I was locking my office just after four on a hot July afternoon when her perfume hit me. Jasmine laced with lime.
one kind of woman wears that potion—a blonde with curly ringlets like
Shirley Temple made famous. I’m not related to Shirley, she just
happens to have the same last name as me. Sight unseen, I’d have bet
even money this blonde would be well-endowed and have eyes as blue as
the Pacific before a storm.
“Mr. Temple?” she asked as I withdrew the key. Her
voice was like I imagined it would be, whiskey and honey.
I turned to look. She wasn’t blonde, but had soft brown
hair that laps the shoulder, the kind of hair I like. I was wrong about
the eyes too—they were green, darker than emeralds. Made me forget
about the Pacific Ocean before, during or after a storm. She had the
lean body of a runner.
“Yes,” I said. “I’m Jimmy Temple.” I was sorry
I wasn’t her long lost lover because all my life I’ve dreamed about
a woman like her looking for a man like me.
“I drove all the way from Malibu,” she breathed.
“Could you possibly give me a few minutes?”
I opened my door again and went in. I had turned off the
air conditioner for the weekend but there was enough of a chill to make
it inviting. I sat down behind the redwood picnic table I use as a desk.
I watched her standing in the doorway as she decided if she should come in or talk to me across the threshold. She turned and looked over her shoulder. Behind her was Bel Air Foods.
The crisp wind
wrinkled a white banner over the entrance proclaiming, “We deliver”
(if you spent a hundred bucks or more). White clouds played lazy tag in
the baby-blue sky. It was supposed to rain, but so far not a drop. My
office is on the second floor of a two-story wood frame building that
houses a dozen tiny businesses: Mail Room, a pet groomer, a
drycleaner, a coffee house; the kinds of places rich people send their
servants on errands.
I run a small agency that specializes in finding lost lovers, probably not the kind of lovers you might expect. I bet if you think back over the years there was someone special you longed for, maybe in high school, maybe even in kindergarten, and you moved or they moved and next thing ten or twenty years slip by and you start wondering what happened to that soul mate of yours.
That’s where I come in. You
give me two hundred dollars and if your old squeeze is in California
I’ll find your long lost love within thirty days. Out-of-state, I
charge five hundred. I call my agency Soul Mate Search Inc. I’m even
in the Yellow Pages. I take Visa and MasterCard. I get the occasional
phone call from people who think I’m a black talent scout looking for
the next Whitney Houston.
Between my building and Bel Air Foods is a parking lot.
Today it was filled with new Mercedes and Cadillacs. There was a blue
limo waiting for some rich country club divorcée to get her claws
sharpened in the nail salon. I saw heat shimmering off the hood of a red
Lamborghini. It hadn’t been there two minutes ago. It had Malibu tags.
I asked the lady in the doorway what her name was.
“Related to Jack Kincaid?” I opened a new file
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I read about his funeral in
“He was murdered.”
I leaned back and made a steeple with my fingers,
assuming the nonchalant pose I like to think makes me look like Bogart
in The Big Sleep. “I
saw an interview on television with your mother and no one said anything
about murder. I understood it was an accident.”
“My real mother died when I was a child. Trish is my
stepmother. She killed daddy.”
“Really?” The room cooled down, even with the air
Little red lights flashed in the back of my mind. I got a
strong feeling Wanda was not looking for an old lover. “Has she been
“Trish is too smart to get arrested.”
The warning lights swarmed like fire ants. I contemplated
my folder. California is filled with all kinds of strange people. Drugs
or fame can make you strange, but what makes you the strangest is money.
And the strangest of all are the spoiled children of rich parents who
are so busy being rich they starve their kids of everything but cash.
I remembered the news clippings and sound bites on Jack Kincaid. Rich and ruthless. He collected people. They threw him a to-die-for funeral and I remembered how happy his so-called friends all seemed at the service which made the 11 o’clock news. Kincaid was the kind of guy who had time for every deal but I doubted if he had a nanosecond left for family.
Wanda had probably displaced her resentment onto her
stepmother, who probably was a first-class bitch, as the second
wives of rich men often are. God only knew what the stepmother thought
of Wanda. What a tragedy. But then California is filled with tragedy
these days—earthquakes, mudslides, fires, gyrating real estate prices
and beautiful women like Wanda.
I closed the folder and got up just as Wanda decided she
was going to come in. She backed reluctantly out onto the walkway. I
pulled the door shut and re-locked it.
In a few moments I would walk a hundred yards to my small studio apartment, close the door, shake off my clothes and pour myself a shot of Crown Royal. I would drink it slowly, then put on swim trunks and do laps in the pool until sunset, which would be in about thirty minutes.
Later I would watch television and dream about a woman like
Wanda, but one who was not a card-carrying member of the strange
children of California’s rich and famous.
“Won’t you help me?” she asked.
“No.” I dropped the key into my pocket and looked at
her. She was a knockout, no question. A stone fox. High heels that made
her legs seem to go on forever, lithe legs that could crack me like a
“I can pay whatever you want.”
“Miss Kincaid, I’m sure you could buy Catalina Island
with change left over to make a dent in our national debt. I find old
boyfriends for old girlfriends and vice versa, nice and romantic. And if
I think a client is going to harm an old lover, I pass. I make between
forty and sixty grand a year doing something I’m good at. I am not
good at homicide.”
“I bet you could be.”
“I don’t want to find out. When you start
investigating why people die in Los Angeles that usually leads to a body
bag and probably you’re the one in it, having been personally checked
out of this life by someone you’d be horrified to find in your living
room. I do not like blood, bullets, toe tags or the smell of
formaldehyde. I do, by the way, like your perfume.” I turned away.
“Sorry I can’t help you.”
She followed me down the stairs. I headed for Bel Air Foods to buy milk. I walked by the Lamborghini Diablo and in the back seat I noticed a big teddy bear with a broken eye.
Looking totally out
of place in one of the world’s most expensive cars, it wore a ratty
white sweater that said “Wanda’s Baby.” I didn’t need milk but I
didn’t want Wanda to find out where I lived.
“You have to help me.”
I gave her a glance. She looked as good from the side as
she did from the front, in a loose gray silk blouse that both hid and
suggested everything. Damn.
“Wanda, if I may call you that. There are dozens of
agencies in this city. Any one of them will take your case, maybe for
even less money than I charge.”
“I need someone psychic.”
Rich and strange and, of course, into the paranormal.
Maybe next I’d find out she’d been abducted by aliens. “I’ll
have to change the name of my agency. It may be called Soul Mate Search
but it’s got nothing to do with me being psychic.”
“Yes, you are,” she said. “You just don’t know
I studied her as if the thought had just occurred to me.
“Bet you’re psychic, aren’t you?”
“And this psychic gift enables you to divine that your
stepmother killed your father?”
“Then divine that I do not believe in psychic
phenomena, telepathy or predestination. I don’t even believe much in
Her emerald eyes were twin pools, deep waters into which
I longed to dive. She smiled, great teeth that didn’t look porcelain.
“You want to believe, but you can’t,” said those clean white teeth
that I wanted to nibble me.
“That’s a pretty easy guess. Everybody’d like to be
psychic, insightful, special, powerful —”
“Mr. Temple —”
“No. Stop. You’re an attractive woman. I like the way
you smell and walk and hold yourself. I like your teeth. But I’m going
home. Drive your Lamborghini back to Malibu and watch the sunset. Enjoy
something you can’t buy.”
A mysterious smile, disturbingly like that of the Mona
Lisa, drifted across her delicately tanned face. “If I can prove I’m
psychic will you let me take you to dinner?”
“Sure.” I said, trying to concentrate on Crown Royal
but finding myself thinking about her.
“When you were locking your door and I spoke to you,
and you couldn’t see me, you thought I had blonde hair, blue eyes and
big hooters, didn’t you?”
“Pretty good guess.”
“You were also thinking of Shirley Temple.”
I don’t know how she had guessed what I had been thinking but I had just lost the bet. We would have dinner. I was in trouble....
The best is yet to come.
You can ENJOY all 33 chapters on your computer RIGHT NOW!
The cost is ONLY $5.00 for the electronic VERSION.
Start to enjoy all 33 chapters right now.
Click the following box ("Add to Cart") to buy an electronic copy of
It comes as a PDF file in an easy to unpack zip file.
Begin reading immediately.
Full Money back if you're not delighted.
Please E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to buy a paper copy. It's twenty dollars, plus postage.