Revealing Rebecca – Chapter One

Rebecca Morgan’s right pastie fell off as she opened her car door at the Maverik gas station. The glue gun she’d used to put it on the flesh-colored bra hadn’t worked. Epic fail. She scooped up the sapphire-colored bauble off the pavement, shoved it into her coat pocket, and climbed out of her car.

Shivering in the October air, she unscrewed the Nissan’s gas cap. She loved Indian summer days in Boise. People wore flip-flops and cutoffs, sometimes for the whole month. Idaho’s cool evenings crept up without warning. It was still light out, but in another thirty minutes, night would overtake the setting sun.

She pulled her trench coat together over her skimpy costume and cinched the belt. Grabbing her tote, she rummaged until she found her gas card to swipe through the machine. Lifting the nozzle from its cradle, she listened to the gurgle of gas pour into the tank. The only sound in the otherwise quiet night. Too quiet. Where were all the normal traffic sounds? She glanced both directions. Only one car driving down the road. Unnerved, she removed the nozzle, returned it, and screwed on the gas cap.

A car pulled in on the other side of the gas pump station. She heard a car door open. “Well, if it isn’t Miss Lorelai Down.”

Rebecca turned at the sound of the deep male voice, her heart rate ratcheting up a notch. The man was easily over six feet. The shadow he cast in the waning light seemed twice as tall.

“I beg your pardon?” She stepped back as he closed the distance between them.

He reached out, his hand closing on her arm.

“Let go of me.” She wrenched out of his grasp and jerked away from him. There was only one thing to do when up against a larger opponent. Run.

Unused to high heels—a four-inch pair she’d found at the thrift shop—she fell off her left stiletto. Flailing to keep her balance, her right arm swung out and the tote connected. Hard. Right between her attacker’s legs.

The man collapsed like a Jenga tower, and she caught a quick glimpse of his grayed face before she bolted to her car. She jumped in, fired it up, and sped out onto the road.

The iron. It had to be the iron in her bag. She always took it to auditions in case her costume needed a quick touch-up. Desperate to regain her breath, she sucked in great gulps of air and looked in the rearview mirror. Her heart slammed against her ribs as she watched a dark sedan peel out of the gas station lot.

He’d recovered more quickly than she’d expected. He had made it to his car and was following her. The sedan inched closer, despite her efforts to get away.

Think, Rebecca, think. As if it were that easy when all she could hear in her head was the pounding of her heart. “Okay, okay, settle down.” Hearing the words quieted the adrenalin-fused panic in her head.

All the self-defense books she’d read were clear. A woman in danger should go to a well-populated area or, even better, a police station. The closest one was on Mark Stall Drive. Just over three blocks away.

She sped down Maple Grove. The traffic light was with her. She turned onto Emerald. One block to go. The car behind followed, as if the driver thought she had nowhere to run and he’d eventually catch up to her.

She careened onto Mark Stall Place, City Hall West in her sights. She turned into the lot, slammed on the brakes, yanked the car into park, and grabbed the keys out of the ignition. Her platforms sounded flimsy against the asphalt as she ran headlong to the entrance. The automatic doors swished open.

She stopped in the vestibule. Looked around. There. A 24-hour panic button. Bright red. She slammed her hand against it, the automatic metallic clink sounding like music to her. Safe. She was safe. Now the doors could only be opened with police keycards.

She turned to look at her haven. All glass, which was not all that comforting because she didn’t want to see the creep again. She pushed her hair back from her forehead.

All she had to do was wait for the police. The panic button triggered a 911 call to dispatch and the closest patrol would be sent. In a few minutes, her nightmare would be over.

Her assailant had probably driven away after seeing her destination. She couldn’t give a very good description other than the vague impression of height. The late model sedan could have been any make. She tried to remember the Motor Trend magazine articles she’d read at the library.

No dice. Too keyed up to think, she paced. She looked at her watch. Two minutes. She turned back toward the front doors and watched headlights glance off the building as a car pulled in.

A dark sedan.

Her attacker?

All the breath left her body. She stumbled back, not ready to believe her eyes. Why would he be that stupid? What did he want?

He exited the car and approached. He walked like he had all the time in the world. Straight up to the locked doors, and raised his hand to wave at her.

She backed up as far as she could, until the opposite wall of doors stopped her. The cold of the glass cut through her trench and seeped into her body. Chills swept through her. She bit down on her lower lip to keep her teeth from chattering.

The creep smiled. Contempt. She read contempt in his cold green eyes. A woman-hater? Was she just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Where were the police?

The sound of sirens penetrated her concentration. Closer. Closer. She didn’t dare take her eyes off of him, even though the sensible part of her brain knew he couldn’t touch her. Another minute and the police would take him away.

Her attacker pulled out his wallet and withdrew a card. A keycard.

“No.” Please no. She watched as he smiled again. A friendly smile. A crazy stalker smile.

The police cruiser pulled up to the curb and the officer got out.

Relief crashed through her, leaving her almost giddy. She choked back a sob. They made it. They made it.

She watched the officer approach the man, savoring her anticipation at watching her attacker handcuffed and led away.

They exchanged words and then the officer inserted the keycard into the lock slot. The faint beep of the lock tripping sounded and the door opened.

The policeman entered first, followed by her assailant, still smiling.

She jabbed her finger at him. “Arrest him. He assaulted me.”

The officer stood there, a puzzled look on his face.

Rebecca slumped against the wall, thankful that it held her up. She closed her eyes. What was happening? Right was wrong and up was down.

“I’ll take it from here, Sergeant,” the stalker said.

“Yes, sir.”

She looked up at the officer. “You can’t leave me alone with him. Please!”

“Good night, ma’am.” The officer left.

Left her alone.

Left her with him.

He took a step toward her. She flinched. Defiant, she held her tote out, ready to swing. If it wanted to be a weapon, she was okay with that.

“Now, Miss Down, play nice. It’s not as if you don’t know the drill. Or should I call you Ms. Morgan?”

She stopped at the sound of her name. How did he know? “Why didn’t the police arrest you?”

He approached her, bringing with him the faint scent of sandalwood. “You want a cop? You’ve got one.” He put his hand in his jacket pocket and pulled out his badge.

“But…I don’t understand.” He seemed to know her.

Cop or not, she would’ve remembered him. She tried to think clearly, but his green eyes distracted her. A startling color against his tanned face, and framed by long dark lashes that were an insult to every woman forced to wear false ones.

His hair, styled in a long brush cut, emphasized the sculptured angles of his cheekbones and strong chin. As she looked up at him, she felt little ripples of sensation course throughout her body. Her heart rate jumped.

Everything about this man triggered her awareness. Now that she knew he was a cop, fear wasn’t a part of the equation. Quite the contrary, her breathlessness stemmed from equal parts of adrenalin and excitement.

“What’s with the innocent act? We’re going to be seeing a lot of each other. Do you want me to call you Lora-lie-down or Angie?” He put his shield away.

“Angie? You think I’m Angie?” Of course, that explained a lot, especially the cop part. “You’ve made a mistake, Officer…what’s your name?”

“Delancey, Detective Delancey. And I’ve seen your jacket. The picture didn’t get you at your best, but you’re Angie Morgan.”

“I’m Rebecca Morgan, her sister.” She opened her tote and pulled out her wallet to get her ID. Her coat fell open revealing a generous portion of her fishnet-covered leg. She yanked it closed.

“Twins, huh. You expect me to buy a story like that when you’re decked out in your working clothes? Twin strippers? I guess I’d pay to see that act.” Delancey grinned.

Rebecca bit her bottom lip and watched his gaze zero in on her mouth. She felt the air around them heat and took a deep breath. Big mistake. She inhaled and again caught the faint, masculine aroma of his aftershave mingling with the artificial coolness of air-conditioning.

“I-I was auditioning for a play at the Stagecoach Theater. You can check that out easily enough.”

“What play would require that outfit, or should I say, lack of?” He didn’t sound convinced.

She looked down to make sure her coat still covered her; embarrassed he’d seen her in her scanty costume. “Gypsy Rose Lee.”

The detective looked her over once more. “Let’s see your I.D.”

Rebecca handed it over.

“Can we agree you don’t need to stay in here?”

She nodded and he stepped aside for her to precede him out of the Safety Room to the inner lobby. She waited while he ran her license. He returned and handed it back to her, his features settling into a deep scowl.

“Where’s your sister, Ms. Morgan? It’s important that I find her.”

“Is—Did she do something wrong?” Rebecca couldn’t help it. Angie was doing so well getting her life together. She hoped her sister hadn’t gotten herself into trouble…again.

“That’s police business, Ms. Morgan. Do you know where she is?” Delancey started to pace. A few muttered imprecations rose above the dull thud of his shoes on the tiled hallway.

“Angie’s an adult, Detective Delancey.” She turned away from him. “She doesn’t have to tell me where she’s going or what she’s doing.” This man had scared her into running for her life. She did not have to answer him.

“Even if it keeps her out of jail?” His terse question stopped her cold.

Oh, Ang. She turned back. “I could try to contact her if I knew what all this was about.” Folding her arms across her chest, she added, “That is, if you want my help.”

He took a minute to answer. “Okay, but not here.”

She was not letting this guy follow her home. “I need to go home and change. Can you meet me at the Moxie Java on Glenwood at nine?”

“I’ll be there.”

* * *

Jack Delancey watched Rebecca Morgan drive away. Damn, she was a dead-ringer for her sister. Anyone could’ve made the same mistake, especially since he’d only met Angie briefly before her release.

Being wrong didn’t sit well with him. He couldn’t afford another screw-up. He stepped off the curb and saw something glittering in the gutter. Kneeling down, he picked it up.

A shiny blue stripper’s pastie sparkled in his hand. He grinned, then his mouth widened into a smile. “I wonder if she’ll miss it.” He twirled the tassel thoughtfully before pocketing it. Jack drove to the coffee shop, wondering what the hell to do next.

The missing Angie Morgan had screwed up his timeline. He needed to regroup and figure out his next move. It didn’t matter to him whether her sister liked it or not; Angie was going to help him nail Big Carl Browder.

He’d refilled his cup of coffee when the Morgan woman entered the Moxie and went to the counter to order. The packages were identical, but the wrappings couldn’t be more different. She’d changed into a brown turtleneck sweater and matching slacks. Her hair, also brown, was pulled back and secured with a ribbon of the same color. Now that he knew she was Angie’s twin, he could see the contrast. And she wore glasses.

The raincoat she wore covered any curves. He wished he’d paid more attention to the glimpse of skin she’d exposed when her coat had parted at the gas station. Maybe she didn’t even have Angie’s generous proportions.

She paid for her order and came over to the table, sitting on the chair across from him. “So what’s this about?”

“You didn’t have those on earlier.” He pointed to her bronze-rimmed glasses.

The Morgan woman was silent for a moment. “I have contacts I wear when the occasion warrants. Odd thing for you to notice.”

“You’re very different from your sister.” Understatement.

“And yet you mistook me for Angie. Let’s get to why you’re here.” She leaned back against her chair and waited.

“I can’t tell you everything about the case. But if you agree to help me find Angie, I’ll let you know as much as possible.” He watched her cup her hands around the mug and blow on the coffee. Her unpolished nails were cut short. No jewelry except for small post earrings. A woman without bling. Jack smiled to himself as he remembered the sequined souvenir in his pocket.

“Something amuses you?”

Jack noticed for the first time that her eyes were brown. He might’ve known that everything about her would match. Except her eyes weren’t just brown. They were shot with a color that reminded him of warm caramel. She was attractive, just not in a flashy way like her sister.

“No, not at all. Do you know where Angie is?” Jack pulled out his cell phone and checked his calendar. “We had a meeting scheduled at the police station this afternoon and she didn’t show.” He was on edge and he couldn’t let this Morgan woman know it.

“You’re going to have to back up a little for the slow kid in the last row. How did Angie get mixed up with the police?” Her voice sharpened and her jaw tightened as she waited for his answer.

He needed her help to find her sister, but he couldn’t tell her the truth, not all of it. That he was on a deadline was something only his captain and he could know.

“Do you know your sister works as a dancer at the Blue Moon Club? I noticed you didn’t recognize the name she goes by.”

“I know she works there but she’s never mentioned her stage name. She doesn’t talk about the Blue Moon.” She shrugged. “I figured it was a popular place.”

“As popular as a glorified strip joint can be.”

She shifted in her chair and avoided looking at him.

If the rest of the relatives were as uptight as her sister, he could imagine how much heat Angie got about her job. “Family’s ashamed of her, huh?”

“What?” She winced as if he’d slapped her and glared at him. “We are not ashamed of her.” She exhaled. “It’s an honest job and she’s not going to do it forever.” She worried her lower lip with her teeth.

“It might be an honest living, but it’s not a great atmosphere. How’d she end up there?”

Rebecca sighed. “Angie’s younger by ten minutes. A lot of people compared us. She didn’t want to be like me so she went the rebellious youth route.” She looked down at her mug and took a sip of her coffee. “Angie ran away from home at sixteen. For eight years, we didn’t know if she was dead or alive. It was torture for my parents and me.”

“But she came home.”

She began to tear her napkin into pieces. “Yes. She won’t talk about what happened while she was away. I’m just glad to have her back.”

“Lots of kids rebel at that age. I was one of them.”

“I know they do, but…I blame myself.” The sudden strain in her voice betrayed her emotions. Rebecca raised her head and he saw her blink away tears. “I loved being the good twin. I could’ve been nicer to her. I teased her all the time about me getting better grades.”

He shook his head. “I have a hard time imagining that you were a bad role model. No offense, but I see you as more the ‘Marian, the Librarian’ type.”

Rebecca frowned at his attempted humor. She straightened her back and took a deep breath. “Angie thought Mom and Dad wanted her to be just like me.” Rebecca took a sip of her coffee and shook her head. “They didn’t, but it’s like she decided she’d become my polar opposite, even though she was every bit as smart as me.”

Jack began to understand why Rebecca had been so protective of her sister. Yeah, he knew about guilt. The kind that gutted you from the inside out every waking minute. Hell, even some sleeping ones.

“They did everything they could to convince her they loved her for who she was. I thought it would kill Mom and Dad when she left. Not knowing whether she had a place to sleep or food to eat—” Rebecca shuddered. “No one should have to go through that.”

Jack thought about the Angie he’d met. The girl who went by the stage name of Lorelai Down was a smart-ass ballbreaker who drank like a Marine on shore leave and was always up for a party. He hadn’t even thought about her being someone’s daughter or sister.

“Do your parents live in town?”

“No, not anymore. They’re snowbirds, living in Arizona most of the time.”

Rebecca seemed more in control now, but she still stared into her coffee mug. “We were so happy when she came back. She’s really been trying to get her life together. She’s studying for her GED and she’s found a cute apartment in a nice neighborhood.”

Rebecca looked up at him. “I can’t believe she’s done anything illegal.” She cleared her throat and quickly brushed her hand over her eyes. “She’s changed. She wouldn’t jeopardize her future, not again.”

“Look, I’m sorry she’s had a rough time. If she helps us, we’ll help her.”

“How is she involved and why are you so intent on tracking her down?”

“The Blue Moon is the site of some criminal activities. Your sister was arrested two weeks ago at a party we raided for drugs.” Jack stopped at the sound of Rebecca’s strangled “no.”

There was no way he could make this easier on her. “We pulled your sister’s jacket. She has a record. When we checked into her background and saw where she danced, the prosecuting attorney offered her a chance for leniency. Maybe even drop the charges.”

“My sister isn’t involved with drugs. You can’t make me believe that.” Rebecca’s eyes were red, but she hadn’t let any tears fall. Jack would bet his Grandpa Ewan’s teeth she’d maintain that iron control, even if it killed her.

“With her previous record, her presence at a raid is enough. She violated the rules of her probation. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is a tough break, but it doesn’t make it any easier on Angie.”

Rebecca leaned forward. “What did she agree to do?”

“Wear a wire if necessary, but mostly she’s agreed to keep her ears open for any possible drug deals that might go down.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

He could barely hear her question. “I won’t lie. It can be, but so is prison. I won’t let anything happen to her.”

“I don’t like it.” Rebecca frowned. “Angie’s not trained to do police work.”

“We just want her to go about her business as usual. She goes to the club, dances, hangs out at the bar, and listens. Then she tells us what she hears.” It was his turn to look down at the table.

“I won’t let her.”

“Look, Ms. Morgan, as you’ve mentioned, your sister is of age. Who are you to jeopardize her chance for a new start?” He wasn’t about to let this prim do-gooder ruin his chance to take down Big Carl. “You should be supporting her, not putting up roadblocks.”

“I don’t believe you’re concerned about her making a new start. What are you really after?” Rebecca slammed down her mug with a thud and stood. “You want to use her to put a notch in your career belt? Will you get a promotion out of it, Detective? What is the going price for a civilian’s life?”

He’d made a mistake. She could get mad and then some. “Look, Ms—”

“Don’t go near my sister, Detective Delancey.” She turned and walked out of the coffee shop, drawing her coat closer around her body.

“Damn it.” He’d been working toward this for months. He would not let Ms. Rebecca Morgan jeopardize his case

* * *

She got into her car and drove home. She left a message on Angie’s cell phone to stop by the house immediately. Was she shivering because the temperature had dropped or was it fear for Angie? She couldn’t let her sister be put in such a dangerous position. Angie’s temper often got the better of her. She might give herself away in the wrong place in front of the wrong people. Rebecca would hire the best lawyer in town. Her sister would not be helping the police.

It was close to eleven when she arrived at Rebecca’s house.

“Hi, Reb. I’m starving.” She headed into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. “Don’t you have anything good in here?”

“What kept you?” Rebecca called before taking a seat on the couch in the living room.

Angie joined her, a can of iced tea in one hand and a container of blueberry cheesecake yogurt in the other.

“Gee, Mom, the movie got out at ten forty-five. I made it by curfew,” Angie teased.

“Brat.”

She stuck her tongue out and Rebecca couldn’t help but grin. They were closer now than they’d ever been and Rebecca wasn’t going to let Jack Delancey or anyone else hurt her sister.

“The movie was great. I went to­­—”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It was a last minute thing. I went with Toni, a friend from work.” She dug into the yogurt.

“I mean why didn’t you tell me you were arrested?”

Angie paled. “I can explain that.”

“Great. I’m waiting.” Rebecca pushed deeper into the cushions and waited for the story.

“Hey, I had nothing to do with those drugs. The cops raided the place and they found some meth.”

“You act like that’s nothing.”

“Listen, I made the mistake of hanging out with some friends who knew the people having the party. I had no idea they did drugs.” Angie shrugged and sat at the other end of the couch. “I’ve learned my lesson. Once I give the cops what they need, they’ll drop the charges.”

“It’s not that simple. Have you given any thought to what might happen if you’re caught by these thugs?” Rebecca stood up and went to the window. She looked at the nearly full moon. She used to make wishes on it and actually believe they’d come true. If only she could do that now to get Angie out of this predicament.

“Truthfully, I’d hoped I could get the info they wanted without you or Mom and Dad having to know about it.” Angie rose and joined her. “How’d you find out, anyway?”

Rebecca turned. “A detective named Jack Delancey mistook me for you. He was angry you’d missed meeting him at the station.”

“Oops. Yeah, about that. My car ran out of gas and—”

“Don’t tell me, your cell phone battery was dead.”

“I really did run out!”

“Okay. But why didn’t you call him when you made it back?” Rebecca challenged.

“Because I knew he’d be pissed and I didn’t want to deal with it, okay?” Angie paced. “This guy is really intense. He’s not nice to me.”

Rebecca shook her head. “And you think he greeted me with open arms, especially when he thought I was you?”

“Gosh, I’m sorry. Really.” Angie rushed over and hugged her.

“I handled it. I’m glad I found out since you didn’t come clean with me. I told him you wouldn’t be a police informant.” Rebecca pulled the hem of her blouse down. Angie’s exuberant affections often resulted in returning clothing to their proper places.

“You can’t do that,” Angie blurted out.

“I already did. It’s too dangerous. I’ll get you a lawyer. You hadn’t taken any drugs. We can get you off.”

“Can you guarantee it?”

“Of course not, but—”

“Well, the prosecuting attorney can. You can’t fix everything. It’s my mess and I need to clean it up my way.”

Rebecca groaned. “I hate it when you go all ‘adult’ on me.”

“No, you don’t. You love it.” Angie grinned. “Look, I’ll call Darth Vader tomorrow and make nice. Everything will be fine.”

“Darth Vader?”

“The detective. It suits him. He’s so grim.” She flipped her hair and sniffed. “I forgot to ask. Did you get the part?”

“Ugh. Don’t remind me. Epic fail.” Rebecca frowned.

“You didn’t wear your glasses, did you? I told you to ditch the glasses for the audition.”

“I didn’t have my glasses. The director said his grandmother had better dance moves. Everyone laughed like it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard. Brown-nosers.”

“Screw ‘em. You’ve won lots of other parts. You’re good.” Angie appeared outraged on Rebecca’s behalf.

“Sure. Good at being sidekicks, shy clerks, and fade-into-the-background jilted girlfriends.” She sighed. “I want to be the lead in a play. A strong female. I’m obviously not right for those parts.”

“Oh, Reb, I’m sorry. I know you can do anything you set your mind to. It’s the director who’s missing out. Jerk-wad.” Angie headed to the door. “I’m going home to crash. I’m beat and I feel like crap. Might have a cold coming on.”

Rebecca followed. “Let me know how the call to the police station goes.”

She was already halfway down the sidewalk. “Okay. See ya.”

* * *

Rebecca awoke to the incessant ring of the doorbell.

Angie had called her around two. It was a given that any phone call that early in the morning meant bad news, but the timing of this one couldn’t have been worse. After that, Rebecca had lain awake worrying. The detective, aka Darth, would not be happy. She’d finally fallen asleep around four.

She fumbled for the clock on the nightstand and stared at it. Eight o’clock. She groaned as the bell rang again. Hauling herself out of bed, she threw on her favorite oversized terry cloth robe and went to the door.

She looked out through the glass block panel encasing the entrance and sucked in a breath. The detective. “Life just keeps getting better.” Gearing up for battle, she opened the door.

“Look, Ms. Morgan, we got off to a bad start. Can we talk?”

“Detective Delancey, speak of the devil.”

“You were talking to someone about me?” He leaned against the molding. “Should I feel flattered?”

“No, I wasn’t talking to anyone.” She would definitely not be buying any lottery tickets today. With her luck, a passenger plane’s jettisoned frozen sewage would hit her on the way to the convenience store.

“Call me Jack.” He smiled and she felt herself weakening. Unfortunately.

“Okay, but that won’t make me any more likely to let Angie endanger her life.” Maybe she could convince him to let Angie off the hook before she told him the news.

“I’ll tell you more about the case, but you have to promise to keep this strictly confidential. May I come in, please?”

Rebecca stepped back and gestured him in. The foyer of her house was small, no more than a short hallway leading to the living room. They stood there, so close she could smell his woodsy aftershave. His eyes were a calm green this morning, without the harshness she’d seen in them last night.

She thought about her own appearance. Thick, curly hair, courtesy of her mom, that she hadn’t taken the time to brush into even a modicum of control before she’d opened the door. Her robe, while the most comfortable she owned, was frayed at the sleeves and missing a button.

She put her hands behind her back to hide the worn sleeves and then thought better of it. Who was she trying to impress, anyway? “I always have coffee first thing in the morning. You might as well make yourself useful while I get dressed. All you have to do is plug it in.” She pointed him towards the kitchen and went upstairs.

When she returned, the smell of freshly brewed coffee meant he’d done his part. Entering the kitchen, she was surprised to see he’d made himself at home. On the kitchen table with the steaming cups of coffee was a plate with two toasted bagels and the honey walnut cream cheese she’d become addicted to when she was in college. She sat down.

“Serving me breakfast, huh. You must really want my help.” A man hadn’t served her breakfast since, well, who was she kidding…never.

“Actually, I’m really hungry. But isn’t it convenient that I’m able to butter you up at the same time?” His eyes twinkled and his face lit up when he grinned.

She laughed despite her earlier determination to remain distant but civil. His mouth turned up in a cute—strike that—sexy way when he smiled.

Darth Vader, my left elbow. She could almost like him if she hadn’t known he wanted something from her. Or how he would react when she told him about Angie. She took a sip of her coffee and sighed. “Hmm, there’s nothing like that first hit of caffeine in the morning.”

“I agree,” he said. “Look, I’m not a bad guy. I just want to explain how important this is to me, to the department.”

“So explain. Explain how my sister seems to be the key to this whole operation, a civilian with no experience in undercover work.” She spread some cream cheese on the whole-wheat bagel.

Jack brought the coffee pot over to the table and topped off his cup. “First, you have to know about Big Carl Browder. Two years ago, he moved to Boise from Seattle, where he ran one of the biggest numbers rackets in the city.”

“Organized crime in Boise? I know the gang element has increased, but…” She paused. “And this Browder is the man you want to catch?”

“You got it.”

“You seem to know a lot about him and his activities. Why don’t you just arrest him?” She pushed her cup closer to him and he refilled it.

“We need proof. With your sister already a part of the scenery at the Blue Moon, she’s my best bet to get that proof.” He stared at her as if he could will her to help him.

“Detective Delancey, I talked with Angie. She had decided to cooperate with you. She’s anxious to make a fresh start.” Rebecca looked up at him. “But there’s a problem.”

“What kind of problem?” He put the coffee pot back on the warmer to stay warm and leaned against the counter.

Rebecca took a deep breath. “She’s been feeling lousy the last couple of days and she went to a doc-in-the-box late last night. She’s got mononucleosis.”

“Nice try.” He shook his head. “I know you don’t want her to help, but that’s a bit too convenient.”

“I have the name of the doctor. Check it out.” She waited for the explosion.

He was silent for a moment. “Mono, huh? How long will she be out of commission?”

“The doctor says it’s a pretty bad case. She can’t go back to dancing for at least a month.”

“I can’t wait that long,” he muttered to himself.

“The doctor said her spleen is enlarged and she can’t risk a rupture.”

“Damn it.” He pushed away from the counter.

“It can’t be helped.” Surely he’d leave now.

Instead, Jack came up to the table, took her hands, and drew her to a standing position in the middle of the kitchen. He stepped back and walked around her. “Hmm, maybe…just maybe.”

“What on earth are you doing?” Rebecca could feel her cheeks flush under his scrutiny.

“You’ll take her place. You will be my new Lorelai Down.”

 

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