St. Louis Hustle
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by Claire Applewhite
Description: A simple case turns into a web of lethal deception. When sleek Emily Davies begs Elvin Suggs to trail her philandering husband, Nick, it seems like an easy request. Dimond "Di" Redding and Elvin are eager to get started on the first case for their new business, Grapevine Investigations. Along with help from their fellow Vietnam vet Cobra Glynes, they follow the cheating husband straight to St. Louis' notorious "no tell motel"--The Coral Court. Right from the start Di distrusts Emily, a nurse at People's Hospital. She can't explain why she's uneasy until they spot the woman playing doctor with a plastic surgeon at the very same motel. The mousy desk clerk Waldo E. knows his "regulars" but he refuses to divulge his secrets to the investigators. When one of his regular guests turns up dead, he still won't talk, not even to police detective Reggie Combs. The woman's sleazy landlord is quick to point the finger at Emily's cheating husband. After another body turns up, this time at the Coral Court Motel, Elvin and Di discover there's no escape until they see this twisted case through to the bitter end?
eBook Publisher: L&L Dreamspell/L&L Dreamspell, 2011 London, Texas
eBookwise Release Date: April 2011
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [303 KB]
Reading time: 185-260 min.
"Author Applewhite has created an engrossing tale that presents the setting almost as one of the cast of characters. If you like neatly rendered, nicely plotted fiction, you'll finish St. Louis Hustle in one sitting. For those who know little or nothing about St. Louis, Applewhite's novel is the perfect gateway to the Gateway City." John Lutz
The Coral Court Motel
Monday, 9:30 p.m.
* * * *
She'd tell him tonight.
The shower pattered behind the bathroom door. Her emerald eyes glimpsed the clothes heaped on the faded carpet; crumpled napkins and greasy wrappers cluttered a scratched table. Angel fumbled in the darkness. Finally, found the lighter. Was there time to sneak a smoke?
With a rustle of cellophane, a fresh cigarette dangled from her lips. Her slender fingers flicked; the fuel fed the flame. A faint orange gleam glimmered in the shadows.
Cheap room, cheap food, cheap. Wait.
Nick's trim body outlined the doorway. Angel sucked a long drag, and stared at the the sagging drapes. The fresh smoke seared his eyes. He coughed and fanned the dingy air. A shaft of light filtered into the shadows. But for the soft rhythm of raindrops on the roof, the room sounded like a tomb. Outside, the Route 66 traffic whizzed on rain-slicked pavement. A horn blared.
Nick crept back to the rumpled bed. He stared at the ceiling and sighed. "Thought you quit."
"I'll quit. Yeah, I'll quit...when you do." Her leg fought the tangled sheet.
Nick cleared his throat. He slumped on the edge of the mattress. "I'll tell her tomorrow, Angel."
The blonde stubbed out the cigarette and nestled into the pillows. Her shoulders quivered with a sudden chill, and she stretched the worn bedspread over her lush breasts. "I can't wait anymore, Nick. I'm not getting any younger, and as I see it, you don't have any reason to tell her a thing." She folded her arms and paused. "That makes me the loser." She rose and wrapped the rumpled, white sheet around her taut body. "I'm not a good loser, Nick."
Nick grabbed his pants from the heap on the faded carpet. "I'm sorry I've got to rush, baby. I am. I don't like this anymore than you do. You know that, don't you? Next time I see you, I'll be all yours. I promise."
"You think it will be over, just like that?" She snapped her long fingers. Scorn and gall filled her wavering voice. "It's not that simple, Nick. You know that. Emily isn't going away. Not with those two kids. No, don't touch me. You know you're leaving."
Nick's hands cradled his throbbing head. "I can't lose you, Angel. You get me through the times with Emily...and man, they're just so bad. No one knows how bad things are, Angel. No one--except you."
"You're using me."
"It's me or her, Nick. I've had it."
Nick's jaw stiffened. He knotted his tie. "I heard you." He stuffed his wallet into his back pocket and turned to leave. Suddenly, he stopped. "You could tell her, you know."
"What I just said. Call her and tell her about us."
"I'm just saying...you could get rid of Emily as easily as I could. Maybe easier. Right now, I've got to get back to the house before she does. Her shift ends at eleven." He put his hand on the doorknob and twisted. "Look, just think about it. For us. Please, baby. Just think about it." The door slammed.
Angel lay among the tangled sheets, and thought about it...all of it. Somewhere, a siren wailed, a toilet flushed. Dammit, she deserved better. The salt of bitter tears singed her skin.
Brrring. The phone startled her. Who would call the room? Nick was the only person who knew she was here. Angel snatched the receiver. Her voice bubbled with delight. "Nick? Baby, I'm so sorry, I...Nick? Nick, is that you, baby? Who's there?" A dull buzz replied. Someone made a stupid mistake.
Angel slammed the receiver into the cradle. She stared at the heap of clothes on the faded carpet, and sobbed.