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Cooked!

By Robert Leslie Bellem

An ounce of murder-prevention is worth a pound of chasing
a killer. So Dan tries to help the girl—only to find that a
very fast one is being pulled on him
.

I TIPPED the bell-hop four bits and said: "Scram, kid." He winked at me and beat it. Then I locked the door of that hotel bedroom and turned around.

Lola Lambert was already peeling off her duds. In the glow of the room's single, shaded lamp I watched her. She unfastened her dress, whipped it off over her brunette curls. Then she stood there in snug-fitting silken panties bandeaux, and sheer chiffon hose.

She smiled and said: "Well, Dan Turner—do you think I'm seductive enough to interest my own husband when he arrives?"

I blinked and set fire to a gasper. "Damn tootin'!" I agreed. And I meant it. I exhaled a lungful of smoke and put the focus on her.

She was a sock in the eye, no fooling. Just to look at her made me itch all over. Her raven black hair made her skin seem even whiter than it really was. Her dark eyes were twin challenges, and she pursed her crimson lips as if inviting a kiss.

But I kept myself under control. After all, a private dick hasn't got any right to play around with his clients; and Lola Lambert was a client of mine. Besides, I didn't have time for any monkeyshines. Lola's estranged hubby, Dr. Timothy Lambert, was due to arrive any minute. And the stage had to be set for him.

I watched while Lola opened her overnight bag. She extracted a diaphanous negligee, slipped herself into it. The garment clung to her like a wet spiderweb, concealing very little of her feminine charms. Lord, but that dame was built! It was no wonder she dragged down ten grand a week as a star in F-K-V Pictures. She had what it takes.

As soon as she had adjusted the negligee to her own satisfaction, she gave me a worried look. "It's time for Timothy to be showing up, isn't it?" she whispered nervously.

I looked at my wrist-ticker. It was nine in the evening. "Yeah," I said.

"Then—hadn't you better hide?"

I nodded and went to the closet on the other side of the room. It wasn't a very deep closet, and I had a hell of a time squeezing my bulk into it. But I made the grade, pulled the door almost shut after me.

SQUATTING there in the semidarkness, I began to wonder. It suddenly struck me that I was being more of a damned fool than usual. Kidnaping is ugly stuff to fool with in California. If anything went haywire, I might find my elbow in a sling. On the other hand, Lola Lambert was paying me five G's to put the snatch on her estranged hubby for just one night. And five G's is important geetus in my language.

So I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best.

A couple of minutes dragged by. Then I heard a knock on the door of the bedroom, and I peeped out of my closet.

I saw Lola Lambert open the bedroom door and step back. A guy walked into the room. He was Dr. Timothy Lambert, Lola's hubby. He was a dark, short guy with a perpetual sneer. When he saw his wife, he stiffened.

"Lola!" he growled. "What the hell does this mean? I received an urgent call to come to this hotel room. Someone said it was an emergency case. Now I find you here. What's the idea?"

Lola said: "Tim . . . darling . . .!" and held her arms out to him. At the same time, she allowed the front of her negligee to come open. From where he was standing, her husband certainly got one swell eye-full of breasts and things.

But the damned sap didn't seem a bit interested. He must have been made of ice. He said: "Layoff the coquetry, Lola. You know how matters stand between us. That stuff is out—absolutely out." His voice was rasping, frigid.

"Oh, I know, Tim!" Lola whispered forlornly. Her shoulders slumped. "You've been so infatuated with that blonde Honey Holland girl that you've lost all your love for me. But now that Honey's leaving Hollywood, I thought . . . maybe . . ."

I crouched in my closet, watching and listening to what went on. Mentally I reviewed what I knew about Lola Lambert and her doctor-husband. This Timothy Lambert person was a drugless physician; he called himself an electropath. He did all his healing with ultra-violet rays, sun-lamps and the like. As the husband of a prominent screen star like Lola, he'd built himself a swell practice among the Hollywood pi...

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