“Katrina, I need help.”
Katerina stumbled out of bed, her cell phone slipping from her hand.
“Damn it,” she muttered. Fumbling for the lamp, she snapped it on,
blinking several times against the harsh light. She heard the low tone
of the man’s voice, now coming from under the bed. Even from a
distance he sounded frightened and hysterical.
Bending over the side of the bed, her long chestnut hair cascading onto
the floor, she groped for her phone. She grabbed it, bringing it to her
“This is Katerina. Who is this?”
“Katr—, it’s Joe Lessing. I’m a friend of Phil’s. You remember
Kat worked to match the voice to a face. After a moment, the film of
sleep dropped away. Medium height. Built like a boxer. Strong jaw. Black
hair with a widow’s peak.
“Yes, Mr. Lessing. How can I help you?”
She listened to Joe Lessing's labored breathing at the other end of the
phone; he sounded like he had just come in from a brisk jog. The clock
radio read twelve-thirty. It was a little late for a run around the
“I can’t find Phil. Do you know where he is?”
“No, I’m sorry, I don’t.”
“He’s not answering his cell phone.”
“Mr. Lessing, I don’t work for Mr. Castle anymore. Maybe his current
assistant can help you—"
“Shit! Shit!” Lessing's voice rose. "SHIT!"
“Listen, Katri—Katerina—I need some help. Be a good girl and come
over here and I’ll make it worth your while. Okay?”
Katerina answered with silence. She had met Joe Lessing maybe three
times when she worked for Philip. He never struck her as a crazed,
rapist murderer...until now. Not a good idea, she thought. Whatever this
is, I don't need it.
“Look, this is on the level. I’m in some shit here and I need a
little help. It’s worth a thousand dollars.”
That I do need. Desperately. “Okay...twenty minutes.”
“Make it ten. It’s a matter of life or death.”
“Which is it?”
“I’m not sure.” He gave his address and hung up.
Kat considered his comment and then threw on a pair of jeans, a
sweatshirt, and laced into a pair of ankle boots. She twisted her mass
of hair into a sloppy braid. Stuffing some cash, ID, cellphone, and her
trusty pepper spray in her pockets, she rushed out into the brisk New
York City night. Against her better judgment, she took the subway. But,
if there should be a police investigation, a cabbie, overeager to
cooperate, would be a liability. In one of his many moments of ego and
hubris, Philip had bragged about his golden rule of “fixing”
people’s problems: get in, get out, get gone. Don’t linger. See
everything but never be seen.
Keeping alert for drunkards, creepers, and other assorted predators
lying in wait, she kept one hand in her pocket, her finger on the button
of the palm-sized can of pepper spray.
She found Lessing's building. She glanced up, the bite of the chilly
October night air making her give a quick, involuntary shiver. She
pushed the call box button.
“Who is it?” Lessing sounded apprehensive.
Who do you think it is? “Katerina.”
The buzzer rang. Kat slipped inside.
She found the apartment door ajar. She inched inside. A colorful Persian
rug covered most of the foyer. Examining the bright pattern of red,
blue, and black and finding no sign of blood, she relaxed. She took
tentative steps inside, scanning the living room. Everything was neat
and in order.
“Mr. Lessing?” she said.
“In here,” he called from the end of the hallway.
Kat hesitated. Move ahead or turn back? She crept down the narrow space
lined with modern art consisting of colorful paint splatters. The door
Kat peered inside and saw Joe Lessing, a man in his forties, his
overdeveloped muscular build now turning fleshy and soft. He was naked,
pacing, and breathing hard. His flaccid penis, dangling like an
oversized rotini, bobbed and swayed with every step.
Katerina froze. Oh shit.
He turned to look at Kat; she saw the panic in his dark eyes.
“Thank God you're here,” he said, turning to the bed. It was a
massive four poster with a distressed wooden chest squatting at its
foot. A Queen Anne style night stand on each side held a Tiffany lamp.
But it was the unconscious, naked blonde woman lying on top of the
rumpled covers that grabbed Kat's attention.
“I called someone. She said she would try to get here but I can't wait
anymore.” He pointed at the bed. “Can you help me, please.”
Kat didn't know what to say to him. When he had come to Philip's office
he was always calm and relaxed...and fully dressed. He liked perching on
the edge of her desk and talking about his motorcycle, his house in the
Hamptons, and his wife.
“What happened?” she asked.
“I don’t know," he said in a shaky voice. "I don’t know but I have
to do something. We have to do something.”
He returned to mindless pacing and the penis began dancing again. Kat
moved to the bed. The woman had bottle blond hair, a too perfect nose,
but her breasts were real, her waist a size zero. Kat leaned over and
touched her cheek. Warm.
"I'm fucked, aren't I?" he asked, wiping sweat off his brow. "Am I
“She has a pulse,” Kat said.
“Thank Christ,” Lessing said.
“Have you tried waking her?”
“Of course I did! Nothing works!”
Joe scratched his head like he was trying to work out a difficult math
problem. “We were going at it and it was good—shit, it was
great—and then she collapsed. Look, we have to get her the hell out of
“When is your wife due, Mr. Lessing?”
Joe gave a short, guilty laugh. “She’s taking a night flight from
LAX. She’ll be here soon.”
Lessing's eyes met hers. "Less than two hours."
“Your —friend needs medical care.”
“I can’t take her to the hospital. No one can know about this. Her
husband would very upset.”
And your wife. “I understand.”
“Please, you work for Phil—or you worked for him—whatever. You
know people. You can work this out for me, right? You have to make
this—" he said, pointing in the general direction of the bed, "go
Kat mentally tried to construct what Philip, the attorney who considered
his oath a suggestion rather than a requirement, would do.
“Just a minute,” she said, and pulled out her cell phone. She
listened to the ringing on the other end of the line. Finally, there was
“Yeah,” the voice said. A chorus of coughing and gurgling noises
Kat waited for him to finish. “Doc, it’s Kat," she said when it was
quiet. "I need a favor.”
“I don’t get out of bed for less than a thousand,” the raspy voice
said, followed by a deep drawing sound for air.
She held the phone away from her ear. “It’s going to cost a
“For both of you?”
“Will he take Travelers Checques?”
“Will you take Travelers Checques?”
“They’re American Express,” Lessing said.
“I don’t care.”
Lessing resumed shuffling. Kat averted her eyes so that the penis was
dancing in her peripheral vision. A miniature Slinky. She was tired of
looking at it.
“Put your pants on...please.”
He looked down at himself and then swiped his pants up off the floor.
Kat got back on the phone. “You need to get out of bed.”
“If this needs a cleaner, it’s your problem.”
Kat glanced over at the unconscious woman. “I don’t think so.” She
recited the address and hung up. Good God, I hope not.
Excerpted from "The Fixer: The Naked Man (The Fixer - Katerina Mills Book 1)" by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. Copyright © 2015 by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.