The Hinky Bearskin Rug
Hinky Chicago – Book Three
A live-in sex demon sure keeps a girl up at night. But for Jewel, a fraud cop leery of commitment, Randy could be too much of a good thing.
Then hinky cases and kinky cases dovetail as Jewel and her hot partner Clay investigate an office orgy, a lockerful of pin-up ghosts, and an erotic film studio…and Randy goes undercover.
Now she’s got two magical hotties and a hard decision: if Jewel is the luckiest girl in Chicago, how come she’s sleeping alone so much?
Jewel Heiss sat white-knuckled in the back seat of her aged Tercel with her ex-con-artist partner in front and her sex demon at the wheel. It was a steamy Chicago Monday in late summer. They were headed for the Eleventh Ward, responding to a consumer complaint. This one had come down from the Fifth Floor. The complainant had gone to her alderman, and her alderman, knowing what was good for him, had brought it straight to da mayor, and from there it trickled down to Jewel’s Hinky Division.
Today’s mission was to make the consumer’s problem go away, without publicity. That, and to get out of this car alive.
Jewel sat in back with the files, so that Clay could take the risk of a head-on with Randy at the wheel. Randy’s model for driving was obviously a Hollywood chase scene. He had flair.
“Here’s the turn. Jesus, Randy, slow down!”
Wordlessly, Randy slewed the Tercel into a squealing halt.
Jewel put a hand on her throat. “That was way too exciting. I hope I didn’t pee my pants.” If it hadn’t been ninety degrees in the shade, she’d have been ice-cold with terror.
In the rear-view mirror she caught Randy smiling at her. “I’ll wager that you had no notion you could get such performance from this vehicle.”
“Clay, you’re supposed to teach him how to drive like a normal person, not a cop show rerun.”
Clay showed her an innocent face over the back of the front seat. “Well, we’re sort of cops.”
“Sort of! As in, not really. In fact, where traffic is concerned, we’re not cops at all, and we do not get to drive like idiots. Ever.”
Clay made his pouty lips into an O and twinkled at her through his shaggy blond bangs. “I think he’s doing very well.”
“It’s sabotage. He’ll be busted and grounded within a week of getting his license. Which we cannot afford.”
“Getting busted and grounded is the best education for a new driver. Worked for me when I was sixteen,” Clay said. “Hammers home the rules.”
“Which you ignore for the fun of it,” she said. “The difference being, you were a citizen on a learner’s permit, and Randy can’t even get a learner’s permit until he has an identity. You were going to fake up ID for him, remember?” Jewel hated to think how many laws she was breaking, the longer Randy stayed in her life. “If he gets busted, he’ll be deported.” Did the Immigration and Naturalization Service have a special way of dealing with hinky wetbacks? She shuddered. “He could end up in hinky Guantanamo.” She didn’t know which would be worse. “For nasty experiments.”
“No, he won’t. He’ll end up in a bed somewhere,” Clay said, which didn’t reassure her at all.
“I shall be on my guard,” Randy said, his smile gone now. Randy had once been an English lord—pedigree, gold, estates, and all—and then he was turned into a sex demon by a mistress who thought he needed basic nooky training, and then, two hundred years later, he’d turned up in Jewel’s life. Gorgeous, arrogant, now brilliant in bed, dirt broke, and unemployable in the twenty-first century.
Clay had turned up in her life at the same time. It was a testimony to his con-man skills that he was now her partner and not behind bars. Jewel never worried about Clay.
But the competition thing worried her.
It was barely seven o’clock, but the complainant had a funeral to go to that morning, and she’d insisted on speaking to an investigator. Jewel led the team up to the house, a solid red brick two-story bungalow with beautiful stained glass windows in front, and knocked on door.
“Best behavior,” Jewel said sternly. The door opened. She said, “Mrs. Othmar?”
A tough-looking old battle-ax in a long black cocktail dress looked her up and down. “I am.”
“I’m Senior Investigator Heiss with the Chicago Department of Consumer Services. We’re responding to a complaint you made through your alderman.”
Mrs. Othmar said stuffily, “I made no complaint.”
Oookay. Jewel backed a step and checked the house number over the door. “Pardon me, ma’am, but it came down to us from the mayor himself. We take your concerns seriously.”
Mrs. Othmar seemed about to shut the door in their faces and then she didn’t. “Come in.”
She led Jewel’s team into a dim, cool living room full of antiques. She thawed when she got a load of Randy’s dark blue Armani. “Please sit down.”
Jewel took a deep breath. “According to our report, you told your alderman that a man from the Department of Inspectional Services came to your door two days ago and asked to see your smoke detectors and electrical boxes. He found something unusual in your basement—”
“There’s nothing down there,” Mrs. Othmar snapped, and Jewel thought, Uh-huh. Not any more.
“And when he found it, he told you he would condemn your property if you did not remediate within ten days. He also said that remediation probably wouldn’t work.”
“He said it would cost ninety thousand dollars!” Mrs. Othmar said indignantly. “That’s ridiculous! Even asbestos remediation doesn’t cost that much.”
Patiently Jewel resumed, “Then he suggested that since you couldn’t afford remediation and it wouldn’t work anyway, you should sell your property to a man he knew who buys such houses and remediates them on the gamble.”
“Search my house,” Mrs. Othmar said in a shrill voice. “You won’t find anything.”
Randy had a faraway expression. Clay tapped his knee and raised his eyebrows. Randy shook his head.
Jewel said, “That won’t be necessary, Mrs. Othmar. We’ll take your word for it.”
That made Mrs. Othmar blink.
My sex demon is a walking hinky detector. He would know if there was anything on the premises.
“Do you happen to recall the man’s name? The man who visited your home? Or the name of the man he said would buy it?”
Mrs. Othmar was still blinking. “I think Joseph? Samuel? Something biblical. It was on a patch on his windbreaker. The windbreaker was blue,” she added helpfully.
“Did he show you any identification?”
“Naturally. I insisted.” More blinks. “But unfortunately I don’t recall—”
“How about the guy who buys hinky—who buys houses?”
“He gave me a card for that man. I’ve been looking for it.”
Jewel’s hopes collapsed. “If you find it, will you phone me? I’d like to see it.” Mrs. Othmar still seemed upset. “Do you happen to know if he visited any other homes on your block?”
“I asked around,” Mrs. Othmar said. “He hadn’t. That’s why I complained to my alderman. It was as if he chose me to bilk.” She was plenty mad about that. “He must have expected a fool.”
“Well, he knows better now,” Jewel said.
That pleased her. “Of course I complained immediately.”
It took twenty more minutes to get out of there.
On the way to the car Jewel said, “She got rid of the pocket zone after she complained and before we got here.”
“Ten four,” Randy said.
She socked him on the arm. “I’m cutting off your television privileges until you can drive sanely.” She got them onto Lake Shore Drive. A faint haze of pink smog hung over the Drive, promising a doozy of a morning traffic jam.
“What is a pocket zone, anyway?” Clay said. “Other than something the city can condemn your house for.”
“A pocket zone is a little patch of unreality. A—a hinky spot.” She still found it hard to say the word magic.
“How big a spot?”
“Depends. They say Pittsburgh started with a pocket zone on a single seat on a commuter train. They don’t know if some guy died there, or if a teenager had her baby there, or what. It spread through the train, and they think somehow the train spread it across the city. Pocket zones formed in places along the rail lines and the expressways. Nobody knows for sure, and the people who know the most are behind the yellow-striped barricades.”
“That makes it kind of tricky to gather information, doesn’t it?” Clay drawled.
“Don’t get me started on how the feds ‘fix’ things.”
“So the city will condemn a place with a pocket zone on it?”
“First I’ve heard about it. Inspectional Services should have reported it directly to me.” She frowned out the windshield at two teenagers in Grant Park who were holding up lighters and giggling, trying to coax a pigeon to bring a cigarette butt close enough to light it. “But if it’s hinky, it stays hinky, doesn’t it? Randy? You didn’t feel anything on her premises?”
He shook his head.
“So somebody has figured out how to, what? Fake a pocket zone? Let’s report to Ed. I need coffee.”
They were stopped dead at the light at Jackson Boulevard.
“I thought I was to drive,” Randy whined. “How may I acquire a license without practice?”
“Oooh, all right.” Out of misguided pity, she switched seats with him. While she made notes on her clipboard, she overheard snatches of conversation from the front seat.
“Darn, she’s moody. You didn’t stork her, did you?” Clay said to Randy. “Go straight here. You can get off at Randolph.”
“Give her a slip on the shoulder? No.”
“You’re awfully positive.”
“A sex demon knows these things. I see every part of her.”
“Too much information. Turn right here. Wait, wait! Wait for the light!” The car jerked to a stop. “Now you can go.” The car jerked forward. “Wait for this guy to turn.” The car jerked to a stop again. Clay called from the front seat, “Stay calm back there! We’re just building a little right-of-way awareness!”
Jewel shut the file, laid it on the car seat beside her, and covered her eyes.
She wasn’t calm. She was jonesing for coffee, tired, hungry, annoyed, afraid for her life, and, under all of that, horny. Maybe it was because she was sitting in a car with two men she’d had sex with recently. Clay claimed he didn’t want to mess up their work partnership by sleeping with her, but he’d had two shots at it on their last undercover case. He wasn’t bad, either. And he never, ever stopped competing with Randy.
Randy, of course, did her with mind-blowing magical sex-demon tricks every single night.
For some reason, dating two guys was exhausting her. Since she’d hit the city she’d dated uncountable men, bedded and dumped them. When that got scary she stopped, and, just when the pressure had built to the internal combustion point, she’d found Randy and rescued him from sexual slavery to a brass bed. And now he was her sex slave. Though Jewel might as well be his slave, since he lived with her, worked with her, and haunted her dreams.
Add a manipulative sneakypants for a partner. Put them all in a car. Clamp the lid on and shake—
The car bounced heavily. She bit her tongue. “Ow!”
“My apologies!” Randy called.
The car hit a pot hole. Jewel almost swallowed her tongue.
We hope you have enjoyed this sample of
by Jennifer Stevenson