Read No Hiding Behind the Potted Palms! A Dance with Danger Mystery #7 Online

Authors: Sara M. Barton

Tags: #florida fiction boy nextdoor financial fraud stalker habersham sc, #exhusband exboyfriend

No Hiding Behind the Potted Palms! A Dance with Danger Mystery #7

BOOK: No Hiding Behind the Potted Palms! A Dance with Danger Mystery #7
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No Hiding Behind the Potted
Palms!

 

The Dance with Danger Mystery
Anthology -- Volume One

 

By Sara M. Barton

 

These novellas were previously
released individually:

 

Bossa Nova with a Belligerent
Bear

Foxtrot with a Furtive
Fox

Mambo with a Maniacal
Mako

Paso Doble with a Passionate
Python

Square Dance with a Scandalous
Skunk

 

Published by Sara M. Barton,
at Smashwords

 

Copyright Sara M. Barton
2012

 

This ebook is licensed for
your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or
given away to other people. If you would like to share this book
with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or
it was not purchased for your use only, please return to Smashwords
and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work
of this author.

 

Bossa Nova with a
Belligerent Bear

 

Some women are so nice, they
seem to attract bad guys like flies on honey. Some of us trust too
much and believe that if we treat people with respect and kindness,
we will be rewarded. Learning to tell the difference between a good
man and a rotten one isn’t always easy, and when you make a
mistake, it can be a painful lesson....

 

Chapter One --

 

“If you had any sense at
all, you would admit just how wrong you really are!” Bosco snarled.
“Of all the lame-brained, idiotic...
female
things to do, this tops the
cake!”

“Female?” I glared at the
seething man standing in front of me, ready to do battle. “Female,
Bosco?”

“Yes, female!” he snapped,
glaring at me over the rims of his glasses. Arms crossed against
his powerful chest, furious, I knew he was looking for an
opportunity to have it out with me. To him, getting into financial
trouble was akin to committing treason, especially since he was a
skilled investigator for Honshield Walker, the accounting firm. And
I was just as determined not to allow him that opening. “You should
have called me right away!”

“You’re not a cop. You can’t
arrest anyone,” I pointed out. “And I shouldn’t have to depend on
you for every little thing that happens to me.”

“This isn’t a little thing.
This is your future!”

The trouble with ex-husbands
is they have trouble seeing where that line in the sand is. They
don’t really care that they signed on the dotted line and dissolved
the marriage. All they care about is what they think is still
theirs. After twenty years of marriage, Bosco still thought of me
as his.

“I should have told you
what? That George cleaned out my bank account? That he forged my
name on a second mortgage on the house? That he absconded with my
401K? We’re divorced, remember?”

“How well I remember!” he
growled. “I don’t need you to point it out to me. I told you that
the guy was no good. I told you he was unworthy of you!”

There it was -- the sound of
the other shoe finally dropping, the proverbial “I told you so.”
The trouble was I knew Bosco was right and I surely had no
intention of admitting it.

“Look,” I said as calmly as
I could, “I didn’t ask you here so you could rub my nose in it. I
need your help.”

“Well, you’ll move in with
me. I’ll get to work tracking that bastard down and once we know
where he is, we’ll take care of it.”

“Move in with
you?”

“Where else are you going to
live? You can’t afford to live in the house. You need to conserve!”
Bosco started making notes on his smartphone. “We’ll talk to the
bank, make the necessary payments to avoid a lien, and rent it out.
We can at least cover the mortgage until we get things straightened
out.”

“We?” I came to Bosco for
help, but did I really want him so involved in my life?

“Do you want my help or
not?” he glowered at me, eyes blazing. “You should have come to me
sooner.”

That’s the thing about
Robert Baer, forensic accountant, better known as Bosco. He just
can’t help himself. He had to point out the obvious. I looked at my
ex-husband, now ensconced at my dining room table and all I could
think at that moment was how I totally, completely, and possibly
irreversibly, screwed up my life. And now I was learning the hard
way that the charming man who swept me off my feet and convinced me
that he loved me more than Bosco was a liar, a cheat, and a thief.
Not only had George taken all my worldly goods, he had trampled my
heart and my self-respect before evaporating into thin
air.

“When did he leave?” Bosco
demanded.

“Last Friday. He told me he
had a conference in Albuquerque, something about social media
strategies.”

“That probably means he went
north. He wants us to waste time tracking down the false leads he
gave you. What did he say about being in touch with
you?”

“He told me he was having
problems with his cell phone, that he dropped it down the
stairs.”

“An excuse not to get his
calls. What about emails?” I hung my head.

“I’ve sent him ten. I’m
starting to feel like a stalker. He hasn’t responded at
all.”

“What else happened?” Those
steely blue eyes were on me like a power drill, boring into my
secrets.

“We had a fight the night
before he left. He accused me of some things.” I didn’t really want
to get into detail about our skirmish. It would only stoke Bosco’s
fire.

“And?”

“And what?” I asked, knowing
full well what he wanted to know. I thought I might be able to hold
out long enough to get beyond that question.

“Cough it up,” my ex-husband
insisted. “It’s relevant to the investigation.”

I looked at him closely. The
short-clipped Marine haircut was showing some gray now, but it was
the same style he had always sported in all the years we were
married. That tight-lip snarl was the same one I had seen over this
same table many times before, but usually it was because he was
fired up about a case he was working. This time, I was the victim.
It was oddly reassuring to see Bosco so determined to track down
the man who stole my life.

“What is relevant?” I played
dumb, hoping I didn’t really know what he was asking.

“What was the argument
about, Dori?” Bosco fastened his eyes on me and I could see the
invisible wheels start to turn in his head. It meant he was on the
trail and he wouldn’t stop until he got the answers he wanted. As
an investigator, it made him successful. As a husband and lover, it
meant he questioned every move, every intention, every comment I
ever made. Bosco came with a built-in suspicion gene. He never
completely trusted anyone, not even me. “You can tell me now or we
can waste precious time and energy doing a little dance. Your
choice.”

“George said I was still in
love with you.” There. It was out in the open. I knew Bosco was
going to pick it up and kick it around the room for a
while.

“Are you?”

“You wanted to know what the
argument was about. He accused me of still being in love with
you.”

“And are you still in love
with me?”

“Bosco,” I sighed, “you just
yelled at me for wasting precious time. What does it matter about
why we argued?”

“Goes to motive. If George
really was angry that you are still in love with me, maybe he
wanted to pay you back,” my ex-husband explained. I hate it when
Bosco makes sense.

“Look,” I told him, finally
taking a seat at the table opposite him, “why would George go to
all the trouble of cleaning me out if this was just about me still
having feelings for you? The guy robbed me blind, Bosco. His motive
was greed.”

“Do you?” There were those
piercing eyes again, buzz-sawing their way through my coat of armor
with a diamond blade. “Have feelings for me?”

“You tell me something,
Bosco. Why would George steal from me if he was jealous of you?
Wouldn’t he try to get you out of the picture? Wouldn’t he try to
win my heart by trying to convince me he’s the better
man?”

“Maybe he thought he was
losing his touch. Maybe he thought you finally woke up one day and
came to your senses. His charm was no longer working on you. Did it
ever occur to you that the guy swept you off your feet because
you’re so damned adorable?” He put his hands together, letting his
index fingers touch, and he pointed in my direction. “After all
these years, are you still that oblivious to the
obvious?”

“Meaning what?”

“Do you really not know that
men find you attractive? I swear that’s why he managed to sweep you
off your feet! You’re so bloody naive!”

“Gee, thanks. That’s really
helpful now that I’m penniless.” I gazed down at my lap, brushing
away imaginary crumbs, wondering what I was going to do now that my
life had been completely obliterated.

“What about Ralph?” Bosco
asked. “Have you told him?”

“I didn’t dare,” I
confessed. Ralph Durgin is my boss at Dynamic Productions. We’re a
local video production house. We create and film commercials for
the regional television market. I’ve been with Ralph for fifteen
years as his right-hand. He hired me when he started his production
house in Caulkins Corner. He rented a unit in the industrial park
that consisted of office space, a bathroom and kitchenette, and a
large warehouse area that we set up as a studio, with movable sets,
klieg lights, and a tiny prop department. I started out as a
scriptwriter, filled in with voice-overs and the occasional
on-screen appearance, and learned to edit the material. Before
long, Ralph made me his assistant producer.

Over the years, we built a
respectable business. Ralph developed a reputation for providing
quality advertising to local and state-wide businesses on cable TV.
We occasionally also did production shorts, public interest spots,
and even industrial training films. As the business grew, Ralph
added people to the company. Now there were six full-time employees
and two part-timers. We moved to our new building six months
ago.

“Do you still have your
stock in Dynamic Productions or did he take that, too?” Bosco
asked. He and I were investors in the early years. When our son,
Kevin, was a baby and my hours were flexible, I often took stock
options instead of a steady paycheck, knowing that as Ralph built
the company, the shares would improve and I would be compensated.
Bosco and I also invested our own money over the years, to help
Ralph expand. This was especially true in the last five years. On
paper, the stock looked worthless, but that would soon turn around.
Ralph hired new employees when we moved into the state-of-the-art
facility and began to provide quality videos for Internet
businesses.

“He didn’t know,” I
admitted. “I never told him I was a part-owner of
Dynamic.”

“Thank God for small
miracles,” he replied with some relief. “Just out of curiosity, why
didn’t you tell him?”

“I don’t know.” I shrugged
the subject off, but I knew I wasn’t really being honest with
Bosco. The truth is that in the last two months, ever since George
moved in, I had found myself feeling uneasy.

“Theodora Williams Baer,
tell the truth. You had your doubts about the bastard and you
ignored them!” I recoiled as my ex-husband lashed out at me with
the accusation, wincing from the invisible blow that landed on my
psyche like a smack from an aggrieved bear who just caught a hand
in his honeycomb.

 

Chapter Two --

 

The subject of George
Peterson was still a sticky point between us. To this day, Bosco
still insisted that if he had not taken the African assignment, we
would still be married. He’s certain that I never would have met
George on that trip to Pleasant Bay.

It all came about when Bosco
was sent overseas to investigate the theft of nearly a million
dollars from a U.S.-sponsored famine relief fund in Somalia. It
looked like the food was sold on the black market and the profits
diverted to the pockets of the charity’s local administrators, who
then kicked much of it back to the U.S. administrators in the New
York office of Feed the World. Bosco’s job was to track the money
down and document as much of it as he could.

BOOK: No Hiding Behind the Potted Palms! A Dance with Danger Mystery #7
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