Cheryl Wright - Author and Freelance Journalist
The novel evolved after overwhelming acceptance of the series of short stories. A mixture of comedy, crime and romance, the larger-than-life lovestruck characters will get your heart racing, your minding ticking and your funny bones cracking.
Heart racing, I sat bolt upright in bed. Rat -- my cat -– had jumped on my dresser and knocked the mirror. It in turn, fell with a bang.
I’d been out all night on a stakeout. God, how I hate those things -– and it was still early. My eyes darted to the bedside clock, proving I was wrong -– it was almost ten.
The phone began to ring, just to add to my annoyance. I decided it was a goddamned conspiracy, and I was probably right.
My eyes didn’t want to open, and standing in front of the mirror, I could see why. Bloodshot eyes and a bad-hair-day in one. All I wanted to do was climb back into bed and get some shut-eye.
I tried to ignore the phone, but that endless ringing, that continuous, eternal ringing, continued to distract me from my sleep. I reached over and answered the call.
“What?” I demanded. It had been said many times, even to my face, I am not a morning person.
It was difficult to concentrate, and I worked hard to listen, somehow made some notes, and finally wrote down the address. For once, this was a case I could enjoy.
I had a quick shower -- I had to wake up somehow - and threw on some clothes; bike shorts, sports bra, bright orange fluro shirt -- worn loose to cover my trusty Smith & Wesson. For the finishing touch, fluorescent pink ankle socks and Nikes.
Yeah, I know. Orange and pink don’t mix too well, but hell, hunks are hunks, and the pink ones were near the top.
I did tell you didn’t I? Men were going AWOL from the local gym -- Joe’s Gym -- in downtown, sunny Melbourne.
It sure sounded like my kind of case.
I decided to make myself inconspicuous and grabbed a few essentials -- gym towel, bathers and bottled water.
Was I pumpin’ or what?
I finally reached the gym -- not before time -- and sauntered up to the reception desk. I handed over my business card and asked for Joe Crandakis, the Manager. The receptionist read my card: Kelly Johnston, Private Investigator, then gave me the once—over.
She motioned for me to sit, but I was antsy. She watched as I paced. She answered the phone, greeted some patrons, then watched me again. As if I wasn’t antsy enough before!
It was yonks since I’d been in a gym. I stopped pacing long enough to breathe in the smell of sweat and hard work. That was when I remembered why I hadn’t been in a gym for so long.
Ten minutes would have passed before Joe strolled out, totally oblivious to the dollars ticking over. My dollars.
Pointing to my sweat-proof watch I told him in no uncertain terms ‘time is money’.
Joe promised to leave a list of the missing men at the reception desk for me to collect on my way out.
I told him I intended to spend some time working out, getting to know the regulars, and he made some mutterings about not blending in.
“Don’t worry,” I told him. “I’m real good at blending in,” and wandered into the gym.
Joe followed, shrugged his shoulders, then assigned me a personal trainer. The trainer was cute, but gave me some real strange looks. Pete was his name. Six nothing, broad shoulders, and long, sexy black hair tied in a ponytail.
Pete took me straight to the treadmill. “Easy start,” he said, since I haven’t worked out for years. “Take it real slow,” he told me, then said he’d be back.
I burned rubber for about thirty, seconds that is, till I saw Pete’s cute toosh disappear around the corner. I deftly jumped off the treadmill backwards -– it might have helped if I’d turned the darn thing off first.
As I toppled back, I came up against something hard and solid. Looking around the room I decided something wasn’t quite kosher, but couldn’t put my finger on it.
The solid wall moved, grabbed me, and pulled me hard up against him.
I looked up into his eyes and gulped. His eyes glittered with amusement. This was one hell of a man and I was basking in his nearness.
I stepped back out of his grip and shook myself to clear my head. It was then that I almost tripped over my gym bag. Lucky form me, the hunk grabbed me as I went down. He was clearly amused. It was then I decided to give him the flick.