Free Download Three to Get Deadly (Stephanie Plum, No. 3) (Stephanie Plum Novels) by Janet Evanovich Ebook PDF online, free download Thrill Me (Fool's Gold) by Susan Mallery Ebook PDF online, free download Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington Ebook PDF Online. Three to Get Deadly #3 in the series. THE WINTER OF DISCONTENT AND BODIES IN THE BASEMENT. It’s January and the weather’s as bleak as Stephanie’s chances of apprehending Moses Bedemeir, Trenton’s most beloved candy store owner. So loved is Uncle Mo, the very fact that Stephanie’s out to bring him in makes her the.
“Well, what the hell,” I said.
By the time I knocked on Morelli’s front door my heart was doing little flutter things in my chest.
Morelli opened the door and grimaced. “If you have another dead guy in your car I don’t want to hear about it.”
“This is a social call.”
The chest flutterings stopped. “What kind of a crack is that?”
“It’s nothing. Forget it. You look frozen. Where’s your coat?”
I stepped into the foyer. “I didn’t wear a coat. It was warmer when I started out this afternoon.”
I followed Morelli back to the kitchen and watched while he filled a cordial glass with amber liquid.
“Here,” he said, handing the glass over. “Fastest way to get warm.”
I took a sniff. “What is it?”
“Schnapps. My uncle Lou makes it in his cellar.”
I tried a teeny taste and my tongue went numb. “I don’t know…”
Morelli raised eyebrows. “Chicken?”
“I don’t see you drinking this stuff.”
Morelli took the glass from my hand and tossed the contents down his throat. He refilled the glass and gave it back to me. “Your turn, Cupcake.”
“To the Pope,” I said and drained the glass.
“Well?” Morelli asked. “What do you think?”
I did some coughing and openmouthed wheezing. My throat burned, and liquid fire roiled in my stomach and shot through to every extremity. My scalp started to sweat, and my vagina went into spasm. “Pretty good,” I finally said to Morelli.
I shook my finger in a no motion. “Maybe later.”
“What’s with the suit?”
I told him about Ranger’s car, and about my second trip to speak to Mrs. Steeger. I told him about Dorothy Rostowski and Mrs. Bartle.
“People are nuts,” Morelli said. “Freaking nuts.”
“So why don’t you want this to be a social visit?”
“It’s the hair, isn’t it?”
“It’s not the hair.”
“You’re secretly married?”
“I’m not secretly anything.”
“Well then, what? What?”
“It’s you. You’re a walking disaster. A man would have to be a total masochist to be interested in you.”
“Okay,” I said. “Maybe I will have another schnapps.”
He poured two out, and we both threw them back. It was easier this time. Less fire. More glow.
“I’m not a walking disaster,” I said. “I can’t imagine why you think that.”
“Every time I get social with you I end up all by myself, naked, in the middle of the street.”
I rolled my eyes. “That only happened once…and you weren’t naked. You were wearing socks and a shirt.”
“I was speaking figuratively. If you want to get specific, what about the time you locked me in a freezer truck with three corpses? What about the time you ran over me with the Buick?”
I threw my hands into the air. “Oh sure, bring up the Buick.”
He shook his head, disgusted like. “You’re impossible. You’re not worth the effort.”
I curled my fingers into the front of his T-shirt and hauled him closer. “Not even in your dreams could you imagine how impossible I can be.”
We were toe to toe with my br**sts skimming his chest, our eyes locked.
“I’ll drink to that,” Morelli said.
The third schnapps went down smooth as silk. I gave the empty glass to Morelli and licked my lips.
Morelli watched the lip licking, and his eyes darkened and his breathing slowed.
Aha! I thought. This was more like it. Got him interested with the old lip-licking routine.
“Shit,” Morelli said. “You did that on purpose.”
I smiled. Then he smiled.
It looked to me like his “gotcha” smile. Like the cat that just caught the canary. Like I’d been had…again.
Then he closed the space between us, took my face in his hands and kissed me.
The kisses got hotter, and I got hotter and Morelli got hotter. And pretty soon we were all so hot that we needed to get rid of some clothes.
We were half undressed when Morelli suggested we go upstairs.
“Hmmm,” I said with lowered eyelids. “What sort of a girl do you think I am?”
Morelli murmured his thoughts on the subject and removed my bra. His hand covered my bare breast, and his fingers played with the tip. “Do you like this?” he asked, gently rolling the nipple between thumb and forefinger.
I pressed my lips together to keep from sinking my teeth into his shoulder.
He tried another variation of the nipple roll. “How about this?”
Oh yeah. That too.
Morelli kissed me again, and next thing we were down on the linoleum floor fumbling with zippers and panty hose.
His finger traced a tiny circle on my silk-and-lace panties, directly over ground zero. My brain went numb, and my body said, YES!
Morelli moved lower and performed the same maneuver with the tip of his tongue, once again finding the perfect spot without benefit of treasure map or detailed instructions.
Now this was a superhero.
I was on the verge of singing the Hallelujah Chorus when something crashed outside the kitchen window. Morelli picked his head up and listened. There were some scuffling sounds, and Morelli was on his feet, pulling his jeans on. He had his gun in his hand when he opened the back door.
I was right behind him, my shirt held together by a single button, my panty hose draped over a kitchen chair, my gun drawn. “What is it?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I don’t see anything.”
“Maybe. The garbage is tipped over. Maybe it was my neighbor’s dog.”
I put a hand to the wall to steady myself. “Uh-oh,” I said.
“I don’t know how to break this to you, but the floor is moving. Either we’re having an earthquake, or else I’m drunk.”
“You only had three schnapps!”
“I’m not much of a drinker. And I didn’t have supper.”
My voice sounded like it was resonating from a tin can, far far away.
“Oh boy,” Morelli said. “How drunk are you?”
I blinked and squinted at him. He had four eyes. I hated when that happened. “You have four eyes.”
“That’s not a good sign.”
“Maybe I should go home now,” I said. Then I threw up.
I woke up with a blinding headache and my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. I was wearing a flannel nightshirt, which I dimly remembered crawling into. I was pretty sure I was alone at the time, although the evening was fuzzy from the third schnapps on.
What I clearly remembered was that a Morelli-induced orgasm had once again eluded me. And I was fairly certain Morelli hadn’t fared any better.
He’d done the responsible thing and had insisted I sober up some before I went home. We’d logged a couple miles in the cold air. He’d poured coffee into me, force-fed me scrambled eggs and toast, and then he’d driven me to my apartment building. He’d delivered me to my door, and I think he said good night before the nightshirt crawling-into.
I shuffled into the kitchen, got some coffee going and used it to wash down aspirin. I took a shower, drank a glass of orange juice, brushed my teeth three times. I took a peek at myself in the mirror and groaned. Black circles under bloodshot eyes, pasty hungover skin. Not a nice picture. “Stephanie,” I said, “you’re no good at drinking.”
The headache disappeared at midmorning. By noon I was feeling almost human. I took myself into the kitchen and was standing in front of the refrigerator, staring at the crisper drawer, contemplating the creation of the universe, when the phone rang.
My first thought was that it might be Morelli. My second thought was that I definitely didn’t want to talk to him. Let the machine take the message, I decided.
“I know you’re there,” Morelli said. “You might as well answer. You’re going to have to talk to me sooner or later.”
“I have news on Mo’s lawyer.”
I snatched at the phone. “Hello?”
“You’re going to love this one,” Morelli said.
I closed my eyes. I was having a bad premonition on the identity of the lawyer. “Don’t tell me.”
I could feel Morelli smiling at the other end of the line. “Dickie Orr.”
Dickie Orr. My ex-husband. The horse’s ass. This was a harpoon to the brain on a day when there was already impaired activity.
Dickie was a graduate of Newark Law. He was with the firm Kreiner and Kreiner in the old Shuman Building, and what he lacked in talent, he compensated for in creative overbilling. He was acquiring a reputation for being a hotshot attorney. I was convinced this was due to his inflated pay schedule rather than his court record. People wanted to believe they got what they paid for.
“When did you learn this?”
“About ten minutes ago.”
“Is Mo turning himself in?”
“Thinking about it. Guess he’s hired himself a dealmaker.”
“He’s suspected of murdering eight men. What kind of a deal does he want? Lobster every Friday while he’s on death row?”
I got a box of Frosted Flakes from the kitchen cupboard and shoved some into my mouth.
“What are you eating?” Morelli wanted to know.
“That’s kid cereal.”
“So what does Mo want?”
“I don’t know. I’m going over to talk to Dickie. Maybe you’d like to tag along.”
I ate another fistful of cereal. “Is there a price?”
“There’s always a price. Meet you at the coffee shop in the Shuman Building in half an hour.”
I considered the state of my hair. “I might be a few minutes late.”
“I’ll wait,” Morelli said.
I could make the Shuman Building in ten minutes if I got all the lights right. It would take at least twenty minutes to do hair and makeup. If I wore a hat I could forgo hair, and that would cut the time in half. I decided the hat was the way to go.
I hit the back door running with a few minutes to spare. I’d gone with taupe eye-liner, a bronze-tone blusher, natural lip gloss and lots of black mascara. The key ingredient to hangover makeup is green concealer for the under-eye bags, covered over with quality liquid foundation. I was wearing my Rangers ball cap, and a fringe of orange frizz framed my face. Orphan Annie, eat your heart out.
I paused for a light at Hamilton and Twelfth and noticed the Nissan was running rough at idle. Two blocks later it backfired and stalled. I coaxed it into the center of the city. Ffft, ffft, ffft, KAPOW! Ffft, ffft, ffft, KAPOW!
A Trans Am pulled up next to me at a light. The Trans Am was filled with high school kids. One of them stuck his head out the passenger-side window.
“Hey lady,” he said. “Sounds like you got a fartmobile.”
I flipped him an Italian goodwill gesture and pulled the ball cap low on my forehead. When I found a parking space in front of the Shuman Building, I revved the engine, popped the clutch and backed into the parking slot at close to warp speed. The Nissan jumped the curb and rammed a meter. I gnashed my teeth together. Stephanie Plum, rabid woman. I got out and took a look. The meter was fine. The truck had a big dent in the rear bumper. Good. Now the back matched the front. The truck looked like someone had taken a giant pincers to it.
I stormed into the coffee shop, spotted Morelli and stomped over to him. I must have still looked rabid, because Morelli stiffened when he saw me and made one of those unconscious security gestures cops often acquire, surreptitiously feeling to see if their gun is in place.
I tossed my shoulder bag onto the floor and threw myself into the chair across from him.
“I swear I didn’t intentionally try to get you drunk,” Morelli said.
I squeezed my eyes shut. “Unh.”
“Well, okay, so I did,” he admitted. “But I didn’t mean to get you that drunk.”
“Take a number.”
He smiled. “You have other problems?”
“My car is possessed by the devil.”
“You should try my mechanic.”
“You have a good mechanic?”
“The best. Bucky Seidler. You remember him from high school?”
“He got suspended for letting a bunch of rats loose in the girls’ locker room.”
“Yeah. That’s Bucky.”
It was January in Trenton. The sky was gun-metal gray, and the air sat dead cold on cars and sidewalks. Inside the offices of Vincent Plum, bail bond agent, the atmosphere was no less grim, and I was sweating not from heat but from panic.
“I can’t do this,” I said to my cousin, Vinnie. “I’ve never refused a case before, but I can’t pick this guy up. Give the paperwork to Ranger. Give it to Barnes.”
“I’m not giving this two-bit Failure to Appear to Ranger,” Vinnie said. “It’s the kind of penny-ante stuff you do. For chrissake, be a professional. You’re a bounty hunter. You’ve been a bounty hunter for five f**king months. What’s the big deal?”
“This is Uncle Mo!” I said. “I can’t apprehend Uncle Mo. Everyone will hate me. My mother will hate me. My best friend will hate me.”
Vinnie slumped his slim, boneless body into the chair behind his desk and rested his head on the padded leather back. “Mo jumped bail. That makes him a slimeball. That’s all that counts.”
I rolled my eyes so far into the top of my head I almost fell over backward.
Moses Bedemier, better known as Uncle Mo, started selling ice cream and penny candy on June 5, 1958, and has been at it ever since. His store is set on the edge of the burg, a comfy residential chunk of Trenton where houses and minds are proud to be narrow and hearts are generously wide open. I was born and raised in the burg and while my current apartment is approximately a mile outside the burg boundary I’m still tethered by an invisible umbilical. I’ve been hacking away at the damn thing for years but have never been able to completely sever it.
Moses Bedemier is a solid burg citizen. Over time, Mo and his linoleum have aged, so that both have some pieces chipped at the corners now, and the original colors have blurred from thirty-odd years under fluorescent lights. The yellow brick facade and overhead sheet metal sign advertising the store are dated and weatherbeaten. The chrome and Formica on the stools and countertop have lost their luster. And none of this matters, because in the burg Uncle Mo’s is as close as we come to a historic treasure.
And I, Stephanie Plum, 125 pounds, five feet, seven inches, brown-haired, blue-eyed bounty hunter at large, have just been assigned the task of hauling Uncle Mo’s revered ass off to jail.
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“So what did he do?” I asked Vinnie. “Why was he arrested in the first place?”
“Got caught doing thirty-five in a twenty-five-mile-per-hour zone by Officer Picky…better known as Officer Benny Gaspick, fresh out of police academy and so wet behind the ears he doesn’t know enough to take Mo’s get-out-of-jail-free PBA card and forget the whole thing.”
“Bond isn’t required on a traffic ticket.”
Vinnie planted a pointy-toed patent leather shoe on the corner of his desk. Vinnie was a sexual lunatic, especially enamored with dark-skinned young men wearing nipple rings and pointy-breasted women who owned fourteenth-century torture tools. He was a bail bondsman, which meant he loaned people money to post the bond set by the court. The bond’s purpose was to make it economically unpleasant for the suspect to skip town. Once the bond was posted the incarcerated suspect was set free, enabling him to sleep in his own bed while awaiting trial. The price for using Vinnie’s service was fifteen percent of the bond and was nonrefundable no matter what the outcome of the charges. If the bailee failed to appear for his court appearance, the court kept Vinnie’s money. Not just the fifteen percent profit. The court kept the whole ball of wax, the entire bail bond amount. This never made Vinnie happy.
And that’s where I came in. I found the bailee, who was at that point officially a felon, and brought him back into the system. If I found the Failure to Appear, better known as an FTA, in a timely fashion, the court gave Vinnie his cash back. For this fugitive apprehension I received ten percent of the bond amount, and Vinnie was left with a five percent profit.
I’d originally taken the job out of desperation when I’d been laid off (through no fault of my own) as lingerie buyer for E. E. Martin. The alternative to unemployment had been overseeing the boxing machine at the tampon factory. A worthy task, but not something that got me orgasmic.
I wasn’t sure why I was still working for Vinnie. I suspected it had something to do with the title. Bounty hunter. It held a certain cachet. Even better, the job didn’t require panty hose.
Vinnie smiled his oily smile, enjoying the story he was telling me. “In his misplaced zeal to be Most Hated Cop of the Year, Gaspick delivers a little lecture to Mo on road safety, and while Gaspick is lecturing, Mo squirms in his seat, and Gaspick catches a glimpse of a forty-five stuck in Mo’s jacket pocket.”
“And Mo got busted for carrying concealed,” I said.
Carrying concealed was frowned upon in Trenton. Permits were issued sparingly to a few jewelers, and judges and couriers. Getting caught carrying concealed illegally was considered unlawful possession of a firearm and was an indictable offense. The weapon was confiscated, bail was set and the bearer of the weapon was shit out of luck.
Of course, this didn’t stop a sizable percentage of the population of Jersey from carrying concealed. Guns were bought at Bubba’s Gun Shop, inherited from relatives, passed off among neighbors and friends and purchased second-, third-and fourth-hand from and by citizens who were fuzzy on the details of gun control. Logic dictated that if the government issued a license to own a gun then it must be okay to put it in your purse. I mean, why else would a person want a gun if not to carry it in her purse. And if it wasn’t okay to carry a gun in your purse, then the law was stupid. And no one in Jersey was going to put up with a stupid law.
I was even known, on occasion, to carry concealed. At this very moment I could see Vinnie’s ankle holster causing a bulge at the cuff line of his polyester slacks. Not only was he carrying concealed but I’d lay odds his gun wasn’t registered.
“This is not a big-time offense,” I said to Vinnie. “Not something worth going Failure to Appear.”
“Probably Mo forgot he had a court date,” Vinnie said. “Probably all you have to do is go remind him.”
Hold that thought, I told myself. This might not be such a disaster after all. It was ten o’clock. I could mosey on over to the candy store and talk to Mo. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized my panic had been ungrounded. Mo had no reason to go FTA.
I closed the door on my way out of Vinnie’s office, and sidestepped around Connie Rosolli. Connie was the office manager and Vinnie’s guard dog. She held Vinnie in the same high esteem one would reserve for slug slime, but she’d worked for Vinnie for a lot of years, and had come to accept that even slug slime was part of God’s great scheme.
Connie was wearing fuchsia lipstick, matching nail enamel and a white blouse with big black polka dots. The nail enamel was very cool, but the blouse wasn’t a good choice for someone who carried sixty percent of her body weight on her chest. Good thing the fashion police didn’t do too many tours of Trenton.
“You aren’t going to do it, are you?” she asked. The tone implying that only a dog turd would cause Uncle Mo a moment of grief.
No offense taken. I knew where she lived. We had the same mental zip code. “You mean am I going to talk to Mo? Yeah, I’m going to talk to Mo.”
Connie’s black eyebrows fused into a straight line of righteous indignation. “That cop had no business arresting Uncle Mo. Everyone knows Uncle Mo would never do anything wrong.”
“He was carrying concealed.”
“As if that was a crime,” Connie said.
“That is a crime!”
Lula’s head came up from her filing. “What’s all the deal about this Uncle Mo, anyway?”
Lula was a former hooker turned file clerk. She’d just recently embarked on a makeover program that included dyeing her hair blond and then straightening it and recurling it into ringlets. The transformation had her looking like a 230-pound black kick-ass Shirley Temple.
“Moses Bedemier,” I said. “He runs a candy store on Ferris Street. Very popular person.”
“Uh-oh,” she said. “I think I know him. He about in his early sixties? Going bald on top? Lotta liver spots? Got a nose looks like a penis?”
“Um, I never really noticed his nose.”
Vinnie had given me Uncle Mo’s file, which consisted of stapled-together copies of his arrest sheet, his signed bond agreement and a photo. I turned to the photo and stared at Uncle Mo.
Lula stared over my shoulder. “Yup,” she said. “That’s him all right. That’s Old Penis Nose.”
Connie was out of her chair. “Are you telling me Uncle Mo was a client? I don’t believe that for a second!”
Lula narrowed her eyes and stuck her lip out. “Yo momma.”
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“Nothing personal,” Connie said.
“Hunh,” Lula replied, hand on hip.
I zipped my jacket and wrapped my scarf around my neck. “You sure about knowing Uncle Mo?” I asked Lula.
She took one last look at the picture. “Hard to say. You know how all them old white men look alike. Maybe I should come with you to check this dude out in person.”
“No!” I shook my head. “Not a good idea.”
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“You think I can’t do this bounty hunter shit?”
Lula hadn’t yet embarked on the language makeover.
“Well, of course you can do it,” I said. “It’s just that this situation is sort of…delicate.”
“Hell,” she said, stuffing herself into her jacket. “I can delicate your ass off.”
“Anyway, you might need some help here. Suppose he don’t want to come peaceful. You might need a big, full-figure woman like me to do some persuading.”
Lula and I had crossed paths while I was on my first felon hunt. She’d been a street-walker, and I’d been street-stupid. I’d unwittingly involved her in the case I was working on, and as a result, one morning I found her battered and bloody on my fire escape.
Lula credited me with saving her life, and I blamed myself for endangering it. I was in favor of wiping the slate clean, but Lula formed a sort of attachment to me. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was hero worship. It was more like one of those Chinese things where if you save a person’s life they belong to you…even if you don’t want them.
“We’re not doing any persuading,” I said. “This is Uncle Mo. He sells candy to kids.”
Lula had her pocketbook looped over her arm. “I can dig it,” she said, following me out the door. “You still driving that old Buick?”
“Yeah. My Lotus is in the shop.”
Actually, my Lotus was in my dreams. A couple months ago my Jeep got stolen, and my mother, in a burst of misguided good intentions, strong-armed me into the driver’s seat of my uncle Sandor’s ’53 Buick. Strained finances and lack of backbone had me still peering over the mile-long powder-blue hood, wondering at the terrible acts I must have committed to deserve such a car.
A gust of wind rattled the Fiorello’s Deli sign next to Vinnie’s office. I pulled my collar up and searched in my pocket for gloves.
“At least the Buick’s in good shape,” I told Lula. “That’s what counts, right?”
“Hunh,” Lula said. “Only people who don’t have a cool car say things like that. How about the radio. It got a bad radio? It got Dolby?”
“Hold on,” she said. “You don’t expect me to ride around with no Dolby. I need some hot music to get me in the mood to bust ass.”
I unlocked the doors to the Buick. “We are not busting ass. We’re going to talk to Uncle Mo.”
“Sure,” Lula said, settling herself in, giving a disgusted glare to the radio. “I know that.”
I drove one block down Hamilton and turned left onto Rose into the burg. There was little to brighten the neighborhood in January. The blinking twinkle lights and red plastic Santas of Christmas were packed away, and spring was still far in the future. Hydrangea bushes were nothing more than mean brown sticks, lawns were frost-robbed of color and streets were empty of kids, cats, car washers and blaring radios. Windows and doors were shut tight against the cold and gloom.
Even Uncle Mo’s felt sterile and unwelcoming as I slowed to a stop in front of the store.
Lula squinted through my side window. “I don’t want to rain on your parade,” she said, “but I think this sucker’s closed.”
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I parked at the curb. “That’s impossible. Uncle Mo never closes. Uncle Mo hasn’t been closed a day since he opened in nineteen fifty-eight.”