Authors: Joanne Pence
TWO O’CLOCK HEIST
A Rebecca Mayfield Mystery
Quail Hill Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. This book may not be resold or uploaded for distribution to others.
Quail Hill Publishing
PO Box 64
Eagle, ID 83616
Visit our website at www.quailhillpublishing.net
First Quail Hill Publishing E-book: August 2014
Excerpts copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007
Copyright © 2014 Joanne Pence
All rights reserved.
Richard Amalfi sat alone at a table in the Alta Vista, a posh restaurant perched on a Sausalito hillside overlooking San Francisco Bay. Richie drummed his fingers on the white cloth-covered tabletop. He had finished his lunch, and was now on his second cup of coffee. Business, but not his own, had brought him here, and now he was stuck waiting around to see if the restaurant’s owner wanted to buy a few cases of a house red at a really good price. Better than good. Cheap.
The hell with it,” he muttered. Tired of waiting, he threw his napkin on the table and stood to go when he heard a gravelly female voice.
Marlena Carbini rushed to his table, kissed his cheek, and sat. She was in her fifties, a bit plump, with thick, wiry gray hair and no make-up. “Sit, Richie, please. I’m so sorry to make you wait. Everything was crazy this morning.”
Richie decided to play nice. He had a job to do, after all. He smiled as he sat
back down. “No problem, Marlena
One of her waiters appeared with a tall glass of orange juice, most likely a screwdriver, knowing Marlena. She reached for it and gulped down half as he
launched into his speech. “I was going to say that your customers who know wine, locals as well as tourists, will appreciate the wine I’m offering—”
There was a shooting, Richie.” Her eyes grew large, her voice hushed. “A woman. Down at Gate 6—on a houseboat.” She shuddered. “She was a cop. I heard she was from San Francisco, on the police force there or something.” She took another long drink from her glass.
He felt his blood run cold. He tried to stay calm as he told himself there were a lot of female cops in the city besides Rebecca Mayfield. Besides, she was a homicide inspector.
“A uniformed cop, you mean?”
No uniform. They said she was dressed nice, like she was going on a date or something. Anyway, with her, they found jewelry. My jewelry. That’s why I was called to identify it. Oh, my God! Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.” She stood, caught the waiter’s eye and held up her glass for a refill. “I was robbed a couple weeks ago.”
“Do you have a name? Was she tall, blonde?”
“Who? Oh, the cop. I don’t know.”
“What do mean, you don’t know?”
His voice sounded a bit strangled.
“I didn’t see her, Richie. Give me a break! But I think I heard she’s blonde.” She regarded him quizzically. “Why do you want to know?”
“Nothing. It’s nothing.” His mouth had gone dry. “You said she was shot. Is … is she dead?”
“I think so, but they didn’t say for sure. Why?”
He ran his hand over the back of his head, against black wavy hair that just reached the collar of his crisp blue shirt. He took out his cell phone. “I just thought of a call I’ve got to make. Relax; drink your orange juice, or whatever. No need to hurry.”
She went back to chattering about how she had discovered that her jewels were gone after throwing a
private party at her home. Richie tuned her out.
He hit a n
umber on speed dial. Putting Rebecca's number there was one of the dumber things he’d ever done. But right now, he didn’t care.
He listened to the phone ring, one leg jiggling the whole time.
Come on, pick up!
The call went to voice mail. He fumed. It didn’t mean a thing, he told himself. She never answered his calls anymore. Still …
He stood. “Tell you what, I’ll get back to you about the wine.”
She looked stunned. “But I thought—”
“The wine will be even better as it ages.” With that, he tossed money on the table to pay for his meal, and rushed out of the restaurant.
Homicide was quiet, even peaceful, if that was a term that could be applied to life among San Francisco’s death cops.
The homicide bureau was located on the fourth floor of the Hall of Justice, a gray cement block near the center of San Francisco, surrounded by congested, soot-filled streets and freeway overpasses. Homicide consisted of one large room packed with six detectives’ desks with computers on each, extra desks, files cabinets, printers, photocopiers, and a small legal library. Off the main room were the boss’s office and several interview rooms.
Inspector Rebecca Mayfield sat at her desk, mounds of paperwork stacked around her. Only Rebecca and her partner, Bill Sutter, a slim older man with short gray hair, were at their desks. Two of the inspectors—the San Francisco Police Department preferred to use the term “inspector” rather than “detective” for their Bureau of Inspections officers—were on-call and working a crime scene, and two had the day off because they would be the weekend on-call team.
Rebecca looked at the clock. It was two p.m. on a Friday afternoon. For her, this was the longest, dullest part of the week. Only three hours to go until she was off duty. She looked forward to a fun and relaxing weekend, especially since she and Sutter would be the on-call team next week, Monday through Friday, which meant that twenty-four seven, any peculiar death in the city had to be investigated by them.
She had no big cases currently, so she should be completing her paper work, a chore she hated. It was a necessary evil, but that didn’t mean she had to like it.
The silence was interrupted when Helen, Homicide’s executive assistant shouted, “You can’t just walk in there.”
Richie Amalfi stormed into the bureau. He stared at Rebecca with something close to murder in his eyes. For a moment, she hoped he had come by to see Homicide Inspector Paavo Smith, who was engaged to his cousin. But that wouldn’t explain the way he glared in her direction.
He marched straight to her desk and stopped.
“Why don’t you answer your damned phone?” His voice even carried over Helen’s, who ran from one side of him to the other, ordering him out of the office.
“It’s okay, Helen,” Rebecca said to the secretary, who looked ready to tackle Richie. “He has no manners. I’ll deal with him.”
Helen snorted, squared her shoulders, and left the room.
“Does she moonlight?” Richie asked, still angry, but tugging at the cuffs of his light gray sports jacket. “I could get her a job as a bouncer.”
Rebecca leaned back in her chair as she regarded this unexpected disruption to the tedium of her afternoon. One thing about Richie, he was never dull. He stood an inch or so taller than her own five-foot ten-inches, trim, with dark eyes, a fine-boned nose and cheekbones, and an expressive, sensitive mouth.
Okay … she found him good-looking. But she was working hard to get over it. Something about him shouted “connected,” as in with the mob, even though whenever she had been with him she found that, in his own peculiar way, he had always been on the up and up with her. And maybe it was that dichotomy that made her cop sense tell her that when he was around, she should run—not walk—run in the opposite direction.
“What are you doing here?” Her head cocked slightly as she tried to figure out what had brought him to Homicide in such a state.
“I’m glad to see you, too.”
“Good. Now, are you going to tell me what has your brow so heated or are you just going to natter? I am busy, you know.”
“Yeah.” He looked around the empty room. “The place is jumping, all right. Must be a crime wave of the dull coming down. Sorry to interrupt.”
He still knew how to say things that irritated her. He seemed dressed for an afternoon party or meeting. But then, he always dressed well.
Her curiosity grew as to why he was here, but she said, “I don’t have time—”
“Actually, I really am glad to see you.” He spoke quickly as if afraid she would cut him off which, she had to admit, was a distinct possibility. “I was in Sausalito and heard that a female cop from San Francisco was shot, maybe killed. Sounded like she was plain clothes, and blonde. Since you’re the only blonde, female, plain clothes cop I know, I wanted to make sure you were okay. Then, when you didn’t answer your phone …” He shook his head.
She understood what he was saying. She had been there too many times herself, and couldn’t stop her memories of the awful, empty feeling that struck when hearing that an officer was down, and not knowing
who the person was, or if he or she would survive. “I see,” she whispered.
“It worried me,” he said softly.
She met his gaze. She had good reason to stop taking his calls, good reason to have nothing to do with him considering all the rumors about him, about how he made his money, and who some of his ‘friends’ were. But right now, in the face of his coming here because he was worried about her, none of that mattered. She spoke, however, about the matter at hand. “If a plain clothes cop from the city was shot, we should have heard.”
“I’m only reporting what I was told. The shooting was on a houseboat.”
Her blood went cold. “I know someone who lives on one. An old friend. She was a cop, but she quit the force a couple of years ago. It couldn’t be her. You said the victim was a current cop, right?”
“I’m not sure,” he said. “But the shooting was at Gate 6, Sausalito’s houseboat haven.”
She pursed her lips, debating with herself, then took her phone out of her pocket and started scrolling through the address book. “I think I’ve still got her number.”
He pulled a chair to her desk, and sat. “If she quit some years back,” Richie said, his voice calm now, as if trying to soothe, “it’s probably not her.”
“Here she is.” She punched the Call button.
“Hello,” a woman said. The voice wasn’t familiar.
“Karen?” Rebecca asked, giving Richie a quick glance. “I’m trying to reach Karen Larkin.”
“This is Officer Sherri Grimes, Sausalito police. To whom am I speaking?”
Rebecca’s mouth went dry. A look of concern flashed over Richie’s face and he moved a little closer, placing a gentle hand on her arm. “This is Homicide Inspector Rebecca Mayfield, SFPD. Has something happened to Karen?”
“Is this an official call, Inspector? Was Karen Larkin involved in a case of yours?” Grimes asked.
Rebecca swallowed hard and couldn’t reply for a moment at the officer’s use of “was.” “No, this is a personal call.” She steeled herself. “We went through the police academy together, served together a few years. When I … when I heard a policewoman out at Gate 6 was shot, I felt I should check on Karen.”
“Word travels fast. I’m sorry to say your friend was the victim of a homicide. Could you meet me here in Sausalito? There aren’t many people who know much of anything about Ms. Larkin. Perhaps you could help?”
Rebecca rubbed her forehead. “Sure, but I haven’t seen her for two, no, three years.”
“That’s better than nothing.”