Chapter One of The Breakfast Club Murder by Camilla T. Crespi
The Park Avenue doorman stepped out into the wind-swept rain and blew his whistle while the tall couple waited in the comfort of the wood-paneled lobby.
Tomorrow, Saturday, Robert Staunton— the new owner of Apartment 7J and a partner in the law firm of Bellows, Stein, Jeffreys and Berne— was going to be married to thin, beautiful and successful Valerie Fenwick, D.D.S., a woman he had met while she drilled holes in his teeth. Many hundreds of dollars and dental sessions later, Rob had emerged from her care with healthy teeth and a great desire to sleep with her, which he succeeded in doing, as he succeeded in most things he set his sights on. The idea of marrying her only came up a year and half later when he got careless and his wife of twenty years, Lori Corvino Staunton, found out.
“You should get the car,” Valerie said as they left the lobby, tossing her slithery blond mane for emphasis. They were late for the dinner Rob’s partners were throwing for them at Nobu57. “We’ll never get a cab in this weather.”
“The garage is four blocks away,” Rob said. Sitting through dinner with wet feet would probably give him a cold. “And I’ll never find a place to park.”
Valerie gave Rob’s chest a soft punch. “I can’t believe I’m marrying such a wuss.” She waved to the doorman whose name she hadn’t bothered to learn. “Forget the cab.” She wrapped her black silk raincoat around her and started sprinting to the corner in her high-heeled sandals.
“Val, what are you doing?” Rob shouted, suddenly feeling abandoned.
The doorman joined him under the protection of the building’s canopy. “I believe she’s getting the car, sir.”
“Oh, for God’s sake!” Rob ran after Valerie, who was now crossing the dark side street, dodging between a steady stream of cars. Despite the heavy rain, no one was stopping to let her by.
“Come back, Val,” Rob shouted as a gust of drenched wind slapped his face. He plunged into the street toward his fiancée. “Wait up!” Valerie turned, saw Rob coming and slipped under the shallow roof of the open phone booth on the corner to wait for him.
Rob, halfway across the street, turned his head toward two glowing headlights speeding through the rain toward him. He stopped to stare, his brain suddenly empty of all thought.
“Watch out!” Valerie shouted, running toward Rob. He felt the front of his raincoat being yanked. The air behind him whooshed. Tires splashed. As he fell on the curb, a wave of filthy water washed over him.
“You almost killed him!” Valerie shouted at the red tail lights as the car turned and sped down Park Avenue. Still holding on to the lapel of Rob’s raincoat, she contemplated her soon-to-be-husband for moment. Anyone looking at her would have supposed she was having second thoughts. “Honey,” she said finally as she then bent over Rob and helped him to his feet. “You’ve got to watch where you’re going.”
Safely on the sidewalk, Rob tried to wipe his face with his handkerchief. More rain wet it. One knee throbbed. The palms of his hands burned. He felt anger grip his bones, make them brittle. Anger and fear. When he had crossed the street, there had been a wide gap between cars. The car that hit him–well, would have hit him if Valerie hadn’t been so quick to pull him away–the driver had come down on him on purpose, he was sure of it. Was it a warning?
“Did you get the license plate?” he asked Valerie. She shook her head and pulled at his arm. “Come on, honey. I’m getting soaked to the skin.”
Inside the lobby of the apartment building Mike O’Connor, the head doorman, watched the scene with his second in command. He was well aware that duty dictated that he run out with a sturdy umbrella and help the new tenants, but Mike considered himself a shrewd judge of people after years in the business. He had this couple pegged. No matter how much he and his colleagues put themselves out, the Christmas envelope of Mr. Staunton Esquire and his toothpick dentist wife would be meager. Besides, he’d had enough of getting wet for one night.
Lori took a bite. There was nothing more sensual than good food. Sensual. Reassuring. Uplifting. Utterly redeeming. Her tongue pressed the tiny pillows of dough against the roof of her mouth. Butter, Parmesan, creamy tomato slid across her taste buds. Tomorrow it was back to the States and a future punctured with question marks, but now, sitting under a canopy of stars and wisteria in an elegant Roman restaurant, with a breeze lifting the ruffles of the silk dress she had splurged on that afternoon and the best gnocchi she’d ever tasted warming her mouth, Lori thought she was doing just fine.
Praise for The Trouble With series:
The Trouble With A Small Raise
[A] “ thoroughly engrossing whodunit introducing one of the boldest and most likable of female sleuths.”
The Trouble With Thin Ice
“Rich in atmosphere and buoyed by wry wit, Crespi’s briskly paced narrative calls for an encore.”
Publishers Weekly starred review
The Trouble With Going Home
“A triple whammy of reading pleasure.”
The Trouble With A Bad Fit
“A fast-paced thriller. . .Ms. Crespi has an eye for fashion detail that gives the novel a cutting edge.”
New York Times Sunday Book Review
The Trouble With A Hot Summer
“Crespi serves up a tasty dish in which each ingredient enhances the whole while retaining its own flavor.”