(FROM CHAPTER THREE OF NICE WORK)
"I did not cut this article about local S and M clubs out of ANYthing. I don't even subscribe to the newspaper any more." Jacquidon waved the clipping. "I want to know where this came from, dammit."
"They call it BDSM now. What is that scribbled on the back?" Chantal reached up and snatched the page away, turning it over to reveal a pencil-scribbled notation in the margin.
"Appreciate yr taking care of things for me," she read aloud. "Will make switch at Crave on Wednesday the fourteenth. Thanx, Y." She spelled out "thanx." "Definitely a college grad."
"Let me see that." Jac's stomach was doing gymnastics. She stared at the note. "'Yr' for 'your' is odd enough. But the only person I know who typically spells it 'thanx' is--was--Yancey. And this is Yancey's handwriting; look at the way he makes a dwarfed capital R everywhere there's a lowercase R. That's his, for sure." She sank into a dinette chair.
"Not to mention that it's signed 'Y.' So?" Chantal shrugged. "So that page got stuck in there from something he gave you to work on that got into your car. From last weekend's big project. Whatever."
"No, I didn't have anything left from the project. I gave all that to Bonnie. The car was cleaned out when I went in to work Monday."
Chantal looked doubtful.
"No, really. It was. I'd been to the Mi-T-Fine Car Wash Sunday afternoon. Full service, interior and exterior."
"I thought it looked too shiny." Chantal tilted her head. "Okay, so that's from Yancey. Kind of creepy. But it doesn't matter now."
"But it does! Chou-chou," Jacquidon said, slipping into Chantal's family nickname as the words spilled out, "Yancey was going to meet somebody at Crave on the fourteenth. That's today. And he says he'll 'make the switch.' Maybe this has something to do with the office supply theft ring that David just told me about."
Chantal held up her hands. "Stop. Backfill."
Jacquidon quickly explained what David had told her.
"Maybe that's something that Mr. SCAdian accidentally left behind when he got out of your car. He was taking it to that revel, say. For the edification of the other weirdies."
"They're not weirdos. They're just interested in history." Jacquidon paused. "I hadn't thought of that. Yancey thanking David for a favor . . . hmm."
"Or it could've come from your new boyfriend Fredders."
Jacquidon shot her sister a look. "That's ridiculous. He's just a contractor. He didn't know Yancey." At least she didn't think so.
"Whoever this note was for, they must've met regularly. The note doesn't even say what time to meet. Besides, what's a Crave?"
Jacquidon turned the page over again. "How long do you retain what you read? It's the worst of the sexually oriented businesses that the homeowners associations would like to see run out of this town."
Chantal grabbed the article back. "I guess I kind of skimmed," she admitted. "So let's see. IF this is Yancey's handwriting--"
"Let me finish. Suppose it is, and suppose this piece of paper fell off of that David guy, or came out of your car because someone left it behind in your office--"
"It couldn't have come off my desk. It would have to have come out of the conference room. With my insurance papers. Which stack was it on? Do you remember?"
Chantal bit her lip. "This one, I think." She indicated the stack of insurance and 401K papers. Jacquidon figured she was guessing.
"I didn't see Yancey leave anything behind on the table, but I was upset, so I might not have noticed. All I remember is sweeping the papers up in a stack at the end and marching out of there. So maybe it came from Yancey. That makes more sense."
"Whatever. You see what we have to do?"
"Oh, no." Jacquidon stood and backed away, palms facing her sister. "We can't go to a club like that, even if I'd love to know who he might've been meeting."
"Someone from the company," Chantal enumerated on her index finger. "Someone who had secretive business with Yancey. And someone who might've had some reason to do away with him." She held up two more fingers and bent them backwards with the other palm. "After all, he was thanking them for a favor."
Taking care of things. That could mean . . . anything.
"How bad could the place be? Right here in Renner."
"At the edge of town," Jac said. "In what passes for a red light district here."
"It'll be fun. What shall we wear?"
"We're not going anywhere."
"I need something to eat, and I can't eat THAT." Chantal held her nose and pointed. A disgusting smell leaked from the oven.
Jacquidon opened the oven door, but couldn't even bring herself to stir the mess. She turned the oven off, leaving the icky to deal with later.
Chantal had disappeared, probably into Jacquidon's closet to find suitable costumes for going to a club that was oriented towards . . . what? Jacquidon skimmed again, but the article didn't say specifically.
"Oh, God," she said to the dog. "I can't believe we're going to do this. But I'm hooked. How could it hurt to ask around a little?"
Fala tilted his head and regarded her solemnly.