I’ve been going to Aikido for about a month now and I’m loving it! The first few times I went were spent learning how to fall – not too exciting but a necessary skill, believe me. I’m learning what to do when someone grabs my arm, or grabs me from behind, or basically grabs me anywhere, and how to get away…which in my line of work is essential. It’s also given me a feeling of empowerment which I have to say is pretty awesome…only I think I may have overdone it. The other day I made the mistake of telling my friend, Ramos, that I could take him. I know…not very smart of me, but I was looking forward to throwing him over my shoulder like I’d imagined so many times. Naturally, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show me how wrong I was. I didn’t know at the time that he was a martial arts expert. Why didn’t he tell me this before I made a fool of myself? Needless to say, I couldn’t get the drop on him to save my life, and I guess it would have been funny if you think getting thrown to the ground and having your @ kicked is fun. Luckily, we were in his apartment which connects to Thrasher Development, and the carpet was nice and soft or it may have hurt. But the worse part wasn’t getting plastered to the floor in the grip of a 200 pound macho man (who was enjoying it way too much, I might add). Nope, it was the fact that Uncle Joey showed up and snapped a picture of that moment. The flash startled me enough, but the smile on his face…like he’d just won the lottery, still makes my stomach hurt. I think he’s putting it in a file…with my name on it. Yikes!! Why does this always happen to me? He says I can earn the photo back from him. All I have to do is help him win his next poker match. I can do that…but seriously?? What was I thinking???
Tags: Aikido, martial art, new year's resolutions
I am not a ‘new year’s resolution’ type person. Mostly because I usually fail, but this year, I’m going to make a goal I can keep. I hope. Not too long ago I got shot in the arm. Not a shot like you get at the Dr.’s office. I really got shot by a bullet! It went right through my arm! It hurt like hell! If you’ve ever been shot, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I hope that you never do. Although my arm still twinges now and then, it’s mostly better, so I feel pretty lucky. Still, it could have been much worse. So this year, I’m going to make a resolution not to get shot again. I’m also going to start training in a martial art called Aikido. I’m kind of excited about that. My friend, Billie Payne is meeting me at her dojo tonight for my first lesson. I’m eager to learn how to defend myself, and I think it will help me feel more in control of my life. I could turn into one of those cool ninja’s that no one wants to mess with. So now I actually have two new year’s resolutions. One, not to get shot, and the other, learn how to kick ass! This should be fun!
Tags: mall, red dress, shopping
Yesterday, I decided I’d better get some Christmas shopping done while things were still on sale. I went to the mall, even though it was snowing pretty hard, and got started. Of course, the first thing that caught my eye was a gorgeous red dress. I’d always wanted a dress in that color and thought, what the heck? It wouldn’t hurt to try it on. Half the time clothes like that didn’t look good on me, so I probably wouldn’t buy it anyway. Even with all my rationalizations, I couldn’t help the twinge of guilt that I was looking at something for myself when I should have been shopping for my family. Before I could change my mind, I found the dress in my size and hurried to the dressing-room. I had just taken my clothes off and was standing there in my undies when the lights went out. I let out a little yelp to find myself undressed and surrounded by total darkness. As my heart raced, my eyes adjusted and I realized a faint light was coming under the door. At least it was enough to see my hand in front of my face. That was when I heard footsteps approaching my door. They stopped right outside and, as the knob turned, I prayed I had actually locked it. “Don’t come in!” I yelled, and rushed to throw on my shirt. The rattling stopped and without a word, the footsteps retreated. What the freak! I quickly threw on my pants, shoes, and coat, then grabbed my purse and high-tailed it out of there. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized my shirt was on inside-out, but at least I was in one piece. And the red dress? After that, it didn’t really matter. Who needs a red dress anyway? So maybe from now on, I’ll try harder to listen to that little voice in my head. The one that’s usually right.
I got a phone call recently from someone I thought was out of my life for good. It really threw me to hear Kate’s voice saying hello and asking me how I was doing. I have to admit I wasn’t very friendly. That’s when she told me she was in town on business, and wanted to know if I’d go out to lunch with her. Seriously?? She thought I’d do that? To set the record straight, Kate is one of my least favorite people, and that is putting it mildly. At one time, she was after my husband, and nearly got me killed. Why she thought I’d like to go out to lunch with her boggled my mind. Until she mentioned we wouldn’t be alone. Then it kind of clicked. She had a new associate, and was hoping to get my opinion on his trustworthiness. As in, she wanted me to read his mind.
“Sure,” I said. “But just so you know, my going rate is five hundred dollars an hour.”
Without hesitation, she quickly agreed, and now I was committed to spending a whole hour with my former nemesis. I didn’t know if I’d done the right thing, but I had to admit, I was certainly curious to find out what kind of trouble she was in, and the money didn’t hurt either. I arrived at the restaurant to find her seated with a tall, gorgeous, blond guy, who loaded on the charm, and greeted me as Kate’s old college buddy. Since she was about six years younger than me, I took that as a complement. I picked up enough from her thoughts to answer his questions about our college days together, and then started asking questions of my own. By the time lunch was over, I knew lots more about their relationship than I wished. After lunch, he had an appointment and had to leave, which suited Kate’s plans perfectly, giving her a chance to ask me what I’d found out. It was tempting not to tell her everything, but since she was paying me, I had to give it to her straight.
“You’re right,” I began. “He’s hiding something from you.” Her face paled, but she motioned for me to continue. “First of all, he works for your rival… Wayne?… and the plan was to make you fall for him, because of his considerable amount of charm and good looks, and then undermine your organization so that Wayne can take a big cut of your profits. But now he’s having second thoughts because… he’s fallen in love with you. He doesn’t want to go through with the plan, but now he’s worried that his boss will kill him. He’d tell you, but he thinks once you find out he was going to double-cross you that you’ll kill him too. So basically, he’s decided he’s pretty much toast.”
“Thank you Shelby.” She handed me five one hundred dollar bills and stood. She was thinking that was the best news she’d heard in weeks and it was worth every penny.
We said our goodbyes, and I smiled at this turn of events. Kate was in love, and I’d helped her. She was going to do everything she could to save her man. Who would have thought? And what a mess! Phew! It made me realize that even with all the trouble I get into, I’m still glad I don’t have her life.
Tags: face cards, gaming, how to play poker, poker chips
I recently learned how to play poker, and I have to admit, I really enjoyed it. When I was growing up, I was taught that face cards and the resulting gambling that came from using them was bad for you. Naturally, I wanted to learn all about it. The closest I got to poker as a kid was a game called Tripoli and we played it all the time with poker chips. It wasn’t until recently that I learned how to play Texas Hold’em and found out what poker was all about. All the things I’d learned playing Tripoli certainly helped, but I still had to master the whole two pair, flush, straight, three of a kind, full house, royal flush, etc. And I still have trouble remembering which is better, a flush or a straight? The book Poker for Dummies helped me out a lot. So did a friend of mine. I had to play for a lot of money recently (a million dollars) and went from not knowing anything to playing the game in less than two days. It turned out to be kind of stressful. Now when I play the stakes aren’t quite as high, but I always win. How can I not… when I know what everyone’s cards are? This is a great advantage to me, but it also makes everyone think I’m a cheater. They can’t figure out how I do it, but when I always win, that’s the only explanation they can come up with. So…should I quit winning so much, so people will keep playing with me? Or should I just beat the pants off of them? Of course, the second option is the most fun, but I guess I could always lose a few hands so they feel better about it.
What to do when another woman is after your man. As I’ve recently had some experience with this, I thought I’d pass along some information I hope you find helpful. First of all, don’t freak out! Don’t accuse your husband of anything, as this will only make him defend the woman in question. Don’t assume the worst, but don’t let it go without a fight. Your husband may not realize what the other woman is up to and be flattered by her attention. He might also be uncomfortable by the attention. So … give him an out. Show up to work when she is there and meet her. Be sure you look your absolute best. If possible, try to befriend her, perhaps even go out to lunch. Find out all you can about her. Is she married? Is she in a relationship? Anything you can use as leverage (leverage is any strategic or tactical advantage, and as a verb, means to exploit such an advantage, just as the use of a physical lever gives one an advantage in the physical sense) will be helpful. Also, make sure she knows about you and your family life. How much your husband adores you and you adore him. Go to lunch as often as possible with your husband. Let her see that you are a couple and she has no chance of breaking you up. Now – for the husband part. Re-kindle the flame that brought you together. If possible, surprise him with a night out at a bed and breakfast (no kids!). Buy sexy lingerie. (He will love it). Above all, don’t give up! Your marriage and your husband are worth it. Plus, it just might bring you closer together and that is always a good thing!
Tags: birthday note, bouquet of roses, jewelry box
It was my birthday a few weeks ago. My first with my recently acquired mind-reading abilities. It was a little frustrating, because even though I tried to block everyone’s thoughts, I still managed to ‘hear’ what everyone was getting me for my birthday. It was so exhausting to keep my shields up all the time and I just couldn’t do it. The worst part was acting surprised when I opened them, mostly for my kids. Though I have to admit, even though I knew what I was getting, I was still excited with my gifts. I got a kindle fire from Chris that I’d wanted and only had to hint a couple of times to get the biggest one with HD, so that worked out great. And I knew that my parents were giving me a certain amount of money, so I already bought the clothes and sandals I wanted, and was able to wear them on my birthday – so that worked out good too. I was surprised about the gift that my aunt gave me, mostly because she couldn’t remember what she got me, and it turned out to be a surprise for both of us! The only other gift I was surprised about came from Uncle Joey and Ramos. It was heartwarming to get a big bouquet of roses with a nice little happy birthday note from Thrasher Development, which everyone signed. But the biggest surprise was what came with it. A toy alligator was attached to the bow. It had a note stuck in it’s mouth. Once I got the note out, a big grin spread over my face to read the message. It said, “Remembering Orlando” with the initials “A. R.” underneath. I stuffed the note way down inside where it wouldn’t get out before my family saw it, since I didn’t really want to explain what it meant. The alligator now rests in my jewelry box, next to all the small momentos that I’ve saved over the years. Someday when I’m old and gray, I’ll take it out and read the note again. I’m sure it will make me smile.
Not too long ago I was with a group of people and we were doing a “Getting To Know You” activity – where we were asked to tell our names and our most embarrassing moment. I wracked my brain to think of what I could say, but seriously – my most embarrassing moments are the ones I wanted to forget, so there was no way I was going to share any of them! I guessed the point of sharing something embarrassing was to break the ice, so in a way, it made sense, but on the other hand telling a group of strangers my most embarrassing moment was not something I really wanted to do. So what happened? I did what any self-respecting person would do – I told a story about when I was a teenager. (Just being a teenager is an excuse for anything). I told about how I got in my friend’s mom’s car to wait for her and some strange lady came and opened the door and began yelling at me, asking what I was doing in her car. It was perfect because it happened A LONG TIME AGO, and as embarrassing moments go – it didn’t reflect too much on my stupidity, which is important in front of a group of strangers with whom you might want to leave a good impression. Although, I have to admit that to this day, I still don’t know much about makes and models of cars. Thank goodness for car keys. With a push of a button, my car will let me know exactly where it is, and I no longer have to worry about getting into the wrong one.
Last week I had to have a ganglion cyst removed from the ball of my foot. It was hindering my walking experience and I’d just bought a new pair of sandals that I couldn’t walk in without pain. I found a great podiatrist and signed up to have it done. The only problem came when I got to the hospital and found out they weren’t putting me out all the way – just sort of out. Which is good because recovery is lots faster. But then he said something that made me nervous. He said the first stuff they would give me is like a truth serum. It works great for relaxing and calming you, he said, but it is also what they use to get people to tell the truth. He went on to say that if I had any secrets, I might just start blabbing them. He was smiling when he said that, but he was thinking about how many things he’d heard that he wished he didn’t know. YIKES!! I glanced at my husband, and he just smiled, but he was thinking that this sure put me in a bad spot. What if I started blabbing about Uncle Joey? Or worse, told people I could read their minds? I wanted to tell him to tape my mouth shut or something, but seriously, how would that look? Then I thought about the time I’d spent with Ramos in Orlando. Though nothing serious had happened between us, I was still glad Chris was not coming into surgery with me. He might get it into his mind to ask me some questions that I’d rather not answer. As the anesthesiologist walked me down to surgery, I realized that I wasn’t even worried about how the doctor was going to cut my foot open, or the pain it would cause. Nope, now I had to worry about keeping my mouth shut. Right before the anesthesiologist gave me the truth serum, I clamped my lips tight. As the stuff surged through my veins, a sense of euphoria and peace saturated my body, making me feel languid and calm. I hadn’t felt that relaxed in a long time, and it felt really good. Just then, the nurse asked me what I did besides coming to the hospital for surgery. Without hesitation, I told her all about my consulting agency. I don’t remember anything else after that. The doctor came to recovery after it was all done with a big grin on his face. He said I did great, but he was thinking I was a hoot, and he’d never laughed so hard in surgery before. That was it, and soon I was home, putting ice on my foot and taking it easy. I still don’t know what I said to make him laugh so hard, but it couldn’t be too bad, right? I mean, even if it was the truth, he’d never believe it. At least I sure hope not.
Tags: book, kindle, mystery writer, Shelby Nichols Adventure
SECRETS THAT KILL
A SHELBY NICHOLS ADVENTURE
When I was a kid, the best part of my trip to Disneyland wasn’t the park, the rides, or the entertainment. It was the swimming pool at my cousin’s house where we stayed. I loved going to their house after a long hot day, and gazing into the pool’s clear blue water. With the pool light turned on, there was just something about that water that made me want to jump in. With the dark starry night overhead, it was soothing and magical.
That’s why, on the last day of our vacation to Orlando, I found myself sitting beside the pool. It was late, and most everyone had gone to bed, so I was there by myself. If I could have gone swimming, I would have, but the pool had just closed for the night. So I sat back in a chair and gazed into the water, smelling the slight odor of chlorine, and feeling the tension ease out of my body.
It felt so good to have my thoughts to myself that I almost cried. Hearing people’s thoughts in all the crowds these last two weeks had been murder on my poor brain. I had put up my shields as much as I could, but it left a constant tension between my eyes, and worse, I was sure I had new wrinkles to show for it.
I had no idea there were so many different theme parks and attractions in Orlando. We had visited at least five parks, with several other attractions thrown in. Although we’d taken a couple of days off in-between to recover, mostly for my benefit, the constant barrage of thoughts had gotten on my nerves, making me irritable and short-tempered. I’d done my best, but I knew that Chris and the kids were happy to leave me at the pool and go inside for bed. Chris tried to understand, but I knew it bothered him.
It bothered me too, but for different reasons. Sure, I had the ‘super-power’ of reading people’s minds, but this vacation had proven that even I had my limits. I might have handled one week, but two was over-kill. Today had proven that. I cringed to remember how I’d yelled at the father who was only ‘thinking’ his cute daughter was a pain in the butt, and today was one of those days he wished she’d never been born. I’d told him to quit being so selfish and enjoy this time with her. That she’d grow up before he knew it, and he’d be sorry and full of regret for his poor attitude.
The problem was, she was just a baby, and had thrown up all over him. So I had probably over-reacted. His first thought in reaction was guilt that I was right. But his second impulse quickly over-rode the first, and hot anger turned his face red. How dare I chastise him in front of all these people when he hadn’t done anything wrong?
Acting fast, Chris wisely pulled me away and apologized over his shoulder, telling the guy I had forgotten to take my medication. My outrage at Chris quickly changed to embarrassment and then self-loathing. Chris couldn’t believe I could be so callous and mean. What was wrong with me? Where were my shields? My behavior was totally unacceptable. Not only that, but he was so embarrassed he could hardly stand it.
But he only thought all of those things, so I couldn’t be too angry. Especially when he also thought being privy to everyone’s thoughts had to be rough on me, so he needed to cut me some slack. Still…
Shame and regret flowed over me, so I shoved the memory away and glanced up at the stars. Our flight tomorrow didn’t leave until three o’clock in the afternoon, so we still had some time in the morning to relax. Or at least Chris and the kids did. I had an errand to run for Uncle Joey. He was the mob-boss I had to work for since he knew my secret.
Although he compensated me for my time, we had a tenuous relationship. It had evolved over the last few months, and I liked to think it was now based on mutual respect rather than fear that he would kill me. Still, it was a balancing act to work for him on my terms rather than his.
When he found out I was coming to Orlando, he’d asked me to deliver a letter for him. Not a big deal, right? So I’d saved his errand until the last moment, hoping it wouldn’t ruin my vacation. That was a big mistake, since thinking about delivering the letter everyday had done exactly that. I should have just delivered it the first day we’d gotten here instead of dragging out the torment. That was just plain stupid.
First thing in the morning, I’d take care of it. Then we could go home. Our vacation was over. With the exception of that embarrassing incident today, we’d had a fun time here, and I was grateful we’d come, but now I was eager to go home and get back to normal. Plus the extra space from all the people wouldn’t hurt.
Ha! Who was I kidding? I could hardly wait to be alone in my own house. Just thinking about it brought such a profound sense of relief that I was a bit giddy. Did that mean I was losing it? Had the stress finally gotten to me? Maybe I did need some kind of medication. What I’d done today was…I shook my head and sighed. A cool breeze brushed my skin, making me shiver. It was time to put a stop to these gloomy thoughts and go to bed.
Chris checked the address one more time. “Are you sure you’ll be all right delivering this by yourself?” He was thinking how worried he was about me, and wishing I hadn’t waited until the last moment to do this. He could have come with me if I’d gone earlier. What was I thinking?
“Yeah. It’s no big deal. I’ll be fine.” I gave Chris a reassuring hug and kiss, wanting to ease his worry and escape his censure. “See you at the airport. Bye kids.” Engrossed in their packing, they absently waved.
I took the elevator to the lobby and hurried out the door. A cab was waiting for me, and I got in, giving the driver the address. “How long will it take to get there?” I asked.
“About twenty-five minutes,” he replied.
“Okay,” I answered. It was a little before ten a.m. and I didn’t have to be to the airport until one, so I had plenty of time. I would probably get to the airport long before Chris and the kids, but I wanted to play it safe and not miss my flight.
“How far is it from this address to the airport?” I asked the driver. I probably should have checked a map since I was basically clueless as to where I was going.
“Um…probably about twenty minutes,” he said.
“So do you think I’ll make it by one?” I asked, mostly for his benefit so he’d know I was on a schedule.
“Of course,” he said. “Unless you plan on staying for more than a few minutes, you should be to the airport by…eleven-thirty or so.”
“Oh, okay. Thanks.” Maybe I shouldn’t have left so early, but with my luck it was probably better to plan for extra time.
I spent the drive making sure I had everything in my carry-on bag that I needed for the flight. Chris was in charge of my luggage, so I didn’t have to drag it around with me, but I still felt loaded down with both my carry-on and my purse. Luckily, my carry-on was just a big bag so I could carry it over my shoulder. In fact, if I moved things around, there was probably enough room to stuff my purse inside as well.
That accomplished, I heaved a sigh of relief, grateful I wouldn’t have to worry about lugging two bags around. Before zipping it all up, I found the letter from Uncle Joey that I’d put in a special compartment, and pulled it out.
It was addressed to Warren Peace, which I knew had to be a fake name, or maybe even a code of some sort, and held it gingerly. Getting rid of this couldn’t come fast enough for me. I’d tried to tell Uncle Joey to mail it, but he wouldn’t, saying he needed my ‘special touch’ so I could tell him what Warren was thinking. That worked fine as long as Warren didn’t take it out on me. Especially since I had a feeling that the message it contained couldn’t be good.
The cab pulled to the curb and came to a stop. I glanced up at an apartment complex, and realized I was in trouble if he wasn’t home. What was I going to do then? I didn’t even have a phone number.
“I’ll only be a minute, if you don’t mind waiting,” I told the cab driver.
“No problem, as long as you know the meter’s still running.” He sent me a friendly smile and settled back in his seat to wait. He hoped I’d take my time and pulled out a book to read.
I got out, taking my bag with me, and scanned the apartment numbers. I found the one I was looking for on the bottom level, which was basically in the basement. The outside light was on, and for some reason that made me nervous. Did that mean he wasn’t home? What would I do then?
Taking a deep breath and letting it out, I started down the stairs and rang the bell. I heard some rustling inside before the curtain parted and someone glanced out at me. I caught sight of a bearded face and glasses, before the door opened a crack.
“I’m not interested,” he said, and began to close the door.
“Wait,” I said, pushing against the door to keep it open. “Are you Warren Peace? I have a letter for you. Then I’ll go. Here…” I held it out, “Just take it.”
His eyes widened, and he glanced behind me, then stuck his head out the door to look up the stairs. “Are you alone?” he asked, frowning.
“Yes. I’m only here to deliver this letter and take your response back to Uncle Joey.”
He hesitated, then his thoughts filled with about every swear word imaginable repeated several times. I would have held my hands to my ears if it had done any good. “All right,” he finally said, still not taking the letter. “You’d better come in.”
I hurried inside and he closed and bolted the door behind me. “Did anyone see you come here?” he asked.
“Well, no…just the cab driver. He’s waiting outside for me.”
This time he cursed out loud. “You’ve got to get rid of him! A yellow cab like that will draw attention. Quick, before someone notices.”
“I can’t,” I said, alarmed that he was freaking out. “He’s taking me to the airport. Just read the damn letter and tell me your answer!” I tried to shove the letter into his hands, but he held them up.
“I don’t have to read it. I know what he wants, and I just can’t do it.” He sent a searching glance at me, desperation filling his eyes. “You’ll have to do it for me, or I’m a dead man. Please…I just need you to take what Manetto wants back with you. You can give it to him for me. If you don’t, I swear I’ll be dead by morning.” He grabbed a wad of bills from his pocket. “Pay off the cabbie and I’ll take you to the airport. It’s not safe for you or me with him sitting out there like a yellow beacon. Manetto has no idea what he’s gotten you into here…Hurry! Go!”
I took the cash and hurried out the door. He wasn’t lying about my safety, or anything else he’d said, and that scared me. I paid the cabbie, giving him an extra twenty for a tip, and hustled back to the apartment. Warren waited at the top of the stairs, watching up and down the street until I came back. He ushered me into the apartment, locking and bolting the door behind us.
“Hopefully, we have a little time,” he said. “At least I’ve prepared for this moment. I just didn’t know Manetto would make his move so soon.” He was thinking about everything he needed to get before we left. He had stashed all his cash along with his passport and ID in the freezer.
“Wait,” I interrupted. “Read the letter first, and then tell me what’s going on.” I shoved the letter into his hands, and planted my feet in front of the doorway to the kitchen.
With great reluctance, he tore open the envelope and pulled out the letter. As he read, I heard the words in his mind.
Warren…I need the information you’ve obtained for me. I know it might put you in danger, but I’ve discovered through my sources that it’s time you moved on anyway. Bring it to me without delay, and I’ll help you disappear. The lovely woman delivering this letter is Shelby Nichols. Tell her you’ll bring the item to me, and then send her on her way. If anything happens to her because of you, you’re A Dead Man. Don’t keep me waiting. Yours…etc…Joe E. Manetto.
Warren glanced at me and licked his lips. Maybe he’d been too hasty in sending the cab driver off and enlisting my help. Manetto didn’t make threats he wasn’t ready to keep. “What time does your flight leave?” he asked.
“Three o’clock,” I answered.
“Oh good,” he said, checking his watch. “We’ve got plenty of time. Should be a piece of cake.” He was thinking it would be close, but it could still work. As long as I hadn’t been spotted by Carson’s goons. “I’ll get my stuff, and we can leave in a few minutes.”