Love, Death or Pizza - excerpt

I've said it before, I'll say it again -- I love first meetings. This story, Love, Death or Pizza is set in a small town in Nebraska. Brock Parnell just heard that a man he's hated most of his life, is dead. Tack Carmichael is the kind of man that no one particularly liked. In fact, he was so unlikable, Brock wonders who finally took the initiative to kill him.

Unfortunately, a lot of people think Brock had a pretty good motive, so they drag him in for questioning shortly after the 11:00 news. He gets grilled by two detectives, but they get nowhere. Of course not, he's innocent. So they send in the big guns -- assistant district attorney, Adrianna Hasselhoff. 


 It wasn't Bartolli and Simpson who stood across from me now. It was a really sexy brunette with a curvaceous figure and short red dress. She looked like she'd been pulled in from a night out at the country club. She also looked totally pissed at having to be there.

Did I mention she was stunningly gorgeous? She must have been five foot ten in her heels, built like Sophia Loren back in her heyday, with beautiful blue eyes.

My jaw dropped open and I stared hard at her. Blinking rapidly, I tried to decide if she was real. She walked around the table, staring at me. She was real, all right. She was also frowning at me. Something about me did not impress her. I stood up, holding out my hand. I realized it was a little sweaty, so I wiped it on the seat of my jeans. Extending a drier hand, I smiled.

"How do you do? I'm Brock Parnell."

"I know who you are. I'm Adrianna Hasselhoff from the District Attorney's office. Do you know why you're here, Mr. Parnell?"

"Someone thinks I killed Tack Carmichael," I said with a shrug and sat down.

She hadn't taken my hand, so I folded my hands in my lap, leaning forward with my elbows on my knees.

"Exactly. You're a prime suspect, Mr. Parnell. Second only to his wife."

"What? You think Amy killed him?" I laughed, rather hysterically I'm afraid. I was tired as hell.

"You find your situation humorous?"

She frowned deeper, making a note on the clipboard she carried. She hadn't taken a seat, just stood there looking fantastic. Her skirt was right about to her knees and she wore strapless pumps with four inch heels. I'm a sucker for pumps. They're sexy as hell and made her legs look great! I could picture the curve of her leg all the way up to her ass. The skirt was cut to cling and it did in all the right places.

I was staring at her with my mouth open. Great, Brock! I snapped my lips shut and forced myself to look at her face.

She hadn't missed my expression. I might still have been feeling the effects of that whiskey, but I swear she was smiling a little and her blue eyes flashed like twin sapphires. She repeated her question.

"Humorous? No. Not at all. Ludicrous, yeah. What's humorous is that you suspect Amy Carmichael. The woman can't even smash a bug in the bathroom. You think she could kill her husband? How was he killed?"

"He was shot six times."

"Ew! Hell of a way to go. And you seriously think Amy did that? Somebody's been smoking...."

"Have you been smoking, Mr. Parnell?"

"Not for about fifteen years, Miss Hasselhoff."

"That's Ms. Hasselhoff."

"Ms. No, make that twenty years. I quit smoking when I met my ex-wife. I couldn't afford both."

I chuckled, tipping my chair slightly. Ms. Hasselhoff didn't look amused. She made another note on her clipboard. I yawned loudly. I couldn't help it. We were going on two o'clock and I really needed a hot shower and some sleep.

"Why am I still here? I don't know anything. Could you please let me get home and go to bed? I've been up twenty-two hours, Ms. Hasselhoff. I'm dog tired and I have to work tomorrow. Just because I'm the boss doesn't mean I can sleep in."

"I really can't do that, Mr. Parnell."

"Why not, Ms. Hasselhoff?"

Why did she have to have such a long name? Why couldn't it be something short like Smith?

"Because Tack Carmichael was shot with your gun."

"My what?" I stood up, knocking my chair over. "My gun? My gun? What the fuck?"

"There's no need for that kind of language, Mr. Parnell."

"I beg to differ, Ms. Hasselhoff. You just told me that some asshole was shot to death with my gun and you don't expect me to say 'fuck'? Of course I'm going to say it. Wouldn't you say it? Anybody would under those circumstances. My own mother would if you told her that."

"Settle down, Mr. Parnell."

I was babbling and I knew it, but I was too tired and too upset to care. They wanted a reaction, they got one. Whether it was the one they expected, I don't know. But you can't send a beautiful woman in four inch pumps in to talk to a man who hasn't had sex in months that some dick head he's hated since the eighth grade got himself whacked with his (my) gun.

"Fuck!"

"Mr. Parnell!"

I wanted to throw something, but there was nothing to throw. I could have pitched my chair across the room at that mirror, but I decided against that. I didn't want to get arrested.

"Ms. Hasselhoff, I'm sorry that Tack Carmichael had the bad form to get himself shot with my gun. But if you check your records, you'll discover that my gun was reported stolen over a year ago. That weapon hasn't been in my possession for a very long time. I reported it myself to Sam Hart. Have you talked to Lieutenant Hart about that?"

She looked a little flustered and shot a look at the mirror. Like I thought, there was someone back there. She tried to be all cool, but that caught her by surprise. No one had mentioned that fact to her.

"The gun disappeared about the same time my ex-wife left me. I always kind of figured she'd taken it with her for spite. I liked that gun. It was a family heirloom. My great-great-grandfather was a lawman in Cheyenne. That was his gun and it was worth a lot of money, not to mention the sentimental value. I'd sure like to have it back."

"It's a murder weapon now, Mr. Parnell. It's being held in evidence."

I shrugged and nodded, sitting down again. By this time I was too tired to stand. I'd had a rush of adrenaline when she told me Tack had the poor taste to get slaughtered with my great-great-granddaddy's peacemaker, but now I was paying for it. I yawned again, long and loud, looking right at the mirror. I hoped they were all yawning like hell too. It would be satisfying to know that I'd spread it around.

"If it wouldn't be too much trouble, could I go home? I'm really exhausted. I'm hungry and I want a hot shower. Would you either charge me or send me home? Either way, I'll get some sleep."

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