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Did you miss Chapter Two?
From Murder at Yappy Hour
A commotion was building outside in the bar area. Beepo was
yapping relentlessly, Yolanda was alternating between calm,
soothing tones that I guessed were directed at Beepo and a
high-pitched, nervous tone that I figured was directed at the
baritone voice that was cutting in and out. Obviously, the
police had arrived.
I cringed. I had to get myself together.
Why had I called the police before figuring out Rachel’s involvement?
I turned my face into the stream of water and drank unabashedly
from the faucet. The water did nothing to relieve my nausea.
And what the hell was I going to do about the letter?
How many copies were out there? Fortunately, the guy hadn’t cc’d
anyone on the letter, but he had to have a copy on his computer. If
he’d threatened closing down Rachel’s bar, I could only imagine how
angry she’d be.
But even still . . . she would have challenged him . . . or hired a
lawyer . . . or something, but she wouldn’t have bashed him in the
head with her best bottle of merlot!
I ran the water through my hair, then turned off the faucet and
straightened. I evaluated myself in the mirror. Not only did I look like
a drowned rat, but the color had completely drained from my face.
Worse still, I looked like I had something to hide.
Prying open the door, I peeked out into the corridor.
The body was still sprawled across the sienna-colored terra cotta.
Disappointment wracked my body.
What? Had I been hoping the dead guy had been a figment of my imag‐
Yolanda was chatting with a tall uniformed officer with his back
He had broad shoulders and a narrow waist, and when he turned
toward the sound of the creaking door, I froze.
In his hand was a sheet of paper.
Could it be a copy of the letter? How?
I cleared my throat nervously.
Yolanda smiled at me. “Maggie, come meet Officer Brooks.”
Officer Brooks leveled his gaze on me. My legs turned to Jell-O as
I stared back at his electric-blue eyes and square jaw.
This was no time to be thinking of igniting my nonexistent love
life. This was the time to focus! Focus on getting that damn paper out
of his hand. Focus on getting Rachel out of hot water. Even if she had
dumped the bar on me, I still owed her that much at the very least.
I opened my mouth to speak but no sound came out.
Officer Brooks stepped toward me, shoving the paper into his
“Maggie?” he asked. “I understand you found the body here, along
with Yolanda. You have a key to the front door?”
Wait a minute. That was wasn’t right. I found the body with
Yolanda? No, she was here first. She found the body. I found her
straddling the body.
He was close to me, maybe only a few feet away, yet his voice
sounded distant. I shook my head, thinking it would help my hearing,
but now there seemed to be something wrong with my eyes, too, as if
suddenly I had no peripheral vision . . . as if suddenly things were
closing in on me.
My hand shot out to the wall, knocking into the row of famous
dog portraits. The framed photos banged against each other, sending
the eight by ten of Gidget, the Taco Bell Chihuahua, crashing to the
floor. The autographed portrait of Rin Tin Tin was safe, luckily.
I steadied myself against the space vacated by Gidget and pressed
my cheek into cool stucco. I pulled at my shirt collar again, trying to
No, no, no.
Not a panic attack. I hadn’t had one of those since . . . since . . . Oh
no, don’t think of that! Think of the letter. Think of Rachel. Focus!
My knees began to buckle and rational thought abandoned me.
The pressing issue became getting air. I pulled at my shirt again,
trying to fan my face. I was burning up.
I had to get my shirt off.
The restroom suddenly looked miles away. I groaned.
Officer Brooks was at my side, his hand on my elbow. “Hey, are
you all right there?”
“So hot,” I said.
He smiled a lopsided grin. “I get that a lot.”
“What?” I asked, tugging at the bottom of my shirt and pulling it
up toward my face. The dim-witted thought of what bra I had on
flashed through my mind.
He pulled my shirt back down. “Whoa, whoa. What are you
“No air,” I mumbled, trying to fan myself and wrestle my top off at
the same time.
Yolanda appeared next to us. She batted my hands away from my
shirt and slinked her arm around my waist. Officer Brooks joined her
and together they ushered me toward a bar stool.
I wrapped my arms around their waists.
My hand was right up above his back pocket . . . right next to the
letter in his pocket. My finger grazed the paper.
Think, Maggie, think. Focus.
I tried to command my fingers to close on the paper, to grasp it,
pinch it, whatever it took! But my fine motor—oh, who was I kidding,
even my gross motor functions had totally shut down. We reached a
bar stool and I flopped onto it, nearly toppling over.
Officer Brooks steadied me, then said, “Put your head down.”
Hands guided my head between my knees.
I gulped in air. My racing heart slowed a bit and my vision
I chanced to put my head up, but a strong hand firmly kept it in
place. “Not yet,” the baritone said.
Oh, my hearing was better, too.
Now, how to get the letter?
I took a deep, calming breath.
Beepo appeared beneath my nose. We were eye to eye, nose to
nose. He bared his teeth. I bared mine. He growled. I growled back
The hand lifted from my head. “Did you just growl?” Officer
I kept my head down.
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