After Carlo left I settled down at the computer to check the easily verifiable things about Coleen Engel. I knew her phone number was legit. After all I had called her. I checked with the manager at the apartment building she'd listed on the contract, and found out she did live there and had for the past two years.
The man I spoke with at the gym told me she'd worked there for two years. I sensed a pattern here and made note to find out if she had only been in the city that long.
Next I did the normal criminal records check, not really expecting to find anything. I didn't. She'd gotten her state driver's license—big surprise—two years ago as well. I knew she'd lived here before, while she was in school twenty years ago. She'd had a license then which expired four years after she graduated. She hadn't renewed it at that point.
So where had she been between then and now? I went to a website I belonged to and entered her full name and DOB. Gotta love it when you can let someone else do the busy work. It came up with five addresses, one from before she entered college, one here while she was in school, her present one, and two that were out-of-state. There was also a hit I hadn't expected, considering she'd told me she had never been married. There was an AKA of Coleen Engel Whitmore. Possibly an alias, but why use her first and present last name, if that was the case.
By now it was closing in on five and I was ready to call it a day. I shut down the computer after printing out the information I'd come up with before heading home.
At least that was my plan—to head home.
Ms Engel apparently thought otherwise. When I got to my car—in the lot down the street where I rented a spot—she was standing there. Or to be more correct, lounging against my car in what I can only presume was what she thought of as a seductive pose.
I debated telling her to move then decided to find out what was going on. So, plastering a smile on my face, I said, "Fancy meeting you here."
She smiled in return. "I was in the neighborhood and thought maybe, if you're free, we could go over there"—she nodded toward the Back Room, a small, local bar across the street—"and have a drink." When I hesitated, she looked pleadingly at me. "Please."
"What the hell. Sure. But only for one drink."
This woman, who was ten years my senior, simpered like a giddy teenager as she linked her arm with mine. It was not a good look on her.
When we got into the bar, a couple of the regulars looked at me in surprise. I didn't come here often, but when I did it was usually with Ricky. I knew they were wondering what was going on since Ms Engel was practically plastered against my right side now. I frowned and gave a brief shake of my head to let them know not to say anything. Thankfully they went back to their drinks and conversation.
Ms Engel steered me to an empty table in a dark corner of the room. When the waitress came over she gave me a questioning look but said nothing other than to ask what we wanted to drink. We told her and she left.
"So," Ms Engel—Coleen—said, stroking a finger over my arm, "you know all about me and I know nothing about you other than that you're an investigator. A very handsome one I might add."
I looked at her, smiling slightly. "Do you always come on this strong?"
She shrugged, grinning. "With a man I find interesting? Sometimes. So spill all."
"Not much to spill. I'm a workaholic who likes his job, born and bred here, have a house, no pets and"—I tapped a finger on the table as if I was thinking what else to say—"I'm thirty and counting."
"Oh my God. That makes me a cougar," she replied in mock horror just as our drinks arrived. After she took a sip of her Scotch and soda she veered the conversation away from where it had seemed to be heading. Looking sadly at me she said, "I wish you'd been able to find my son. Do you suppose there's any chance you could talk to the bastard who… I mean talk to Carlo and maybe convince him to go to the agency with me? I know I asked before and you didn't sound as if it would work, but…"
"First I'd have to find him."
"There is that," she agreed, stroking my arm again. I moved it away to take a drink of my beer so she looked pulled out the 'please help poor little me' look again. "Maybe I could hire you to do that?"
"Coleen, you don't need me to find him. I'm sure you could use any online people-search site and he'd show up."
"You finally used my first name! I was beginning to wonder if all you saw me as was a client. Well, an ex-client." She was back to being seductive again, curling her fingers around mine the moment I put down my drink. What the hell was with her? She was more mercurial than a… yeah, a giddy teenager.
"Well you're not my client now," I pointed out.
"I know. Which means I'll never see you again unless you come by the gym."
"Or you lay in wait for me," I replied with a tight laugh, trying to untangle our hands. I was successful but only because her phone's ringtone sounded. 'Let's Get it On'? Damn. Fit her though, from what I had seen since she first came into my office.
She answered, turning away from me. After a few intelligible words on her part she hung up. "I have to go. One of my people wants a special session."
I had to wonder exactly what that meant. Personal training or something else? Either way I wasn't about to ask.
She dropped her phone back in her purse, dug around for a moment and pulled out an envelope. As she handed it to me she said, "The passes I promised you. I also put the hours I work there, and my phone number so you can set up an appointment." Then—not too much to my surprise—she kissed my cheek. "So do it," she told me before taking off.
I watched her weaving between the tables to the door. She glanced back at me, waved her fingers and left.