Home > Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1)(8)

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1)(8)
Janet Evanovich, Phoef Sutton

Maxine looked past Emerson to Werner, who nodded his assent.

“Do you have any idea where Günter has gone?” Emerson asked Maxine.

“No,” she replied, shaking her head.

“Do you think he embezzled money and ran off with it?”

She shook her head again, more emphatically this time. “No. I know that’s what everyone is saying. But I can’t believe it. Not Günter. He’d just been given a new responsibility. He’d gotten everything he always wanted.”

“Everything?” Emerson asked.

“Well, everything within reason,” she said. “He’d just gotten back from a business trip to New York. He said it was going to make or break him. He was on the verge of something tremendous. He wouldn’t run out now.” She glanced over at Werner, and the line of her mouth tightened. “He is a good man.”

“Do you have any further questions for Ms. Trowbridge?” Werner asked Emerson.

“Not at the moment.”

Werner stepped away from Maxine’s office.

“I should tell you that Günter had not recently been given new responsibilities,” Werner said to Emerson. “And the New York trip was one of those long weekends he took. He wasn’t on company business.”

Emerson nodded. “Understood. I’m off to find Günter. I’ll report back when I’ve located him.”

“Wait,” Werner said. “Take Moonbeam with you.”

“Moonbeam?” Emerson asked.

“That’s what we call Miss Moon here,” Werner told him. “We all have nicknames.”

“What’s yours?”

“Everyone but me.”

“I’ll find a nickname for you,” Emerson said.

“Please don’t.”

“And why would I take Miss Moon with me?”

Werner shrugged. “You could use an assistant. Riley is good with people.”

“And I’m not?” Emerson asked.

“I didn’t say that. But now that you’ve said it, no, you’re not.”

“I can’t argue with that. Personal interaction has never been my forte.”

“Well, then, this is your girl. She can talk to anybody, can’t you, Riley?”

Riley had never before had a panic attack, but she thought she felt one coming on. Werner was giving her away. He was moving her out of the office. Had she just been fired?

“Trust me,” Werner said. “She could talk a dog off a meat truck. She’ll be a great girl Friday for you.”

“I’m not entirely comfortable with this,” Riley said.

“Person Friday then,” Werner corrected himself. “Aide-de-camp.”

Emerson turned to Riley. “What do you say, Miss Moon? Do you want to be my amanuensis?”

Riley had no clue what that meant. She made a mental note to look it up when she had the chance. She hoped it wasn’t just a fancy word for chauffeur.

“Is this a permanent reassignment?” Riley asked Werner.

“Absolutely not,” Werner said. “I’m sure this search will take only a few days, and you’ll be back at your desk.”

“We’ll begin tomorrow morning at seven o’clock at my house,” Emerson said to Riley.

Riley made an effort not to grimace. Seven o’clock in the morning? “Sure,” she said. “Seven o’clock. Do you want me to drive you home now?”

“Of course.”

“I need a moment with Moonbeam,” Werner said to Emerson.

Emerson turned on his heel and strode off to the elevator. “I’ll be at the car.”

Riley followed Werner into his office and waited until the door was closed before she spoke.

“Sir, I’m so sorry,” she said. “He insisted we come here.”

“You did the right thing. He needed reassurance that his assets were being protected. And now he’s going to be occupied by this wild goose chase, so it all worked out perfectly.”

“Do you think he can find Günter?”

“Not for a moment. Just keep me in the loop, and we’ll all be happy, Moonbeam.”

Riley squared her shoulders. She didn’t like being called Moonbeam. And she didn’t especially like her new assignment.

Werner watched Riley leave his office. He hoped he’d chosen wisely. She had two advanced degrees from Harvard but no street cred. She needed Blane-Grunwald to pay off her loans and push her up the corporate ladder. He had her pegged as psychotically ambitious, and he was counting on her to sell her soul for a shot at the corner office. If it turned out otherwise, he might have to kill her.

Riley caught up with Emerson at the car. He was leaning against the right front quarter panel, eyes closed, lost in thought. Probably having an out-of-body experience, Riley thought. Or maybe he was convening with aliens from another solar system.

“Hey,” she said. “What’s up?”

“I’m waiting,” Emerson said.

“For?”

“For you.”

“Of course.”

She unlocked his door and ran around to the driver’s side. She plugged the key into the ignition and backed out of Günter’s space. “Just exactly what is it you expect me to do?” she asked.

“Drive my car.”

“Anything else?”

“I tend to forget details that aren’t important to me. I would expect you to remember them. You might even record them, amanuensis style.”

Crap, Riley thought. There was that word again.

She drove through the bustling streets of Washington, through the pastoral woods of Rock Creek, and up the long driveway to Mysterioso Manor.

“Would you like to take the Bentley home with you?” Emerson asked.

“Nice of you to offer, but no. The Bentley is lovely, but the Mini gets better gas mileage. It’s more environmentally responsible. It’s the car I picked out as the wisest for my new life in Washington.”

“I thought you bought the Mini because it was the only car that would fit in your assigned parking space.”

“That too.”

Riley’s apartment was on Monroe Street in the Mount Pleasant section of Northwest D.C. It was a tiny one-bedroom flat that occupied the entire third floor of a converted Victorian built in 1907. The plumbing sounded considerably older. The radiator clanged, the water pipes gurgled, and she lived in fear of the toilet exploding.

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