Seeing Red(4)

By: Sandra Brown


She sat in one chair and placed her bag in the other. As he rounded the desk, he buttoned the middle button of his shirt and ran a hand across his mouth and chin to check for remaining drool.

As he dropped into his desk chair, he caught her looking at the gravity-defying champagne bottle. He rescued it from the corner of the desk and set it gently in the trash can to avoid a clatter. “Buddy of mine got married.”

“Last night?”

“Saturday afternoon.”

Her eyebrow arched. “It must have been some wedding.”

He shrugged, then leaned back in his chair. “Who recommended me?”

“No one. I got the address off your website.”

Trapper had forgotten he even had one. He’d paid a college kid seventy-five bucks to do whatever it was you do to get a web-site online. That was the last he’d thought of it. This was the first client it had yielded.

She looked like she could afford much better.

“I apologize for showing up without an appointment,” she said. “I tried calling you several times this morning, but kept getting your voice mail.”

Trapper shot a look toward the chair his phone had slid underneath. “I silenced my phone for the wedding. Guess I forgot to turn it back on.” As discreetly as possible, he shifted in his chair in a vain attempt to give his bladder some breathing room.

“Well, it’s sooner rather than later, Ms. Bailey. You said it was important, but not important enough for you to make an appointment. What can I do for you?”

“I’d like for you to intervene on my behalf and convince your father to grant me an interview.”

He would have said Come again? or Pardon? or I didn’t quite catch that, but she had articulated perfectly, so what he said was, “Is this a fucking joke?”

“No.”

“Seriously, who put you up to this?”

“No one, Mr. Trapper.”

“Just plain Trapper is fine, but it doesn’t matter what you call me because we don’t have anything else to say to each other.” He stood up and headed for the door.

“You haven’t even heard me out.”

“Yeah. I have. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta take a piss and then I’ve got a hangover to sleep off. Close the door on your way out. This neighborhood, I hope your car’s still there when you get back to it.”

He stalked out in bare feet and went down the drab hallway to the men’s room. He used the urinal then went over to the sink and looked at himself in the cloudy, cracked mirror above it. A pile of dog shit had nothing on him.

He bent down and scooped tap water into his mouth until his thirst was no longer raging, then ducked his head under the faucet. He shook water from his hair and dried his face with paper towels. With one more nod toward respectability, he buttoned his shirt as he was walking back to his office.

She was still there. Which didn’t come as that much of a surprise. She looked the type that didn’t give up easily.

Before he could order her out, she said, “Why would you object to The Major giving an interview?”

“It’s no skin off my nose, but he won’t do it, and I think you already know that or you wouldn’t have come to me, because I’m the last person on the planet who could convince him to do anything.”

“Why is that?”

He recognized that cleverly laid trap for what it was and didn’t step into it. “Let me guess. I’m your last resort?” Her expression was as good as an admission. “Before coming to me, how many times did you ask The Major yourself?”

“I’ve called him thirteen times.”

“How many times did he hang up on you?”

“Thirteen.”

“Rude bastard.”

Under her breath, she said, “It must be a family trait.”

Trapper only smiled. “It’s the only one he and I have in common.” He studied her for a moment. “You get points for tenacity. Most give up long before thirteen attempts. Who do you work for?”

“A network O and O—owned and operated—in Dallas.”

“You’re on TV? In Dallas?”

“I do feature stories. Human interest, things like that. Occasionally one makes it to the network’s Sunday evening news show.”

Trapper was familiar with the program, but he didn’t remember ever having watched it.

He knew for certain that he’d never seen her, not even on the local station, or he would’ve remembered. She had straight, sleek light brown hair with blonder streaks close to her face. Brown eyes as large as a doe’s. One inch below the outside corner of the left one was a beauty mark the same dark chocolate color as her irises. Her complexion was creamy, her lips plump and pink, and he was reluctant to pull his gaze away from them.