Broke by Kaye George

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Imogene Duckworthy, eager PI assistant, wants to be on her own. She finds a rental house where her four-year-old daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, and Drew's pet pig, Marshmallow, are allowed. The rumors are that the house is haunted. It's no rumor there's a dead man in the bathtub when she inspects the house, though. A long-lost relative is the logical suspect, but can Immy let her Uncle Dewey be railroaded for a crime he, possibly, didn't commit?

This title is published by Kaye George and is distributed worldwide by Untreed Reads.


Imogene Duckworthy was sure her boss would approve, but she would have to be careful how she worded her request. Mike Mallett, Private Investigator, had once fired her for taking too much time away from her job. She had been working on her own cases, which she considered an aspect of job training, but he seemed to take a dim view of that.

Immy knocked on his open door. "Mr. Mallett?"

The look on his narrow face was pained. "What's with the Mr. Mallett? When you don't call me Mike, it's usually trouble." His raspy voice went with his rumpled white shirt, giving him a bit of a Columbo aura. Columbo was probably a lot taller that Mike Mallett though. Mike also never smoked a cigar.

"My appointment is for four o'clock," Immy said. "It's the only time she had available." The eyes in his weasel face narrowed. "My filing is all done and the bills are in my purse. I'll mail them before I have my meeting."

"Oh, all right."

She waved away some of the walnut scent from the candle on his desk.

"But I need a full day from you tomorrow. I'll be doing surveillance and I'm expecting a few calls."

Immy assured him she would be at her desk promptly at nine, grabbed her jacket and purse, and skipped out.

Her car was parked in the next block since she'd gotten in a little late this morning and there had been no spaces in front of Mike's office. She flew past the display window of the travel agency next door without even glancing, as usual, at the posters of Hawaii and the Caribbean and longing to be somewhere warmer than chilly northwest Texas in autumn.

She got into her Hyundai Sonata. The powder blue car was eight years old but brand new to Immy, her latest pride and joy. She'd saved for months to get the two thousand dollars to buy it. Now she was free from having to make arrangements to use the ancient green van she had shared with her mother for years.

Freedom. She could come and go as she wished.

Well, not quite exactly as she wished. There was the job. And there was Hortense, her mother. And, most importantly, there was Nancy Drew Duckworthy, her beautiful four-year-old daughter, usually known as Drew.

Immy drove the half mile to Shorr's Real Estate. The office was in a strip mall, flanked by a dollar store and a coffee shop. Garish red and blue signs in the window proclaimed: "Houses Galore with Shorr" and "Open the Door with Shorr." She pushed the glass door open and waited near it, politely, for the woman at the metal desk to finish her phone conversation.

The woman slammed down her desk phone and stood. "You're Imogene Duckworthy?"

Immy nodded, wondering how she could tell. Maybe because she had only one four o'clock appointment. "And you're Ms. Shorr?"

"Call me Jersey."

Jersey Shorr, thought Immy. Where have I heard that?

The woman stepped from behind her desk to greet Immy with a firm handshake. She wasn't tall, about Immy's medium five-four height, but she was built like a model, sleek and taut. Her smooth brown hair was pulled into a severe knot at the nape of her neck and her beige suit fit just right. Immy pushed her own straight, brown hair behind one ear and tugged at her stiff, new blue jeans. There was something wrong about the way they fit, but Immy couldn't decide what it was.

"I'm sorry," Jersey said, "but that was the owner of one of the places I wanted to show you. No go."

"They won't show it to me?"

"They don't want to take a chance on your pet pig."

"My daughter's pig, really. And he's very nice. His name is Marshmallow."

"Yeah, yeah," she waved a manicured hand, then gathered her purse and coat. "Most people don't want pigs in their houses, even if they're nice ones. We have four properties we can look at. That surprises me, actually."

Immy followed her out of the office, climbed into the agent's pristine black Beemer, and they drove to the first property.


Two and a half hours and three houses later, daylight was failing, along with the hunt for a place to live. Immy had had such high hopes and was now getting discouraged. Maybe she wouldn't be able to find anything in her price range in all of Wymee Falls, Texas.

She loved her mother, she just didn't want to live with her any more. A twenty-two-year-old with a child and a job, she thought, should be independent, out on her own. Her first steps toward steering her own course in life had been getting the PI job and buying her own car.

It wasn't really a PI job, if she were honest with herself. It was more of a support job, a desk-work job. The actual job description was file clerk, but Immy never thought of it that way. She was studying hard to become a real PI so she could assist Mike with his cases. She'd even solved a few of her own, she was proud to say.

But the three houses, bland, brick things, that she and Jersey Shorr had just seen were no places to bring Drew. She didn't want her daughter breathing all those fumes from the gas station next to the first one. The second one faced one of the busiest streets in Wymee Falls and Immy would worry about Drew and Marshmallow running into the traffic. The third was too close to Allblue Unit, the prison. What if an escaped convict ran to the house and took them all hostage? Immy shuddered thinking about it.

Besides, all three were so expensive it would be a stretch for Immy to make the payments.

"This is the last one." Jersey stopped the car before a crumbling mansion, like something out of Poe, or maybe an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Immy loved both Poe and Hitchcock. A crow cawed from a tree next door.

"What's the rent?" Immy asked eagerly.

It was substantially less than the other three. The house looked even better now.

Jersey put her hand on the car door handle, but didn't get out. "There's something I should tell you. Some people say this place is haunted."

Immy decided she liked it. It had character. She'd always wanted to meet a real live ghost. Or maybe that would be a real dead ghost.

  • Published by: Kaye George

Current Reviews: 1

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