<DIV><DIV><P>Plum Spooky. Copyright © 2008 by Evanovich, Inc. All rights reserved.</P><P> </P><P>1</P><P><B>ONE</B></P><P>Sometimes you get up in the morning and you know it’s</P><P>going to be <I>one of those days</I>. No toothpaste left in the</P><P>tube, no toilet paper on the cardboard roll, hot water cuts</P><P>out halfway through your shower, and someone’s left a</P><P>monkey on your doorstep.</P><P>My name is Stephanie Plum, and I’m a bail bonds enforcement</P><P>agent for Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. I live in</P><P>a one- bedroom, one- bath, unremarkable apartment in a</P><P>three- story brick box of a building on the outskirts of</P><P>Trenton, New Jersey. Usually I live alone with my hamster,</P><P>Rex, but at eight- thirty this morning, my roommate</P><P>list was enlarged to include Carl the Monkey. I opened</P><P>my door to go to work, and there he was. Small brown</P><P>monkey with long, curled tail, creepy little monkey fingers</P><P>and toes, crazy, bright monkey eyes, and he was on a</P><P>leash hooked to my doorknob. A note was attached to his</P><P>collar.</P><P>Hi! Remember me? I’m Carl and I belong to</P><P>Susan Stitch. Susan is on her honeymoon and</P><P>she knows you’ll take good care of me until</P><P>she returns.</P><P>First, let me say that I’ve never wanted a monkey. Second,</P><P>I barely know Susan Stitch. Third, what the heck am I</P><P>supposed to do with the little bugger?</P><P>Twenty minutes later, I parked my Jeep Wrangler in front</P><P>of the bonds office on Hamilton Avenue. At one time, the</P><P>Wrangler had been red, but it had seen many lives before it</P><P>fell into my hands, and now it was far from primo and the</P><P>color was motley.</P><P>Carl followed me out of the car and into the office, hugging</P><P>my pants leg like a two- year- old. Connie, the office</P><P>manager who looked like a big Italian Betty Boop, peered</P><P>around her computer.</P><P>Lula, the office file clerk and wheelman, stood hands</P><P>on hips. “That better not be what I think it is,” Lula said,</P><P>eyeballing Carl. “I <I>hate</I> monkeys. You <I>know</I> I hate monkeys.”</P><P>“It’s Carl,” I told her. “Remember when we busted Susan</P><P>Stitch for failing to appear? And remember her monkey,</P><P>Carl?”</P><P> </P><P>“Yeah?”</P><P>“Here he is.”</P><P>“What are you doing with him?”</P><P>“He was attached to my doorknob with a note. Susan</P><P>went on a honeymoon and left him with me.”</P><P> “She got a lot of nerve,” Lula said. “Where’s he go to the</P><P>bathroom? You ever think of that?”</P><P>I looked down at Carl. “Well?”</P><P>Carl blinked and shrugged. He looked at Lula and Connie,</P><P>curled his lips back and gave them a gummy monkey</P><P>smile.</P><P>“I don’t like the way he’s lookin’ at me,” Lula said. “It’s</P><P>creepy. What kind of monkey you got here anyway?”</P><P>Lula is a former ’ho, and she’s only moderately altered</P><P>her wardrobe to suit her new job. Lula somehow manages</P><P>to perform the miracle of squeezing her plus- size body</P><P>into petite- size clothes. Her hair was blond this week, her</P><P>skin was brown as always, her spandex tube dress was poison</P><P>green, and her shoes were four- inch, spike- heeled,</P><P>faux leopard Via Spigas. It came as no surprise that the</P><P>monkey was staring at Lula. <I>Everyone</I> stared at Lula.</P><P>I didn’t command that much attention in my jeans, girlcut</P><P>red T-shirt, gray sweatshirt, and inadequate swipe of</P><P>lash- lengthening mascara. Not only did I feel like a bran</P><P>muffin in a bakery case filled with eclairs, I was also the only</P><P>one not packing a gun. My eyes are blue, my hair is brown,</P><P>and my favorite word is <I>cake</I>. I was married for ten minutes</P><P>in another life, and I’m not inclined to repeat the mistake</P><P>anytime soon. There are a couple men in my life who tempt</P><P>me . . . just not with marriage.</P><P>One of those tempting men is Joe Morelli. He’s a Trenton</P><P>cop with bedroom eyes, and bedroom hands, and</P><P>everything else you’d want to find in your bedroom is top</P><P>of the line. He’s been my off- again, on- again boyfriend</P><P>for as long as I can remember, and last night he was onagain.</P><P>The second guy in my life is Carlos Manoso, aka Ranger.</P><P>Ranger’s been my mentor, my employer, my guardian angel,</P><P>and he’s gotten as intimate with me as a man can get, but</P><P>Ranger has never totally qualified as a boyfriend. Boyfriend</P><P>might suggest an occasional date, and I can’t see Ranger going</P><P>there. Ranger is the sort of guy who slips uninvited into</P><P>a girl’s dreams and desires and refuses to leave.</P><P> </P><P> </P><P>“What’s happening with Martin Munch?” Connie asked</P><P>me. “Vinnie’s in a rant over him. Munch is a big- ticket bond.</P><P>If you don’t drag his ass into court by the end of the month,</P><P>our bottom line won’t be good.”</P><P>This is the way things work in the bail bonds business. A</P><P>guy gets accused of a crime, and before he’s released back</P><P>into society, the court demands a security deposit. If the</P><P>accused doesn’t happen to have $50,000 under his mattress</P><P>to give to the court, he goes to a bail bonds agent and</P><P>that agent posts the bond for the accused for a fee. If the</P><P>accused doesn’t show up for his court date, the court gets</P><P>to keep the bondsman’s money until someone like me hauls</P><P>the accused back to jail.</P><P>My ferret- faced cousin Vinnie owns the bonds office on</P><P>paper, but he’s backed by his father- in- law, Harry the Hammer.</P><P>If Vinnie writes too many bad bonds and the office</P><P>runs in the red, Harry isn’t happy. And you don’t want a</P><P>guy with a name like Harry the Hammer to be unhappy.</P><P>“I’ve been looking for Munch all week,” I said to Connie.</P><P>“It’s like he’s dropped off the earth.”</P><P>Martin Munch is a twenty- four- year- old genius with a</P><P>doctorate in quantum physics. For what ever reason, Munch</P><P>went postal on his project manager, riding him like Man</P><P>O’War, breaking his nose with a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee</P><P>mug, knocking him cold. Moments later, Munch was caught</P><P>on a security tape as he left the research lab cradling a oneof-</P><P>a-kind monster cesium vapor magnetometer. What ever</P><P>the heck that is!</P><P>Munch was arrested and booked, but the magnetometer</P><P>was never recovered. In a moment of insanity, Vinnie wrote</P><P>a bond for Munch, and now Munch is playing hard to get</P><P>with his contraption.</P><P>“This is a white- collar guy,” Connie said. “He hasn’t grown</P><P>up in a crime culture. His friends and family are probably</P><P>horrified. I can’t see them hiding him.”</P><P>“He hasn’t got a lot of friends and family,” I told her.</P><P>“From what I can determine, he has neighbors who have</P><P>never spoken to him, and the only family is a grandmother</P><P>in a retirement home in Cadmount. He was employed at</P><P>the research facility for two years, and he never socialized.</P><P>Before that, he was a student at Princeton, where he never</P><P>got his face out of a book.</P><P>“His neighbors tell me a couple months ago a guy started</P><P>visiting Munch. The guy was a little over six feet tall, with</P><P> </P><P>an athletic build and expensive clothes. He drove a black</P><P>Ferrari and had shoulder- length black hair and pale, almost</P><P>white skin. Sometimes Munch would leave with him</P><P>and not come back for several days. That’s the whole enchilada.”</P><P>“Sounds like Dracula,” Lula said. “Was he wearing a</P><P>cape? Did he have fangs?”</P><P>“No one said anything about a cape or fangs.”</P><P>“Munch must have come in when I was out sick last</P><P>week,” Lula said. “I don’t remember him.”</P><P>“So what was it?” I asked her. “The flu?”</P><P>“I don’t know what it was. My eyes were all swollen, and</P><P>I was sneezing and wheezing, and I felt like I had a fever. I</P><P>just stayed in my apartment, drinking medicinal whiskey</P><P>and taking cold pills, and now I feel fine. What’s this Munch</P><P>look like?”</P><P>I took his file from my Prada knockoff messenger bag and</P><P>showed Lula a photo.</P><P>“Good thing he’s a genius,” Lula said, “on account of he</P><P>don’t have much else going on.”</P><P>At five- feet- two- inches tall, Munch looked more like fourteen</P><P>than twenty- four. He was slim, with strawberry blond</P><P>hair and pale freckled skin. The photo was taken outdoors,</P><P>and Munch was squinting into the sun. He was wearing</P><P>jeans and sneakers and a SpongeBob T-shirt, and it occurred</P><P>to me that he probably shopped in the kids’ department.</P><P>I imagine you have to be pretty secure in your</P><P>manhood to pull that one off.</P><P>“I’m feeling hot today,” Lula said. “I bet I could find that</P><P>Munch. I bet he’s sitting home in his Underoos playing</P><P>with his whatchamacallit.”</P><P>“I guess it wouldn’t hurt for us to check out his house one</P><P>more time,” I said. “He’s renting one of those little tiny row</P><P>houses on Crocker Street, down by the button factory.”</P><P> “What are you gonna do with the monkey?” Lula wanted</P><P>to know.</P><P>I looked over at Connie.</P><P>“Forget it,” Connie said. “I’m not babysitting a monkey.</P><P>Especially not <I>that</I> monkey.”</P><P>“Well, I don’t let monkeys ride in my car,” Lula said. “If</P><P>that monkey’s going with us, you’re gonna have to drive</P><P><I>your</I> car. And I’m sitting in the back, so I can keep an eye</P><P>on him. I don’t want no monkey sneaking up behind me</P><P>giving me monkey cooties.”</P><P>“I’ve got two new skips,” Connie said to me. “One of</P><P>them, Gordo Bollo, ran over his ex- wife’s brand- new husband</P><P>with a pickup truck, twice. And the other, Denny</P><P>Guzzi, robbed a con ve nience store and accidentally shot</P><P>himself in the foot trying to make his getaway. Both idiots</P><P>failed to show for their court appearances.”</P><P>Connie shoved the paperwork to the edge of the desk.</P><P>I signed the contract and took the files that contained a</P><P>photo, the arrest sheet, and the bond agreement for each</P><P>man.</P><P>“Shouldn’t be hard to tag Denny Guzzi,” Connie said.</P><P>“He’s got a big ban dage on his foot, and he can’t run.”</P><P>“Yeah, but he’s got a gun,” I said to Connie.</P><P>“This is Jersey,” Connie said. “Everyone’s got a gun . . .</P><P>except you.”</P><P>We left the bonds office, and Lula stood looking at my car.</P><P>“I forgot you got this dumb Jeep,” Lula said. “I can’t get</P><P>in the back of this thing. Only Romanian acrobats could</P><P>get in the back of this. I guess the monkey’s gotta ride in</P><P>back, but I swear he makes a move on me, and I’m gonna</P><P>shoot him.”</P><P>I slid behind the wheel, Lula wedged herself into the</P><P>passenger- side seat, and Carl hopped into the back. I adjusted</P><P>my rearview mirror, locked onto Carl, and I swear it</P><P>looked to me like Carl was making faces at Lula and giving</P><P>her the finger.</P><P>“What?” Lula said to me. “You got a strange look on</P><P>you.”</P><P>“It’s nothing,” I said. “I just thought Carl was . . . never</P><P>mind.”</P><P>I drove across town, parked in front of Munch’s house</P><P>on Crocker Street, and we all piled out of the Jeep.</P><P>“This here’s a boring- ass house,” Lula said. “It looks like</P><P>every other house on the street. If I came home after having</P><P>two cosmopolitans, I wouldn’t know which house was</P><P>mine. Look at them. They’re all redbrick. They all have the</P><P>same stupid black door and black window trim. They don’t</P><P>even have no front yard. Just a stoop. And they all got the</P><P>same stupid stoop.”</P><P>I glanced at Lula. “Are you okay? That’s a lot of hostility</P><P>for a poor row house.”</P><P>“It’s the monkey. Monkeys give me the willies. And I</P><P>might have a headache from all that medicinal whiskey.”</P><P>I rang Munch’s doorbell and looked through sheers that</P><P>screened the front window. Beyond the sheers, the house</P><P>was dark and still.</P><P>“I bet he’s in there,” Lula said. “I bet he’s hiding under</P><P>the bed. I think we should go around to the back and look.”</P><P>There were fifteen row houses in all. All shared common</P><P>walls, and Munch’s was almost dead middle. We returned</P><P>to the Jeep, I rolled down the street, turned left at the corner</P><P>and took the alley that cut the block. I parked, and we</P><P>all got out and walked through Munch’s postage- stamp</P><P>backyard. The rear of the house was similar to the front. A</P><P>door and two windows. The door had a small swinging</P><P>trapdoor at the bottom for a pet, and Carl instantly scurried</P><P>inside.</P><P>I was dumbstruck. One minute, Carl was in the Jeep,</P><P>and then, in an instant, he was inside the house.</P><P>“Holy macaroni,” Lula said. “He’s fast!”</P><P>We looked in a window and saw Carl in the kitchen,</P><P>bouncing off counters, jumping up and down on the small</P><P>kitchen table.</P><P>I pressed my nose to the glass. “I have to get him out.”</P><P>“Like hell you do,” Lula said. “This here’s your lucky day.</P><P>I say finders keepers.”</P><P>“What if Munch never returns? Carl will starve to</P><P>death.”</P><P>“I don’t think so,” Lula said. “He just opened the refrigerator.”</P><P>“There has to be a way to get in. Maybe Munch hid a</P><P>key.”</P><P>“Well, someone could accidentally break a window,”</P><P>Lula said. “And then someone else could crawl in and beat</P><P>the living crap out of the monkey.”</P><P>“No. We’re not breaking or beating.”</P><P>I rapped on the window, and Carl gave me the finger.</P><P>Lula sucked in some air. “That little fucker just flipped</P><P>us the bird.”</P><P>“It was probably accidental.”</P><P>Lula glared in at Carl. “Accident this!” she said to him,</P><P>middle finger extended.</P><P>Carl turned and mooned Lula, although it wasn’t much</P><P>of a moon since he wasn’t wearing clothes to begin with.</P><P>“Oh yeah?” Lula said. “You want to see a moon? I got a</P><P>moon to show you.”</P><P>“No!” I said to Lula. “No more moons. Bad enough I just</P><P>looked at a monkey butt. I don’t want your butt burned</P><P>into my ret i nas.”</P><P>“Hunh,” Lula said. “Lotta people paid good money to</P><P>see that butt.”</P><P>Carl drank some milk out of a carton and put it back into</P><P>the refrigerator. He opened the crisper drawer and pawed</P><P>around in it but didn’t find anything he wanted. He closed</P><P>the refrigerator, scratched his stomach, and looked around.</P><P>“Let me in,” I said to him. “Open the door.”</P><P>“Yeah, right,” Lula said. “As if his little pea brain could</P><P>understand you.”</P><P>Carl gave Lula the finger again. And then Carl threw the</P><P>deadbolt, opened the door, and stuck his tongue out at Lula.</P><P>“If there’s one thing I can’t stand,” Lula said, “it’s a showoff</P><P>monkey.”</P><P>I did a fast walk- through of the house. Not much to see.</P><P>Two small bedrooms, living room, single bath, small eat- in</P><P>kitchen. These houses were built by the button factory after</P><P>the war to entice cheap labor, and the button factory didn’t</P><P>waste money on frills. The houses had been sold many</P><P>times over since then and were now occupied by an odd assortment</P><P>of se nior citizens, newly marrieds, and crazies.</P><P>Seemed to me, Munch fit into the crazy category.</P><P>There were no clothes in the closet, no toiletries in the</P><P>bathroom, no computer anywhere. Munch had cleared out,</P><P>leaving a carton of milk, some sprouted onions, and a halfempty</P><P>box of Rice Krispies behind.</P><P>“It’s the strangest thing,” Lula said. “I got this sudden</P><P>craving for coffee cake. Do you smell cinnamon? It’s like</P><P>it’s mixed up with Christmas trees and oranges.”</P><P>I’d noticed the scent. And I was afraid I recognized it.</P><P>“How about you?” I asked Carl. “Do you smell cinnamon?”</P><P>Carl did another shrug and scratched his butt.</P><P>“Now all I can think of is cinnamon buns,” Lula said. “I</P><P>got buns on the brain. We gotta go find some. Or maybe a</P><P>doughnut. I wouldn’t mind a dozen doughnuts. I need a</P><P>bakery. I got cravings.”</P><P>Everyone vacated the kitchen, I locked the back door,</P><P>and we all piled into the Jeep. I found my way to Hamilton</P><P>and stopped at Tasty Pastry.</P><P>“What kind of doughnut do you want?” I asked Lula.</P><P>“Any kind. I want a Boston Cream, a strawberry jelly, a</P><P>chocolate- glazed, one of them with the white icing and</P><P>pretty colorful sprinkles, and a blueberry. No, wait. I don’t</P><P>want the blueberry. I want a vanilla cream and a cinnamon</P><P>stick.”</P><P>“That’s a lot of doughnuts.”</P><P> “I’m a big girl,” Lula said. “I got big appetites. I feel like</P><P>I could eat a million doughnuts.”</P><P>“How about you?” I asked Carl. “Do you need a doughnut?”</P><P>Carl vigorously shook his head <I>yes</I> and jumped up and</P><P>down in his seat and made excited monkey noises.</P><P>“It’s creepy that this monkey knows what we’re saying,”</P><P>Lula said. “It’s just not right. It’s like he’s a alien monkey or</P><P>something.”</P><P>“Sometimes Morelli’s dog, Bob, knows what I’m saying.</P><P>He knows <I>walk</I>, and <I>come</I> and <I>meatball</I>.”</P><P>“Yeah, Tank knows some words, too, but not as many as</P><P>this monkey,” Lula said. “Of course, that’s ’cause Tank’s the</P><P>big, strong, silent type.”</P><P>Tank is Lula’s fiancé, and his name says it all. He’s</P><P>Ranger’s right- hand man, second in command at Ranger’s</P><P>security firm Rangeman, and he’s the guy Ranger trusts to</P><P>guard his back. To say that Tank is the big, strong, silent</P><P>type is a gross understatement on all accounts.</P><P>Fifteen minutes later, we were in the Jeep and we’d eaten</P><P>all the doughnuts.</P><P>“I feel a lot better,” Lula said. “Now what?”</P><P>I looked down at my shirt. It had powdered sugar and a</P><P>big glob of jelly on it. “I’m going home to change my shirt.”</P><P>“That don’t sound real interesting,” Lula said. “You could</P><P>drop me at the office. I might have to take a nap.”</P><P> </P><P> </P><P> </P><P><B>TWO</B></P><P>I parked my Jeep in the lot behind my apartment building,</P><P>and Carl and I crossed the lot and pushed through</P><P>the building’s rear entrance. We took the elevator to the</P><P>second floor, and Carl waited patiently while I opened my</P><P>door.</P><P>“So,” I said to him, “do you miss Susan?”</P><P>He shrugged.</P><P>“You do a lot of shrugging,” I told him.</P><P>He studied me for a moment and gave me the finger.</P><P>Okay, so it wasn’t a shrug. And giving and getting the finger</P><P>is a way of life in Jersey. Still, getting the finger from a</P><P>monkey isn’t normal even by Jersey standards.</P><P>My apartment consists of a small entrance foyer with</P><P>hooks on the wall for coats and hats and handbags. The</P><P>kitchen and living room open off the foyer, a dining area is</P><P>tucked into an extension of the living room, and at the</P><P>other end is a short hallway leading to my bedroom and</P><P>bathroom. My décor is mostly what ever was discarded by</P><P>relatives. This is okay by me because Aunt Betty’s chair,</P><P>Grandma Mazur’s dining room set, and my cousin Tootie’s</P><P>coffee table are comfortable. They come to me infused</P><P>with family history, and they give off a kind of gentle energy</P><P>that my life is sometimes lacking. Not to mention, I</P><P>can’t afford anything else.</P><P>I hung my tote on one of the hooks in the foyer and stared</P><P>down at a pair of scruffy men’s boots that had been kicked</P><P>off and left in the middle of the floor. I was pretty sure I recognized</P><P>the boots, plus the battered leather backpack that</P><P>had been dumped on Tootie’s coffee table.</P><P>I walked into the living room and stared down at the</P><P>backpack. I blew out a sigh and rolled my eyes. Why me? I</P><P>thought. Isn’t it enough that I have a monkey? Do I really</P><P>need one more complication?</P><P>“Diesel?” I yelled.</P><P>I moved to the bedroom, and there he was, sprawled on</P><P>my bed. Over six feet of gorgeous, hard- muscled, slightly</P><P>tanned male. His eyes were brown and assessing, his hair</P><P>was sandy blond, thick, and unruly. His eyebrows were</P><P>fierce. Hard to tell his age. Young enough to be lots of</P><P>trouble. Old enough to know what he was doing. He was</P><P>wearing new gray sweatsocks, tattered jeans, and a faded</P><P>T-shirt that advertised a dive shop in the Caicos.</P><P>He rolled onto his back and smiled up at me when I</P><P>came into the room.</P><P>“Hey,” he said.</P><P>I pointed stiff- armed to the door. “Out!”</P><P>“What, no kiss hello?”</P><P> “Get a grip.”</P><P>He patted the bed next to him.</P><P>“No way,” I said.</P><P>“Afraid?”</P><P>Of course I was afraid. He made the Big Bad Wolf look</P><P>like chump change.</P><P>“How do you always manage to smell like Christmas?” I</P><P>asked Diesel.</P><P>“I don’t know. It’s just one of those things.” The smile</P><P>widened, showing perfect white teeth, and crinkle lines</P><P>appeared around his eyes. “It’s part of my appeal,” he said.</P><P>“You were in Martin Munch’s house earlier today, weren’t</P><P>you?”</P><P>“Yeah. You came in the back door, and I went out the front.</P><P>I would have hung around, but I was following someone.”</P><P>“And?”</P><P>“I lost him.”</P><P>“Hard to believe.”</P><P>“Are you sure you don’t want to roll around on the bed</P><P>with me?”</P><P>“Rain check,” I told him.</P><P>“Really?”</P><P>“No.”</P><P>Here’s the thing with Diesel. I’d be crazy not to want to</P><P>take him for a test drive, but I’ve already got two men in</P><P>my life, and that’s actually one too many. Truth is, I’m a good</P><P>Catholic girl. The faith has always been elusive, but the guilt</P><P>is intractable. I’m not comfortable having simultaneous intimate</P><P>relationships . . . even if it’s only for a glorious ten</P><P>minutes. And Diesel isn’t a normal guy. At least that’s his</P><P>story.</P><P>If Diesel is to be believed, there are people living</P><P>among us with abilities beyond normal. They look just like</P><P>anyone else, and most hold normal jobs and live relatively</P><P>normal lives. They’re called Unmentionables, and some</P><P>are more unmentionable than others. From what I’ve</P><P>seen, Diesel is about as unmentionable as a guy could get.</P><P>Diesel travels the world tracking Unmentionables who’ve</P><P>gone to the dark side, and then he pulls the power plug. I</P><P>don’t know how he accomplishes this. I’m not even sure</P><P>I believe any of it. All I know is, one minute he’s here, and</P><P>then he’s gone. And when he leaves, the barometric pressure</P><P>improves.</P><P>Diesel stood and stretched, and when he stretched,</P><P>there was a tantalizing flash of skin exposed between shirt</P><P>and low- riding jeans. It was enough to make my eyes glaze</P><P>over and my mouth go dry. I struggled to replace the</P><P>image with thoughts of Morelli naked, but I was only partially</P><P>successful.</P><P>“I’m hungry,” Diesel said. “What time is it? Is it lunch -</P><P>time?” He looked at his watch. “It’s after noon in Greenland.</P><P>Close enough.”</P><P>He ambled out of the bedroom and into the kitchen,</P><P>where Carl was sitting on the counter, staring into Rex’s</P><P>aquarium.</P><P>“What’s with the monkey?” Diesel asked, his head in the</P><P>refrigerator.</P><P>“I’m babysitting.”</P><P>Diesel gathered up some cold cuts and sliced cheese</P><P>and turned to me. “You don’t strike me as especially maternal.”</P><P>“I have my moments.” Admittedly not very many, but</P><P>probably they’re just waiting for the right time to pop out.</P><P>Diesel found bread and made himself a sandwich. “He</P><P>got a name?”</P><P>“Carl.”</P><P>Diesel flipped Carl a slice of bread and Carl caught it</P><P>and ate it.</P><P>“Are you a monkey man?” I asked Diesel.</P><P>“I can take ’em or leave ’em.”</P><P>Carl shot Diesel the finger, and Diesel gave a bark of</P><P>laughter. Diesel ate some sandwich and looked my way.</P><P>“You two must get along great. You taught him that, right?”</P><P>“What are you doing here?” I asked.</P><P>“Visiting.”</P><P>“You never just visit.”</P><P>Diesel got a Bud Light from the fridge, chugged it, and</P><P>wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “I’m looking</P><P>for a guy who has been known to hang with your friend</P><P>Munch.”</P><P>“Does this guy drive a black Ferrari and have long black</P><P>hair?”</P><P>“Yes. Have you seen him?”</P><P>I shook my head. “No. I’ve talked to Munch’s neighbors,</P><P>and apparently he was Munch’s only visitor. Munch didn’t</P><P>have much of a social life.”</P><P>“What kind of leads do you have?” Diesel asked.</P><P> “The usual. Nothing. And you?”</P><P>“I tracked my man to Munch’s house but missed him by</P><P>minutes. I’ve been trying to tag him for over a year. He can</P><P>sense my approach, and he moves on before I get too close.”</P><P>“He’s afraid of you.”</P><P>“No. He’s enjoying the game.”</P><P>“His name?”</P><P>“Gerwulf Grimoire,” Diesel said.</P><P>“Wow, that’s a really bad name.”</P><P>“This is a really bad guy. And he wields a lot of power.</P><P>Somehow he connected with Munch, and now they’re</P><P>palling around together with Munch’s magnetometer.”</P><P>“Why was What’s-his- name in Munch’s house?” I asked</P><P>Diesel.</P><P>“Gerwulf Grimoire, but he goes by Wulf. I suppose</P><P>he went back to get something. Or maybe he was playing</P><P>with me. The house was clean when I got there. I followed</P><P>Wulf’s breadcrumbs to Broad Street, and then they disappeared.”</P><P>“Breadcrumbs?”</P><P>“Cosmic debris. Hard to explain.”</P><P>“Do I leave cosmic debris?”</P><P>“Everyone leaves it. Some people leave more than others.</P><P>Wulf and I leave a lot because we’re dense. We both</P><P>carry high energy.”</P><P>“That’s weird.”</P><P>“Tell me about it,” Diesel said. “You should walk in <I>my</I></P><P>shoes.” He crossed to the foyer, took my bag off its hook,</P><P>and stuck his hand in.</P><P> “Hey!” I said. “What are you doing?”</P><P>“I want to read your case file on Munch.”</P><P>“How do you know it’s in there?”</P><P>“I know. Just like I know you’re wearing a pink lace</P><P>thong, and you think I’m hot.”</P><P>“How? What?” I said.</P><P>“Lucky guess,” Diesel said, pulling the file out of my bag,</P><P>scanning the pages.</P><P>“I do <I>not</I> think you’re hot.”</P><P>“That’s a big fib,” Diesel said.</P><P>“I can save you some time,” I told him. “There isn’t anything</P><P>in Munch’s file. Only a grandmother.”</P><P>“Then let’s talk to the grandmother.”</P><P>“I’ve already talked to her.”</P><P>Diesel shoved his feet into his boots and laced up. “Let’s</P><P>talk to her again.”</P><P>I changed my shirt, and we headed out.</P><P>“Your car or mine?” I asked him when we got to the lot.</P><P>“What are you driving?”</P><P>“The Jeep that used to be red.”</P><P>“I like it,” Diesel said.</P><P>“What are <I>you</I> driving?”</P><P>“The hog.”</P><P>I looked over at the black Harley. No room for Carl, and</P><P>it would wreck my hair. “Probably it’s easier to follow cosmic</P><P>dust when you’re on a bike,” I said.</P><P>Diesel settled himself into the Jeep’s passenger- side seat</P><P>and grinned at me. “You don’t really think there’s cosmic</P><P>dust, do you?”</P><P>I plugged the key into the ignition. “Of course not. Cosmic</P><P>dust would be . . . ridiculous.”</P><P>Diesel hooked an arm around my neck, pulled me to</P><P>him, and kissed me on the top of my head. “This is going to</P><P>be fun,” he said.</P></DIV></DIV> <BR><BR><i>Continues...</i> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>Plum Spooky</b> by <b>Janet Evanovich</b> Copyright © 2009 by Janet Evanovich. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.