Nip Tuck Dead
“What the hell is wrong with my nose?”
I couldn’t help shout at my skuzzy boss, Fabio Scarpello, who had just suggested I get a nose job. A nose job!
I looked into the file cabinet to see as much of my profile as I could. Only things I could find in the metal were fingerprints galore and some brown stuff, which I didn’t want to even guess at.
Fabio was a pig in his office, and I’m sure in his private life (and not only with the setting, I might add), but he was the owner of Scarpello and Tonelli Insurance Company and gave me insurance fraud cases to investigate.
In other words, he was my only means of support.
I’d switched careers mid-stream, leaving nursing for snooping. Thing was, darling Fabio always gave me the medical fraud cases. Sure it made sense, but I wasn’t looking for sensible. I was looking to get out of that business! Being single and in my early thirties, I knew I couldn’t keep switching fields and have any kind of retirement. Besides, I loved the investigating. What a rush to solve a case!
I never let the reminder that murders occurred along the way even enter my head.
My heart thudded. Murders!
Oops. Truthfully the “M” word did that to me since I’d come way too close to being one of its victims--several times.
I looked closer at the file cabinet. Fabio’s brown-stained reflection appeared. Yikes.
“No, you don’t need a nose job, doll. But that’s part of the business. Going undercover doesn’t always come easily.” He sucked on the wet, sticky end of his cigar and laughed. “Nope. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to earn some bucks. Besides, I thought any doll would jump at the chance to have something fixed.” His gaze ran down to my legs and back up to my chest--and stayed there. “Rather have a bo--”
“No!” I stepped back. Yuck. No way was I going to discuss my chest with him. “I don’t understand why I need anything done.”
He took a long pull on the cigar, coughed until his face was rotten apple-colored and grinned. “How the hell else are you going to get inside that plastic surgery clinic to do your job?”
I glared at him for a good fifteen minutes. Okay, maybe it was only for a few minutes, but it seemed longer. I knew what was going to come out of my mouth, but I really didn’t want it to. No way. I was not going to say.... “I can go to Highcliff Manor as a--”
My insides dropped to my toes. I couldn’t believe what I’d nearly said. I’d almost offered my medical services, throwing myself back into a burned out career.
Heaven help Pauline Sokol because I obviously couldn’t help myself.
Fabio walked to his desk and shoved a manila folder toward me. “One of my clients, a small company out of Rhode Island, reports an increase in plastic surgery submissions from this one particular clinic. Ones insurance shouldn’t be covering. Smells to high heaven.” He waved the folder at me. “Case number five for you, doll.”
“Stop calling me doll or you’ll be wearing that cigar in your ear--lit.” I stood firm, reached across the pile of old coffee cups and stale donuts on dirty dishes to grab the folder from his hands. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’d had to tell him to stop calling me that nickname, I thought as I grunted, looked at the file and started walking toward the door.
“Make sure you come up with a good reason to go to Highcliff. Those rich bastards are often smart. That’s how some got filthy rich while others got their dough from mommy and daddy. Newport, Rhode Island is filled with money.”
I think he snorted, but my mind was on the file in my hands.
I had to come up with a plan to get inside the clinic? This was a new one. Usually Fabio handed me a case already in the works where I went to investigate as whatever he’d set up. This time, since I’d refused to get any part of me nipped, tucked or mutilated, I was on my own.
But the bonus was that in Newport, being such a posh town, the fraud was exorbitant--and so would be my fee.
And I needed money like a sailboat needed the wind.