Finding Elvis Ch. 01byWine_Maker©
We went back to the cab and I looked at them over the roof. "Not much we can do before we get more information. If it was real, it'll be filed at City Hall, but usually they're mailed in. So, it won't be there yet. This is our last day in Vegas, and I don't think we should let this mess keep us from seeing the sights."
Lisa nodded vigorously. "Yes. Let's go to the strip and see some more and this time no alcohol!" Then she looked at Ted. "By the way, if we did get married, this does not count as the honeymoon, Skinflint." She grinned. "I think Niagara Falls might fit the bill, though."
Ted rolled his eyes and laughed. "Get in."
We walked the strip, ate lunch and walked some more. It felt like I was back on the beat. The whole place was gaudy, even the cheap joints. I decided it was fun to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here. Give me Houston any day of the week.
When it was getting dark, we took a cab back to the hotel and hit the desk clerk up for messages. Surprisingly, there was one for me along with the hoped for message for Ted. While Ted called the number on his, I read mine with growing confusion.
Detective Hawkins, you don't know me, but I have heard about you. We are staying here at the same hotel. I recognized you in the lobby yesterday from newspaper articles regarding your recent case in Houston. If it is not too much of an imposition, I would like to invite you and your friends to attend a private gathering in the main dining room tonight. I would be in your debt if you humored an old man like me this once. Please, bring your friends. I would dearly love to speak with you all. Eight pm. Hans Werner.
I looked up and glanced at the clock. About an hour till then. The name was flitting around the edge of my mind. It was elusively familiar. I leaned over the desk and waved at the clerk.
"Help me out. Hans Werner. Who is he?" I asked.
"Mister Werner is involved in a number of businesses. He is very wealthy and lives in Texas..."
I held up a hand. "That did it. Thanks, it's all coming back to me now."
I remembered him now. Hans Werner, billionaire. He was almost as rich as Bill Gates, if I remembered the article I had read a few years ago correctly. He came to the USA with his parents from Nazi Germany during World War II and built a small family fortune into one of the largest business empires in the world. Very reclusive. Very high society. Why did he want to speak with a homicide cop from Houston?
Ted interrupted my thoughts by hanging up the phone. "I have it. Carl said we were going to a place called "His Majesty's" over near the business district. We can catch a cab and be there in half an hour."
The desk clerk startled a bit at the name. "I'm not sure how much good that will do you, Mister Stansbury. His Majesty's burned down some time this morning. It was in the paper."
"What?" We all asked.
He reached under the counter and set the paper on the desk. The picture of a burned out building was on the cover. I read the story rapidly. The fire started about six am. No one was injured, but the police were calling it arson.
We all looked at one another, a bit stunned.
"Well," I said at last, "I hope Elvis left the building first. I guess that we'll have to track down the owner tomorrow and find out who was working last night."
Lisa looked a bit distressed. "But we have to be on the flight tomorrow morning! I have to be back to work."
I waved my hand. "I'll move my flight back and you two can go home. I still have mandatory off time left while they complete the investigation. I can track down the details."
Ted frowned. "You're sure?"
"It's fine," I assured him. "I love a good mystery. In any case, I have some news of my own." I passed them the invitation.
"Jesus!" Lisa said after reading it. "Do you know who that is? He's richer than God!"
Ted nodded his agreement. "A very powerful man," he added.
"Do you want to go?" I asked. They nodded.
"We need to go start getting ready right now," Lisa said insistently, dragging Ted toward the elevators.
I smiled at the desk clerk. "They act so married, don't they?"
He nodded and smiled, making me laugh.
In an hour, we were dressed and outside the dining room. Lisa was in a sheath-like dress of dark blue. She looked fabulous. I was in my uncomfortable heels and the only other dress I had. A little black dress. It was slit up the side high enough that I didn't dare wear anything but a thong and the neckline plunged low enough to show off my average breasts as long as I had no bra on. Like now. I would have rather worn the other dress but it was still nasty. Ted was in his nice suit.
The door was closed with a man in a suit standing outside it. He wore a dark suit, like the secret service wore. And he was carrying in a shoulder holster. I shook my head and took the lead, handing him my note.
"Detective Hawkins and friends. We're expected," I said confidently.
He nodded. "You're on the list, Detective. Please go right in."
"Thanks." I opened the door and we stepped inside. The room was filled with people. The glitterati. The cream of society. There were more noses in the air than I could count and my clothes seemed tawdry. Those closest to the door turned to sniff at us. I felt my temper start to fray. Lisa took my hand and led us in, looking around.
We moved into the crowd but didn't mix. Oil and water, I suppose. People eyed us curiously, and we were quickly labeled as the help. That was obvious when some dowager asked me to be a dear and run to get some more champagne from the kitchen. My snarl was cut off smoothly by an older man in a sharp gray suit.
"Lieutenant Hawkins, I'm so pleased you could join me."
"Mister Werner?" I asked, a bit more abruptly than was probably wise with someone as powerful as he is, if it was him.
"Yes," he answered, unperturbed by my sharp tone. "Please, come and join me at my table. It will be less crowded and more peaceful." He nodded to the now simpering older woman and led us through the crowd that seemed to part before him like the Red Sea. "You must be Lisa Davis and Ted Stansbury. I am so very pleased to meet you all."
The table we were going to was the only one in the room. Six chairs were set around it, but no one was sitting at it. Hans pulled out a chair for me and Ted held one for Lisa. When Hans settled, a waiter appeared as if by magic to take our drink orders.
"Can I get something to eat, as well?" I asked. "It's been a long day."
"Of course! Anything you like," Hans answered.
I ordered some wine and a sandwich. Ted and Lisa did the same. Hans ordered a brandy.
"I'd order some Stansbury wine, but I doubt it is served so far from home," Ted joked.
"I've tried it and found it very good," Hans admitted. "You make a fine wine, Ted. May I call you Ted? Lisa? Shauna?"
They nodded and I shook my head. "Call me Hawk. Only my mother called me Shauna."
"Of course," he nodded. "Hawk it is. I'm sure you are wondering why an old man like me asked you here. I must admit it is all curiosity on my part. I do hope you don't mind, but I have always been fascinated by crime and conspiracy. I've read the stories of what happened back home, and when I saw you here I simply couldn't resist asking to hear about it in person. Will you indulge an old man in his whimsy?"
I felt what heat I had melt away. He was so much like what I'd imagine a grandfather would be that I couldn't hold his curiosity against him. A glance at Ted and Lisa told me they felt the same way. I nodded my head. "Sure. For you, anything."
The next hour went by quickly. We told our stories, ate his food and answered his surprisingly sharp questions. A woman in her fifties, dressed to the hilt, short, pencil-thin and (to my mind) arrogant, walked over to the table.
"Hans, the guests are getting restless. You should wrap up your little detective gathering and see to them." Her eyes raked over me and I could almost sense a silent sneer. An instant dislike gathered in my stomach.
Hans didn't seem to notice the byplay. "Everyone, this is my wife, Kat. I actually should tend to seeing more people." He stood up and shook each of our hands. "Thank you for coming on such short notice and indulging an old man." He turned to Kat. "Have you seen Gretchen? She's very late and I do hope she won't miss out."
The cold glitter in Kat's eyes flashed and was gone. "No dear, I suppose she must have found... other entertainment." This time, she did sniff.
Hans turned red. "I won't have that! Gretchen is my daughter and ever since her mother passed away, she has been... Never mind." Then he bowed to us. "Please stay and enjoy the party. Thank you again." He stalked off.
Kat looked down her nose at us. "Yes, please stay as long as you like and enjoy yourselves. It's obvious that you won't get to mix with this class of people again anytime soon."
She stalked off at a tangent to Hans and I started forward, ready to tear a strip off her. Lisa grabbed me.
"Let it go, Hawk. That won't gain you anything. What a bitch!" Lisa said.
"Screw 'em, let's blow this popsicle stand," I snarled, stalking back toward the entrance. People damned well got out of my way. A murderous glare pierced anyone too slow or too stupid to move fast enough.
The door opened as we approached it and I stopped dead in my tracks at who came in. Ted bumped into me and stopped to stare right along with me.
A tall woman, mid thirties like myself, came in. She wore in a sheath dress like Lisa's, but in dark red. Unlike Lisa's hers was cut to flaunt her well-proportioned assets. The slits in the side came up so far she couldn't even be wearing a thong. The neckline plunged to the center of her stomach and showed a generous helping of her bra-less breasts. Generous breasts, shown almost to the nipples. Her blonde hair was piled high on her head and done in intricate rings. Her hourglass figure was hypnotizing, her legs long and shapely. Her creamy skin seemed to glow with health and she dripped sex appeal.
Lisa poked me. "Close your mouth before something flies in, Hawk. You, too, Ted."
My mouth snapped shut, but I couldn't stop looking at her. She was like nothing I'd ever seen in person. I was so blown away that I gawked.
She smiled and walked slowly toward me. The sway of her hips flashed fire in my stomach. Her smile was like the sun. "You don't look like you belong in this gathering of old sticks." Her hand took mine, though I wasn't sure that my hand was answering my brain. "I'm..."
From my left, Kat zipped into view and almost shoved me back to confront the goddess before me. "Gretchen, you slut," she hissed. "Take your whore ass right back out that door this instant!"
Gretchen just smiled. "Well, well, if it isn't the wicked bitch of the west. Why don't you just run off and make sure Daddy hasn't hooked up with someone else and dropped your sorry ass." She looked at us and said, "Don't mind my step-mother. A house fell on her sister."
Kat slapped her, hard. Gretchen turned back slowly and her eyes sparkled with hate. "If someone found you dead, would anyone care? I could kill you and no jury would convict me." She shoved Kat and the older woman stumbled back before howling and throwing herself into Gretchen. They went down in a tumble of scratches and hair pulling.