Not One ClueBy: Lois Greiman
Give me ice cream or give me death.
—Chrissy McMullen, during
an ongoing bout of teenage
I had just drifted into the feathery nest of Sleepdom when the phone rang. Cracking one aggravated eye, I glared at my bedside clock. Eleven-seventeen. Okay, eleven-seventeen may not exactly be the wee hours of the morning, but I have a deep and abiding affection for sleep and tend to get somewhat miffed when I and my beloved are separated. I happen to consider REM to be the next best thing to chocolate, which is the next best thing to … damnit. I couldn’t remember anything that beat the cocoa bean for sheer unadulterated bliss, and that wasn’t a good sign. I was pretty sure there had once been something rather titillating.
The phone blasted my eardrums a second time. I gave it a jaundiced glare, but it remained unrepressed and rang again. Cheeky bastard. Snaking an arm across Harlequin, a dog who disguises himself as a hundred-pound door-stop, I hauled the receiver from its cradle, dragged it into my lair, and rumbled an impolite salutation.
There was a moment of silence followed by, “Jesus, McMullen.” Rivera’s smoky voice sizzled through my system like cheap wine. “Did your larynx have a run-in with a sander or are you just on a bender?”
Meet Lieutenant Jack Rivera, LAPD down to his cotton boxers. He and I go back a ways. When Bomber Bomstad, client and ex–football star, dropped deader than kibble on my overpriced berber, Rivera was the first on the scene. Irritating, smart-mouthed, and preposterously hot, he’s as tempting as truffles. He is also equally restricted, because although a little dark chocolate may boost your serotonin levels, a steady diet is likely to be fatal. And I had no intention of suffering death by Rivera. On the other hand, I had no qualms about a little Latin appetizer. I turned on my side, letting the cord drape over Harley’s bicolored ear. He ignored it as if it were the “sit” command.
“Maybe this is how I sound when I’m satisfied, Lieutenant.” My voice was sexy-low and husky.
“Like you need a defibrillator?”
I grinned a little. After all, he couldn’t see me, so it was okay to admit that sometimes I kind of appreciate his smart-ass wit. “You a doctor now, Rivera?”
“If that’s what floats your boat.” I could hear the sigh in his voice as he started to unwind. A cop’s day can be as stressful as a shrink’s, which just happens to be my calling.
“In your dreams,” I said, but the dreams were more likely to be mine. I’d had enough fantasies about Rivera to fill an erotic miniseries.
“You’re usually Catwoman in my dreams.”
“Catwoman.” My stomach tightened a little at the thought that I might occupy his late-night imaginings.
“Crime fighter with a tail.”
“You’re one sick bastard,” I said, and he laughed.
There was something about the sound of it that did naughty things to my otherwise saintly equilibrium.
“Maybe you could play the doctor this time.” His voice rumbled through me, but I fought off the effects. After all, I was no longer a pubescent tuba-player. In fact, I had worked like the proverbial dog to become a card-carrying psychologist. Even harder to become immune to the kind of low-level charm Rivera exudes like rush hour exhaust fumes.
“Did you have a reason for calling?” I asked.
“This is it,” he said.
I could hear the shrug in his tone. “I won’t call the cops if you don’t.”
I snorted. Sometimes when I’m really tired I tend to sound like an overwrought Guernsey and it was now … holy cow … 11:22.
“So what do you think?” he asked.
The buzz that had begun in my overzealous endocrine system geared up to an insistent hum. “In general or—”
My breath caught in my throat. “You’re not under my bed or something, are you?”
“Freaky,” he said. “But if that’s what trips your trigger, I’ll try to squeeze in.”
“Big of you,” I said, and refrained from dropping my head over the edge of the mattress to take a peek.