One Hot MessBy: Lois Greiman
Luck is merely a product of the happily delusional mind.
—Chrissy McMullen, Ph.D.,
in one of her more maudlin
ENATOR!” I SAID, bracing my leg kittywompus across my back door lest Harlequin bound down the stairs and into Miguel Riveras nattily attired crotch. It was eleven o'clock on hump day too early for a nap, too late to legitimize a meal involving bacon. “I…” I glanced past the senator's smooth-suited shoulder at the septic guy, just recently arrived to drain the pit in my yard. I'd called SuperSeptic nearly a week ago when my toilet had rumbled eerily upon flushing. It had been a particularly distressing moment, since I treat my system with all the sensitivity reserved for a high-strung, fair-haired child. Since the growling incident, however, I had become even more cautious, reserving my bathroom for mirror time and emergency peeing.
Fourteen additional calls to SuperSeptic had produced a “waste-removal associate” immaculately attired in sparkling white coveralls with a red double S emblazoned across his chest. He'd arrived not ten minutes ago, merry as Robin Hood, saving me from violating the Clean Air Act and/or murdering the SuperSeptic guys.
The senators sleek good looks struck me as somewhat incongruous against the backdrop of my dusty yard and the whistling septic man.
“I wasn't expecting visitors,” I said. And even if I had been, I certainly wouldn't have expected Miguel Rivera. He dined in restaurants I couldn't afford to drive past and owned property beyond my capacity to fantasize about, including a modest rancho called Alba Rojo, nestled somewhere in the Santa Monica foothills.
Three years earlier he'd been a senator for the state of California. Currently he was merely Lieutenant Jack Rivera's estranged father. Jack, on the other hand, was another story entirely. Kind of a cross between a pit bull and a really top-notch aphrodisiac. Powdered rhino horn maybe. Not that I would know. I need an aphrodisiac like Colin Farrell needs sexy lessons. But don't get the wrong impression; I no longer harbor any adolescent fantasies for those foreign bad boys.
I am, after all, an intelligent, independent woman and a certified shrink to boot. Still, that kind of snockered Irish accent had, in earlier days, been known to pump my estrogen into overflow, effectively drowning my brain cells and floating my imagination into steamy flights of fancy involving…
“Ms. McMullen.” The senator's voice yanked me back to the present. His accent wasn't bad either: a rich cappuccino of political clout and Latino masculinity that, oddly enough, reminded me of François, one of my newest but dearest friends. “It is good to see you.”
“Yes, I—” had no idea where I was going with that statement and was more than happy to be interrupted.
“When I saw the septic truck parked near your house, I thought, perhaps, you would be in your backyard. Might I come in?” he asked.
I drew back a half inch and refrained from shrieking like the village idiot. But the truth was, I wasn't quite prepared for a visit from a political icon. It was Wednesday morning. I wasn't due at my office until one o'clock, giving me all morning to ignore my housework. Hence, my living room looked as if it had been struck by an illhumored poltergeist. I wasn't particularly well dressed, either. In fact, I was a little understated for the SuperSeptic guy. But he'd kept me waiting for most of a week and I thought he deserved whatever he got. Including the tornado-victim hair.
“I'd love to visit,” I said, and pushed Harlequin back with my knee. Harlequin's a dog. He's a cross between a Great Dane and … something equally large but not necessarily canine. “I'm afraid this isn't a very good time though, Senator. I—”
“Miguel… please,” he said. “I am sorry to interrupt your morning ablutions. Truly I am, but I will not take up so very much of your time.”
“Ablutions.” The word threw me, juxtaposed as it was against the sight of the SuperSeptic man hoisting the lid from my apocalyptic pit.
“I would not have arrived unannounced if my visit were not of the utmost importance,” the senator added.
His dire expression snagged the image of Farrell as defiant sex slave right out of my mind, replacing it with a sketchy, leftover nightmare in which the senators son lay facedown on the concrete. I'm not generally prone to dark dreams, but the one I remembered from the night before was a doozy.
“Jack,” I rasped. “He's not—”
“May I come inside?” asked the senator.
I bent, grabbed Harley's collar, and held him at bay while my guest stepped elegantly past us into my living room.
Harley and I followed, shuffling and panting. But the senator was too well bred to mention my heavy breathing.