Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22)(4) by Janet Evanovich

“You just dumped me and now you think I’m going to hop back into bed with you? Are you insane?”

“We can still be friends.”

“I’m not feeling friendly. I’m feeling angry.” I zipped up my jeans and grabbed my T-shirt off the floor. “And I certainly don’t sleep with men after they dump me. Okay, maybe once in a while, but not usually. And I’m absolutely not sleeping with you. Not ever again.” I hooked my tote bag over my shoulder and huffed out of Morelli’s bedroom.

“I’ll call you in the morning,” Morelli yelled after me.

I gave him the finger as I stomped down the stairs. He couldn’t see me, but it was satisfying all the same. I slammed the front door shut with enough force to rattle his living room windows, marched over to my crap-ass car, and rammed myself behind the wheel. I peeled away from the curb and drove to the all-night convenience store on Hamilton Avenue. I bought a load of comfort food and went home to eat it. Snickers bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, York Peppermint Patties, M&M’s, Twizzlers, everything I could find that contained caramel, plus three tubs of ice cream.

TWO

MY COUSIN VINNIE owns the bail bonds office, but his wife’s father, Harry the Hammer, owns Vinnie. Vinnie writes most of the bonds, plays the ponies, likes to get whipped once in a while by dark-skinned young men, and in general is a boil on the backside of my family tree.

Connie Rosolli occupies the guard dog desk outside Vinnie’s private office. She keeps the office running, occasionally writes bonds, and makes sure no one kills Vinnie during office hours. She’s in her midthirties, is longtime divorced, and looks like a short, Italian, bigger-boobed Cher.

“Whoa,” Connie said when I dragged myself into the office Monday morning. “You look like you got hit by a train. You have black circles under your eyes and a big pimple on your chin.”

“I broke up with Morelli last night.” I put my finger to the pimple. It felt like Mount Rainier. “I think this is a candy pimple. I went through a lot of Snickers last night. And then I had a bag of Oreos for breakfast.”

Lula was on the couch. “Oreos don’t work for breakfast,” Lula said. “You need something like a Almond Joy so you get the protein in the nut. You eat Oreos and you just get Oreo poop.”

Lula was wearing ankle boots with studs and five-inch spike heels, a black spandex skirt that barely covered her butt, a poison green tank top that was stretched to its limit over her big boobs, and a sparkly, fluffy, pink angora cardigan. Every time she moved, some of the angora floated off the sweater and swirled in the air.

“So what’s the deal with Morelli?” Lula asked. “He’s a hottie. You sure you want to break up with him?”

“He broke up with me. And I don’t want to talk about it.”

“It was before the pimple though, right?” Lula asked.

“Yeah.”

“Well, then, we can rule that out.”

The door to Vinnie’s inner office banged open and Vinnie stuck his head out.

“What’s going on out here?” Vinnie said. “I’m not paying you to stand around flapping your lips.” He leaned forward and squinted at me. “What the hell is that thing on your chin?”

“It’s a pimple,” Lula said. “She got some stress in her life.”

“Cripes,” Vinnie said. “It’s a freakin’ nightmare. It looks like Vesuvius is gonna erupt.” And he pulled back into his office, closed and locked his door.

“I had a new FTA come in late yesterday afternoon,” Connie said. “A kid who didn’t show for his court date. I made some phone calls, and he’s definitely in the wind.” She handed the file over to me. “Ken Globovic, aka Gobbles. Twenty-one years old. College guy. Breaking and entering and aggravated assault.”

Lula looked over my shoulder as I paged through the file.

“It says here this moron attacked the dean of students,” Lula said. “I imagine this cut his college career short. I’m no college graduate, but I know you’re not supposed to try to kill the dean of students.”

I looked at his picture. Sandy blond hair, fair skin, a little pudgy. Kind of cute in an albino chipmunk sort of way.

“He don’t look like no killer,” Lula said. “He looks like he wears Winnie-the-Pooh jammies to bed at night.”

“He’s a Zeta,” Connie said. “So you might want to start at the Zeta house.”

“Zeta house. That sounds like a nice place,” Lula said.