GINNY SCOOT WAS standing on a third-floor ledge, threatening to jump, and it was more or less my fault. My name is Stephanie Plum and I work as a bounty hunter for my bail bondsman cousin Vinnie.
Ginny had failed to show for a court appearance and it was my job to find her and return her to the authorities. If I don’t succeed my cousin is out his bond money, and I don’t get paid. On the other hand, there’s Ginny, who would prefer not to go back to jail.
My colleague Lula and I were on the sidewalk, looking up at Ginny, along with a bunch of other people who were taking video with their smartphones.
“This here’s not a good angle for her,” Lula said to me. “Everybody could look up her skirt and see her hoo-ha. I guess technically you could see her thong, but we all know her lady parts are lurkin’ in there behind that little piece of red material and ass floss.”
Lula was originally a respectable ’ho. A couple years ago she’d decided to relinquish her corner and take a job as file clerk for the bonds office. Since almost all the files are digital these days, Lula mostly works as my wheelman. She’s four inches too short for her weight, her clothes are three sizes too small for her generously proportioned body, her hair color changes weekly, her skin is a robust dark chocolate.
I feel invisible when I stand next to Lula because no one notices me. I inherited a lot of unruly curly brown hair from the Italian side of my family, and I have a cute nose that my grandma says is a gift from God. My blue eyes and pale skin are the results of my mother’s Hungarian heritage. Not sure where my 34B boobs came from, but I’m happy with them, and I think they look okay with the rest of me.
Just ten minutes ago I’d almost had the cuffs on Ginny. Lula and I were at her door, and I was giving her the usual bounty hunter baloney.
“We need to take you downtown so you can reschedule your court date,” I’d said to Ginny. “It won’t take long.”
This was partly true. The rescheduling went quickly. Whether she would make bail again was a whole other issue. If she didn’t make bail she’d be a guest of the penal system until she came up to trial.
“Screw you,” Ginny said, and she flicked her Big Gulp at me, slammed her door shut, and locked it.
By the time Lula and I got the door unlocked Ginny had climbed out her bedroom window and was standing on a two-foot-wide ledge. So here I was, in a soaking wet shirt, trying to talk Ginny off the ledge.
“Okay,” I yelled at her. “I’m out of your apartment. That’s what you wanted, right? Go back inside.”
“I don’t want to go to jail.”
“It’s not that bad,” Lula told her. “They let you watch television in the dayroom, and you’ll make new friends.”
“I’d rather die,” Ginny said. “I’m going to jump.”
“Yeah, but you’re only on the third floor,” Lula said. “You’ll just break a bunch of bones. And anyways you never know about these court cases. Sometimes they get dismissed.”
“She cut off her boyfriend’s penis,” I whispered to Lula.
“It could have been justified,” Lula said.
“It was his penis!”
“So probably chances of him dismissing the charges aren’t so good,” Lula said. “Men don’t like when you cut their dick off. I hear it’s real hard to sew a dick back on.
“If you want to die you have to make sure you land on your head,” Lula yelled up to Ginny. “That probably would do it.”
Two Trenton PD squad cars drove up and parked at an angle to the curb. They were followed by a fire truck and an EMS truck.
One of the uniforms from the squad car came over to talk to me.
“What’s going on?”
“She’s FTA,” I told him. “I went to cuff her, and she managed to get away and get out on the ledge.”
A satellite truck from the local television station pulled up behind the fire truck.
“Can you get someone to talk to her? A relative or her boyfriend?” the cop asked me.
“Probably not the boyfriend,” I said.
The fire department put a bounce bag on the sidewalk under the window, and a cameraman from the SAT truck started to set up.
“You’re not gonna look photogenic when you hit that bounce bag, what with your short skirt and all,” Lula yelled at Ginny. “You might want to rethink this.”
Joe Morelli sidled up to me. He’s a homicide detective with the Trenton PD. He’s six foot tall with a lot of lean, hard muscle, wavy black hair, and a smile that makes a girl want to take her clothes off. I’ve known Morelli all my life, and lately he’s been my boyfriend.