Those of you who have teens and dogs know that they can drive you crazy and upend a perfectly well-planned day. Not that I’m very good at planning, but still. Back before Les ran off with that tramp Heather-Anne, it didn’t matter much if Dexter forgot his homework and needed me to bring it to the high school. (I was so surprised and pleased he’d done his homework, I really didn’t mind.) Or if Kendall suddenly remembered an ice skating practice and needed me to drive her to the Ice Hall this minute, I could do it because I didn’t have much else on my plate, not counting mani-pedis and hair appointments. (My hair isn’t naturally this blond anymore, you know. Ssh.) But now that Les is gone and I need to earn a living—I’m a private investigator with Swift Investigations—it’s a different story.
So when Nolan—he’s my Shih tzu—didn’t come back this morning after I let him out to do his chores, I knew finding him would make me late. My Stella McCartney pumps were not made for hiking around the neighborhood and I was seriously annoyed with Nolan by the time I caught up with him trying to get frisky with the Klamerers’ standard poodle.
“You are a naughtly little doggie,” I told him when he trotted over to me. He licked my chin and I forgave him. “You’re coming to work with Mommy today.” Scooping him up, I carried him home and plopped him into the Hummer, not noticing that he’d left muddy paw prints on my cream-colored Pringle cashmere sweater until I got to the office. Charlie pointed them out in her usual blunt fashion. Charlie’s not much of one for mincing words; she pretty much tells it like it is, so don’t ask her if your new dress makes you look fat unless you want to hear the truth.
“Mud splotches—very chic.”
“Oh, no,” I wailed, trying to sponge the prints off in our tiny bathroom. The mirror told me I’d only been partially successful and the soggy cashmere clung damply to the girls. I tugged at the neckline, trying to cover a few of the brown spots on my chest that had sprung up like mushrooms after a good rain, practically the minute I hit menopause. I have yet to find one single solitary thing about aging that I like. All that stuff about greater wisdom and insight? Hooey! Not worth the hot flashes, sagging chin, puffy ankles and forgetfulness.
Speaking of which . . . I dashed out of the bathroom and snatched up a folder from my desk. “Gotta run,” I called to Charlie as I headed through the door. “Need to deliver this subpoena by noon.”
Process serving brings in steady cash, which we need since real PI work is kind of hit and miss. Today, I had a subpoena to serve to a Winston Saunders. He had a pet grooming business, which is why I’d brought Nolan with me. You’ve no idea how wily people can be when they’re trying to avoid being served. Nolan would help me blend in and get close to Saunders. He panted happily and smeared the windows with his nose as we drove to the Posh Pets Pampering Pavilion that Saunders owned.
Inside, the space smelled like damp dogs. Fur floated through the air and immediately attached itself to the damp spot on my bosom. I sneezed. A crated bichon yapped when it spotted Nolan and Nolie growled until I put my fingers around his muzzle. Two groomers worked at adjacent tables, one shearing an Old English sheepdog and the other trying to get what looked like gum out of a long-haired cat’s tail. The cat did not seem to appreciate his efforts.
“Um, I’m looking for Winston Saunders?” I said, unsure which of the men was my target.
The skinny man working on the cat looked up. He had very blond brows and ears that stuck out a bit. He wore an exasperated expression. “Yeah?”
I stepped closer, tucking Nolan under one arm to fumble in my purse for the subpoena. Saunders’ eyes widened and I knew I was busted.
“Oh, no you don’t,” he yelled.
Before I could guess what he meant to do, he picked up the black cat and flung it at me. I got an impression of hair and claws and yowling before it landed smack on my chest. Nolan wriggled and growled, I yelped when the cat’s claws sank into my shoulder, and we all tumbled to the floor. Ow! This was not going as I had planned. Saunders disappeared through a back exit, the cat streaked away with Nolan chasing it, the sheepdog woofed loudly, the other groomer said something about calling the police, and I lay flat on my back coated in so much pet hair that I looked like a woolly caterpillar, thinking that it wasn’t even noon yet. It was going to be one of those days.
You can read more about Gigi in SWIFT RUN, the third book in the “Swift Investigation” mystery series. The first book in the series is Swift Justice.
Meet the author
The author of ten mystery novels, Laura DiSilverio is a former Air Force intelligence officer. She writes the Mall Cop series (Berkley Prime Crime) and the Swift Investigations humorous PI series (Minotaur), teaches for MWA’s Mystery University, and serves as vice president for Sisters in Crime. She plots murders and parents teens in Colorado, trying to keep the two tasks separate. Find her at www.lauradisilverio.com, on Facebook or Twitter.
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.