The woman who opened the front door of our office was immaculate. She was perfectly dressed in a custom made suit. The handbag she held in one hand had a designer label, and the matching shoes were spotless. Her jewelry consisted of a diamond watch, diamond earrings, and a large diamond on her ring finger. Her hair and makeup were flawless and her creamy skin, smooth and wrinkle free. Everything about her screamed money.
In contrast, I was dressed in my usual uniform of blue jeans, black t-shirt, and black tennis shoes. The tennis shoes had a designer label but only because I needed shoes that provided exceptional support and held up under unusual conditions. My jewelry consisted of only a watch with a simple black band. I wore little makeup over my lightly tanned skin, and my dark auburn hair was a short pixie cut that took little or no grooming.
The woman closed the door behind her, looked around a little disdainfully, and took a step forward. Claire and I exchanged a look. We didn’t have any appointments scheduled. Occasionally we get walk-ins, but they are rare. My agency, Lost and Found Pets, is housed in the two front rooms of my home. You have to know where we are to find us.
The office is actually one large area that was formally the living and dining rooms. I had the place converted to house my agency. Claire and I both have a desk and two chairs for clients. On Claire’s side, there is a small play area for children while my side has a small sofa near the front window.
Our guest turned to Claire whose desk is a little closer to the door than mine. Claire is my complete opposite. She is short and just a little chubby. She has long blond hair, pretty blue eyes, and a sweet smile. Her bubbly personality comes through with every word she speaks. She is friendly, kind, and supportive. I am none of those things.
Claire glanced at me briefly but gave the woman a professional smile. She is much better with people than I am.
“May I help you?” she asked.
“Are you Alexandra Prescott?” the woman asked. Her voice sounded exactly as I expected. The words were spoken in a snotty, condescending tone. Her attitude was starting to piss me off.
“Nope, that’s me,” I said in a careless tone. My social skills are not the best. I don’t like small talk and pointless conversation. Usually I simply state the facts and move on. I can follow the social norms if needed. I just seldom see the need.
Claire cocked her head and discreetly made a face. My childhood had been rough. I met Claire the year I came to live with my aunt after the death of my drug-addicted mother. Nora and Claire helped me heal and deal with the aftereffects of my mother’s treatment. They also tried to get me to be more sociable. Nora passed away five years ago, but Claire continues the quest. Laughing silently, I managed a polite smile for the woman.
“How may I help you?”
“I’m Grace Carmichael. Micah Parks referred me to you. I need you to find my son’s cat.”
A shot of adrenaline rushed through me. Micah Parks is a conceited, arrogant, asshole. He also runs one of the most successful private investigation agencies in town. His clients are the wealthiest in the area, and his cases typically involve large dollar, white collar crimes.
I had met Micah back when I had been working as a private investigator for another agency. My boss at the time, Eddie Hill, owned a small firm. He had hired me as an intern, which allowed me to get my private investigator’s license. Eddie is soft-spoken, quiet, and one of the best people I know. I learned more from Eddie than I did from anyone else. He retired a few years ago, but we keep in touch.
The case I had been working on for Eddie conflicted with one The Parks Agency was conducting. When Micah had insisted on a meeting with my boss, Eddie had taken me with him. Micah had attempted to scare Eddie off the case, and when intimidation didn’t work, he had attempted to bribe him. Eddie was small time, but he had no intention of bowing down to the big man. We solved the case, and Micah had taken notice. After I left Eddie to start my own specialty agency, Micah had offered me a job. I had turned it down but gave him one of my cards. That had been over five years ago.
A referral from Micah Parks was gold. Lost and Found Pets is a small agency. I’m not looking to grow bigger, but expanding my clientele to a new group of people is always important. I don’t often get repeat customers. We do have one or two clients whose pets are escape artists, but most of the people who come to us only need to use us once. We get a lot of referrals from our clients but always need new customers. Especially ones with money.
Most of my clients were well off but not considered wealthy. They have money to spend but not the kind of money that flowed in the circles Micah Parks inhabited. The fact he had sent Grace Carmichael to me was a surprise. We hadn’t parted on the best of terms, and I thought he had forgotten all about me.
Pointing to the chairs in front of my desk, I studied Grace as she settled in her seat. The woman had to be in her forties but looked ten years younger. Her blonde hair was expertly groomed, her lips full and discreetly colored, and her body thin and toned. But I’m an expert at reading people. The hair was dyed, the eyes tucked, and the lips injected. Grace Carmichael paid a good deal of money to look the way she did.
“You said you needed us to find a cat?” I asked.
“Yes,” Grace replied. “Sammie. She is a Savannah that belongs to my son. I need you to find her.”
A Savannah is a fairly rare cat. It is a cross between a domestic cat and a serval, which is a medium-sized wild African cat. I’ve only seen one, but he had been beautiful. They have been gaining in popularity, but they are extremely expensive. They are also very large for a cat. Somehow it didn’t surprise me that the Carmichaels had one.
“We can certainly try to find Sammie, Mrs. Carmichael.”
“Micah said his firm did not conduct searches for pets,” she said haughtily, “but he assured me you were the best. Otherwise, I would not be here.”
For a moment, I wanted to slap her down. I forced myself to think about the consequences of turning away a referral from Micah Parks. He wouldn’t be pleased, and he could certainly make my life difficult. If I accepted and did a good job, more referrals could come my way. Not accepting wouldn’t be a smart move.
“You can leave,” I said nonchalantly. So much for being smart.
The Lost Savannah is the second novella in the Lost and Found Pets series. Alexandra Prescott is a licensed private investigator specializing in finding missing animals. Reuniting pet and owner is more than just a job.
Alex is hired to find a lost Savannah, a rare and expensive cat breed. She quickly discovers the cat isn’t just missing. The cat was stolen. The main suspect is the next door neighbor who is obsessed with Savannahs and the game of golf.
Soon Alex discovers a black market ring in the world of fanatic Savannah cat breeders. She has to dust off her rusty investigative skills to solve the mystery of the lost Savannah.