P.I. I Love You
Miss Demeanor P.I. Book 1
by Joanne Jaytanie
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Mystery, Adventure
Rivers don’t let rocks hold them back. River Nightingale has decided to blow past the rocky men in her life.
She’s played by the rules for too long—especially when it came to her career as a cop. She was the top closer of cases for years, but promotions in her small town cop shop went to her less productive male counterparts. River decides it’s time to change careers. She leaves her small town to purchase a Seattle private detective agency and become her own boss.
Homicide Detective Gage Hamlin takes pride in his job; he closes cases and fosters justice. All that changed the day River Nightingale sauntered into his office. River has him questioning his pride, his cases, and his aversion to private detectives, especially beautiful private detectives.
River’s client thinks Gage got it wrong, and River is forced to prove Gage missed a murder. Will River and Gage find a way to play nice, or will River be forced to leave Gage behind?
River walked into the precinct on Fourth Street. The building buzzed with activity. She wondered why people weren’t falling over one another, given how fast they moved. Yes, she knew cop shops—she’d spent her last ten years living in one, but the little cop shop in Bear Creek, Montana was only slightly larger than this lunchroom she peeked into as she passed by. When she asked for directions to the detectives’ bullpen, the sergeant at the front desk looked her up and down, rolled his eyes, then pointed behind him and went back to a pile of paperwork.
She walked slowly by each door, reading the nameplates as she passed, until she came to the door of Homicide Detective Gage Hamlin. The office walls were glass giving her a clear view of the man sitting at his desk studying his computer. His disheveled coffee-colored hair brushed the collar of his button-down royal blue shirt. When he looked over the top of his computer screen, his sapphire-colored eyes locked on hers. River smiled and gave a cursory knock on the half-opened door.
“Detective Hamlin?” River asked.
“Yeah, last time I checked. Do we have an appointment?” Detective Hamlin asked as he grabbed his phone, and scrolled through, looking for an answer.
“No. No appointment. However, if you’re not too busy, I wonder if we could chat for a few minutes?”
Detective Hamlin smiled, rose to his feet, walked around his desk, and pulled the door open wider. He gestured for her to enter.
“Sure, I have a few minutes. How can I help you, Miss—?” He grabbed the pile of files and loose papers out of the closest chair and dumped them into the next one over.
“My name is River Nightingale. I’m a private investigator, and I’ve been hired by the Baxter family to check into their parents’ deaths.”
River watched as his sparkling eyes and dazzling smile faded from his chiseled features. This reaction would take her a while to get used to. Cops respected other cops, but they had no regard for private detectives. She had firsthand knowledge. Even the cops in her little shop in Bear Creek used to treat them like they were week-old gum stuck to the bottom of their shoes. It irritated her then and it pissed her off now. Although she wasn’t going to give Detective Hamlin the satisfaction of knowing how she felt.
“I see,” Detective Hamlin said, tight-lipped. “I’ve no idea why they would hire you. I worked the case and closed it.”
“That’s the point, Detective Hamlin. The Baxters don’t agree with your conclusion and asked me to review your findings.”
“Now wait one damn minute. Despite how many open cases are assigned to me, I’m a professional. My work is careful and thorough. On what grounds do they find my work inadequate? And you—you don’t even know what kind of hoops I have to jump through. You’re just another ambulance chaser, a clueless private dick.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, nevertheless I do know what kind of hoops you jump through. I recently left my position as an officer.”
“What? Couldn’t handle the hard work?” He scoffed.
“I thrive on hard work. I worked hard for ten years and closed more cases than all my colleagues combined. What I do have a problem with is being passed over for promotions while some yahoo, with half the closed cases and experience, gets the job. And why? Merely because he has a dick and I don’t.”
He made a grunting sound, leaned back in his chair, and crossed his arms over his chest. River stared at him, daring him to make his next nasty comment.
“The case is officially mine, meaning anything you do, anything you discover, you tell me.” He popped forward in his chair and started to punch the keys on his keyboard. “Do you want a paper copy, or should I email it to you?” he asked.
She’d let his statement slide for now. They both knew it wasn’t true. She didn’t need to keep him informed. Even so, no sense ruffling his overly irritated ego.
“My client supplied a paper copy. I would appreciate an electronic one, please.” She pulled a business card from her purse and handed it to him.
“Miss Demeanor Private Investigators.” Hamlin read out loud. “So, you purchased the old agency.”
“That’s correct. Along with three friends, who are all experienced policewomen.”
“I’ve never heard your name, and I know most of the cops in the city by face, if not name.”
“I’m not from here.”
“Huh.” He grunted as he studied her.
River quietly withstood his scrutiny. She knew exactly what this jerk was trying to do. He wanted to make her uncomfortable, test her, try to make her fidget or feel insecure. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.
“I’m heading over to impound right now. Nothing against your report, it’s thorough enough. All the same, I’m a hands-on type of person. I find I work better when I’m able to investigate things firsthand and reach my own conclusions. I’ll get out of your hair now. I just wanted to stop by, introduce myself, and give you a heads-up about the Baxters hiring me to work their case.”
Hamlin simply stared at her. The look on his face—priceless. She couldn’t help herself.
Forget not wanting to push his buttons. This man needed a little ruffling. River wanted to smile or stick out her tongue at him. She held her composure. The last thing she needed was to piss him off more. Like he said, the case was technically still his, closed or open, and if she wanted any chance of solving it successfully, it would be easier to have him on her side. She needed to win him over. No better time to start than the present. Her insides cringed and she bit her bottom lip to keep from groaning.
“However, if you’re free for a bit, I’d appreciate your insight,” she said as she rose from the chair.
“I can’t spare you much, but I’ll take you over to impound,” he grumbled.
Twice As Bad
Miss Demeanor, P.I. Book 2
For private investigator River Nightingale, the stakes are high, and her losses are twice as bad.
River has already lost a partner to a better job, and now a truck has mowed down another partner and a key informant. Her surviving crew is reeling and dead set on finding the killer. Working with them is a Seattle PD homicide detective, Gage Hamlin. Gage and River have been a volatile combination since day one, but now it’s twice as tense, as they both seek the killer and Gage struggles to keep River alive.
On the waterfront, Seattle is known for slinging fish, but River’s stakeout of a seafood plant reveals that fish aren’t the only thing being sold on the docks. And if River isn’t careful, fish aren’t the only thing that will end up dead on the docks.
Looming dangers lurk closer with every clue River uncovers. River’s business, her relationship, her friends, and her life are all in jeopardy. And the cost of solving the case is at least twice as bad as usual.
“I got a call from your Uncle Mike today,” Gage said and took another bite of food.
“Oh?” River looked up at him over the rim of her wine glass.
“Yeah. He wanted to give me his condolences. He made me promise to keep an extra close eye on you.” Gage stopped for a beat, waiting for her reaction. When none came, he continued. “He also wanted to tell me how disappointed he was that my lease was renewed another three months, and we couldn’t take him up on an apparently one-of-a-kind condo.”
River took another sip of wine and rolled the stem of the glass between her hands.
“Sorry. I was going to tell you tonight,” she said softly.
“Instead you made me look like a schmuck,” he clenched and unclenched his jaw. “I guess this is your way of letting me know you’re not ready to take the next step in our relationship.” He bit out each word, making it sound like a verbal whiplashing. He pressed his lips together.
“I know what I did was wrong. Uncle Mike was so excited for us to take the place. I didn’t want to disappoint him. So…I—”
Gage could see the tenuous hold she had on her emotions were about to crumble. River’s shoulders slumped, she collapsed back into her chair, and openly wept. For a petite woman, she always portrayed such a huge, undefeated presence…until now.
“Holy hell,” he hissed to himself as he popped up from his chair and hurried to River’s side. He scooped her up and walked over to the sofa, keeping his hold on her as he sat. Son of a bitch, he was a schmuck, putting his feelings before her pain. He’d had a tough enough time convincing her to move out of the apartment building, she, Shay, and Maile lived in before Shay was murdered. What made him think she’d stick to the plan now and move out leaving Maile alone? He wrapped his arms tighter around her and she buried her head in his chest. He gently tucked her head under his chin as he rocked her and whispered to her that everything would be alright. Would it…really?
Gage’s phone rang and he cursed a blue streak as he fished it from his jeans pocket. River was still sleeping. Her head was on his chest and she was tucked in between him and the back of the sofa. “Hamlin. This better be good.”
“Yo, you know whenever I call you it’s gonna be great,” Miles chuckled. “Me and my team are working on a drug case. We went out early this morning and made our rounds through the homeless camps. We found a possible witness who claims he saw a pickup truck enter the same garage of your double homicide right around the time of the hit and run yesterday.”
“Yesterday? What the hell time is it?” Gage asked.
“It’s around 8:30. Rise and shine, pretty boy.”
“Don’t even start with that,” Gage said. “Can you keep an eye on the witness? I’ll be there shortly.”
Gage could tell the second River’s breathing changed that she was awake.
“What’s happened?” River asked, as she stretched. “Is it morning?”
The morning sun was peeking through the windows.
“Yep. We have a lead. A potential witness who might have seen a pickup truck enter the parking garage right around the time of our hit and run.”
River looked up and studied him. “Really? I want to go with you.” She stood and headed for the kitchen and walked right past the remains of dinner from the night before still spread out on the table. “Coffee?”
“Lots,” Gage said. He could argue with her and tell her she wasn’t getting involved. But at this point he thought it best to heed Mike’s advice and keep a close eye on her. “I’m gonna grab a shower and change.”
“Okay,” River answered from the kitchen. “I’ll bring the coffee as soon as it’s ready.”
Twenty minutes later they were heading for the door. Gage laid his hand on the door as she reached out for the knob. River turned to look at him. For an instant he saw the barrage of emotions running through her. He could see her trepidation which mirrored his own, that the two of them would spend another day at odds.
“I’m letting you sit in on the interview with the understanding that this is my witness. You are to watch…quietly. I’m the investigating officer. Do you agree?”
He was shocked when she didn’t argue. Instead, River stepped into him. Placed a hand on each side of his head and drew him to her as she went up on her toes. When their lips met, flames shot up behind his eyelids and he felt the warmth of her body melt into his. Son-of-a-bitch, if this was any other case, he’d hand it off. River pulled back and stared into his eyes.
“Thank you, Gage,” she said with a slight smile. “I’ll be as quiet as a cat stalking her prey.”
He shook his head once and grinned back at her. Knowing River that would last all of one point five minutes. Gage rolled his eyes, pulled the door open and waited as she gathered her things and walked out.
Joanne was born and raised in Sherburne, New York, a quaint village surrounded by dairy farms and rolling hills. From the moment she could read she wanted to explore the world. During her college years, she slowly crept across the country, stopping along the way in Oklahoma, California, and finally Washington State, which she now proudly calls home. She lives with her husband and Dobermans, in their home located on the Olympic Peninsula with a panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains.
Joanne writes romantic suspense, paranormal, mystery-thriller, supernatural suspense, and contemporary romance. She loves to submerge herself in the world of her characters, to live and breathe their lives and marvel at their decisions and predicaments. She enjoys a wide variety of books including paranormal, suspense, thriller, and of course romance.
Joanne is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America, (RWA), Kiss of Death, (KOD), Greater Seattle Romance Writers Chapter, (GSRWA), Sisters In Crime (SIC), and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, (FFPRWA). She served as President of Peninsula Romance Writers, which was Debbie Macomber’s home chapter.