WHITE WITH FISH, RED WITH MURDER by Harley Mazuk
When Cici came back down, she was in a silver satin men’s pajama top, long enough to come down to mid-thigh. Only the top button of the three it had was buttoned. “Oh, it’s good to get out of all those clothes after a long day.”
“All those clothes? You barely had on enough to ante up in a game of strip poker.”
“Sure I did, Frank. I had enough on because when I play cards, I win. Runs in the family.” Cici plopped down on the davenport next to me. She lifted her martini with her right hand, crossed one bare leg under her, and draped the other on my lap. She propped her left elbow on the back cushion and rested her head against her hand, smiling at me.
“I don’t know, doll. I saw Fenwick today. He doesn’t think the general lost all that money to Rusty.”
She sipped her drink and eyed me hard over the rim of the glass. “Fenwick don’t know nothing about it, Frank. I’ve got the paper. As a matter of fact, I want you to take those IOUs down to the probate court for me and file a claim. Now that Thursby’s dead, that’s the only way I can collect.”
“Well, that might have to wait a day or two.”
“Why wait, Frank?”
“I have to go up to Sonoma tomorrow. I’m going to go talk to Sally DeBains. I think I’d like to see the Blackbird vineyard too. I’ll have to take care of your claim on Thursby’s estate later in the week.”
She shrugged. “There’s time, I guess.”
“There’ll be plenty of time. I didn’t find any wine. There’s an abundance of good gin around, so I made martinis. How’s your drink?”
“It’s just what I needed. Thanks. There’s some wine in the cellar, but most of it’s at the restaurant. Rusty didn’t drink much wine. He liked his gin though.”
“Did he drink much when he gambled?”
She hesitated, and then nodded. “Sometimes.”
“Fenwick thinks he had plenty to drink when he was over there. You know, maybe his judgment wasn’t so good when he drank. Maybe he didn’t win all that money from Thursby.”
“Yeah? Well, maybe he did. What difference does it make what Fenwick thinks?” She sipped her martini. “Jesus, Frank, who says Fenwick thinks at all? He seems like . . . like such an animal.”
“He was okay when we dipped our bills today—just the two of us—in Thursby’s kitchen. Anyhow, I talked to some of the other suspects today too,” I said.
“People from the train. Suspects in the Thursby killing.”
She had another swallow of her martini and then set the glass down on the table. She leaned forward and wrapped her arms around my neck. The cool satin sleeves slid around me, just above the collar. “Frank, are the police hunting for any suspects in the Thursby killing?”
“No, they’ve got Vera.”
“Maybe you should just leave it that way.” She planted a kiss on my yap and gave me some icy cold tongue. Then she crammed a salty surprise, an olive, into my mouth.
“She didn’t do it.” I chewed the olive.