To Catch a Bad Guy

By: Marie Astor

(Book One of the Janet Maple Series)

Chapter 1

Janet Maple took a deep breath while she waited for her train to arrive. She was twenty-nine years old, but this morning she felt like a first-grader. The same sickening feeling churned her stomach that she remembered when she first entered a room full of strangers as a five-year-old. She was much older now – a professional with a law degree to boot, and, until recently, with a successful career at the District Attorney’s office, but today none of these things gave her comfort or confidence.

It was not merely the prospect of starting a new job that gave Janet the heebie-jeebies, but it was the fact that she would be working for Lisa Foley. Talk about stirring up old insecurities… Lisa Foley had been the queen bee in high school. Come to think of it, Lisa was still the queen bee. Every time Janet talked to her best friend from high school, Lisa never failed to bring back ‘the old glory days’ as she called them. With friends like Lisa, who needed a time machine? One could always count on Lisa’s sharp memory to recall every embarrassing incident of adolescence.

Well, the past is the past, Janet thought. I should be thankful to Lisa for giving me a job. When your former boss also happens to be your ex-boyfriend, the subject of references becomes dicey to say the least. Regardless of how stellar one’s background looks on paper, employers always want references, but Lisa had hired Janet without any references. In fact, Lisa’s phone call had come with unsettlingly perfect timing. Just as Janet was about to give up all hope of white-collar employment, her old friend had come to the rescue. That was another one of Lisa’s remarkable qualities: for as long as Janet had known her, her friend seemed to have a radar for people’s misfortunes. In high school, Lisa was always the first to know who got dumped, who didn’t make the cut on the football team, and whose parents got laid off. So it was not surprising that Lisa knew about Janet’s being “downsized” by the District Attorney’s office, and when she offered her a job as Assistant General Counsel at Bostoff Securities, Janet literally jumped at the chance.

“Janie! Come in, come in!” Lisa rose from behind her long mahogany desk and opened her arms in an offer of a hug.

“Hi, Lisa.” Janet stooped for an air kiss. At five seven, Janet was no giant, and her weight was smack in the middle of the healthy range for her height. But at five two and ninety five pounds, Lisa made everyone feel as though they were towering over her.

“Sit, sit.” Lisa waved her hand at the leather chair opposite her desk. “I’m so excited that we’ll be working together – it’s going to be just like old times.”

“I’m really glad to be here, Lisa, and thank you again for giving me the job.”

“That’s what friends are for, right? To help each other out when you’re down in the dumps,” Lisa answered her own question. “So, how was your orientation?”

When Janet started her employment at the DA’s office, there had been a rigorous four-week orientation to initiate her and fellow law school recruits into the intricacies of the Assistant District Attorneys’ job responsibilities. But here, at the Bostoff Securities, the orientation only resembled the process by its title – the entire affair had taken scarcely thirty minutes, as Janet was shoved into a tiny room for her photo ID picture and given a thick binder with the company forms to sign. Janet supposed she was an experienced attorney now, and it was time she started acting like one around Lisa.

“It went well; I got all this paperwork to complete.” Janet raised the thick folder she’d been given at the orientation.

“Don’t worry about that; it’s just your generic HR stuff. What time is it now?” Lisa fumbled with her Cartier watch. “Perfect timing; we’re going to lunch. But first, let me show you to your office.” Lisa slid from behind her desk. As usual, she looked spectacular: her navy pinstriped suit seemed to have been made for her miniature body (and it probably had been), her four-inch Louboutin stilettos elongated her slender legs, and her pixie cut emphasized the perfect features of her face. She looked like a corporate version of Winona Ryder.

As Janet followed Lisa down the hall, she made a conscious effort to resist her urge to stoop; let Lisa stand on the balls of her feet instead.

“Our offices are on the same floor as the trading floor,” Lisa explained over her shoulder as she wove her way down the mahogany-lined hallway. “But there’s a shortcut through here, so that you don’t have to enter the trading floor unless you need to. And I’ll be honest with you, I try to avoid it as much as I can. It’s a veritable zoo out there.” Lisa paused, indicating that they had arrived. “Ta-daa!” Lisa flung the door open and ushered Janet into the spacious room.

Janet bit her lip with remorse. If her office was any indication of her employment at Bostoff Securities, she owed Lisa an eternal debt of gratitude. The size of the room was about twice the size of Janet’s digs when she worked for the DA, and it even had a window! Having an office with a window had been a sign of great recognition in the DA’s elaborate hierarchy. Granted, Janet had been only a few steps away from getting to this high honor before Alex snatched everything she had worked for four years of her life, but all that was history now, as were the long hours she’d put into her investigation, the credit Alex took for her work, and Alex himself.