Finding Elvis Ch. 11


I started to tell him that he could go to hell, and that his wife would be better off if she left him, but Gretchen waved a hand and cut me off.

"You want to know what you have to do to make this right? I'll tell you what you can do to get a full pardon from Hawk and me ," Gretchen said.

"Fuck him!" I snarled. "I don't..."

"Hawk," Gretchen interrupted, "listen first! You might like this." She turned back to Leo and squatted, bringing her face closer to his level. "Here's what you have to do to get that free pass you're looking for, Elvis. I want the police file on this murder case, including the full crime scene report. All of it."

Leo blinked. "How the hell am I supposed to do that?"

Gretchen shrugged. "That's your problem, not mine. You told us not to play with the master, so here's your chance to amaze and astound us. Prove to me that you're the best con artist in the world by getting what I need to clear myself. That's the deal. Take it or leave it."

Standing up, Gretchen didn't wait for a response from Leo or me before walking back to the Hummer and climbing in. I think both Leo and I were about equally stunned. I recovered before Leo, spat on the ground and jerked my head at Devon. "We're outta here."

Leo was still sitting on the ground, staring at us stupidly, as we drove through the gate and to the house. I looked at my wife with new respect. "That was good. No, that was better than good. We come out ahead whether he gets the stuff or not. I like it."

She grinned back at me, breaking the ice that had formed on the drive here. My heart did that little flippity-flop only Gretchen could get it to do. "I learned hardass from the best," she said humbly. Then her smile was back and she added, "besides he really pissed me off."

I laughed all the way to the front door while Gretchen gave some instructions to Devon, and he drove off. She bounded up the steps beside me and it was like it had been before the fight.

"I let Devon go for the day," she told me. "Either we'll be here for the rest of the day, or we'll find another ride." She glanced at her watch. "Dinner will be served in about an hour, unless the schedule went totally to hell. If so, we'll just have to make something for ourselves."

"That gives us some time to make a start on the Kat Box," I said with a smile. I opened the door and almost bounced off Lurch. "Jeeze, don't you ever make noise? Gretchen, can we please make a bell a required part of Lurch's uniform?"

Ivan sniffed. "Your hearing disorder isn't my problem, Miss Shauna," he said, echoing Gretchen's turn of phrase from outside the gate. That gave me a sudden insight that chilled me to the bone. I had no idea if I was completely off my rocker or not, but I suddenly realized that if she had been estranged from her father as a girl, Lurch must have filled at least some of the father role for her. My throat suddenly dry, I swallowed as he continued. "What is my problem, is what to tell Vanessa about your dinner plans. Is it too much to ask for you to call?"

Never in my life had I had anyone - not friend, lover and certainly not my parents - expect me to call and tell them if I was coming home for dinner. This was so outside my range of experience, I deferred to Gretchen.

She bowed her head and nodded, almost like a child caught being bad. "You're right, Ivan. I should have called. I..."

He rested his hand on her shoulder momentarily. "Don't be concerned, Miss Gretchen. You're under a lot of stress. I had expected someone else to take some initiative and think ahead." He glanced at me and sniffed again. "I was obviously attributing too much forethought and courtesy to the whole issue."

That pissed me off. "Like we don't have more important things to worry about than your bleeding cooking schedule. Should I just call you and give you our itinerary for the day, every day and adjust it as we go?" I asked sarcastically.

"That will work acceptably well," he sneered at me, turning on his heel. "If you can manage to remember. Dinner will be served in one hour at seven pm sharp. I won't ask that you dress up, but I do expect you to at least dress."

"Why that..." I said as I started after him, balling my fist as he escaped through the door toward the kitchen.

Gretchen laughed and held me back. "Hawk, he's baiting you! That's a good thing! He only teases people he really likes."

I turned and gave her the gimlet eye. "It looks like he feels about me like I do him," I said, not wanting to admit that I enjoyed a good rivalry. "He just wants to bait me. You don't really expect me to actually call that old mummy every day, do you? I'll shave my head before I just give in to him."

Gretchen laughed and started up the stairs. "It's going to be fun watching the two of you spar."

I followed her, finding my eyes naturally gravitating to her shapely ass. The sway of her hips was almost hypnotic. I was suddenly hungry, but it wasn't for dinner. I needed to distract myself, or we wouldn't get any searching done upstairs. "What's with him and you, anyway? You two look bonded in a way that's just creepy."

She stopped at the second floor landing and waited for me. "After Daddy married Kat, I pulled back from him, and Ivan was the only adult I would have anything to do with. I followed him around and he helped me through adolescence. I suppose I picked up a lot of his ideas and values."

"So," I said with a sudden wicked smile, "that explains some of your more spectacular differences from society as a whole? Ivan laid the foundation and gave you the direction for your life? I would never have imagined he was a supporter of your work."

Her mouth dropped open and I danced past her with a laugh. "You!" she said and chased me up to Kat's office. It was still in the same disarray that we'd left it hours ago. The subtle smell of arousal permeated the air, still. I stopped dead in my tracks and took a deep breath, a low fire rekindling in my belly.

"We don't have time for that," Gretchen said with a laugh. "If you're a good girl, we can try out your new toys tonight."

Slapping my hand over my mouth, I stared at her. "Crap! We left them in the Hummer!"

She shook her head and pointed into the room. "You start looking, and I'll call Devon before he gets too far away. I'll just have him drop the bag back off."

"Oh, no," I said with a headshake. "He has to bring it in and put it somewhere safe, somewhere Lurch can't find it. I do not want him poking through it." I cocked my head to the side as a thought suddenly occurred to me. "On second thought, you're right. Have him drop it off, and make sure he delivers the bag to Lurch personally. That's a much better idea. You're a genius!" I gave her a quick smooch and turned back into the room to start looking while she laughed harder and called to make the arrangements.

The search of the room took most of the hour and I still couldn't believe how badly we'd trashed the joint. Broken crystal, fallen furniture and disarrayed paper littered the place. Thankfully, most of the paper was still in the filing cabinets. I had to get Gretchen to help me set the fallen one upright.

The interesting moment came when we broke into the locked desk. There were several file folders with detailed notes, receipts and even pictures of her meeting with several men at various places, including some motels. The men included Cartwright.

"Blackmail material," I said, looking at Gretchen. "That's enough of a reason to get killed. The question I have now is, why? She had access to more money than all of them put together."

Gretchen pointed to one of them. "That's the Governor. The others are political figures of one kind or another. I'll bet that whatever it was she was getting, it was about power, not money."

I looked at my watch and pointed to the door. "Time to go wash up for dinner. We need to eat well, because I think we might be needing our strength tonight." I grinned devilishly and visibly shivered at the possibilities.

With a matching smile, my wife led me out of the room to clean up and dress.

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