Blue Suede Murders Book Cover


      Blue Suede Murders      

By Bob Moats


Synopsis: Elvis has left this world. He was barbecued in a pink Cadillac on the Vegas strip and there were no witnesses. But this wasn't the real Elvis, he was an impersonator in a Casino theatre and now Vegas Metro police will have to find the killer. But Lynn Carter, homicide detective calls on Jim Richards to help, there's just too many Elvises in Vegas at the moment with a Elvis fan convention going on. Jim agrees to take the case and then the convention people come in to ask for protection. It seems that a number of the impersonators have been threatened and Jim asks Buck to loan a few guards for the cause. All while this is happening, Val and Blake from the Florida serial killer case come into town to get married and Penny is delighted, until Val announces she wants to get married by Elvis. Penny is not a fan of Elvis and having her husband chasing Elvises now makes her a bit crazy. Will Jim find the killer and resolve Penny's worries that Elvises will be following her also. Good times in this 18th book of the Jim Richards series of murder novels.


This a free Chapter preview, more to be added later.
WARNING! Some chapters are here prior to final edit so they may be rough for now.



Chapter 1

Elvis hadn't left the building. Why? Because he was dead.

No, not the real Elvis, he died years ago, sitting on the toilet, or so legend or rumor has it. This Elvis wasn't the real Elvis, unless the reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. He once had been seen in Grand Rapids, Michigan working at a burger joint, but that was never proven.

This Elvis in the charred white spangled suit, was barely recognizable, he was burned severely in the pink Cadillac sitting off the Vegas strip by Sahara as the Las Vegas fire department was hosing down the flaming car while the tourists watched nearby. It was a circus for the people as they watched the car finally flame out.

When the scorched metal of the car had cooled, Vegas Metro CSI was on the scene to examine the wreck and the county medical examiner, Joesph Lang, proclaimed the body to be an impersonator. Hardly a surprise.

Lieutenant Lynn Carter, homicide detective and her partner, Sergeant Frank DeAngelo, AKA Deacon, were standing to the side waiting for the okay from the fire department to release the scorched scene. Joe Lang said that the body was possibly doused in some type of flame accelerant and set on fire, so that's why homicide was called in.

"Hey Joe, what can you tell me?" Lynn asked Joe Lang as she was leaning over the charred remains of the classic Cadillac and looking at the body of the victim.

"Well, Elvis has left the world. He was doused in some liquid, probably kerosene from the smell or gasoline and set aflame. The fire spread to the car seats and then engulfed the whole car. The fire on the man's body probably killed him instantly, it usually does. Breathing in the flames and the lungs shut down. Poor bastard, just finished his show at Harrahs and was driving around."

"How do you know that?"

"The valet at Harrahs said he told him, just before he drove out. No one in the area saw the attack, they just saw the fire. Shame, he was so good with his impersonation."

"You know him?"

"Sure, he's the only impersonator with this model of Cadillac. Troy Berlington. Worked the impersonator show at Harrahs, I've seen him a number of times, he was good, very good. Shame he ended this way."

Deacon was listening to all this and said, "He's a hunka, hunka Burning Love now?"

Joe just gave the big man a long uncomfortable stare, shook his head and walked away. Lynn smacked his arm.

"You can be a little insensitive occasionally; didn't you see Joe had a man crush on this guy?"

"I didn't know that Joe was gay."

"Oh Deacon, he's not, he just admired the guy for his talent. Let just get through this okay?"

"Sure, I like Elvis, but I wouldn't have a crush on him."

"Shut up Deacon, let's get to work and figure out who hated Elvis enough to kill him." She went off away from the charred car and to the supervisor of the CSI.

"Paul, as soon as you get some info, let me know."

"Sure Lynn, do you have 'suspicious minds' over this killing, here 'in the ghetto'?"

"Don't you start that too, just get me the info without the song list," She huffed and walked away.

He yelled to her, "Viva Las Vegas!"

Lynn flipped him the bird and kept walking to her car followed by Deacon, trying not to laugh aloud.

~~*~~

The next morning, I rolled out of bed, nearly stepping on our toy Yorkie, Willy. He luckily shot out before my foot hit the floor and I stood. I looked around the bedroom and didn't see my lovely wife and Vegas' favorite talk show host, Penny. I listened for any sound in the house and then heard clanking from the direction of the kitchen. I was worried that Penny was making breakfast, but if it made her happy, I would force myself to eat it.

I went to my personal bathroom, it was nice we each had our own so we could get ready in the morning to go off to our respective jobs without tripping over each other. I was looking in the mirror, studying the new wrinkles showing on my face, thinking about plastic surgery.

Penny and I had just returned from a month long book tour where I signed my novels for adoring fans. Along the way we met my book editor who was beaten and stabbed in Florida where I was meeting my readers and we ended up catching a serial killer. The best thing about the whole crime was Val, my book editor, met a nice young cop and I bought the motorhome van of my dreams.

We drove across country in the van and I now had it parked in the drive. Since it was as small as a normal van, I could drive it around and let my classic '89 Crown Vic rest in the garage. The interior of the van was as roomy as a motorhome, complete with kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. I figured that I could drive it around town and also use it as a mobile office and home away from home.

I finished up in the bathroom and headed to the kitchen ready for the worst. I turned the corner and saw Penny sitting at the snack bar watching our friend and former mob enforcer, Angelo making breakfast. I had forgotten that he was staying in our guesthouse and he loved to slip in to make us one of his famous breakfasts. I didn't object, they were very good and he enjoyed it, besides it would mean Penny wouldn't be cooking.

"Good morning everyone," I said as I came up to my wife and gave her a sloppy kiss.

"You're in a good mood this morning," she said wiping her mouth with a napkin.

 I suddenly realized that she had maple syrup on her lips and I now tasted it on mine. It was good.

"I'm happy to be back home and going to my new office to set it up," I said.

Angelo came over and said, "Morning Mr. R., you sleep well?"

"I did Angelo, and thank you for watching the house while we were away."

"My pleasure, I didn't even use the pool," he said like it was an accomplishment.

"Angelo, we told you that you could use the pool if you wanted to," Penny spoke.

"I was afraid I might drown, and there'd be no one to save me."

"You could have invited someone to swim with you," I said before I realized that Angelo didn't know anyone out here. "Angelo, we have to get you some friends."

"Most the people I know are all in prison or on the run. I could join some social club but I don't think you want a bunch of wiseguys from the mob hanging around your house. We'll think of something."

I flipped on the TV to see what the forecast for weather in the Vegas valley had in store for us. There was a news reporter from Penny's station, KLAS, talking about an early morning car fire on the strip. He went on to explain that an Elvis impersonator was found in the burned out car. As the camera was scanning the scene, I caught a glimpse of Lynn and Deacon standing by the car. Penny made a little squeal of delight seeing them and laughed. Then Penny said, "Someone torched Elvis, oh that is so tragic."

I wasn't sure if she was kidding or serious.

Nearly two years ago, my beautiful wife and I flew into Vegas from Michigan to get married. We got involved in the Bridezilla murders and were almost married by an Elvis minister, much to Penny's dismay.

She definitely wasn't a big fan of Elvis, she never admitted it to her viewing public, she knew Elvis was revered here and didn't want hate mail. But when she found out that Elvis was to preside over our wedding she went ballistic. Luckily, Lynn had connections with a local minister from a mission in the downtown area who came in to save the ceremony. We were married on that day and were living happily ever after, so far.

Penny realized that she was supposed to be on the road to her station, so jumped up and went off to finish getting ready. I had my breakfast and thanked Angelo for it. Penny had breezed out the door saying good-bye to us and was gone. I worried that she would kill herself rushing one day.

I finished getting ready and told Angelo I was leaving. He said he had to go out and protect some recording executive today and would see us later.

I got in the van and drove out to the new building where we had moved our investigating business. It was a really nice brick and chrome building and huge. Which was good for us, now having three P.I.'s and all of Buck's one hundred and ten security guards, our last building was a bit crowded. I had only been in the building once since I got back from my tour, so I hadn't had time to set my office up. This was going to be my day to get settled in.

I drove in and parked. Going through the front door, I met with the new receptionist that Lacey hired and she remembered me from the other day when Penny and I returned to storm into the building. I walked through the second set of doors and didn't see Lacey at her desk. I walked down the hallway and into my office, I stood looking around when all of a sudden something dropped down hanging from the ceiling. It was a skeleton on a noose rope!

Lacey and Buck came into the room laughing. Buck said, "Looks like murder is following you from the old office."

*

Chapter 2


After I recovered from my minor heart attack, I managed to laugh it off. Buck got up on a chair, untied the rope holding the skeleton and handed it down to me. I was looking at the bones and saw they were plastic, but it was a full size skeleton.

"I did want an office by myself. Where did you get this thing, it looks so real?" I asked.

Lacey spoke, "I have a friend who works in the prop department at the MGM Grand theatre and they have all kinds of props for any occasion. This one was left over from Halloween. She said we could keep it, they have plenty more."

I looked over to a wall next to the door and went to find a large nail, probably left from a big picture hanging there. I pushed the end of the rope into the nail and let the skeleton hang down. I stood back and said, "It's good."

Buck plopped down on the client chair and asked, "You ready to get back to the crime grind?"

"I never got away from it. Even on my book tour, I had to contend with a serial killer. Penny is just about frazzled with all the crime going on around me. But she's holding up."

Lacey was still standing and said, "If you haven't heard about it, an Elvis impersonator was murdered early this morning after his show. Maybe something to look into."

"He had a show early this morning?"

"Well, it was last night, the show finished after midnight and then he left the casino theatre and went out for a ride. That's when he got torched," Lacey said.

"Well, Lynn and Deacon are on the case from the news report I saw this morning."

"But did you know there is going to be an Elvis convention starting this weekend?"

"No, I didn't. That's definitely not something I would put in my appointment book to see."

"If this isn't a random hit, maybe they might need investigating or protection for the other impersonators," she said with a smile.

"You are one good little P.R. person aren't you?"

"I want to see this business succeed. So I'll let you know when the Elvis people come in, I've been putting feelers out," she said, then went out of the office.

Buck laughed and said, "While you were gone Lacey was really running the office like a little dictator."

"She told me on the phone while I was away that you guys were harassing her."

"You know we love her, we only harass out of love."

"Yeah, but she doesn't take harassing well. Just don't piss her off too often. Now I have to go out to the van and get a few things I brought. By the way, where's the things from my old office, like my Penny in a bikini poster?"

"In your closet, we figured you wanted to put that stuff up yourself."

I went to the closet and opened it. I was surprised that it was almost as big inside as my last office. I picked up the box and brought it out.

Buck stood and said, "I have to go schedule next week's guard roster. I think I got myself into this too deep, too much work."

"You have to learn to delegate authority, and hire someone to do the leg work for you. You take on too much of the load by yourself."

"Yeah, I know. I'll think on it and maybe find someone to do it." He went out and I was finally alone. Well, I had the skeleton to keep me company.

About an hour later, I had the poster up along with all my wall decorations and pictures. I put up the plaques of the bullets that were removed from my body from past cases and hung on the wall as souvenirs, to remind me of how dangerous this job could be. I was happy that I had no bullets from Penny to hang up, and I wasn't going to let anyone start to provide me with them.

I went to my big walnut desk and sat admiring the thing. The lawyers had left most of the furniture when they cleared out. They weren't a happy bunch from what I understood. I was leaning back in my chair when I saw up in the corner of the room, by the ceiling, a camera. I stood and went around the desk and got up on a chair to get a closer look. It definitely was a camera.

I was out in the hallway trying to figure where the cable from the camera led to. Earl came out of his office and saw me.

"Hey Jim, what's up?"

"Do you know there is camera in my office?"

"Sure, they're in all the offices. You have a lot to learn about this place. Come on, I'll show you the security room." He led me to the back of the building and into a small room that had monitors and recording boxes on one wall.

"We can monitor any room as long as the person in that room doesn't shut off the camera with a button under the desks. Nice security feature."

"I feel so violated." I laughed. "Does Trapper know about this?"

"Sure, he's been playing with it since we found it. He spies on Lacey and the new girl up front, just for fun."

"Well, tell Lacey about it, I don't want her to freak out knowing we've been watching her."

"Spoil sport," Earl laughed.

"Now, any other surprises I should know about?"

"Nope that's all the subversive things they had in here."

I was looking at the monitor and saw Buck laying back in his chair sleeping. I laughed and said, "I wish I could say something to him from here."

"You can, oh that's right I forgot, there are public address speakers in each office." He pointed to a microphone and said, "Press the button and I'll open the speaker in Buck's office."

"Does Buck know about this?"

"He knows about the cameras but not the speakers. I just discovered them two days ago, before I went home. Go ahead, say something."

I grinned, pressed the microphone button and said in a deep booming voice, "BUCK! This is God, you do not sleep while working, it is forbidden!"

We both roared when Buck shot up from his chair and was looking around the room. He came around the desk and we could see him looking up and down, then under his desk.

I boomed again, "BUCK CARSON! Do not tempt the fates, you are going to work and like it! I have a mission for you!"

We saw him go out of the office. I told Earl to cut the feed and we went out of the room. We met him in the hall and he was looking a shade of white.

He saw Earl and I trying to keep from laughing.

"Okay, what the hell is going on?" he roared.

"Why Buck, whatever do you mean?" I asked.

Then Earl and I lost it, we both roared with laughter. Buck just looked frustrated and went back to his office, but before he went in, he turned and said, "Just stop it, not funny!" He went in and slammed the door.

I looked down the hallway to the front lobby through the glass doors and saw something I wasn't prepared for, three Elvises standing at the counter talking to Lacey.

"Oh crap, they're invading now." I said and Earl turned to see what I was talking about.

"Well you can take care of them, I'm not an Elvis fan," he said then went back to his office. I heard a voice over the P.A. calling for me. Great, Lacey has a microphone too. I was heading up to the lobby when Buck popped back out of his office.

"Are you guys still playing with that thing?"

"No, it's Lacey now. I guess she has a microphone up at her desk also." Buck saw the Trio of Elvises and followed me out.

I went around the back of the counter, looked under the counter top to the desk and saw she had monitors also. "You knew about the cameras?" I asked.

"Sure, Earl told me about them just after we moved in. I''ve been spying on Trapper spying on me," she laughed.

"I'll have to have a talk with Earl. Now what can I do for you gentlemen?" I asked of the lead Elvis.

"We need protection and someone to investigate the death of one of our brothers," the young, leather jacketed Elvis said.

"I can see the protection, but aren't the police investigating the death that happened this morning."

"Yes, but we don't feel the police will give this a priority." The later in life, fat Elvis said. His white jumpsuit and the spangles glittered in the light coming in from the skylights. "And we have a convention to contend with, four days of activities."

I was trying not to laugh at these men dressed up like various years of the icon of rock and roll. They reminded me of the flying Elvis' from the movie, jumping out of a plane with parasails over Las Vegas.

"I happen to know the Detectives who are handling the case and they are very dedicated officers. I'm sure they will take care of the murder for you. Did you know the deceased?"

"Everyone knew him, he was a great performer, he had all of Elvis' moves down to perfection. We are worried now because there have been rumors that this is not going to be the first death in our group. Some of our brothers have been threatened and we are not happy Elvises."

"We can provide you with protection," I said and looked to Buck, he nodded, "We have numerous bodyguards that we can put at your disposal. Why don't you follow my associate to his office and you can discuss the needs of your people."

Before they could go, the front lobby door opened and in came Lynn and Deacon. Lynn saw the Elvis' and just said, "Damn."

*

Chapter 3

I took Lynn and Deacon into my new office, they just stood and looked around, then Lynn screamed when she saw the skeleton.

"Damn woman, I thought you were a tough Vegas cop?" I said.

"I hate skeletons, I've always hated skeletons ever since I was a child and my father sent me into a haunted house by myself. I'll never forgive him for that. They had all these skeletons dancing around, it was debilitating."

"So skeletons and spiders, anything else we need to know about?" I asked.

"Thanks for bringing up spiders again." She glanced at the skeleton again and shivered.

Deacon was already seated and trying not to laugh. Lynn whacked him on the head and sat. I went to my chair behind my desk and sat down. "So what brings you here?"

"I need to have someone check all these Elvises for me. I don't have the people to do it or the time. I figured you can snoop around and the city would pay you as a civilian advisor. Want to make some money or do you have a lot of customers beside the Elvises?"

I sat looking to the skeleton thinking he needed an identity, then said, "I can investigate the imposters, what do you have so far on the murder?"

"I'll give you the murder book we have started to look over, he was an employee of Harrahs entertainment division, but we believe that a rival impersonator is behind this, there's just too damn many of them in Vegas to investigate all of them. Especially with the convention, so you're hired."

"You expect me to talk to hundreds of Elvises?"

"Gee, you catch on fast, do you want the job?"

I thought about the men in Buck's office. I could take their case to find the killer, taking the same case as the civilian advisor job from the police and double the income. I smiled and said, "Deal."

"I'm not trusting you for some reason?" Lynn said.

"What? You came here to ask me to take the case. What's the problem?"

"I don't know, but I'll find out. I'll send over Warren with the info you will need. Just keep me filled in; Captain Weber is expecting results. He is a big fan of Elvis, so you are expected to get results fast."

I cringed thinking that Weber was a fan of Elvis. "Okay, I'll be on it."

Lynn stood followed by Deacon. He was such a puppy when it came to Lynn, I thought of her being the husband and Deacon being the wife if they got married. That was not a good image of Deacon in a bride's wedding gown. I shook my mind to get it out.

"Okay, I'll watch for the info and get on this ASAP." I said.

"I'll be watching you, so get me some results," she paused, then said, "Please."

"I'll do my amazing best, you can count on me."

They went out and I walked down the hall to Buck's office. I entered and went to the lead Elvis.

"Do you still want us to find the killer?" I asked.

"Sure we do, this is not good for our people if we are being killed off. When can you start?"

"I just did, now tell me everything about your convention."

We spent about an hour talking about the activities of the convention and I was taking notes. Buck was on his phone calling in six of his biggest guards to handle the protection of the Elvises who were threatened. I finished with the info and told them we would be out in the morning to start our protection and investigation. The young leather jacketed Elvis said his name was Morris and I gave him my card to call if he needed us before tomorrow.

The men all thanked us and left. I sat with Buck and thought about how we could take on this account.

"Do your men have any training in protection?" I asked.

"While you were gone I had Angelo do a few training classes in handling the enemy, namely the criminals. Angelo is really good at the leg breaking and getting to know the enemy. I have six good men who I think would be great at the body guarding."

"Okay, we have that covered. Now I need to do some talking to all the Elvises to see where they stand on the murder. This is going to be complicated." I stood and started to go out.

"What are you going to do now?" Buck asked.

"I need to go give a friend an identity." I went out leaving Buck wondering.

An hour later, Buck came into my office to tell me that he had his men ready to go to work. I smiled and was looking behind him. He turned to see the skeleton now sitting on a chair, with a cigar in it's jaws, glasses and a base ball cap on sideways.

Buck roared and asked where I got the props.

"There was a box of lost and found that Lacey told me about. I got the items out of there. He is now to be respected and called, well… I don't have a name for him yet, but I'll work on it. For now he is to be referred to as Mr. Bones."

"I like," Buck said and finished telling me about his men.

"I'm putting them in the purple blazers I bought and they will be standing tall for inspection at zero-six-hundred hours tomorrow morning. I called Angelo to come into give a pep talk to them."

"Works for me. I'm not looking forward to interviewing hundreds of Elvises, but it has to be done. Who is Angelo guarding now?"

"He's going to be watching some computer whiz kid at a geek convention and protecting his million dollar ass from competitors."

"Ah, the matrix game plot. Is Angelo prepared for the computer world of gaming?" I said knowing that there was a big convention of computer game manufacturers in town.

"He said he is, but I don't know how well he will handle a fifteen year old kid. I hope he doesn't kill the kid or go brain dead. Angelo is good but he's not the brightest bulb in the marquee."

"Just keep an eye on him and help him. He'll learn quickly."

Lacey knocked on my door and I said to come in. She said there was a woman in the lobby needing help. I said I'd be out in a minute. Buck stood and said he was going back to work and left. I got up and went to the lobby and found a woman, rather plain but attractive in a plain way, standing at the counter.

"May I help you? I'm Jim Richards."

"Yes, I need help to find a husband."

I was married so I felt safe, "What do you mean, Miss…"

"I'm Rebecca Walker, and I have a fiancé who disappeared yesterday. We were going to be married in two days but he's vanished. It's not like him, so I figured he's in trouble. The police won't help until he's been gone for forty-eight hours, but we are scheduled to be married by then. So you can see my quandary."

"Yes, I see. Can you wait for a minute?"

She said she would and I went back to Earl's office. He was sitting back relaxing as I went to his desk and said, "I have a woman who is looking for a lost fiancé. He probably is out sobering up or having a case of cold feet, but can you take it, I'm going to be questioning Elvises tomorrow. Or you could take the Elvis questioning."

"Oh no, I don't get along with Elvises, they scare me."

"Mr. big black ops guy afraid of Elvises? Now I'm worried."

"Well don't be. I had a run in with a team of foreign enemy agents all disguised as Elvises back when I was with the CIA and they tortured me in unspeakable ways. So I don't play well with them."

I stood for a minute then said, "You're making that up. You know I have to talk to a hundred or so Elvises and you don't want to be involved."

"No, really I was tortured by them. I hated every minute of it. Really."

"Okay you have the missing groom, go talk to her." I turned and went out. Earl came down the hallway and out to the lobby where he met the woman and took her back to his office.

I was back at my desk laughing at Earl's lame attempt to avoid having to do a lot of grunt work. I'd have to remember the story he made up. Lacey went by my office and I called to her. She came back.

"Where's Trapper off to?" I asked.

"Didn't I tell you, he's taking a week off to go somewhere with his lady friend Sam. He said he'd be back soon."

"Thanks." I said and she went off. Now I felt alone in this Elvis case. I had hoped to pawn off some of the work to Trapper, but it looks like I'm on my own.

I looked up to the camera in the corner of the room and noticed the little red light was on. I started to feel under my desk for this button Earl told me about. I got out of my chair and looked around for it, but couldn't find it. I was just about ready to call Lacey when a voice boomed out, "Richards! God orders you to get busy!"

The voice sounded strangely like Buck.

*


Chapter 4

Earl walked into my office as I was on the ground looking under my desk. He stopped at the middle of the room and watched me. I suddenly saw him standing there and came up too fast, hitting my head on the edge of the desk.

"Ouch, you okay?" Earl asked.

"I'd be better if I could find that lousy button for the camera you told me about," I said rubbing my head.
 He came around the back of the desk, opened the side drawer and pointed to a button on the inside of the drawer.

"Well, you didn't say it was in the drawer, you just said under it," I said as I walked around him to look, then pushing the button and saw that the little red light was out on the camera.

"I also didn't tell you that Lacey can monitor the building and make calls over the P.A., I like having fun with you."

"Well, stop it. I have enough problems without you compounding them. Now are you going to help the dismayed bride?"

"You know I had that case of the missing bridesmaid just before you went on your book tour. Why am I getting all these nuptial case?"

"What is Las Vegas well known for? Gambling, big stage shows and getting married. There are a good number of men, and women who get cold feet and decide to hide rather than tell their fiancé that they don't want to get married. I'll bet if you check the airport, you'll find this woman's fiancé has flown the coop."

"The last woman I tracked down wasn't fleeing from a wedding, she was kidnapped."

"I know, I was starting to write a book about it."

Earl looked to me and paused, "You actually were going to write about my exploits. I'll have to kill you if you give away my secret past."

"What, that you are a top secret black ops CIA spook and you have overthrown countries and dictators?"

"Right, so be careful what you say."

"Go do some investigating and let me get to work on my Elvis case. Or do you want to help?"

"No, I have chills just thinking about Elvis. Waterboarding wasn't a fun experience."

"The evil Elvises waterboarded you?"

"Well they weren't baptizing me," he said with a laugh and went out of the room.

"I'm surrounded by crazies," I mumbled to myself.

"Richards!!  Get to work!!" Buck's barely disguised voice boomed again over the speakers. I went out and down to the security room, finding Buck sitting at the monitor desk. I came up and grabbed the microphone, unplugging it and took it with me out of the room. Buck just laughed aloud.

I was coming back down the hallway when I saw the new girl, Tracey, coming towards me. Tracey and Lacey, now that was odd.

"Mr. Richards, there are two people in the front lobby who want to see you," she said.

"Why didn't you just page me?"

"Lacey took my microphone away, she said I was annoying her with it.  I was just using it to say there were people in the front who wanted to see our detectives. But she said I didn't have the voice for it."

I could understand that, Tracey had a droning voice, bland and monotonous. "Well thank you for telling me. I'll be up in a minute. Oh, and next time you can use the phone to call Lacey and she can chase me down."

She thanked me and went back out to her desk as I put the microphone that I took from Buck in my office. Now we had taken two microphones away from people who shouldn't have access to them. I went out and to the main lobby where I found a big surprise.

"Val, Blake what are you two doing here?" I said to my book editor and her boy toy cop who Penny and I met out in Florida in the last month. They were part of our having to take down a serial killer and Val had been kidnapped by him. Blake was a cop in that town who Val took a shine to and he helped to rescue her.

"Jim, good to see you again," Val said as she gave me a big hug. I shook Blake's hand and then asked them to come into my office. We went through the doors to the inner lobby and I stopped to introduce them to Lacey.

We went to my office and I had them sit. "Now why are you out here in Vegas?"

"Blake and I have never been here and we wanted to see it along with you and Penny. Also we decided to get married here," She said with a big smile on her face, I was a bit shocked.

"Wow, that was quick, you two just met less than a month ago."

"Well, you know how you always said in your books that I edited, you knew when you met Penny that it was the right thing. We feel the same way." I looked to Blake and he was grinning like a kid on Christmas day.

"Yes, but I knew Penny from high school many years ago, so I sort of knew about her after all these years. But I'm not one to judge, I hope you guys are happy. Have you made any plans yet, for the wedding I mean?"

"Nope, we jest decided ta come out and git married. Ah am delighted to be here with ma future wife." Blake spoke finally in that southern accent that annoyed the hell out of me while we out there. I had hoped I never heard it again.

"Okay, I'm sure Penny will be delighted also. I'll call her after she is finished with her TV show and let her know you are here. Do you have a place to stay?"

"We're in a motel just outside of the city. It's cheap and near enough to get into town."

"How did you come out, plane or drive?"

"We flew, then caught a cab at the airport to take us to a cheap motel. I had a good deal of money stashed away and Blake had a lot of bonds that he cashed so we could come out. We got a cab from the motel to here."

"I'd offer you our guesthouse but it's being used at the moment," I said then paused, "Listen, once the dust settles, I'm putting you two up in the MGM Grand, the honeymoon suite. No arguments, just take it as a wedding gift from Penny and I."

"Oh we won't argue, that's mighty nice of y'all," Blake said with his baby-faced grin.

"Okay, now have you eaten?"

"No and we are starved, the plane only had crackers. Such a shame for the price one pays to fly," Val laughed. "We went straight to the motel then back here, so we haven't eaten yet."

"Good, hold on a minute." I pulled out my cell phone and dialed Penny's cell. I checked with the clock and she should have been done at her studio. I didn't know where she was but knew she'd answer when she saw it was me. The I could hear the phone ring a few times then I heard a ringing from the hallway and Penny walked into my office. She didn't see our guests because they had their backs to the door.

She smiled and said, "I saw it was you, so I didn't answer." Val turned to her and Penny stopped with her mouth open. "Val what are you doing here? And Blake, good to see you again."

I stood and said, "We'll explain it to you over lunch, my treat, shall we go?"

We all went out to the van and piled in. Val said, "I see you still have this thing."

"Yes, it's my baby now."

Penny said, "I thought I was your baby?"

"You know what I mean. You're my babe, this is my baby."

We drove over to Bistros Restaurant and went in to be seated. Val explained to Penny the reason they were in town and Penny was bouncing over it all.

"Wow, how are you planning on the ceremony?"

"We just figured that we'd go to one of those wedding chapels on the main road and get married."

"Oh no you're not, I'm going to call my wedding planner Shelby Blake and have her set it up for you. My treat."

Val was looking a bit teary eyed and I said, "Blake, how much time off from the police do you have?"

"Ah took a leave of absence, so there's no time limit, jest back to work when we return."

"Good because Penny will make this a long event."

She gave me a whack to my arm and said to behave.

"I have an important case now so Penny may have to entertain you for a few days, but I'll be around. Blake would you like to tail me and help me track down a killer again?"

His eyes went big and said, "Ah shore would like that. Much obliged."

"Penny and Val can go visit Shelby and get the wedding plans started. I'll have to throw you a bachelor party, Vegas style."

Val spoke, "Just don't get him involved with any Vegas strippers, he's too innocent."

I laughed and said, "We can party without corrupting him, just you worry about the wedding ceremony and I'll get him safely back to you in one piece."

We finished our meal and went out to the van. Blake asked, "What is this case y'all got?"

I said, "We are going to catch the killer of Elvis."

He stopped and just dropped his mouth and stared at me.

*

To be continued...

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