Friday, March 30, 2012

Families are messy - 17

“All right. Then there’s your wife, or almost ex-wife. The only reason I can see that she would have an interest in your dying now is the fact that she knows she won’t get anything once the divorce is final other than what’s in the settlement.” Fairchild turned to look at Casey. “Will she make out well when that happens?”

Smiling slightly he replied, “Not as well as she probably thinks she will.” He paused when Duke tried to pull his arm off to get to a cat sitting on a neighbor’s front porch hissing at him. The two had an adversarial relationship since the cat knew Duke couldn’t get to her.

“My brother’s partner is a lawyer,” Casey continued once they were well away from the cat. “He helped me move substantial amounts of cash out of the country while making it appear on the books that my business was bringing in less money. That legitimized the apparent loss of funds.”

Fairchild nodded. “How long ago did that happen?”

“The majority of it six months ago more or less, when I decided that my marriage was probably going to be a thing of the past very soon. Sammy and whoever he had helping him know what their doing so the money’s untouchable except by me.”

“And him, as he set it up,” Fairchild pointed out.

“I suppose that’s possible since he’d have the information but why would he take the chance? It’s not as if he and Bing need more money than they have already.”

“You might be surprised what someone will do if they think they can get their hands on a sizable chunk of change, and if you were to die he’s the only one who could touch it, the only one who knows about it.”

“Not true. I told Bing a couple of weeks ago, right after Kathy kicked me out of our house.”

Fairchild made note of that, tapping the tip of his pen on the notebook afterwards. “There’s no end of people who might have a reason to want you dead. I suppose you should be happy that whoever is trying to do this wants to make it look like an accident, or in the last case like suicide. Otherwise you could have someone taking potshots at you from rooftops.”

Casey couldn’t help it; he quickly glanced at the roofs around them. “Not a pleasant idea. Maybe I should just donate everything to charity.”

“That could take some time,” Fairchild replied seriously, “and give the person doing this even more incentive to see you dead quickly.”

“I suppose. Is that the end of the list, I hope?”

“Other than Mr. Harman.”

“Thomas? No way. He’s too, to be honest too prissy to even think of doing something like this.”

“Mr. Rothem, believe me when I say there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t kill someone else if the incentive was right. And owning a business like yours would be quite the incentive.”

“I guess,” Casey said dejectedly.

“Don’t worry, we’re going to catch this person before he or she succeeds.”

“Your words to God’s ear. Is there anything else you wanted to tell me?”

Fairchild nodded. “Yes, one more thing.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Families are messy - 16

“Excuse me?” Casey looked at his phone as if it was some alien being, wishing his sister could see the scowl on his face.

It was mid-Saturday morning. His date with Marcia had ended quite well in his opinion, even considering that at the last minute he’d lost his nerve and had just told her he’d enjoyed the evening. What he’d really wanted to do was kiss her—but he hadn’t. Too soon, he’d admonished himself as he bid her good-night and watched her cross the lobby of her apartment building to the elevator. She’d turned when it arrived to wave at him and he’d waved back before returning to his vehicle and heading home.

“Darla,” he said moments later, “I would have no problem lending you the money if you needed it, but I will not give you one penny to subsidize whatever fool plan ‘Skull’ has to advance his modeling career. End of story.”

He sighed as he listened to her pleading, the fact that she was into serious pout mode evident in her voice. But when she started to get angry as he reiterated what he’d just said to her he told her he had something he needed to do, right now, and managed to hang up before she began yelling.

“God save me from family,” he muttered, turning off his cell. When the house phone rang a minute later he checked the Caller ID, saw it was Darla, and ignored it.

“I vote we get out of here,” he said to Duke, getting his leash.

Obviously Duke was in total agreement, beating Casey to the front door. As they stepped outside a battered looking car was pulling up to the curb in front of the house. Now Casey was far from a snob but this thing looked like it belonged on cement blocks in front of a place in the poorest section of town, so when Fairchild stepped out of it Casey’s eyebrows rose in surprise.

The investigator looked at Duke and stood stock still. Casey chuckled, beckoning the man to join him, telling him Duke was harmless.

“If you say so,” Fairchild replied as he came up beside them. “You coming or going?”

“Getting away from the phone,” Casey admitted just a bit sheepishly.

“If you’re walking I’ll join you, otherwise I can come back later.”

“Considering it must be important for you to come all the way out here we’ll walk.”

Once Duke had established which way they were going to walk Casey asked Fairchild, “So, good news or bad?”

“Depends on your point of view I suppose. I ran the financials on all your family members, or more to the point had someone I trust who’s an expert do it because they’d know what to look for.”

“Alright. What did you find out?”

Fairchild took out a notebook, opening it to the page he needed. “Technically your older sister, Mrs. Gordon, is in good shape since her husband’s well-to-do. Before you ask there are no problems with his finances or if there are his accountants know how to hide them well.”

“I figured that. She just dislikes me on general principals.”

“Any particular reason for that?”

“I don’t kiss her ass.”

Fairchild nodded. “Some people don’t like when that happens. Alright, on to your younger sister. I’m sure you know she seems to attract leeches and lets them have money.”

“I’m too well aware of that, although this time she tried to hit me up for a loan for her latest leech.”

“Not too surprising since her money’s tied up in a trust until she’s twenty-five and she spent her ‘allowance’ from this last month already, probably on,” Fairchild rolled his eyes, “Skull.”

“Him I’ve met,” Casey admitted with a wry chuckle. “One of the best moves my father made before he died was putting Darla on that monthly allowance.”

“I’d say so and unless you have the same codicil in your will that would definitely give her a motive to try to kill you.”

Casey thought about that. “Well she couldn’t know how my will is written, none of them do, but that is a good point and until I sign the new one she’d get her share free and clear, no strings.”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Families are messy - 15

“When do you start rehearsals?”

“Monday.” Marcia replied as she and Casey walked to his vehicle.

“And once you do you’ll be so busy I’ll have to make an appointment a month ahead of time to get to see you,” he replied with a laugh.

She paused before getting into the SUV as if considering that. “A week should be sufficient I think,” she told him seriously, and then laughed at his frown. “I’m teasing, Casey. If you really want to see me just call. It’s not as if I’ll be busy twenty-four/seven. Well,” she added once she was inside, cinching the safety belt, “except for the times when the catering company needs me. I do need to pay the rent so I can’t give that up quite yet.”

“If you need help...“ Casey said as he slid into the driver’s seat and turn the key in the ignition.

“Mr. Rothem,” there was a trace of anger in her voice, “I do not take handouts, even from family and certainly not from a man I’ve only known for a little less than two weeks.”

“Sorry, it was just a suggestion.” Casey pulled out of the parking space onto the street, looking a bit crestfallen.

Reaching across the console to pat his thigh she replied, “I know, and a very considerate one but, well,” she grinned at him, “I’m not a floozy despite what your sister thinks.”

“I know you’re not,” he replied with a chuckle, “even if you are a famous actress, and we know how they are, flitting from man to man.”

Her laughter filled the SUV. “If, and it’s a big if, I ever really get famous I’m going to go against stereotype and be a one man woman.”

He glanced at her, saying with feigned seriousness, “Doesn’t that go against some code of the theater?”

“Actually I’ve never read the rule book so I wouldn’t know,” she told him straight-faced.

They both broke into wide grins then before Casey asked, “What kind of food are you hungry for?”

“Tacos,” she answered immediately, pointing to a fast-food restaurant just ahead of them. “Tons of them with lots of hot sauce.”

“You can’t be serious.” He flicked on the turn signals and veered into the parking lot to the blast of a horn from the startled driver behind him.

“I love them, honest. Although the ambiance of the place leaves something to be desired.”

“So we’ll get a few dozen and then, tell you what I’ll take you to meet Duke. You and he have a lot in common.”

Marcia snorted. “I drool and bay at the moon?”

“Now that I couldn’t say, but I like you both, and you both like tacos.” There was an affectionate, almost wistful smile on his face as he said that and Marcia returned it with a hopeful one of her own.

* * * *

Duke whined softly, putting his head down and his paws and looking up at his master pitifully when Casey told him, “No more for you.”

“Aww, poor puppy,” Marcia consoled him, patting his head. His eyes lit up with hope until she said, “What Casey says, goes.”

“I swear he actually understands our words,” Casey commented as he balled up the last of the taco wrappers and tossed it into the trashcan. “Now of course he’s going to want to go for a walk to work it all off.”

“Him, or you,” Marcia asked with a grin.

“All of us?”

Her grin was infectious as always and he matched it with one of his own, realizing once again that it had been ages since he’d actually enjoyed life the way he was right now. Even the idea that someone was out to kill him couldn’t put a damper on that.

“Then let’s do it.” Casey snagged Duke’s leash from where it hung by the side of the back door, hitching it to his collar, and then with the dog in the lead they left the yard by the back gate.

“Nice alley, if you’re into alleys,” Marcia said with a laugh. “At least it’s clean.”

Casey chuckled as he stopped to clean up after Duke, tossing the bag in the nearest dumpster. “It is now.”

“So, where’s he taking us?” Marcia wanted to know as they continued to let Duke lead the way.

“To infinity and beyond?”

Marcia snorted. “Buzz Lightyear he ain’t.”  

They walked in companionable silence for a while until Duke made a bee-line for the entrance to a pocket-park a few blocks from the house.

“Oh boy, kid alert,” Casey warned Marcia. “He loves the attention he gets from them.”

She watched in amusement as Casey let the bloodhound off the leash and the dog immediately headed towards the playground. The four kids saw him coming and swarmed him immediately, obviously not caring in the least when he slobbered them in greeting. Their parents it seemed were a bit less happy but took it in stride.

“Do you come here often,” Marcia asked as she and Casey sat down on a bench at the edge of the sandpit to keep an eye on Duke.

“Since I’ve only lived in the neighborhood for the last couple of weeks we’ve been here maybe three times in all.”

“You like it here?”

“I do actually. It’s nice to be able to be just another person, not part of some social clique as it were.”

She nodded. “I can understand that I think. I watch the people at those parties and galas and most of them don’t really seem happy. It’s like they think they have to put on a show to impress everyone else.”

“Exactly. This isn’t to say I won’t still attend some of them because I draw a lot of my business from the people who attend them. But at least I’ll be doing it willingly, not because I’m being dragged there.”

“You couldn’t have told her ‘no’?” Marcia asked, understanding that he was talking about his soon to be ex wife.

“Only if I wanted to put up with her sulking for the next few days and she had that down to an art form.”

“Poor you.” She patted his knee and looked pleasantly surprised when his hand covered hers to keep it there.

The shadows lengthened as the sun began slipping over the horizon and the parents gathered up their kids, mopping them off as best they could before heading out of the park. Duke came back to sit at Casey’s feet with a sigh as if dealing with the children had tired him out. With a shake of his head, Casey stood, attaching the leash again. “Time to head home and then,” he looked at Marcia, “there’s a good movie that opened today.”

“Not a chick flick I take it,” she replied with a grin.

“Better not be. Do you feel like finding out?”

“I’d love to, yes.”

“Great, because truth be told I hate going to movies alone.” He slipped his arm around her waist as they started to the entrance to the park. Then, as if realizing what he’d done, he started to pull away.

With a smile, not saying a word, she took his hand to keep his arm where it was and if she’d been looking at him at that moment she would have seen his eyes light up because she’d done that.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Families are messy - 14

Casey’s first thought when he saw the building was Pure B movie His second was, But if he’s as good as it sounds like he is I can deal with the ambiance.
As he walked into the private investigator’s office a few minutes later he stopped in surprise. A young man was sitting cross-legged, his eyes closed, in the middle of what Casey presumed was the receptionist’s desk. Casey coughed softly, gaining the man’s attention as his eyes flew open.

“Sorry about that. May I help you?”

“Perhaps. I hesitate to ask but are you Ezra Fairchild?”

“No,” the man said, laughing. “I’m just a friend of his. Hang on; I’ll let him know you’re here.” He jumped off the desk, holding out his hand. “I’m Gabe the way, and you are?”

“Casey Rothem. I have an appointment.”

Gabe disappeared into the next room, returning a moment later to say, “He said to go on in.”

As Casey did at blonde-haired man somewhat in need of a shave looked over and then stood, offering his hand. “Mr. Rothem, nice to meet you, I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Casey looked surprised as he shook Fairchild’s hand. “I didn’t know there was that much to hear about.”

Fairchild nodded to the chair beside his desk then sat after Casey had. “Actually that was a slight exaggeration in that I all I knew about you when you called was that you own a very upscale jewelry shop. After we made this appointment I did a bit of homework.”

“That should have been interesting, if you’re into stock reports and social gossip.”

Fairchild leaned back, interlacing his fingers, tapping two of them against his lips. “Actually, it was very interesting. Twenty-seven and already independently wealthy, parents dead in a small plane crash, married but in the process of a divorce, two sisters and one brother, all rich enough to live the good life though not as well off as you are according to a cursory search. So, getting down to business, exactly why do you need my services?”

Casey took a deep breath and said, “I think someone’s trying to kill me.”

“Okay.” If Fairchild was surprised he hid it well. “How about you tell me why you think that then we’ll decide if there’s any basis for your suspicions.”

So, slowly and in as much detail as he could, Casey laid the facts out for him.

When Casey finished talking Fairchild remained silent for a few minutes as he read over the notes he’d taken. Finally he said, “Hate to say it, but from the sound of it someone doesn’t like you. Or perhaps they like your money more.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Casey admitted with a sigh. “But they’re all in good shape financially. Hell even my soon to be ex won’t be hurting once the divorce becomes final.”

Fairchild tapped his fingers together. “If you want me to start investigating I’ll let you know right off that I’m going to be digging into you family members’ finances and going over everything with a fine toothed comb. I need to find out if any of them is having money problems that you don’t know about.”

Casey nodded. “Best place to start, I know that. Damn it, I don’t want to find out that one of them would be willing to kill me just to get some of my money. They could just ask to borrow some.”

“And you’d let them?”

“Well, maybe, depending on who it is I suppose. My sister’s and I don’t get along all that well but still they are family.”

“Question, if you were to die who stands to inherit?”

With a small chuckle Casey admitted that at the moment Kathy would get half his estate and the others would share the rest. “I keep putting off going to sign my new will,” he told Fairchild. “And before you read anything into that it’s just that I’ve been busy, nothing more.”

“And once you sign it your siblings will split everything three ways?”

“With the exception of a few small bequests, yes.”

“Your business as well?”

“Yes and no. Thomas will get fifty-one percent of it, and again they split the rest.”

“Thomas is?”

“My manager. He might as well be a partner but,” Casey shrugged, “I tend to be somewhat of a control freak where the business is concerned.”

“Since it’s your company I can understand that. Is there anything else I should know about at this point?”

“Not that I can think of. So how does this work? I’ve never needed a private investigator before. All I know about them is what I’ve learned from the movies.”

Fairchild snorted. “Trust me I’m nothing like those guys. What happens is you fill out some forms, sign a contract and give me a retainer.” Fairchild laid out his prices and Casey agreed to them. Once the contract was signed and a check written he stood, thanking Fairchild.

“I’ll keep in touch,” Fairchild told him, “and send you weekly reports as per the contract; more often if needed.”

“Thanks.” With a slight smile as he headed for the door he said, “I honestly hope that you find out the Mob’s after me for some reason. It would be easier to accept than my family.”

“If I do I’ll let you know,” Fairchild replied with a laugh.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Families are messy - 13

“I got the part!” Marcia said excitedly, sliding into the booth across from Casey. Then she took a look at his face and her excitement dimmed as she asked, “What happened?”

“Congratulations,” he replied, smiling as he ignored her question. “This calls for a celebration.”

“Casey… what happened?”

He leaned forward so that no one in the nearby booths could overhear him. “I think you were right.”

It took her a second to figure out what he meant then she asked for the third time, “What happened?”

He told her, leaving out nothing. When he finished she was frowning a deeply as he was. “Why didn’t you tell the cop?”

“Because it has to be someone in my family and, quite honestly, I don’t want to deal with the police interrogating all of them. And that’s presuming they’d even believe me.”

“Why wouldn’t they?”

“Because this last attempt was supposed to look like suicide. A man, me, so distraught over his pending divorce he decided to kill himself.”

Marcia snorted. “Who’d believe that?”

“Well I’m real sure that’s what the officer was thinking. As for my family, the only one I’m close to is Bing and while he might not believe it now, he’d have been hard pressed to prove it differently if I had died.”

Marcia nodded slowly. “I see you’re point. So what we have to do…“

“What I have to do,” Casey interrupted, “is find someone to investigate this, and that will not be you or me, Marcia.”

She smiled a bit, telling him, “That’s actually what I was going to suggest. Honest,” she added when she saw the look of doubt on his face.

“I believe you, sort of.” He smiled back, reaching across to the table to give her hand a squeeze. “Now I just have to find a PI who’s good at this sort of thing.”

Looking thoughtful, she stared off into space for a minute then gave a sharp nod. “I remember something in the paper about, well a couple of months ago anyway. Some investigator who managed to find the people who killed… oh what was his name, the porn king, you know who I mean.”

Casey chuckled. “Actually I do, and I vaguely remember that story. All I have to do is find it and then I’ll give the man a call, the investigator, not the porn king.”

“I think,” Marcia laughed, “you’d be calling Hell if you wanted to talk to the latter.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Families are messy - 12

“Apparently, according to Mr. Rothem, he somehow knocked himself out and almost died from carbon monoxide poisoning,” the police officer told Bing before asking, “Are you a relative, sir?”

“His brother,” Bing replied. Putting an arm around Casey’s shoulders to help him sit up he said, “Are you alright? Do you want to go inside?”

“Yes to both, and the sooner the better,” Casey muttered, seeing some of his neighbors watching with almost macabre interest.

Bing helped him into the house, the officer following right behind them. Once Casey was seated on the sofa the officer beckoned Bing to one side of the room, asking quietly, “Is there any reason your brother would have tried to kill himself?”

“You can not be serious! Of course not. If that’s what you’re thinking forget it.”

“No problems in his life, or with his job, that might have him feeling depressed?”

“None worth talking about, no. He’s in the process of getting divorced but frankly he’s more happy than upset about that.”

“You’re certain?”

“Yes, sir, very certain.”

The officer nodded, asked a few more questions of both men, and then left. It was fairly obvious that he still didn’t believe Casey hadn’t tried to kill himself but that there was nothing more he could do.

Once he was gone Bing sat down beside his brother. “Now, what really happened?” he asked.

Casey hesitated, then told him the same story he’d given the officer. “It was just my being a klutz,” he said in conclusion. Suddenly he realized he hadn’t seen Duke. He was about to ask Bing to find out where he’d gotten to when a bang and a deep, prolonged baying came from the back porch. He started to get up, swaying dizzily with the attempt. Bing immediately went to open the door.

Duke raced through to the living room, putting his paws on Casey’s knees so that he could lick his face. “Slobberer,” Casey grumbled, but he hugged him tightly before telling him to get down. “I guess I owe you my life, Duke,” he said softly, patting the bloodhound’s head.

“And he owes you for a new shirt,” Bing commented with a small laugh as he went to get a damp cloth so Casey could clean up. Then he helped Casey upstairs to his bedroom. “Are you okay with getting ready for bed on your own,” he asked.

“Yeah, I think so. Thanks though. I probably would have just slept on the sofa if you hadn’t been here.”

Bing patted his shoulder. “That’s what big brothers are for. Now I better get back home and let Sammy know everything’s alright.” He paused, looking at Casey. “It is, isn’t it?”

“I’m fine, honest. All I need is a good night’s sleep so stop worrying. I’ll call you in the morning.”

“Better,” Bing said with a smile before heading out of the room.

A minute later Casey heard the front door close and sighed in relief. He really did need to sleep, and he also needed to talk to Marcia because it was beginning to look like her theory might be right. Someone wanted him dead, and he had no idea who it was.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Families are messy - 11

“She didn’t!” Casey looked at his brother, shaking his head in horrified amusement.

“I’m very afraid she did. She called me the moment she got home last night to tell me I had to ‘do something’ about you. I’m not quite certain if she wants you castrated so you can’t run around with floozies, or just sent back to Kathy in chains.”

“Probably both, and she undoubtedly called Darla, and you better believe she dropped a few choice words in Kathy’s ear as well. I guess I’d better expect calls from both quarters.”

“It would be easier to take them if you turned you phone on,” Bing commented.

Casey looked at him in feigned surprise. “You mean I forgot to do that this morning?”

“As if you didn’t know.” Bing thanked the girl when she placed their bagged lunch orders on the counter and then reached for his wallet, waving his brother off when he tried to protest. “I invited you, and since I had an ulterior motive of passing on that bit of bad news I’ll foot the bill.” He paid, then handed Casey his bag and drink, asking, “Do you want to hit the park or come back to my office?”

“Why not mine?”

“Because knowing Alma she probably suggested Kathy beard you in your den. Now I’m not saying she will, but Alma can be persuasive.”

“I doubt she will.” Casey chuckled as they left the restaurant. “She may have done the filing but my lawyer was quick to point out to hers that I won’t fight things only if she behaves and doesn’t try to play games. Believe me, when it comes down to money vs. Alma, money will win out. Oh, and I opt for the park since it’s another nice day.”

Once they’d found an empty picnic table and started eating Bing said with a grin, “So tell me about this ‘floozy’.”

“She’s very nice, not at all pretentious. Smart as a whip I think, though I haven’t known her long enough to really say that for certain. And she seems to like my company.”

“She’s got good taste then. How did you meet?”

Casey gave him a quick rundown about that that had Bing smiling and then laughing.

“She sounds like a real character. Is this going to progress beyond friendship?”

“God, Bing, I have no clue. We’re still in the process of becoming friends.”

“I’ll take your word for that, but you get this light in your eyes when you talk about her that I haven’t seen there in forever. As your older brother let me issue one word of caution, you may have been ready to call it quits with Kathy but you still have all that history of being part of a couple. Just be very careful that you aren’t finding Marcia interesting because you’re on the rebound.”

“Definitely spoken like an older brother,” Casey said with a smile. “I’ll be very careful, honest, because that thought has crossed my mind as well.”

“Then listen and move slowly. Alright?”

“I will, I promise.”

* * * *
After returning to work from lunch with Bing, Casey was relieved to find than none of his family had either called or put in a personal appearance. Thomas did tell him however that an old and valued client had made an appointment to come in to look at some jewelry with the intention of purchasing several pieces for his wife and daughters as a surprise. Unfortunately the only time the man was able to make it to the shop was after hours. While it was unusual for them to accommodate a client in that manner it wasn’t unheard of, especially when it involved the possibility of making a sizable sale.

As a result it was after nine when Casey finally pulled into his garage. As he got out of the SUV his first thought was of Duke, wondering if he was going to be in for cleanup duty because he’d come home so late. The dog was well trained but even so he couldn’t hold out forever. So when Casey found that his key for some reason wouldn’t open the door from the garage into the house he growled in frustration, heading back to the SUV where the garage door opener lay on the dash. And discovered it was gone.

“What the hell?” he muttered, crawling into the vehicle to search the floorboards, figuring it had slipped off. He heard a soft sound and then a hand holding a moist rag covered his mouth and nose.

The next thing he was aware of was someone dragging him across the garage floor and then a face looking down at him before an oxygen mask descended. A few minutes later it was removed and an EMT asked, “How are you feeling, sir?”

“Like hell,” Casey admitted. “What happened?”

“You don’t know?” Casey turned to see a police officer kneeling at his other side.

Casey shook his head, then wished he hadn’t when the incipient headache slammed into him full force. “I have no idea. The last thing I remember is...“ He paused, remembering someone covering his face with—something. But for the moment at least he didn’t want to mention it. Not until he found out exactly what had happened after that. “I was looking for my door opener which fell off the dash,” he told the officer.

The officer nodded though it was evident he didn’t really believe him. “Why didn’t you turn your vehicle off before doing that?”

Casey thought fast, saying, “Because I was on my way out again. I remembered I’d forgotten to pick up something on my way home.” He looked at the officer guilelessly as he said, “I must have hit my head on the steering wheel when I bent down, or something.”

“Well if that’s what happened you’re a very lucky man,” the EMT told him. “One of your neighbors heard you dog baying and called 911. When we got here the garage was full of carbon monoxide.”

At that moment Casey heard a car screech to a stop and seconds later Bing was beside him. “What happened,” he asked, looking between the three men.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Families are messy - 10

The rest of the evening was quite pleasant as far as Casey was concerned, once Marcia dropped her attempt at sleuthing. The only sour note was running into his older sister when they were on their way back to his car.

Alma was coming out of a very up-scale restaurant with her husband. She took one look at Casey with Marcia and stalked over to stand in front of him, looking first at him and then Marcia, eyebrows drawn together in a fierce frown.

“So you’re hardly moved out of your home and already seeing other women?”

“If it’s any of your business,” Casey replied, “I’m not seeing other women. Marcia is a friend. I am allowed to have them aren’t I?”

“You are still married, in case you’ve forgotten that. Just because you and Kathy are having a little spat doesn’t give you the right to step out on her with...“ she looked Marcia up and down, “a blonde floozy.”

“Now just a minute,” Marcia said before Casey could rush to her defense, “I’m blonde, yes, but I am far from being a floozy. I’m an honest working girl and...“

“Working girl?” Alma’s shot Casey an ‘I told you so’ look. “Exactly what I said, a floozy.”

“Hang on there, Alma, that’s not what she meant and you know it. She’s a waitress for one of the best catering companies in the city, and an actress.”

“Pfft. Then she’s hardly up to our standards. Go back to your wife, Casey. Apologize, on bended knee if necessary, and be a proper husband to her.”

Casey clamped his lips together before he said something he shouldn’t. He was relieved when her husband finally came over to tell her they needed to get home before the babysitter decided to charge them overtime.

‘I’ll call you tomorrow and we’ll talk more,” Alma stated acidly as her husband led her away.

“I can’t wait,” Casey muttered as he turned to look at Marcia. “I’m sorry; you shouldn’t have had to deal with that.”

“It’s alright.” She linked her arm with his as they finally continued on to where he’d parked. “I love being called a floozy by a self-important, excuse the expression, bitch. I know she’s your sister but honestly if someone needs to be murdered I’d choose her over you any day.”

Casey laughed. “So if she ends up under a car I’ll know who to point the finger at.”

“No, I think I’d be a bit more direct. A knife to the heart, if she actually has one. And damn I shouldn’t be talking about her this way, I’m sorry.”

“Nothing to be sorry about. She engenders those feelings in a lot of people.” Glancing at his watch he said, “I should get you home. Morning comes early in these parts.”

“I think it comes the same time everywhere if you want to get technical. But yes, we do need to end what was a lovely day all in all. I’ve had fun.”

Casey smiled at her, touching her cheek for a brief second before pulling his hand back. “Me too, for the first time in a long time.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Families are messy - 9

“Chick-flick,” Casey muttered as he and Marcia left the movie theater late Sunday afternoon.

“Action movie. You have to admit it never let down for a second.”

“But a female secret agent makes it a chick-flick none the less.”

Marcia shook her head in disagreement. “Not even. It wasn’t all sweet and fuzzy and happy, happy goo.”

With a laugh he replied, “Okay, I’ll give you that. Now would you like to stop for something to eat?”

“Sounds like a plan. I need something to counteract that box of mints I scarfed down. There’s a nice salad place in the next block.”

“Male here, I don’t do salads.”

She grinned. “Try them, you might like them. Come on.” Linking her arm with his she tugged until he gave in and let her lead him to the restaurant.

He made her stop outside the door so he could peruse the menu posted beside it. “Okay, they actually know what meat is, even if it is in the salad. I’m game.”

After they’d been seated and ordered, Marcia rested her elbows on the table, propping her chin on her clasped hands as she stared at him. “I have to ask,” she said finally. “Are you upset that your wife’s divorcing you and just hanging with me to prove that you still have what it takes?”

“Now that was out of the blue, and the answer is an emphatic ‘no’. Things had been going bad for a while before she finally decided I was a tightfisted son of a bitch who didn’t deserve her any more.”  

“In other words you weren’t willing to support her extravagant ways? And before you ask she was at that party I worked last night, dressed to the nines and acting, excuse the expression, like her shit didn’t stink.”

“That’s Kathy,” he said with a tight laugh. “She’s the last of the big time spenders and I got tired of paying for everything and getting damned all in return.”

Marcia arched one eyebrow. “She didn’t even have the decency to put-out in exchange?”

“You are blunt. On rare occasions, yes she would but, well let’s just say we reverted to separate bedrooms a year or so ago so she could ‘get the sleep she really, really needed’.”

“Ouch. Okay, another nosy question. Was she playing around, or were you?”

“For damned sure I wasn’t, and as far as I know neither was she. She wouldn’t have risked my divorcing her because she’d loose any chance of getting her hands on my money.”

She nodded. “Alright that’s one,” she said just as the waitress arrived with their meals.

Once she’d left Casey asked, “One what?”

“One person who might profit by your death.”

“Hang on there; you’re still doing a Miss Marple on me, trying to convince me those weren’t just accidents. And for your information Kathy stands to come out alright if not wealthy once the divorce is final.”

Marcia nodded. “But what if you died before it was? I’d presume she’s in your will as the major beneficiary. I can see her getting royally pissed because you cut her off, filing for divorce, and then realizing she’d come out on the short end in the long run.”

“But I’m changing my will.” Casey frowned for a second. “Speaking of which I have to remember to stop by my lawyer’s and sign it.”

“That might be a good idea.” She stopped talking and dug into her salad, looking at him. “You going to eat that or let it sit there hoping it’ll turn into a steak?”

“I’m eating, I’m eating,” he replied, suiting his actions to his words. “Hey, this isn’t too bad.”

She grinned. “Told you.”  

They ate in companionable silence until both of them had had enough. Then Marcia returned to the previous conversation.

“I know you don’t like the idea, but face it, two potentially fatal ‘accidents’ in so short a time span might only be coincidence, or someone could want you dead. Who stands to profit if that happens, other than your soon-to-be ex if you die before you sign your will.”

“I suppose, playing along with your game, my family. But none of them are hurting financially so why go to such lengths to get a bit more?”

“A bit more? Like a couple of thousand each?”

Casey grinned. “Now I get it, this is all leading up to your finding out if I’m as rich as Croesus.”

“Well are you, because that would be a hell of a motive for murder? Not that I care personally. Money’s not that important in the grand scheme of things.”

“I’m not poor by a long shot but honestly I can’t see anyone wanting me dead for what they’d inherit.” Picking up his coffee he took a long drink of it before asking, “Can we just drop this?”

“Sure. I’m sorry. It’s really none of my business anyway.”

“I’m not upset with you,” he told her, reaching across the table to squeeze her hand. “I just think you’re letting your imagination run away with you. I’ll admit it’s all a bit weird, but that’s all it is, weird coincidence.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Please welcome the lovely Angel Martinez

It’s a Fae World After All

Fairy noun 1: a mythical being of folklore and romance usually having diminutive human form and magic powers (Merriam-Webster)


Maybe if you’re reading Thumbelina, but in Finn’s world, it’s only a smidge of the story. Come with us, across the Veil into the Otherworld to meet some less diminutive varieties of fae. There are the sidhe, tall and graceful, forbidding one moment and hospitable the next. You’ll find Fomorians in all their shapes and sizes, who exhibit some part of their unique animal natures in tusks, fur, scales, and hooves. Delicate féileacán decorate the groves, winged, but only tiny when they choose to be. The bain sidhe live here, inscrutable and strange. Dragons are never far away.

The fae have always been part of my life, my companions from early childhood, from brownie to kitsune. Folklore and fairytales, myths and legends, give us a window into every culture, help us understand how the human heart works and what gives us the courage to stand against the dark. The Endangered Fae books are my tribute to one of my first and greatest loves, all of those non-humans who have shared the planet with us from the beginning.

Once upon a time, the Veil was permeable, crossable by anyone who had the wit and courage to do so. But sometime in the nineteenth century, the passage between the worlds closed, leaving us on one side and the fae on the other. All except one poor pooka, that is, who had retreated into the Dreaming, gravely wounded and grieving, and had no idea the world had changed in his absence. In Finn, we see what happens when he wakes, lost in a mechanized, polluted world, isolated in a sea of humans. If not for one caring human, New York resident Diego Sandoval, he wouldn’t have a chance. 

Just when Finn starts to get the hang of the human world, he finds himself confronted by the oddities of the holiday season. Who but humans would hold celebrations when it’s time to hibernate? The short story Finn’s Christmas gives us a pooka’s puzzled view of the season and the inspiration it finally lends him. 

But what about the Veil and the rest of the fae? Ah, patience, grasshoppers. The newest installment of Endangered Fae releases this Saturday, March 17! Diego, in a fit of jealous rage, rips a hole in the supposedly impenetrable Veil. Our boys are flung across into the Otherworld. Let the pandemonium begin. Magical mayhem, old rivals, new conflicts, a mysterious fae plague, and government interference – the ingredients for a wild ride in Diego.

Disclaimer: the author in no way encourages the wearing of silver scale armor during sex and takes no responsibility for any reader’s sudden desire to outfit his or her boyfriend with hooves.

Comment and tell me your favorite fae for a chance to win an advance copy of Diego!

Finn and Finn’s Christmas– available now at Silver Publishing and Amazon.

Diego– Coming 3/17/12 from Silver Publishing

Angel Martinez
And on Goodreads