Chapter 1: December 19 (Part 2)
Coffee in hand, Kate returned to the case reports.
She was glad Carmedy had given her the job. It gave her a chance to delve into the minutiae of private investigation. Her father had only discussed the highlights, never the day-to-day routine. For instance, eighty percent of the case files never took them out of the office. They were background checks and skip traces performed for a handful of regular corporate clients, a couple of lawyers and the occasional private citizen. Fortunately, they could be summarized with statistics for each month.
Insurance cases accounted for about fifteen percent of the files and sixty percent of the income. The summaries for these only had to be detailed if the case involved criminal action. Most of the remaining five percent of the files was taken up with police cases.
The original idea behind private investigators working for the police was to make use of senior detectives forced to retire because of age, physical disability or financial cutbacks. Consulting fees worked out cheaper than paying ongoing benefits and they could be hired on an as-needed basis only – a plus in smaller cities that didn’t have the infrastructure to maintain a large pool of detectives. One major crime could severely stretch their ability to investigate the daily influx of crimes against persons and property. Yet, every victim wanted their case to be given top priority.
Because Thorsen trusted her father, his former partner and mentor, Garrett Investigations had preferential status. In theory, Carmedy & Garrett Investigations maintained that preferential status but Kate had to wonder, would her father have taken a cat-killer case?
At four Carmedy sat on the edge of her desk until she finally gave him her attention. Although not particularly tall compared to the men she was used to working with, it wasn’t his lack of presence that caused the delay. He was built along square lines, broad shouldered, deep chested, muscles designed for strength, not speed. He was an immovable object and he was casting a shadow on her notes, but she was determined to finish her current summary – determined to show that she was taking the job seriously. When she turned to him, he was almost smiling. He seemed to approve of her diligence.
“Are you going home or upstairs before the stakeout?”
“Upstairs,” she replied. “I brought everything I’d need.”
She shared an apartment with an old friend and ex-boyfriend. Though only a few blocks from the Downtown, these days, she spent less time there, and more in her father’s attic flat above the office.
“If I tell you to go upstairs, will you take a quick nap, or will you go back to packing up your father’s stuff?”
She shrugged. If she decided to move into the flat, she needed to make it her own. If she let Carmedy take it, as she had offered, or put it on the rental market, it needed to be cleared out. Either way, there was a lot of work to do and Kate couldn’t find the energy to do it.
“I’ll have a shower,” she said. “If I nap I might not want to get up again.”
“Then go,” he said. “I’ll call you in an hour if you haven’t returned.”
Kate smiled and nodded. He could be autocratic at times, but this was an order she didn’t mind following.
She locked down her terminal and disengaged her BlueBerry from its docking port. Flipping Carmedy a salute, she bypassed the inside steps and used the main entrance accessed from the fourth floor foyer – the location of her father’s personal mailbox. It was stuffed with the usual junk mail and a utility bill.
She suppressed a sigh and slapped a smile on her face before turning to greet her new tenant whose pinstripe suit was marred by a flashing Santa Claus lapel pin.
Kate had inherited her father’s share of the building which included control of the fourth and fifth floors. The business didn’t need all the space available on the fourth floor, but her father had never had much luck renting out the second suite. When the financial advisor from the third floor asked if the space was available for his son’s new business, Kate figured it would be a good way of generating additional income – income she might need if she decided to stick with private investigation.
Jake hadn’t been too happy about her decision, but at least he had the grace to say he wished she had consulted him, not that she should have done so. Now she wished she hadn’t acted so hastily.
“Good afternoon, Mr Koehne,” she said, taking his outstretched hand.
“Always a pleasure to see you,” he said. “I was wondering if you had a chance to consider my offer.”
“I already considered it, Mr Koehne,” she replied, pulling her hand free. “I declined, remember?”
“Ms Garrett . . . Kate . . . may I call you Kate?”
“I wish you wouldn’t.”
That put a small road bump in his pitch, but didn’t slow him long enough for Kate to make her exit.
“The thing is,” he continued, “Outreach Dating has plenty of men on its lists, men who are looking for Ms Right – or at least Ms Right for now – but we don’t have many women. I’ll throw in a hair and face make-over before your interview. Not that you aren’t lovely as is, but the fashion is for up-dos and forties-retro is in, so if you have an appropriate outfit . . . Wouldn’t you like a date for New Year’s? All we have to do is book a time . . .”
“Time is one thing I don’t have,” Kate said pointedly. “I’m also short on money, specifically the money you owe for last month’s rent.”
It was better than a boot in the rear for getting rid of the pest. He exited, with a hearty “Happy Holidays” before she had a chance to extract another promise he wouldn’t keep.
Jake phoned Joe’s flat a half hour before Kate had to leave. He woke her up. Despite her best intentions, she had fallen asleep on her father’s bed, wrapped in one of his over-sized bath sheets. Jake appreciated the view until she woke up sufficiently to turn off the phone’s video.
Thirty-five minutes later, feeling like a mother hen, he sent her on her way with a bag of sandwiches and fruit, and the keys to the company car. He knew if he didn’t pack her a dinner she’d pick up coffee and empty calories. The damned woman might irritate the hell out of him, but he also felt protective of her. It was as if Joe’s death had put her into his custody.
Joe would just love that, he thought.
Jake was only ten years Kate’s senior, but Joe had put a three-metre fence between them. On Jake’s side was a ‘do not trespass’ sign. The fence started coming down soon after Joe’s death. Not that romance was the issue. She made it clear the fence had to go for the sake of developing a good working relationship. Jake bought into the plan – albeit a little reluctantly. He stopped calling her Miss Kate but he couldn’t make the leap to calling her Garrett, or Detective Garrett, as protocol dictated. Joe was Garrett. She was Kate.
Bored with administrative work, fatigue catching up with him, Jake closed down the office shortly after Kate left. The dating service across the hall was just starting to show some activity.
He knew she’d make him regret acting on the knowledge, but Jake had watched the conversation on the security camera between Kate and the new tenant, and he knew the guy was remiss in meeting his financial obligations. Not only was he a deadbeat, but he kept hitting on her every chance he got. Jake figured he could bust two chops with one punch.
Continued next week, or read the whole story at:
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