Smokin' Seventeen:A Stephanie Plum Novel(8)

By: Janet Evanovich

I was starting to get a bad feeling about the direction of the conversation. It had all the signs of my mother on a mission.

“You should call him,” my mother said to me. “He would probably like to reconnect with his classmates.”

“We weren’t friends,” I told her. “I’m sure he wouldn’t remember me.”

“Of course he would remember you,” my mother said. “His mother was even asking about you.”

And there it was. The fix up.

“Mrs. Brewer is a nice lady,” I said. “And I’m sure her son is innocent, and I’m sorry his wife took the dog, but I’m not calling him.”

“We could have him here for dinner,” my mother said.

“No! Not interested.” I wrapped my piece of coffee cake in a napkin and stood. “Gotta go. Got work to do.”

“I don’t suppose you took a picture of Lou Dugan,” Grandma said to Lula.

“That would have been a good idea,” Lula said, “but I didn’t think of it.”

I hustled out of the house with Lula not far behind. I jumped into the car and cranked the engine over.

“Maybe you should call that Dave guy,” Lula said when we got to the corner. “He might be the one.”

“I thought I found the one but he turned out to be a jerk so I divorced him. And now I have two guys who might be the one but I can’t decide between them. The last thing I need is a third one.”

“But maybe you can’t decide because neither of them’s right. Maybe Dave Whatshisname is the right one. What then?”

“I see your point, but I have an understanding with Morelli.”

“Which is what?”

Truth is, the understanding was vague. It was a lot like my status as a Catholic. I carried a decent amount of guilt and fear of eternal damnation but blind faith and total commitment were in scarce supply.

“We say we can date other people, but we don’t do it,” I told Lula.

“That’s stupid,” Lula said. “You got a communication issue. And anyways how are you sure he don’t be out dating other people? I mean he got permission, right? Maybe he’s dating that skank Joyce Barnhardt. What then?”

“I’d kill him.”

“You get ten to life for that one,” Lula said.

I turned toward Kreiner Street. “I’m giving Ziggy another try.”


I PARKED IN FRONT OF Ziggy’s house for the second time that day, got out of the car, and walked to his front door. He was dumb enough to answer his door the first time, maybe he’d be dumb enough to answer it again. I rang the bell and waited. No response. I rang again. Nothing. I tried the doorknob. Locked.

“Stay here and bang on the door,” I said to Lula. “I’m going around back. If he cracks the door, shove it open and go in.”

“No way,” Lula said. “He’s a vampire.”

“He’s not a vampire. And even if he is he probably can’t do much damage if he’s got his teeth in a jar.”

“Okay, but if he smiles at me, and he’s got fangs, I’m outta here.”

I jogged around to the back of the house and scoped it out. Windows were covered in blackout shades just like the front. A small stoop led to the back door. I could faintly hear Lula banging on the front door. I tried the back door. Locked, just like the front. I stood on tiptoes, ran my hand over the top of the door-jamb, and found the key. I opened the door and stepped into the kitchen. Dark wood cabinets, yellow Formica counters. No dirty dishes. No containers indicating blood bank withdrawal.

I had cuffs tucked into the waistband of my jeans and my stun gun was in my pocket. I moved through the kitchen into the dining room. I could hear the television in the living room.

“Ziggy?” I yelled. “It’s Stephanie Plum. I need to talk to you.”

I heard a gasp and some cussing and someone moving. I stepped into the living room and saw Ziggy standing to one side of the couch, poised to run, looking unsure where to go. Lula was still hammering on the door.

I went to the front door and pointed a finger at Ziggy. “Stay. Don’t move from that spot.”

“What do you want?”