There were seven row houses on the 400 block of A Street NE. Six of them were Federal style: narrow three-story redbrick buildings with long, arched windows and flat roofs. Each had a small false front peak imprinted with the date of construction -- 1881, 1884, or 1888. As was the custom at that time, basements were accessible from the front, five steps down. The first floor was five steps up. Front doors were sunk into arched alcoves, and the doors were thick oak, capped by decorative leaded windows. Yards were small, minuscule actually, but packed with flowers, herbs, ivies, and stunted dogwood trees.
The residents of A Street NE used every available inch in their tiny yards just as they filled every available second in their busy lives. It was a carefully restored Capitol Hill neighborhood with inflated Washington property values. And it was inhabited by ambitious professionals. The street wasn't so wide or so heavily traveled that it couldn't be crossed to say hello. Old-fashioned globed streetlights studded the narrow margin between curb and redbrick sidewalk, casting circles of light on shiny BMWs, Jaguar sedans, Mini Coopers, and Saab 900s.
In the middle of the block, flanked on either side by its tall, dark, dignified Federal neighbors, sat a fat two-story Victorian town house. Its brick had been painted pale, pale gray, the elaborate ribbon-and-bow stucco trim was gleaming white, and its gray tile mansard roof was steeply slanted. The house was dominated by a rounded half-turret facade with a conical gray tile roof tipped in silver and topped with a flying horse weather vane.
It was an outrageous house, a birthday cake in a showcase filled with bran muffins. And it was inhabited by David Peter Dodd, who at first glance was neither birthday cake, nor bran muffin, nor A Street material by any stretch of the imagination. With his brown hair, brown eyes, medium build, and average height, he wasn't a man you would immediately notice, and he preferred it that way.
He was thirty-one but looked younger, and he was sitting on the front stoop of his house reading an X-Men comic book when a large object fell from the sky and crashed through the roof of his next-door neighbor's house.
Katherine Finn, called Kate to her face and the Formidable Finn behind her back, was in her kitchen when she heard the crash. It sounded more like an explosion than an intrusion. The overhead Casablanca fan jiggled from the vibration, windows rattled, and a bedraggled hanging Boston fern broke from its moorings and smashed onto the kitchen floor. The half-empty quart of milk Kate was holding slid from her fingers. She felt her heart jump to her throat, muttered an expletive, and ran to the front door, pausing in midstride when the house settled down to eerie silence.
Kate stood absolutely still for a moment, listening, but she was unable to hear anything over the pounding of her heart. When her pulse rate slowed back to a normal beat, allowing her some semblance of rational thought, she concluded if anything were liable to explode it would have to be in the cellar. There were things down there that made odd rumbling noises when they were working. There were pilot lights and emergency off-on switches and an intimidating tangle of pipes and wires.
She took a deep breath, opened the cellar door, and sniffed. No smoke. She switched on the light and crept down the stairs. No fire. No evidence of explosion. She shook her head in confusion, turned to go back upstairs, and let out a shriek when she bumped into David Dodd.
Dodd looked at her over his wire-framed glasses and reached out to steady her. "Are you okay?"
She clapped her hand to her heart and gasped for breath. "You scared me!"
"I heard the noise, and I came to see if you were all right. The door was open. . . ." He made a vague gesture in that direction and removed his glasses.
They'd been neighbors for three months, but he'd never been in her house. In fact, he'd never spoken more than three words to her at any one time. That hadn't stopped him from forming an opinion.
He'd observed that she was a woman who moved fast and kept erratic hours. She didn't dally between her car and her front door, barely taking time to wave and mumble "hello" while she fumbled for keys. She usually rushed by him in a stern black coat that hung almost to her ankles, with a huge leather purse slung over her shoulder, a grocery bag balanced on her hip, plastic-draped clothes from the cleaners caught in the crook of a finger, and more often than not, she was dragging a large, odd-shaped metal case that was equipped with casters and stamped with a bunch of travel stickers.
Because he didn't know her name, Dodd thought of her as the Mystery Woman. He was fascinated by the amount of raw energy she exuded between curb and doorstep. Her impersonal, hurried hellos annoyed the hell out of him. And he hated the damn black coat.Back to the Bedroom. Copyright © by Janet Evanovich. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from Back to the Bedroom by Janet Evanovich, Janet Evanovich
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
An electronic version of this book is available through VitalSource.
This book is viewable on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and most smartphones.
By purchasing, you will be able to view this book online, as well as download it, for the chosen number of days.
A downloadable version of this book is available through the eCampus Reader or compatible Adobe readers.
Applications are available on iOS, Android, PC, Mac, and Windows Mobile platforms.
Please view the compatibility matrix prior to purchase.