Mathew’s eyes darted toward the restaurant door every time the bell chimed but it was never Teri. He looked down at his watch to confirm she was over 30 minutes late. His heart began to thump with fear. Had something happened to her?
The door chimed again and a female entered Chez Louis. Her shiny blonde locks and curvaceous body gave away her identity. It was Kitty. She looked lovely in a black wrap dress with nude pumps and pearl jewelry. Mathew found himself calling out to her.
“Kitty, what are you doing here? Have you got a hot date?”
“No,” she responded. She flashed a winning smile. “I come here every Thursday for the orange crepes. What brings you back to our little town? It obviously wasn’t me,” she cooed, pretending to be hurt.
“I’m supposed to meet my lawyer but it seems she isn’t very prompt. I’m beginning to get worried.”
“Did you find out who killed your wife?” Kitty’s eyes glistened with interest.
“We think so but we were meeting here to set a plan to trap her.”
“Her?” Kitty drew back in shock. “I thought you had your eyes set on that policeman.”
“It’s a long story. I shouldn’t go into now,” Mathew hedged. “I’m afraid I need to go and look for Teri.”
“Is that your lawyer?”
“Yes. Look it was great seeing you again. We still have a date once this is over; if you still want one.”
“Well, I don’t know,” Kitty teased before throwing him a bone. “Call me,” she answered at last.
Mathew was stopped at a red light when he noticed something in a nearby alley. As bar lights flashed on and off, he thought he caught a glimpse of something red. Pulling his car over, he got out and walked down the alley. It was then that he could see the red object was a convertible; just like Teri’s.
Running toward the car, he looked inside. There was nothing there to indicate her recent presence. He thought about going into the bar to look for her when another idea hit him. Reaching down under the driver’s seat, he released the trunk hood. Moving toward the rear, he saw what he’d feared. Teri was inside the trunk. She was unconscious. Ugly black and blue bruises covered her beautiful face.
Scooping her up, Mathew ran to his car and put her gently inside. Within seconds he was hurdling toward the nearest hospital. Unfortunately, it was the next town over. Mathew arrived in record time and handed Teri to the ER attendees. Then he moved to the waiting room to await news. It seemed like hours before anyone came, but finally a doctor walked in his direction.
“She’s still unconscious,” the doctor said grimly. “She has a bad concussion. There is swelling in the brain. At this point we don’t know what to expect when she wakes up.”
“What does that mean?” Mathew ran fingers through is hair in a nervous gesture.
“It means she could have memory loss or worse. She could have permanent brain damage. Someone really did a number on her. Do you have any idea who?”
“No, but I suspect it was someone who didn’t like us getting too close to answers on a case we are working on together?”
“Are you a PI or something?” The doctor looked mildly interested.
“Not exactly but Teri’s a lawyer. She was trying to find out her framed a client.”
“And you are helping her?” The doctor was beginning to grow weary of the conversation.
“No. I’m the client,” Mathew admitted.
“Well, I called the police. It is required in a situation like this. I’m sure they’ll want to talk to you.”
“No doubt,” Mathew muttered. He feared they’d want to do more than just talk to him.
“Oh, and I found this clutched in her hand,” the doctor said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver charm.
Suddenly bells went off in Mathew’s head. His mind rushed back to the restaurant. Kitty had been wearing a silver charm bracelet. He noticed, quite by accident, that there appeared to be a charm missing. Up until that moment; however, he hadn’t brought the memory to the forefront of his mind.
“Thank you, doctor. I think you may have just told me who hurt Teri, or at the very least, who had something to do with it.”
“That’s good. Be sure to tell the police,” the doctor answered as he began walking away.
Once the physician was out of sight, Mathew rushed out the hospital door. If he waited for the police he knew what would go down. He’d get arrested and they wouldn’t bother listening to him. No, this was something he’d have to take care of himself.
As Mathew drove back into Kitty’s town, he pushed her number into his phone. She answered on the second ring.
“Hi, Kitty. It’s me, Mathew. Look Teri stood me up so I thought maybe we could get a cup of coffee or something. Are you up for it?”
“I was just about to go to bed,” Kitty moaned. “But hey, come on by. I make a mean cup of coffee. It’s 402 Mc Gloclaughn Place.
Mathew’s mind raced as he drove. He didn’t know what he was going to do but somehow he had to get Kitty to reveal herself to him. Then he shook his head. He had terrible luck with women. It seemed he always picked the wrong one. His mind turned toward Teri. He hoped she’d be all right. Despite their rocky start, he’d grown fond of her. He didn’t want anything or anyone to hurt her.
Kitty was standing on the porch when Mathew drove up. He got out of his car and walked toward her. She was dressed provocatively in an old-fashioned black negligee. He’d never seen Sheila wear one; not even on their wedding night.
“Come in. The coffee’s ready,” Kitty cooed.
“Do you have any cream?” Mathew asked innocently as he sat down at the kitchen table. When Kitty turned to get the cream from the fridge, Mathew quickly switched their coffee cups. This time, he wasn’t taking any chances. He smiled when she handed him the cream.
“So your lawyer was a no show? You couldn’t reach her?” Kitty pretended interest. Mathew could see now that it was all part of her game. Why hadn’t he seen that before?
“She probably went on a date instead,” Mathew laughed.
“Lucky for me,” Kitty purred innocently.
The couple sipped their coffee for a few seconds before speaking again. It was then that recognition finally registered on the blonde’s face.
“You switched the cups,” she said flatly. “I guess I should be glad I wasn’t trying to poison you.”
Mathew nodded. “You didn’t poison Teri so I took a chance you wouldn’t poison me either. It must be one hell of a sedative though. It took Teri forever to wake up.”
Kitty’s eyes registered fear. “She’s awake? But she can’t be,” she stammered.
“Teri is very resilient,” Mathew returned. “She told me everything.”
“Look, I’m sorry,” Kitty started. “I was never my intent to frame you. You walked in at the wrong time. I just wanted that witch of a wife of yours dead,” she spat.
“She stole Dan from me. I was his girl until she came sashaying around. Then he even had the gall to bring her into my jewelry store to buy her gifts,” Kitty spat. “I hated her. I wanted her dead so I made it happen. The problem is you’ll never prove it.”
Kitty’s body began to grow limp. “Damn sedative,” she screamed in frustration. “You think you have me but you can’t prove a thing,” she murmured seconds before falling asleep.
“That’s what you think,” Mathew said as he removed a small tape recorder from his jacket pocket. It was Teri’s. She always kept it in her purse. He’d removed it from her car trunk on his way back into town.
Walking to the phone, Mathew dialed the 911. “I need to talk to the police,” he said solemnly. “I want to report a crime. Actually make that two crimes,” he finished.
It was weeks before everything got sorted out and Mathew was released from a jail a second time. At least this time he was a completely free man. He rushed to the hospital to see Teri, having no idea of her current condition. She smiled at him when he entered the room.
“I was wondering where you were. I heard the good news. I have to know, though. How did you ever catch that woman?”
“I had a good lawyer,” Mathew grinned as he raced to her side. “With any luck, maybe I’ll get to keep her.”