Home > Egomaniac(4)

Author: Vi Keeland

We walked outside, and Drew waited with me, holding my box until a cab pulled up at the curb. He leaned on the top of the door after I climbed in.

“New Year’s Eve always sucks. Tomorrow will be better. Why don’t you stay in bed, order another big burger, and try to get some rest. I’ll meet you at the police station the day after tomorrow. 19th Precinct over on 67th Street. Say eight a.m.? New Year’s Day will be crazy at the station—still processing drunken idiots from the night before.”

I hadn’t even thought of the police. I guess I did need to file a report.

“You don’t have to come with me. I’ve already intruded enough on you.”

Drew shrugged. “They’ll want my statement for their report anyway. Plus, I’m friendly with a few of the guys. It’ll get you in and out faster.”


He rapped his knuckles on the top of the cab twice and leaned in to speak to the driver. “Take good care of her. She’s had a shitty night.”

Once we pulled away into traffic, everything that had happened over the last hour hit me. My adrenaline had spiked, and I started to free-fall down.

I’ve been scammed out of my life savings.

I no longer have an office.

I’ve given all of my patients my new address.

My head spun.

Where will I go?

What will I do for a security deposit even if I find someplace new on short notice?

Feeling nauseous again, I leaned my head back against the leather seat and shut my eyes, taking a few deep breaths. Oddly, the first thing that popped into my head was the handsome, dark-haired man with the full lips leaning against my office doorway. His office doorway. And with that image in my mind—in the midst of my spiral down and a massive anxiety attack—I couldn’t stop the small smile that curled my lips.



Chapter 3





I twisted the dial on my watch. Twenty minutes late. She was sexy, and that one little soft spot that remained in my heart actually felt bad for how she’d been conned. But twenty minutes? I billed at $675 an hour. I’d just lost $225 standing in front of the damn police station. I took one last look up the block and was about to head back down to my office when a flash of color turned the corner.

Green. I’d always been fond of green. What’s not to like? Money, grass, those frogs with the bulging eyes that I loved to chase as a kid—but today fond was promoted to favorite as I watched Emerie’s tits bounce up and down in her sweater. For a little thing, she had some rack—went nicely with that curvy ass.

“I’m so sorry I’m late.” Her coat was open and her pale cheeks pink as she panted from her sprint up the block. She looked different than she had the other night. Her long, wavy hair was down, and sunlight picked up little flecks of gold in its copper color. She attempted to tame it as she spoke. “I took the wrong train.”

“I was just about to leave.” I looked down at my watch and caught tiny droplets of sweat beading between her cleavage. Clearing my throat, I padded how long I’d been waiting. “Thirty-five minutes. That’ll be $350.”


I shrugged and kept my face stoic. “I bill at $675 an hour. You made me waste more than a half-hour of my time. So that’ll be $350.”

“I can’t afford to pay you. I’m broke, remember?” She held up her hands in exasperation. “Swindled into renting your fancy office. I shouldn’t have to pay you that kind of money just because I overslept.”

“Relax. I’m screwing with you.” I paused. “Wait. I thought you took the wrong train?”

She bit her lip, looking guilty, and pointed to the door of the police station. “We should go inside. I’ve kept you waiting long enough.”

I shook my head. “You lied to me.”

Emerie sighed. “I’m sorry. I overslept. I couldn’t fall asleep again last night. This all still feels like a bad dream to me.”

I nodded and uncharacteristically let her off the hook. “Come on. Let’s see if there’s a chance in hell they can catch this guy.”

Inside the police station, the desk sergeant was talking on the phone when we walked in. He smiled and held up two fingers. After he finished telling the caller that stolen supermarket circulars would be a matter for the US Postal Inspector and not the NYPD, he extended his hand, leaning over the counter.

“Drew Jagger. What brings you down to the dregs? Slummin’ today?”

I smiled and clasped his hand. “Something like that. How’s it going, Frank?”

“Never been happier. Go home at night, don’t take my shoes off at the door, leave the seat up in the bathroom after I take a piss, and use paper plates so I don’t have to wash jack shit. The single life is good, my friend.”

I turned to Emerie. “This is Sergeant Frank Caruso. He keeps me in business the way he goes through wives. Frank, this is Emerie Rose. She needs to file a police report. Any chance Mahoney is on today? Maybe he can help her out.”

“He’s out for a few weeks. Twisted his ankle chasing a perp on a B&E. But I’ll take a look at who’s in the bullpen and get someone good. What’s up? Domestic issue? Husband giving her a hard time?”

“Nothing like that. Emerie’s not a regular client. She leased space in my building a few weeks ago.”

Frank whistled. “Space on Park Avenue. Pretty and rich. You single, honey?”

“Don’t you ever learn your lesson, old man?”

“What? I’ve only tried ugly and broke. Maybe that’s my problem.”

“Pretty sure that ain’t your problem.”

Frank waved me off. “What seems to be the issue? Landlord giving her a hard time or something?”

“She leased my place for $2,500 a month. Paid $10,000 up front. Problem is, she didn’t lease it from the landlord. Got scammed by someone posing as a leasing agent while I was out of town and my office was getting renovated.”

“$2,500 a month. For your building?”

“She’s from Oklahoma.”

He looked to Emerie. “No Monopoly in Oklahoma? Couldn’t figure out that Park Place was five times the price of Baltic?”

I cut Sergeant Wise Ass off before he made Emerie feel worse than she already did. After all, I’d ridiculed her judgment the other night when she’d surprised me with a welcome home I wasn’t expecting. Enough was enough. Frank gave her some paperwork to start filling out and showed us to a private room to wait. On our way, I stopped to talk to an old friend, and Emerie was nearly done with the forms when I joined her.

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