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The Case of the Crooked Ex: Chapter 10
It doesn’t take long for my local guy to get me fitted up with some new threads, I have to admit it, my wardrobe was getting to be a tad bit on the worn side, not to mention I had been losing some weight so most of my clothes hung on me like I was a scarecrow. Jimmie proves a little more difficult, the guy is built like a football player and his thick shoulders and neck making it hard to get a shirt to fit him properly let alone a jacket. In the end they are going to have to work fast to have it done in time for tonight but an extra fifty can do wonders for motivation. I leave Jimmie in the more than capable hands of my tailor with instructions to meet Sarah at the office while I run to my apartment to get cleaned up.
I manage to get back to the office before Sarah but that is no surprise I was sure she would take the full two hours to get ready. I’m trying to get my black bowtie to look right when Sarah walks in, a lacy scarf over her raven black hair and a garment bag over her arm. She sets the bag on her desk and takes off her coat revealing the same outfit she was wearing earlier in the day. I ‘m still struggling with my blasted tie when she walks towards the small bathroom and leans against the door frame.
“So what is the plan?”
“There is going to be another attempt tonight at the party.”
“I figured dat much out for myself; I mean what do ya need me for?”
“There is going to be a lot of people there tonight and I need another set of eyes in the crowd, someone I can trust.”
“Let me do that boss.” She has ne turn around and starts fidgeting with my tie “You are next to useless sometimes you know dat.”
“I never was much for the black tie crowd, all thumbs I guess.”
“Well you clean up good boss.”
“Thanks Sarah. Jimmie should be here soon, when he gets here the two of you meet us downtown at the Pennsylvania Hotel.”
“Jimmie is comin here, why didn’t ya say so. Get out of my way I need to finish getting ready.”
“I was in the process of telling you.”
“Stop talking and move, go get the client already, Jimmie and I will meet youse two downtown.”
I grab my hat and overcoat as I slip the white jacket over my shoulders, adjusting my gun holster as I do. Sarah is right about one thing I need to get going Heather doesn’t seem the type that likes to be kept waiting. I hail a cab and try to relax a bit as the driver makes his way towards Heather’s apartment. I can’t believe how much my heart is racing but I keep telling myself it is because of the impending attempt on her life and not because of something that is going on between us.
I step off the elevator near the top of the twenty four story building, it is a nice view and I can’t help thinking what the cost on the place was or how Heather could afford to live there. When her maid answered the door it got me thinking again but I quickly push those thoughts aside as the maid takes my hat and coat and tells me to wait in the entryway while she announces me. I take a minute to look at the small mirror hanging above an end table, running my fingers through my hair and making sure that the trim job I did on my goatee wasn’t looking too shabby.
“Mrs. Stroble is still getting ready but she says to go on in sir and make yourself at home.”
“Thank you.” I mumble and then begin to wander through the large apartment. An open doorway on my right catches my attention as I see flashes of someone moving past the door and so I walk over to it. Heather is sitting on one of those long benches at the end of a large bed that seem to be the latest rage in town. She has her right leg laying flat on the bench and her left leg bent at the knee, foot on the bench rolling up a black stocking. The pink silk robe she is wearing is hanging open and I get a good look at the black corset and garter belt set she is wearing as she attaches the straps from the garter to her left leg. It is enough to make me lose my train of thought not to mention my breath.
“I’m not finished yet Barron so why don’t you stop gawking and fix yourself a drink while you wait.”
“Um,” I swallow hard, “ok, where is the umm.”
“The bar? It is in the living room. Sit down and relax I will only be a few minutes.” She closes the door behind her and I walk towards the wet bar she has in one corner of the living room. I pour myself a tall glass of scotch, pausing long enough to dip my handkerchief in the bucket of ice on the bar, running the cool cloth against my forehead. I need to get it together.
I take a drink and then walk towards the long white coach and sit down looking at the closed bedroom door.
“Hi, what are you doing here?”
I almost jumped out of my skin at that moment, I was so focused on staring at Heather’s bedroom door I didn’t see the little girl in a pink and white floor length nightgown standing next the couch. She had sandy brown hair that was pulled back from her shoulders with a red ribbon and the same devilishly clear eyes that Heather has. She stands there hands behind her back waiting patiently for me to say something.
“You must be Mr. Barron. Momma said you were coming to take her out tonight.”
“Well I am here to take her to her party, it’s not a date.”
“Momma said you’d say that too.”
“Is there anything you mother hasn’t said”
“She said you were cute but I wasn’t supposed to hear that, she was talking to her friend Miss Fran and didn’t know I was listening. She says you are incorruable.”
“Incorrigible you mean?”
“That’s it I can never remember that word Momma says it a lot. She says KJ you are incorrigible and I say no Momma I am a Stroble.”
I let out a chuckle and she smiles at me. I always did get along well with kids, Sarah would probably say it is because we are on the same level mentally; she might have a point there.
“Well KJ I think you are a peach. Did your mother say anything else about me?”
“I can’t think of anything else, except maybe that you looked like trouble but I didn’t understand that part cause you look nothing like Mrs. Conner’s pet cat”
“What are you doing out of bed young lady?”
We both turn to look at Heather; she was walking out of her bedroom and had her head tilted to the side as she put her earrings on. She was wearing a white dress covered by a sheer black lace embroidered covering that would have been see through if not for the white beneath. It clung tightly to her chest with enough of a plunge to make it interesting. The two thin straps that went across her upper arm instead of her shoulders seemed to be all that was holding the dress on her, it hugged her body till it reached her hips and then flared out again in a good sized skirt that covered her long gorgeous legs but ended about mid ankle to be finished off by a pair of open toed black high heels with thin straps buckled in silver. To say that I’m speechless is an understatement more like I am stunned.
“I was just talking to Mr. Barron momma. He is funny!”
“I’m sure he is darling but you need to go find Mrs. Harper and have her put you back to bed.”
I looked from daughter to mother and back again not trusting myself to say anything. I am still having a hard time with the last revelation add to that I wasn’t prepared for how Heather would look coming out of her room and I was feeling a bit dumb at the moment.
“You look beautiful momma.”
“Thank you dear. Now scoot! off to bed with you.”
“But I wanted to show Mr. Barron my locket.”
“You can show him some other time ok?”
“Alright good night Mr. Barron. It was a pleasure meeting you.” She gives me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek before running over to her mom and repeating the process.
“Good night Momma, have fun at the party and bring me back some cake ok.”
“It isn’t that kind of party KJ but I will see what I can do. Good night little one I love you.”
“Love you too Momma.”
She runs off like a kid at Christmas and I finally stir a bit setting my glass down on the coffee table, trying to gather my wits about me.
“I’m just about ready just a few more minutes and we can go alright?”
“I umm, yeah I umm.”
“Breath Barron everything will be ok just breath” she chuckles as she walks back into her room. I down the rest of the contents of my drink and shake my head trying to gather my scattered wits. Heather comes back in holding a thin silver chain with a large diamond teardrop at the center of it.
“Can you help me with this?”
I stand up and walk over to her taking the necklace from her, trying to will my hands not to shake as she pulls her dark wavy curls over her right shoulder giving me access to her neck. I move the necklace over her head and move the clasp back as I bring the small ring into it. I am trying hard not to stare over her shoulder and down the neckline of her dress, the smell of her perfume is over whelming causing me to miss the clasp several times before finally getting it right.
She turns around placing the teardrop in just the right spot and smiles at me.
“How does it look?”
“Not so bad yourself hotsuff. Let me grab my gloves and purse and we can go.”
It is going to be a long night. I need another drink.”