Read an Excerpt
The Private Eye
By Jayne Ann Krentz
Wheeler PublishingCopyright © 2004 Jayne Ann Krentz
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt never pays to play hero.
One of these days, he'd finally learn that lesson once and for all, Josh reflected. He sat on the edge of the emergency-room examination table and scowled at the closed door. He was not in a good mood. He didn't like hospitals and he didn't like realizing he'd been unlucky enough or stupid enough or slow enough to end up in one tonight.
Could have been worse, he reminded himself. If Eddy Hodder's knife had struck a few inches lower, he would have been spending the night in the morgue.
Josh took a cautious breath and winced. The doctor had just told him his ribs were bruised, not broken, but it was hard to tell the difference. The big question now was whether or not the ankle was fractured or just badly sprained. The X rays would be back any minute.
Everything else had been patched up fairly easily. The raw scrape on his shoulder had been bandaged quite neatly and the gash on his forehead where Hodder's knife had caught him had been closed with sutures. Unfortunately the local anesthetic was already wearing off. He deserved everything he got, Josh told himself grimly. He was in the wrong business. Or maybe he'd just been in it too damn long.
He was about to continue with the self-recriminations when the door of the emergency room swungopen. A young man in a white coat sauntered in looking far more authoritative than any young man had a right to look. Josh wondered why doctors, cops and other such professionals were all starting to look so incredibly young to him. Maybe it was only private investigators like himself who aged rapidly.
"Good news, Mr. January. It's only a sprain. We'll tape it up for you and have you out of here in no time."
"Terrific." Josh eyed his swollen left ankle, feeling a sense of dark betrayal. Stupid foot. "How long?"
"How long for what?" The doctor opened a white drawer on the other side of the room.
"How long until I can walk on it?"
"Could be quite a while," the doctor said, sounding cheerful at the prospect. "You'll want to rest it for at least a week and it will probably bother you a bit from time to time, after that. We'll send you out of here on crutches."
"Crutches?" Josh swore with great depth of feeling.
The doctor turned around, holding an elastic bandage in his hand. His smile lit up the room. "Could have been worse. Heard you nearly got yourself killed when you went into that building after that Eddy Hodder character. The cops are in a room down the hall with him right now. If it's any consolation to you, Hodder's in worse shape than you are."
"Yeah, that really makes me feel a whole lot better," Josh growled.
"Thought it would. But you're going to be hurting for a while, yourself. No getting around it. I'll give you some pills for the pain when you leave. My advice is to take some time off from your job, Mr. January. You need a few weeks of R and R. That means rest and relaxation."
"I know what it means." Josh set his teeth as the doctor went to work on his ankle. "Take it easy, damn it. That hurts!"
"Sorry. Every jarring movement is going to annoy you for a while," the doctor announced happily.
Josh glowered at him. "You enjoy your work?"
Josh winced again as the doctor tugged on the elastic bandage. "It shows."
* * *
McCray was waiting for him out in the hall. Short, balding and comfortably rounded at the waistline, McCray was the closest thing to a friend Josh had. He was also Josh's partner in Business Intelligence and Security, Inc., one of the biggest private security agencies in the Pacific Northwest.
McCray shook his head ruefully as Josh swung forward on the crutches. "Well, well, well. Aren't you a sight. How do you feel?"
"Yeah, that's kind of how you look, to tell you the truth. I've signed the paperwork for you and I've already talked to the cops. Gave them a full report. We're free to go."
Josh shifted his shoulders, trying to get more comfortable on the crutches. All he succeeded in doing was sending shock waves through his bruised body. "The girl okay?"
"The girl's fine. Mad as hell at you for ruining her life, she says, but fine. Her boyfriend, Hodder, was on parole when he pulled this kidnapping stunt. He's headed straight back to prison and will probably stay there awhile. The young lady's father, our client, is everlastingly grateful, of course."
"Send him his bill first thing in the morning. Might as well take advantage of the gratitude."
"My, you are feeling nasty tonight, aren't you?"
McCray pushed open the glass doors of the emergency room and Josh hobbled out into the cold Seattle night. "You know what, pal?"
"You need some time off. Maybe a month or so."
"Now listen, McCray -"
McCray held up his palm. "I'm serious, January. You're burned-out, you're beat-up and you've got a real bad attitude. What you need is a month of easy living. You need someone to wait on you hand and foot. You need home-cooked meals, tea and scones in the afternoon, and a stress-free environment. In short, you need a complete change of scene."
"You got any special place in mind?" Josh asked, irritated.
"As a matter of fact, I do." McCray opened the passenger door of his faded blue Oldsmobile. "Get in. I've got a letter I want you to read."
"Who's it from? Ouch! Damn it to hell."
"Here, let me have those crutches. I'll put them in the back seat. The letter's on the dash."
Josh lowered himself gingerly onto the car seat, grimacing as he eased his left leg inside. He saw the envelope sitting directly in front of him on the dash. He picked it up and glanced at the letterhead. The bright lights outside the emergency room provided enough light to read the words "Peregrine Manor."
Josh opened the envelope. A colorful brochure depicting a fanciful Victorian mansion fell out, along with a neatly typed letter. A glance at the brochure showed that Peregrine Manor promised the ultimate in cozy luxury and gourmet dining on the spectacular Washington coast.
The letter promised a job.
"I think you should take the case," McCray told him as he got behind the wheel.
Josh scanned the contents of the letter. "This isn't a case. It's a joke. This Ms. Margaret Gladstone obviously has a vivid imagination."
"That's the whole point," McCray said patiently as he pulled out of the hospital parking lot. "A cushy setup. A piece of cake. A snap. You get all the perks of a fancy luxury inn for a month and in exchange all you have to do is a little sleuthing for the sweet little old lady who wrote that letter."
"Piece of cake, huh? What makes you think this Miss Gladstone is a sweet little old lady?"
"Who else would write a letter like that except some old-fashioned little spinster lady? What have you got to lose? You need to get away for a while, Josh. We both know it. You aren't going to be any good to us at BIS until you get out of this lousy mood you've been in for the past few months. Like I said, you're burned-out, pal. You've been in the business too long."
Excerpted from The Private Eye by Jayne Ann Krentz Copyright © 2004 by Jayne Ann Krentz. 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.