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Not mine, thank you very much.

I slammed the plastic zippered baggie, used pregnancy test stick enclosed, down on my boss’s desk. “Here’s your proof. Jessie Alton is knocked up. Her housekeeper confirmed it.”

Ralph O’Malley recoiled in disgust. His blue eyes narrowed, and he snarled, “Jesus, Ridgeway, get that thing off my desk!” He poked at it with his pencil, pushing it away from him, until I snatched it up.

I didn’t blame him. I wasn’t thrilled about dumpster diving for the proof just because a major TV star peed on the damn thing, but I also didn’t want my editor destroying valuable evidence. Legal would want the little stick for DNA testing in case Alton sued.

The A/C kicked on, but the weak circulation did nothing more than stir the lingering cigarette smoke in Ralph’s tiny windowless office. Despite the ban on indoor smoking in Los Angeles, the publisher of The National Scoop ignored Ralph’s predilection for cancer sticks.

“Have the copy on my desk in an hour.” He eyed my grime-laden clothes. “Make that two. Get a shower first.”

I hesitated a moment.

Ralph guessed at my question. He shook his head and said, “When I told you and Bill I’d have my decision on the assistant editor position on Friday, I meant on Friday.” He snatched up the cigarette smoldering in the overflowing ashtray and took a puff before he added, “You’ve got one hour and fifty-nine minutes.”

That wasn’t the question I was going to ask, but a cheap thrill filtered through my aching muscles. Bill hadn’t bested me out of the job.


I focused on my pitch. “I want to do a follow up story on the private investigator—” With the baggie still in one hand, my fingers made awkward bunny ears. I suspected the man was a mercenary, not a PI “—Brent Poole hired to rescue his girlfriend—”

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