Unhinged, p.1

Unhinged, page 1

 part  #9 of  Chrissy McMullen Mysteries Series



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  This ebook is licensed to you for your personal enjoyment only.

  This ebook may not be sold, shared, or given away.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the writer’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


  Copyright © 2017 by Lois Greiman

  Ebook ISBN: 9781943772841


  No part of this work may be used, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior permission in writing from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

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  Praise for Lois Greiman

  "Dangerously funny stuff."

  Janet Evanovich

  “Simple sexy sport may be just what the doctor ordered.”

  Publishers Weekly

  "Lois Greiman is a modern day Dorothy Sayers. Witty as hell, yet talented enough to write like an angel with a broken wing."

  Kinky Friedman, author of Ten Little New Yorkers

  "What a marvelous book! A delightful romp, a laugh on every page."

  MaryJanice Davidson, NYT bestselling author of the Undead series.

  “Amazingly good.” (Top Pick!)

  Romantic Times

  “L.A. psychologist, Chrissy McMullen is back to prove that boobs, brass, and brains make for one heck of a good time…laugh out loud funny…sassy…clever.”

  Mystery Scene


  Library Journal

  "Sexy, sassy, suspenseful, sensational!! Lois Greiman delivers with incomparable style."

  Bestselling author of To the Edge, Cindy Gerard

  "Move over Stephanie Plum and Bubbles Yablonsky to make way for Christina McMullen, the newest blue collar sexy professional woman who finds herself in hair raising predicaments that almost get her murdered. The chemistry between the psychologist and the police lieutenant is so hot that readers will see sparks fly off the pages. Lois Greiman, who has written over fifteen delightful romance books, appears to have a great career as a mystery writer also."


  "Ms. Greiman makes a giant leap from historical fiction to this sexy and funny mystery. Bravo! Well done!"


  “A fun mystery that will keep you interested and rooting for the characters until the last page is turned.”

  Fresh Fiction

  "Fast and fun with twists and turns that will keep you guessing. Enjoy the ride!”

  Suzanne Enoch, USA Today best-selling author of Flirting with Danger

  “Lucy Ricardo meets Dr. Frasier Crane in Lois Greiman’s humorous, suspenseful series. The result is a highly successful tongue-in-cheek, comical suspense guaranteed to entice and entertain."

  Book Loons


  To Caitlin Alexander, who has been brave enough to edit my Chrissy books since their inception and who understands the incomprehensible world of commas. Thanks for being spectaculent!

  Chapter 1

  If it wasn’t for weird I’d be bored out of my mind.

  —Christina McMullen, who is rarely bored

  “You look well,” I said and kept my tone clipped, my wayward hands strictly to myself. I was casually dressed in cutoff jeans and a T-shirt that had seen better days.

  He smiled, just a tilt of those swoon-worthy lips. “As do you,” he said, but his eyes, those burning sapphire flames, said so much more.

  Heat seared my cheeks, then zipped off to less humdrum parts. But I resisted fidgeting, though I had dreamt of this moment on a hundred less . . . conscious . . . occasions. I put my hand on the countertop, making certain I was still in the here and now. The newly installed granite felt cool, smooth, and simultaneously sticky. Sure enough, I was home.

  “So your business in Callatis went well?” I asked.

  He shrugged. The gesture would have been oh so insignificant had he not been sans shirt. His chest, a lightly oiled work of art, was, in a word coined by a man I’d known as Thing One, spectaculent.

  “Well enough.” His voice was slightly accented. He took a step toward me.

  I lifted my chin to maintain eye contact. At 5’9” plus, I’m no wilting dandelion, but no part of him appeared to be droopy. His pecs were bulging, his arms corded, his chiseled face shadowed with bristly scruff.

  “Rahim was satisfied?” I asked.

  He stepped closer, crowding my personal space, filling my senses. He looked like a wet dream, smelled like chocolate Bundt cake. “When have I failed to satisfy?”

  I ignored the steamy suggestiveness as best I could, but honest to Pete, he was shedding sexual innuendoes like a molting lovebird. “I’m glad—” I began and turned away, but he grabbed my arm, yanking me toward him.

  “Admit it!” he snarled.

  His grip was steely around my biceps. My heart pounded. I should never have agreed to meet him. But he was here now, up close and personal, while my cell phone, my most reliable means of obtaining help, seemed a million miles away.

  “Admit what?” My voice was raspy.

  “You want me.” He breathed the words into the air between us, setting it afire. “Say it.”

  But I couldn’t. Didn’t dare. Too much had happened. I straightened my spine. Raised my chin. “No. You’re—”

  He kissed me.

  His lips seared mine, but I held strong, held steady . . . for two endless seconds, then I twisted my fingers in his hair and jumped him like a hyena on a hapless hare. He stumbled a little under my weight, then grabbed my ass, holding me astride as I wrapped my legs around his waist and dove in.


  His torso was hard and rippled against mine, his lips full and warm and—


  His heart was drubbing like a kick drum. Other parts throbbed in concert. My own answered lustily. I fumbled with his belt, but his sword—the plastic one suspended from his hips—kept impeding my progress.

  “Mac,” Laney called.

  “Ms. McMullen,” he murmured.

  “Christina Mary McMullen!” Laney scolded, perhaps thinking that using my full name, as the Holy Name sisters had done on a thousand ill-disciplined occasions, would somehow penetrate the fog in my brain.

  Sadly, it worked. I felt reality seep in like battery acid. I unsuctioned my lips, blinked, and turned my head groggily to the right.

  Brainy Laney Butterfield, aka the Amazon Queen, stood ten feet away, baby to her shoulder, TV script held loosely in one hand. “That’s the end of the scene.”

  Sergio, more commonly known as Morab to the viewing public, stared at me, brows raised. There might have been a little WTF in his gaze.

  “That was . . . ” Laney paused, patted the baby. “An interesting interpretation.”

  “Oh . . . ” I cleared my throat, carefully avoiding Sergio’s bewildered gaze. “Thank you.”

  “You can probably . . . ” She sighed but resisted rolling her eyes. Laney’s kick-ass disciplined that way. “Dismount now.”

  “Oh, right. Right!” I said, and yet my legs failed to comply, while my fingers, nasty little sluts that they are, remained curled in Sergio’s waistband like eagle’s claws gone rogue.

  That’s when someone knocked on the door.

  I gasped and jerked my attention toward the foyer. Perhaps because the arrival of visitors is generally followed by screaming, running, and subsequent death threats.

t ask me why people keep trying to murder me. Mysteries abound. Even for a psychologist, a PhD, and a really dynamite kisser such as myself.

  “Should I get that?” Laney asked, nodding toward the door.

  “What?” I was having a little trouble dragging myself from the just-interrupted scene and back into reality. Some might say I’d been employing the acting technique called the Meisner method. Others could argue that I was just really really horny.

  Laney gave me one more hopeless glance and pattered toward my front door.

  “Apaixonado,” Sergio said.

  “What?” I repeated. It was the best I could do. My blood, it seems, can either supply my brain or my reproductive system. Both is beyond my ability.

  “It is what we call women such as yourself in Brazil.”

  Our mouths were inches apart and our chests even closer. My nipples, those damn little bullets of destruction, were aimed directly at his heart. “Women . . . ” Good God, he had fantastic lips, made to suck and be sucked. “Like myself?”

  “Women with . . . ” He shook his head as if searching his memory banks for a politically acceptable term. “Verve.” His sparkling-heaven eyes bore into mine. “Women who are aflame with . . . ”

  “Should I call the fire department?”

  The voice ripped my attention from Sergio’s suckable lips. I snapped my head to the left, and there, sure as that bastard Murphy, with his deplorable law, would predict, stood my nemesis, protector, my ex-lover.

  Lieutenant Jack Rivera.

  Chapter 2

  There’s no room in my life for you anymore. My trunk’s pretty empty, though.

  —Angela Grapier, a girl who knows when enough is enough

  Rivera’s voice was deadpan, but his hot mocha eyes could only be described as jaded. Or disgusted. Or annoyed. Or pissed as holy hell. Okay, there was a shitload of ways his eyes could be described, so long as none of them implied even the tiniest degree of happiness.

  He raised one low-dipped brow at me.

  “Oh . . . I . . . umm . . . we were just . . . ” I shook my head, honestly uncertain what the hell Sergio and I had been doing. Although I was pretty damn clear on what my vervish body had been hoping for.

  “Rehearsing a scene,” Sergio supplied evenly.

  “Were you the villain or the horse?” Rivera asked and shifted his killer gaze to my impromptu mount.

  “The . . . ” Sergio’s tone was perplexed, but then he chuckled, heartily. “She is neither attempting to strangle nor ride me,” he said. “It is a love scene between Morab the indomitable slave and Hippolyta”—he nodded toward Laney, who stood to Rivera’s left, expression bland and not a bit surprised by this turn of events—“the Amazon queen. Our Christina was kind enough to act as Elaine’s understudy.”

  “Our Christina?” Rivera said and stared at him in silence for half of forever.

  “She is a wonder,” Sergio added.

  “Yeah, she’s peachy,” Rivera said, then moved his smoking eyes to mine. “Shall I tell them to bring the Jaws of Life?”

  I scowled, but my brain cells were finally beginning to twitter back into real time. “Oh, because . . . ” Rather belatedly, I realized that my thighs, recently honed by a thousand hours of not so willing physical training, were still clamped around Sergio’s rock-hard waist like opinionated pliers. I exhaled carefully and loosened my death grip. Despite the lack of discernible seasons in SoCal, my legs looked winter white against the love slave’s Brazilian skin.

  Sergio, gentleman that he was, let his hands slide up my behind and over my waist, making sure I didn’t fall on my ass as I pried my legs apart and dropped my feet to the floor.

  The room was suspiciously quiet. I cleared my throat in the cricket-chirping stillness and stepped back a pace, though honest to God, I had nothing to be embarrassed about. Yes, the dark lieutenant and I shared something of a tumultuous history. We had, in fact, been caught in a similarly awkward situation not too many months before, but recent developments involving general dishonesty and an individual I referred to simply as Skank Girl had made me swear off men in general and Rivera in particular.

  Men, of course, did not include Hollywood love slaves who’d been branded on their superlatively sexy loins and who tended to be oiled like Caesar salads.

  “Sergio,” Laney said, voice dulcet in the pulsing silence, “this is Lieutenant Rivera of the LAPD. Jack, meet Sergio Carlos Zepequeno.”

  “Ahh.” Delight sparked in Sergio’s eyes. He couldn’t have looked happier if he’d spied a leprechaun toting a large pot. “You’re an officer of the law? But this is maravilhoso. I wish to read for the part of a detective. Yet I was unsure whether I could assume such a commanding presence.” He stepped forward, offered his hand. “Perhaps we could speak sometime. I would love to . . . how do you say . . . pluck your brain.”

  “That would be . . . what’s the term?” Rivera asked, sarcasm needle sharp in his tone. “Fantastical. In fact . . . ” His eyes narrowed. “We could step outside right now if you’d like to learn a few things.”

  “Truly? You would do that for me?” Sergio splayed artists’ fingers across his Greek-god chest. But I grabbed his arm before he scampered out to his doom.

  “Don’t be a moron.” I crushed Rivera with a glare. The dark lieutenant had been the bane of my existence for years. Maybe I’d kind of liked him at one time, but now I saw him for what he was . . . a pushy Neanderthal with a superiority complex. So what if he also had a really primo ass and a semi-endearing way of making baby talk to our love child/Great Dane on the phone?

  Sergio frowned. Laney shook her head, then spoke into the confusion.

  “Mac and the lieutenant are . . . ” Laney paused. She’s my oldest friend and very possibly the nicest person on the planet. “What would you call your relationship, Jack?”

  He shifted his gravedigger’s gaze to hers. Men usually find it impossible to maintain a scowl when Laney’s in the universe, but Rivera was giving it the old college try. “She was in danger,” he growled, alluding, I assumed, to his supposed reason for exiling me from the city some months before. An exile that caused me an extended stay in purgatory. “She could get herself killed in the Vatican. I was trying to keep her alive.”

  “And I trusted you to do just that,” Laney said. Her tone suggested she wasn’t quite ready to absolve Rivera of his most recent FUBAR. That fact almost made it possible for me to do so.

  “Danshov should have known better than to—” Rivera began, but she cut him off.

  “Danshov?” Her voice had risen a little, causing baby Mac to squirm like a tadpole. She patted his back but kept her gaze pinned to Rivera’s. Her eyes, those knock-’em-dead emerald orbs, snapped like peas. “Does it strike you as ironic that you trusted a known assassin to ensure the well-being of my best friend?”

  “You are associated with an assassin?” Sergio gaped, tone going hyper-squirrel with excitement. “Truly? But this is magnificent. MGM is casting for just such a character. If I could but meet this Danshov I might learn much.”

  Laney yanked her gaze from Rivera to Sergio.

  There was a heartbeat of silence, then, “My apologies,” he said, reading her mood with unmanly speed. Morab, it seemed, was not the idiot an equitable universe would require someone with his lusciousness to be. “There are issues here, real-life concerns to which I am not privy. Hence, I should leave you to your discussions.” Yet he remained as he was, looking like he’d give his right kidney to be privy to those juicy tidbits.

  “Perhaps that would be best,” Laney agreed.

  Rivera remained silent, but I believe his eyes said something like, Fuckin’ A.

  A moment later, Sergio had sauntered out the door, plastic sword and bulging pecs in tow.

  Rivera scowled at my inoffensive front door, then settled his ire on me. “We need to talk,” he said.

  “Seriously?” My ovaries were not currently programmed for a mature conversation involving real words. They were, I
was pretty sure, concerned about other details. “Maybe you should have thought of that instead of lying to me like a fu . . . ” I gritted my teeth and glanced regretfully at baby Mac. Kids! I guess you’re not supposed to swear around them. Go figure. “Instead of lying to me,” I finished poorly. Turns out it’s hardly worth speaking if you can’t toss out the F bomb now and then.

  “I didn’t lie,” Rivera said.

  “Really? So your house actually was being attacked? So terrifying gang members were honestly about to burst into your kitchen, making me scurry for parts unknown like a hunted—”

  “I was trying to keep you safe!”

  “By sending me to Danshov . . . who, by the by, almost drowned me. Did he tell you that? That’s the guy you thought would be a dandy choice to look after me during my time of need?”

  A muscle bunched in his jaw. “What do you want me to do, McMullen? Challenge him to a duel? Pistols at dawn? Would that make you happy?”

  “Pistols? No.” I gritted a smile at him. “That would imply you two were civilized human beings. I think I’d prefer a fistfight. Bare knuckles.”


  “No holds barred.”

  “Well”—he cocked his head at me—“if that’s what it takes . . . ” He pulled his cell from his back pocket. “I’ll set it up right now. I assume you’ll want to watch?”

  I snorted. I was an enlightened woman . . . a feminist, in fact, but nothing would make me happier than seeing Danshov beat the crap out of Rivera . . . or, conversely, seeing Rivera beat the crap out of Danshov. It was, in my bloodthirsty opinion, a win-win. “Do I want to see you get your ass handed to you?” I scoffed. “Just let me know when and where so I can show up with a lawn chair and popcorn.”

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