Cornell Stamoran slid his chipped thumbnail through the crisp seal of Jack Daniel’s. He stared at the bottle and swallowed hard. His throat felt cotton-dry. His tongue licked chapped lips. All involuntary reactions, easily triggered.
Back in the days when he was a partner in one of the District’s top accounting ?rms, his drink had been Jack and Coke. Little by little the Coke disappeared long before he started keeping a bottle of whiskey in his desk’s bottom drawer, and by then it didn’t even need to be Jack or Jim or Johnnie.
He probably wasn’t the ?rst accountant to stash his morning ?x in his corner of?ce, but he was the only one he knew of to exchange that desk and of?ce for a coveted empty cardboard box, the Maytag stamp still emblazoned on the side.
His ?rst week on the streets Cornell had slept behind a statue on Capitol Hill. Frickin’ ironic—he used to sit in the back of clients’ limos driving by those same streets. Funny how quickly your life can turn to crap and suddenly you’re learning the value of a good box and a warm blanket.
Usually Cornell hid the box out of sight between a monster-size Dumpster and a dirty brick wall when he needed to make a trip downtown. Out here on the outskirts of warehouseland it was quiet. Nobody hassled you. But it got boring as hell. Cornell would make a trip downtown at least once a week. Pick up some fresh cigarette butts, do a little panhandling. Sometimes he’d sit in the library and read. He couldn’t check out any books. Where the hell would he keep them? What if he didn’t get them back on time? In this new life he didn’t want even that little bit of obligation or responsibility. Those were the pitfalls that had landed him on the streets in the ? rst place. So once a week he’d leave his prized possessions—the box, a couple of blankets someone had mistakenly tossed in a Dumpster. He’d put his few small valuables in a dirty red backpack and lug it around for the day. If he didn’t want to walk the ?ve miles he’d have to get up early to catch the homeless bus. That’s what he’d done this morning. But he missed the last evening bus. He didn’t bother to keep track of time anymore.
What did it matter? Not like he had a meeting or appointment. Hell, he didn’t even wear a watch. Truth was, his gold- plated Rolex had been one of the ?rst things he’d pawned. But today Cornell ran into a bit of luck. Actually sort of tripped right in front of it when a black town car almost knocked him into the curb.
The car was picking up some woman and her stiff, both all dressed up, probably on their way to the Kennedy Center or a cocktail party. The woman started to apologize, then elbowed her old man until he dug into his wallet. Cornell didn’t pay much attention and instead found himself wondering how all these gorgeous young women ended up with these old geezers.
Never mind. He knew exactly how.
A few years ago he would have been competition for this bastard. Now he was a nuisance to take pity on. Although Cornell convinced himself that the woman had caught a glimpse of his irresistible charm. Yeah, charming the way he picked himself up from the sidewalk, smack-dab between the curb and the car’s bumper. Lucky he hadn’t pissed himself. He could still feel the heat of the engine.
But the woman—she was something. There was eye contact between them. Yeah, she definitely made eye contact. Then a hint of a smile and even a slight blush when Cornell licked his lips at her while her escort wasn’t looking.
FIREPROOF by Alex Kava
Copyright © 2012 by S. M. Kava
Published by arrangement with Doubleday, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
Washington, D.C., special agent Maggie O’Dell is feeling the heat after a serial arsonist sets a blaze that results in murder. The local cops think it’s the work of a dangerous loose canon. Everything Maggie sees points to a psychopath as calculating as he is controlled. But it’s Maggie’s rage that soon overheats when reporter Jeffrey Cole digs up dirt about her past she would rather forget. And she’s not too happy that her brother Patrick, a man with plenty of demons to spare, is back in town working for a firefighting company that puts him at each scene of destruction.
Alex Kava’s Fireproof reaches the boiling point as the arsonist becomes more brazen and Maggie’s two lives—professional and personal—head for an explosive collision.
Hardcover Book : 320 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Broadway Publishers ( July 17, 2012 )
Item #: 13-580859
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.72inches
Product Weight: 12.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
just finished this book, and enjoyed it, like the other books by this author.