Nick Storie book six: Deadly Routine Collector's edition by CD Moulton - Read Online
Nick Storie book six
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Summary

A woman returns from a trip to Europe. Her no-good husband is murdered shortly after she returnes. She is suspected, but Nick doesn't belive that for one second

Published: CD Moulton on
ISBN: 9781311359346
List price: $2.99
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Nick Storie book six - CD Moulton

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Routine

Prologue

Cassie Holton stepped from the 747 out into the passage tunnel and sighed a heavy sigh.

She hated planes! The big ones, small ones, commercial, jet, prop, and private. She hated them all! If there was any way she could avoid ever getting on another one.... One must adjust to it or one must turn over control of a business one built from an idea and a lot of resistance into a world class conglomerate of ... exactly who the holy hell was she kidding?

One must?

She mustn't start thinking like those snobs she'd spent the past two long weeks tolerating. Cassie Holton did NOT talk like that!

Milt wasn't there. No surprise. He was probably drunk or he would have sent George after her.

That was going to change! This time he sobered up and started acting like a husband or he was history! Enough is enough – and she'd finally come to her senses. She'd had more than enough of Milton Holton! There was no reason in the world she had to put up with him another day.

Now was the time, too. The company was deep in the red because of the expansion, so he wouldn't be able to take her for what he hadn't so much as lifted a finger to earn.

Helped? She'd had to fight him every step of the way! All he wanted was for her to sell the whole mess to that Paris company so he could spend the rest of his life doing exactly what he did anyhow. Laying around HER house or chasing after a bunch of high class sluts!

High class sluts, hell! They were just common cheap street whores. Be realistic about it. He picked them up in bars.

Right! Sell her business to a Paris company owned by a bunch of Japanese who lived in Hawaii! What a sick world we've created. If she had been stupid enough to liquefy her assets he'd soon be gone with every penny.

Okay. She knew he was a bum and a gigolo when she met him and she knew it when she married him. He was so damnably attractive she'd fooled herself into thinking she could hold title to him through marriage. Intellectually, she knew that kind of thing couldn't, wouldn't work. It was doomed from the day the fates threw them together and she knew it. Nothing would ever change the Milts of this world. He was born worthless, lived his life worthless and would die worthless.

He scared her, at times. He'd hit her once and she knew he was capable of far worse. When he was drinking, which was almost all the time, he wasn't rational. He could suddenly become violent. That was never a situation where anyone could feel safe. It was getting steadily worse and would continue to deteriorate. It always did. She read enough about THAT kind of thing! Battered woman syndrome was ONE thing she was not going to allow to happen to her. Getting rid of him was no more or less than necessary self-defense. He HAD physically attacked her.

That was when she should have dumped him. She could have been free of him. It wouldn't have cost much of anything. A quiet divorce in exchange for not dragging his name, such as it was, through the sewer.

If there was a place the miserable sot's name belonged it was damned well in the sewer!

She was dead tired, almost exhausted, and definitely wasn't thinking very pleasant thoughts as she trudged into the dirty baggage pickup area. If he'd had the simple decency to have the car there for her maybe she'd see it differently. Not having it there added to the aggravation of the long flight and her fatigue and depressed mood.

Her bags came around the carousel. She drug them off and onto a dolly. A taxi was by the out doors, so she sighed again and got in. The driver put her bags in the boot – damn it! – the TRUNK and asked, Where to?

Eighteen Palm Lane. Paradise Shores, she replied as she sat back in the filthy seat. The cab smelled of stale cigarettes and sour booze. The air conditioning, if it even had any, definitely wasn't working.

Yes. It was definitely coming to a head with Milton J. Holton. One way or another, it had to end. She'd had enough. You might push Cassie Holton around, to a point, but reach that point and watch out! There wasn't any going back.

There were clouds forming over the gulf and moving rapidly inland. It would probably rain soon. That would add to her miserable mood. Hot and humid and tired and disgusted. What an absolutely perfect day!

Cabbie! First, stop by the Bertram and Hyde Building! she ordered.

Why not? She was in the mood, the company was in the red – at least on paper – and she was fed up with her life as it was going now. It would take a short stop at the company offices and an order to her staff attorneys. She damned well paid them enough that they could do something other than take up space.

Maybe she would liquefy her assets, but she'd very damned well guarantee that Milton Jonathan Holton would NOT get it! What the drunken bum had was what he'd get!

She had the cab wait for the whole three quarters of an hour she was in the offices, then went on home. The cab ride cost her seventy four dollars, but she didn't care. She'd come to a big decision and would need every bit of nerve she could muster to see this through. When Cassie Holton made up her mind, as long as that might take, she would act on her decision.

Muster? She had to stop thinking like them, to stop thinking in those snobbery terms! Cassie Lightfoot Holton didn't talk like that and she wouldn't think like that.

She couldn't hold a line of thought. She was so DAMNED tired!

The car was sitting in the drive. George came to help with her bags and scolded her for not calling him to come to the airport for her. She explained that her husband knew when she was coming and was supposed to have sent the car. She felt it would be faster and easier if she simply took a cab.

George rolled his eyes. It wasn't necessary to tell HIM!

Where IS Milt? she asked George.

In the pool house, I think. He went out there more than an hour ago. I try to avoid him when he's, well....

She nodded and thanked him, then went in to change. She was damned if she was going to him and act like she could stand the sight of him! This would serve to harden her resolve. This time she'd do it! This time it was over! When a thing was due, it must be done!

Maria came in to welcome her back and to ask what she should prepare for dinner. They decided on a simple cheese, asparagus and chicken casserole and lettuce and fruit salad, then Maria went back to the kitchen. Cassie started to go out to the pool house to confront Milt, went to the bottom of the stairs, stopped, thought for a minute, then went out onto the patio. Art, the gardener, saw her, said, Welcome back! and went on out the side gate. He didn't stop to trade gossip, so Milt must be at his asinine worst.

She stopped again, swore and went back inside. She was NOT going to go to him! Not this time! Not yet!

She went to the stairs, turned and started back out. This must stop! Now! She wasn't the kind to waffle around like this! She had to make up her mind once and for all! She had to harden her resolve and she must put a final END to this constant strain! The business was more than enough tension. She wouldn't come home to face even worse every damned day for the rest of her life! It HAD to END!

She made her decision. Time was on her side now.

Mees Cassie! The dinner, she are ready in teen more minute! Maria called.

Cassie sighed and climbed out of the warm tub. She'd been so tired she'd dozed off, so now was a mass of water wrinkles. THOSE, at least, were temporary.

When she came into the main dining room ten minutes later she saw Milt wasn't there (as she'd expected), so told Maria to buzz the pool house.

There was no answer.

I imagine he's drunk! Cassie sighed. Would you mind seeing? If he's passed out just leave him there. I'd rather not have to look at him, anyway!

She watched Maria go out the door. She was fairly sure the girl was pregnant. There was a difference in the way she walked and in her pallor. The light soft fuzz on her upper lip was an indication in some women. She sincerely hoped it wasn't Milt's child. Cassie didn't deceive herself that Milt Holton would miss seducing a girl as pretty as Maria, a girl who was already in a subservient position.

She was damned glad she'd done it! What did she ever see in the disgusting sleazeball?

She heard Maria scream and jumped up to run toward the pool house. Milt was on the sofa. There was blood all over him. Maria was wide-eyed and hysterical.

Strange. She didn't feel anything at all.

Maria! Go to the house! she ordered as she picked up the phone to call the police.

Chapter one

Det. Lt. Nathanial Nick Storie, head night shift homicide detective for the county sheriff's department in Naples, Florida, grinned at the silly young woman sitting across his desk. She'd finished filing her report as an eyewitness in a robbery that went wrong at a convenience store where the clerk had been killed and had glanced up as Lonnie Micks came into the office.

Lonnie was extraordinarily handsome and lived mostly in cut-off jeans. No shoes, no shirt (and the joke was that no one ever said, No service! to Lonnie). The women called him Their Pan, and followed him around.

He seemed unaware of his effect, most of the time, but Nick had learned Lonnie, as a relative of a murder victim said, Enjoys the hell out of it!

This girl was staring in awe at him as he came up to ask if Nick and his wife, Janet, were going to go out to the island with him Saturday. Jim had planned a fish fry for the whole office group and some of their closest friends. Lonnie was taking his boat, so Nick and Jan could ride with him if they liked.

The only way to get to the barrier island was by boat. Nick nodded.

Nick introduced the girl. Lonnie smiled at her and she almost fainted. Nick didn't want to have to tell her that, being only seventeen, she could forget it. Lonnie had a very strict moral code about the women he'd get involved with. They didn't include under legal age or married women. Period.

We're planning to be there, Nick replied. Drums and Annette are coming. Marsha and Hank will be there.

The island was the home of Jim Hill and his wife. Jim was day shift homicide.

Jim had built a place on a barrier island where the group of close friends spent a lot of weekends. Marsha was Sgt. Marsha Blevins, aide and secretary (And the one who actually ran the office) to Capt. James Paddy James, head of violent crimes investigations for the county. Hank was her husband – and the best barbecue chef any of them ever knew.

I suppose Shirley and Fred are still at your place on the island? Lonnie asked. Drums and I want to use it next month for a week or so, okay?

Nick had received a little place on a Caribbean island as a wedding gift from a friend. All of Nick's friends used the place whenever they liked.

Drums was a man very much like Lonnie in looks (but not in the same features, only in personality). He was extremely handsome and uninhibited, with the fact he was the drummer for a famous rock band thrown in. Lonnie and Nick first met him in a case where the band's agent was murdered and they'd become friends. Most of the members of the band now lived in the county.

Nick made new friends easily. Even murderers he caught usually ended up liking him.

Paddy came from his office, one the staff had quickly tagged the Gloom Room. Paddy stood six feet four inches and weighed 265 pounds.

Joan (Paddy's wife) and I vacationed at Nick's little place three months ago, Paddy said. "I'll never forgive myself for almost making him refuse the place! If I could get away with it I'd still be there!

"Ed Goins (Graveyard shift homicide) picked up the two men who shot the store clerk and this young lady positively identified them, so there's nothing outstanding. It should be a quiet enough evening for you. It's slow this time of the year down here, thank god. Now that the tourists are gone we don't get much in the way of murder. I wish we NEVER got many, personally.

Joan's dragging me to one of those society things I can't get out of.

Paddy straightened the case files on Marsha's desk, said his fond goodbyes, waved and left. The girl wouldn't leave so long as Lonnie was there, so Nick eased them out. The girl actually cried when Lonnie got into his old truck to drive off without her.

I never thought I'd ever see anybody who I'd actually crawl around his feet! the girl cried. "He's so NICE! I can't STAND it! Why couldn't he at LEAST be a total asshole?

Oh, GOD! How can you stand to be around him? I mean, oh, God!

You heard him say Drums would be at the island? Nick asked. Did you ever see Not So Hard Times?

I have every album they ever made! It's HIM? HE'S the Drums you meant? Oh, God! I could DIE!

You can picture what it's like on the beach with the two of them. It's a good thing it's only a small private island.

I'll do ANYthing if you'll tell me where it is! Anything! Anything you want!

I can't do that. I know how you women are around them, and I promise you, you're wasting your time.

I know they'd never DO anything with me! I just want to LOOK at them!

Nick grinned and went back in to take a photo from his desk to hand to her. It was Lonnie and Drums on the beach holding Annette on their shoulders in a pyramid.

You have to take Annette with them, Nick pointed out.

She said she wasn't even the least bit jealous. They could have anyone they wanted. They were so beautiful it hurt to even look at a picture of them!

You can have the photo. Annette and Drums are really serious. They might even get married someday soon.