I drove down Independence Way, past the high school, and then made a right into an alley. The towering buildings cast eerie shadows over the neighborhood, perfect for committing a felony or meeting an unscrupulous character.
Parking next to a heavily graffitied brick wall, I listened to a man and a woman arguing in the distance. The Good Samaritan in me wanted to get out and offer help while my brain warned me to stay put. Only a fool dipped into another person’s concerns in the SC. Such an action was the surest path to trouble. I had enough on my plate without adding more.
So I cut the motor and waited.
Ten minutes passed before a tall figure, wearing a trench coat, approached the vehicle. Tentatively, I inched down the window.
“Are you Killian Montgomery?”
He stooped down and leaned in. The stench of stale alcohol and cigarettes hit my nose. “Depends on who’s asking, darling.” He looked to his right and left. “Now, if you happen to be the pretty widow of a certain CEO, I might be who you’re looking for.”
I hated it when people used grandiose language to seem knowledgeable. Why couldn’t people clearly state whatever they had to say?
“I am, and you’re late.”
He grinned. “I don’t keep banker’s hours.”
Glancing up at the PI with a fiery mop of red hair and a scruffy beard, I was starting to doubt the wisdom behind my choice. “I was told you could help me.”
Okay, that was a bit of a lie. I’d checked through Ryan’s personal files and found the man’s name. Then, I did my research and discovered the private investigator was excellent at his job. The problem was, the man enjoyed slinking around the back streets and didn’t have a proper office.
When I called, his voicemail instructed me to leave a message, and he’d contact me. Shortly after I did, Killian texted a destination for the meeting. It might not be the most savory manner of conducting business, but I wasn’t seeking someone who played by the rules. While I was being nice, the bad guys were walking the streets without fear of being arrested. Maybe it was time for me to cross the line too.
“What do ya need, sweetheart?”
I cringed at his use of the endearment. “Just information.”
“The recent rash of home invasions.”
“Nasty situation.” He tsk-tsked. “Rumor on the streets says that someone hired a team for the deed.”
“I want to know who did the hiring and what they hope to gain.”
He placed both hands on the car roof and tapped out an unfamiliar rhythm. “I’ll send ya a text when I have something.”
“Perfect, but don’t take too long.”
The PI glanced toward the street before leaning down again. Lowering his voice, he said, “There is the matter of payment.”
“Of course.” I picked up the bulky yellow envelope beside me. “Half now and the other half when you deliver the details.”
Killian pursed his lips. “Not my usual way of doing a job, but since I liked your husband…” His tone softened as he added, “He was a good man.”
“Yes, he was,” I murmured.
“I’ll be in touch.” The investigator pussyfooted away, and I rolled up my window.
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