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Authors: Sheryl J. Anderson

Killer Heels

BOOK: Killer Heels
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Table of Contents

Title Page
Acknowledgments
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
Praise for Sheryl J. Anderson’s
GET A CLUE!
KILLER COCKTAIL
Copyright Page

To Lisa Seidman, the truest of friends, who made it possible

Acknowledgments

I am delighted to have this opportunity to acknowledge and thank my amazing husband, Mark Parrott, my partner in all things, including the writing of this book; our splendid children, Sara and Sean, who were willing to watch a little extra television so the first draft could be turned in on time; my parents, Alden and June Anderson, whose love, support, and proofreading are always invaluable; Mark’s parents, Bob and Iva Parrott, who demonstrated their love and support by racing each other through the first draft; our siblings and siblings-in-law—Eric and Allison Anderson, Chip and Karen Parrott, Kathy Parrott and David Wechtaluk—for their love and encouragement; Louis E. Catron, Grant Tinker, and Rob Kaplan, who taught me about writing and much more; our book agent, Andy Zack, who made it seem simple; our editor, Kelley Ragland, who made it seem painless; her assistants, Benjamin Sevier and Carly Einstein, who kept it all on track; and all our friends who so thoughtfully remembered to ask, “How’s the book coming?”

1

I always knew I’d make my mark on the world. I just didn’t expect it to be one of those chalk outlines they draw around dead bodies. Of course, the chalk came later. It started with the blood. But that’s the price you pay for wearing open-toed shoes in Manhattan. You never know what you’re going to step in.

It’s actually Cassady’s fault that we went by my office when we did, and I’m not above using that to guilt her into buying me a new pair to replace the ones that soaked up all the blood. But then, Cassady Lynch is a lawyer and she’s got a much stricter view of liability than I do. So I suppose the shoes will just turn into another one of those debit/credit things you pile up with girlfriends over the years—sweaters that got stretched out, cars that got dented, boyfriends that got stolen. But shoes that got trashed at a murder scene—brand-new Jimmy Choos, mind you, the Cat 85mm’s with that gorgeous blue striped fabric and fabulous heel that cost me more than I can bear to think—probably demand a whole budget line item all their own.

I suppose I could have told Cassady no. But that’s pretty much a superhuman feat and it’s not successful very often, for me or anyone else, so it’s not surprising that I caved. What started the whole deal was I was trying to describe this hideous piece of art The Publisher had just installed in our offices and Cassady said it couldn’t possibly be as awful as I was making it out to be. Granted, there were several
mojitos
fueling the fires of art criticism, but I stood my ground. It was one of the uglier pieces I had ever seen. Cassady insisted that I take her to see it right away. She said she wasn’t going to be able to concentrate on dinner with the images of this abomination dancing in her head.

Cassady took some art classes when we were in college, but then she tried to submit her boyfriend for a midterm exam. She’d stripped him—remember, it’s very hard to say no to her—and painted this
Guernica
-like mural all over his body, leaving only his genitals unpainted because, as we all remember from
Goldfinger
, he would have suffocated otherwise. Cassady said it was a political statement. I contend that she was bored and looking to get kicked out of the class. They were going to give her an incomplete, but she threatened to launch a whole freedom-of-expression brouhaha and walked away from it all with a B. She’s amazing that way.

Small wonder she persuaded me to leave Django and walk over to the office. I work for
Zeitgeist
magazine, which is right down Lexington Avenue. You can find us wedged between
Marie Claire
and
Cosmo
at your finer newsstands and markets. We do the whole lifestyle thing, but we like to think we have more of a sense of humor than the competition. God knows it takes a sense of humor to survive in our business, and I mean both the magazine business and the business of being a single woman in New York City. And those are both big businesses. In fact, they may support every other one. Single women drive the economy of this city and the magazines report on it. Everything else is just an offshoot, a subcontractor. The restaurants, the bars, the shops, the shrinks, the florists, the designers, the garment and jewelry districts, the theaters, the gyms, the hotels … Detect a pattern? If they don’t exist because of the needs and wants of single women, they exist to employ the men that single women need and want, which accounts for the lawyers, doctors, and stockbrokers. And the whole subset of baby stuff and nannies and houses in Connecticut is there to inspire the single women to put up with the single men. It’s a delicate economic model, but it seems to be working.

I have to admit, it was my idea not to turn on the light right away. I wanted to go for a sort of “tah-dah” moment and snap the light on to reveal the grotesquery in all its glory in a blaze of track lighting. There was a fair amount of outside light bouncing in through the windows and off all the chrome and acrylic in the bullpen, that vast middle ground where those not deemed office-worthy sit at desks with nothing to protect them from learning way too much about their colleagues. There aren’t even glorified bulletin boards masquerading as cubicle walls to give people the illusion of their own space. Everything’s out in the open—desks, filing cabinets, sexual preferences, dating disasters. The overheard phone conversations are the most colorful things in the bullpen.

So while we favor a lush, vibrant palette in print, we’re just this side of institutional in our office design. The Publisher believes comfortable people don’t work fast enough. He must believe the same thing about rich people, because he’s not turning any of us into them. The press calls him a business genius. I guess “miser” is too old-fashioned.

I know my way around the office well enough that I wasn’t concerned about tripping over anything. The assistants’ desks are laid out in diagonals—on the bias, as Caitlin, the fashion editor, likes to point out—to keep the floor plan from looking too much like an insurance company, but it’s still simple to navigate. I just didn’t expect Teddy to be lying on the floor with a knife in his throat. One moment, I was leading Cassady through the darkened bullpen and the next, I was aware of my foot squooshing. I knew immediately that I had stepped in something that was not going to be good for my shoes, but I was thinking more along the lines of yogurt someone had somehow spilled and neglected to clean up. I stopped suddenly, my toes curling up like cocktail shrimp.

“What?” Cassady said impatiently.

“I stepped in something.”

“If it’s on the floor at this hour of the night, it’s disgusting. Don’t touch it. Where’s the light switch?” Cassady started to feel her way toward the wall.

“I’ll get it.”

“No, stay put. You don’t want to track it around or grind it into your new shoes, whatever it is.”

As Cassady groped for the switch, I bent over to see what I could see in the dark. All I could tell was that there was a large pool of something dark on the carpet and a big pile of something against one of the desks. Then Cassady found the light switch and I realized that the darkness on the carpet was blood and the big pile was Teddy Reynolds, advertising director for
Zeitgeist
. I think I already mentioned the knife.

Now, I believe I deserve points for not fainting, puking, or even screaming. I only made a delicate sound of concern. Of course, Cassady later described it to Tricia as “the sound a Yorkshire terrier would make if you threw it against the wall. Hard.” Cassady came running back over, took a look, and said, “Holy shit.” But then, it was a different experience for her. She didn’t know Teddy.

“You know him?” For some reason, she was whispering. I nodded as she helped me up, noting my right foot planted firmly in the pool of blood. The red was already soaking in and discoloring the blues in the fabric. “That’s never going to come out.”

“Isn’t it shallow to be thinking that way at a moment like this?”

Cassady shrugged. “People handle grief in different ways.” She grabbed the phone on the nearest desk.

“Call Tricia on her cell. She has an event tonight.” Good times, bad times, you call your girlfriends first.

Cassady squinted. “You’re kidding, right?”

Actually, I wasn’t. “Who else?”

“I thought I’d start with the police.” Cassady dialed 911. You can always count on her to have the logical reaction, even in times of extreme stress. Granted, she doesn’t always follow through with the logical reaction, especially when a man is involved, but at least it occurs to her. Not all of us have that particular gift.

So the police came and the building security guys had a fit because Cassady hadn’t bothered to clue them in and they looked pretty bad when the cops came stomping into the lobby. The cops didn’t let them hang around too long before banishing them back down to the lobby to get security tapes and all that sort of stuff. They also got to place the call to Yvonne Hamilton, our editor, informing her that there was a “problem” at the office and asking her to come in. Poor guys. But at least they could feel useful. I felt like a complete and utter idiot. As a journalist, I pride myself on being observant and insightful. But in the clutch, I found myself transforming into a total bobblehead. I couldn’t remember Teddy’s wife’s name right away or how long he’d worked at the magazine or if he’d been in his office when I left that night. Cassady said it was probably a form of shock. I guess I’ll take that over useless.

It was also really hard to concentrate with poor Teddy lying there on the floor. Especially with the knife in his throat. Teddy was a big man who, until now, had always been in motion. It fascinated me that a guy who could not sit still could not burn calories more efficiently. He’d actually been trying to diet lately, a compulsion that’s hard to duck when you work at a women’s magazine, but I think his idea of dieting was to add some fresh fruit to his expansive caloric intake. He was always pacing and chewing on something while chewing out someone. Not that he was a bad guy, he was just very difficult to please. He went through assistants like J.Lo goes through men and I’m sure at least half the desks in the office contained voodoo dolls in his likeness. But he was great at his job and he could be very sweet when it suited him, so I realized the staff was actually going to miss him. At least the rest of the staff was going to get to remember him rumbling around the office with a sheen of sweat on his face and a bagel in his hand. From now on, I was always going to see him in a crumpled mass on the floor with a knife in his throat.

The first thing I wanted to do when the police arrived was get away from the body. Cassady had insisted that I not move until they came, to minimize the damage to the crime scene. So when the uniformed officers showed, I asked if I could sit down before we started answering questions. They were really impressed that Cassady had tried to preserve the scene. They were also really impressed with Cassady period, but they were young male officers, so that was no surprise. Cassady’s incredibly smart, but she’s also all legs and has this incredible head of auburn curls that a lesser woman would envy. I just admire them. And then there are the green eyes and the bonded teeth and her fondness for push-up bras. So they were leaning in pretty closely as she filled them in on how we happened to find Teddy, and I had to interrupt.

“Could I sit down or at least move over there?” I asked as non-shrilly as possible. I could feel shrill trying to work itself into my voice and I was determined to get through this with some grace. “Grace under pressure” has always struck me as a very admirable trait and I’d always imagined that I possessed it to some degree, but this was a new level of pressure and I wasn’t coming up with sufficient amounts of grace in a timely fashion.

The officers looked down at my feet, still planted in Teddy’s blood. “We’re going to need you to leave the shoes there,” the blond one, Officer Jankowski, said. The uniforms and all the stuff these guys wear on their belts tend to make NYPD officers look chunky, but not this one. He was tall, with broad shoulders and slim hips—a swimmer’s build. He held his hand out like he was helping me out of a cab and I slipped out of my shoes, stepped over the blood, and grabbed a chair two desks away with as much grace as I could muster. Officer Jankowski followed me and pulled up another chair. I guess he was going for the whole eye-to-eye thing. They must teach them that at the academy. His partner, Officer Hendryx, stayed with Cassady. Hendryx was a ruddy brunette. He wasn’t quite as tall as Jankowski and had a thicker build, but I could tell it was all muscle. I could see his biceps working under his sleeves. I’m sure Cassady could, too.

BOOK: Killer Heels
11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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