Home > Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23)(11)

Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23)(11)
Janet Evanovich

I went straight to the deli counter and got sliced ham, sliced turkey, provolone cheese, a tub of broccoli slaw, a tub of homemade meatballs in red sauce, and a tub of three-bean salad. I grabbed a loaf of bread, a bag of chips, a jar of olives, peanut butter, milk, Froot Loops for snacking, granola for breakfast, mixed nuts for Rex. Hot dogs and rolls in case I needed to feed Morelli and he wanted a hot meal. Frying up a hot dog was pretty much the extent of my culinary skills. I added a large can of baked beans to my cart and went to check out.

Patty Giovichinni was at the register. She was my mother’s age, and she was married to one of the many Giovichinni brothers.

She looked over the stuff on the belt. “No Bogart Bars?” she asked.

“Not for the rest of my life,” I said, choking up a little at the thought.

“So what did the guy look like when he fell out of the truck? Was he really covered in chocolate and nuts?”

“Yeah. He was frozen.”

“Did you get a picture?”

“No.”

“Too bad. A picture would have been good.”

I agreed. I should have thought to take a picture. Then again, did I really want to immortalize the horror? Truth is, I wanted to forget it. Blot it out of my mind. Erase the memory.

Mrs. Morganstern was behind me.

“I hear you tried to kill Eddie Gazarra,” she said to me. “I think that’s terrible.”

“I didn’t try to kill him,” I said. “Lula accidentally hit his cop car. Eddie wasn’t anywhere near it.”

“Such a nice young man,” Mrs. Morganstern said. “I hope they give him another car.”

I carted my stuff back to my SUV and drove home. It was late afternoon, and the old folks who lived in my apartment building had taken all the good spots close to the back door. A lot of the spots were designated handicapped. Getting a handicapped card in Jersey is a badge of honor. You get to screw the system because you aren’t really all that handicapped and at the same time you get a good parking place.

My hamster, Rex, was asleep in his soup can when I put the grocery bags on the kitchen counter. I tapped on his cage and told him I got Froot Loops, but he didn’t come out.

“Your loss, Mister,” I said.

Rex knew it wasn’t a loss. Rex knew he’d get the Froot Loops on his terms. This was pretty much true for all the males in my life . . . rodents and otherwise.

I put the stuff away, and someone knocked on my door. I looked out the peephole and didn’t see anyone. More knocking. I looked down and saw Randy Briggs.

Damn.

“I know you’re in there,” Briggs yelled. “I can hear you breathing.”

I opened the door and looked out at him. “Now what?” I asked.

“You gonna let me in?”

I stepped back. “I suppose.”

“Boy, that’s generous. I come to visit you, and you got all this enthusiasm. I’m fuckin’ overwhelmed.”

“I’m sort of busy.”

“Oh yeah? Doing what?” He looked around. “I don’t see anything going on here.”

“Is there an actual reason for this visit?”

“I’m getting to it,” Briggs said. “I was just opening up the visit with some polite chitchat. How do you like the weather we’re having? Blah, blah, blah.”

I stared down at him. “And?”

“And I’m doing this project with Lula. We’re auditioning for some television shows. Shooting some reels.”

“I heard.”

“Did you also hear that they’re crap? She overacts on everything. And she’s a screen hog. All you see is Lula, Lula, Lula. And between you and me, when you get the clothes off her she’s not a pretty sight. You ever seen her naked?” He shook his head. “Not good.”

“Is this going somewhere?”

“I thought you could talk to her. Explain to her that no one wants to see her fatness all over the screen. People are going to want to see me. I’m hot. And I’m little. Everyone wants to see hot little guys.”

“I don’t.”

“And the other thing is I thought of a good angle. Every week it’s the same thing on Naked and Afraid. It’s a guy and some girl, right? So I’m thinking it would be more interesting if it was a guy and two girls. Get a little action going. Girl on girl and two girls on the guy.”

“That would be the porno version of the show.”

“Not necessarily. They always fuzzy out the private parts of the girl and the guy, so it’s not like you’d see any of the good stuff.”

“Have you talked to Lula about this?”

“No. I wanted to run it by you first. Give you first crack at it since you and Lula are so tight. And you’re not real fat, so you wouldn’t take up the whole frame.”

“You want me to be the second naked woman?”

“Yeah.”

“No.”

Briggs looked shocked. “What do you mean, no? It’s the chance of a lifetime. It could make you into a big TV star.”

“No. Not going to happen. No way. No how. Never.”

“You’re going to pass up a chance to get naked with me?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?” Briggs asked.

“You’re cranky and disgusting.”

“Okay, but besides that.”

I pointed to the open door. “Go!”

“Aren’t you going to offer me something to drink?”

“No.”

“You got a lot to learn about hospitality,” Briggs said.

I grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and handed it to him.

“No wine?” he asked.

“You do realize that I have a loaded gun in this kitchen?”

“Your gun is never loaded,” Briggs said. “You never even have any bullets. You keep the stupid thing in the cookie jar. You’d do better to throw your gun away and fill the jar with Oreos. At least you could offer your guests a cookie.”

I gave him my squinty eye. “Don’t push it.”

He returned the squinty eye and left.

The lights from Ranger’s black Porsche 911 Turbo swung into my parking lot precisely at 11:30 P.M. I was waiting in the lobby and, as always, I got a small rush when I caught sight of the car.

The car and the driver were perfectly matched. Lots of power and agility. Wicked fast. Dark. Sexy. Totally desirable and unobtainable. At least they were unobtainable for me. I couldn’t afford a Porsche, and hitching my life to Ranger would also come with a high price.

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