Tori Karacis’s family line may trace back to a drunken liaison between the god Pan and one of the immortal gorgons. Or…maybe it’s just coincidence that her glance can, literally, stop men in their tracks. While her fear of heights kept her out of the family aerobatic troupe, her extreme nosiness fits right in with her uncle’s P.I. business.
Except he’s disappeared on an Odyssean journey to find himself. Muddling through on her own, she’s reduced to hunting (not stalking, because that would just be weird) brass-bra’d Hollywood agent Circe Holland to deliver a message…only to witness her murder by what looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Suddenly, all of her family’s tall tales seem believable, especially when Apollo—the Apollo, who’s now hiding out among humans as an adult film star—appears in her office, looking to hire her. She knows the drill: canoodling with gods never works out well for humans, but she’s irresistibly drawn to him. Maybe it’s her genes. Maybe not.
Given her conflicted feelings for one hot and hardened cop, it’s a toss-up which will kill her quickest. The danger at her door…or her love life.
Contains pot-boiling passion between a heroine who may—or may not—be a descendant of Medusa, and a hot god and a hunky cop with the…equipment…to handle her, even on her worst bad-hair day. Beware of killer kisses, trickster gods and bearded grandmothers Who Know Everything.
Detective Nick Armani—no relation—tried to stare me down from the other side of the tiny vanity table cum desk in Renee’s office, which had been temporarily appropriated. He was tall, dark and none too happy to see me. I had to admit the glower was effective, with those brows in desperate need of taming lowered to shade pale blue eyes. I didn’t think he’d be gratified to find that the effect on me was anything but intimidating, especially with his knees bumping the girly desk every time he shifted. It should have been comical—probably would have been if I weren’t still having flashbacks to the wet sound of the fish-man yanking his hand from Circe’s chest—but it also emphasized his fairly impressive proportions.
“Tori Karacis,” he said, just as the silence was starting to get interesting. “Why is it that I always seem to find you at my crime scenes?”
“Yours, detective? Do you have something to confess? I’d be glad to make a citizen’s arrest, especially if you’ll let me borrow your cuffs.”
Damn. My brain and mouth always seemed to disconnect in the detective’s presence. No wonder he glowered.
And yet, I thought I might almost have detected a twitch of the lips. Play nice, I reminded myself.
“No such luck,” he answered, rocking backwards on Renee’s spindly chair. “If there’s any restraining to be done—”
The office door opened, interrupting whatever he’d been about to say—and dammit, I wanted to hear. No surprise the impeccable timing had been brought to us by none other than Armani’s esteemed partner Detective Helen Lau, who from our first meeting acted as though she’d despise me if only she could work up that much enthusiasm.
“I’ve got Officer Jennings doing a ride-along in the ambulance with the male vic. We’re still waiting on the ME. Learned anything so far?” she asked.
I couldn’t help myself. “You’re just in time. Detective Armani was about to break out the rubber hoses.”
Lau finally deigned to look my way, but couldn’t be moved to put on an expression, let alone respond. Damn, I wanted to rattle her cage. This whole more stoic than thou thing—and hello, I wasn’t even in competition—freaked me out. Of course, that might have been why she did it.
Armani gave me a quelling look, but I’d had years of Yiayia’s evil eye to draw on. I was nigh unquellable.
“Actually,” he said, heading things off before they could get ugly, “Tori was just about to volunteer what she knows. We’re good here. Why don’t you begin on the customers so they can be released? You might want to start on the one with the really piercing voice so we can all hear ourselves think.”
Lau’s eyes flickered to me and back to Armani before she nodded. “Call if you need me.”
He nodded back and again we had the room to ourselves.
Sighing heavily, he thumped the dainty chair back down onto four legs, dropped his elbows onto the surface of the desk and began rubbing his temples. He speared me with a look as I shifted on my own chair.
“Why do you do that?” he asked.
I shrugged. “She makes me crazy.”
“What do you mean makes?”
I watched him rub his temples. I knew a killer pressure-point hand massage that would clear that headache right up, but even if I were foolish enough to offer it, the thought of Detective Lau walking in on such a scene would put the kibosh on the temptation.
“Anyway,” I continued, ready to cut him some slack, “you wanted to know everything, right?”
His head came up out of his hands. “Just like that?”
“Well, now you’re expecting the smart-ass comments. I don’t want to be predictable.”
He eyed me suspiciously. “Fair enough. Mind if I record?”
“Knock yourself out.”
Armani drew a mini-cassette recorder from his inside jacket pocket, gave the details on the interview, asked me to state my name and set it down between us.
I gave him the whole song and dance, blushing a bit as I ’fessed up to the pit stop, and ending with the getaway. Unfortunately, Armani picked right up on the details that were glossed over along the way.
“I don’t understand. If the killer was busy with the vic, how did he manage to knock you back against the wall?”
Damn, the man was too sharp. “I don’t know—had to be something in his hand.”
“Hell if I know, I was too busy flying through the air.”
“Okay, we’ll come back to that. Your client’s proposal—you have it on you?”
“Can I see it?”
I weighed the pros of cooperating with authorities against the cons of invading my client’s privacy. “Not unless you’ve got a warrant.”
“How can I have a warrant when I didn’t know a damned thing about it until just now?”
I took that as a rhetorical question.
His glower was back. “Do you have something to hide?”
“‘Not I,’ said the cat. My client’s another matter. Whatever he had to say to Circe was private. For her eyes only. Even I don’t know what’s in the envelope.”
“You didn’t sneak a peek?”
“Seals can be broken.”
I gave him Yiayia’s fish-eye, which he ignored. “Remind me never to ask you to pick up my mail. Anyway, I’m not a snoop.”
Armani quirked an eyebrow at me.
“Not that kind of snoop anyway,” I huffed.
“So you only invade people’s privacy for money.”
Okay, that was uncalled for. And totally untrue. Truth was more like I only respected privacy when bound by confidentiality or the laws of California. I couldn’t speak to what curiosity had done to the cat, but I did know what it had done to my familial relationships. I’d also learned through painful experience that the truth wasn’t likely to set us free. Sometimes it was about as welcome as a cockroach in the soup. It was one of the reasons—beyond the debilitating fear of heights that kept me out of the family acrobatic act—that the Rialto Brothers Circus had been just as happy to see the back of me as I’d been to split.
I shoved those oh-so-happy thoughts back into their little black box. “Something like that.”
“We can subpoena your records.”
“Uh huh,” I answered, unconcerned. Since I hadn’t completed the job, there was no report on file for the client. There’d been no notes to take and I’d be giving the envelope back to my client as soon as possible. “So then I’m free to go?”
“As long as you come by the station later to sign your statement and look at mug shots.”
There was no good way to tell him that would be an exercise in futility. Still, later sounded sufficiently vague.
“Later then,” I answered, already halfway to the door.
Armani let me go, but I could feel his eyes on me all the way out. I was tempted to peel off the jacket to give him a real show, my sports bra ending well above the waistline of the pants, but the envelope sat in the special inside pocket of the jacket and I wasn’t sure I was smooth enough not to send it flying. Besides, I wasn’t all that certain to be a crowd-pleaser. A shortly thereafter ex-boyfriend had once described me as “good enough for television”, which in this town was a slap in the face. It meant that with my unruly black hair, dark eyes and slight build, I probably wouldn’t break the camera but neither would I carry a show on the big screen.
Unless, of course, it was the sideshow I’d just embroiled myself in.