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Authors: Rhonda Pollero

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Fat Chance

BOOK: Fat Chance
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Praise for
USA Today
bestselling author Rhonda Pollero’s first delightfully addictive Finley Anderson Tanner novel,

“Witty, upbeat, all-around entertaining.”

—Janet Evanovich,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Fearless Fourteen

“Hilarious…will make readers eager for an encore.”

Kirkus Reviews
(starred review)

“Bright, breezily written…full of humor and quirky characters.”

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Rhonda Pollero’s humor and compelling mystery will keep you turning pages.”

—Tess Gerritsen,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Keepsake

“Stylishly entertaining.”


“Humorous…. Finley’s personality and antics reminded me of Stephanie Plum…. A great book to curl up with on the beach.”

Fresh Fiction


Publishers Weekly

“An amazing talent…. Murder has never been this much fun!”

—Cherry Adair,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Night Shadow

Pocket Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2009 by Rhonda Pollero

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. First Pocket Books trade paperback edition March 2009

POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Pollero, Rhonda.
Fat chance / Rhonda Pollero.
     p. cm.
1. Chick lit. I. Title.
PS3616.O5684F37 2009


ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-0098-1
ISBN-10: 1-4391-0098-5

Visit us on the World Wide Web:

To Dr. Louis Raso and Dr. David Fischman,
Thanks for keeping me glued together—literally.

FAT Chance

The difference between the wrath of God and the wrath of your mother is that eventually, God forgives you.


than Lulu Guinness perfume is eau d’ new car. I breathed in a long, slow, steady stream of the leathery scent as I steered my brand-new BMW 330Ci off the Brauman Motorcars lot.
was a bit of an exaggeration. Technically, the lovely new car belonged to BMW Leasing Corporation, but that was a minor detail. One I was happy to ignore as I weaved through the late morning traffic on Okeechobee Boulevard.

The timing was perfect. The cherry red car was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits. I was in a funk after the whole Patrick breakup disaster, so when the dealer called me yesterday, I didn’t waste any time arranging to take next-day delivery.

Like everything in life—a little bad came with the good. Though my previous car was totaled through no fault on my part, I still had to fork over nearly fifteen hundred of my own dollars on the new lease. Luckily, I had cash in the bank. Less than a
week ago, I deposited a big check. But not before I scanned it, saved it, and turned the image into a self-congratulatory screen saver on my home and office computers. Hey—it’s not like the law firm of Dane, Lieberman, and Zarnowski cuts a check payable to me in that amount every day. No, this was a freak occurrence. A signing bonus of sorts. Or, as I like to think of it, twelve thousand ways for my boss to announce to the world that Finley Anderson Tanner is a valuable asset to the Palm Beach legal community.

The check represented the negotiated dollar amount it had cost Vain Victor Dane, Esquire and Asshole Extraordinaire, to make amends for firing me. My shoulder muscles pinched at the mere thought of my employment lord and master. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job at Dane, Lieberman, and Zarnowski. Okay, so
might be a bit strong. As an estates and trusts paralegal, I get to do a variety of different things, which makes it mildly interesting. What makes it a great deal more enjoyable is that I have the autonomy to come and go almost as I please.

I “please” a lot.

The very nature of my job requires me to be out of the office often. Is it a crime if I happen to take the occasional detour into Nordy’s on the way back? No. The real crime would be missing out on a sale for the sole reason that I was chained to my desk. It’s a nice desk, by the way. At least it is now. In the last year, I’ve done pretty well in the struggle up the corporate ladder department. Well, if you overlook the arrested, jailed, hospitalized, almost killed, and fired—
—bumps in my career path. None of those things was my fault.
they weren’t my fault. Okay.
of them weren’t my fault.

Turns out, I have a knack for ferreting out murderers. Okay, so
might be a bit of an overstatement; it’s more along the
lines of…“there but for the grace of God I didn’t end up dead.” But you get the gist.

Multitasking, I eased onto I-95 north while simultaneously skipping through the newest playlist I’d created for my iPod. It
my iPod too, as of the fifteenth of the month, when I made the last payment. So budgeting isn’t my strength, but I have found ways to cut corners. Secret ways. Hopefully they’ll remain secret. Not even my closest friends know that my precarious financial situation has forced me into the underground world of outlet shopping. My wardrobe is a testament to factory damage and slightly irregular.

I tensed as I steered onto Blue Heron Boulevard in record time. I was on my way to Iron Horse Country Club. It’s a small, private club nestled behind one of the hundreds of manicured entrances and manned security gates dotting Palm Beach County. Most people are
to lunch with their mothers. Not me; I get
On elegant stationery, no less. I could easily picture my mother in her penthouse, seated at her expensive French desk, gold pen in her perfectly manicured hand.

I’d dressed carefully for my command performance. I’d chosen a vintage suit in mint green that I’d found at a church thrift store. Not any church sale, mind you, but the semiannual sale at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, the church in Palm Beach where the rich and famous worshipped. The pale color accentuated the fleck of green in my otherwise blue eyes and my pay-for-it-later tan. I’d added a white BCBG cami with mint trim. I’d slipped on a pair of white Steve Madden wedges I’d picked up at a cool 70 percent off, thanks to a small smudge on the patent leather on the side of the left shoe. Since this was lunch at a country club with my mother, I not only had to wear green—the color she prefers—but I also had to do the required hair thing. I was prepared. I had a mother-of-pearl clip at the ready.

My mother’s membership at Iron Horse was part of the spoils from one of her divorces. Clicking my fingernail against the walnut-grained steering wheel, I tried to recall which husband had been the avid golfer. As I drove under a canopy of banyan branches, I inhaled the crisp, summery scent of freshly mowed grass filtering in through the vents. For some reason, the homey smell reminded me of the only man my mother had married for true love. Thinking about Jonathan Tanner caused my heart to twist inside my chest. He died almost fifteen years ago and I still miss him. I was two when he adopted me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better father. I loved him and he loved me. Which probably explains why I don’t have daddy issues.

Amazing considering I was a teenager when I found out the truth. Well, the half-truth. My mother had always told me that Finley and Anderson were family names. That part was true. What she’d neglected to explain was that they were the family names of the two men she’d been sleeping with when she’d gotten pregnant with me. As far as I know, neither man ever knew about me. And I have no burning desire to go on some sperm donator search.

I considered it once. I was online, killing time before swooping in on a last-minute eBay auction for some links for my build-it-from-scratch Rolex project, when a pop-up ad flashed, promising to find anyone anywhere in twenty-four hours or less. I thought about it for a nanosecond, then decided I truly didn’t want to know.

I did, however, want those gold links, but I was outbid at the very end of the auction by someone with the screen name JulesJewels.

I pulled up in the horseshoe-shaped drive in front of the massive, pillared building. I grabbed my purse and my hair clip, then
reluctantly handed my keys to the valet, a kid barely old enough to drive. Then I sprinted up the front steps.

Luckily for me, The Clubhouse was a completely inappropriate name for the large, lavish, two-story building. The first floor included a gym, a spa, locker rooms, steam rooms, a lap pool, showers, and twenty-four-hour a day attendants. Upstairs, there was a long polished bar and two dining rooms.

Thankfully, the ladies’ room was on the way to the restaurant, giving me an opportunity to slip in and twist my hair into a subdued style that would not inspire my mother’s ire. I paid a lot of money to highlight my blond hair. It seemed like a waste to hide it, but the alternative made me decide to be wasteful.

With my hair secured, I smiled briefly at the mute attendant standing in the corner. It seemed to startle her, possibly because the snobbish members treated her as if she’d been invisible.

My palms began to sweat as I walked on the plush carpet, past the sparsely populated bar toward the restaurant. The seven or eight men at the bar were dressed in the horrid ensembles golfers tended to fancy. Guess no one told them that no man looked good in plaid pants and an Easter-egg-colored shirt.

As I approached the maitre d’ of the less formal dining room where lunch was served, I could smell the sumptuous scents of various foods. My stomach went from clenched to growling in record time. The dining room was huge, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the golf course. The table settings, like the window treatments, reinforced the Iron Horse train theme. The maitre d’ knew me on sight and simply said, “Welcome back, Miss Tanner. Please follow me.”

My mother looked up instantly and shot me a disapproving glance. I took my seat, then a waiter appeared and flipped my napkin onto my lap.

I took the menu he handed to me, and he offered to give me a minute. “You look lovely, Mother. Is that a new dress?” I try, I really do. But cracking through the cement of my mother’s emotions is like adding another face to Mount Rushmore using nothing but a dull spoon.

Thanks to good genes, regular Restylane, and minor plastic surgery, my mother was a fifty-year-old with the face of a thirty-five-year-old. To her credit, she worked out with a personal trainer when she was in town, maintaining her size 2 body. Since the average age of the other people in the dining room was somewhere between sixty and ninety, she stood out from the crowd.

She would have anyway. My mother was a striking brunette who carried herself like the budding star she’d once been. All that training hadn’t gone to waste. Her regal persona had easily evolved from opera diva to country club diva. Other than eye color, my mother and I didn’t share much in the looks department. Or the temperament department. Or, well,

“You’re late. As usual,” she said. “I don’t know why I bother to make the effort to always arrive on time when you’re invariably late, Finley.”

In less than five seconds, she’d fired the first shot. This did not bode well for me. “I don’t know either,” I replied. I wasn’t being facetious. I had no idea why she didn’t just show up fifteen minutes later than whatever time she told me. We’d arrive at sort of the same time, and everyone would be happy.

The hovering waiter returned at the subtle wave of my mother’s hand. “What are the specials?” she demanded.

The guy rattled off the specials. Which, by the way, were always the same on Thursdays. And why she asked I have no idea. Regardless of the specials, she always ordered the same thing.

“You had me at deep fried,” I smiled at the waiter and added, “I’ll have the tuna egg roll, then coconut shrimp, extra mango relish, with French fries, please.”

My mother snapped her menu closed, glaring at me as she ordered a small chef salad, no egg, no cheese, no ham, no dressing.

No fun.

“Finley,” she whispered in that disapproving tone she considered reasonable just as soon as the waiter was out of earshot. “Keep eating like that and you’ll be as big as a house. How much weight have you put on in the last two months? Ten? Fifteen pounds?”

“Four,” I said, struggling not to grit my teeth. “Ninety-six more and I’ll be eligible for gastric bypass.”

Arching one perfectly shaped brow disapprovingly, my mother shifted against the back of the richly upholstered chair. Discreetly, she glanced around the dining room, husband-seeking radar on full alert.

Not for me, of course. In my mother’s eyes, I was a lost cause, twenty-nine going on pointless. Conversely, she was on the prowl for husband number six. She’d been seeing a doctor for a couple of months, but she liked to hedge her bets.

“Don’t be flippant, Finley. Your sister’s wedding is just weeks away, and how will it look if you eat yourself out of your maid-of-honor dress?”

“I’m a size six, Mom. Hardly Jabba the Hut.”

“Lisa is a size
I’m constantly puzzled as to why a woman whose prospects of marriage are diminishing
wouldn’t make every effort to look her best. To be honest, Finley, you’ve let yourself go. And what’s this I hear about you not bringing Patrick? You can’t attend the wedding without an escort. What will the St. Johns think of us? What exactly did you do to drive him away?”

As usual when I’m with my mother, I have fascinating and quick internal comebacks. But I’m not dumb enough to say them aloud or tell my mother the real reason Patrick and I split. The facts wouldn’t matter. Not with my mother. She’d simply accuse me of being at fault, commitment-phobic, irresponsible—take your pick—then send Patrick some sort of fruit basket to apologize for my poor behavior.

Absently, I flipped the butter knife back and forth against the crisp linen tablecloth. “We decided to see other people.” Partially true.

When Cassidy Presley Tanner Halpern Rossi Browning Johnstone, former rising star of the Metropolitan Opera, got curious, she was like the proverbial dog with a bone. “That’s ridiculous. The only time people say that is when they already have another person to see. Is that it? Did you cheat on Patrick?” She put her hand on her throat. “Oh, Finley, tell me you didn’t cheat on him with that rental cop.”

That “rental cop” was Liam McGarrity. Tall, dark, yummy, still-involved-with-his-ex-wife Liam McGarrity. “He’s a private detective, Mom. Not some mall security guard.”

“He might as well be,” she argued. “You’ve gotten into quite a few mishaps thanks to that man.”

I really wanted to stick a fork in my eye. Thank God our lunch was arriving and I could eat instead of resorting to self-mutilation. “I solved two murder cases,” I reminded her, quite proud of myself, even if she wasn’t.

“Which you have no business doing,” she said as she picked up her fork. “If you really wanted to do some good, you’d have gone on to law school and worked within the system. Look at your sister. You don’t see Lisa getting mixed up with uneducated riffraff.”

I love my sister. I really do. If only she weighed three hundred pounds, screwed up once in a while, and sat around watching TV all day while eating bonbons. Then I’d love her even more. I couldn’t compete with my sister on any level. I stopped trying when I was five. “She’s a pediatric oncologist, Mom. I don’t think there’s a lot of riffraff in peds intensive care.”

“Don’t take that tone with me,” she warned. “Not when I’m about to do you a generous favor.”

My definition of a favor and my mother’s definition of a favor were completely different animals. In fact, I had no doubt that if asked, my mother would claim that commenting on my weight was an amazing act of kindness. As were her constant taunts about my failure to measure up in comparison to my sister. Lisa is my younger sister. She is faultless to a fault—if that’s even possible. She’s a successful doctor who’s about to marry into one of Atlanta’s wealthiest families. Hell, by the time she’s thirty, Lisa will have discovered a cure for cancer and donated her findings for the betterment of all mankind. Me? My life has been reduced to surfing eBay and watching
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BOOK: Fat Chance
12.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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