Anna bent a little, so the serious-looking guy called Arnie could take a look. “Tell BG I’m Anna. It’s important. About a missing girl called Emmy.”
Arnie hesitated, and then made up his mind. “Okay, just hang on in there.”
From outside the trailer she could hear them talk. “What she look like?” Coming from BG.
“No, I don’t know any Emmy. This Anna or whatever she calls herself.”
She had to bend close to hear the next comment from Arnie. “Put it this way BG, she’s female with a couple of big bazookas. You getting picky, now?”
BG sounded casual enough. Not a guy with a migraine. “Oh, what the hell. Show her in. That is, please Arnie.”
She saw him looking at her. Sizing her up and smiling appreciatively. Obviously, she’d passed his inspection. Arrogant son-of-a bitch.
“Well,” he drawled at last. “Grab a seat. Make yourself comfortable. BG was sitting in a lounger.
She chose the leather couch. Made sure her legs were nicely profiled.
He waited until she was settled. “Okay, how can I help you?”
That’s what Jake had told her to do. “Get him talking and you’ve got a witness.”
“Witness to what?” she had asked.
“Emmy’s whereabouts. Say her parents are offering a reward dead or alive, but preferably alive. They’re loaded. One hundred grand. You are the private investigator’s assistant.”
“Private investigator, that’s heavy. DD you mean.”
Jake laughed. “And that makes you Deputy DD.”
She laughed with him. “Triple D huh? Okay, be serious. He’ll ask what’s it have to do with him, and then what?”
“Mention the Stockton coach, Lou Mathis, saw them together the night she disappeared. That should do it.”
“Well he saw BG meet a woman in the parking lot at the back of Joe’s Joint. The one next to Wal-Mart. He was loading up groceries and watching his kid. It was dark, so he couldn’t see too well; but he was pretty sure they drove off in a Ford.”
“One hundred grand, huh?” BG sounded disinterested.
“Must be, but what’s it to do with me?”
Anna told him.
“Ah, really.” He stared at one of the sports magazines on the table, as if contemplating something. He asked again. “One hundred grand, huh?”
She nodded her head.
“Look, we do a deal. Private huh?”
Anna nodded. “I’ll call Jake.”
“Yeah, I met up with Emmy. We went for a cruise in the park. We stopped for a while. Know what I mean?”
Jake kept quiet. A long time ago before he met Anna, he would have got mad. He nodded.
“She took some pics, said it was private. I guess I wasn’t thinking too straight right then, you know I was-- well you know. After, she dropped me outside my hotel. I haven’t seen her since.”
Jake wasn’t too interested in massaging BG’s ego. There were plenty of magazines strewn around the camper that could do that. He came straight to the point. “So what’s the deal?”
BG explained. “I got one of the private pics, hand delivered by special courier. And a blackmail demand for $50K. Threaten to publish them.” He picked up a magazine and shook it. “I’ll lose sponsorship, the works. And I have to settle it this week.”
Jake raised an eyebrow and waited. BG seemed to be making up his mind how to pitch it. “The deal is I give you a lead, and her bank account details.”
“What lead,” asked Jake.
“I can tell you where the courier picked up the package.”
Jake looked at Anna and turned back to BG. “Let me get it straight. We find her and claim the reward money?”
BG shook his head. “No--you find her, call me. I get my pics back and we go claim the reward together. Fifty-fifty split.”
Jake thought a while. He didn’t want to rush it. “Okay, you got a deal BG. Where’s the location of the package?”
BG smiled. “Longfield post office.”
When they got back to their motel room, Anna raised the one thing that was bothering her. “Jake, you know there isn’t any reward.”
Jake waved her to sit and cool it. “Listen up. BG isn’t telling the whole story. My guess is that something else happened there in that park. Maybe something to do with the homicide I told you about.” He shuffled over and sat down beside her. “BG isn’t worried about the reward money. He’s got a multi-million sponsorship deal. What’s fifty grand to him? It’s chump change.”
She frowned. “Yeah--suppose.”
“More important, we find her and take the blackmail money. That’ll be our new agency off the ground.”
Anna froze. “Jake, that’s a big step. Something you’re not telling me?”
That stopped him. Anna had hit the spot that hurt. “Well maybe,” he said. He looked at her appealingly. “Thing is Anna, there’s something you outta know.”
“Yeah, I’m listening.”
He reached over and clasped her hand. “It’s like this,” he began...
Jake told her that the murder in Stockton had changed him, helped him focus more clearly on where his life was heading. About his relationship with Emmy and how it was now history. And he felt a lot better.
“So that’s it?” Anna asked.
Jake took a deep breath. “I want us to be more than a one-night stand.”
She made him feel like a kid on his first date. He stumbled over his words. “Much more, Anna.”
Anna smiled. “You hardly know me.”
Now it was his turn to smile. “I know enough. Remember our first night together?”
She nodded. “Yes – I guess you do.”
Anna pulled him close. “I’m OK with it. Let’s see how it goes.”