Fatal Bond

By: Gemma Halliday & Jennifer Fischetto

CHAPTER ONE



I’d heard of people who experienced the Sunday Night Blues, a kind of letdown at the end of the weekend as the workweek loomed ahead of them. Luckily I loved my job and rarely lamented a Monday morning. Rarely. This might be the exception, as so far I was experiencing the mother of all Monday Morning Miseries. I’d been out of bed for less than two hours, and I’d already managed to burn my tongue on my caramel macchiato and dribble it down the front of my pink silk blouse. There was standstill traffic on the freeway all the way into the office, and I realized I’d grabbed my Coral Crushed lipstick rather than the Pink Petals, totally clashing with my top.

I stepped out of my cherry red roadster, in the Bond Agency parking lot, and rubbed the small stain just beneath the top button with a french fry–smelling napkin from Wendy’s that I’d found in the glove compartment. It was useless. I wasn’t getting the light brown spot shaped like Florida out, and I didn’t want to transfer the napkin’s scent to my blouse and spend the rest of the day dreaming about greasy, salty goodness. I should’ve turned back home and changed, but that would have entailed braving the traffic again—in both directions. I was already running late. Plus, this was the first day back from my weeklong absence from the office, and who knew what state that had left the agency in.

Not that I didn’t have faith in my Bond Girls, as I’d lovingly dubbed my all-female staff of PIs, but I knew this was a fickle business. One day you were up, and the next day you were down. Case in point: my father, Derek Bond.

Derek Bond had started the “discreet private inquiries” agency years ago, quickly becoming a specialist in tracking down cheating husbands for the housewives of LA County. I had many memories of being in the back seat of his Bonneville as he sat on stakeouts—taking a nap or playing with my Barbies, and later doing my homework and a lot of eye rolls at being in the parking lot of a cheap motel in North Hollywood instead of at the mall with my friends. I practically grew up on a stakeout, and I’d never had any intentions of spending my adulthood doing the same thing. I’d leaned more toward sharing Barbie’s career as a fashion model (though my measurements might be a slight bit larger than hers), which had worked out for me until the ripe old age of twenty-six, when I’d aged out of the modeling industry. It had been that same year that Derek had been shot in the shoulder, and on doctor’s orders, he’d taken early retirement, handing the keys of the Bond Agency over to me.

Keys that jingled in my hands now as my stiletto heels clacked toward the building.

When I’d hastily booked my flight a week ago and declared I was taking an impromptu vacation, the Bond Girls had said they could handle things in my absence. No problem. And they’d kept to their words. Seven days without a peep from anyone. Not even Derek, who usually checked in at least seven times a day to make sure I wasn’t running his baby into the ground. I couldn’t believe it. I’d almost expected to return to the States and learn that California had fallen off the map. Of course, I’d returned much sooner than I’d planned to…

Lost in thought, I sidestepped a shiny, brand new white Tesla parked crookedly near the entrance, and my ankle twisted. Pain shot through my leg as I cursed this Monday morning once again. I held my breath then let it out slowly as I made certain I didn’t need to spend the rest of my morning in the ER. Ankle moved okay. I tried putting pressure on it. Painful, but after a couple of steps it started to subside.

“Jamie!”

I turned my head in the direction of my name and spotted a Honda Civic in the street. It had stopped at the parking lot’s entrance. The passenger window was lowered, and a figure in the driver’s seat waved. It was Elaine.

Elaine was on the generous side of fifty, preferred animal print outfits in two sizes too small for her curvy frame, and had a heart of gold, even if it was tarnished a bit from years of hard booze and bad men. She’d been seeing Derek for a few months, though I was never sure what their relationship status was—probably due to the fact that the longest relationship I’d ever witnessed Derek have was with a cigar brand. At last count they were in an “off again” stage due to a recent falling out, though I tried not to stick my nose into Derek’s affairs.