When I was twelve years old I accidentally substituted
salt for sugar in a cake recipe. I baked the cake, iced the
cake, and served it up. It looked like a cake, but as soon as
you cut into it and took a taste, you knew something else
was going on. People are like that too. Sometimes you just
cant tell whats on the inside from looking at the outside.
Sometimes people are a big surprise, just like the salt cake.
Sometimes the surprise turns out to be good. And sometimes
the surprise turns out to be bad. And sometimes the
surprise is just friggin confusing.
Joe Morelli is one of those good surprises. Hes two years older than I am, and for most of my school years, spending time with Morelli was like a visit to the dark side, alluring and frightening. Hes a Trenton cop now, and hes my off-again, on-again boyfriend. He used to be the hair-raising part of my life, but my life has had a lot of changes, and now hes the normal part. He has a dog named Bob, and a nice little house, and a toaster. On the outside Morelli is still street tough and dangerously alluring. On the inside Morelli is now the sexy guy with the toaster. Go figure.
I have a hamster named Rex, a utilitarian apartment, and my toaster is broken. My name is Stephanie Plum, and I work as a bond enforcement agent, also known as a bounty hunter, for my cousin Vinnie. Its not a great job, but it has its moments, and if I mooch food off my parents the job almost pays enough to get me through the month. It would pay a lot more but the truth is, Im not all that good at it. Sometimes I moonlight for a guy named Ranger whos extremely bad in an incredibly good way. Hes a security expert, and a bounty hunter, and he moves like smoke. Ranger is milk chocolate on the outside . . . a delicious, tempting, forbidden pleasure. And no one knows whats on the inside. Ranger keeps his own counsel.
I work with two women I like a lot. Connie Rosolli is Vinnies office manager and junkyard dog. Shes a little older than I am. A little smarter. A little tougher. A little more Italian. Shes got a lot more chest, and she dresses like Betty Boop.
The other woman is my sometimes-partner Lula. Lula was at this moment parading around in the bail bonds office, showing Connie and me her new outfit. Lula is a way-beyond-voluptuous black woman who was currently squashed into four-inch spike heels and a sparkly gold spandex dress that had been constructed for a much smaller woman. The neckline was low, and the only thing keeping Lulas big boobs from popping out was the fact that the material was snagged on her nipples. The skirt was stretched tight across her ass and hung two inches below the full moon.
With Connie and Lula you get what you see.
Lula bent to take a look at the heel on her shoe, and Connie was treated to a view of the night sky.
Crikey, Connie said. You need to put some underwear on.
I got underwear on, Lula said. Im wearing my best thong. Just cause I used to be a ho dont mean Im cheap. Problem is that little thong stringy gets lost in all my derriere.
Tell me again what youre doing in this getup, Connie said.
Im gonna be a rock-and-roll singer. I got a gig singing with Sally Sweets new band. You heard of the Who? Well, were gonna be the What.
You cant sing, Connie said. Ive heard you sing. You cant hold a tune to Happy Birthday.
The hell I cant, Lula said. I could sing your ass off. Besides, half those rock stars cant sing. They just open their big oversize mouths and yell. And you gotta admit, I look good in this here dress. Nobody gonna be paying attention to my singing when Im wearing this dress.
Excerpted from Twelve Sharp, copyright (c) 2006, Janet Ivanovich. Reproduced with permission of the publisher, St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved.
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