Be Careful What You Wish For

Be Careful What You Wish For

 

For fans of Janet Evanovich, Kate Johnson, and Gemma Halliday...

 

Armed with cool sarcasm and uncontrollable hair, feisty insurance investigator Amber Fox is back in a new mystery combining murder and mayhem with romance and chicklit…

 

Three deaths.

A safety deposit box robbery.

The boxing heavyweight champion of the world.

 

Somehow, they’re all related, and Amber has to solve a four year old crime to find out why.

 

As she stumbles across a trail of dead bodies and a web of lies spanning both sides of the social divide, it’s starting to get personal. Someone thinks Amber’s poking her nose in where it’s not wanted, sparking off a game of fox and mouse – only this time, Amber’s the mouse.

 

Amber’s forced to take refuge in the home of her ex-fiancé, Brad Beckett, and now it’s not just the case that’s hotting up. So is the bedroom…

 

All Levi Carter wanted to be was the boxing heavyweight champion of the world, but at what cost?

 

All Carl Thomas wanted was to be rich, but would his greed be his downfall?

 

All Brad Beckett wants is to get Amber back, but there’s a reason for the ex word.

 

Be careful what you wish for…you might just get it.

 

Also by Sibel Hodge

 

Fourteen Days Later

The Fashion Police

My Perfect Wedding

The Baby Trap

Voodoo Deadly

How to Dump Your Boyfriend in the Men’s Room (and other short stories)

Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave

About the author

 

Sibel Hodge has dual British/Turkish Cypriot nationality and divides her time between Hertfordshire and North Cyprus. Her first romantic-comedy novel,
Fourteen Days Later
, was shortlisted for the
Harry Bowling Prize 2008
and received a Highly Commended by the
Yeovil Literary Prize 2009
.
My Perfect Wedding
is the sequel to
Fourteen Days Later,
although it can be read as a standalone novel.

 

The Fashion Police
is a chicklit comedy-mystery novel, the first in the series featuring feisty, larger-than-life, Amber Fox. It was runner-up in the
Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition 2010
and nominated
Best Novel with Romantic Elements 2010
by
The Romance Reviews.
Other Amber Fox mysteries include:
Be Careful What You Wish For
and
Voodoo Deadly.

 

For more information, please visit
http://www.sibelhodge.com/

 

Praise for Be Careful What You Wish For…

 

"
I was hooked in this book from beginning to end. This is a very well written book that has humour and romance." - Geeky Girl Books

 

"All the necessary elements for a good suspense novel were in this book:  murders, mystery, greed, evil, and no small amount of action and unexpected twists and turns.  But if a suspense novel can be lighthearted and funny, this one was, with lots of romance and quirky humor throughout the story. I definately recommend picking this book up!!" - The Caffeinated Diva reads...

 

"If you like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum I think you will really like Amber Fox - I know I do."  - Martha's Bookshelf

 

"Be Careful What You Wish For
 is a sharp, fast-paced story with intrigue, evil, romance, and humor.  Amber Fox is the kind of strong lead female character with a great sarcastic wit that I love to read.  She's not perfect, and that's ok with her and me!  She reminds me a lot of Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovich's series - one of my favorites of all time. It's the kind of tale that keeps you turning the pages to find out!  I recommend you give it a try." - To Read, Perchance to Dream

 

 

 

 

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

 

Sibel Hodge

 

 

Copyright © Sibel Hodge 2011

 

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

 

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Be careful what you wish for…you might just get it.

Chapter 1

 

When I was about five, I always loved losing myself in fairytales where the handsome prince would come charging up on his white horse and save the fair maiden. I frequently imagined that I was Rapunzel, although there were two problems with this daydream. 1) I wasn’t into heights in a big way; and 2) My hair was destined to be more flyaway than flaxen.

Fast-forward thirty years, and now I had an even bigger problem. I had two handsome princes in my life, and I didn’t know what to do about either of them. I know, I know – be careful what you wish for, right?

In my thirty-five-year-old-daydream, there was Romeo, my boyfriend and all-round Mr. Nice Guy. Then there was Brad, my boss and ex-fiancé. There was a reason for the “ex” word, though.

I sprawled on my sofa, staring at the ceiling and contemplating this little conundrum. Marmalade, my ginger cat, lay next to me. He purred away, mirroring my ceiling stare. I absent-mindedly stroked his head, wondering whether he was contemplating a two-pussy scenario.

I know what you’re thinking – two gorgeous men after little old moi. Lucky me. I wish! It wasn’t lucky, it was way more complicated than you can imagine. In fact, it was as complicated as trying to assemble flat-pack furniture with a stupid amount of screws and no instructions. Not that I couldn’t assemble flat-pack stuff, you understand. I’m a very practical kind of girl. But, you know, flat-pack can beat even the most enthusiastic DIYers. Or is it just me who ends up with a big bag of screws left over, wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do with them?

I was so deep in thought that I didn’t hear my mobile ringing straight away. When it finally registered in my conscious, I tumbled off the sofa, dislodging Marmalade in the process, and grabbed it from the wooden floorboards.

I glanced at the caller ID.

Think of the Devil. The last person I wanted to talk to when I was doing my contemplation thing was Brad. He might sway my decision about things, and I was pretty easily swayed at the moment.

‘Hey, Brad. What’s up?’

‘Foxy,’ Brad said, his Australian twang sounding more pronounced tonight. ‘What are you doing?’

‘Stroking my pussy.’

‘Mmm. Don’t give me ideas.’ I heard the smile in his voice.

‘You don’t need any ideas,’ I said. He probably heard the smile in mine, too.

‘No Romeo tonight, then?’

I rolled my eyes. Even though he couldn’t see it, he’d know I’d done it. ‘Stop fishing for information.’ I grabbed a fluffy cushion from the sofa and hugged it to my stomach, as if somehow that could put more distance between us.

His voice lowered. Deep and slow, he said, ‘I need you.’

A tingling sensation worked its way through my spine, not to mention other parts. I tried to ignore it. I didn’t really trust myself to speak so I gnawed on my lip for a moment, thinking of something witty to say. My wit had suddenly upped and vanished for some reason, so I just chose to ignore his words instead and pretended to be huffy.

I cleared my throat. ‘What do you want, Brad? It’s Saturday night, and I’m a very busy girl.’ My voice came out huskier than I intended as I glanced around my empty, poky apartment, which was very unbusy at this moment in time.

Yeah, right, Amber. Since when did thinking about Brad constitute being busy?

‘I need you for a job,’ he said.

I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. ‘Why do you need an insurance claim investigation done on a Saturday night?’ Was he just trying to lure me around to his place for some other, totally un-work-related reason? And if so, how much will-power did I have to resist it? ‘Can’t it wait until Monday?’

‘I’m afraid not, Foxy.’ More serious this time.

‘OK, what sort of a job?’

‘Have you ever heard of Levi Carter?’

I thought for a moment. ‘He’s a boxer, isn’t he?’

‘Yes. He’s the world heavyweight boxing champion,’ he said. ‘He’s also one of our clients.’

Brad owned Hi-Tec Insurance. He wasn’t just a successful business owner, though: he had a mysterious SAS past, too.

‘I’ve been watching Levi’s fight tonight on pay per view,’ Brad carried on. ‘He’s just gone down in the sixth round by TKO, but something about it doesn’t look right.’

‘What’s a TKO?’

‘Technical Knockout. You’ve never watched a boxing match before?’

‘A few, but that was mostly because I wanted to see two fit guys with six packs and hardly any clothes on. I don’t know anything about the rules.’

‘It’s a knockout declared by the referee when he judges one of the boxers unable to carry on with the fight.’ Brad paused, waiting for me to take this in. My mind was still on the fit guys, though. ‘It means the other guy won because Levi couldn’t continue with the fight.’

‘So why is that unusual? Doesn’t that happen a lot?’

‘It’s not unusual, but something feels off to me.’

‘OK. What happened to Levi Carter so he couldn’t carry on fighting?’ I sat up on the sofa, all ears. Brad’s instincts were as good as my own. If he thought something was off, it probably was.

‘He had a bad cut on his eye by a blow from his opponent. He’s at the hospital at the moment, and the doctors say he’s got a torn retina. It’s quite a common injury for boxers.’

‘And let me guess...Levi’s insured with Hi-Tec for any medical expenses due to boxing injuries?’

‘Yep,’ Brad said. ‘Although the expenses covered by his policy are fairly limited. Any payout we make is pretty low – minimal, in fact. There aren’t many insurance companies who would give a boxer high risk medical insurance.’

‘Huh?’ My eyebrows furrowed. ‘So if any payout we make to him for medical expenses are negligible, why all the fuss on a weekend? Why not just wait for the medical reports to come in and see if he makes a claim. Aren’t you getting a bit ahead of yourself?’

 ‘Let’s just say I’ve got a personal interest in this one.’

That got my interest aroused pretty quick. Brad didn’t do personal, unless it involved a few select people – me included. ‘OK, I’ll play. If he’s got a common boxing injury, what is it that doesn’t look right with the fight?’

‘That’s why I need you. I’ll have to show you at my place.’

‘I’m on my way.’ I grabbed my rucksack, which was filled all sorts of investigatorish tools, like a stun gun, my SIG Sauer handgun, camera, voice recorder, notepad, and headed out the door.

****

Brad’s place consisted of a spacious – and very expensive – barn conversion. Huge ceilings and windows, stark white walls, lots of exposed wooden beams, minimal furniture, and no personal knick-knacks gave it a show house kind of feel. Brad didn’t do clutter. I couldn’t live like that. Give me clutter and stuff any day. In fact, give me five minutes with this place and I could clutter it to death. The place was spotlessly clean, as usual. A guy who could kill people with his bear hands
and
do the housework – a rare find indeed.

‘Here.’ Brad opened the door and handed me a glass of red wine.

‘Trying to get me drunk?’ I arched an eyebrow and dumped my rucksack on the floor.

‘Me?’ He faked a shocked look. He looked like he was fresh out of the shower – his cropped hair was damp around the edges and he smelled of...I sniffed…I wasn’t sure, but it was pretty scrumptious whatever it was. Something sexy and manly. Pheromones Pour Homme. He wore butt-huggingly sexy jeans and a black T-shirt that showed off his muscular body. I secretly thought that SAS stood for Sexy Arse Soldier.

I took a sip of wine and followed him into the huge downstairs living space. ‘OK, what’s so important you have to entice me here tonight?’ I rested a hand on my hip.

Brad pointed to his humongous flat screen TV that took centre stage on one wall. A freeze-frame picture of a boxing match caught my eye. Two sweaty, well-defined black men took up the whole screen.

‘I’ll replay it for you,’ he said.

I tilted my glass towards the TV. ‘Which one’s Levi?’

Brad sat on his black leather sofa opposite the TV and patted the empty space next to him.

Hmm. Probably not a good idea to sit that close considering the last time I’d had a drink in his company. What if I lost control of myself and we ended up doing something I’d regret in the morning? Not that we actually
did
do anything that time, but, well…it was complicated.

I eyed the spare seat. OK, what was the worst that could happen? We’d just talk about the case and that would be that. Hey, it was Saturday night, after all, and maybe I could fool myself into thinking that a hot-blooded woman should live dangerously sometimes.

I sat down, my thigh close enough to feel the heat from his. He glanced at me, haunting grey-blue eyes seemingly piercing my thoughts.

I coughed and leaned away from him, keeping my eyes firmly locked on the screen.

‘Levi’s on the left,’ he said. ‘The other guy is Ricky Jackson.’

Levi looked in his early twenties. He was good looking, unless you counted a nasty bruise around his swollen left eye with blood gushing from a cut above it. Ricky had a few cuts and bruises, too.

‘That’s the eye with the torn retina?’ I asked.

‘Yes.’ Brad reached for a remote control on the arm of the sofa. ‘Let me show you what happened before the injury.’

He rewound the fight at high speed and stopped it. ‘OK, watch it from here.’

I watched Levi dance around Ricky in the centre of the ring. For a guy who must’ve weighed about two hundred and twenty-five pounds, Levi was very light on his feet. I was mesmerized by his speed and agility. I thought back to Muhammad Ali’s catchphrase, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” If Ali had still been in the ring, Levi looked like he would’ve given him a run for his money. He looked at the peak of physical fitness, too, like he was buzzing with energy, whereas his opponent, Ricky, was more out of breath as he dodged Levi’s quick jabs.

Ricky managed to catch Levi with a punch from his right hand, his glove smashing into Levi’s left eye and opening a nasty gash just above it. Blood mingled with sweat, trickling down Levi’s cheek and spraying onto the ring as he danced out of reach, before coming back and connecting with a right and left punch to Ricky’s head. A succession of fast blows by Levi followed with Ricky struggling to move out of reach. Levi backed Ricky onto the ropes with nowhere to go. Levi was in the middle of a bout of short punches to Ricky’s head when the bell sounded and each boxer returned to his corner where frantic activity took place on both of them.

A close-up shot showed a man in Levi’s team pressing an ice bag to his cut eye as another man squeezed water into his mouth from a bottle. Levi swirled the water around and spat it into a bucket. The man with the ice applied something to Levi’s cut with a cotton bud, then rubbed some sort of gel on his face.

Levi came steaming out of his corner at the sound of the bell, ready for action. He was just about to land a punch to Ricky’s head when it looked like he was distracted by a sound from the outside of the ring.

Levi’s outstretched arm was aiming well to hit Ricky on the cheek, but his punch seemed to falter through the air, skimming off Ricky’s ear. Levi whipped his head around towards a middle-aged man who was now in full frame of the camera behind the fighters. The man stood in front of the ring, shouting something, his arms pointing up at Levi and waving frantically. The man’s face had turned a shade of red that was a cross between tomato and eggplant. Levi’s face froze in a scared mask, and his ebony skin seemed to lighten several shades in front of my eyes. As the man carried on shouting, Ricky made use of Levi’s distraction, taking his chance to land a forceful punch to Levi’s left eye, opening the gash further. Blood poured from the wound, dripping onto the floor of the ring.

Levi sagged to his knees before rolling onto his back. The referee moved forward, ordering Ricky to one of the corners while he took up position next to Levi’s head. Then he started counting to ten.

One!

Levi squirmed on the ground, his gloves pressed to his face.

Two!

Levi’s right arm came away from his face and, eyes closed, he rolled onto his side.

Three!

Levi removed his left hand from his left eye but kept his eyes closed.

Four!

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