Uncorked, p.1

Uncorked, page 1

 

Uncorked
 


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Uncorked


  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 best-selling 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

  "Excellent!"

  Library Journal

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

  Best-selling 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."

  thebestreviews.com

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

  Rendevous

  “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

  Uncorked

  By Lois Greiman

  Copyright 2011 Lois Greiman

  Smashwords Edition

  This book will soon be available in print at most online retailers.

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  To Caitlin Alexander, the best editor (and possibly the best person) in the universe. Thanks for being you.

  Special thanks to Lori Speer, Northampton Police Department Court Queen, for answering a barrage of last minute questions. Any mistakes made are solely the fault of the author.

  Uncorked

  by Lois Greiman

  Chapter 1

  If love is blind, why is Victoria’s Secret still making a killing?

  —Christina McMullen, while eating red velvet cupcakes and agonizing about her expanding waistline

  I picked up my cordless on the third ring. Since the demise of my caller ID, answering the kitchen phone always felt somewhat like playing a fun- filled little version of Russian roulette. The call a few minutes earlier had been from my mother, one Constance Iris McMullen. The ensuing conversation had made me as skittish as a scalded cat and a little breathless. “Hello?”

  There was a slight pause during which I wondered about the identity of the caller. Maybe one of those sleazy heavy-breathers, I thought, but I wasn’t that lucky.

  “There’s only one thing I can think of that makes you that breathless.” The voice belonged to Lieutenant Jack Rivera, police officer, ex-lover, jackass. I had, at one time, been deluded enough to believe we might someday pick out china patterns together, but six months ago I found him slapped up against a bleached blonde with a triple-digit bra size and a double-digit IQ.

  After that, I considered picking out a nice hit man who knew how to keep a secret.

  Not that I’m bitter. I’m a trained psychologist…and classy as hell. I don’t do bitter.

  I pursed my lips and concentrated on being haughty. So what if his voice was as deep as a Dostoyevsky novel and shadowed with a shitload of mouth-watering innuendo? So what if just the sound of it conjured up a hundred lurid memories that burned the back of my mind like a George Foreman grill and sent my nerve endings into a feeding frenzy? I’m an adult. I’m a professional.

  “What’s the matter, Rivera? Skank Girl busy on her street corner this evening?”

  Okay, maybe there was a teeny bit of bitterness.

  I heard him draw a breath and imagined him leaning back, chest expanding. “You know they have pills to help with that pissy PMS problem, don’t you, McMullen?”

  “Do they have pills to get rid of cheating bastards, too?” Maybe there was a lot of bitterness. I closed my eyes to the sound of it, letting an errant draft from my little desk fan cool my rancor and soothe my thoughts. But he spoke again.

  “I thought you’d have the answer to that one. After all, you’re a trained psychotic.”

  “Psychologist,” I corrected irritably. “And if you continue with this obsessive pursuit of me, Mr. Raver, I’m afraid I’m going to have to report this harassment to your superiors.” Doing my woefully inadequate best to ignore the memory of his blistering betrayal, I pushed a wet tendril of hair behind my right ear. It was currently a deep mahogany hue. No one knows what color it would be without chemical assistance. It’s highly probable that even fewer people care.

  “I wouldn’t bother calling Captain Kindred if I were you,” Rivera said. “No use confirming his suspicions regarding your mental condition.”

  “Ahh,” I said. “How I would love to sit here and listen to your slanderous invectives, Lieutenant Riot, but I have a date.” I gritted a plastic smile. Still damp from the shower, I was as naked as a jaybird, but the weatherman, bastard that he was, had dished up a hundred and eight degrees in L.A.’s dubious shade and I didn’t plan to wear clothes again until the morning commute. And maybe not even then.

  “A date?” He spoke the words slowly. “Tonight?”

  Was there a tightness to his tone? Could that tightness be jealousy? Be still my evil little heart.

  “Yes, tonight,” I said. I was lying, of course. It was 10:27 on a Tuesday night and I had just finished watching McLintock. I was on a John Wayne kick. Hell Town would have to wait until tomorrow. “I just got out of the shower.”

  “What are you wearing?”

  My heart did the happy dance in my chest. I’m not too proud to admit that I would have paid in plasma to make him jealous.

  “I usually shower naked,” I said. “A little eccentricity I have, but that’s the way I am.”

  “You’re naked in the kitchen?”

  I raised my brows and almost laughed out loud. He was jealous. I was sure of it. “I’m hanging up, now,” I said.

  “Are your curtains closed?”

  “Stooped to being a Peeping Tom, have you, Reaver? Or just—”

  “Are the damn things closed?” he asked.

  I lowered my brows, some of my glee disappearing at the memory of him saving my ass on more than one occasion. “Of course they’re closed,” I said, but there was something in his voice that made me glance at each one, just to be sure. And maybe there was an inch or two of window showing beneath my rust-colored kitchen blinds. Still, it surely wasn’t enough for anyone to have seen me. Nevertheless, I pulled a nap
kin from the table and draped it in front of my body.

  “So you’re still trying to get yourself killed,” he said.

  “What are you talking about?” My voice had gone from professional to constipated. “What’s the matter with you?”

  “Your usual wardrobe is dangerous enough, McMullen. You don’t need to be parading around naked for any passing pervert to see.”

  I shot my glance from window to window again. Maybe there was some space between the living room drapes, too, but I kept my voice calm. Sunland may not be Disneyworld, but it’s not exactly the Gaza Strip either. “Luckily, I only know one pervert sick enough to try it…and he’s a cop,” I said.

  “Don’t be naive, McMullen. I’m a Boy Scout compared to half the men in this city.”

  “Naive! Are you forgetting what line of work I’m—” I began, but he snorted.

  “Work!” he said, then chortled. “You think sitting around discussing some bored CEO’s luncheon options is work? Try running down a hopped-up asshole who just raped a woman idiotic enough to leave the curtains open on the ground floor of her Tudor.”

  I glanced around at the ground floor of my Tudor, swallowed and did my best to convince myself I wasn’t nervous. “And I suppose you believe leaving one’s drapes open warrants rape.”

  “I think even you should have more sense than to prance around in the buff for half the world to see.” His voice had risen a few decibels.

  Mine rose a few more. “You’re just mad that I caught you in the act with that stupid hussy who—”

  “I’m mad because you’re a raving lunatic. Put some damn clothes on and shut your drapes!”

  I felt a heady meld of rage and revenge zip through me. Some people are good at taking advice. And some people are Irish.

  “As it turns out, Rivera…,” I said, fluttering the aforementioned napkin in the breeze created by the living room fan. “It just so happens I’m wearing a little something I got for a graduation party.” The napkin had the year 2012 emblazoned across its cherry red expanse and had been purchased for my secretary’s youngest son. One corner sported a dab of frosting retained from the congratulatory cake I had consumed earlier in the day. I licked it a little, then stuck it to my decent-sized right boob.

  Rivera was silent for a moment. “So you’re not naked?” A shot of something that felt like aged rum but might have been estrogen splashed through my system.

  “Well…maybe it would be more correct to say I got it at a graduation party,” I said.

  He paused. Possibly he was thinking. It happens sometimes even with L.A. cops. “Did it come with cake on it?”

  “Give the officer a medal,” I said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m expecting my boyfriend in just a few minutes. Perhaps I should be wearing something that doesn’t say ‘Congratulations’ on it. That might seem a bit suggestive.”

  I heard him inhale softly. “What’s the lucky bastard’s name this time?”

  I smiled into the middle distance and tried not to enjoy myself too much.

  “That’s no longer any of your business, Rivera.”

  “Are you going out?”

  “Also in the none-of-your-business category, I’m afraid. Now I really must go. I believe he’s already arrived.”

  “I don’t see his car.”

  “That’s—” I began, but suddenly the implication of his words reverberated through my system like an L.A. earthquake. My eyebrows shot into my hairline, and my heart, just getting accustomed to Rivera’s sex-steeped voice, slammed against my ribs like a gong. “What?”

  “Is he too broke to afford wheels, McMullen? You don’t have to pay his bus fare, do you?”

  Anger followed the estrogen like a wild flume through my system. Maybe it was because Rivera seemed to be spying on me. On the other hand, it might have been because I was about to get caught in a lie. “You’re outside my house?”

  “If you’d close your damn drapes you wouldn’t have to worry about who’s out here.”

  “You’re spying on me?” My voice had risen into the range where only canines and arachnids could hear me.

  “Not spying. Observing.” He sounded smug enough to smack. “I’m a cop, remember?”

  “I remember you’re a two-timing cheat who can’t keep his dick in his pants,” I snarled. Marching buck naked to the curtains in the darkened little office at the front of my house, I yanked them aside and peered into the street. It was entirely empty except for my own antiquated Saturn. The car had a faulty air conditioner, iffy door latches and a trick trunk, but it was still more trustworthy than most men I knew.

  I drew a deep breath through my nose and primped a tight smile. “You used to be quite an excellent liar, Rivera.”

  “I’m thrilled you think so.”

  “And I’m thrilled to have had this lovely chat, but I have to go now. Looks like my date just showed up.” Smacking my palm with my lips, I blew a noisy kiss to my fictional suitor. Then I pulled the drapes sloppily closed, not particularly caring who saw what.

  “So you’re planning to give the whole neighborhood a show?”

  “Not the whole neighborhood.”

  “Chrissy.” He gritted my name, trying to hold his temper at bay. I grinned at his lack of success and made my tone sassy.

  “It’s not easy keeping a man’s interest, Rivera. A girl’s got to go the extra mile sometimes. But you know that, don’t you?”

  “For God’s sake, McMullen!” Rivera said, sounding pissed enough to pop an artery. “Put on some damn clothes.”

  “He’s always so classy. And early,” I said. “Impatient I guess.”

  “I mean it,” he growled. “Do you know what kind of sick bastards we see every night at the precinct?”

  “Don’t be so hard on yourself, Rivera. You're maybe not as sick as you think you are.” I rustled the drapes vigorously, as if I were peering outside. “Hmm, it looks like the good doctor is driving a different car tonight.”

  “Damn it, McMullen, it’s probably not even him. Close the fucking drapes.” In the background I could hear his chair complain noisily, as if he’d just sprung from its seat. I sneered, knowing he wasn’t spying on me at all. Lying bastard.

  “You must stop judging people by your own standards,” I said. “My man has four or five vehicles. I never know which one he’ll choose to pick me up in. This one’s an SUV. An Escalade, I think.” I wouldn’t know an Escalade from an escalator, but my Irish was up.

  “Fuck it, McMullen, is there really a vehicle parked outside your house?”

  “I know you thought I would languish here alone after you cheated on me with every bimbo from her to the Potomac, Rivera, but as it turns out—

  ”

  “Give me the make, model and color?”

  I laughed. “I understand that you’re jealous, but you can’t put every guy in jail that shows a passing interest in—”

  “Which direction is it facing?”

  “Good-bye, Lieutenant. He’s getting out. I have to go. He probably…” I paused, then caught my breath as if surprised.

  “What? What’s wrong?”

  “He looks even taller than usual tonight.”

  “Are you still standing at the damn window?”

  “His face is kind of shadowed from this vantage point, but I’m…” I let my voice falter a little. “I’m sure it’s him.”

  “Give me a physical description!” he barked, but I laughed. It wasn’t all together forced. I’m ashamed to say that I was having a hell of a good time at his expense.

  “What?” I asked, voice Marilyn-Monroe soft.

  “What does he look like?”

  “Who?”

  “The man approaching your house!”

  “You want a physical description of my boyfriend? That’s not very healthy, Rivera. Even for a—”

  “Are you sure it’s him?”

  “Of course it’s him. I’m sure it’s… I do wish my security light was still working.”

&nb
sp; I won't burden you with the string of obscenities that followed that little lie. Suffice it to say they were fairly inventive. I stifled a laugh.

  “Give me his height, hair color and any scars or other distinguishing—”

  “He’s tall and handsome and…Oh!” I said with a little gasp.

  “What? What is it? Talk to me, Chrissy.”

  “Another guy’s getting out.”

  “There are two of them?”

  “He’s tall, too.”

  “Lock your doors!”

  “What?”

  “Lock your fucking doors. Then call me from your cell phone. I’ll be there in thirteen minutes. Don’t let anyone in. Not even me. And for God’s sake put some clothes on before—”

  I could no longer resist. Laughter bubbled up like venom. His words stopped in mid sentence. I could practically hear his mind buzzing. I’d bet my PhD that none of his thoughts were pleasant.

  “McMullen?”

  I barely managed to stop laughing long enough to answer. “Yes, Lieutenant?”

  “If there are no murdering gangbangers parked in front of your house, I’m going to kill you myself.”

  “Isn’t that frowned on?” I asked. “Even in L.A.?”

  “I’m sure the judge will understand my predicament if he’s met you. Lock your fucking doors.”

  “They are locked!” I snapped. “You think I’m an idiot?”

  He snorted. “Check them!”

  “I don’t have to take your orders anymore.”

  Now his snort was more like a guffaw. “As if you ever did a reasonable thing in your entire life! If I had a nickel for every time you took some dumb-ass risk, I’d be up to my eyeballs in—”

 
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