Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22)(8) by Janet Evanovich

“You’d never know from his picture,” Lula said. “He looks like that Winnie-the-Pooh kid, Christopher Robin.”

“I want him found and locked up for the rest of his life,” Mintner said. “Or at least until he’s too old and decrepit to find my house.”

“Do you have any ideas where I should start looking?” I asked him.

“I’m sure he hasn’t gone far. He has connections here. Friends. Misguided people who want to help him. And there’s something going on at the Zeta house. Something evil. And Globovic is involved.”

“Whoa,” Lula said. “Evil? You mean like demons and the devil?”

Mintner looked over at me. “Who is she?”

“That’s Lula,” I said.

“I’m her assistant,” Lula said. “We’re like the Lone Ranger and What’s-His-Name.”

I gave Mintner my card and told him to call me if he heard anything about Globovic.

•••

“So what did you think of him?” Lula asked when we were out of the building.

“He doesn’t like the Zeta house.”

“Do you think there’s something evil going on there?”

“Evil is a pretty strong word. Sometimes people say evil when they mean bad.”

“I don’t like evil,” Lula said. “Evil gives me the creepy crawlies. I saw a movie once where a woman was possessed by a evil spirit and the woman’s head would spin around and she’d vomit up cockroaches. One day she was perfectly normal, and then bam! she’s vomiting up cockroaches. All because of this evil spirit. And in the movie that evil spirit was lurking in a house that looked sort of like the Zeta house.”

“You’re making that up.”

“Swear to God. It was like that in the movie. I might think twice about going back into the Zeta house. I’m telling you, vomiting up cockroaches isn’t on my bucket list.” Lula looked at her watch. “Where are we going next? You think it’s too early to get some egg salad?”

We were standing in front of the administration building, looking across a large green lawn that was sprinkled with college kids walking to classes, catching Frisbees, or sprawled out napping in the sun. The new building that housed the biology department was on the other side of the lawn.

“Globovic was a biology major,” I said to Lula. “Let’s try the biology department. Connie’s done some preliminary research for me, so I have the name of Globovic’s advisor, Stanley Pooka.”

My cellphone buzzed with a text message from Ranger.

Need date. Pick you up at seven. Wear sexy red dress. Bring loaded gun.

This wasn’t wonderful. I didn’t need Ranger complicating my life right now. And I had a gun but I wasn’t sure if I had any bullets.

“Bad news?” Lula asked.

“Ranger needs a date, and he’s picking me up at seven.”

“Why don’t I ever get news like that? That’s my kind of news. That man is so hot I get a flash just thinking about him.” Lula fanned herself. “I feel warm all over. I hope it’s not because I got possessed back there in the evil house.”

“Maybe you’re warm because it’s almost eighty degrees and we’re standing in the sun.”

“Yeah, that could be it, but if I start horkin’ up cockroaches you gotta get me to a priest.”

We walked across the grass to the science building and took the elevator to Stanley Pooka’s third-floor office. The office door was open, and I could see a man pacing inside. He was medium height and slender, and his yellow mass of frizzed, bushed-out hair looked like it could have squirrels hiding in it. He was waving his arms and talking to himself. Hard to tell his age. Maybe in his early fifties. He was wearing what appeared to be pajama bottoms, a gray T-shirt, and a large amulet on a chain around his neck.

“I think there’s some nutjob in Professor Pooka’s office,” Lula said.

I moved into the doorway. “Professor Pooka?”

He whirled around. “Yes,” he said. “Office hours are Wednesdays and Thursdays. This is Monday. Go away.”

I introduced myself, gave him my card, and told him I was looking for Ken Globovic.

“He isn’t here,” Pooka said. “Your card says bond enforcement. How do I know you’re really bond enforcement? Where’s your gun? Why aren’t you dressed in black leather?”

“Honey, black leather is so yesterday’s television,” Lula said. “We don’t go with that black leather stuff no more, but I got a gun. It’s a big one, too.” Lula pawed through her purse, looking for her gun. “I know it’s in here somewhere.”