Home > Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1)(4)

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1)(4)
Janet Evanovich, Phoef Sutton

“Thank you, but it’s not necessary to talk to Werner about my space,” she said. “Honestly, it’s really not necessary.”

“No problem. Consider it done,” Emerson said. He opened his door, planted a foot on the ground, and wrangled himself out of the Mini. “I’m not comfortable in this. We’ll take one of my cars today.”

Riley did some mental swearing, unfastened her seat belt, and followed after him. The driveway led around the side of the house and ended in a large parking area that backed up to a multi-bay garage. A humongous old Jayco Redhawk Class C motorhome with tinted coach windows was hunkered down in front of the garage. Coming from north Texas, Riley knew her RVs, and she knew this monster slept five and sucked gas faster than you could pump it in.

Emerson walked past the Jayco without so much as a passing glance and rolled one of the garage doors up, revealing a mind-boggling collection of classic cars. Everything from muscle cars, like a ’65 Shelby Mustang, to luxury dreamboats like a ’39 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Cabriolet, to funky little cult cars like the Zastava 750 were lined up row on row in the pristine garage. Bright overhead pin spots bounced light off the polished chrome and glass.

Riley was mesmerized. Her father, when he wasn’t busy being a county sheriff, had spent his weekends tinkering with a ’64 Pontiac GTO. He read automotive magazines, was devoted to NASCAR, and dreamed of owning his own fleet of muscle cars. And Riley, her wild red hair bunched back in a ponytail, had been his pit crew, handing him wrenches and nut drivers and ratchets while he operated on the GTO with the precision of a brain surgeon.

She had inherited her father’s love of old cars, so she looked at this garage the way some women would look at a display of every Manolo Blahnik shoe in existence.

“Oh man,” Riley said.

Emerson dispassionately surveyed the garage. “My father collected things. Wives and cars mostly. Not that he worked on the cars, or even drove them. He just liked to own them. So other people couldn’t, I think.”

He stopped in front of a ’93 Bentley Turbo R. “I guess we could take this one,” he said. “What do you think?” he asked Riley.

Riley would rather have taken the ’74 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that was peeking out from behind the ’69 Dodge Charger Daytona Hemi, but she was too intimidated to voice an opinion.

“This is a beautiful car,” she said, eyeing the butter-soft leather seats and the dashboard of pure, not imitation, walnut.

“It was always Larry’s favorite.”

“Larry?”

“My chauffeur. He used to drive me to school when I was ten.”

When Riley was ten, she was riding her older brother’s bike to Bushland Elementary. At least on those days when she could steal it.

Riley got behind the wheel and took a deep breath. “This is a lot bigger than my Mini.”

“Everything is bigger than your Mini.”

She rolled the engine over, and it purred like an overfed lion. She shifted gears and backed out of the garage, careful to avoid the RV.

“Was that your father’s too?” she asked as they drove past the motorhome.

“It’s Vernon’s. Aunt Myra’s son. My father wouldn’t have been caught dead in one of those. So, naturally, he was.”

“Pardon?”

“Long story. For another day.”

He pulled an iPad from his rucksack and touched an app. A blueprint of the house appeared on the screen. He tapped the screen a few times and gave a small grunt of satisfaction.

“That’s Mysterioso Manor,” Riley said, stealing a glance at the iPad.

“Yes. I was checking my security system. This will inform me, from anywhere in the world, if there’s a break-in.”

Riley turned off the driveway onto Park Road and then onto Walbridge Place. She thought about calling the office and warning them that Emerson was coming in, but decided against it. What good would it do?

She drove down the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway and circled around the Watergate complex, skirting along the Potomac River and past the Kennedy Center.

“About the tent in the library,” Riley said.

“I was wondering how long it would take you to ask.”

“I was trying to be polite.”

“And now?”

“Now I’m asking politely.”

“It’s a very large, complicated house, and I’ve become a person with simple needs. The tent is a more comfortable scale for me.”

“So you basically live in the tent?”

“Correct.”

Riley found it hard to believe he was a person with simple needs since he’d needed to ride in the Bentley.

“And the name of the house?” she asked. “Mysterioso Manor.”

“My great-great-grandfather was something of a Spiritualist,” Emerson said. “He claimed the spirit of Christopher Columbus gave him the name during a séance. Originally ‘Mysterioso’ referred to my great-great-grandfather. When he died, he bequeathed the Mysterioso title to his son.”

“Mysterioso Junior?”

“Just Mysterioso.”

“And are you the fifth-generation Mysterioso?”

“I suppose I am, although I don’t often use it.”

“Too mysterious?”

“Too confusing. Vernon took the Mysterioso name as his nom de plume on his blog.”

“Why don’t you tell Vernon to stop?”

Emerson went still for a moment. “I hadn’t thought of that,” he said.

She knew from his bio that he’d graduated from Dartmouth, so he couldn’t be stupid. Still, she suspected he’d get lost trying to find his way out of a parking lot.

“Truth is, I enjoy Vernon’s blog,” Emerson said. “It’s quite entertaining and every now and then I add my thoughts.” He looked over at Riley. “Do you blog?”

“No.”

He tapped her name into his iPad. “You have a Facebook page.”

“My brother set that up. I don’t know how to quit it.”

“You can’t quit it. It’s there forever. That Mark is such a rascal.”

“Mark?”

“Zuckerberg. Have you heard of him?”

“Of course I’ve heard of him. I suppose he’s a close personal friend?”

“Not close. It says here that you were born in Bishop Hills, Texas. Your mother is a grade school teacher. Your father is a county sheriff, retired. You have four brothers. You’re the youngest. You were a tomboy when you were a child, I think.”

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