When I got to my front porch, Ricky sniffed as he hugged me. Then he sniffed again and stepped away. I expected some sort of explosion. Instead he shook his head and chuckled. "I take it you had a run-in with Ms Engel."
Relieved he wasn't pissed, I replied, "Now what makes you think it was her?"
"Because, lover"—he stressed the word—"she had better be the only woman who would dare get close enough to you to leave her scent on you, and"—he rubbed a finger over my cheek—"her lipstick."
"I swear," I muttered as I let us inside. "I wonder if she did that on purpose, thinking I had a lady friend who'd be jealous."
He snorted. "Not a lady here, and not jealous. Much. Okay maybe a trace. So she'd better find someone else to try to get her claws into." He grumbled a bit more about predatory women until I went upstairs to change clothes. When I came back down he was in the kitchen, looking to see what we could fix for dinner.
Before anyone wonders, we might not be living together—yet—but he has free run of the house when he's here, just as I do with his place.
Two hours later we were finished with dinner and in the middle of watching a show on TV when my doorbell rang. Glancing at Ricky, who shrugged, I went to answer it. Police Detective Tom Sharp stood there. Tom was an old—well I guess we were friends in that we sometimes helped each other out.
"I need to have a word with you, in private," he said, looking past me into the living room.
"Yeah, sure." I stepped onto the porch, half closing the door behind me. "What's going on?"
"Do you know a Ms Coleen Engel?"
I nodded. "She's a client of mine. Or was up until yesterday."
"Is that the last time you saw her?"
"Mind telling me why you're asking?"
"In a minute." He looked expectantly at me.
"Okay. No, it wasn't. I ran into her this evening, just after I left work. She was waiting for me at my car. She suggested we go for a drink, so we went across the street to the Back Room."
"And?" he asked when I quit talking.
"And nothing. We talked a bit. She wanted to hire me again, for something else, then she got a phone call and left." I leaned against the doorframe, crossing my arms. "What gives? Why the questions?"
"Ms Engel was found an hour ago, in the parking lot behind the gym where she worked. She'd been stabbed several times, possibly by someone she knew, as there were no defensive wounds. She had this in her hand." He took a plastic evidence envelope from his pocket. Inside was one of my business cards. Turning the envelope over, he showed me the back. Someone had written my license plate number on it, along with the address of the lot I park in, and a time—five pm.
"Before you jump to any conclusions," I said, "that is not my handwriting."
Tom smiled—slightly. "I know. But is the time right for her being at your car to meet you?"
"Would she know your handwriting?"
I had to think about that for a moment. "No. Well she saw my signature because I signed the contact with her, but that's all."