Murder on a Hot Tin Roof

Murder on a Hot Tin Roof by Amanda Matetsky

Book: Murder on a Hot Tin Roof by Amanda Matetsky Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amanda Matetsky
door she’d just exited, motioning for us to follow.

     
     
    THE “LOUNGE,” AS RHONDA HAD CALLED it, was nothing but a windowless room furnished with one dressing table, a few chairs, and three folding cots. One of the cots was open and sloppily covered with a white sheet; the other two were closed and rolled against one wall. There were several floor lamps in the room, but only one was turned on, giving off a dim yellow light that made everything look murky. Clothes, underwear, towels, magazines, full ashtrays, and dirty coffee cups were scattered all over the place. The room was cool, praise the Lord (or, rather, the saint who invented air-conditioning), yet the smell of sweat was strong.

    Rhonda walked over to the dressing table and started rummaging through the stuff that littered its surface. “Cripes! There was a pen here just this morning,” she said, sweeping makeup sponges, eyebrow pencils, combs, brushes, lipsticks, and dirty Q-Tips from one place to another. “Where the hell did it disappear to? I used it to write down a slew of phone messages for Gray, and I . . . Oh, here it is!” she squeaked, “hiding behind the cold cream!”

    She snatched up the pen, then bent over and grabbed a tablet of paper off the floor. “What’s your name, honey?” she asked, walking toward the middle of the room where I was standing, flipping over several pages of scribbles ( Gray’s phone messages? I wondered) to get to a clean sheet. “You want this made out to you, right?”

    “Uh . . . yes . . . that would be nice, please.” I was so focused on watching the action unfold I almost forgot what I was supposed to be there for. “You can make it out to Phoebe Starr,” I said, dredging up an old alias I’d used several times before. (My ridiculous real name was hardly well-known, but it was entirely too memorable to mention. And I was in no mood to be laughed at.) “That’s Starr,” I repeated, “with two r’s.”

    “Got it,” Rhonda said, sticking the tip of her tongue between (and quite a bit beyond) her lips as she wrote. Then she signed her name with a flourish, ripped the whole sheet off the pad, and handed it to me. “And what about you, sister?” she said to Abby. “You want one, too?”

    I froze. What would Abby do now? Would she be a good girl and accept Rhonda’s offer of an autograph, or would her true personality break loose and blow our carefully planned cover to smithereens?

    “Yes, please,” Abby said, fluttering her lashes and panting like an overheated sheepdog. “I’d simply love to have your signature. Just your name will do. It would make my pitiful, lonely, and hopeless life complete.”

    I cringed. Would Rhonda pick up on the contempt in Abby’s voice? Would Abby’s belligerent, legs-apart, arms-folded posture lead Rhonda to realize that we were both just blowing air up her skirt?

    Nope. Looking as satisfied as a cat with a saucer of cream, Rhonda blithely signed her name to the paper, tore the sheet off the tablet, and handed it over it to Abby. “It’s all yours, sis,” she said, tossing the pen and the pad down on the mattress of the open cot. “Better keep it in a safe place. It’ll be worth big money someday.”

    “Oh, I know right where I’m going to put it,” Abby said, curling her lips in a nasty smile. She didn’t actually say the words “trash can,” but you could tell that was what she was thinking.

    “Thank you so much, Rhonda!” I jumped in, hoping she wouldn’t notice Abby’s scornful expression. (She didn’t. Instead of looking at Abby, she was looking at herself in the mirror.) “We really do appreciate this! And we can’t wait to tell Gray we met you. Is he here now? Can you tell us where to find him? We want to congratulate him on his fab performance last night.”

    “Yeah, you and everybody else, honey,” she grumbled, sitting down at the dressing table and looking at me in the mirror’s reflection. “The phone at the end of

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