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63

Fleeced

Regan looked in the Yellow Pages and found a perfume shop off Seventh Avenue, near the site of the crime convention, called Our Scents Make Sense. We carry every brand you can think of, the ad proclaimed. Come take a whiff.

Im on my way, Regan announced to no one in particular. She grabbed a cab outside the club and found herself standing in front of a little hole-in-the-wall establishment with numerous perfume bottles lining the tiny storefront window. She opened the door, and bells that were taped to the other side tinkled, signaling her arrival.

A sixtyish woman with platinum-blond hair teased into helmetlike proportions was standing behind the long counter to the left. Even from six feet away, it was easy to spot that she had on the thickest, blackest eyeliner Regan had ever seen. Her outfit was a leopard jumpsuit, and her nails were three inches long. She must have gotten the job here when Cats closed, Regan thought.

Not surprisingly, the air in the tiny shop was filled with scents fighting with each other for domination.

Hello, dahlink, the woman said to Regan. How can I help you? Her name tag read SISSY.

Hello. Regan had the list in her hand. There are about seven perfumes here Id like to buy.

Perfect, dahlink. One for every day of the week.

Right, Regan said, thinking that Sissys accent was of indeterminate origin. The first one is called Ocean Water.

Beautiful. Beautiful outdoor scent. She stepped away and pulled a bottle off the shelf. Theres Sunday. She smiled. What about Monday?

Express to Passion.

The best. That might be too much for a Monday! she laughed as she reached for it and put it on the counter. Next.

Daisy Dewdrops.

Sissy made a face. You sure you want that? A pretty young girl like you? Its so old-fashioned.

Im sure, Regan said. It was the perfume Miss Snoopy Purse had been wearing. No wonder shed been complaining about the others.

Okay.

Within a minute they had nearly filled out the week with the scents Regan was looking for.

Quite a variety, Sissy remarked. That is good. Keeps a man on his toes.

If Jack could see me now. Regan smiled as she imagined his reaction. The final one is Lethal Injection.

Sissys eyes opened wide, even under the weight of her makeup, and she giggled. You are a naughty girl.

Good God, Regan thought.

Do you have a boyfriend? Sissy asked as she reached for the bottle.

Regan felt sacreligious even talking to this woman about Jack. She nodded her head.

He will love this, Sissy whispered conspiratorially. Its very strong. A lot of men have come in here to buy it for their women.

Regan picked up the bottle and looked at it. It was in the shape of a thick black needle.

Sissy pulled off the cap. You just push the needle like youre giving someone a shot, and out it sprays.

Lovely, Regan muttered. I wonder what genius came up with that idea.

I dont know, but its brand new! Sissy said.

Its brand new? Regan repeated.

They brought it out in time for Valentines Day this year. She paused. Whats wrong?

Regan shook her head, thinking of that woman, Georgette, who said her ex-boyfriend had given it to her. If he gave it to her recently, then why was she going to Lydias parties? Oh, nothings wrong, she said. How much do I owe you?

Sissy rang it up. Four hundred and twelve dollars and thirty-seven cents, tax included, she announced joyfully as she tore off the register tape.

I really hope we find those diamonds, Regan thought as she handed over her credit card. Or else I can just kiss this money good-bye. She signed the receipt and put the card back in her wallet.

Thank you, dahlink, Sissy said as she dropped her business card in the shopping bag, handed it over to Regan, and winked. Come back soon and tell me which day of the week your boyfriend likes best.

Thank you, Regan said, with all the politeness she could muster, before fleeing the scene.


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