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By Bonnie Hill
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2005 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Everyone in San Francisco was drunk that night, so drunk that I had to drive the taxi.
Saint Patrick's Day. I was raised to be proud of my heritage, proud to be Rebecca Mahoney, otherwise known as Reebie. Still, I was always amused, in a smug kind of way, to see this entire, mismatched city pretending, for twenty-four hours, to be as Irish as I am all year long.
I was working a temp job. After the fiasco with my ex and losing the winery I loved, I couldn't settle. Instead I bounced from cosmetic saleswoman to various temp jobs, to my newest assignment, working through my temp agency, this time for the local newspaper. My job? Coordinate the food at this St. Patrick's Day pub crawl. I'd coordinated dozens of events at the winery, so this would be no problem.
The eclectic Celtic wannabes at the pub were already in their cups, as my dad would say. I should have been, too, crooning "Danny Boy" and forgetting about the laptop I'd lugged in like a bad date, at the insistence of my panties-in-a-wedge supervisor, who had insisted I keep her posted, via e-mail, regarding my whereabouts.
Alberta, the newspaper's HR director who'd interviewed me, had explained to me that the paper was trying to drive down its demographics - translated, get more young readers - by sponsoring the event. Dumb down sounded more like it, but I needed Alberta's approval for only a short time.
Since I'd lost the winery, I didn't care what I was or what I did. I had a second part-time job at a cosmetics counter, but this one at the paper would give me a little extra money and an excuse to hang out with my photographer friend Daphne Teng.
The television above the bar was broadcasting footage of former President Remington, who'd died this morning. The revelers seemed to be paying little attention. Daphne and I snagged the coveted corner booth, the only one with a good-size square table just large enough for our two pints. Daph snuggled in against the wall and lifted her glass.
"Cheers," she said in the clipped accent of one who had been taught English somewhere other than America. "We don't have to start for thirty minutes.
Let's get a nice little buzz on and check out the guys."
I should have left it at that, focused on the pub crawl, a little beer, another easy temp job. Just hand out the corned beef, make the drunks think they were having fun, collect my money and go home. But, no. Instead of joining Daph in the consumption of a Harp Lager, I had to unfold the laptop on the edge of that tiny table, e-mail Alberta that I'd arrived early, then pull out my cell phone and check my answering machine. When I heard the commanding yet strangely familiar voice of a woman named Jeanette Sheldon on my voice mail, without weighing the wisdom of the move, I called her back.
Clearly disgusted, Daph sighed, picked up her glass and headed for the bar where, if the noise level was any indication, most of the fun was taking place. I didn't blame her.
Jeanette answered. I introduced myself.
"Rebecca Mahoney?" She dragged it out, in a velvety, almost-amused voice. "And I'm Jeanette Sheldon. Perhaps you've heard of me."
I drew a blank. In which of my many temporary situations had I offended this woman? And when? Perhaps the Saturday I was hired to make snow cones in the park? The week I tried to hang wallpaper?
"I've never heard of you," I said.
"I forget how young you are. You must have bypassed the rumors. I want to talk to you about the president. President Remington."
A dead former president. So Remington's death today was the reason I was letting my Harp go flat beside me. I took a bitter swallow and smacked my lips, half-hoping she heard.
"I'm here with a photographer for the newspaper, but we're only covering the pub crawl today. I'm sure the paper will be running a number of stories about Michael Remington tomorrow, but I don't have anything to do with that. I'm just a temp."
I felt as much as heard her clear her throat. "They'll print interviews with his son, his son's wife, and of course, June."
"That's right. I'm sure they will."
"But you'll be the one talking to the president's mistress."
I shook my computer mouse to life, nearly tipping over my pint. I Googled as fast as I could, doing a Web search for Jeanette Sheldon. Maybe she was just a nut. She had to be if, out of everyone in the Bay Area, she'd picked me to confess to.
"You were President Remington's mistress?"
"You heard me. The old rumors are true. I'm telling you this only so you'll agree to talk to me."
I hadn't heard the old rumors, but if there were any, I'd find them online. "Why are you coming forward now?" I asked.
"That's part of what I want to talk to you about."
The revelers at the bar launched into "An Irish Lullaby," Daphne's lilting accent soaring over the others. My laptop screen filled with several promising links. This woman might be for real, after all.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don't you cry.
"Leo Kersikovski works in the newsroom at the paper, and I'm sure he'd be interested in talking to you," I said over the song, which seemed to grow in volume by the moment. It would be a good break for hunky Kersikovski. If Jeanette were on the level, he might even scoop the Chronicle. Of course, if she were on the level, wouldn't she be calling the Chronicle, anyway? "Mr. Kersikovski might still be at work. If you hang on a minute, I can get his direct extension from the photographer."
Excerpted from Double Exposure by Bonnie Hill Copyright © 2005 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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