Read an Excerpt
Justice Denied LP
By J. Jance
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2007 J. Jance
All right reserved.
I was standing in my own bedroom minding my own business and knotting my tie when Mel Soames hopped into the doorway from her room down the hall. She was wearing nothing but a bra and a pair of panties, and she was doing a strange ostrichlike dance as she attempted to put one foot into a pair of panty hose.
"So what are you going to do about a tux?" she asked. "Buy or rent?"
Some questions posed by half-naked women are more easily answered than others. This one had me stumped. What tux? I wondered.
Since I quit drinking, I find I'm in fairly good shape when it comes to remembering things. For example, we had spent most of the weekend on the road, driving down to Ashland, Oregon, to see my month-old grandson, Kyle Roger Cartwright. I remembered the eight-hour ride down, including our post-midnight arrival at the Peerless Hotel in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
I remembered spending all of Saturday alternately having my picture taken with and taking pictures of a month-old blanket-wrapped round-faced little kid who looked like he would have preferred sleeping peacefully to being passed from hand to hand during a nonstop day-long photo shoot. I clearly remembered having to explain to my precociousfour-year-old granddaughter, Kayla, that Mel was not her grandmother. And I particularly remembered how much of a kick my daughter and son-in-law, Kelly and Jeremy, had gotten out of my trying to dig my way out of that hole.
And I also remembered the eight-hour drive back to Seattle on Sunday afternoon, especially the part where I had managed to keep my mouth shut when Mel was pulled over by an Oregon state trooper for doing seventy-seven miles per hour in a posted sixty-five. (It could have been much worse. The alabaster-white S55 Mercedes sedan I bought used from my friend and lawyer Ralph Ames has five hundred horse-power under the hood, a top speed of 184, and is deceptively quiet.) But the motorcycle cop was a young guy. Mel gave him the full-press blonde treatment complete with a winning if apologetic smile and managed to talk her way out of the ticket. But then, that's Mel for you. However, nothing in all those bits of memory even hinted at my needing a tux. For any reason whatsoever.
"Buy," I said.
It was a desperate gamble, but I came up winners. Mel shot me a radiant smile. "Good answer," she said. "We should probably plan on doing that at lunchtime, or maybe right after work. That way, if there's tailoring that needs to be done . . ."
Snapping her panty hose in place, she disappeared back down the hall to finish dressing. I finished knotting my tie and then went out into the kitchen to drink coffee and contemplate my fate. Tux or not, Mel Soames brought something to the table that wasn't half bad.
We had met working for the Washington State attorney general's Special Homicide Investigation Team, the SHIT squad, as it's derisively known in local cop-shop circles. I had gone there after bailing out of homicide at Seattle PD. My former partner, Sue Danielson, had died in a shoot-out, and I had wanted to find a way to keep my hand in law enforcement without having to deal with the emotional stress of a partner. Ross Alan Connors, the A.G., had offered me just such a position. Mel, it turned out, had come to Washington State and to SHIT for a similar reason, only the partnership problem she was leaving behind was a bad marriage and a worse divorce. But then we got turned into partners anywayunofficially and without either one of us necessarily meaning for it to happen.
In the course of several memorable days, Mel had ended up watching my back in not one but two life-and-death situations. It turned out she was damned good at it, too. And then when someone ran me through a greenhouse wall, cut open my scalp, and filled me full of tiny glass shards, she had brought me home from the ER and had stayed on to look after me. (Months later, little slivers of glass still pop up occasionally when I'm shaving.)
To begin with, Mel camped out in the guest room down the hall, but over the course of time that had changed, too. The only parts of the guest suite she now uses are the closet and the bathroom. We call it her dressing room.
It goes without saying that we're both well beyond the age of consent and old enough to know that working together and living together is a very bad idea. SHIT is a new-enough agency that nobody has ever quite gotten around to setting down in writing all the rules and procedures about what should or shouldn't be done. If they had, I'm sure cohabitation between fellow investigators would be close to the top of the prohibited list. But there's no fool like an old foolor maybe even a pair of them.
And so, even though it's probably a bad idea, we do it anyway. Sometimes we stay at Mel's place in Bellevue, but mostly we stay at my high-rise condo in Seattle's Denny Regrade neighborhood. (Much better view from the penthouse at Belltown Terrace than from her third-story apartment in the burbs!) We car-pool together in the express lanes across Lake Washington and then pick up or drop off the other vehicle in the park-and-ride lot on the east side of the lake.
A word about my condo. New acquaintances are often curious about how a retired Homicide cop happens to sit in the penthouse suite of one of Seattle's most desirable high-rises. The truth is, I wouldn't be in Belltown Terrace at all if it weren't for Anne Corley, my second wife, whose shocking death left me holding an unexpected fortune. I had never driven a Porsche until I inherited hers. And it was only after that one finally bit the dustafter being mashed flat by a marauding Escaladethat I had gone looking for something else.
Excerpted from Justice Denied LP by J. Jance Copyright © 2007 by J. Jance. Excerpted by permission.
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