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Authors: Gemma Halliday

Tags: #General, #cozy mystery, #Women Sleuths, #Weddings - Planning, #Women fashion designers, #Mystery & Detective

Alibi in High Heels

BOOK: Alibi in High Heels
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Here's what critics are saying about

Alibi in High Heels:

"
ALIBI IN HIGH HEELS
is a clever and stylish addition to Gemma Halliday's laughter-infused Maddie Springer series."

- Chicago Tribune

"Halliday is on top of her game, and readers will love Maddie's new adventure."

- Booklist

"If you're in the mood for a fun, fast, easy read cozy, you can't go wrong with
ALIBI IN HIGH HEELS
! I wasn't just a reader, I was truly along for the ride. Gemma Halliday has created a delightful reluctant sleuth!"

- Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine

"I started
ALIBI IN HIGH HEELS
around 2 pm and read non stop until 11 pm when I finished it. The writing was so engaging and so fun that I did not want to put this book down. This is a 5 star book that I HIGHLY recommend to Janet Evanovich fans who are looking for a new author to try that they will LOVE!!!
ALIBI IN HIGH HEELS
is the best book that I have read in a while, and I can't wait to read more books by Gemma Halliday."

- Fresh Fiction

"Maddie Springer is like a cross between Paris Hilton and Stephanie Plum, only better. The dialogue is snappy and the suspense beautifully interwoven with Ms. Halliday's unique humor. This is one HIGH HEEL you'll want to try on again and again "

- Romance Junkies

OTHER BOOKS BY GEMMA HALLIDAY

Viva Las Vegas

High Heels Mysteries:

Spying in High Heels

Killer in High Heels

Undercover in High Heels

Alibi in High Heels

Mayhem in High Heels

Christmas in High Heels (short story)

Hollywood Headlines Mysteries:

Scandal Sheet

The Perfect Shot

Deadline (coming soon!)

SHORT STORIES & NOVELLAS

BY GEMMA HALLIDAY

So I Dated an Axe Murderer (novella)

Watching You (short story)

Confessions of a Bombshell Bandit (short story)

ALIBI IN HIGH HEELS

by

GEMMA HALLIDAY

Copyright © 2010 by Gemma Halliday

Leisure Books
is an imprint of 

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

Chapter One

I love shoes.

I mean, I really really love them. If my tiny studio apartment in Santa Monica were, heaven forbid, to go up in a blazing inferno, the one thing I would rush back inside to save would be my favorite pair of strappy silver slingbacks. Granted, I'm single, live alone, and have never been able to keep a houseplant alive, let alone a pet. But still. It's bordering on obsession.

So, it came as no surprise that when an incident of minor Internet fame resulted in a trendy Beverly Hills boutique asking me to design a line of shoes for them, I squealed, squeaked and generally jumped around like a six year old minus her Ritalin. Thus far in my illustrious design career the biggest break I'd had was working for Tot Trots children's shoes where my SpongeBob slippers had been the top sellers at Payless last season. (Something to brag about or bury in a deep, dark corner of my resume? I still wasn't sure.)

But then things got even better when the first pair of Maddie Springer originals was sold to an up-and-coming young actress who just happened to be wearing them when she got arrested outside the Twilight Club on Sunset Boulevard for drug possession. Suddenly my shoes were all over
Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood
, and even CNN. I got calls from the hippest boutiques in L.A. and Orange County, all clamoring to stock my line - aptly named High Heels Seduction.

And then the impossible happened. (Oh yeah, it gets better.) The utterly amazing best thing to enter my life since DSW started carrying Prada. Jean Luc Le Croix, the hottest new European fashion designer, asked me, little 'ol me, to come show my shoes in his fall runway collection at Paris Fashion Week.

Paris!

I had died and gone to heaven.

Not surprisingly, I first had a mild heart attack, then did a repeat of the six-year-old-Ritalin-addict thing.

What was surprising, however, was my boyfriend, Ramirez's, reaction to my news of the century.

"You're going where?" he asked.

"Paris." I sighed the word, visions of the Eiffel Tower dancing in my head.

Ramirez rolled over in bed to face me, his dark eyebrows drawn together. "What do you want to go to Paris for?"

"Are you kidding?" I sat up, covering my bare self with a sheet. Even though we'd been dating off and on for over a year now, I still had my modest moments around Ramirez. Probably due to the fact that I never quite knew what was going on behind those hooded eyes of his.

Detective Jack Ramirez was a homicide detective with a very big gun, a very big attitude, and a very big... well, let's just say that certain parts of his anatomy weren't entirely lacking in the size department either. He was tall, with a compact build that was all tight muscles and hard angles. Dark hair, dark brown eyes, and a dark intense look about him that made men wary and women drool. One white scar cut through his left eyebrow and he had a black panther tattooed on his bicep, the sleek, powerful lines of its back rippling along Ramirez's arm as he propped his head up on one hand, waiting for my answer.

"Why
wouldn't
I want to go to Paris? It's the fashion capital of the world! The home of haute couture, Chanel, Dior. The Eiffel Tower!"

"Where will you be staying?"

"Jean Luc has set up rooms for all of us involved with the show. We'll be at the Plaza Athenee. It's all taken care of."

"Do you even speak French?"

I waved him off. "I know how to ask where the bathroom is and, 'How much do those shoes cost?' I'll be fine."

"I've heard the French can be pretty rude to American tourists."

I pinned him with a look. "Trust me. For Paris Fashion Week, I can handle a little rude."

"Hmph." Ramirez grunted, then shifted his weight, his half of the bed sheet slipping down his bare torso, exposing a six pack to make Budweiser jealous.

For a moment I completely forgot what we were talking about.

"How long?"

"What?" I snapped my eyes back up to meet his.

"How long will you be gone?"

"Oh. Uh, a couple of weeks. Three at the most. Jean Luc wants me there to help set up, and then of course I'll be there for the full Fashion Week. Maybe a few days after to help him pack up."

Ramirez shook his head. "I'm not thrilled about this."

"Come on, Jack. Why not?" Had he not heard the
Paris
part?

"Maddie, I don't like the idea of a woman being in a foreign country all by herself."

If the statement hadn't been so blatantly chauvinistic, I might have been touched by his concern.

"I won't be all by myself. There are tons of people involved with the show. Models, producers, designers. Besides, most of the time I'll be with Jean Luc."

"Jean Luc." Ramirez mulled over the name. "I'm not sure that makes me feel any better."

"Don't tell me you're jealous?" I asked coyly, reaching one finger out and tracing a line down Ramirez's granite chest.

He grinned. "Of a guy named Jean Luc? You're kidding, right?"

I gave him a playful swat. "Well, don't be. You have no idea what kind of work goes into Fashion Week. I'll be lucky if I have time to sleep, let alone ogle the male models."

Ramirez narrowed his eyes at me. "
Male
models? Now you are trying to make me jealous."

I swatted him again. "Don't worry, I'll be fine."

"And, what about me?" He gave my sheet a teasing tug.

"What about you?"

"I'm not sure
I'll
be fine. Two weeks is a long time for a guy like me to be alone."

"I'm sure you'll manage."

"I don't know." He traced a finger down my bare arm, leaving a trail of goosebumps. "I'm getting kind of lonely just thinking about it."

"You're a big baby, you know that?"

His grin widened.

"Besides, may I remind you that this is the first time I've even seen you in two weeks anyway?"

His smile faltered a little. "Can't be."

"Oh, yes." I nodded my head for emphasis, my blonde hair bobbing up and down. "Last weekend you had to cancel because of a shooting in South Central, then Wednesday it was the three car pile-up on the PCH, and Friday there was that stripper's body they found in the hills."

Ramirez's one flaw in the boyfriend department was his devotion to his job. Not that I blamed him, he was damned good at it. In fact, it had been the way we'd originally met, when I'd stumbled onto a case of his involving my ex-boyfriend, $20 million in embezzled funds, and a string of dead bodies. But since then it had only served as a wedge between us, keeping Ramirez wrapped up at crime scenes and me at home watching
Sex and the City
reruns and waiting for the phone to ring.

Not, mind you, that I was complaining. Much.

"Huh. I guess it has been a while," he conceded.

"Thank you."

He blew out a long puff of air. "All right, then. I give in. I'll survive while you go make your shoes and visit the Eiffel Tower."

"Really?" I squeaked. Okay, fine, so I was
totally
going to go anyway. I mean, come on, it's Paris! But, it was nice to know he wasn't going to fight me on it.

"Really." He paused. "Under one condition."

I arched an eyebrow at him. "One condition?"

Ramirez let his gaze stray down to the thin, white sheet covering my barely B's. He gave it one of those long, X-ray vision stares. "Uh huh." He nodded. Then, broke into his patented Big Bad Wolf smile - all big teeth and wicked eyes. "Tonight, you're all mine."

A shiver hopped down my spine, ending somewhere south of my belly button. I did a dry gulp. Then nodded.

And dropped the sheet.

* * *

Currently I had two vices: Mexican food and (as you may have noticed) Mexican men. Thanks to an early morning shooting on Olympic that had Ramirez crawling out of bed at the crack of dawn (see, what did I tell you?), I couldn't indulge in the latter. Which left me with the former, in the form of a grande nachos supremo at The Whole Enchilada in Beverly Hills. And I had to admit the gooey cheddar and salsa induced semi-orgasm I was experiencing was almost as good as what I'd had planned for Ramirez this morning.

Almost.

"So, did Ramierez spend the night again last night?" my best friend, Dana, asked, leaning both of her elbows on the table across from me.

I nodded. And grinned. I couldn't help it. After spending a night with Ramirez, there was nothing I could do to wipe that sucker off. "It was hot."

Dana licked her lips. "How hot?"

I picked up a stray jalapeno from my plate and held it up. "Ten of these and you still wouldn't even be close."

Dana sighed. Then started fanning herself with a napkin imprinted with a dancing cactus. "You know, it's been so long, I can hardly even remember what a one jalapeno night would be like."

Dana was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed aerobics instructor slash wannabe actress with the kind of body that had "Playboy Bunny" written all over it. Which generally meant she saw more action than a NASCAR fan. However, her current boyfriend de jour was Ricky Montgomery, who played the hunky gardener on the hit TV show
Magnolia Lane
, and, amazingly, my fated-to-short-term-romance friend had actually taken a vow of monogamy with Ricky, which, thus far, had lasted a record three months. I was actually pretty proud of Dana. Especially considering that as soon as shooting ended for the
Magnolia Lane
season, Ricky had flown off to Croatia to shoot a crime-drama movie with Natalie Portman. Ricky said the script was amazing and had Oscar written all over it. Dana said she was investing in a battery powered rabbit and praying they wrapped quickly.

"So, when is Ricky coming back?" I asked around a bite of cool sour cream and hot salsa. I'm telling you, pure heaven.

"Three more weeks. I'm just not sure I can make it, Maddie. This is the longest I've ever gone without sex."

I raised an eyebrow. "Ever?"

Dana nodded vigorously. "Since ninth grade."

Wow. I think in ninth grade I was still negotiating with Bobby Preston over second base.

"So, why don't you just go visit him?"

She shook her head. "Can't. The set's in a military zone. They needed all sorts of permits and things just to be there. Booty call isn't exactly on the list of approved reasons."

"Sorry."

"Thanks." Dana sipped at her iced tea. Decaf, sugar free, packed-with antioxidants. Dana was of the my-body-is-a-temple school of dieting. Me, I'm pretty sure my million calorie nacho platter spoke for itself.

"If it makes you feel any better, last night was the only action I've gotten in weeks, too." Not to mention that I was currently substituting a morning of naked sheet wrestling with chips and refried beans.

Dana sighed again, giving my jalapeno a longing look. "Not really, but thanks for trying."

"So, how about a little shopping? A little retail therapy always makes me feel better."

Dana nodded her head, her pony-tail bobbing up and down. "Sure. But just for a little while. I've got an audition at one. I'm reading for the part of a street walker on that new David E. Kelly show. I can so nail this one."

I looked her up and down, taking in her denim micro-mini, three-inch heels, and pink crop top. I hated to admit it, but she so could.

* * *

After I'd fully consumed my nacho supremeo, stopping just short of actually licking the plate, Dana and I walked down Santa Monica, making a right on Beverly. Now, normally actually
walking
two blocks in L.A. was an unheard of phenomenon, but this was prime window shopping territory. The boutiques lining the street held windows full of designer purses, thousand dollar tank tops, and Italian leather shoes with stitching so small, you'd swear it was the work of Leprechauns.

After drooling over a pair of crocodile boots, a fabulous deconstructed jacket and two to-die-for evening gowns, Dana paused in front of the Bellissimo Boutique. "Ohmigod, Mads! Are those yours?" She pointed to a pair of red, patent leather Mary Janes with a black kitten heel.

I grinned so wide I felt my cheeks crack. (And this time it had nothing to do with Ramirez
or
gooey cheddar-laden chips.) "Yep," I said, beaming with a pride usually reserved for mothers sporting "student of the month" bumper stickers. "Those are my latest. You like?"

"I love! Oh, I so want a pair. Hey, you think you could do something for me to wear to the premier of Ricky's movie?"

"I don't know if you can afford me. I'm a pretty hot designer now," I joked.

"Oh, I totally know what I want! I saw the cutest pair of wedge heeled sandals on J. Lo at the MTV awards. They were, like, black with this little line of sequins going down the..." But Dana trailed off, her eyes fixing on a point just over my shoulder. Then suddenly going big and round.

"What?"

I spun around and stood rooted to the spot. A little yellow sports car was careening down Beverly at Daytona 500 speeds. It sideswiped a Hummer, narrowly missing a woman carrying a Dolce shopping bag, then bounced back into traffic, tires squealing.

"Ohmigod, Maddie," Dana said, her voice going high and wild. "Look out!"

I watched in horror as the little car cut across two lanes, jumping the curb and accelerating.

Straight toward me.

BOOK: Alibi in High Heels
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