When Mooney McMahon got called before the judge, reporter Leona Lane made sure she was seated in the courtroom front and center. Mooney was an asshole, pure and simple, and Leona enjoyed watching assholes get their due. She enjoyed personally doling out the due even more, but McMahon had strung himself up by the balls, saving her the trouble. Maybe next time.
She smiled while she listened to the little whiner yip over his sentence and fine. TPing some old biddy’s house, for Bast’s sake. Did he have no brain at all? Hello. Canine. Let’s see him lift his leg out of this one.
The police dogs escorted McMahon out of the courtroom. Leona stood and straightened her sleek black jacket. Her hair, of the same ebony shade and shininess, brushed across her shoulders. Enough self-indulgence. Back to work.
Her jade eyes automatically swept the room, and her nose twitched. There might not be much of a story in McMahon’s arraignment, but she sure as scat smelled something here.
There. Three rows back sat White Fang Kent, the new guy at the Guts and Butts Gazette. Leona’s eyes narrowed to suspicious slits. Dog Boy was deep in conversation with that little goody-goody, Katrina Collins. Normally Leona would instantly leap in to champion a fellow feline, but something about Kitty put her hackles up. Maybe it was the way she smiled at Kent, or how she leaned toward him like she expected to get more from that mouth than just words.
Not that I care, Leona thought with a twist of her lips. Take away his yummy looks and that big, strong body and what have you got? Just another dog.
Leona marched up the aisle past them, pretending not to notice. They didn’t appear to notice her at all, pretend or otherwise.
That other observer seated at the back of the courtroom, however, did notice. Leona growled in the pit of her throat. Oh scat. No escaping; she’d been spotted. She made herself approach the bitch with what passed for a smile on her face. “Maggie.”
“Leona, darling.” Maggie Novak, the Guts and Butts gossip columnist, beamed up at her, with plenty of teeth on display. She wore huge dark glasses, a paisley scarf and an eye-scalding yellow feather boa. A coyote’s idea of anonymity. “Always a pleasure to see you.”
“Save it. What are you doing out of the pound? Scrounging for scraps again?”
“Scraps? Who needs to settle for scraps when there’s such a rich banquet available?” She aimed her pointy nose at Kent and Collins. “So many tasty tidbits on display.”
“If that’s your thing. I’ve got bigger fish to catch.”
“Oh, don’t run off just yet. Maybe you can help me out. You know Devon Hancock’s back in town? And totally on the outs with cat-tail for a change. Seems the pup had a run-in with one bad kitty. Any idea who she was?”
“Sorry. I don’t go in for dumpster diving. Get your trash elsewhere.”
“But you and he used to be so close, once upon a time.”
Bast bite her. “Listen, you nosy bitch – ”
Maggie’s feather boa reared up and hissed. Cold reptile eyes glared at Leona from the concealing sheathe of plastic-feathered spandex. Leona hissed back. Of course Maggie wouldn’t go on the prowl without her favorite snaky snitch. “Can it, Lamar, or I’ll tie you in a sheepshank. Same goes for you, Novak. Hancock’s off limits. Got it?”
Maggie smirked. “Temper temper, darling. We wouldn’t want another incident, would we?”
“You don’t want to get on my bad side. Trust me.” Leona stormed off before said bad side could erupt. A good clawing might serve the snoopy hound right, but Leona didn’t need any more charges on her record. She couldn’t blow the lid off this burg if they threw her back in the pound.
Leona burst into the sunlight. She paused on the courthouse steps and took long, deep breaths until she felt as calm as she figured she was going to get. It wasn’t easy. Devon Hancock, of all the Bast-damned people. The one story she could never write without destroying herself in the process.
How much did Maggie know?
Forget that sorry bitch. Like she’d said, she had bigger fish to hook. Though maybe a friendly chat with Devon wouldn’t be a bad idea. If nothing else, she had to make sure the whole mess wouldn’t flare up again. With a quick check to make sure Maggie and Kent weren’t following, Leona headed for her car.