Carol Higgins Clark returns with the fifteenth installment of the Regan Reilly mysteries. Here's an excerpt.
Private investigator Regan Reilly had lived in Los Angeles when she met Jack Reilly, head of the NYPD Major Case Squad. The occasion? The kidnapping of Regan’s father, Luke, along with his driver. Regan and Jack had worked, along with his team, on getting them back safely. The two had been together ever since. People often laughed about how convenient it was they both had the same last name, then invariably added that they looked like they were made for each other.
Regan’s dark hair, blue eyes, and light skin were termed “Black Irish.” 6'2" Jack was sandy-haired, hazel-eyed, and what Regan termed “incredibly handsome.” They had an apartment in Tribeca—the triangle below Canal Street—in New York City. Her parents, Nora Regan Reilly, a well-known mystery writer, and Luke, owner of three funeral homes, lived in Summit, New Jersey, where Regan had grown up. Luke loved to take the credit for introducing them. “If I hadn’t been kidnapped, . . . ” he’d joke, his face beaming with pride. “Anything for my daughter.”
So much about my life has changed since I left L.A., Regan thought as she headed for the multistoried parking structure. It’s hard to believe I was living here not so long ago. It’s good to be back for a visit, especially since I’m with Jack.
They’d arrived late the night before on a last-minute trip. For the next few days Jack would be meeting with the LAPD, then they would take off in their rental car. Perhaps head north to wine country for the weekend. Perhaps south to Baja. See which way the wind blew, that was their plan.
Regan decided to stop for a moment and sit on a bench near the fountain and check her phone. The fountain that not only gushed water, but played music. Miracles will never cease, she thought as she reached in her purse. Jack had texted her. No surprise that I never heard my phone in that store. She read his message:
Looks like today’s meeting will run well into the evening.
Giving you a heads-up so you can make dinner
plans with one of your old pals. I love you. Jack.
Regan felt a stab of disappointment. I shouldn’t, she thought. His work is the reason we’re here. She put her cell phone back in her purse, stood up, and once again started toward the parking lot. A slender woman wearing a long skirt and peasant blouse was a few steps ahead of Regan, moving quickly, carrying several shopping bags in each hand. A small brown bag at the top of one of them fell to the ground. Regan scooped it up, caught up to the woman, and tapped her on the shoulder.
“Excuse me,” Regan said. “You just dropped this.”
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The woman slowed down and turned to Regan. She was wearing large sunglasses. “Huh?”
“This just fell out of one of your bags.”
“Oh, thank you! That is so nice of you,” she said, putting her bags on the ground. “I’m rushing too much.” She took the bag from Regan, then tried to fit it in with her other purchases but there wasn’t enough room. “Oh, my,” she mumbled.
“If you’re going to your car, I’ll help you,” Regan offered.
The woman shook her head vehemently as she continued to try and rearrange her bags. “Oh, no, that’s okay. I can handle it.”
She must be afraid I’m some kind of con artist, Regan thought with amusement. “Are you sure?”
“You’re not going to let your old game show friend help you out?” Regan teased.
“What?” The woman quickly glanced up at Regan.
“As I recall, we had a lot of laughs the few days we spent together at the television studio in Burbank waiting our chance to wow the world on Puzzling Words.”
The woman straightened up and screamed. “Regan?”
They hugged, then both took off their sunglasses. “I’m so sorry I didn’t recognize you,” Zelda stammered as she pushed back her mane of brown curls. Beads of sweat had formed on her forehead. “I’m in such a hurry.”
“That’s okay. It must be about seven or eight years. You look great.”
“Thanks, you too! Neither of us won the big money but we both came so close!” Zelda cried. “And remember that horrible clue your celebrity gave you when you were playing for twenty grand?”
Regan laughed. “I’ll never forget it.”
“You were in detective school. We exchanged numbers but never got in touch.”
“I called you once,” Regan teased. “But I never heard back.”
“You’re right. My life was in such confusion. First I was so upset about not winning the money, then I thought too much time had passed to call you back.”
“It’s okay,” Regan said.
“Is that a wedding ring you’re wearing?”
“Yes. And I live in New York now. We’re out here for my husband’s work.”
“Wonderful! I’m still looking for the right guy. Maybe I’ll meet him before I turn forty. That gives me three months! But I’ve had a few good things happen in my life since I last saw you. . . .”
They walked to Zelda’s car, during which time Regan learned that Zelda had been left $8 million by an elderly neighbor she barely knew.
“Eight million dollars!” Regan gasped.
Excerpt from GYPPED by Carol Higgins Clark Copyright © 2012 by Carol Higgins Clark. Reprinted by permission of Scribner.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive