Excerpt: Fletcher’s Baby!

Excerpt: Fletcher’s Baby!

Book 3: NY! NY! Series

Chapter One

Sam Fletcher was no stranger to jet lag.

He knew all about the gritty, bloodshot eyes, the general lethargy, the tendency to yawn at inappropriate moments. But he’d never had it affect his hearing before.

“Hattie did what?” He stared at his mother, who had pounced on him the moment he opened his apartment door.

That in itself was odd. Amelia Fletcher lived in the same Upper East Side building as her son, Sam, but she made it a point never to impose. Imposing was bad manners. Amelia Fletcher had never been accused of bad manners in her life.

Yet here she was at — what was it? — one p.m. (three a.m. Tokyo time, which was what Sam was on) — standing in the foyer of his Fifth Avenue apartment with a list in her hand.

“The lawyer said he couldn’t wait until you got back in the States to read the will,” she told him. “And since I had power of attorney while you were gone, it was entirely legal to do so without you.”

“Of course, but — ” More than his hearing must be going. He knew his devoted, eccentric aunt Harriet had died last week, and, while he regretted being abroad and unable to come to her funeral, he didn’t see what the will had to do with him.

“She left you everything,” his mother said again.

That was what he thought he’d heard the first time. Sam gave a quick, sharp shake of his head. “Everything? You mean the . . . ” His voice died as he contemplated what exactly Hattie’s “everything” might imply.

In case his contemplation missed something, his mother, consulting the list again, spelled it out for him.

“The house — the inn, that is — and all the furnishings, including her Ming vases, her Tiffany glass, her entire collection of Stickley oak, her Grant Wood sketches and her Frank Lloyd Wright elevations.” Her voice slowed slightly as she continued. “She also left you three cats: Clark Gable, Errol Flynn and Wallace Berry by name.” She shot Sam an amused glance over the top of her glasses. “A dog called — “

“Humphrey Bogart,” Sam said heavily at the same time his mother did. He propped himself against the wall and shook his head. It was only marginally funny.

Amelia kept smiling. “Just so.” She glanced down at the list again. “A parakeet.”

Sam sighed and sagged. “Fred Astaire.”

“And,” his mother finished with a flourish, “an unidentified object simply called Josephine Nolan.”

Sam jerked upright. “What?

At the vehemence of his response Amelia took a step back, then looked at the list and nodded. “It’s the last item on the list the lawyer faxed me. Josephine Nolan.” She dimpled slightly as her lips curved in amusement. “I’ve never heard of a Josephine Nolan. What do you suppose it is? A rabbit? A hamster? A turtle?”

Sam didn’t think it was funny at all. He knew exactly what a Josephine Nolan was.

“What in hell is Hattie doing leaving me a woman?”