I braced myself for impact. The hearse hit the guardrail, pushing me onto the rear glass wall with a thud while the coffin pressed against my back, flattening my falsies even more. At least I had padding.
When I thought it was safe, I took mental inventory of myself. Since I was fine, I stared out the front, to make sure the hearse wasn't heading over the edge past the guardrail. Steam billowed into the air in the darkness of the moonlit night, but the car was stationary.
"All I did was crawl out of the coffin and wave," I said to no one. "What did he think I was, a ghost or something?" I pushed the coffin away from me and moved it against the glass wall.
The back of the hearse flew open and I turned around. No one was there, except for the barrel of a handgun appearing at the edge of the door. "If you're alive, come out with your hands up." It was a nervous male voice, probably the driver. Considering we were in the middle of Nowhere, Nevada, no one else was around. I wasn't deaf, but the adorable driver must have thought the dead couldn't hear, from the way he yelled.
I moved a little bit closer to the door. "If I'm alive? What do you think?"
The adorable young driver with the dark slightly curly hair popped his head forward toward the open door, keeping his terrified-looking eyes on me.
I hiked up my breasts with my hands, then reached down into my size triple-D cup on the left side and removed a falsie. "I hate that part." I did the same on the right while the cutie with the gun moved in front of the open door, staring at my boobs with his mouth hanging open.
He blinked twice, probably living a childhood dream in his head. "You just removed—"
"Yep. Falsies. Get over it." I stuffed the falsies into my tight shorts pocket then moved closer to him at to the back of the hearse. "I want to thank you for rescuing me." I thrust out my hand in a greeting.
The man lifted his mouth from where it had been hanging, but didn't shake my hand. As I dropped my arm in awkward embarrassment, he lowered his eyes to my breasts, to the coffin, then back to my breasts again. "Excuse me?" he said. "Rescuing you? But you weren't the dead guy in that box. Where is he?"
"Oh, no, I'm definitely not him." The man wasn't wearing a ring, so I shot Mr. Adorable my 'come-hither' grin in the moonlight. "He's sitting at a bus stop in the Vegas strip, waiting for a taxi. He was so tiny, making it easy to pull him out of the back of your hearse. Was he a midget or something?"
"Yes, but it's more politically correct to call them 'little people.' He worked as an actor on the strip."
"I'll make a note of the little people name." Not. I wasn't into being politically correct. "Thanks."
I crawled out of the back, standing a good ten inches shorter than the sexy man still holding the gun. I was a sucker for men with guns. Actually, I was a sucker for men, period.
Taking a breath to hike up my breasts even more, I grinned at the guy. "I even pinned a note on the 'little person' so someone would send him to the home of none other than Giuseppe Pasquale."
Mr. Sexy raised his eyebrows. "The mob boss?"
I stared down at my bust line again, adjusting my top. "I hate falsies. Now the bra's too big and I might fall out." Lifting my eyes to his grin, I winked. "Yes, the mob boss. He hired me—"
Mr. Sexy's grin morphed into a frown as he lifted his gun higher. "Hired you?"
"I'm a cop for the Las Vegas Police Department."
I glanced toward the hearse in confusion. "Cops drive hearses now? Is money that tight for the LVPD that they have to outsource?"
"No. My brother owns a mortuary and I help him out every once in a while. I'm not on duty as a cop right now."
"Oh." I grinned and inched up closer to him in a come-hither move. "Cops turn me on."
"Oh, no, you don't, missy." He raised his gun as he took a step backward. "You have the right to remain silent—"
"What for? I didn't do anything wrong." Other than take a body from the back of a hearse and put it on a city bench…oh yeah…and steal money from Giuseppe. But stealing from a thief didn't sound illegal to me.
The cop-slash-hearse driver leveled his gaze on my face. "Giuseppe Pasquale hired you and that's good enough for me to arrest you."
My hands flew to my hips. "For being a cop, you're kind of naïve. Are you a rookie?"
"Well, yes, but that doesn't mean I can't use this gun." The sidearm shook in his hand. Definite rookie. "You're under arrest."
I reached up and flipped on the safety. "You're not going to shoot me. I'm not a threat to you, so put the gun away and face me like a man."
He swallowed hard as his expression turned innocent, stuffing the gun back into his pocket. "Yes, ma'am?"
"That's better." I moved closer and stroked the hair on his temples. "What's your name, adorable?"
I leaned into him, moved my hand to his chest, and met his gaze. With the full moon, I could make out enough of his face, light-colored eyes, and studly body. "Yes, your name. A cute hunky man like you has a name, right?" I stroked his chest, because he looked more like a stroker to me than a take-charge kind of guy.
"Buddy," he whispered.
I leaned in and touched my lips to his. "Well, Buddy, this is your lucky day."
He shifted his jeans a bit. "It is?" His voice cracked. He was right where I wanted him.
I grinned, playing up to him even more. "I want to take some evidence to the police station so I can get Giuseppe in trouble. Can you take me there?"
Buddy took a step back, seeming to assess me from head to toe. Just as he was about to speak, a car motor sounded in the distance. I turned and made a beeline for the front seat of the hearse.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"To hide. That might be Giuseppe or one of his goons."
"But he'll find you."
I opened the door of the hearse. "No, he won't." I handed him a blanket from the front seat. "Throw this over me when I get in place."
"Oh, he'll figure it out."
"Trust me, Buddy." I touched my lips to his with a grin as the car got closer. While sitting on the passenger's side floor, I bent myself into a very small ball with my knees around the back of my neck. "Throw the blanket over me."
Buddy just stared. "Ho-ly—how do you do that?"
"I used to work for the circus. I was a contortionist."
"I bet you're good…uh…anywhere."
I chuckled. Men always fell at my feet, which was like a game to me. "You'll have to find out. Blanket, please?"
He did as told and shut the door. The car stopped beside the hearse, with mumbling sounds coming through the open window. The volume of the conversation suddenly got louder.
"Where's the girl?" the unknown man asked. He sounded like a thug.
"What girl?" Buddy had just earned himself a huge, wet kiss.
"Was there a girl in the hearse with you?"
"No, and I told you before there wasn't. Go ahead and check. I went off the road when a coyote ran in front of me."
I waited and held my breath as long as I could, certain they'd check under the blanket. But I was so small that they couldn't think I was in the car, could they?
The back of the hearse moved downward and the coffin lid screeched a few times. The sound made me think those coffins had been used more than once. I wanted to write an exposé on it someday, digging up bodies by moonlight to see if they were in coffins or not.
Within minutes, the other car drove away.
Buddy spoke on his cell phone, getting closer to the car. "Yes, we need a tow truck at that address. Uh-huh." The blanket lifted off me and Buddy touched my arm. I unfolded myself and got out of the passenger's side, then walked to the back of the hearse. After climbing inside, I knelt beside the coffin and lifted the screechy used lid, sticking my hand under the fabric on the bottom. The bag of money inside spilled out over the palm of my hand, probably containing at least a few thousand dollars. It would come in handy, but I might get even more information if I turned it in like a good girl.
I climbed out of the hearse and handed the bag to Buddy.
He ended his call and stared at the bag, the light from the passenger's side of the hearse illuminating his face. "What's this?"
"A bag of money." I pointed to the side. "See where it says so right on the side? Sixth Bank of Broadway Cash Deposit. Cash means money, in case you didn't know that."
"I know that," he answered in a sarcastic tone. I guess I sounded dim-witted or something, but it was pretty obvious it me that it was money. "Where did you get it?"
"I took it from Giuseppe's home, where there are at least twenty more bags just like this one. I assume it's from a robbery. Right?"
"Probably." He examined the side of the bag and lifted it in his hands. "Did you open it?"
And he did. As soon as the bag opened with his head facing the top, a huge blue cloud of dye exploded in his face and on his hands.
I backed away with a chuckle, unscathed, to the passenger's seat. "You're in so much trouble—"
"I see that." He faced me with very blue skin, covering everything except for small flesh circles and wrinkles around his eyes. "I'd say yes, this is from a robbery. I have to phone this in."
"Yep." I laughed at him. "Are you feeling blue, by chance?"
"Oh, very funny." He took his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed again, as fast as he could. "Bob, it's Buddy. I have a problem."
"A problem, for sure." I reached into the pocket of my short shorts and removed a very thin cell phone, turned it on and dialed the editor of the Las Vegas Times. "Hey, Frank. Whatcha paying for a story about a robbery these days?"
"Oh, it's my little part-time freelancer, Aspen. Who's the robber?" Frank always sounded very burly and deep-voiced, probably because he was a chain-smoker.
"None other than Giuseppe Pasquale."
"The mobster? Whatcha got?"
I glanced over at Buddy, who was still holding onto the blue bag. "A bag of loot. I got him red-handed. I did as you said, and—"
"You played a hooker on the strip?" Frank asked. "That was just a suggestion. I didn't mean for you to risk your life. We can't pay if you get hurt."
"Relax. I didn't get cozy with him. But I got a bag of the cash and it just exploded in a cop's face. He's sort of blue now, except for the rings around his eyes, kind of like a raccoon."
Frank chuckled. I guess he saw this sort of thing all the time. "Where are you? I want a picture."
"Wait. I'll call you back. I don't multitask well." I ended the call, aimed my phone at Buddy and took a shot, then sent it to Frank and called him again. When he answered, he was laughing so hard, I couldn't make out what he was saying. Buddy was still on his phone trying to explain the situation to someone, so he had no idea I'd taken a picture.
I had to raise my voice over the laughter over my phone. "Frank? How much?"
"Two grand," he finally wheezed out. "That's all we can afford before the paper goes bankrupt."
"Five, and I want the top of the front page."
"Get the shot of Giuseppe being brought in tonight, and it's a deal. Otherwise, nothing." He ended the call, still laughing.
Great. Now I just had to get Giuseppe hauled into jail. Who knew how fast these yahoo cops would work. Buddy wouldn't be helpful, looking like he should be performing at a club on the strip as a blue person. No, I was on my own for this story.
I just needed a plan to get away from Officer Blue Face so I could take on a mob boss. No big deal—I hoped.