I'm in a bit of a pinch. Turns out, I occasionally have quite a few ideas for stories, like I'm sure most people do. I rather enjoy writing them, but there's only so much time in a day. While I await the coming of iTime apps, I'm experimenting with having the internet decide which book I actually put pen to paper and finish. Of Hidden Shadows plays with the tropes and timelessness of high fantasy, putting a whole world in peril and hope slumped on the back of a small band of outcasts. In Times of Cold Rain puts the noir back in, um, noir. A dislikable hero, a plot with enough twists to satisfy a pretzel enthusiast, and all the other hallmarks of the genre. Women, Weed and Weather features three distinct narrators, each adrift in a life spent wondering, each called west to where the waves end. Lyon's Den, the new one here, is a romp of a genre mash-up, combining detective fiction and chick lit for a contemporary voice, and a change of pace from my other, generally male-dominated works.
My name is Jennifer, but everyone calls me Jenn, except for telemarketers, spam bots, and my mother when she is in one of her moods.
“How are you?” I ask, covering my annoyance with the kind of smile you only have if your mother was able to browbeat your father into six years of orthodontics because he doesn’t want his only daughter “looking like some British person” does he?
“Look, Jenn, I’m in trouble. At least, I think I am. I assume I am. They’ve got a cop sitting outside my house right now. Unless he’s stalking me.”
I don’t think anyone is stalking her. She doesn’t put up with it. I remember she had a secret admirer in junior high. She found out who he was, walked into one of his classes, decided he was cute enough, kissed him, and broke up with him two weeks later. As far as I know, that’s pretty much what she does with every guy who acts interested.
Studying her thin face, I see signs that she is genuinely freaking out. Her normally bright blue eyes are rimmed with dark circles that make her look like she lost a bar fight, and I can see that she is either ridiculously high or she’s been crying.
“What the hell is going on?” I say with as much we’ll-get-through-this as I can manage. She was the one who flew home to Florida from Minnesota when my incident happened.
“Three of my students are gone,” she explains, and I watch a hint of a sniffle. Her whole face seems to wrinkle when she cries. That’s probably why she doesn’t do it very often, late night Tom Hanks marathons aside. I have a lot of questions, but I’m not stupid. I don’t have a case right now.
“Do you have a lawyer?” I ask. Not many people would. I dated a guy who worked in the Bureau doing all of the things that I used to read about. He taught me a few things. The most important of which involved not believing it when he tells you how big he is. I should have learned that much earlier, I’m sure Laurie did, but like I said, I spent most of my time reading books. Written by guys. So other than one Hemingway novel, it never occurred to me that it mattered, or that they lie about it. I really do weigh one forty. Ish.
He also taught me that most people don’t act right when they get caught in an investigation. In fact, one way you can catch a lot of bad guys is to figure out which of the suspects is already setting up their trial defense. As surprising as it was for me to learn, innocent people tend to act innocent.
It didn’t shock me when she shook her head. She was alarmed.
“Do I need one?”
It’s my personal opinion that everyone might as well make friends with a lawyer. There’s really no better person to call if you need to get bailed out when the officer who pulled you over takes your refusal to flirt with him as a clear sign of being drunk. But, I don’t know yet.
“If you have a cop posted, you are probably just under protection, if they think there is a chance that there is foul play involved. The guy could be coming after you.”
She bites her lip when she tells me, “Would he be hiding around the corner in a white van?”
Now it’s my turn to be alarmed. I feel my eyebrows arch and the smile slips. “You need to tell the cop if you think someone is watching from an unmarked van,” I warn her.
“No, uh, the cop is in the van. One of my students is dating an officer and she recognized the detective when she came by to drop off her final.”
Laurie is at least a person of interest then. I don’t want to tell her. But this is the same girl who was the only one honest enough to explain to me that a bikini wax isn’t just for when you are actually going to the beach.
“Yeah,” I say after running through a number of scenarios in my mind, only one of which involved a hot police detective in a trench-coat watching me undress at night trying to build up the courage to call me while he distracts himself in his car in a way that makes it clear he doesn’t suffer from the same problem my FBI boyfriend did. “Laurie, you should probably get a lawyer.”