“It’s your fault,” he was saying for the fourth—or was it the fifth?—time since they’d agreed to meet at Sig’s house, which was kind of a dump, really, at this god-awful hour in the morning. Five AM, because she had a meeting with her trainer at six and a full day stretched out in front of her?

So she’d agreed to come to this . . . fixer-upper. Sure the house was in LA, and that was something, she supposed, but it was tiny, probably no more than eight hundred square feet, enough for Sig and his damned dogs, built in that cute Old California Spanish style, but it was going to seed. Not that Sig wasn’t trying to improve it. There were ladders and paint buckets and sheets of plastic creating new walls or taking the place of old ones, she couldn’t really tell which. It was weird, that was all, and Sig, almost chain-smoking, was angry, upset, and a physical wreck. He looked like he’d dropped fifteen pounds since the last day of filming for Dead Heat. Ineesha was always impressed when someone was able to peel off some weight, but in Sig’s case, it was a tad too much.

“My fault,” she repeated, picking her way between paint cans and nearly stepping on some little fluff of fur that growled at her. God, the dog couldn’t weigh five pounds, but it snarled and snapped as if it thought it was an alpha wolf. “How’s that?”

Advertisement

He picked up the growling little beast and petted its tiny head. It was comical, really, this tall man, over six-two, gently stroking the mottled Chihuahua or whatever it was. “You were in charge of the props. They were your responsibility! Now the cops . . . they think I did it. Oh, fuck, I did do it, but I didn’t mean to.” He drew hard on his cigarette. Set the dog down. It scuttled away to peer out between the sheets of Visqueen suspiciously. “Lucinda Rinaldi?” he asked, as if Ineesha didn’t know who the woman was. “She’s going to sue me. Well, probably you, too.”

“I can’t stop that.”

“How the hell were the guns switched? How the hell was there live ammo in a prop gun?”

“I don’t know.”

“But you should! It’s your goddamned job!”

This was getting them nowhere and was a huge waste of time. “So I’ve heard. Look, Sig, what’s done is done. I can’t explain it and I can’t do anything about Lucinda Rinaldi or her lawyer. But I can try to keep my cool and I suggest you do the same.”

-- Advertisement --

“But I’m innocent!” he cried and from somewhere in the back, possibly the kitchen, came a deep-throated “woof” that made Ineesha jump. Whatever was hiding back there was definitely not a Chihuahua.

“For Christ’s sake, aren’t you even worried? I mean, I almost killed a woman. Shit, shit, shit!” Over the smell of paint, Ineesha caught a whiff of alcohol.

She should never have come here.

She should have followed her attorney’s advice and kept mum about everything.

She didn’t want the cops digging around in her life as she did have a couple of old drug charges that had been dogging her for years. For the love of God, when would people quit reminding her of a couple of mistakes fifteen fucking years ago!

Her blood pressure started to elevate and she decided she’d stop by the gym on the way home. If intense exercise didn’t calm her down, then there was yoga and meditation, if, at this time of night she could get her instructor . . . Georges the Gorgeous as she silently called him . . . to help her equilibrium.

First things first though. She had to escape this death trap of paint fumes, hidden Cujos, and a big man who looked about to snap. God knows what he could do. She took a step backward and ran into a metal ladder. Jesus, this was nowhere to be.

“Look, try and calm down, Sig. This will all sort itself out.”

“How?”

“I don’t know, but it will.”

“How do you know?”

“Okay. You got me. I don’t.”

“Right.” He looked around for an ashtray, found an empty roller pan and frantically jabbed out his filter-tip.

“What else can we do? You’ve got a lawyer.”

“Yeah, and he’s costing me an arm and a leg. They’re all bloodsuckers!”

-- Advertisement --