The Fixer: The Killing Kind - Exclusive Second Look
July 10, 2016Hi Everyone!
Hope your summer is going great. Still in the middle of the editing process but getting closer! So I thought it would be nice to give you an exclusive second look at The Fixer: The Killing Kind.
Getting out on the fifth floor, Kat stole down the hall. Apartment 512. She slipped the key out of her coat pocket, letting herself in. Taking the phone from her purse, she punched in the number. After a few rings, Lester picked up.
“I’m here,” Kat said. “What am I getting?”
“Go into the bedroom,” he said.
Kat entered a room drowning in feminine pinks. “Okay, what?”
“You don’t see it?”
“Obviously not,” she said. “Is it a bill, a laptop, a deed to the apartment?”
“Go back into the living room.”
Katerina retraced her steps and froze in her tracks. A West Highland white terrier stared at her, it’s head cocked to one side.
Don’t bark. For the love of God and all that’s holy, DO NOT BARK.
“You didn’t tell me there was a dog in the apartment,” she whispered. What I wouldn’t give for a Snausage right now.
“Okay, good. You got it.”
“I wouldn’t say that—wait, what? I’m here for the dog? You’re going—and you want the dog?”
“No, no,” Lester said, “the dog has a microchip in it. I need the chip.”
“Because if the dog is scanned, the chip has my information. They’ll find my wife and then, you know—they find me. Digital footprint.”
Katerina blew out a mouthful of air. Still staring, the dog sat down.
“The chip is implanted by the right shoulder blade. It’s the size of a grain of rice. It’s nothing to take it out.”
“I left my veterinary degree in my other purse.” Moron. “And just what would you suggest I use for a scalpel, a Ginsu knife?”
“If you think that’s best. I’m not really attached to the animal. I don’t think she is either, truthfully. I mean, look, she doesn’t even take it with her when she goes out. I paid a shitload of money for that thing.”
Katerina clamped her eyes shut.
“I was told you agency girls are up for anything. Anything. I need the chip. Get the chip.”
Katerina clicked off the phone. She stared at the dog. It raised a paw as a greeting, then lay down on its back, baring its belly for a scratch.
Katerina hustled into the car, depositing the bag on the passenger seat. She revved the engine and took off.
“Did you get it?” Lester asked.
“Yup,” Katerina answered.
Katerina dropped Lester Callahan off at the Greyhound bus terminal. Then, she parked the car and sent a text.
DONE. W. 42ND. 8TH AVE. THANKS
She got out of the car and walked away. The text had gone to Luther, an entrepreneur with his own limousine service. Luther had a roster of clients that paid in cash. Luther saw nothing, heard nothing, and asked no questions. Luther had a lot of clients. He had gotten the car through Moose, a man Katerina had yet to meet. The car would disappear and turn up somewhere else: different state, different plates, different color. Five thousand of Kat’s take had already gone for payment for the service. Contacts liked to be paid up front. That was a problem; she didn’t get paid until the job was done.
Kat passed The Plaza and entered an elegant, gleaming office building. A few minutes later, she was standing in the empty, dark paneled anteroom of MJM Consultants.
“Come in, Katerina,” she heard Jasmine’s hard-edged voice call out.
With her bag slung over her shoulder, Kat entered the small, immaculate office. Jasmine glanced up from her laptop; she didn’t bat an eye at the wig on Kat’s head.
“The job is finished,” Kat said.
“The client called.”
I know. I was there. Right before he got on a bus.
“And then he called back again.”
“You never showed him the item he wanted retrieved.”
Katerina caught the hint of a smirk on Jasmine’s lips. Is this part of the ‘probation’ test? You are NOT cheating me out of my money. Think fast, Katerina.
“The client never said he wanted to see the item. He just said to retrieve it. I retrieved it.”
Jasmine was about to speak when Kat’s bag moved, a sliver of fur peeking through the top. The smirk vanished. “Is that a dog in that bag?”
“You’re not a pet person?” Katerina asked.
“Is that the item?”
“It’s the item that contains the item.”
Opening a desk drawer, Jasmine removed two rubber banded packets of bills. She held them out to Katerina. “Get it out of here.”
Katerina took the money, turned on her heels, and left.
Stepping out of the building into the bright, chilly day, she placed a call.
“Whatever it is, it’s gonna cost you a lot of money,” the raspy voice said through the line.
“Morning, Doc. I need something removed,” Kat said. “But the patient isn’t human.”
The raspy voice broke out into a low gutteral laugh.
Katerina watched over the sleeping Westie. A clean-cut man, wearing surgical gloves and a gown, used a feather touch to perform the procedure. He held up the forceps, showing Kat the tiny chip. Moving to the microwave on the counter, he placed the chip inside, closed the door, and hit a few buttons. Kat watched the plate rotate. A few sparks later, the chip was cooked.
Kat turned to Doc, perched on a stool, puffing on a cigarette.
“Thanks, Doc,” she said.
“Don’t bother. You still have to pay me.”
Kat nodded. At least he’s honest. This little act of benevolent kindness was about to take another healthy bite of the take-home pay.
A woman entered the room without knocking. Dressed to the nines, she looked to be in her late sixties, a cross between a gracefully aging Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O., complete with swing coat and pillbox hat.
“Miss Kitty, this is Gertie. She provides pet relocation.”
“Charmed, I’m sure,” Gertie said with a flourish of her hand. “Now darling, time is money. You want a major city or you prefer something rural?”
Thousands of criminals in the city and I’m talking to the Dolly Levi of pet theft.
“What do you have?”
“Oh, honey, it’s carte blanche. I always have a waiting list for Westies. Very popular breed. Lucky you came along. People are so careful these days. Owners almost never leave them unattended.”
“You steal to order?”
Gertie answered with a look of disbelief. “Steal? I beg your pardon,” she said. “Darling, I connect pets with loving families. I provide a service. You think Social Security pays enough for us girls to live on? A woman’s gotta get by. I used to be in the garment business—before they moved everything to China—no disrespect.” She gave Kat the once-over. “I can still get you a coat at cost. You’d look to die for in a Saint Laurent Chesterfield. You want a coat?”
Kat shook her head. “No thank you. Any location far away from here will be fine.”
She wanted to apologize. It wasn’t judgment, truly. She didn’t know why, but she was never quite prepared for the world she found. Even after what she had seen so far, Kat was still surprised. I’m not up for anything. Maybe I just don’t have what it takes.
The vet finished scrubbing at the sink. Drying his hands, he turned to Kat, giving her a pleasant smile.
“So, how long have you been a veterinarian?” Kat asked.
The man smiled.
Oh shit. Kat turned to Gertie.
“Meet my nephew,” she said.
The family that steals together...that’s one my father missed.
Kat looked to Doc.
“Still lots to learn, Miss Kitty,” he said. “Lots to learn.”
Katerina took a look at the sleeping dog. Pulling out the packets of money, she counted out fifteen thousand, half of her cut.
A woman’s gotta get by.
She certainly does, Kat thought, watching Gertie and Doc divvy up the cash. And for the first time, she began to wonder how she would get by.
4 WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Gazing out the taxi window, Katerina watched the falling snow stick to the gray landscape. Glancing down at her red, raw hands, she mouthed a silent curse. Another pair of gloves lost. The cab pulled over to the curb. Bracing herself for the frigid wind, she fought her way out of taxi and hustled into the restaurant.
“How are you, Miss?” Luke, the gushing maître d’, gave his familiar, friendly greeting.
“Cold,” Kat answered without missing a beat.
Luke laughed as if he had just heard something hilarious. “Let me guess, the wasabi filet mignon, pork spring roll, aaannnd… the big fortune cookie.”
Luke let out another raucous laugh. “Our mutual friend must really love that,” he said.
Maybe you’d like to deliver it to him. I’ll pay you to do it. “He keeps eating it,” Kat answered, “so I guess so.”
Kat watched Luke glad-hand and schmooze his way through the crush of the lunch crowd until he disappeared into the kitchen.
Katerina was confident that delivering lunch three times a week to Simon Marcus, the wealthy, obnoxious, hedge fund billionaire holed up in his duplex on Central Park West, was not a job for an MJM consultant. Lester had been right, in a way. Lisa’s sales pitch was clear: MJM hired savvy, capable consultants or ‘B girls’; girls who do the bitch work no one else can.
“Okay, Miss,” Luke said, serious and subdued. The wide grin was gone, replaced with a controlled impatience, a restrained agitation. He thrust the bag at Kat and ushered her toward the door. “You’re all set and you tell Mr. Marcus I got a good fortune in that cookie for him.”
Luke hustled her out, his hand on her back, narrowly avoiding people coming in. Turning to peer back into the restaurant, she spied the chef, his crimson face a stark contrast to his snow-white uniform. He pointed an accusatory finger at Luke while gesticulating wildly to the manager.
Katerina huddled in her coat as she hustled to the corner. She had braved worse winters back home in Vermont. This one was different. It ate into her bones, wearing her down in a way the others hadn’t. She wondered about the people passing by. How many of them would vow this was the last season they would endure this? By the time spring came, their oaths would be forgotten.
And then it happened again. A woman hurried by. Kat caught a glimpse of the side of her face, a lock of her blond hair peeking from under her hat. Kat skidded to a stop, jolted by a déjà vu as powerful as the relentless gusts of wind. In that instant, Katerina swore she just saw a doppelgänger, or a ghost... Felicia Reynolds.
Impossible. Felicia Reynolds, Katerina’s first ‘B girl’ assignment, was dead; the victim of a random act of gruesome violence. The replay button in her head Kat’s head flipped on. Following the young socialite, tracking her every move in order to recommend the perfect birthday gift to the husband, John Reynolds. Standing in Bryant Park with Philip days after the job was done, reading the newspaper headline about the murder. Kat knew something no one else did: she had seen the killer face to face. A man in a blue Ford. She re-lived the assignment again, the fatal misread, mistaking the man for a player in one of Philip’s schemes. A familiar weight settled on her heart. She was responsible for Felicia Reynolds’ death; no one could convince her otherwise.
Kat ticked off a mental list of everywhere she had been seen or could be identified. She had spoken to Felicia Reynolds, spoken to Will Temple, the handsome, young actor who turned out to be Felicia’s lover. She had used her best friend’s car to tail the young, beautiful socialite; another rookie mistake. Coming to the corner, Kat raised her hand to flag a cab. She glanced around, scanning, a rote habit. She had not seen the killer since that day, but he was still out there, somewhere.
The building entrance boasted a simple oval covering. Two small shrubs in plain stands, decorated in tasteful twinkle lights, adorned each side of the entrance. The doorman gave a nod as Kat slipped inside one of the wealthiest addresses in the city.
She entered the duplex, listening for Simon Marcus’ booming voice. The apartment was one of multiple real estate holdings. Simon Marcus also had a home in Aspen and an apartment in Miami; and according to him, a wife who wanted them all in the divorce settlement.
Hearing silence, Katerina traversed the rooms, her heels clicking on the polished floors gleaming like glass, the sound cutting out when she crossed the areas covered with Persian rugs. Leaving the takeout bag in the kitchen, she wandered into the “art room.” The sitting room had four small paintings lining one wall, Monet’s Water Lilies. She started from the left and examined them one by one, each painting favoring a particular color theme: purple, yellow, green, and another green.
She grabbed the issue of Architectural Times on the coffee table, flipping to the feature on the duplex. The picture of Marcus’ smiling face grinned back at her and she picked up where she had left off last time. Kat knew little about art but thanks to the article she did know Monet had painted about 250 different versions of his flower garden in Giverny; none of them were in this apartment. The fakes were the first paintings Marcus had ever bought. He would never sell them for sentimental reasons. Katerina let out a small noise of derision. Sentimental and Simon Marcus did not go together. At all. She was about to continue when a bellowing voice interrupted her.
“So where is it? Do you have it?”
Simon Marcus, in his early fifties, sported a full head of thick, black hair, and a round face with a hint of a five o’clock shadow at eleven forty-five in the morning. He was small, compact and his middle-age spread oozed over his belt, a round, doughy glob of flesh.
“Yes, sir,” she said. “It’s in the kitchen.”
Glancing around the room, he gave the wall a once-over with an unhappy laugh. “Stay here,” he said.
“Sir, I have other another appointment.” With a latte at Starbucks, far away from the sound of your voice.
“I just need you to wait five minutes. Is it a BFD to wait five minutes?”
Kat stared at him. “BFD?”
Marcus rolled his eyes. “Big, fucking deal. Is it a big, fucking deal to wait five minutes?”
“No, sir, not at all,” she said.
“That’s better.” With a wide grin, he strode out of the room.
Kat examined the fake paintings again, then flipped open the magazine and started reading.
“Hey, kitten, come in here.”
Tossing the magazine on the coffee table, Kat followed Simon’s bellow to the galley-style kitchen. The food spilled out of the bag; the oversized fortune cookie was broken in pieces, the mousse filling sitting in a blob on the counter.
Simon chomped on a piece of the cookie, his mouth open as he chewed. “Okay, cookie,” he said, pleased with his joke, “I got another job for you.”
“You need to call in the request,” Kat said.
Chuckling, Simon shoveled in another piece of the cookie. “Already done, pussycat,” he said. Taking an envelope out of his pants pocket, he tossed it on the counter, dangerously close to the mound of mousse filling.
Kat’s cell phone rang.
“Go ahead,” he said, “answer it.”
Kat pulled the phone from her purse. “Yes,” she said.
“It’s a retrieval,” Jasmine said. “One time. Envelope is sixty. Your cut is thirty percent.”
“What about the original request?”
Pulling an envelope out of his other pocket, Simon waved it at Katerina and threw it down on the counter. The corner of the envelope sank into the mousse.
“Service has been renewed for another two weeks,” Jasmine said. “Another fifty thousand. Your cut is thirty percent.”
The line went dead.
Kat clicked off the cell phone, already doing a mental calculation. You said you needed money. Here it is...forty-eight thousand when the jobs are done.
“Okay there, kitten?”
Sure thing, Casanova, she thought. “Yes, sir,” Kat said, her voice even and calm. “You’d like an item retrieved.”
“My car is in a garage downtown,” he said, handing her a ticket. “Pick it up and move it to Unique Auto Storage a few blocks from here. Take care of that this week.”
“So you want the car moved from one garage to another garage?”
“That’s right, pussycat. You’re not gonna screw up this little love affair by asking questions, are you?”
I wouldn’t dream of it. “No sir,” she said.
Simon let out a laugh. “You’re a good girl. I like you working for me. You want to come work for me all the time?”
“That’s a generous offer, Mr. Marcus, but I’m going to have to say no.”
Marcus took a piece of the cookie, scooped up a generous helping of the mousse, and shoved it in his mouth.”That’s all right,” he said with a shrug, “I’d only hire you to fuck you. You know,” he said, still chewing with this mouth open, “you and I should go out together.”
“I don’t shit where I eat,” Kat said. Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Marcus laughed. “Okay, how about investments? You’re making a nice piece of change on this arrangement here. Have you thought about putting that money to work for you? I mean, you don’t have the minimum net worth I require but I’d consider it a favor, since we’re, you know, friends. We have a relationship.”
The investment commercial, wrapped in a come on, she thought. Excellent. “That’s very considerate of you,” she said drily, “but my portfolio is all taken care of.”
“Whatever, kitten. Pick up my car on Wednesday,” he said. Marcus read the slip of paper with his fortune, and with a crooked smile, crumpled the paper and tucked it in his pocket. “Actually, no, pick it up on Friday. No wait, pick it up on Thursday. Yeah, Thursday.”
“Yes, sir,” Kat said. “Thursday pickup.”
“You’ll remember the name of the garage. Unique Auto Storage.”
“Yes, sir.” I remember everything.
“You know you remind me a little of my wife, you know that?”
Okay, it’s time to leave. NOW.
“She was always very efficient. Too bad she turned into a human leech, trying to suck out every last dime and flay the skin from my body. the bitch.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”
He gave her a sharp look, part lecher, part angry husband. “Sure,” he said. “Eleven forty-five on Wednesday. Don’t be late.”
Kat nodded and left. Moving a car from one garage to another, a benign workaday request if ever there was one. That’s what convinced Kat this was anything but.
Okay, that's all for now. I hope you enjoyed this second sneak peek at The Fixer: The Killing Kind. Remember, if you haven't had a chance to pick up Book 1, The Fixer: The Naked Man, it's available on ebook and paperback at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.
Have a great week!