Looking to get lucky?
Stephanie Plum is back between-the-numbers and she's looking to get lucky in an Atlantic City hotel room, in a Winnebago, and with a brown-eyed stud who has stolen her heart.
Stephanie Plum has a way of attracting danger, lunatics, oddballs, bad luck . . . and mystery men. And no one is more mysterious than the unmentionable Diesel. He's back and hot on the trail of a little man in green pants who's lost a giant bag of money. Problem is, the money isn't exactly lost. Stephanie's Grandma Mazur has found it, and like any good Jersey senior citizen, she's hightailed it in a Winnebago to Atlantic City and hit the slots. With Lula and Connie in tow, Stephanie attempts to bring Grandma home, but the luck of the Irish is rubbing off on everyone: Lula's found a job modeling plus-size lingerie. Connie's found a guy. Diesel's found Stephanie. And Stephanie has found herself in over her head with a caper involving thrice-stolen money, a racehorse, a car chase, and a bad case of hives.
Plum Lucky is an all-you-can-eat buffet of thrills, chills, shrimp cocktail, plus-size underwear, and scorching hot men. It's a between-the-numbers treat no Evanovich fan will want to miss!
About the Author
Janet Evanovich is the author of the Stephanie Plum books, including One for the Money and Sizzling Sixteen, and the Diesel&Tucker series, including Wicked Appetite. Janet studied painting at Douglass College, but that art form never quite fit, and she soon moved on to writing stories. She didn’t have instant success: she collected a big box of rejection letters. As she puts it, “When the box was full I burned the whole damn thing, crammed myself into pantyhose and went to work for a temp agency.” But after a few months of secretarial work, she managed to sell her first novel for $2,000. She immediately quit her job and started working full-time as a writer. After a dozen romance novels, she switched to mystery, and created Stephanie Plum. The rest is history. Janet’s favorite exercise is shopping, and her drug of choice is Cheeze Doodles.
Hometown:Hanover, New Hampshire
Date of Birth:April 22, 1943
Place of Birth:South River, New Jersey
Education:B.A., Douglass College, 1965
Read an Excerpt
By Janet Evanovich
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2007 Evanovich, Inc.
All rights reserved.
My mother and grandmother raised me to be a good girl, and I have no problem with the girl part. I like men, malls, and carbs. Not necessarily in that order. The good part has been spotty. I don't steal cars or sniff glue, but I've had a lot of impure thoughts. And I've acted on a bunch of them. Not limited to, but including, snooping through a guy's closet in search of his underwear. On the surface, this doesn't sound like a majorly hot experience, but this was no ordinary guy, and I couldn't find any underwear.
My mother and my Grandma Mazur are really good. They pray every day and go to church regularly. I have good intentions, but religion, for me, is like tennis. I play an excellent mental game, and in my mind's eye I look terrific in the little white skirt, but the reality is I never actually get onto the court.
It's usually when I'm in the shower that I think of things spiritual and mystical and wonder about the unknown. Like, is there life after death? And just what, exactly, is collagen? And suppose Wonder Woman actually exists. If she was discreet, you might not know, right?
Today is St. Patrick's Day, and when I was in the shower this morning, my thoughts were about luck. How does it work? Why are some people flat-out lucky and others not so lucky? Virgil said fortune favors the bold. Okay, so I read that on the stall door in the ladies' room of the multiplex last week, and I don't personally know Virgil, but I like his thinking. Still, there has to be something else going on besides being bold. Things we can't comprehend.
My name is Stephanie Plum, and I try to leave the incomprehensible in the shower. Life is tough enough without walking around all day wondering why God invented cellulite. I'm a skip tracer for my cousin Vinnie's bail bonds agency in Trenton, New Jersey, and I spend my day hunting felons who are hiding in attics. It was a little after nine A.M. and I was on the sidewalk in front of the bonds office with my sidekick, Lula.
"You're a holiday shirker," Lula said. "Every time a holiday comes up, you don't do your part. Here it is St. Patrick's Day and you don't have no green on you. You're lucky there's no holiday police because they'd haul your boney behind off to the shirker's dungeon."
"I don't own anything green." Okay, an olive drab T-shirt, but it was dirty.
"I own lots of green. I look good in it," Lula said. "But then, I look good in all colors. Maybe not brown on account of it blends with my skin tone. Brown's too much of a good thing on me."
Lula's borderline too much of a good thing in lots of ways. It isn't exactly that Lula is fat; it's more that she's too short for her weight and her clothes are too small for the volume of flesh she carries. Her attitude is Jersey times ten, and today her hair was candy-apple red. She was packed into shamrock-green animal-print stretch pants, a matching green sequin-encrusted stretchy top, and spike-heeled dark green suede ankle boots. Lula was a hooker before she took the job at the bonds office, and I was guessing this outfit was left over from the St. Patrick's Day fantasy collection.
Truth is, I sometimes feel a little boring and incredibly pale when I'm with Lula. I'm of Hungarian and Italian descent, and my complexion is more Eastern European than Mediterranean. I have shoulder-length, unexceptional, curly brown hair, blue eyes, and a nice nose that I inherited from the Mazur side of the family. I was in my usual jeans and sneakers and long-sleeved T-shirt that carried the Rangers hockey team logo. The temperature was in the fifties, and Lula and I were bundled into hooded sweatshirts. Lula's sweatshirt said KISS ME I'M PRETENDING I'M IRISH, and mine was gray with a small chocolate ice cream stain on the cuff.
Lula and I were on our way to get a Lucky Clucky Shake at Cluck-in-a-Bucket, and Lula was rooting through her purse, trying to find her car keys.
"I know I got those keys in here somewhere," Lula said, pulling stuff out of her purse, piling everything onto the hood of her car. Gum, lip balm, stun gun, cell phone, a forty-caliber nickel-plated Glock, Tic Tacs, a can of Mace, a personal-mood candle, a flashlight, handcuffs, a screwdriver, nail polish, the pearl-handled Derringer she got as a Valentine's Day present from her honey, Tank, a musical bottle opener, a roll of toilet paper, Rolaids ...
"A screwdriver?" I asked her.
"You never know when you'll need one. You'd be surprised what you could do with a screwdriver. I got extra-strength cherry-scented condoms in here, too. 'Cause you never know when Tank might be needing some emergency quality time."
Lula found her key, we piled into her red Firebird, and she motored away from the curb. She turned off Hamilton Avenue onto Columbus Avenue, and we both gaped at the gray-haired, wiry little old lady half a block away. The woman was dressed in white tennis shoes, bright greenstretch pants, and a gray wool jacket. She had a white bakery bag in one hand and the strap to a large canvas duffel bag in the other. And she was struggling to drag the duffel bag down the sidewalk.
Lula squinted through the windshield. "That's either Kermit the Frog or your granny."
Grandma Mazur's lived with my parents ever since my Grandpa Harry went to the big trans-fat farm in the sky. Grandma was a closet free spirit for the first seventy years of her life. She kicked the door open when my grandpa died, and now nobody can get her back in. Personally, I think she's great ... but then, I don't have to live with her.
A car wheeled around the corner and rocked to a stop alongside Grandma.
"Don't look like there's anybody driving that car," Lula said. "I don't see no head."
The driver's side door opened, and a little man jumped out. He was slim, with curly, short-cropped gray hair, and he was wearing green slacks.
"Look at that," Lula said. "Granny's wearing green and the little tiny man's wearing green. Everybody's wearing green except you. Don't you feel like a party pooper?"
The little man was talking to Grandma, and Grandma wasn't looking happy with him. Grandma started inching away, and the little man snatched the strap of the duffel bag and yanked it out of Grandma's hand. Grandma round housed the man on the side of his head with her big black purse, and he dropped to his knees.
"She handles herself real good, considering she's so old and rickety," Lula said.
Grandma hit the little man again. He grabbed her, and the two of them went down to the ground, locked together, rolling around kicking and slapping.
I wrenched the door open, swung out of the Firebird, and waded into the mix. I pulled the little man off Grandma and held him at arm's length.
He squirmed and grunted and flailed his arms. "Let me go!" he yelled, his voice pinched from the exertion. "Do you have any idea who I am?"
"Are you okay?" I asked Grandma.
"Of course I'm okay," Grandma said. "I was winning, too. Didn't it look like I was winning?"
Lula clattered over in her high-heeled boots, got Grandma under the armpits, and hoisted her to her feet.
"When I grow up, I wanna be just like you," Lula said to Grandma.
I swung my attention back to the little man, but he was gone. His car door slammed shut, the engine caught, and the car sped down the street.
"Sneaky little bugger," Lula said. "One minute you had a hold of him, and then next thing he's driving away."
"He wanted my bag," Grandma said. "Can you imagine? He said it was his, so I asked him to prove it. And that's when he tried to run off with it."
I looked down at the bag. "What's in it?"
"None of your beeswax."
"What's in the bakery bag?"
"I wouldn't mind a jelly doughnut," Lula said. "A jelly doughnut would go real good with the Lucky Clucky Shake."
"I love them shakes," Grandma said. "I'll share my doughnuts if you take me for a shake, but you gotta leave my duffel bag alone. No one's allowed to snoop in my duffel bag."
"You don't got a body in there, do you?" Lula wanted to know. "I don't like carrying dead guys around in my Firebird. Messes with the feng shui."
"I couldn't fit a body in here," Grandma said. "It's too little for a body."
"It could be a leprechaun body," Lula said. "It's St. Patrick's Day. If you bagged a leprechaun, you could make him take you to his pot of gold."
"I don't know. I hear you gotta be careful of them leprechauns. I hear they're tricky," Grandma said. "Anyways, I haven't got a leprechaun."
The day after St. Patrick's Day, I woke up next to Joe Morelli, my almost always boyfriend. Morelli's a Trenton cop, and he makes me look like an amateur when it comes to the impure thoughts. Not that he's kinky or weird. More that he's frighteningly healthy. He has wavy black hair, expressive brown eyes, a perpetual five o'clock shadow, an eagle tattoo from his navy days, and a tightly muscled, entirely edible body. He's recently become moderately domesticated, having inherited a small house from his Aunt Rose.
Commitment issues and a strong sense of self-preservation keep us from permanently cohabitating. Genuine affection and the impure thoughts bring Morelli to my bed when our schedules allow intersection. I knew from the amount of sunlight streaming into my bedroom that Morelli had overslept. I turned to look at the clock, and Morelli came awake.
"I'm late," he said.
"Gee, that's too bad," I told him. "I had big plans for this morning."
"I was going to do things to you that don't even have names. Really hot things."
Morelli smiled at me. "I might be able to find a few minutes...."
"You would need more than a few minutes for what I have in mind. It could go on for hours."
Morelli blew out a sigh and rolled out of bed. "I don't have hours. And I've been with you long enough to know when you're yanking my chain."
"You doubt my intentions?"
"Cupcake, my best shot at morning sex is to tackle you while you're still sleeping. Once you're awake, all you can think about is coffee."
"Not true." Sometimes I thought about pancakes and doughnuts.
Morelli's big, orange, shaggy-haired dog climbed onto the bed and settled into the spot Morelli had vacated.
"I was supposed to be at a briefing ten minutes ago," Morelli said. "If you take Bob out to do his thing, I can jump in the shower, meet you in the parking lot, and only miss the first half of the meeting."
Five minutes later, I handed Bob over to Morelli and watched his SUV chug away. I returned to the building, took the elevator back to my second-floor apartment, let myself in, and scuffed into the kitchen. I started coffee brewing, and my phone rang.
"Your grandmother is missing," my mother said. "She was gone when I got up this morning. She left a note that said she was hitting the open road. I don't know what that means."
"Maybe she went to a diner with one of her friends. Or maybe she walked up to the bakery."
"It's been hours, and she's not back. And I called all her friends. No one's seen her."
Okay, so I had to admit it was a little worrisome. Especially since she'd had the mysterious duffel bag yesterday and had been attacked by the little man in the green pants. Seemed farfetched that there would be a connection, but the possibility made my stomach feel squishy.
"This is your grandmother we're talking about," my mother said. "She could be on the side of the road hitchhiking a ride to Vegas. You find people, right? That's what you do for a living. Find your grandmother."
"I'm a bounty hunter. I'm not a magician. I can't just conjure up Grandma."
"You're all I've got," my mother said. "Come over and look for clues. I've got maple link sausages. I've got coffee cake and scrambled eggs."
"Deal," I said. "Give me ten minutes."
I hung up, turned around, and bumped into a big guy. I shrieked and jumped back.
"Chill," he said, reaching out for me, drawing me close for a friendly kiss on the top of the head. "You just about broke my eardrum. You need to learn to relax."
"Yeah. Did you miss me?"
"That's a fib," he said. "Do I smell coffee?"
Diesel drops into my life every now and then. Actually, this visit makes it only three times, but it seems like more. He's solid muscle, gorgeous, and scruffy, and he smells like everything a woman wants ... sex and fresh-baked cookies and a hint of Christmas. Okay, I know that's an odd combination, but it works for Diesel. Maybe because he's not entirely normal ... but then, who is? He has unruly sandy blond hair and assessing brown eyes. He smiles a lot, and he's pushy and rude and inexplicably charming. And he can do things ordinary men can't do. At least, that's the story he tells.
"What are you doing here?" I asked him.
"I'm looking for someone. You don't mind if I hang out here for a couple days, do you?"
He glanced at my coat. "Are you going somewhere?" "I'm going to my mother's for breakfast."
I blew out a sigh, grabbed my purse and car keys, and we trooped out of my apartment and down the hall. Mrs. Finley from 3D was already in the elevator when we entered. She sucked in some air and pressed herself against the wall.
"It's okay," I said to her. "He's harmless."
"Hah," Diesel said.
Diesel was wearing an outfit that looked like it belonged in the street-person edition of GQ. Jeans with a rip in the knee, dusty shit-kicker boots, a T-shirt advertising Corona beer, a ratty gray unzipped sweatshirt over the shirt. Two days of beard. Hair that looked like he'd styled it with an eggbeater. Not that I should judge. I wasn't exactly looking like a suburban sex goddess. My hair was uncombed, I had my feet shoved into Ugg knockoffs, and I had a winter coat buttoned over a pair of Morelli's sweatpants and a flannel pajama top imprinted with duckies.
We all scooted out of the elevator, and Diesel followed me to my car. I was driving a Chevy Monte Carlo clunker that I'd gotten on the cheap because it didn't go in reverse.
"So, Mr. Magic," I said to Diesel, "what can you do with cars?"
"I can drive 'em."
"Can you fix them?"
"I can change a tire."
I filed that away in case I needed a tire changed, wrenched the door open, and rammed myself behind the wheel.
My parents live in the Burg, short for the Chambersburg section of Trenton. Houses and aspirations are modest, but meals are large. My mother dumped a mess of scrambled eggs and over a pound of breakfastsausages onto Diesel's plate. "I got up this morning, and she was gone," my mother said. "Poof."
Diesel didn't look too concerned. I was guessing in his world, poof, and you're gone wasn't all that unusual.
"Where did you find the note?" I asked my mother.
"On the kitchen table."
I ate my last piece of sausage. "Last time she disappeared, we found her camped out in line, waiting to buy tickets to the Stones concert."
"I have your father driving around looking, but so far he hasn't seen her."
My father was retired from the Post Office and now drove a cab part-time. Mostly, he drove the cab to his lodge to play cards with his friends, but sometimes he picked up early-morning fares to the train station.
I drained my coffee cup, pushed back from the table, and went upstairs and looked around Grandma's room. From what I could tell, she'd taken her purse, her gray jacket, her teeth, and the clothes on her back. There was no sign of struggle. No bloodstains. No duffel bag. There was a brochure for Daffy's Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on her nightstand.
I traipsed back downstairs to the kitchen. "Where's the big bag?"
"What big bag?" my mother wanted to know.
"Grandma had a big bag with her yesterday. It's not in her room."
"I don't know anything about a bag," my mother said.
"Did Grandma just get her Social Security check?"
"A couple days ago."
So maybe she bought herself some new clothes, stuffed them into the duffel bag, and got herself on an early bus to Daffy's.
Diesel finished his breakfast and stood. "Need help?"
"Are you any good at finding lost grandmothers?" "Nope. Not my area of expertise."
"What is your area of expertise?" I asked him.
Diesel grinned at me.
"Besides that," I said.
"Maybe she just took off for a nooner with the butcher."
My mother gasped. Horrified that Diesel would say such a thing, and doubly horrified because she knew it was a possibility.
"She wouldn't leave in the middle of the night for a nooner."
"If it's any consolation, I don't feel a disturbance in the force," Diesel said. "She wasn't in harm's way when she left the house. Or maybe I'm just feeling mellow after all those sausages and eggs."
Excerpted from Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich. Copyright © 2007 Evanovich, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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