"Is Mobile anywhere near Talladega?" asked Michael. "I'd love to see a NASCAR race."
"It's not, and the case isn't in Mobile." Nate took a tablet from his briefcase. "The couple I helped, Mr. and Mrs. Baer, had been vacationing in Mobile, but they live on the East Coast in Savannah. Thanks to the Baers talking up our talents, you two are going to a charming city steeped in history and home of the famous Oglethorpe Town Squares."
"Like in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?" asked Mike. "I read that book years ago. A couple of scenes kept me up all night."
Beth swiveled to face her partner. "That book was fiction. Let's stick to reality. What kind of case?" she asked, turning back to Nate.
"Surveillance. A friend of Mrs. Baer hired our agency to check up on her husband. Take some pictures and discern the facts. But we are not to intervene. You'll create a file to present to her. What she does with it is her own business."
"Ugh," moaned Beth. "Spying on somebody's spouse? Sounds like a job for Sleaze Incorporated."
Nate's jaw twitched. "The last time I checked, Miss Kirby, my name was on the paychecks around here. Which means we need to generate cash flow so those aforementioned paychecks don't bounce."
"She didn't mean anything by that," said Michael. "Beth just talks without thinking. Could you throw me the donut bag, Miss Maxine?"
Beth would have loved to put her partner in his place, but unfortunately Michael was right. "Sorry, Nate. Spending time in jail affected my judgment."
"According to my sources, you were incarcerated for less than twenty-four hours. Your judgment was faulty long before that." Nate reached for another donut. "What you need—what you both need—is a vacation. This new client has offered a hefty fee, plus a generous per diem for expenses. I would go myself, but Isabelle is eager to sleep in her own bed. I heard that Savannah is a lovely city with plenty to see and do, so tie up loose ends here within the next few days. I'll handle anything that comes up while you're gone."
Michael scratched his scalp. "I'm confused. Are you giving us a free trip or a case to work?"
"It will be both. Plan to be gone a week to ten days, but the case shouldn't take longer than a few days. With the generous per diem, you can stay someplace nice and enjoy some R&R with all expenses paid."
Beth drained the last of her coffee. "It takes 'two' PIs to snap grainy photos of a philandering husband?"
The legs of Nate's chair hit the floor with a bang. "First of all, those photos had better not be grainy. Second, we don't know that anybody is philandering. And if this assignment is beneath your dignity, Miss Kirby, you can always collect unemployment until something rolls in that meets your standards. What's the matter with you?"
From the corner of her eye, Beth caught Michael shaking his sandy-blond head. How on earth could she admit the truth—that she hated spying on people who might be stepping out? "My mother has been asking that question for years." Beth rose to her feet. "I would love to go to Savannah. Michael and I will do a great job. Our new client will be pleased as punch when we leave."
"That's better." Nate pushed his notes across the desk. "Here's the information you'll need. Keep in touch. Call me at least every other day."
"Are we driving or flying?"
"Your choice—fly and rent a car in Savannah or drive one of yours."
They spoke simultaneously. "Fly," said Michael.
"We'll drive separately," said Beth.
When the partners turned to face each other, Beth was quicker with an explanation. "Two cars will allow some personal free time. What if I want to go shopping while you search for the perfect workout gym?"
"Shopping for what—Cheetos and Diet Coke?" Michael quipped. "I've never known you to shop, Kirby."