Lending a Paw: A Bookmobile Cat Mystery (Bookmobile Cat Mysteries)

Lending a Paw: A Bookmobile Cat Mystery (Bookmobile Cat Mysteries) by Laurie Cass Read Free Book Online

Book: Lending a Paw: A Bookmobile Cat Mystery (Bookmobile Cat Mysteries) by Laurie Cass Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laurie Cass
This guy is a big deal down here.”
    So I’d called. Stan invited me to lunch at the local diner and before we’d finished our burgers, it was clear that we were going to be friends. Despite the disparity in our ages, backgrounds, and life experiences, there was an instant rapport between us that defied all understanding.
    But the more I’d gotten to know Stan, the more I didn’t understand the difference between the man I knew and the Stan Larabee that everyone else seemed to have encountered. The comments I heard ranged from “He should have stayed in Florida” to “Stan Larabee never lifted a finger to help anyone in his whole life” to “Larabee wouldn’t part with a dime unless he was guaranteed a quarter back.”
    Yet he’d written a check to the Chilson District Library with so many zeros I wasn’t sure how he got them all to fit on the line.
    “Here you are, Minnie,” he’d said, ripping it out of his checkbook. “The only way this county is going to get a bookmobile is if someone pays for the whole dang thing. Give that shortsighted library board this check and my compliments.”
    I’d thanked him profusely and said something about the discrepancy in how I saw him and how the rest of Chilson saw him. He’d roared out a laugh that somehow held an edge of black. “You’re not from a small town, are you? Stay here long enough and you’ll see.”
    “See what?” I’d asked.
    “That you can’t live long enough to outlive a reputation.”
    Soon afterward, I’d stopped by to see my best friend, Kristen, owner and operator of the Three Seasons restaurant, and begun to see what he’d meant. Kristen had been horrified when I’d told her I’d gone to Stan and asked for money.
    “You did what?” She’d looked down at me, every inch of her five-foot-eleven self vibrating with disapproval. “Stan Larabee doesn’t hand out money. Everybody knows that.”
    “Everybody is wrong.” I handed her the copy I’d made of the check.
    Kristen pushed at a wisp of her blond hair that had escaped its tight ponytail and read the numbers out loud. “Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars?” Her voice squeaked. “Are you serious?”
    “As your double chocolate cheesecake.” I’d plucked the paper out of her hands. The way her mouth was staying open made me anxious about drool. I planned to frame the copy and hang it in my bedroom so I could see it first thing when I woke up in the morning and last thing before I went to sleep at night. A raised spot from Kristen-drool would ruin the effect completely.
    She squinted as I tucked the copy away in a folder. “Did it cash?”
    “Of course it cashed. Do you think Stan Larabee would write a bad check?”
    “I’d believe anything about that man,” she said darkly.
    “Oh, pooh. I bet most of those stories are rumors made up at the bar at closing time. He was perfectly nice to me.”
    Kristen gave me one of those you’ve-only-lived-here-three-years looks, but said, “Maybe. I’ve never talked to him more than a couple of times, myself.”
    “Well, there you go. Makes you wonder what people say about you, doesn’t it?” Grinning, I’d waved and toddled home, elation filling me so full I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d started floating. I’d bearded the lion in his den. Not only had I survived to tell the tale, but I’d been rewarded beyond anything I’d expected.
    “Mrr.”
    Eddie brought me back from my year-old memory by bumping me on the chin. I’d stopped petting him. “Sorry about that.” I scratched the top of his head and the purr machine restarted. Outside, the high hills, now half-hidden by the driving rain, looked cold and empty and lonely. Tears threatened again and I bent down to put my face against Eddie’s fur.
    “Miss?”
    I shrieked, Eddie yowled. I shrieked again as Eddie’s claws sank into my thighs. He yowled again as I scrambled to my feet. He detached his claws from my skin and launched himself across the console,

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