The Calamity Janes
Excerpt from book:
"Gina Petrillo has gone where?" Rafe O'Donnell's head snapped up at his secretary's casual announcement.
"Wyoming. She called an hour ago and rescheduled the deposition," Lydia Allen repeated, looking entirely too cheerful.
If Rafe didn't know better he'd think she was glad that this Gina had escaped his clutches. He scowled at the woman who had been assigned to him when he'd first joined the firm, Whitfield, Mason and Lockhart, seven years earlier. At the time, she'd been with the firm for twenty years and claimed that she was always assigned to new recruits to make sure they were broken in properly. She was still with him because she swore that, to this day, he was too impossible to foist off on a less-seasoned secretary.
"Did I say it was okay to reschedule?" he inquired irritably.
"You've been in court all day," she said, clearly un-intimidated by his sharp tone. "We reschedule these things all the time."
"Not so some crook can go gallivanting off to Wyoming," he snapped.
"You don't know that Gina Petrillo is a crook," Lydia chided. "Innocent until proven guilty, remember?"
Rafe held on to his temper by a thread. "I do not need to be lectured on the principles of law by a grandmother," he said, deliberately minimizing whatever legal expertise she might legitimately consider her due.
Typically, she ignored the insult. "Maybe not, but you could use a few hard truths. I've eaten at that restaurant. So have most of the partners in this firm. If you weren't such a workaholic, you'd probably be a regular there, too. The food is fabulous. Gina Petrillo is a lovely, beautiful young woman. She is not a thief."
So, he thought, that explained the attitude. Lydia was personally acquainted with the elusive woman and disapproved of Rafe's determination to link Gina Petrillo to her partner's crimes. As softhearted as his secretary was, she'd probably called Gina and warned her to get out of town.
"You say she's not a thief," he began with deceptive mildness in his best go-for-the-jugular mode. "Mind telling me how you reached that conclusion? Do you have a degree in psychology, perhaps? Access to the restaurant's books? Do you happen to have any evidence whatsoever that would actually exonerate her?"
"No, I do not have any evidence," she informed him with a huff. "Neither do you. But, unlike some people, I am a very good judge of character, Rafe O'Donnell."
Rafe was forced to concede that she was
"Now that Roberto," she continued, "I can believe he's stolen from people. He has shifty eyes."
"Thank you, Miss Marple," Rafe said snidely. "Roberto Rinaldi was not the only one with access to the money."
A good chunk of that money happened to belong to Rafe's socialite mother. She had been taken in by the man's charm. Rafe hadn't explored the exact nature of the relationship, but knowing his mother's track record, it hadn't been platonic. He was no more oblivious to his mother's faults than his father had been before the divorce, but he did his best to keep her from getting robbed blind.
"But Roberto is the one who's missing," Lydia pointed out. "He's the one you should be concentrating on."
"I would if I could find him," Rafe said, not bothering to hide his exasperation. "Which is one reason I want to talk to Gina Petrillo. She just might know where he is. Now, thanks to you, I don't even know where she is."
"Of course you doI told you. She's gone to Wyoming."
"It"Woods...is noted for appealing character-driven stories that are often infused with the flavor and fragrance of the South."