There's Something About St. Tropez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's Something About
ST. TROPEZ

 

 

 

 

 

ALSO BY ELIZABETH ADLER

 

One of Those Malibu Nights

Meet Me in Venice

Sailing to Capri

The House in Amalfi

Invitation to Provence

The Hotel Riviera

Summer in Tuscany

The Last Time I Saw Paris

In a Heartbeat

Sooner or Later

All or Nothing

Now or Never

Fleeting Images

Indiscretions

The Heiress

The Secret of Villa Mimosa

Legacy of Secrets

Fortune Is a Woman

The Property of a Lady

The Rich Shall Inherit

Peach

Léonie

 

There's Something About
ST. TROPEZ

 

ELIZABETH ADLER

 

 

 

St. Martin's Press
New York

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT ST. TROPEZ
. Copyright © 2009 by Ardnavarna, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

 

www.stmartins.com

 

Design by Sarah Gubkin

 

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

 

Adler, Elizabeth (Elizabeth A.)

There's something about St. Tropez / Elizabeth Adler. — 1st ed.

        p. cm.

ISBN 13: 978-0-312-38514-9

ISBN 10: 0-312-38514-5

1. Private investigators—Fiction. 2. Television actors and actresses—Fiction. 3. Saint-Tropez (France)—Fiction. 4. Vacation rentals—Fiction. 5. Villas—Fiction. 6. Strangers—Fiction. 7. Murder—Investigation—Fiction. I. Title. II. Title: There's something about Saint-Tropez.

PR6051.D56T48 2009

823'.914—dc22

2009007676

First Edition: July 2009

 

10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's Something About
ST. TROPEZ

 

 

ST. TROPEZ
SUMMER RENTAL

 

By month or longer term.

 

Charming traditional stone villa built around an ancient
priory. Sunny terraces, mosaic-tiled swimming pool, arched
courtyard with olive trees, lavish secluded grounds
overlooking pine-treed hillside with direct view of the sea.

 

Five bedrooms, five baths. Beautifully furnished. Well-equipped
kitchen. Staff available if required.

 

Perfectly private.

 

For brochure with photographs and further details, contact:
[email protected]

 

 

Prologue

 

 

One cold spring morning in California, Mac Reilly was sitting on the deck of his small Malibu cottage with his feet propped on the guardrail, overlooking the glittering Pacific Ocean. A squall was building on the horizon and the windchill raised the hairs on his arms as he opened the large buff envelope with the French postmark, took out the papers and spread them out to read.

The letter was from Madame Suzanne Lariot, a rental agent, in answer to his inquiry about her ad for the villa in St. Tropez that he'd seen on the Internet.

Intrigued, Mac studied the glossy color pictures of the beautiful villa, Chez La Violette, with its arched colonnade, its turquoise pool, its limestone-flagged terraces with the white wicker loungers just waiting for that lucky holidaymaker to take the sun, hopefully with a chilled bottle of wine and a gorgeous woman by his side.

And Mac knew just the woman. You could get the wrong impression of Sonora Sky Coto de Alvarez, the impossible name bestowed on her by her hippie mother and her handsome Mexican rancher father, if you happened to see her in black leathers zooming down Pacific Coast Highway on her Harley, all long legs and sexy curves, but the fact was that Sunny, as she was always known, was also a graduate of the Wharton School of Business and ran her own successful PR company.

Sunny was girly and ditsy but she was also clever. She was funny and chaotic, and untidy. She was brave, as proven on certain nerve-racking murder hunts with Mac, yet she was also vulnerable and feminine. She was a terrific cook and a dedicated clothes horse, beautiful when dressed up for a
date and gorgeous when undressed in bed. And unfortunately, she adored her little monster of a dog, a three-pound fiend on four paws, the Chihuahua known as Tesoro.

Mac had recently proposed marriage to Sunny. At least so she claimed, though Mac said he wasn't exactly sure he remembered. Anyhow, now she wore a heart-shaped pink diamond on her third finger, left hand, and a big smile on her beautiful face.

Truth was Mac kind of liked the way their relationship was now. Sunny had her condo at the Marina that she shared with the dreaded Chihuahua, and he had his little Malibu shack, stuck like a green barnacle onto the very end of posh Malibu Colony. And the other truth was that Tesoro maintained a running battle with Mac's own dog, a rescued one-eyed, three-legged mutt with a bad underbite that gave him a permanent smile. The dog's name was Pirate and he was Mac's pride and joy. And nobody came between a man and his dog. Not even Sunny.

Right now though, Chez La Violette seemed to Mac to be exactly what he and Sunny needed. To get away for a while, take things easy.
Be alone
. Malibu, and his small home were, for him, about as perfect as a man could want, but he'd been working doubly hard on his successful TV show,
Mac Reilly's Malibu Mysteries,
as television's private investigator, as well as on his “day job” as the real thing, “
Mac Reilly, PI to the stars
,” which is what the tabloids called him.

Time out was definitely needed to work out their lives and their future. St. Tropez seemed the perfect answer.

Picking up the phone, he called Madame Lariot in Cannes. Within ten minutes the villa known as Chez La Violette was his for the month of June, and for a great deal of money. But then, no one ever said St. Tropez was cheap. And it would be just him and Sunny, alone at last.

And the dogs of course.

 

The following day, Madame Lariot, in her tiny office on a Cannes back street, concluded her rental transactions, closed her laptop, put it in its bag, collected all the rental agreements in a folder and placed them in an airlines rolling carry-on.

She was a low-key unremarkable-looking woman who seemed addicted to her sunglasses. She was never seen without them. She fixed her brown hair, added a touch of oddly youthful pale pink lipstick and put on her unfashionable brown linen jacket.

Locking the door behind her, she took the creaking old cage elevator down, slipped the office key into the landlord's mailbox, went outside and got into her car.

She drove to the bank, checked that the money had been transferred, then closed her business account. She transferred the money again, this time to a private account, and was off to the airport. Madame Lariot was not the kind to waste time on people. In fact, Madame Lariot would allow no one to get in the way of what she wanted. She had always been like that. Ruthless.

 

1.

 

 

It was early June, the day before the longed-for vacation and Sunny was packing, which meant that her apartment with its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Marina, was in chaos. Not that it was tidy at the best of times, something that drove Mac crazy. The exception was the kitchen which was as immaculate and scrubbed as an operating room.

Sunny had learned to cook from her Mexican grandmother (
Abuelita
's Christmas Eve tamales were a traditional treat never to be forgotten) and she loved her kitchen. She loved cooking for Mac, always taking care to choose a wine that would please a man who had by now become quite the connoisseur. And always taking care to wear something sweet and sexy that would appeal to his heart as well as his palate.

When she'd first met Mac at the press party for his TV show, she'd found herself looking at a rugged guy in jeans and a T-shirt, which she soon came to know was his habitual attire, and whose intense blue eyes were taking her in like she was the best thing he had seen all night. Electricity ran between their fingers when they shook hands. It was, Sunny thought, as though they were connected, grounding that electricity, sending a warm welcoming glow through her body. That was two years ago now and they had rarely been apart since.

Now Mac had become famous; his
Mac Reilly's Malibu Mysteries
TV docudrama was shown around the world. He'd resolved some of Hollywood's long-drawn-out mysteries, crimes of passion, money and violence and had an almost uncanny ability to get into the mind of a criminal—or a killer. Plus somehow he always managed to keep his sense of humor. Add to that, on
camera he was so darn attractive in his own beat-up, laid-back way, the way that Sunny found so endearing.

Mac also kept Sunny on her toes helping with his crime investigations. He made her feel as though he couldn't live without her. He made her laugh and he bought her flowers and, when jealous Tesoro wasn't around, they made better love that anyone had a right to expect. Life and love were like the same thing for Mac Reilly and Sunny loved him to pieces, though she did wonder how they could ever get married, because of their dogs. She was in her thirties and Mac in his forties. It was perfect timing. She would have given up the Marina apartment in a minute and moved in with him had their dogs not been so antagonistic. Still, she was forced to admit that Tesoro was the main culprit. Poor Pirate had learned to keep his distance when Tesoro curled her lip and bared her teeth in something that could definitely not be called a smile. And in fact, so had Mac, who had the scars to prove it.

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