Dangerous MindsDee Ann Palmer / Mystery & Detective / Romance & Love / Western
Short Stories of Murder and Suspense
By Dee Ann Palmer
By Dee Ann Palmer
All rights reserved by Dee Ann Palmer.
Cover design by Lex Valentine
Published in the United States of America
For my husband, with deepest love for encouraging me to write, and for his computer expertise when I am in trouble.
“Marathon Madness by Dee Ann Palmer cleverly combines a genuine city landmark, the elegant Biltmore Hotel in downtown L. A., with a landmark yearly event, the L. A. Marathon, in the story of a shocking murder that occurs in the most open of places.” Publishers Reviews
Table of Contents
About the Author
About Killer Minds
I drummed my fingers on the counter at the concierge’s desk in the historic Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, waiting for the DASH schedule. For a small fee, the little bus shuttles people around the downtown area. For the running of the City of Los Angeles Marathon there is no charge this first weekend in March. It will carry visitors to and from their hotels to the Expo at the Convention Center, where runners will pick up their race number bibs, goodie bags, and purchase vendors’ items related to running.
While I waited, I studied the American Beauty roses on the counter. Their scent under the arch of the carved, wooden ceiling was sweet and inviting. Turning, I saw how their color picked up flecks of red in the area rug’s blend of green, gold, aqua, and blue in center of the lobby. Noticing the rug I’d just walked across made me conscious that my ragged running shoes weren’t up to such elegance, and I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t worn the new ones.
While I contemplated my shoes, someone bumped me. Glancing up, I saw that Janet Widlow, one of my least favorite persons, had backed into me. If I turned away, I wouldn’t have to speak to her, but she turned instead and spoke first.
“Oh, it’s you. You’re in my running club, right?”
Great. Now I’d have to talk to her or be rude. I watched her look at me, squinting her dark eyes, which I’d like to call beady eyes because it perfectly describes what I think of her, but they aren’t beady, so I won’t. I could see her thoughts churning as surely as if she had a glass head.
Finally, she said, “You’re—”
“Suevee Taylor.” I decided not to extend my hand.
“Oh, yes, the one with the strange name. You staying here?”
I nodded. “And you?”
“We’re in four twenty-three.” Immediately, I regretted giving out our number. The less contact I had with this unpleasant woman, the better.
“You with Marina?”
Just like that, I was dismissed. A little tinge of irritation pulled at me. My dear friend Marina Scott, tall and lean and, like Janet, built to run, had developed a stress fracture in her right foot two weeks ago. Seven months of training for a marathon, and suddenly the orthopedic surgeon, who usually advises taking ibuprofen and going ahead, said, “No running for six weeks.”
I told Janet as much.
“Good thing she’s not here. I’d beat her.”
Humility. That’s what I’ve always admired about this woman. She’s the only one in our age group in the club who’s ever beaten Marina, and then only once. The next time they raced, and Janet came in second, she’d had nothing but excuses for why she hadn’t won.
“Where you headed?” she asked.
“The Convention Center.”
“Ride with me. I’m driving a Spyder.”
Oh, sure. Wheel up in an expensive sports car, top down, so Janet could show off the car and a “friend.” Not on your life.
“Thanks, but Hal’s with me. I assume the Spyder only seats two? We’ll be taking the DASH.”
“You still with that NFL has-been?”
She wasn’t joshing me, and I recognize envy when I hear it. Me she didn’t remember; Hal she did. An image of the powerful build and rugged face of the man who was my seriously significant other, sprang to mind. I had to admit he was not a forgettable guy. Has-been, indeed. Something naughty jingled inside me. “I doubt you know any man who’s on the gridiron winning Super Bowl rings at our age, Janet, but yeah, I’m still with a man who won two of them in his day.”
As I expected, she was impervious to the sarcasm.
She shrugged, her face expressionless. “So you prefer DASH to a Maserati. Suit yourself.”
The concierge returned and handed me the schedule. At least she smiled and was pleasant. I returned the smile and thanked her.
Janet was still by my side as we left the lobby and stepped into the corridor that led to the gift shop, bar, health center, and various ballrooms. She started up the steps to the elevator landing while I looked around for the door to the stairs.
“You aren’t coming?”
“Elevators aren’t my thing.”
Scorn was written all over the carefully made-up face of this woman whose blonde hair was perfectly coiffed. I felt no compunction to explain I’d been trapped in an elevator down in Florida during a hurricane. It had been a long four hours before we were freed. Just the sight of an elevator these days makes me anxious.
“Later then.” As she moved past me she said, with a dismissive wave of her hand, “I’m going to beat you.”
“Yeah, well, good luck to you too,” I called cheerily. “Maybe I’ll see you at the Convention Center.” Not. I hope.
I wondered how people like Janet, who scored zilch when it came to social skills, got along in life. Regarding her remark about Hal being a has-been, Marina would have said, “Oh, that’s just her idea of humor among friends.”
I didn’t think so.