Authors: E C Sheedy
One Tough Cookie
EC Sheedy as Carole Dean
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© 1993, 2011 by Edna Sheedy
Cover and eBook design by eBook Prep (www.ebookprep.com)
And to George and Betsy Millar,
my neighbors, my supporters, and my friends.
(Oh, and Maddy, too!)
Taylor looked at the number on the door for the third time. Eight. Right number.
He sure as hell hoped not.
He tried again and the lock gave. He was in.
Dropping his luggage, he pocketed the key and groped blindly for a light switch. To the right? Wrong. To the left and not working.
"Figures," he muttered, before starting across the dark room—carefully. Unless Danny boy had changed his ways, the room was a minefield of sneakers, clothes, camera equipment, and pizza boxes.
"Damn!" The coffee table shin kicked him just as he found a small lamp.
He turned on the lamp and looked around. One quick scan told him he was in the right place. Clutter City. Only Daniel Monroe would live like this.
Distinctive, eclectic, he would say.
Taylor would say a bloody mess.
It had taken him two years to find and refurbish his own West Side apartment in New York. This run-down second-floor condo on Spain's Costa del Sol wasn't for him. No way.
He coughed, then swallowed to ease his dry, scratchy throat. He needed a drink. On route to the tiny kitchen, he sidestepped a broken tripod and switched on another lamp. The fridge yielded beer, bottled water, some suspicious-looking milk, and something labeled
jugo de naranja.
The words meant nothing to him, but the color said orange juice. He took a swallow and gasped.
The damn stuff burned like a lye cocktail. Massaging his throat with his free hand, he traded the juice for water. Water in hand he headed for the scruffy sofa. He sat down heavily, loosened his tie, and took a good look around the room.
What a dump!
Even if you could ignore its inglorious state of disrepair, the place wasn't big enough to swing a kitten. But that hadn't deterred Dan from filling every inch of it with—Taylor tried to think of a description—stuff. He knew most of it, miscellaneous jugs, bottles, tiles, and—he picked up a piece of fabric resting on the littered coffee table—black lace would be represented in the dozens of unframed photographs on the wall. He shook his head at the chaos. That Danny traded a potential partnership in a successful business for this was a mystery to him.
Well, Dan, it's adios, Espana for you. You're coming home if I have to drag you. You're too much like dear old Dad for your own good.
Their father… dreamer, occasional cab driver, and general all-round do-little, maker of big plans and even bigger disappointments. Following his star, he called it. Trouble was the damn star was always over the next hill, in the next town. And while he chased it, their mother supported two sons by pushing a laundry wagon down an endless labyrinth of hospital corridors. Taylor loathed the idea his younger brother had inherited their father's instability—his wanderlust.
His gaze fell on the photographs covering the walls. Dan's photographs. They were damn good, sure, but a thousand of them wouldn't buy a hamburger let alone pay the rent. It was responsibility time and past time for Dan to come home. He was twenty-five years old. There was a position open for him in the company, and he was going to take it if Taylor had to haul him back in chains.
He glanced at his watch. Almost one a.m.
Letting his head fall back against the sofa, he closed his eyes. His damned throat felt like an acupuncture test site. Just your luck, Monroe, your first trip to sunny Spain, and you bring a New York cold. Not that it mattered. This wasn't exactly a vacation. As soon as he got Dan right side up, he'd be on the next flight stateside.
He stood up, rotated his cramped shoulders, and stretched. The weariness in his bones held fast. He was beat and, for the first time, glad Dan hadn't been there to meet him.