Scottsdale Squeeze: a romantic light-hearted murder mystery (Laura Black Mysteries Book 2)

BOOK: Scottsdale Squeeze: a romantic light-hearted murder mystery (Laura Black Mysteries Book 2)
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SCOTTSDALE

SQUEEZE

~~~~

B A Trimmer

SCOTTSDALE SQUEEZE

 

Copyright © 2014 by B A Trimmer

 

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted an any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without prior written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Editor:  Stacey VandeKoppel

Cover Design:  Tammy Malunas

ASIN: B00JD11NSU

100715

 

E-mail the author with corrections or comments at
[email protected]

 

Also by B A Trimmer

 

Scottsdale Heat

Scottsdale Sizzle

 

For Alison, Chris, Ronnie, and Jim

 

In my heart and in my thoughts, always.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

Thanks to Tammy, Alison, and my little sisters Linda and Stacey for their ideas, help, and encouragement.

 

SCOTTSDALE

SQUEEZE

  

ONE

 

When I was a little girl, my grandmother described me as high-spirited. When I was a teenager, my mother described me as rebellious. When I got my first real job, my coworkers described me as quirky. When I was dating, my boyfriend described me as a sex kitten. And, when I was married, my husband described me as a pain-in-the-ass. Now that I’m on my own, I’ve learned to embrace all of these sides of my personality.

I’ve found my high-spirited and quirky sides keep me going with a happy and positive outlook. My rebellious and pain-in-the-ass sides keep me from being a pushover. And my sex kitten side seems to keep my life in a constant state of turmoil.

As part of this, I’ve always seemed to have a problem with men. Sometimes my problem was I didn’t have one. Sometimes my problem was I was with the wrong one. And sometimes my problem was I had more than one. Unfortunately, that was a problem I didn’t have very often.

Lately, I’ve been having a problem with a man named Jackson Reno. He’s a plainclothes cop for the city of Scottsdale and my problem is I want him to be my full time boyfriend and personal sex toy. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if Reno also sees it the same
way. It’s true we’ve shared some romantic nights together over the past couple of months, but it’s not blossoming into the kind of passionate relationship I’ve been looking for. He blames scheduling conflicts but I think it may go deeper.

~~~~

Tonight, I was having a problem with a naked man named Paul Marston. For the past hour, he’d been in his house with two women, who were also naked. My problem was I couldn’t get a picture of all of them together.

It was nine-thirty on a Monday night in late March. I was sitting cross-legged on the top of Marston’s plastic picnic table in the backyard of his house in north Scottsdale, trying to obtain evidence of his infidelity. This was evidence Mrs. Marston needed so Lenny Shapiro, her lawyer, my boss, could get her top dollar during a future divorce trial.

Being on a stake out and getting pictures of cheating spouses is something I seem to do way too often. The work is brainless and dull. But it pays the same as doing actual work and I almost never get shot at while I’m taking pictures.

In doing this sort of thing, it’s normal for me to install a few tiny spy cameras in the bedrooms of the house and simply record a few weeks of activity. But in this assignment, Mrs. Marston had wanted to use spy cameras only as a last resort. She lived in fear of naked pictures of herself showing up on the internet. I can’t really say I blame her. I’ve had a few pictures of me taken over the years and I also worry someday I’ll show up naked on a website.

Mrs. Marston had arranged with Lenny to be out of town for a week, knowing her husband couldn’t resist the chance to throw a private party or two while she was gone. I had until Friday to gather the evidence on Mr. Marston and I was determined not to let Mrs. Marston down.

I’d been sitting on the picnic table for a little over an hour and my ass had fallen asleep. I perked up when I saw Marston and the two women had finally made it into the master bedroom. I had chosen my perch on the table because it had a clear view of most of the bed through a slim opening in the curtain.

First, I saw a naked woman sitting on the bed. She got up and a minute later was replaced by a naked Mr. Marston. Next, Marston got up. Two minutes later, the other naked woman was on the bed. True, it was all extremely suspicious but for it to hold up in court I needed a picture of Marston and at least one of the women together, along with a proper chain of custody.

I was looking through the camera viewfinder, waiting for the perfect shot, when I heard a noise to my left. I turned and was suddenly nose-to-nose with a dog. A big dog.

Shit.

We looked at each other for a few heartbeats and then he started to growl. It was a low rumbling growl, like somebody starting up a diesel truck. As he growled, a big glob of slobber dripped from the side of his huge toothy mouth and splatted on the ground.

Gross.

They say dogs can smell fear. If that’s the case, this one was getting a nose full. I got up and carefully walked backwards until I was at the gate to the street. I slowly opened the gate and let myself out.

Backyards in Scottsdale are always enclosed by a high wall. The wall is made of bricks if the owner has money, cinderblocks if they don’t. Wooden fences are seldom used. They dry out in the Arizona heat and then snap off during the summer monsoons.

I walked over to the side of the wall nearest the bedroom. I then lifted myself up and peered over. The dog was sitting on the lawn, looking up at me. He was still drooling and he didn’t look happy.

I let myself back down and walked back to my car, which I had parked on the street, half a block away. I drove to an open Bashas’ grocery store and bought a thick sirloin steak. Twenty minutes later, I was back at the gate.

I cracked the gate open and looked in. The dog trotted over and sat down ten feet in front of me. He watched as I pulled the butcher paper off the steak. The dog cocked his head to one side and licked his slobbery lips. I waved the steak back and forth like a red surrender flag. He trotted over and took it with a quick snap of his massive jaws. He then walked to the corner of the yard to gnaw on it.

I made my way back to the picnic table and looked into the house. The lights in the bedroom were off. I angled myself around to the far side of the house and saw all of them were now in the living room, drinking champagne and smoking cigarettes. Everybody had their clothes on.

Damn.

~~~~

My name is Laura Black. I’m an investigator for the Scottsdale, Arizona, law firm of Halftown, Oeding, Shapiro, and Hopkins. Halftown started the firm, but he retired to Florida years ago. Oeding and Hopkins have both passed beyond this world to wherever lawyers end up in the great beyond. Probably some sort of dark purgatory where the judge always rules against them and their clients never pay.

The remaining partner, Leonard Shapiro, has taken the firm and made it into one of the most successful law offices in Scottsdale. He has done this by being somewhat shady, occasionally underhanded, and by having questionable ethics. In other words, by acting like a typical lawyer. The fact Lenny isn’t burdened with either empathy or a conscience seems to help him sleep at night.

Over the past few years, Lenny has successfully positioned the firm as the go-to legal office for all high profile criminal, civil, and divorce cases in Scottsdale. Charging outrageous fees only seemed to bring in more and wealthier clients. Once he figured that out, Lenny now makes sure to charge more than any other law firm in Scottsdale.

~~~~

I got back to my apartment about eleven-thirty. It’s on the third floor of a five-story apartment building originally built as a small hotel back in the nineteen-seventies. The interior of the building is hollow, constructed as an enormous atrium. From the ground floor, you can look up and see the walkways circling each of the floors.

The building is starting to look somewhat shabby through lack of maintenance. The elevator is slow and sometimes stops completely. This means I take it only when I’m too tired to walk up the stairs. The residents are the types who gravitate to a low-end apartment house, mainly the elderly, recent immigrants, and young couples just starting out. Whenever you walk past a resident’s door, it’s not unusual to hear either a crying baby or a TV turned on full volume. But it’s safe, the rent is cheap, and it’s close to the office. What more could a girl want?

I unlocked the door and walked into my apartment. It’s a one-bedroom with a big living room and a small kitchen. I tossed my clothes in a basket on the floor in my bedroom and put on an oversized Arizona Diamondbacks t-shirt.

As I brushed my teeth in front of the bathroom mirror, Marlowe, my grey and white tabby, came in through his cat door from the balcony outside of my bedroom. He walked over to the pile of clothes and sniffed at them. He let out a pathetic little squeak, which is his version of a meow. He then turned and walked back through the cat door and onto the balcony.

I had found Marlowe while on vacation in Colorado a few years ago. Back then, he was a cold, dirty, and starving kitten. I took him in, fed him, and cleaned him up. He’s been my roommate and constant companion ever since.

I collapsed on the bed and was out within seconds.

~~~~

Jackson Reno and I had been back to dating for about two months. So far, it hadn’t quite gone as I had envisioned it.

But, tonight is going to be different.

Tonight, we were in a beautiful suite at the Scottsdale Blue Palms resort. The windows on the balcony were open and the warm Arizona air was drifting in. We were sipping champagne in a beautiful king size bed and I felt wonderful. From where we were on the bed, we could see the lights of Scottsdale twinkling in the distance and it was truly beautiful. I had on a sheer white negligée and Reno had on nothing but my favorite pair of red silk boxers.

He had been acting distant the past few weeks but tonight I could tell his hesitations were gone. I leaned over and snuggled against his broad chest while he put an arm around me. The scent of his cologne was driving me mad and the champagne had started to make me a little giddy. Needless to say, my libido was running in the red. I wanted Reno bad. I was feeling more than a little naughty and I was going to make sure tonight would be memorable.

Using only the tips of my fingers, I started at his chest and slowly traced a line downward. Reno felt what I was doing and let out a low moan. I kept going downward until I got to the red silk band of his boxers. The phone started ringing, but it was in the next room so I ignored it. I moved my fingers under the silk band and gently slid my hand in. The phone rang again, only this time it was the phone in our room. Still ignoring it, I slid my hand all the way in. My hand then searched everywhere but I didn’t find what I’d been looking for. Puzzled, I looked up at Reno.

“It’s probably for you,” he said. “Sophie never calls me.”

What?

This time when the phone rang, it had Sophie’s ringtone.

Shit.

I opened my eyes and saw my bedroom was in full daylight. I looked around and saw Marlowe was asleep on the bed near my feet.

Another great dream wasted.

I had left my phone on the nightstand and Sophie’s ringtone, Rihanna’s
S&M
, was jingling through the room. I hit the answer button and mumbled what I hoped was a friendly hello into the phone.

“Damn girlfriend,” Sophie said. “You sound like shit. Weren’t you up already?”

“Sophie, why are you calling me? What time is it?”

“It’s almost nine o’clock. Happy Tuesday! You know, you shouldn’t sleep in so late. I read in Cosmo last month too much sleep makes you gain weight. You don’t want to sleep yourself fat. After you wake up, swing by the office. Lenny has a new assignment for you.”

“I’m already working on one.”

“Well, I guess now you’re working on two.”

~~~~

I got up and dragged myself into the shower. I then went into the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee. After two false starts, I put on a yellow sundress with flat brown sandals. The make-up went on OK, but my hair was doing its own thing. I ended up putting it up in a ponytail.

I plopped a can of Ocean Delight into Marlowe’s bowl. Fortunately, he had left the apartment and I didn’t have to see him go through the process of eating. I poured the entire pot of coffee into
The Big Pig
, my oversize travel mug, then I was out the door.

I walked down the two flights of stairs then out the back door of my apartment building. I walked to the parking lot and climbed into my car, a cappuccino brown Honda Accord. It’s seen better days. The driver’s side door is scraped and gouged, with black paint ground in with the original brown, the driver’s mirror is attached with silver duct tape, and there’s a bullet hole in the rear fender. But it still runs great and it’s paid for. That’s good enough for me.

Dillard’s was in the middle of its big spring clearance sale. A couple of months ago my favorite red shirt had gotten ripped. It had ripped when I happened to be standing too close to a building that had exploded. Sophie had given it to me for Christmas the year before and I’ve really missed not having it, plus I think she still blames me for wearing it during the explosion. I had planned on going to the mall today to see if I could find another one. But, instead of going to the mall, I was heading back to the office.

Story of my life.

~~~~

I drove to my covered and reserved parking space behind the law office. Lenny’s red Porsche and Sophie’s yellow Volkswagen Beatle convertible were both already there. I used my key and went through the heavy back security door.

The office is located in the Old Town Arts and Antiques District, the oldest and still one of most fashionable shopping areas in Scottsdale. Crowds of winter visitors, or snowbirds as the locals call them, gather here in the winter months. They stroll through the souvenir shops, eat at the fashionable restaurants, and browse the high-end art galleries, which mostly specialize in southwestern art and artists. The law office is located between two of these elite art galleries and always looks a little out of place.

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