Chapter Twenty-nine

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It was only in the middle of the afternoon that it occurred on me how shortsighted I'd been. It warmed me better than a fleece jacket to know that Jimmy Dolan loved me, but I'd been a complete twit about the investigation.

Those three little words had very quickly dissuaded me from my quest to find Deborah's killer. I didn't think for an instant that Jimmy had done it, but he certainly had a charming way of completely changing the subject while seeming anxious to disgorge the facts. No problem. Break time was upon us, and Jimmy was about to empty his head. He simply didn't know it yet.

I stuck my head into his office. "Fancy a coffee?" I said.

Caffeine in the middle of the afternoon was Jimmy's siren song. I might even have been able to lure him away from a client with the promise of java.

One quick trip to the nearest Mary's Market, and we were in possession of two foamy coffee drinks. We sat in the two client chairs in front of his desk, so I gave him the chance to savor a sip or two before I ruined the mood.

"So what were you saying about Will?" I said.


"You said that your sources in the Chicago office had quite a story."

"I chatted with Barney today," he said.

"About Will?"

"After a fashion," he said. "Barney was so impressed with the way I handled the account split with Will that he invited me to join his club."

"Really?" I had little or no interest in Barney's country club affiliation. I didn't play golf and could barely tolerate those who did. I put my coffee cup down on Jimmy's desk.

"Mahnateesee or Forest Hills?" I asked. Born and bred in Rockford, even I knew that they didn't allow the nouveau riche into Rockford Country Club. One's family had to be petty robber barons for at least 100 years before anyone could even contemplate that honor.

"Not his golf club," Jimmy said. "His gentleman's club." He took another sip of his drink.

"With naked women?"

"Of course not," Jimmy snapped. He placed his drink next to mine on the desk. His was bigger. "It's the University Club. They don't allow women to join, hence it's a gentleman's club. Men go there to get away."

I laughed and picked up my drink. "You mean there's some secret level of farting and scratching that men can't do at home?" I took a sip.

Jimmy stiffened. "It's for business," he said. "I can make some great contacts."

"My mistake." I sat my drink down again and considered pitching it at Jimmy. Sadly, the drink wasn't hot enough. "There are no business women in Rockford who'd be contacts."

"That's not what I meant," he said. He picked up his drink and took a long slurp. "Besides, their husbands would probably handle the joint stock portfolio."

"That's right," I said. "All those pesky stock quotes are too complicated for our superficial brains. And there wouldn't be any successful single women in Rockford who might need your services."

"Paulette, you're blowing this all out of . . . "

I didn't let him finish. I stood and moved his client chair back a foot or so. "What was I thinking?" I said. "This is completely out of my area of expertise. As a married man, Mr. Dolan, you would know all about the subtle art of pillow talk among married folk." With that, I stomped back to my work space.

Jimmy followed me. But no matter how much he sputtered and roared, he couldn't get me to say another word. When he had given up, gone back to his office, and slammed the door in disgust, I quietly called Liz on my cell to schedule an emergency therapy appointment for the next day at noon.

Time to call in the cavalry.

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