HOW ABOUT BUYING A DRINK for an adoring fan?"
The question came from over his shoulder. As far as Jared Williams was concerned, buying drinks was the fastest way to eat up profits, and in the six years he had been managing the rock band Nevermore, he had made it a strict policy never to buy anyone a drink -- especially a groupie. He turned around and quickly recognized the slender blond with the tattoo of a raven emblazoned over a visible portion of her left breast.
"So... how 'bout it?" she persisted. Her eyes looked deeply into his while her hand moved gently through the folds of the jacket that hung on the back of his chair.
"No drinks, no introductions to band members, no souvenirs, no nothing."
"Don't you like me?" She purred.
"No. To me, you're just another groupie -- one whose hand is going to get broken if she doesn't remove it from my jacket!"
"I was just admiring the fabric," she said, pulling her hand away.
"Yeah, and if my wallet was in there, you'd be admiring that, too."
"Touchy," she said, turning to leave. "You really should buy a drink once in awhile. Maybe then your life would be happier."
"My life is just fine," he mumbled to himself, watching her disappear into the crowd.
The bartender reappeared and asked, "Didn't wanna buy her a drink, huh?"
"No. I see her at every club we play and each time I like her a little less."
"If she comes back, let me know. The boss has a strict policy about getting rid of people who are a nuisance."
"Thanks, but I don't think she'll be back. Oh, speaking of the boss, where is Nick? He was supposed to give me a check, but I haven't seen him all night."
"Try his office."
"I'll do that. Thanks."
The bartender nodded as Jared grabbed his jacket and headed off to pick up the band's money. The door to Nick Jacobi's office was slightly ajar. Jared peered in through the opening and saw Jacobi's head resting on the desk. At first glance, it looked as though the man might be sleeping. On closer inspection, it was obvious that he was dead. Jacobi had been stabbed and his office safe emptied.
When the police arrived, Jared was surprised to find himself the prime suspect. He tried to explain about the tattooed blond, but the police weren't interested. Of course, the folded switchblade knife they found in the pocket of Jared's jacket did little to allay their suspicion. Nor did the fact that there had been a string of nightclub robberies, all of which, coincidentally, had occurred at clubs where Nevermore had recently played.
Jared began to wish he had been nicer to the blond. Maybe if he had bought her that drink...