“ F our-inch high heels should only be worn by a woman who’s lying on her back,” Savannah mumbled into the tiny microphone that was taped to her left breast, just below die lace edge of the ridiculous red, sequined bustier. The pointed toe of her accursed shoe caught in a sidewalk crack, and she had to perform a quick Highland jig to keep her balance.
“Hey, nobody said it was easy on the stroll,” replied a gravelly male voice from the miniearphone stuck in her ear. “They don’t call them ‘working girls’ for nothing.”
She glanced across the street at the pseudowino sprawled on the park bench and stuck out her tongue at him. It wasn’t quite daylight, and she knew he couldn’t see her, so the satisfaction was marginal at best.
“ Working girls get paid,” she reminded him in a down-in-Dixie drawl that was soft as a lilac-scented Southern night. “And as I recall, Dirk, this is a freebie.”
“A favor to an old friend,” the wino replied.
“You got the ‘old’ part right. Why didn’t you ask someone who’s still a real cop to help you out with this?”
“Mike and Jake look horrible in drag. They couldn’t pick up a sand flea at a beach party. Besides, you and me ran this scam a hundred times when we were partners. What’s the big deal?”
“I was on San Carmelita’s Police Department payroll then. Now I’m a private investigator with—”
“With nothing better to do and nobody better to do it with. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be out here at five o’clock in the morning with me, strutting your stuff with that Georgia peach waggle of yours.”
“Why, sugar...” With her hand on her hip, she struck a pose and giggled. “...you like my waggle?”
“ Savannah , honey, I love your waggle. But right now I’d rather you waggle your butt than your tongue. It could go down anytime now.”
Savannah scanned the nearly deserted downtown street of San Carmelita. So far, so good. Nothing stirred but a couple of palm trees, rustling in the predawn ocean breeze. Only one shop was open at this hour on Lester Street in the quaint, Southern California town—Andy’s Adult Bookstore.
Dirk had received a tip that the porn shop was going to be the fifth in a string of downtown, late-night business robberies. The small convenience store two blocks over had been hit, as had the open-’til-two service station on Lester and a couple of bars. Andy was open all night; it was his turn by default.
Lonely for a bit of Savannah ’s verbal abuse, Dirk occasionally invited her to accompany him on a late-night stakeout. It wasn’t exactly S.C.P.D. policy. But Detective Sergeant Dirk Coulter lived to snoop, and he had enough dirt on the “suits” to bend the rules from time to time and get away with it.
And Savannah found it difficult to refuse him anything. For five years he had been her partner. Even when she had been ousted from the department, he had risked his own career and defended her. But his most endearing quality was that in all that time he had never noticed that her “waggle” had widened. And if he had observed her increase from a petite size seven to a somewhat-overly-voluptuous fourteen, he hadn’t mentioned it. Now that was Savannah ’s idea of a true gentleman.
The door to Andy’s opened, and a customer emerged, a guy in his mid-thirties, wearing a city sewer worker’s uniform and a sappy, sated grin on his face. Apparently he had slugged a couple of tokens into one of Andy’s peep booths. Nothing like getting the day off to a jump start.
Heading her way down the sidewalk, he spotted her, and his smile broadened as he gave her a thorough once-over. “Hey, lookin ’ good,” he said as they met. “ Wanna date?”
Great. This was just what she needed. A first-thing-in-the-morning, two-time Charlie. “Get lost,” she told him, and kept walking.
He followed. “Ah, come on... that’s what you’re standin ’ out here for.”
“You’re not my type,” she said.
She heard Dirk snicker in the earphone. He’d pay later.
The guy took a step toward her and grabbed her forearm. “I got money, baby,” he said. “That makes me your type.”
With one twist of her wrist, she broke his grip, grabbed his pinkie, and bent it backward. She heard and felt something crack . He let out a yelp.
“I said get lost, perv ,” she told him.
Looking down, she saw the glimmer of a wedding ring on the finger next to the one she had just mangled. “What did you
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