his

She’s taking a break from
being my girlfriend,” Seth said. “I wore her out.”

McGinty coughed a laugh.

Her name is Amelie,” Seth

Same as that song we used
to hum when we were chasing VC in those damned tunnels?” McGinty

She’s named after the

I heard that song once
when I was on an elevator,” McGinty said. “No offense, but I had to
get off the elevator. That song, in a small space? Brought too much

Seth waited. Eventually, McGinty would get
to the point.

I’m running out of time,
Seth,” McGinty said. “I know I’ve only got a few months left. I can
feel it in my bones.”

McGinty nodded to Seth.

I like that you don’t try
to talk me out of it,” McGinty smiled. “You’re a good

Just seen it before,” Seth

We’ve seen a lot of death,
you and I,” McGinty said. “How many years did you work

Fifteen?” Seth

That’s right,” McGinty
said. “You and Mitch did a tour in Vice. You really

I’m on contract to the new
chief, but I haven’t started yet.”

Sounds cushy,” McGinty
said. “When you s’posed to start?”

Why?” Seth gave McGinty a
hard look. “While I appreciate the old man routine, and I know
you’re sick, I’ve known you, Harry McGinty, for a long, long time.
You’ve never made a social call in your life. Why are you

McGinty smirked and Seth chuckled.

There are two things I’d
like to do before I die,” McGinty said. “I’d like to take Mary Ann
on that cruise to Greece. You know, I promised I’d take her to
Greece when we got married thirty-five years ago? Never did. I made
the reservation on Monday. We’re going at the end of the

And the other thing?” Seth

I have this . .

Case I’d like to solve,”
Seth said with him. “Of course.”

McGinty smiled.

Every old detective has a
case he couldn’t solve,” Seth said. “They’re like bones we can’t
stop chewing on.”

You still have one?”
McGinty asked. “Heard you just solved that Saint Jude

Seth nodded.

Then you’re bone free,”
McGinty said. “Old dog like you, you need a solid, unsolved case
between your teeth to get the juices flowing again. And this is a

BOOK: Tax Assassin
13.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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