Hot Six(15)

By: Janet Evanovich

“Now that I’m going off on my own I’ve been thinking I should get a job,” Grandma said. “And I’ve been thinking maybe I’d get a job as a cop. What do you think?” she asked Morelli. “You think I’d make a good cop?”

“I think you’d make a great cop, but the department has an age limit.”

Grandma pressed her lips together. “Don’t that tear it. I hate those darn age limits. Well, I guess that just leaves being a bounty hunter.”

I looked to Morelli for help, but he was keeping his eyes glued to his plate.

“You need to be able to drive to be a bounty hunter,” I said to Grandma. “You don’t have a driver’s license.”

“I’ve been planning on getting one of them anyway,” she said. “First thing tomorrow I’m signing up for driving school. I’ve even got a car. Your uncle Sandor left me that Buick and since you aren’t using it anymore I guess I’ll give it a try. It’s a pretty good-looking car.”

Shamu with wheels.

When the chicken bucket was empty Grandma pushed back from the table. “Let’s get things cleaned up,” she said, “and then we can watch a movie. I stopped off at the video store on my way over.”

Grandma fell asleep halfway through The Terminator , sitting on the couch ramrod straight, head dropped to her chest.

“Probably I should leave,” Morelli said. “Let you two girls get things straightened out.”

I walked him to the door. “Is there any word on Ranger?”

“Nothing. Not even a rumor.”

Sometimes no news was good news. At least he hadn’t floated in with the tide.

Morelli pulled me to him and kissed me, and I felt the usual tingle in the usual places. “You know my number,” he said. “And I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks.”

I WOKE UP on my couch with a stiff neck and feeling cranky. Someone was clanking around in my kitchen. Didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who.

“Isn’t this a terrific morning?” Grandma said. “I got pancakes started. And I got the coffee on.”

Okay, maybe it wasn’t so bad having Grandma here.

She stirred the pancake batter. “I thought we could get going early today, and then maybe you could take me out for a driving lesson.”

Thank God my car had burned to a cinder. “I don’t have a car right now,” I said. “There was an accident.”

“Again? What happened this time. Torched? Bombed? Flattened?”

I poured myself a cup of coffee. “Torched. But it wasn’t my fault.”

“You’ve got a pip of a life,” Grandma said. “Never a dull moment. Fast cars, fast men, fast food. I wouldn’t mind having a life like that.”

She was right about the fast food.

“You didn’t get a paper this morning,” Grandma said. “I went and looked in the hall and all your neighbors got papers but you didn’t get one.”

“I don’t have paper delivery,” I told her. “If I want a paper I buy one.” Or borrow one.

“Breakfast isn’t gonna seem right without a paper to read,” Grandma said. “I gotta read the funnies and the obits, and this morning I wanted to look for an apartment.”

“I’ll get you a paper,” I said, not wanting to slow down the apartment search.

I was wearing a green plaid flannel nightshirt, which went well with my bloodshot blue eyes. I covered it with a short denim Levi’s jacket, stuffed myself into gray sweatpants, shoved my feet into boots, which I left unlaced, clapped a Navy SEALs ball cap onto my rat’s nest of shoulder-length curly brown hair, and grabbed my car keys.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” I yelled from the hall. “I’ll just run out to the 7-Eleven.”

I punched the button for the elevator. The elevator doors opened and my mind went blank. Ranger was lounging against the far wall, arms crossed over his chest, his eyes dark and assessing, the corners of his mouth hinting at a smile.

“Get in,” he said.

He’d abandoned his usual outfit of black rap clothes or GI Joe cammies. He was wearing a brown leather jacket, a cream-colored Henley, faded jeans, and work boots. His hair, which had always been slicked back in a ponytail, was cut short. He had a two-day beard, making his teeth seem whiter and his Latino complexion seem darker. A wolf in Gap clothing.