In chapter 2 of his new crime thriller, The Woman in the Yellow Dress, author Robert Forte introduces the reader to the stunning heiress of a fortune with a problem. A FREE Kindle version is available on amazon.com. Please add a review after reading this excerpt, and enjoy the community of the Forte Fan Club.
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Meet Robert Forte at an upcoming book signings and events:
Church Mouse Emporium — Book signing, question and answer with Robert Forte
February 16, 7-9 p.m. EST, 828 Diamond Blvd., Johnstown, PA 15905
Classic Lines Bookstore — Book signing, question and answer with Robert Forte
February 24, 2-4 p.m. EST, 5825 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15217
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Excerpt, Chapter 2 – The Woman in the Yellow Dress
By Robert Forte
As I sat in my back booth at Barney’s I had no clue about what my next case might be. Turned out to be a case like no other I had ever encountered. A case I called The Woman in the Yellow Dress.
I sipped my Scotch and watched as she stepped through Barney’s front door. I didn’t know it then, but her name was Rachel Stone Barbieri. She was tall, beautiful, and rich. When I say tall and beautiful she was clearly that, but saying the word rich was a wealth I could never have imagined. I learned that Rachel was heir apparent to a family fortune that had been around since the early 1800 with an estimated worth around seven hundred million. Her great-grandfather made a fortune manufacturing and selling steel parts for just about every piece of machinery ever invented over the last hundred years, and now the Stone family was highly invested in the manufacture of weapons and ammunition, hotel construction, and real estate world-wide.
World War II alone almost doubled their entire worth.
Like some bomb in the night sky bursting through my ice and glass, her image instantly ignited the entire room.
Slowly, I lowered my drink and focused on her.
Everyone in the entire bar also saw her. Even Betty took notice. It was almost as if time stood still when she stepped into the place with her questioning look, cream colored skin, and those long shapely legs.
Barney suddenly dropped his blue towel and stopped cleaning glasses.
He blinked his one good eye several times and then stood there like some statue, as if struck by lightning, suddenly growing a long limp tongue that fell slowly out of his gaping mouth and rolled down onto his chin.
She carried a small black purse with tiny yellow sparkles and wore a very short, tight, bright, matching yellow dress with matching shoes. Her shining auburn hair flowed down onto her shoulders like soft manicured clouds. Everything about this woman was perfectly put into place from her head right down to her toes.
Even from my booth in the back I could see a humongous diamond ring resting on her finger, three carats easily, and I sensed in that instant, that this lovely little creature, this belladonna from God knows where, was going to become bad news for me.
Very bad news.
Rachel Stone Barbieri was all too perfect, as if playing a role. Not really looking for help like the rest of my clients.
That was my forte, spotting the real from the not-so-real. This woman had the unreal written all over her.
My suspicious mind and all of my thoughts of this vision in yellow clanged like the opening bell of some prize fight when she looked around the room a bit too quickly but walked directly to my table without skipping a beat or asking anyone for directions.
She approached and boldly held out one of my business cards.
“Are you Patrick Atwater?”
I pretended not to be interested. She looked at the card.
“Patrick Miles Atwater?”
Her voice is a bit too strained as if practiced, and although she carried the persona of someone clearly in trouble and in need of help, I could tell there was something very different about the entire delivery.
Something odd. Something off. Something askew.
She obviously needed someone to listen to her story, whatever it was, and then possibly provide a strong shoulder for her to cry on.
She didn’t strike me as the crying type. Not in that outfit.
She wanted someone to make this trouble, whatever it was, disappear. Make it all go away. And she came running to me.
She knew the drill and the game. And she played it out perfectly.
She smelled like fresh-cut flowers with just the slightest hint of vanilla. It was the scent of vanilla that told me immediately; I was going to be in big trouble with this one.
I felt her coming at me like the wind of some deadly hurricane. And what made it all the worse was although I knew it, I didn’t really care.
I welcomed her with a slight smile.
Something just wasn’t quite right about this one, and I could smell it on her plain as day, in spite of the freshly-cut flower scent, and that slight hint of vanilla.
This was the job. What I did for a living. My chosen profession. Helping poor lost souls who don’t know where to turn or who to talk to when everything around them starts looking like some deep dark endless hole that they just can’t get out of by themselves. Even though nine out of ten were always completely responsible for their own misfortunes.
She pretended to be clearly in need of someone, that was for sure, and that someone was going to be me, the guy with the sore knuckles, the cold Scotch, and the answers to all her troubles.
A con was written all over her and I have to admit I was feeling eager to get this case started. If she was going to try and put something over on someone, if that was her game, and given all the private dicks running around this town, I was glad she picked me.
Damn that hint of vanilla. I was ready for her. All I needed was that small first tell.
Damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead.
“X” marks the spot at Barney’s By The Sea and whatever was going on with this sexy firecracker all wrapped up in yellow, had somehow, some way, allowed one of my business cards to drop into her hands and she found me, here at my back booth. I could see she was already thinking from the moment she entered that she had me.
She clearly thought I was going to be caught up in her sad little story.
Hook. Line. And sinker.
I quickly decided to play this one out. Go all the way.
“I’m Atwater. Take a seat,” I said, and gave her the quick once over.
She didn’t mind my stare at all. She enjoyed it, and slid in across from me.