Finola would be under the porch. At least, that’s what Melanie hoped. She knelt down and peered into the darkness under her house, further tearing her nylons. She grunted in irritation, as if it mattered.
Sure enough, there was her pooch about two yards out of reach, picking at her orange furry prey. In life, the cat was always a paw step ahead. In death, the cat was lunchmeat.
“Damn.” She snapped her fingers. “Finola, here girl, c’mon out. Come to Mama.” Her sweet talk was rewarded with a low growl. Finola was making it clear that Morris was finally hers to do with as she pleased. And even ‘Mama’ had no standing. Melanie saw an old rake handle next to her, and reached for it, not wanting to think about what she might actually do with it. She was startled by a voice right behind her.
“Come here often?”
She rose up and whacked her head on the underside of the porch, throwing stars into her field of vision.
“Hey! I’m sorry! Are you all right?” It was Rich. He helped her to her feet.
“Crap! What…when did you get back?” she asked, massaging the tender nugget on the back of her head.
“Last night, but I left my heart in San Francisco.” He smiled a little too wistfully, then gave her disheveled presence a once-over. “What happened to you?” She was still holding the rake handle, and she was covered in dust. Dust?
“You won’t believe me.” She turned her attention back under the house. “Help me get Finola out of there.”
“Your dog?” Rich squinted through the darkness at the spaniel, still chewing on the furball. “Is that your cat?”
“It was. Let’s get them out of here, and I’ll explain when we’re in the house.”
Ten minutes and a dog bite later, Rich was sitting on the side of the bathtub as Melanie dressed his wound. He held up his throbbing thumb and examined the bandage.
“Excellent work, Nurse Rainwater. I think I’ll recover.”
“That’s Doctor Rainwater to you. There’s beer in the fridge, help yourself.”
“Just what the doctor ordered. But I better not. I’m meeting a new client this afternoon.”
“I wondered why the monkeysuit. And I thought you dressed up for me.” She straightened his tie.
“Well, I decided that my usual slovenly self wouldn’t go over well as a first impression. But I’m not wearing any socks, if that’s any consolation.”
“I can see the headlines. ‘Rich Richards, World Famous Private Eye, Sockless!’ Your secret is safe with me.”
“I knew I could trust you, kid.” He gave her a gentle tap on the chin. “Now tell me why you’re covered in baby powder.”
This installment contributed by Alex.
What's the history between Melanie and PI Rich? Why doesn't Rich wear socks? Who's the other half of his impending appointment? Will Melanie drag him into the Smuggling Cat Carcass Ring? It's all up to you!
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