Cat on a Hyacinth Hunt (Midnight Louie Series #9)

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Midnight Louie, the black tomcat detective with a nose for the notorious, returns in the ninth episode of Carole Nelson Douglas's beloved series chronicling the follies of everyone's favorite feline. Back in Las Vegas after a holiday trip to the Big Apple, Midnight Louie witnesses death on the Nile when the battling Egyptian barges outside the Oasis hotel bring a dead body to the surface. The soggy victim is well known to Louie's redheaded, high-heeled human companion, Temple Barr: her two best beaux have been ...
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Overview

Midnight Louie, the black tomcat detective with a nose for the notorious, returns in the ninth episode of Carole Nelson Douglas's beloved series chronicling the follies of everyone's favorite feline. Back in Las Vegas after a holiday trip to the Big Apple, Midnight Louie witnesses death on the Nile when the battling Egyptian barges outside the Oasis hotel bring a dead body to the surface. The soggy victim is well known to Louie's redheaded, high-heeled human companion, Temple Barr: her two best beaux have been closely involved with the drowned man, and both have reasons to want him dead. Perhaps Temple can finally choose between handsome hotline counselor and ex-priest Matt Devine and the mysterious magician, Max Kinsella - by finding out which of her beaux is a killer. And then there are the new girls in town: an inscrutable lady magician named Shangri-La, who may play a bigger role in this scenario than anyone might think; and her winsome Siamese familiar, who may solve Louie's problems by giving him the key to her heart - or the key to solving the mystery.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Midnight Louie, cat detective, falls under the spell of an exotic feline fatale in his latest adventure, while his human, Temple Barr, is further swayed by magician-on-the-lam, Max Kinsella. Back in Las Vegas after a stint in New York City (Cat in a Golden Garland), Louie is in the audience at the Oasis Hotel watching the Egyptian barge battle, when a body is observed strapped to the prow of a ship. Ex-priest Matt Devine, another of Temple's enduring love interests, identifies the body as that of his unlamented stepfather, Cliff Effinger. What first appears to be just a mob-style rubout of a two-bit con man becomes something else with the discovery of a soggy note attached to the body that links Temple with hyacinths. While Temple and Max research the uses of the flower, Louie takes matters into his own paws and pads down to a nightclub called the Opium Den to take in the magic show of one Shangri-La and her lilac-point Siamese, Hyacinth. The humans finally tumble to Shangri-La's link to the case and converge on the magic show. But only after Temple is drugged, kidnapped and finally rescued with the help of a squad of DEA is resolution achieved. Midnight Louie's fans will rejoice that a perennial villain Cliff Effinger is finally laid to rest, and will likely hope for a comparable tidying up of Temple's increasingly tiresome vacillation between her two admirers. (July)
From the Publisher
"Turn those summertime blues into cool, cool jazz as Midnight Louie trips the light fantastic one more time as sleuth extraordinaire, defender of truth, justice, and the American way....As always, Ms. Douglas dishes up a crackerjack mystery superbly developed and resolved. But even better, she provides a depth of ambiance and keen insight to the soul that make each of her books a treasured keeper for her ever-increasing, totally devoted audience."—Romantic Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568958729
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Series: Midnight Louie Series, #9
  • Product dimensions: 6.15 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Cat on a Hyacinth Hunt

A Midnight Louie Mystery
By Douglas, Carole Nelson

Forge Books

Copyright © 1999 Douglas, Carole Nelson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780812561869

Chapter 1
 
Murder on the Home Front
 
Temple's recent holiday trip to New York City had convinced her of one thing: she would make a lousy undercover operative. (Although her five-alarm-fire-red hair should have tipped her off to that likelihood long before now.)
Today, on her return home, she was discovering how hard it was to scurry anonymously through the vast, gleaming Las Vegas airport while toting a twenty-pound black cat in a purple knapsack affixed like a baby-carrier to her décolletage.
Temple had no décolletage worth noticing at the moment (or any other moment, in her modest opinion), just Midnight Louie hanging limp as a sack of couch potatoes front and center. If anybody tried to shoot her, she'd be more protected by feline flab and fur than by Kevlar body armor.
Of course, no one (that she knew of) wanted to shoot her at the moment, but someone might be hoping to spot her. She didn't want to see anything but the Whittlesea Blue cab that would whisk her home to the Circle Ritz.
No surprises, she thought, dragging her rolling luggage behind her through the hectic between-holiday crowds that besiege the Slot-machine City over Christmas and New Year's.
No Electra Lark checking the plane schedule Temple had left with her, then deciding to drop by McCarran Airport and pick up herreturning tenant on some good-Samaritan whim.
No Matt Devine playing Boy Scout gallant. No Matt getting Temple's car keys and arrival time from Electra. No aqua Storm idling eagerly at the ground transportation curb to waft Temple home in its aging but game style.
And no, please God, no Max Kinsella appearing from behind a mirrored pillar to load Temple and belongings into his oh-sp-discreet inherited ebony Taurus. No Max to transport the whole kit and caboodle back to the scene of the crime, the Circle Ritz, where they might encounter Electra Lark or, worse, Matt Devine and have to explain things. Or not explain things. Which was even more incriminating.
"Don't nobody even remember me for at least twenty-four hours,"
Temple whispered fervently to herself.
She was running on an emotional jet-lag high that the three-hour tum-back in time wouldn't help. She needed to get her feet on the ground, Louie off her back (or front, rather), her mind in the proper time zone and her emotions on some course resembling an even keel before she wanted to see a soul, or a soul to see her.
"Temple Barr!"
"Oh, no!." She stopped and turned, stricken.
Oh. Only Crawford Buchanan, the slime reporter. To think that she would ever be relieved to see him. His brown distressed-leather jacket had to have escaped a J. Peterman catalog, along with an ivory silk aviator scarf that dangled almost to his knees and would look infinitely better on either gentleman of her acquaintance that she was so intent on avoiding at the moment.
"Well. If it isn't the Munchkin Hunchfront of Notre Dame," Crawford went on, as he was always going on, his conceited drawl emphasizing his one good attribute, a deep, thrilling, radio-mike voice. "Does that cat ring bells in his spare time? He certainly does nothing for your figure."
"Louie and I are both too travel-worn for chitchat. What are you doing here? You don't look like you're heading in or out. No baggage."
"Elementary deduction, my dear Watsonette. I'm here to pick up my squeeze. Her and her kid visited family for the holidays."
"I loathe the expression 'squeeze.' "
"Too bad. It's here to stay, T.B. Just like me." He leered.
Crawford Buchanan was the only man outside of a silent movie melodrama who still knew how to leer.
Temple turned and resumed her race for the airport exit. "Tell it to the marines. I have a feeling they could fix that."
A Whittlesea Blue cab was waiting. Several were. Temple took the first one and collapsed into the backseat. The ride from McCarran airport was almost laughable. Seen from the runways, Las Vegas Strip landmark hotel-casinos made a crazy-quilt skyline: the Luxor's pointed pyramid jousted with the fools-cap Disney-blue towers of the Camelot, which tilted at the new New York-New York's boxy art deco skyscrapers, which contrasted with the Mirage's tidal-wave wall of gilded glass.
Entering Las Vegas was like driving into a town of half-scale architects' models, a Twilight Zone set that even Rod Serling could never have imagined in quite this unlikely juxtaposition.
Temple and Louie were deposited before the Circle Ritz's round fifties silhouette in no time flat, for an absurdly low fare.
She had asked the cab driver to drop them at the wedding chapel in front. Not that she was expecting imminent nuptials, but this way she could sneak in the attached apartment building's side entrance, avoiding the back entry via the parking lot and the pool, where she was likely to confront the Ritz's usual suspects.
In the deserted marble-lined lobby she pushed the elevator button, glad to have only one elevator to deal with and only four floors of building ahead of her, after her sojourn in high-rise New York-New York, the Original.
The elevator doors opened, revealing...nobody. Temple darted in like a daylight robber, cussing when her wheeled baggage rollers caught in the brass-edged gap between lobby and car. She wrestled her key out from her tote bag during the one-floor journey and clenched it between her teeth for safekeeping while both hands were busy dragging baggage.
The thick hall carpeting nearly derailed her bags, but she finally turned down the cul-de-sac leading to her front door.
There she leaned the bags against the wall, reclaimed the moist key and unlocked her door. Solid mahogany heft drew it open of its own accord. Sighing at this small boon, she stepped over the threshold.
She broke through an invisible skin of her own absence, encountering the undisturbed peace of rooms abandoned for a while. Everything in its place, including silence, and a blessed familiarity. The effacing hum of the refrigerator. The place even looked neater than she had remembered leaving it, but that was just the Alzheimer's effect of being away kicking in.
She unhooked Louie's CatAboard Seat, letting him and it ease to the floor.
He was out and sniffing around like a bloodhound, then edging out of sight. She heard a muted thump atop the kitchen counter as she wrestled the luggage inside.
A sense of déjà vu subdued her like an opiate as she warily moved through each room, hunting nameless snares and traps. She entered her own bedroom like a thief, expecting another's spoor. Nothing but her own imagination and some hallucinogenic fragrance. Being'away always brought her back a temporary foreigner attuned to smells and sights residence had made unde-tectable.
Too weary to unpack, she tilted her luggage against a bedroom wall before returning to the main room to lock the front door. Then she rooted through the cupboards for something succulent to spoon over the eternal mound of dry Free-to-be-Feline pellets occupying Louie's dish like one of those lifelike ceramic desserts restaurants parade before jaded diners' palates nowadays.
The cat thumped down from somewhere in the living room and came running for smoked oysters in shrimp sauce. Temple collected and folded his--her--carry-pouch and tucked it away in the tiny guest closet. She returned to the kitchen, wondering what she should do. Eat. Rest. Or sit down and stare at the walls. Someone Knocked at her door.
Temple's jump made Louie look up resentfully from his eating.
The knock had not only startled Temple but it had interrupted the total concentration Midnight Louie required for dining.
Heart pounding for no good reason, Temple went to open her door without peeking through the tiny peephole. She had to face the music some time, no matter who was playing what instrument.
"Electra!"
"I heard your cab arrive and thought you might want your mail." Her landlady hefted a cardboard box overflowing with rolled-up newspapers, mail-order catalogs, bills, solicitations and Christmas cards.
"Thanks. I think. Did you have a nice holiday?"
"Great. A couple of the kids got to town, only one with grandchildren. And you?"
"Interesting."
"Oh?" Electra, clad in a seasonal muumuu whose pattern somehow blended orchids and evergreens, paused after depositing the box of mail on Temple's coffee table, awaiting a report.
"Sit down," Temple said, capitulating. Of all the people she might have encountered immediately on returning home, Electra was the least harrowing. "Want something to drink?"
"Nope. Eggnogged, wined and Mimosa-ed my way through too many meals out while the kids were in town. I'll just get a load off my feet-and it's more load than before you left-then settle next to my pal Louie. Oof! He's got oyster breath."
Electra's weight not only dimpled the love-seat cushion, but caused Louie to roll right into her evergreen orchid patch. Too rotund himself to fight gravity, they stayed hip to hip and floral print to fur. Louie even began to purr.
"Aw, he missed me. My little big boy. Well? Did you two win the commercial contract?"
"Don't know. We didn't exactly endear ourselves to the advertising agency. I managed to implicate a murderer among them."
Electra clapped her hands until the copper, silver and brass bangles on each wrist jangled. "Some people would be so greedy for their own advancement that they'd rather conceal than reveal such a thing. I'm sure your integrity made a big impression on them."
"Integrity is not the desirable commodity it used to be. And concealing things isn't as easy as it sounds," Temple answered grimly.
"Is there something I should know?"
Temple paused, rubbing her...temple. "No, but there's something I should know. Is Matt back yet?"
"Last evening, just in time to rush to his job at ConTact. But he seemed in a peach of a mood. Must have had a good Christmas visit home in Chicago. Poor guy. He was moping around after you left for New York."
"Not merely over my departure!"
"Well--," Electra, a card-carrying justice of the peace, seemed to toy with a temptation to fan the flames of like into the ashes of true romance. "No. He seemed to have a lot on his mind. But you were definitely in there."
"I think I know why." Temple grinned. "Have you been inside his place recently?"
"Me? No. I do not snoop when tenants are off the premises. Although, now that you mention it, I heard a lot of strange thumps from his apartment. Almost sounded like a body being dragged around."
Temple nodded sagely. "A dead weight indeed. I persuaded him to invest in a flashy vintage sofa before I left. It must have found its way home."
"Flashy? Matt? That doesn't sound right. He's such a dear boy and I love him to death....really, I mean that, though not literally, given your track record with corpses-but sometimes he seems rather naive and a little staid."
"No law against that," Temple said rather briskly. "Sometimes I feel rather naive myself."
"And you all of what-? Thirty?"
"Don't mock me, Electra. Between my recent immersion in murder, among other things, I'm aging rapidly."
"You do look a little peaked."
"Electra, nobody's called me 'peaked' since I was in high school and my mother was on my case."
"Thank you," she said complacently, patting Louie. The cat stretched as long as a yardstick and kneaded his claws against a particularly lurid orchid on Electra's knee.
"Ouch!" she complained. "Cut that out! His claws are sharper than needle-nosed pliers."
"He hasn't been able to run around nights and use them. He was strictly a lap cat in New York City."
"Lap of luxury," Electra said fondly, scratching Louie's chin while he stretched his head back and slitted his eyes. "It's really nice that you found each other," she added.
"Huh?" Temple was having a panic attack, wondering if Electra were as psychic as she claimed her cat Karma was.
But she hadn't detected memories of Max floating among Temple's conflicting thoughts; she was speaking of the current resident male, Midnight Louie.
"He's a great companion," she went on.
"I don't know. He runs around a lot nights and comes in at ungodly hours expecting to be petted and pampered, and usually fed."
"It's a good thing you're solo these days--and nights--though."
"What do you mean?"
"Louie doesn't strike me as the type to share."
"Louie doesn;t own me. I didn't promise to forsake all others when he tripped into my life at the convention center. Actually, he tripped me quite literally."
"Such a rapscallion." Electra tickled Louie's considerable tummy while he rolled under the attention. "Call me a hopeless romantic, but I can't resist these devil-may-care boys in black."
Temple refrained from adding, "Me too."
* * *
After Electra had left, Temple sat on the couch idly sorting her mail into intimidating stacks without reading it. Usually she loved diving into a motherlode of hoarded vacation mail, especially when it included notes from distant friends.
"I must be tired," she told Louie, who certainly had the part down pat himself.
The big tomcat sprawled upon his back as languid as Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Temple doubted that even God's lightning bolt could move him. His lazily curled limbs pointed to Temple's intriguingly vaulted white ceiling on which the Las Vegas sunlight played chiaroscuro peekaboo with indoor shadows. One of his back feet was particularly elevated; when he assumed this lounging lion position, Temple always felt she should extend immediate permission for him to leave the classroom to go to the little boys room.
Louie yawned, a major production that revealed a pallid rose blooming on his otherwise black palate.
"It's called a 'letdown,' " Temple told him, dramatically driving her Mexican onyx dagger through another envelope and creating a jagged edge. "Like when actors finish the run of a play, or a PR woman is done with a big publicity campaign or a cat no longer is the toast of Madison Avenue."
Louie blinked. Feline body language always struck Temple as inherently foreign, like a Parisian shrug or an eloquently obscene Italian hand gesture. When a cat blinks, one senses one is being paid a profoundly flattering attention as has not been offered the human kind since Eden. Like Italian sign language, the feline dialect had its ruder side as well, but today Louie was luxuriating. Temple flattered herself further that he not only was attentive to her every thought and mood, but that he was glad to be home.
She sat back and closed her eyes, like Louie.
Letdown. Like when a woman has resumed a romantic liaison without knowing why, or when again or where again or wherefore art thou, Romeo? Max had called her three times at Kit's after leaving New York so suddenly, so literally anticlimactically. So Maximumly.
As usual, he couldn't discuss over the telephone any particulars for his midnight call back to Las Vegas, and in Kit's airy but intimate rooms, Temple couldn't murmur anything but inanities against the background noise of her aunt's pointed attempts to pretend she was too busy elsewhere in the apartment to hear Temple's half of the conversation.
Temple couldn't forget waking up in the hotel whose name she hadn't bothered to remember that post-Christmas morning, its barely glimpsed geometry assembling around her like a dream-scape in reverse, with nothing left of Max but a note and a rapidly dissipating afterglow.
The magician exits, stage left, leaving the audience begging for more, with the lady sawed in half and hanging by a hair.
Wasn't that just the way he had exited eight months before, without explanation, leaving her stranded to defend him? Leaving her to fend off thugs who came looking for him and left her bruised and battered? Leaving her to steadfastly stonewall a Las Vegas homicide cop about any facts relating to the Mystifying Max and all his works?
Temple smiled to recall C. R. Molina's frustration; a petite, feminine woman often dismissed as "cute," Temple had proven a hard case to crack, even for a nearly six-foot-tall lieutenant who was something of a power-suited amazon herself.
Temple's smile faded. Max's abrupt departure hadn't left her simply facing the legal music. It had also left her unsure and lonely, free to meet Matt Devine, new neighbor, new personal project. Temple always wondered what had attracted her to Matt while she was still freshly smarting from Max's defection. Sure, Matt was the handsomest man she'd ever known. And, more rarely, the nicest. Too bad he was also an ex-Roman Catholic priest whose sexual experience came from the confessional. Or was that fact "too good"? Had she been so quickly attracted precisely because Matt was a freshman at the usual single, thirty-something sexual gavotte? Had he merely been a convenient safety zone to idle in while she waited for her true love to ride back for her?
Because she'd always known Max would return. A powerful instant rapport had knocked them both off their feet, professionally and personally: she the repertory theater publicist, he the touring magician. She had deserted Minneapolis stability for the sands of Las Vegas and a freelance career without a qualm, although her family had plenty and let her hear every one.
Now she should be ecstatic. Max was back and better than ever, though the explanation for his absence involved murky international politics a law-abiding publicist couldn't know too much about. And Matt? She had helped him track down personal demons from his Chicago childhood, playing pal, big sister and the sort of sweet-sixteen girlfriend who would coax him a few baby-steps over the sexual threshold and no further until he was ready. Which he might never be.
So here she sat, lost in her own love story, worried because Max's mysterious past made him a more dangerous partner than she could have imagined, and because Matt's present progress had come perilously close to depending solely on her.
She loved Max, but feared that she might not be able to live with what he really was. She cared for Matt, but she worried that he had come close to loving her, and her heart had chosen sides long before she had met him.
Temple muttered an Anglo-Saxon epithet she rarely used on grounds that it lacked finesse and tossed the letter opener atop a leaning tower of Christmas catalogs. And then the phone rang, startling her as if she had been shot.
Letdown?. The morning after. Sometimes it made one a trifle edgy. Not Midnight Louie. He yawned again.
She didn't have the energy to stand at the kitchen wall phone, so she went to bedroom-office for the portable. Public relations people lived and died by the phone; they were multipurpose took: personal accessories and lifelines and the puppetmaster's strings, the pianist's hidden harp that could play soft and persuasive or stormy and driving.
A phone was your best friend.
But she hesitated before answering this call. She wasn't ready to reenter reality. Especially the reality of an impulsively resumed love affair.
It wasn't Max, as she had half-hoped and half-feared. It was Matt, as she had half-feared and half-hoped.
"Welcome back," he said, sounding too close for comfort.
"Thanks. I'm still on jet lag."
"I know, though Chicago is only two hours off-rime compared to New York's three. Listen, Temple, I've got to work the next few nights straight to make up for my time off Can we make a date for New dear's Eve? I've got it off."
Temple blinked; only she knew her gesture was devoid of feline profundity.
"There's so much to tell you," he went on. "You wouldn't believe what happened."
"What about Effinger?"
"Oh, Molina had to let him go, but that isn't important."
Effinger wasn't important? Had Temple's plane landed in the true Twilight Zone? Effinger wasn't important, and Matt wanted--nay, expected--a "date." This was more than she could take standing up. She sat down at her desk.
"You sound exhausted," Matt said.
"I haven't said enough for you to tell how I sound."
"That's what I mean. Usually you're bubbling over with info-bits on this and that, and you must have a lot to tell me too. I'll let you go. But, what? Nine Monday night? I thought we'd try to see the New Year in, if you can stay awake that late, so crack out your Louie shoes and something jazzy. We'll have to take your car, of course."
"Of course." Matt taking her car for granted? Taking her for granted? "You don't really have to take me out someplace ritzy--"
"Celebrations don't need justifications, like red sofas don't, right?"
He couldn't see her wan smile, but he must have sensed it.
"Temple." When she couldn't muster more than an inarticulate hmmm in a questioning upglide, he plunged on. "I really can't wait to see you. I hope you had the Merry Christmas you deserve. 'Bye."
Temple cradled the droning phone on her shoulder long enough for the operator's tart, schoolmarmish voice to come on and shrill that her call was disconnected.
Temple purtched the unit off, then on again and pounded in a flurry of eleven numbers. Three rings later, she was back in New York City, in a manner of speaking.
"Kit, Matt just called. "
"Did you say Matt or Max?"
"And you think you're confused."
"Just tell me, blond or black?"
"Blond. I don't know what I'm going to do."
"What did you do?"
"He wants to take me out for New Year's Eve. For a celebration. An upscale celebration, apparently. And I said yes."
"Modest Matt is taking you out on the town? Wow, I'd say send him here, but I don't believe in Santa Claus anymore. So you said yes. What a wimp."
"I owe him an explanation."
"But not a romantic rendezvous."
"This isn't necessarily a romantic evening. But he did call it a 'date.' He's never used that word before."
"Right. You're wondering what Max will say about this."
"I'm not wondering what he'll say at all. I know. What I'm wondering is how I'm gonna keep them in separate comers. There hasn't been a word from Max since I got back."
"For what...three hours? Temple, give me a break. Maybe he left a message on your answering machine. Did you check it?"
"No. That's a good idea. He probably invited me out for New Year's Eve," she added dourly. "Kit, what am I going to do?"
"What you always do: the best you can. Max has to understand that his eight-month absence didn't mean your life was in deep freeze, even if your relationship was. He has to respect your other obligations."
" 'Obligation' doesn't quite describe Matt Devine."
"Relax, honey. Emotional involvements aren't like European principalities; they don't occupy neat borders within your heart. Life is messy. There's nothing to do but wade in and clean it up the best you can."
"Right. I'll check my messages."
"Was your flight okay?"
"Fine. Louie didn't even yowl. I think he's as worn out as I am."
"From what you told me of the auditions, Louie has his own romantic dilemmas to exhaust him."
"What do you mean.'"
"Gold and silver, the lovely leading ladies, Solange and Yvette. Jeez, what names.' I sound like I'm discussing a Françoise Sagan novel."
" 'Bonjour, Tristesse,' " Temple quoted an appropriate title. Hello, sadness.
"I didn't know your generation knew Sagan. Espresso and angst, youth and despair. Check your messages, hon. I'm sure Max has left one, and it'll be good for him to race some competition for a change. Builds character."
Temple thanked her aunt and disconnected, switching on the answering machine, whose small red flashing light had been blinking on the edge of her consciousness since she entered the office.
She pulled over a minimized legal notepad and dug out a pen from beneath her stratified papers while the tape rewound. And rewound and rewound. On her left hand, the glorious, still-alien ring Max had given her flashed its ambiguous message of fourteencarat gold and fire opal. It didn't look like an engagement ring; it didn't feel like a bribe or a sop, but it did weigh as heavy as a commitment.
Finally, the voices began parading as Temple scribbled phone numbers and notes.
The first message was a computer-generated solicitation. Nothing from her family, but Temple and Kit had called her mother's house from New York and had found the clan gathered the day after Christmas. Funny how your parents' house was always your mother's house after you left.
"It's Van von Rhine at the Phoenix. Happy Christmas, Temple," the machine replayed. "I'm so sorry to call you during the holidays, but we've--you've--received the most wonderful surprise Christmas present for the renovation project! You must come over to see after Christmas. Call me as soon as you can."
Temple felt a restorative prick of curiosity. Van von Rhine was the most tactful, if businesslike, of hoteliers. She rarely spoke in such imperatives or with such enthusiasm.
There was a reminder from her dentist's office. Why had she scheduled an appointment right after Christmas? Hadn't she known she would be too emotionally challenged to dive into mumdane matters like flossing, plaque and mouthwashes?
She jotted down other numbers, other messages of routine importance. Not a word from Max.
Boy, the big rush in the Big City and the big silence on home turf. Guess she'd been smart to book something else for New Year's, right, Louie?
By now Temple was passing the cat still airing his undercoat on the loveseat, and heading for the bedroom. When in doubt, take a clue from a southern belle and take a nap. The necessary grocery store trip could wait until, if not tomorrow, late this afternoon.
Like all temporarily abandoned places, the bedroom was waiting with bated breath for Temple to reclaim it with the unmistakable clutter of her presence.
Temple hated bending over to unlace her homely travel tennies, but she finally struggled out of these engulfing marshmallows of the footwear world. Her black plane getup didn't show Louie's cat hairs, but had attracted more than its share of itinerant white lint, so she peeled off the top and leggings as she hopped and stripped on the way to the bathroom.
She let the black knit clothes puddle on the white-tiled floor, inhaling a scent of soap she'd been too familiar with to notice before. Nice.
Temple only wore perfume for dressy occasions; strong scents turned elevators into torture chambers, and in her profession it was bad business to risk alienating people who might be allergic to Emeraude or Poison.
But she relished the subtler scents of soap and shampoo, and had forgotten that until she had left her bathroom long enough to sense it with refreshed eyes and nose.
She loved its wall-to-wall shiny fifties tiles, its small but elegant quality, the deep, deep porcelain tub. But she was too tired--suffered too much ennui, the heck with sadness, Frangoise!--to brood in the bathtub. A fast, hot shower, and then to bed.
She opened the frosted glass door, with its silver stripes at top and bottom that were so very fifties...and gasped as a wall of silk flowers drenched her bare body like a melting rainbow. The faint, pleasant scent enveloped her and the jump-start shock it had given her heart soon softened into an edgy, expectant throb.
She wouldn't have been surprised to find the magician himself standing behind the cascade of his upscale paper flowers, but Max was never predictable.
Temple sighed, inhaling more of the fugitive scent, wondering what would contain so extravagant a shower of flowers.
One thing was decided. She took a bath after all.
 
Copyright 1998 by Carole Nelson Douglas


Continues...

Excerpted from Cat on a Hyacinth Hunt by Douglas, Carole Nelson Copyright © 1999 by Douglas, Carole Nelson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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  • Posted June 18, 2014

    Another enjoyable addition to the series. Midnight Louie will ke

    Another enjoyable addition to the series. Midnight Louie will keep you entertained with his sleuthing skills and clever narratives. Great mysteries.

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