Authors: Janet Evanovich
The Fox and O’Hare Novels (with Lee Goldberg)
The Stephanie Plum Novels
One for the Money
Two for the Dough
Three to Get Deadly
Four to Score
To the Nines
Ten Big Ones
Eleven on Top
Lean Mean Thirteen
Finger Lickin’ Fifteen
The Between the Numbers Novels
Visions of Sugar Plums
The Lizzy and Diesel Novels
The Barnaby and Hooker Novels
Trouble Maker (graphic novel)
How I Write
Pros and Cons
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
A Bantam eBook Original
Copyright © 2013 by The Gus Group, LLC
© 2013 by The Gus Group, LLC
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Bantam, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
and the rooster colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book
by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.
Cover design: Carlos Beltrán
Cover photograph: Claudio Marinesco
FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare sat in her cramped cubicle at the Federal Building in West Los Angeles and stared at her computer screen. She had an empty Domino’s pizza box shoved into her wastebasket and six empty Coke cans lined up on her desk. A half-empty bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos was filed under “N” in her file cabinet, and her keyboard was gummed up with chocolate crumbs from the pack of Oreos she was currently working her way through. Her brown hair was clipped back in a snarly mess, her white shirt had a small pizza sauce smudge on it, and her blue eyes were narrowed in concentration.
Cosmo Uno looked over the five-foot-high partition that separated his cubicle from Kate’s. Cosmo was two years older than Kate, and two inches shorter. This meant he was thirty-three, 5′ 4″ tall, and had to stand on a box to snoop on her.
“Hey, Katie,” Cosmo said, “What’s shaking? What’s doing? What’s brewing?”
“I’m working,” Kate said, her eyes glued to her screen, not indulging Cosmo by looking at him.
“You shouldn’t be eating all those Oreos. They’re going to make you fat. Maybe I should help you eat them.”
Kate didn’t move her head, but she cut her eyes in his direction. “You make a move on my Oreos and I’ll shoot you.”
“What are you working on? Are you still trying to find Nicolas Fox? Remember when you almost got him in St. Louis, but he disguised himself as a Hall of Fame guy and was doing color commentary in the announcer’s booth at Busch Stadium the whole time you were looking for him? That was a good one. And then there was the time you were sure he was trying to steal a giant
panda from the National Zoo, but Fox escaped through the Reptile Discovery Center. Ryerson was with you on that raid, right? I hear he ran out of the snake exhibit screaming like a little girl. I wouldn’t have screamed. I like snakes. You should take me next time.”
“Okay, I get it. You’re a loner. You’re the Lone Agent. Get it?
The Lone Agent
.” Cosmo gave a snort of laughter. “That’s hilarious.”
Kate slumped in her seat.
“I tell everyone I hit the cubicle jackpot on account of I’m next to you,” Cosmo said. “Most of the agents on this floor are boring, but you always have something good going on with Fox. You know what I think? I think you’re obsessed with him. I bet you even think about him in the shower. I bet you think about him when you go to bed at night. I think you’re hot for him.”
Kate opened her top drawer, removed her Glock, and laid it on her desktop alongside her computer. Cosmo considered the gun for a beat, stepped off his box, and returned to his desk.
“Idiot,” Kate murmured, stuffing another Oreo into her mouth.
For weeks Kate had been surfing newspaper websites and skimming crime reports from various law enforcement agencies. She was looking for big-money thefts and swindles that were audacious, creative, cocky, and self-indulgent, all trademarks of a Nicolas Fox scheme. It was tedious, laborious, utterly unglamorous work, but she hoped if she could get to the scene of Fox’s next crime fast enough, while the tracks were still fresh, she’d have another shot at finally nailing him. She’d been chasing him for three years, and the chase had turned into a game for him, and Cosmo was right, it was an obsession for her. And okay, she thought the guy was kind of cute, and criminally brilliant, but that didn’t mean she was hot for him, did it?
Nicolas Fox, currently posing as Merrill Stubing, wedding planner to the stars, held Caroline Boyett’s hand as he led her out of her fiancé’s Chicago penthouse living room and onto the rooftop garden. The wedding was set to take place on Saturday, only five days away, and Nick was thinking about the placement of guests and principals. Placement was important because Nick’s crew would begin moving through the penthouse relieving Caroline’s fiancé, Milton Royce, of every valuable not bolted into the Carrara marble floors just as Milton’s exhibitionist bride started her slow journey to the altar. Guests would be seated in the garden, positioned in such a way that they would be facing Lake Michigan, their backs to the interior of the penthouse. Only the officiating minister would be staring into the condo, and he was part of Nick’s crew. Milton would also be facing the living room for a short amount of time, but thanks to his bride’s kinky choice of wedding gown, Nick felt certain that Milton’s eyes would be glued to her chest.
“This is so exciting,” Caroline said. “In five days I’ll be Mrs. Royce. Of course it won’t be all fun and games. There’ll be some work involved. I’ll have to change over all my credit cards.”
“So tedious,” Nick said.
“Yes, and I’ll have to be vigilant to make sure they’re nothing less than platinum.”
Caroline Boyett was going to be fifty-eight-year-old Milton’s third and most expensive wife. He acquired her the same way he did his wealth—through a hostile takeover. When Milton met Caroline, she was the young trophy wife of the CEO of a Cleveland dog food company. Royce grabbed the dog food company on the cheap and sold it off for its underlying real estate
value. Milton then seduced Caroline away from her husband with the promise of her being squired off to luncheons in his chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantom and waking up every day in his ten-thousand-square-foot $12.5 million penthouse. The penthouse was atop the Windsong Building, a twenty-story Beaux-Arts masterpiece on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive.
The problem for Milton was now that he’d wowed Caroline with his money, he couldn’t put the brakes on her spending. Their wedding was going to cost more than Milton’s first two combined, thanks to the grandiose notions of Merrill Stubing, the wedding planner Caroline called her “godsend.” Stubing had earned the nickname three months ago when Caroline was standing in front of Neiman Marcus and he’d tackled her out of the way of a speeding Smart car. And as if that dramatic first meeting wasn’t fateful enough, it had happened at the exact moment she was beginning to plan the wedding of her dreams. Caroline was envisioning herself on Milton’s arm just as Stubing appeared out of nowhere and threw her to the sidewalk.
Truth is, the meeting between Caroline and Stubing wasn’t attributable so much to fate as to meticulous planning. Nick and his crew had executed the Smart car stunt with practiced precision. And now Nick was taking the time to ensure that the wedding would unfold with practiced precision too, because the success of his heist depended on it. If Caroline rushed down the aisle, his carefully orchestrated plan would go out the window.
Nick paused in front of the open French doors, and he and Caroline faced Milton, who was standing on the far side of the garden on an X chalked onto the weathered granite tile floor imported from a pillaged Italian villa. Caroline was wearing skinny white jeans, gold strappy five-inch heels, and a magenta see-through blouse. Nick was wearing a form-fitting sheer black silk Armani sweater, tight designer jeans, and Hermès orange suede loafers. Milton
was wearing the same thing he’d worn for the past thirty years: black slacks, black dress shoes, and a white shirt. He had a few strands of hair left on his head, a soft roll of fat around his middle, and a stent in one of his coronary arteries.
“In five days this rooftop will be a safety hazard,” Nick said to Caroline and Milton. “The inferior steel girders that were used to cut costs will groan under the combined weight of your fat friends and relatives. I calculate there will be in the vicinity of twenty tons on the hoof, but do we care? No, we do not. We will be swept away by the beauty of the occasion. Lucky for you that you hired me. No other wedding planner would have the ability to take your mind off possible imminent death by the use of flowers and twinkle lights.” He turned to Caroline. “And you, my dear, will be the ultimate distraction in your one-of-a-kind, shockingly flimsy wedding gown.”
Caroline shivered in excited anticipation. “I’ll be the talk of the town.”
“Dumplink, you’ll be the talk of the entire country,” Nick said.
Caroline gave him an earnest look. “I want everything to be perfect.”
“Perfection is my middle name,” Nick told her. “If one of your guests choked on a meatball and died, if one of the millions of candles we’ll be using set your living room on fire and everything went to cinders, I’d still make sure your wedding ended in perfection.”
“I knew I could count on you,” Caroline said.
Milton wistfully looked over the edge of the rooftop at the traffic below.
“If you jump it’ll make a mess,” Nick told him. “Your head will crack open like a cantaloupe, and they’ll have to scrape your brains up with a spatula. And that would be such a shame, because you’re a very attractive man when your head is intact.”
Nick winked at Milton, and Milton grimaced.
“On the big day I’m going to escort Caroline out of the master suite to the French doors leading to the garden,” Nick said. “She’s going to stand there and let everyone ogle her. There’s going to be a lot of
. And we might need to have some paramedics on hand in case any of the really old geezers has a heart attack when he sees her.”