At first, Vince was stunned. The news of Valero Tyngman's nefarious demise would shock the small town to its very core. His three companies supplied gainful employment to eighty percent of Hayerton's residents.
So much so that it would be the only thing on anybody's lips for the entire summer. And Vince had heard nothing. He glowered a little and asked, "Are you shining me, Joanne?"
She crossed her arms and stuck out her surgically-enhanced chin while she regarding him as one might regard a three-legged street dog with the mange, "Why would I do that, you ass? A comic gesture about my deceased, beloved father just to get me back into your loving arms once again?"
Vince pondered the depths of her sarcasm and replied, "It didn't sound quite so snarky in my fantasies, but yeah, something like that."
Joanne spat and whirled on her Stuart Weitzman-clad heels, giving Vince not only the cold shoulder but also a fair view of her exquisite backside as well.
"Okay, I'm sorry. Your father dying isn't funny at all. I'm a shitheel for implying as much," he apologized.
At that, Joanne turned partially with a scornful frigidity in her exotic lavender eyes, a baleful laser beam aimed directly over her shoulder at Vince, "Yes. You are."
"All right, look... come sit at my desk. My chair is new and comfortable and I'm reasonably sure it won't offend you too much."
Vince led her around the corner to his desk, which really wasn't a desk at all but rather a place to store his computer. Investigations weren't done with legwork anymore, they were done with research. And three quarters of the time Vince was able to solve a case without so much as putting on a robe. He showed her the chair while he himself paced around the room with his hands on his hips.
"No disrespect, Jo, but I was hesitant to believe you for one basic reason. Realize it or not, your dad is kind of a bigwig around these parts and I'm quite certain his murder would make the noon newscast, you know what I mean? There's no way you can cover it up."
"He's not dead yet," she sighed.
"Well... maybe you should call an ambulance instead of coming over here to talk to me."
"Imbecile! He's been poisoned. Yesterday he was feeling weak, shortness of breath, a couple of other symptoms. I was worried it was his heart so I called his doctor, but when Dr. Roggers came over he ran some tests and discovered that Father's insides are shutting down."
"There are illnesses --" Vince offered, but Joanne shot that down with a sharp shake of her head.
"No. The way his organs are failing is not natural. Dr. Roggers ran some preliminary toxicology stuff and discovered there is an abundance of some rare chemical in Daddy's blood which can only be delivered into the bloodstream via hypodermic methods.
"He flew in some specialists last night from Finland. They arrived this morning, so they haven't had the chance to do a full workup. But they estimate he'll be dead within the day."
"That sounds kind of far-fetched. I'm pretty sure your old man would notice somebody jabbing a syringe into his ass."
"Exactly. That's why I need you."
She didn't say "That's why I'm here" or "That's why I contacted you."
I need you.
Vince shivered inwardly at those simple, subtle, secretly seductive words and said, "I'll take the case."