Home > Savannah Blues (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #1)(6)

Savannah Blues (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #1)(6)
Mary Kay Andrews

Mrs. Bradley R. Cahoon Jr. reached across the desk and snatched the papers out of his hand. “Never mind. I came here because your mother and my mother were friends. My mother was at your ordination, you know. Right there at the cathedral. I thought a priest would see the right thing to do. Ha! Bernadette Foley would roll over in her grave if she could see you right now, James Foley. Divorce! Shame on you.” She wagged her finger at his face. “Shame.”

James pushed his chair backward, away from that thin, fleshy finger. “Good-bye, Mrs. Cahoon,” he said.

He swiveled the chair around and looked out the dirt-streaked window at the muddy brown Savannah River.

A sleek black tanker glided by, its bulk seeming to dwarf the people and cars on River Street. Japanese registry. The name Shinmoru Sunbeam was painted on the ship’s bow.

He heard the door to his office slam. Good.

He’d had lots of clients like Denise Cahoon since he’d moved back to Savannah from his last church in Naples, Florida. People just wanted to hear what they wanted to hear. And he wasn’t in the penance business anymore.

The door opened again, and he smelled perfume—gardenias this month—and cigarettes.

“Christ!” Janet drawled. “That woman doesn’t get it, does she?”

James swiveled the chair around so that it faced the door again. The river mesmerized him. It always had. He couldn’t get any work done if he could see the river from where he sat. And there was work to be done. Thank God.

Janet had a stack of files in her arms. She piled them on top of the wing chair, then put a pink message slip in front of him on the desk. She ran her fingers through her short, wiry, gray hair, and the cigarette she’d tucked behind her ear fell to the floor. She tried to kick it out of the way, so he wouldn’t see it.

“I thought you were going to quit smoking,” James said, trying to look stern.

“Don’t start,” she warned.

Janet Shinholster was his secretary, oldest friend, and business manager. They’d dated all those years ago, back when he was a cadet at Benedictine and she was at St. Vincent’s. After he’d entered the priesthood, he’d seen her only occasionally until he returned to Savannah from Florida.

They’d had a tentative date or two right after he came back two years ago. There was even some fumbling around on the sofa in Janet’s apartment, until James reluctantly confided his suspicions that he probably wasn’t terribly interested in sex.

“You’re gay,” Janet had said, not acting the least bit surprised. “I understand, James. Totally.”

Her reaction annoyed him, actually. He’d never thought of himself as swishy, not in any way. At all.

“What makes you think that?” he’d demanded.

“You’ve been shut up in a seminary or a rectory your whole life,” Janet said. “Since you were eighteen. And then you quit the priesthood. Just like that. I figured, you know, finally. He’s ready to cut loose. Explore the alternatives.”

“Do I act queer to you?” he’d wanted to know. “Interested in boys? Is that what you thought? That I was one of those priests? A pedophile?”

“Never mind,” Janet had said, turning on the lights and straightening her blouse. “Let’s forget it ever happened.”

What annoyed him even more was that Janet was right. He’d started seeing someone, a year later. Not some faggy little boy-toy. Jonathan was a successful lawyer, chief assistant district attorney. It was all very discreet, except that Janet knew, the first time Jonathan came by the office to take him to lunch. Damned Janet knew everything.

“Weezie called,” Janet said. “She wanted to know if you were busy this afternoon.”

James smiled. His niece was the real reason he’d come back to Savannah. They’d always been close. “You’re the father I never had,” she liked to tease. “The mother too.”

“What’s Weezie up to?” he asked.

Janet shrugged. “She said she was going out to Beaulieu for a memorial service for Anna Ruby Mullinax. Wants you to meet her there, if you don’t have anything better to do.”

“Do I?” James asked, looking meaningfully at the stack of files on the wing chair.

“I think you should go,” Janet said. “Anna Ruby Mullinax knew a lot of people in this town. Influential people. People who need legal work.”

Janet took his blue blazer off the brass coat hook on the back of the door and held it out to him. “You’ll have to wear a necktie, you know.”

He shuddered. It was ninety-six degrees outside, the humidity at 100 percent, as usual.

“And don’t forget to take some business cards with you,” she added. “This is called networking, James.”

Chapter 4

I turned up the air conditioner on the pickup truck and glanced anxiously at the temperature gauge. The needle hovered below “simmer.”

“Just let me get to Beaulieu and then you can go on the fritz again,” I said, giving the dashboard a pat for encouragement.

Before I was divorced, I never talked to inanimate objects. Not out loud. Now I talk to my truck, the toaster, and my bank statement, anything that promises not to talk back or to act snotty. I’ve had a lifetime of snotty.

Jethro’s tail thumped on the vinyl seat. One thing about Jethro, he loves the sound of my voice. “Good boy,” I told him. Thump. Thump. “Sweet, precious boy,” I said. Thump, thump, thump. He was really getting hot and bothered now.

One of Jethro’s best qualities is that he is the least critical dog I have ever known. He loves everybody, hasn’t got a mean bone in his body. I found him one morning right after Tal left, when I was taking my usual predawn curb cruise.

There was a huge mountain of junk in front of a stick-style Victorian somebody was renovating on Habersham. I was poking around, pulling out bits of wooden porch rails, chunks of wrought-iron fencing, even a gorgeous stained-glass window transom, when I heard a faint squeal. I backed away from the pile fast. The squealing continued, too loud even for Savannah’s brashest wharf rats.

I edged closer, kicked aside a length of rusted-out gutter, and saw a little black-and-white wriggling hairball. He had a pink nose with black spots and he was no bigger than a one-pound sack of flour. At first he looked like he was covered with flour. It turned out it was just plaster dust from the junk pile. It was also instant love. I left the stained glass, tucked the puppy and the porch rails under each arm, and ran like a thief back to my carriage house.

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