In The Running
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by Dee Lloyd
Description: When your world disintegrates, not even waking in the arms of an attractive man helps. Yesterday, Reenie discovered her fiance was unfaithful, saw him commit a murder and ran; today, she wrecked her car. This is no time to fall in love. Or is it?
eBook Publisher: Awe-Struck E-Books, 1999
eBookwise Release Date: November 2002
42 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [322 KB]
Reading time: 209-293 min.
"The suspense in this book is wonderful! Dee Lloyd is an author I will look for again. Her vivid descriptions of the characters and their surroundings drew me in right away. She manages to mix page-turning suspense with a tender love story in a way that does justice to both, and kept me hooked to the last page."--Cheri Murphy, The Romance Journal
Although the words and numbers were beginning to swim in front of Maura's eyes, her building anger kept her plugging on. That much seafood and produce had never arrived in her kitchen!
What else had been going on under her nose? She dug right to the back of the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet. The bulges of the fat brown manila envelope she pulled out were the wrong shape to be more doctored invoices. She took out a rolled printout of columns of figures; some smaller, folded papers; then a few loose negatives. Last, she found several eight by ten-inch glossy photos.
One glance told her they weren't anything she wanted to examine closely. She was in no mood to tolerate someone's secret stash of porn. Just as she was about to ram the photos back into the envelope, she froze in disbelief. Four very clear, black and white pictures featured her fiance'! In each one, Jon Casen was having sex with a different woman. Maura felt sick.
The first photo was an unflattering view of Jon's fairly broad posterior. The handsome champion of the environment, everyone's knight on a white charger was mounting Danny's cousin, Lucy Spadafore. In the next shot, he was with a blonde who'd been working at the Lodge less than two weeks. The miserable cheat! Maura didn't know the other two women. The fifth photo hardly registered. It showed Jon, actually with his clothes on, in earnest conversation with two men. One was Sal Gerardo, a local crime boss. The sanctimonious phony! No wonder he'd been so patient about her reluctance to go to bed with him. She put everything back into the manilla envelope and rammed it into her large tapestry bag. She couldn't wait to see Gran's face when she saw the photos of her Golden Boy when Maura got to Lansing later tonight. On second thought - she yanked out one of the nude pictures at random - Maura decided to confront Jon with one first.
She hoped he was still in Danny's office. She had an engagement ring and a blistering message for him!
As she marched along the corridor to the front of the building, Maura angrily crumpled the photo of Jon and the waitress in her hand and rehearsed what she was going to say before she threw his ring and the photo in his face. When she started across the thick carpet of the dark lounge, she was only vaguely aware of the faint smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke that hung in the air in spite of the deodorizers the cleaners used to cover it. She heard voices. Good! They were still there.
Upended chairs on bar tables cast elongated shadows in the bright light slanting from the partially open door of the office.
"Scumbag!" The angry shout stopped her in her tracks.
Not much of the room was visible. Maura could see the back of Jon's head over the back of his leather chair and her boss's angry face as he loomed over him.
"All the times I've saved your ass, made you my partner, and you steal from me! Well, no more, Jonny. This time you pay up. If Sal and the old lady see those pictures, you're dead meat. And they'll see them if I don't get every cent back by this time tomorrow. Now, get out."
Jon stood up slowly.
"Wilson," Danny's voice was harsh with disgust as he turned to go back to his desk. "get him out of ..."
Jon lunged at Danny knocking him out of her field of view.
"What the hell!" Danny's words ended in a grunt.
Something hard, maybe a chair, skidded across the floor and hit the door with a crash, knocking it almost closed.
"Hold him, Wilson." Jon's usually cultured voice was so rough she hardly recognized it.
Wilson? Wilson Foster was the assistant manager of the lodge. He worked for Danny - not Jon. What was going on?
She heard the unmistakable sound of flesh repeatedly hitting flesh, then a cry and a moan. This couldn't be happening!
"Make it easy on yourself, partner. Tell me where you put the negatives and we'll forget all about this little error in judgment."
"F--- off!" Danny's words were blurred.
"Take over, Wilson." Jon sounded almost bored.
If she had any sense, she'd get out of here before they saw her. But, the envelope she'd found figured in this. Had Jon been stealing from his client? No. Danny had said "partner". Maura eased the door open just far enough to see what was going on.
Danny was bent over, trying to protect his stomach from Wilson's fists. Wilson grabbed him by the scruff of the neck with one hand and gave him a hard punch to the jaw. Danny went flying across the room. As he landed, his head hit the corner of the desk.
Wilson followed him over, nursing the knuckles of his right hand. When he crouched down by Danny's still body, he hissed something and began to search for a pulse.
"Christ! He's dead."
Danny certainly looked dead. Blood trickled from his mouth and nose. His grey hair was dark with it. Jon's right hand man, Walt Ames, appeared from somewhere and dropped to his knees on the other side of Danny. Jon, his back still to the door, leaned over to check for himself.
Jon must have heard Maura's sharply indrawn breath, because he whirled around. His pale eyes flared with anger, then narrowed to an icy glare.
"Do come in, Maura," he drawled. There was blood on the knuckles of his right hand.
She slammed the door to cut off the menace in his eyes and ran. She was pulling out onto the highway before she realized she'd dropped the photograph.
Jon knew she'd found the envelope.
Copyright © 1999 by Dee Lloyd