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Clowns and Cowboys (A Miranda and Parker Mystery) #3
Fulfilling your destiny…one killer at a time.
When PI Miranda Steele gets a call from an old “friend” in Dallas and decides to take his case, her boss and husband Wade Parker is none too pleased. Especially when she insists he stay home due to his recent injuries.
No way, Jose.
But when southeastern sophisticated meets southwestern country, tempers blaze hotter than Texas chili sauce, sending Miranda into turmoil. How can she solve this case with the clash between her past “friend” and her present husband raging? She needs to figure it out soon.
The murder of a circus clown is about to lead her to something not even Parker could have predicted.
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“Death values a prince no more than a clown.” Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
“I’ll see what I can do.”
In her cube at the Parker Agency where she was now a Level Three investigator, Miranda Steele hung up the phone and stared blankly at her computer. The text on the screen—data from the super boring worker’s comp case she’d been piddling over—blurred before her eyes.
Soft typing and voices floated over the fabric-covered walls, but all she could hear was her heart pounding in her ears. She was shivering all over, like she was coming down with the flu.
But it wasn’t the flu. It was that phone call.
Her old pal Yosemite Sam, as everyone used to call him on the work site, was in trouble. She hadn’t seen him in, what? Ten or eleven years? Not since they’d been in Phoenix together. She smiled at the memory playing in her head. Cruising down a dusty Arizona highway with Sam on a pair of motorcycles.
He’d taught her how to ride.
Talk about a blast from the past.
Then her smile faded. Sam was in Texas now, outside of Dallas—where there had been a murder.
He needed her help.
Her mind buzzing, she tapped her fingers on the smooth gray surface of her desk. What in the world was she going to say to Parker?
She and her sexy husband had just come back from a case overseas and he’d wanted to take a break. He needed it, so she’d agreed. He’d been beaten up pretty bad and wasn’t fully recovered yet.
But this call from Sam?
She couldn’t ignore it. Even though she had a feeling Parker wasn’t going to go for it. Well, she’d just have to face Parker head on.
Straightening her shoulders, she rose, picked up the notepad she’d scribbled some data on, and headed for her boss’s corner office. Double time.
###At the end of a row of cubes near the coffee maker, Miranda barreled around the corner—and nearly collided with someone who should have been watching where he was going.
She looked up and saw her buddy Dave Becker.
“Oh! Steele. I—I’m so sorry,” Becker stammered in his typically nervous way. He’d had his big nose buried in the e-pad thingy he was carrying and hadn’t been watching where he was going.
She took in his jeans and T-shirt and noticed his hair was growing over his ears. Plus his eyebrows looked bushier than she remembered. She realized she hadn’t seen him in quite a while.
She pointed at his outfit. “Out of uniform today?”
Not that she relished the dress code herself or policed her coworkers. It just seemed odd for Becker not to be in the required suit and tie.
He blinked at her as if he’d just woken up. “I guess you haven’t heard, what with you and the boss being out of town so much. I’ve moved to Digital Forensics. I’ve been working with Jenkins in the lab.”
“Yeah. You know. Cyberstalking, hacking, data recovery. We just closed a missing persons case tracking the guy’s emails. He was alive, in a hotel down town. Not kidnapped, as his wife feared. Marriage is in trouble, though. He’d been emailing a hooker, seeing her on the side. Was at the hotel with her, if you get my drift.”
“Yeah, I get it.” The scumbag. But Miranda was impressed. She’d never thought of her old buddy Becker as a techno-nerd.
She waved a hand at the tablet. “You’re really turning into a geek there, huh?”
He blushed shyly. “I think I’ve found my passion.”
That was cool. Everybody needed a passion. But Becker seemed out of place by himself. “Where’s Holloway?” The two used to be inseparable and were her first buds at the agency when she started.
“In the field.”
So Holloway hadn’t followed in his sidekick’s geeky footsteps.
“With Wesson,” he added staring at his screen.
“Wesson? Really?” Definitely not one of Miranda’s favorite people. She wondered how Holloway had gotten teamed up with that bitch.
“Yeah. Oh, Joan wanted me to ask you something.”
“O…kay.” Miranda poked at the carpet with the toe of her shoe. She hadn’t talked to her best friend in a long while and Fanuzzi was probably pissed about it.
“Let’s see. What was it, again?” He stared down at his e-pad, gave something a swipe.
Yep, Becker was getting to be a real absentminded professor.
Something came to him and he brightened. “Oh, I remember. About the party.”
She folded her arms defensively. “What party?”
His eyes grew round. “I wasn’t supposed to tell you. Or maybe they decided it wasn’t going to be a surprise. No, that’s right. They couldn’t make it a surprise since you and the boss are travelling so much nowadays.”
She folded her arms tighter. “What the hell are you talking about, Becker?”
“Your anniversary. Joan wants to throw you a party. She wants to set a date for it and start planning. She wants you to call her.”
“Yeah. You know, wedding anniversary? Ours is coming up, too. Right around the corner. But we might postpone our celebration...” His voice drifted off as he stared at his pad again.
Miranda blinked at him.
Had it really been a year since her friend and Becker had tied the knot? Since she’d walked down the aisle in that awful gown? And…wait. Her friends wanted to throw a party? Hadn’t the wedding itself been enough?
“Uh, it’s not necessary. I’m sure Parker will have something planned.”
The corners of Becker’s lips turned down and he suddenly looked like a lost puppy. “Really? Joan is going to be so disappointed.”
Oh, good grief.
When she’d first met Fanuzzi—Miranda couldn’t shake the habit of calling her by her maiden name—they’d been on a road crew together. Joan Fanuzzi was the Dump Person and had directed the heavy machinery. She was one tough broad. The last thing Miranda had expected was for Fanuzzi to drop the crew, go into catering, and live for putting together fancy parties.
But she couldn’t disappoint the woman. Fanuzzi had been loyal to her when she didn’t deserve it. Besides Miranda wasn’t good at making friends and didn’t have many. She didn’t want to lose her best one.
“Okay. Tell her to call me sometime.”
“How about now?”
Miranda curled a lip. Since when did Becker get so pushy?
She glanced down at the pad in her hand. The paper one. Not possible. Sam needed her help. “Can’t right now, I’m on my way to see Parker.”
Becker’s face faded from a scowl into that schoolboy awe he used to wear when they were in training whenever she’d mentioned the top investigator he fairly worshipped. “Got another case?”
Couldn’t talk about this one. “Maybe. We’ll see.”
And she stepped around him, leaving him staring at his tablet for an answer.
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