To Catch a Bad Guy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To
Catch a Bad Guy

(Book
One of the Janet Maple Series)

 

By

Marie
Astor

 

 

To
Catch a Bad Guy

by

Marie
Astor

Copyright
2012 Marie Astor

Excerpt
from
Catching the Bad Guy
copyright 2013 Marie Astor

 

All rights reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system,
or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of
both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

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

 

Website:
www.marieastor.com

Facebook:
Author Marie Astor

Twitter:
@marieastor

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Janet Maple took a deep
breath while she waited for her train to arrive. She was twenty-nine years old,
but this morning she felt like a first-grader. The same sickening feeling
churned her stomach that she remembered when she first entered a room full of
strangers as a five-year-old. She was much older now – a professional with a
law degree to boot, and, until recently, with a successful career at the
District Attorney’s office, but today none of these things gave her comfort or
confidence.

It was not merely the
prospect of starting a new job that gave Janet the heebie-jeebies, but it was
the fact that she would be working for Lisa Foley. Talk about stirring up old
insecurities… Lisa Foley had been the queen bee in high school. Come to think
of it, Lisa was still the queen bee. Every time Janet talked to her best friend
from high school, Lisa never failed to bring back ‘the old glory days’ as she
called them. With friends like Lisa, who needed a time machine? One could
always count on Lisa’s sharp memory to recall every embarrassing incident of
adolescence.

Well, the past is the
past, Janet thought. I should be thankful to Lisa for giving me a job. When
your former boss also happens to be your ex-boyfriend, the subject of
references becomes dicey to say the least. Regardless of how stellar one’s
background looks on paper, employers always want references, but Lisa had hired
Janet without any references. In fact, Lisa’s phone call had come with
unsettlingly perfect timing. Just as Janet was about to give up all hope of
white-collar employment, her old friend had come to the rescue. That was
another one of Lisa’s remarkable qualities: for as long as Janet had known her,
her friend seemed to have a radar for people’s misfortunes. In high school,
Lisa was always the first to know who got dumped, who didn’t make the cut on
the football team, and whose parents got laid off. So it was not surprising
that Lisa knew about Janet’s being “downsized” by the District Attorney’s
office, and when she offered her a job as Assistant General Counsel at Bostoff
Securities, Janet literally jumped at the chance.

“Janie! Come in, come
in!” Lisa rose from behind her long mahogany desk and opened her arms in an
offer of a hug.

“Hi, Lisa.” Janet
stooped for an air kiss. At five seven, Janet was no giant, and her weight was
smack in the middle of the healthy range for her height. But at five two and
ninety five pounds, Lisa made everyone feel as though they were towering over
her.

“Sit, sit.” Lisa waved
her hand at the leather chair opposite her desk. “I’m so excited that we’ll be
working together – it’s going to be just like old times.”

“I’m really glad to be
here, Lisa, and thank you again for giving me the job.”

“That’s what friends
are for, right? To help each other out when you’re down in the dumps,” Lisa
answered her own question. “So, how was your orientation?”

When Janet started her
employment at the DA’s office, there had been a rigorous four-week orientation
to initiate her and fellow law school recruits into the intricacies of the
Assistant District Attorneys’ job responsibilities. But here, at the Bostoff
Securities, the orientation only resembled the process by its title – the
entire affair had taken scarcely thirty minutes, as Janet was shoved into a
tiny room for her photo ID picture and given a thick binder with the company
forms to sign. Janet supposed she was an experienced attorney now, and it was
time she started acting like one around Lisa.

“It went well; I got
all this paperwork to complete.” Janet raised the thick folder she’d been given
at the orientation.

“Don’t worry about
that; it’s just your generic HR stuff. What time is it now?” Lisa fumbled with
her Cartier watch. “Perfect timing; we’re going to lunch. But first, let me
show you to your office.” Lisa slid from behind her desk. As usual, she looked
spectacular: her navy pinstriped suit seemed to have been made for her
miniature body (and it probably had been), her four-inch Louboutin stilettos
elongated her slender legs, and her pixie cut emphasized the perfect features
of her face. She looked like a corporate version of Winona Ryder.

As Janet followed Lisa
down the hall, she made a conscious effort to resist her urge to stoop; let
Lisa stand on the balls of her feet instead.

“Our offices are on the
same floor as the trading floor,” Lisa explained over her shoulder as she wove
her way down the mahogany-lined hallway. “But there’s a shortcut through here,
so that you don’t have to enter the trading floor unless you need to. And I’ll
be honest with you, I try to avoid it as much as I can. It’s a veritable zoo
out there.” Lisa paused, indicating that they had arrived. “Ta-daa!” Lisa flung
the door open and ushered Janet into the spacious room.

Janet bit her lip with
remorse. If her office was any indication of her employment at Bostoff
Securities, she owed Lisa an eternal debt of gratitude. The size of the room
was about twice the size of Janet’s digs when she worked for the DA, and it
even had a window! Having an office with a window had been a sign of great
recognition in the DA’s elaborate hierarchy. Granted, Janet had been only a few
steps away from getting to this high honor before Alex snatched everything she
had worked for four years of her life, but all that was history now, as were
the long hours she’d put into her investigation, the credit Alex took for her
work, and Alex himself.

“You like?” Lisa asked.

Janet snapped out of
her reverie. Being caught daydreaming was not a good way to start her first
day. “I love it, Lisa. Thank you.”

“I bet it beats that DA
dump you’ve been slaving away at. I still can’t understand what possessed you
to go there. You were always such an idealist.”

Lisa did have a point
there: Janet was an idealist. Correction, Janet had been an idealist. For four
years, she had toiled away as Assistant District Attorney at the New York
Office for a minimum salary, but as ridiculous as it sounded, money was not the
reason why she had pursued a career in law. She had wanted to help the wronged
and go after the bad guys, like the guys who had stripped her retired
grandfather of every penny he had ever earned, sending him into fatal cardiac
arrest. But when the results of your investigation are handed over to your boss
to take credit for, and you’re sent packing, it becomes hard to remain an
idealist; and so far, employment at Bostoff Securities was proving to be a very
comfortable reality.

“So, you’re ready for
lunch? I must say you’re looking very dapper in this suit of yours.”

“Thanks.” Janet
blushed, aware that her boxy brown suit was nowhere near as elegant as Lisa’s.
But, on a positive note, with her salary bump at Bostoff Securities, she would
finally be able to move past the one hundred dollar suit racks she’d made a
habit of frequenting at J.C. Penney.

“You might want to let
your hair down, though.”

“What’s wrong with my
hair?” Janet clasped her French twist protectively. She had spent nearly forty
minutes this morning putting up her hair.

“Oh, it’s perfectly
fine if you’re going for that tough prosecutor look, but if you’re looking to
get a guy interested…” Her hand reached for Janet’s hair. Lisa’s four-inch
heels made them almost equal in height.

“I wasn’t aware I was
being set up on a date.” Janet lips knitted into a prim line – a lifelong
involuntary reaction to irritation. Sure, Lisa was the boss, but that did not
give her the right to control her employees’ looks and personal lives.

“Oh, come off it.” With
a swoop of her hand, Lisa plucked a handful of pins from Janet’s hair, undoing
her tightly knotted French twist. “There.” Lisa stood back and eyed Janet
appraisingly. “Much better.”

Janet ran her hand over
her hair. It was full of kinky waves from being wound up in a twist.

“Do you mind telling me
what’s going on?” Janet struggled to keep her voice level for the sake of job
security.

“I got you a date, you
silly! Well, it’s not exactly a date…” Lisa retracted.

Janet made a mental
effort to shut her mouth, as her jaw was having a hard time taking this much
obnoxiousness without dropping.

“Calm down, will ya?”
Lisa continued. “It’s a business lunch: we’re meeting Tom Wyman at Aquavit. Tom
is a really nice guy, and he’s not too shabby in the bringing home the bacon
department either, if you know what I mean. He’s a partner at Ridley Simpson.”

“Look, Lisa, I really
appreciate your thinking of me, but I’m not looking to date anyone at the
moment. I just got out of a relationship, and I want to take it easy for a
while…”

“Please. It’s me you’re
talking to – your best friend since forever.”

And now my boss. Janet
forced a smile.

“The last thing you
want after,” Lisa paused, making a quotation sign with her fingers, “‘getting
out of a relationship’ is to take it easy. Just because you’re working for me
does not mean that things have to change; I always got you dates in high
school, didn’t I?”

Yes, you did, Janet
thought, even when I didn’t ask you to.

Lisa glanced at her
watch. “We’d better get a move on. A man like Tom Wyman should not be kept
waiting. Put some makeup on, and let’s go.”

Janet raked through her
handbag for her makeup case. She obediently ran a powder puff over her face and
applied a quick coat of lipstick to her lips. Then she ran her comb through her
hair in an attempt to tame it – a futile effort, since she still looked like
she had just ridden a motorcycle without a helmet. Oh, well. At least her wild
hair would compensate for her overly conservative outfit.

 

***

 

Bostoff Securities was
located on Park Avenue and Fifty Third Street, and Aquavit, the restaurant for
the rendezvous with Tom Wyman, was on Fifty Fifth Street, between Madison and
Park. Despite her monstrous heels, Lisa nimbly maneuvered her way down the
street, while Janet struggled to keep up in her kitten pumps. After four years
of working downtown, midtown felt like a foreign country: she’d forgotten how
touristy and crowded the streets there could get.

“Ah, here we are.” Lisa
motioned at the screened restaurant entrance.

Just as they were about
to go inside, a man smoking nearby hurried to open the door for Lisa – a
concrete demonstration of the power Lisa had been wielding over men ever since
she had entered her teens.

Inside, the décor was
Nordic minimalism, with wooden paneling accompanied by slender white fixtures
hanging low from the ceiling. It was Monday afternoon, and the atmosphere was
all business: financial and advertising types sporting expensive suits loitered
by the bar, waiting for their clients.

“There is a reservation
for three under Tom Wyman,” Lisa addressed the hostess.

“Oh, yes.” A rail-thin
blonde smiled at them. “Mr. Wyman is already here.”

“Lisa!” A velvety
baritone called from across the room. A man rose from his seat by the bar and
walked toward them.

“Tom, so wonderful to
see you!” Lisa leaned in for an air kiss exchange. “So sorry we are late.”

“Nonsense, good company
is worth waiting for.” Tom grinned.

“You’re such a
charmer.” Lisa batted her eyelashes.

She’s flirting with
him, Janet felt a sting of irritation. She was not even interested in this Tom
Wyman character, but, in spite of herself, she was hot with resentment. Lisa’s
behavior was reminiscent of all those teenage double dates Janet had endured,
with Lisa flirting away with the very guys Lisa had supposedly invited as
Janet’s dates. Sure, Janet was much older now, but when it came to her
friendship with Lisa, other than the number of candles on her last birthday
cake, not much had changed.

“Tom, Tom Wyman.” Tom’s
eyes locked in on Janet’s as he extended his hand. Coiffed was the word to
describe him. Everything about this man was polished: his manner of speech, his
silky dark eyes, his curly black hair, which was carefully slicked back, and
his tailored outfit of Brooks Brothers suit and pink shirt with onyx cufflinks.

“Janet Maple.” Janet
blinked, sensing Tom’s smooth, manicured fingers wrap around her hand.

“Janie just started
working for me today,” Lisa cut in.

Janet nodded
good-naturedly. She hated it when Lisa called her Janie – the diminutive was
reserved for family only, but somehow, years ago, when Lisa had overheard
Janet’s mother call her Janie, she had picked it right up and Janet never had
the heart to tell her to stop.

“Some would say never
hire your best friend, but I’m of a different opinion. Janie and I are the best
of friends, and I know that we’ll get along splendidly at the office.”

Tom let go of Janet’s
hand and looked at Lisa, bemused. “Well, Lisa, from what you’ve told me about
Janet, she is going to be a great asset to the firm.”

Janet beamed him a
smile. She did not know much about this Tom Wyman character, but she could have
kissed him on the spot for putting Lisa back in her place.

As if reading Janet’s
mind, or more likely her facial expression, Tom said, “Columbia Law School
graduates rarely come clamoring for employment, especially those who graduated
magna cum laude.”

Other books

Arizona Heat by Ellie J. LaBelle
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Newton's Cannon by J. Gregory Keyes
Gasp (Visions) by Lisa McMann


readsbookonline.com Copyright 2016 - 2022