To Tell the Truth…Or Not

Posted: January 26, 2016 in Advice

My job as a consultant for the police often has me listening in on interrogations, mostly so I can determine if the person is guilty. Since I can read minds, you’d think that would be easy for me. Most of the time it is, but there are other times when it’s more complicated, and I have to determine whether telling the whole truth is really the best thing to do. This puts me in a terrible moral dilemma.

Take yesterday, for example. Dimples, a.k.a. Detective Harris, asked me to listen in on a suspect who’d been accused of murder. Dimples is one of the few people who knows my secret that I can read minds. So naturally, he knew if I talked to the suspect, I’d know what really happened.

The case involved a wedding planner who was a suspect in the murder of her client, the bride-to-be, or “bridezilla,” as she kept calling her in her mind. The suspect was in a planning session with the bride when the bride supposedly lost her footing and fell over the balcony at the hotel where they were meeting, plunging to her death. The suspect claimed it was a horrible accident, but the bride’s family didn’t believe her and wanted the police to investigate.

By the time I finished hearing about the victim, and how terribly she’d treated everyone associated with her wedding plans, I had to admit that the wedding planner had my complete sympathy, and I totally understood how she could have lost her cool and pushed “bridezilla” over the railing.

That’s when it got complicated.

It turned out that the wedding planner was in the room, but she hadn’t pushed anyone. It really was an accident, only she wasn’t alone. The fiancée had joined them for a spontaneous meeting. In fact, he’d told bridezilla that, after seeing the way she was behaving, along with her mother and her entire family, he didn’t want to marry her after all. She’d taken an angry swing at him and he’d ducked, but the momentum had sent her over the edge.

Shocked at what he’d caused, he begged the wedding planner to keep his involvement a secret, especially since bridezilla’s mother would most likely accuse him of murder, and there was a real possibility he’d go to jail. He convinced her that he’d have to live with this the rest of his life, but if the mother found out, he might as well be dead.

Knowing the bride’s mother, the wedding planner had agreed with his assessment, and omitted that little piece of information, never believing that she’d end up being accused of murder. Now she was wondering if she’d done the right thing, and since she’d lied, she worried that she’d go to jail even if she did come clean and tell the whole truth.

With her dark eyes shadowed in fear and guilt, everyone in the room decided she looked guilty about something. All they needed now was a confession. They turned their gazes to me, expecting me to begin my usual tactics to get her to do just that.

Now it was my turn to squirm. Should I goad her into telling the truth to set things straight? Or was now was one of those times it was okay to let it go?

On impulse, I decided a version close to the truth would probably be best. “She’s telling the truth,” I said. “It was an accident. Only she’s leaving out one small detail. The bride didn’t trip.” I caught the wedding planner’s gaze and smiled. “She took a swing at you and lost her footing. That’s how she fell. You didn’t tell us that part because you were afraid you’d get blamed for her death.”

“Yes, that’s right,” she agreed, letting out a breath and grabbing on to my explanation like a lifeline. “That’s exactly what happened. I made the mistake of telling her that what she wanted was unreasonable, and she got angry. She took a swing at me and I ducked, but then she fell. It was horrible. I should have told everyone the truth from the beginning, but… I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t want to get blamed for her death. But I didn’t do anything wrong. She tried to hit me, and I ducked. I swear that’s the truth. It was a horrible accident. I would never hurt anyone, no matter what they said to me.”

“You’re convinced it was an accident?” Dimples asked, glancing at me for confirmation.

“Most definitely,” I answered. “She didn’t do anything wrong. You have to let her go.”

“All right,” Dimples said, assessing that the guilty look on her face made more sense now. Besides that, he believed that if she’d done it, I would have told him. “I guess that means that you’re free to go, but we’re going to have to tell the family the truth.”

“Yes, I know, but can you do that without me?” she asked. “I’d really rather not have to see them again. Her mother’s kind of scary.”

He hesitated, then agreed, much to the wedding planner’s relief. She left, thinking she’d been an idiot to help the fiancée like that, and she’d never agree to help anyone in that way again, no matter how cute, or desperate, or right they may be.

I smiled, knowing that she’d learned a valuable lesson. But where did that leave me? I hadn’t exactly told the truth either. Maybe I should have spoken up about the fiancée, but how would that have changed anything? The bride’s death was an accident either way.

See what I mean about always telling the truth? I know there are times when a satisfying lie is better than the awful truth. But was this one of those times? I rush of guilt washed over me, and I sighed. Maybe I should have let the truth come out.

After I got home, I called Uncle Joey and told him my story. He completely understood and agreed that I’d done the right thing. “I know what you mean about walking a fine line,” he said. “Sometimes life isn’t as black and white as it seems.”

I thanked him and ended the call. I felt a little better, but deep down, I knew the reason I’d called him was because I had a pretty good idea he’d agree with me. So what did that say about me? Taking advice from a mob-boss probably wasn’t the best idea, but in a way, it still made me feel better.

But next time, I think I’ll tell the whole truth and let the chips fall where they may. Unless, of course, it will ruin someone’s life for no good reason … Ugh! See what I mean about my moral dilemma?? So… tell me… what would you do??

I heaved a sigh and tried not to get discouraged. Having mind-reading abilities was helpful for my business as a private investigator, but not so good at Christmas. As much as I tried to block people’s thoughts, it was still hard not to pick up what they were getting me and everyone else for Christmas, and I hated it.

It reminded me of the time I was snooping around in my parent’s bedroom one year and found the mother-lode of unwrapped presents in the closet. I knew I shouldn’t, but the temptation was too great and I looked. I don’t even remember what was in there for me, but it ruined my whole Christmas. It just took all the fun and excitement out of ripping off the paper and opening the box.

Kind of like this year, when I knew there was a crock-pot waiting under the tree for me. Not that I wasn’t grateful, since mine had cracked and I needed a new one…but it wasn’t really anything to look forward to.

At least I was excited about the present I had for Chris. Not long ago, a retired detective had nearly died helping me with a case, and we shared a special bond. He also had a talent for crafting fine watches. Chris had an old watch, but nothing compared to what I could get from Geoff, and I’d spent a few happy hours with him designing the perfect watch for Chris.

When he called to say it was ready, I couldn’t wait to see how it turned out. Geoff seemed pretty happy with it as well, since he had an extra sparkle in his eyes. Once I saw it, I understood that sparkle and my lips spread into a big grin. He explained that it was a gold Swiss watch in a stainless steel case with an exhibition back in sapphire crystal, making the inside visible, and had a twenty-five jewel movement.

Even though none of that really made sense to me, I knew from the way he explained the workings of the watch that it was the highest quality possible…and a Geoff Parker original to boot…which meant a lot to me. It was a beautiful watch and I knew Chris would love it!

I took it home and wrapped it up in a big box so he wouldn’t know what it was and put it under the tree right next to the crock-pot. I grinned, realizing that it didn’t even bother me anymore that I knew about the crock-pot, and I couldn’t wait to see Chris’ face when he opened it.

Christmas morning came and I couldn’t believe how hard it was to open presents. Just before the wrapping paper came off, the person it was from always thought about what was inside and spoiled it for me. I put up my shields, but in the excitement, I failed more often than I liked. At least I had Chris’ present to look forward to, and I couldn’t wait to see his expression when he saw the watch.

After the kids were done, Chris and I opened our presents from each other. I grabbed the present with the crock-pot in it first, just to get it over with. Once the wrapping paper came off, my breath caught in astonishment. It wasn’t a crock-pot box. I glanced at Chris and he smirked.

“This isn’t a crock-pot?” I asked.

This time he chuckled. “What made you think that?”

My lips twisted in consternation. He’d played me! My heart hammered with excitement and I opened the box. Lots of tissue paper blocked my view, so I dug through it until my fingers touched a box. Black and small, it resembled the kind of box that held jewelry, and visions of sparkly diamonds clouded my head.

I glanced at Chris. His thoughts were locked up tight, but his eyes held quiet excitement. Taking a deep breath, I opened the box, then gasped in surprise to find a beautiful watch. I barely heard Chris talking about my detective friend, Geoff, and how he’d made it for me.

As Chris helped fasten it around my wrist, I couldn’t help the laughter that bubbled out…and the tears that clouded my vision. I blinked them back and playfully hit him. “You tricked me,” I said. “And I love it!” I pulled him into a hug. “Thanks for the surprise.” He gave me that special grin that always made me warm inside. I sniffed and got under control, then hugged him again before pulling away. “Now it’s your turn.”

I found the big box I’d wrapped and set it on his lap.

“Is this what I think it is?” he asked.

“You mean a crock-pot?”


“I’m afraid so,” I responded.

With a bark of laughter, he ripped off the paper and opened the box. Of course, he had no idea what was inside, so when he pawed through the tissue paper and found a little black box just like mine, he froze, glancing at me in complete shock. “Is this…?” He hesitated before pulling it open and I felt his surprise and pleasure as soon as he saw the watch inside. He shook his head in disbelief, and we both started laughing.

“This is crazy,” Chris said. “Who would have thought?”

“I know!” I agreed. “I just picked that up from Geoff a couple of days ago, and I had no idea. Of course, come to think of it, he did have an extra sparkle in his eyes.”

Chris heaved a huge sigh of relief. “I’m so glad you didn’t know, especially since I’ve been thinking about a crock-pot all this time.”

He slipped on the watch, and we sat side-by-side admiring our wrists, both of us in a happy daze and surprised by how perfectly everything had turned out. As I nestled closer to Chris I sighed with contentment, knowing this was going to be a special Christmas I would hold close to my heart for a long time to come.

I usually like sleeping. After a hard day it’s nice to go to bed and let it all go, especially after a relaxing bubble bath. But I’ve found that when I’m stressed, I can’t even get away from it in my sleep. We’ve all had those dreams where we fall off a cliff, or someone’s chasing us and we can’t run…at all, or we go to school or work, and realize we forgot to get dressed and we’re standing there in our undies, or worse, naked!

So, after Uncle Joey told me we were taking a little trip to Las Vegas for a couple of nights, you can imagine the stress levels going through me. It was supposed to be for fun, and he was hoping I could win some money playing poker. Reading minds comes in handy for that, and I’d already proven I knew how to play the game…as long as I had my cheat sheet handy. There is also someone there he has dealings with. What kind, I don’t know for sure…but I have a pretty good guess. He needs to meet with them and that means I need to be there for that too.

We’re leaving this morning. As you can imagine, I’m a little nervous, and I was plagued by all sorts of dreams last night, but the weirdest came just before my alarm went off. I dreamed I was going on a cruise. It was to the Caribbean, and was supposed to be really fun with sandy beaches and blue, pristine waters. I was looking forward to it…a lot. Then came the day to leave, and I was at the dock ready to board. The excitement rushing through me turned to shock as I discovered that my cruise ship was actually a submarine!

As they forced me toward the plank, I told them I didn’t want to go on a cruise in a submarine. There must be some mistake and I wanted my money back…and they couldn’t make me go. But did anyone listen to me? Nope. They told me I’d get to do all sorts of fun things. Like put on one of those suits and walk along the top of the submarine. Seriously? That was supposed to be fun? I woke up right after they pushed me inside and closed the lid.

I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something, don’t you? Maybe going to Las Vegas sounds like fun, but with my luck, who knows what could happen? Still, dreams are always the worst case scenario, right? And whoever heard of a cruise on a submarine, that’s just nuts!

Uh oh, the limo just pulled up. I suddenly feel exactly how I did in my dream when they closed the lid to the submarine. Maybe I really do get premonitions. Here comes Ramos, I guess I can’t get out of it now, so wish me luck… and I really hope I get to talk to you again soon.

Sometimes I feel like I’m leading a double life. In one life, I’m a wife to my husband, and a mother to my kids. I make dinner, clean the house, do the laundry, take my kids to school…all those sorts of mundane things that are necessary to run a well-organized and happy home. In my other life, I help the police with hard cases, run my own consulting agency, which, I’m not gonna lie, can be boring or entertaining depending on the day, and I help a big time mob-boss. In my second life, it’s usually the mob-boss part that challenges me the most.

Like today. Uncle Joey wanted me to come into the office by eight o’clock sharp to help him out. He told me to dress casually and bring a sweatshirt. As usual, he didn’t tell me anything else before he hung up, so I wore my jeans and a tee with my running shoes and a sweatshirt. When I got to the office, I was a little surprised to find Uncle Joey, Ramos, Jackie, Ricky and Nick, all dressed in jeans and t-shirts. I’d never seen Uncle Joey in jeans and a t-shirt before, so it kind of rattled me.

“Shelby’s coming?” Nick asked, thinking he was surprised that I would agree to go with them. After hearing that, I started to get a little nervous.

“Of course, she’s coming,” Uncle Joey answered. “She’s like family, so naturally I’d want to include her.” He glanced at me and grinned like he was doing me a big favor.

“She has no clue, does she?” Ramos asked. He was thinking that he felt a little sorry for me, and hoped I wouldn’t chicken out.

“Joe,” Jackie said. “Tell her.”

“It’s my birthday,” Uncle Joey said. “I’m sixty-eight today. So to celebrate, I’ve decided that we’re all going sky-diving.”

“What?” My stomach clenched. “Me too? But I…uh…”

“Don’t worry, Shelby. It will be fun.” Uncle Joey checked his watch. “Let’s get going. Our jump time is in two hours, and we can’t be late.”

I’d never in my life, ever wanted to go sky-diving. Never. Not once. So I just kind of stood there, while everyone filed out of the office toward the elevators. I trailed behind, trying to figure out a way to get out of it. Ramos waited for me. “You’ve never gone before?” I shook my head. “It will be okay. You don’t have to go, but you should at least go out to the airport with us. After all, it is his birthday, and you don’t want to disappoint him too much. Right?”

“Okay,” I agreed. “I can do that.”

We all piled into a black SUV and Uncle Joey told us about the first time he’d ever jumped out of a plane, and how frightening it was, but also how it made him feel more exhilarated than anything he’d ever done in his life. He wanted to share that feeling with all of us on his special day, and was so pleased that we were all there together.

Talk about pressure. Did this mean I really had to jump? Yikes! Why did I ever come? Once we got to the place, our instructor went over everything, telling us we’d be perfectly safe. We’d be doing a tandem jump with a USPA licensed tandem master, wearing top-of-the-line equipment and securely connected. After showing us a video of the jump, my misgivings started to ease. I mean, it could be fun, right? But I still wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. I’ve got this thing about heights, and falling. Plus, I have a husband and kids.

I was just about to tell Uncle Joey that I’d stay and cheer him on from the ground, when I picked up that he’d already paid the big bucks for me, and he hoped the reason I wanted to talk to him wasn’t because I’d chickened out. “Yes, Shelby?”

“I’m…I’m…uh…nervous about this.”

“It will be great. You’ll see. You’ll love it.”

I nodded and, with my stomach a bundle of nerves, put on the gear and dragged my feet all the way to the plane. “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this,” I said to Ramos, who was, once again, waiting for me.

“I know,” he agreed. “I can’t either.”

“Never let anyone tell you that peer pressure doesn’t work,” I answered. “Especially when it’s from a mob-boss.”

Ramos chuckled, thinking I was right about that, but also thinking that this was a perk of the job, and I needed to look at it that way so I could enjoy it. How many people ever did all the exciting things I got to do? Of course, most of them included getting shot at, but this was lots different.

“Yeah, right. I could still die,” I said.

“Shelby, I promise, you’re not going to die.”

“How about throw up? I could do that.”

“You’re not going to throw up either. I think you’ll enjoy it lots more than you think.”

By then we’d reached the plane, and I had no choice but to get on. With my stomach a queasy knot, I watched Nick, Ricky and Jackie all go. Then it was my turn. I thought Uncle Joey would go first, but he was waiting to go after me, just to make sure I went. “We’ll be right behind you,” Ramos said, trying to encourage me. I nodded, and taking a deep breath, put on my goggles. On the count of three, I JUMPED OFF THE PLANE.

I think I screamed a little, but then managed to just grit my teeth extra hard. The first few seconds weren’t so bad, but I thought I might pass out since I held my breath for so long. Forty seconds of free-falling can seem like about ten hours, especially when imagining everything that could go wrong. Finally, my partner pulled the parachute, and I let out a little happy gasp that it opened. After that, I mostly enjoyed the six minute fall to the ground. Still, I’d never been so happy to make it back to the earth in one piece.

Uncle Joey was the last to land, and we all clapped and cheered for him, and even sang him the happy birthday tune. After treating us all to lunch, we headed back to the office, each of us reveling in our experience of jumping off a plane. Before I left for home, Ramos pulled me aside. “So, how was it? Would you do it again?”

I smiled. “Well… it was kind of fun. Although it scared me to death. But…yeah, I think I’d do it again. How crazy is that?”

Back home, I finished the laundry and tried to decide what to make for dinner. It was hard to believe that just that morning, I’d jumped off a plane. Who would have thought? See what I mean about leading a double life?


There’s a song about leaving your heart in San Francisco, and that used to be true for me, until I visited Paris! Although… I have to admit, I almost left my heart there because I nearly died…but that’s a story for another day.

Still, Paris ranks up there as one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever visited…if not the most amazing. I loved walking down the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomphe and the amazing scent of perfume I kept picking up. I couldn’t tell if it was from the people who passed me or the shops, but I decided then and there to make sure I bought some french perfume before I left. It’s a good thing too, since after that, things got dicey for me and it wasn’t until later that I got a chance to find a shop.

I’ll never forget walking down the street from Notre Dame on my last day there and finding the little L’Occitane en Provence shop on the corner. Wild dogs or a certain hit-man couldn’t stop me from going inside and taking a whiff of all the wonderful smells. After much sniffing, I found the perfect fragrance for me. It’s called Néroli & Orchidée, and I LOVE IT!

So, even though I’m not in Paris anymore, I can still spray some of that perfume on and remember that day, and how thankful I was to be alive… and for good friends who always seem to be there to get me out of trouble.

Last week, Billie Jo Payne told me that she was doing a podcast with the newspaper. It was something new they were trying out and she wanted me to be her first guest. Feeling honored that she thought I was guest-worthy, naturally I agreed. I thought we’d be discussing her latest case with the Attorney General’s office and how she helped blow it wide open (with my help of course). Boy, was I ever wrong. The interview happened just this morning. This is how it went:

Billie Jo Payne: Joining me today is acclaimed private investigator, Shelby Nichols. Besides working as a paid consultant for the police, she has her own agency, and has been instrumental in solving several high-profile cases. Her latest involved an unsolved murder, which Shelby solved in a matter of days. She was also instrumental in helping me with my own investigation into the Attorney General’s office. How does she do it? What is her secret that gives her the edge over others who have tried and failed? Now is our chance to find out.

Thank you, Shelby, for agreeing to join me for an interview today. With your track record, you have become something of a phenomenon. Most people would agree that you have an uncanny ability to solve cases. Almost like a sixth sense. Is this something you were born with, or did you grow into it as you’ve honed your skills?

Shelby: Oh, I think you’re giving me more credit than I deserve here. I mean, most cases are solved after a lot of hard work and effort. I just happen to have a knack for figuring things out.

Billie: Is that why you got started in the P.I. business?

Shelby: Actually, I’m more of a consultant, but yes, I suppose that’s correct. I started helping the police after I was involved in a bank robbery. Since I was the only witness who could identify the bank robber, he tried to kill me, but as you can see, he didn’t succeed. While I was involved with that case, I spent a lot of time at the police station, and began helping them with a few little things here and there. That’s where I found out I had a ‘knack’ for it.

Billie: By ‘knack’ do you mean premonitions? That’s what you call it, isn’t it?

Shelby: Uh…yes…that’s what I call it.

Billie: What was the first “real case” you solved?

Shelby: Well…I think it was the time I helped the police with some stolen art.

Billie: That’s right. That’s when I first heard of you. Didn’t they put a plaque up in the museum with your name on it or something?

Shelby: Yes. It was a surprise to be honored that way.

Billie: (chuckles) Well, if you say so, but… shouldn’t having premonitions make it kind of hard to surprise you? I mean…isn’t that what it means to have premonitions? I’m sure everyone would love to know how that works. Could you explain that to us?

Shelby: Um…I’ll try, but it’s pretty abstract.

Billie: That’s fine, just do your best. Anything you offer will be great.

Shelby: Hmm…okay, but once I get done, just remember you asked for it. Because…I had a premonition that you were going to put me on the spot like this, but I mostly blew it off because you’re a friend and all, but I should have followed my instincts and turned you down.

Billie: Huh! Well…I guess you were right about that, but if you ask me, that’s more like deductive reasoning. So what you’re saying is your premonitions are more like a gut reaction, or instincts. You don’t actually see into the future?

Shelby: No, not really. I probably should have called what I do something else, like intuition. Maybe that’s a better word for it.

Billie: Shelby! How can you say that? I think what you do is lots better than intuition. I mean, I’ve seen you in action. You know things that no one else could possibly figure out without some kind of extra-sensory perception.

Shelby: Oh…so now you’re calling it ESP?

Billie: That might make more sense.

Shelby: What?

Billie: Just think about it…there are times when you get into a lot of trouble. If you had a premonition that it would be trouble…why would you still do it? So maybe ESP is better.

Shelby: Geez, Billie Jo. I can see now that my premonition about coming here was right and I should have listened to it.

Billie: So you really don’t know when it’s a premonition? Don’t you get some kind of a little ‘zing’ or a vision? You told me once that sometimes you saw things in your mind that meant something about a case, if only you could figure out how it fit in the puzzle.

Shelby: I think I’m done with this interview. (un-clips the microphone)

Billie: Wait…don’t go…I’ve still got questions…

Shelby: Bye.

Billie: Well, thanks for joining us everyone. Next time we’ll be interviewing Detective Harris from the police department…wait, what are you doing? You can’t take my microphone…I’m not done…

Well – that’s what happened this morning, and I’m still not over it yet. You can imagine how terrified I was when Billie started asking about my “secret” and how I solved cases. I never thought she would put me on the spot like that… and what did I do? I left! Now everyone will think I’m a jerk…and I’ll hear it all! Remind me not to do that again. Unless it’s something like The Today Show. I don’t think I could turn Matt Lauer down…

Jury Duty Trouble

Posted: May 18, 2015 in Advice, Experiences, Thoughts

I’ve been called to jury duty before, but I’ve never had to go in until now. Unluckily for me, I drew number two and, after answering a few questions, took my place in the jury box. I’d never wanted to be on a jury, but it was also kind of exciting to sit with a group of people and decide if someone was guilty or not. Although in my case, I’d know the truth without all the arguments. At least that’s what I thought, but it wasn’t so cut and dry.

The case was about a cop whose husband had used her gun to commit suicide…only the prosecution was trying to prove that she killed her husband for the million dollar life insurance policy. Of course, I knew right off the bat she was innocent, and her lawyers presented a pretty good case for her. Throughout the trial, most of the other jurors thought she was innocent too, but once we were dismissed to deliberate, things got messy.

The jury foreman, Lance, a big guy who worked in construction, started pushing for a guilty verdict. Not only that, but he was getting mean about it. It bothered me, but I didn’t think it mattered until after lunch when we took another vote. Everyone but me had changed their not-guilty votes to guilty. That’s when I knew I was in trouble.

By this time, the jurors were tired of the whole thing and wanted to go home. It didn’t take long before everyone knew that I was the lone not-guilty voter. Lance turned his hard gaze on me, but I wasn’t about to let him bulldoze me like he had the others.

“What’s your problem?” I asked. “I know you’re pushing for a guilty verdict, but it seems like there’s more to it. It seems like it’s personal.”

He sputtered out a denial, but I’d hit a nerve and I heard him thinking about his nephew who’d been sent to prison. Surprise washed over me to learn that the defendant was the cop who’d arrested his nephew and also testified against him during the subsequent trial.

Now it all made sense, but how was I supposed to handle this without giving myself away? I stood before speaking and made sure I had everyone’s attention. “I’ve noticed how Lance has bullied all of you into a guilty verdict, but I refuse to back down. This is not the time to let someone who has a personal agenda against the cops determine the verdict of this case. We have been given a task to determine if the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. After all the evidence, I can’t say that she’s guilty. How can you?”

I heard many of them thinking that I was right. They didn’t like being bullied, but Lance wasn’t about to give up so easily. He made some points, but I refuted each one of them, which also served to convince the others that I was right and there was a reasonable doubt.

But then he got in my face. “I’m not bullying anyone, but that cop’s guilty.”

“Shall we have another vote?” I asked. We all agreed, and this time everyone said not-guilty, except for Lance. He stared daggers at me, thinking that I was ruining everything. He wasn’t going to back down, so I had no choice but to reveal his secret. “I know why you’re doing this, Lance. It’s because of your nephew.” His face went slack in shock, so I continued. “It’s not going to work. If you don’t vote not-guilty, I’ll tell the judge and you’ll have to face the consequences of lying to the court. You’ll have to pay a heavy fine and you might even go to jail. Do you want that to happen?”

He glanced at the others jurors and knew it was over. With a clenched jaw, he changed his verdict, and I let out a sigh of relief, especially since I was just making that stuff up about the fine and jail time…but it could be true.

After it was all over, Lance waited for me outside the building and I had no way to avoid him. “How did you know?” he asked, more curious than angry.

“Look, I know you’re not happy about you nephew, mostly because of the pain he’s caused your sister, but I think you know deep down that he was dealing drugs and probably got what he deserved. It was just a fluke that this cop happened to be the one who arrested him, and you decided she was guilty for spite, but taking it out on her is not going to help your nephew…or your sister. Now…why don’t you go home to your wife and your baby boy, and be grateful for what you have?”

His eyes bulged and he gasped. “You? How did you…”

I shook my head. “Goodbye Lance.” I turned and walked away, hearing him swear up a storm in his mind. At least he was also thinking that I was someone to avoid in the future because I was freaky, and maybe even an alien. The alien part surprised me, but I was glad to know that he’d leave me alone.

So…that’s my story about jury duty. I sure hope I don’t have to do anything like that in the future. Although Chris did tell me that as soon as I was done, he needed my help with a case he’s working on. Yikes! With my luck, he’ll probably want me to listen to the jury during the trial and find out what they’re thinking…then figure out how to sway their votes. I really don’t want to do that, but I guess if his client is innocent, I could. But what if he’s guilty? Argh! Life was so much easier before I could read minds.

A few weeks ago, Kate flew in from Seattle to go over some business with Uncle Joey. Even though we are civil to each other, I don’t like her much and I don’t think that will ever change. Still, I smiled and asked how she was doing. Just before leaving, she studied my face, and was thinking that I’d better do something about the fine lines at the corners of my eyes before they got any worse. Then… just like that she smiled and walked out.

Since she knows I can read minds, I’m sure she thought that deliberately, just to get to me. At first it made me angry, but I tried to push it from my mind and forget about it. Just the same, I couldn’t help looking for the wrinkles around my eyes in the mirror. I couldn’t see anything too alarming, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to take some preventative measures and find a good anti-wrinkle cream.

This led me to check out all the newest anti-wrinkle face creams on the market. I finally settled on one that claimed to erase the fine lines on the face and neck. I thought that was the one I’d better get, since I didn’t want to have neck wrinkles either and I might as well go all out and get the best.

A few days later, the cream came in the mail and I couldn’t wait to smooth it on my skin and see the results. Two hours later, my neck started to itch. Thinking nothing of it, I scratched it a little, but it didn’t go away. As the itching increased, I realized something was terribly wrong and ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror.

My breath hitched and my eyes widened in horror. Itchy, red, hives covered my neck and crept up to my cheeks and out across my forehead. Yikes!! I quickly washed my face and neck to get the cream off, and hoped that would take care of it, but it only seemed to get worse.

I hurried to the store and bought some hydro-cortisone cream and took an allergy pill. I rubbed the cortisone cream on thick and at first it worked great. The itching stopped immediately and I sighed with relief. However, just a minute later it started itching again, but I hoped it would settle down once the pill kicked in.

I spent the rest of the evening with an ice pack on my neck, and after another pill, went to bed with hopes that it would be better in the morning. That night my neck itched so bad, it was hard to sleep, but in the morning it seemed a little better. Still, once I got going, the hives on my neck flared up again, along with those on my cheeks and forehead. Even my eyebrows were itching.

Chris took one look at me and told me I’d better see a doctor. That’s how I ended up at the Instant-Care facility. After examining me, the nurse was wondering why I hadn’t come in yesterday before it got so bad. It made me feel kind of stupid, but I had hoped it would get better, not worse.

The doctor was more sympathetic, and only shook his head a little when I told him about the wrinkle cream. He gave me an epinephrin shot and had me drink some nasty kind of medicine. Within minutes, the itching stopped and the redness went down. What a relief!! I ended up having to take a six-day regimen of pills, but at least I was finally getting better.

The doctor told me not to use that cream ever again, and of course, I agreed. I mean, who’d do that to themselves on purpose? Then I heard him thinking that I looked too young to worry about wrinkles anyway, and that made me feel almost as good as the medicine.

So, I guess I shouldn’t worry so much about wrinkles. What can you really do about them anyway? But I can stop listening to Kate. I smiled as thoughts of giving that cream to her flooded my mind… but that wouldn’t be very nice of me. Still, I think I’ll hold onto it, just the same.

It was my mom and dad’s anniversary the other day and they invited my family along with my brother’s family over to celebrate. It was a big crowd, and we had a fun time together…until Savannah asked my parents how they met. I’d heard the story lots of times, but that was before I got my mind-reading abilities, and let me say…the truth came as something of a shock.

My mom started to tell her how they met at a diner where she was a waitress, but in her mind I heard it was a bar and not a diner at all, and she served drinks wearing a short skirt and halter top. That kind of surprised me since she’s such a prim and proper lady now, but it certainly made the story more interesting.

She continued, saying how my dad saw her and was immediately smitten. After coming in a few times just to see her, he asked for her number. Now my mom was was quite the babe back then, and she still looks pretty great, but she got asked for her number a lot, and made it a rule not to give it out.

So the first time he asked, she wouldn’t give it to him, a fact she relished telling us. But here’s where the story got interesting. My dad was thinking that it wasn’t quite like that. Sure, she had turned him down and he was heart-broken, but after one of the other girls thought she was nuts and offered him her own number, my mom had a change of heart and wrote her number down on the back of his receipt.

It was kind of nice to hear his version, but that still didn’t prepare me for the truth I’d never heard. They were talking about how they hadn’t been back to that diner for a long time, and I picked up that there was something about that diner my mom didn’t want me to know. So when Savannah suggested that we all go there for dinner sometime, I was right there with her.

My mom hedged a bit, but my dad started laughing and she swatted him to shut up. I guessed she didn’t want us to know the truth about the bar part and her being a waitress with the skimpy clothes and all, but then I heard my dad thinking it was called, “Shelby’s Bar & Grill,” and maybe it wasn’t so bad to tell me they’d named me after the place they’d met.

My breath caught, and I nearly spilled the beans right then and there. They named me after a bar? And I didn’t know? “Where is this place?” I practically shouted. “I want to see it.”

“It’s in Denver,” my dad said. “A little too far to go for dinner.”

“Oh, yeah,” I agreed. It was a long drive from home, but I was determined that the next time I was in Denver I was going there. I mean, what’s the point of being named after something if you never visit? “Well…next time I’m in Denver, I’m going to stop by. So Mom, what’s the name of this place?”

My dad grinned, but my mom’s brows rose in alarm. She really didn’t want to tell me, but I wasn’t going to let her off the hook. “You know I have premonitions, right?” I continued. “So I’m getting a premonition that it has something to do with my name… so what’s that about?”

It was worth it to see my mother’s eyes bulge a bit, and finally my dad told us the truth. After the shock had worn off, we all had a good laugh, and it hit me how I could have gone through my whole life without knowing something important like that.

“So…mom,” Savannah said. “Is there anything you’d like to tell me about my name?”


There are times when I can’t help being a little bit bad. Like the other day. First of all, it was a beautiful autumn day with the bright blue sky and orange & yellow leaves falling to the earth like feathers. The air had a chill to it, but the sun was still warm enough to take most of the chill away. I was leaving Thrasher Development and something just pulled me over to the corner of the parking garage where Ramos kept his motorcycle. I stopped and stared at it, feeling a rush of longing to go for a ride.

With a sigh, I turned to leave and found Ramos standing behind me with a lopsided grin on his face. “Babe,” he said. “Looks like you’re drooling just a little. Want to go for a ride?”

My breath caught and, even though I knew I shouldn’t, I nodded my head, grinning like a fool. See what I mean about being a little bit bad? I didn’t have any control when it came to Ramos and going for a ride on his motorcycle. What was worse, Ramos knew it. “I have to take a message to someone for Manetto,” he said. “But it shouldn’t take long.”


He popped the trunk of his car and got out the gear I’d need, and I quickly put on the helmet and leather jacket. Before I knew it, I was on the bike behind him with my arms wrapped around his waist. As we pulled out of the garage a thrill went down my spine and my stomach churned with butterflies. We didn’t go far before stopping, and I was a little disappointed. But I shouldn’t have worried. After Ramos delivered his message, we got back on the bike and he said over his shoulder. “We’ll take the long way back.”

“Woohoo!” I shouted, and felt his stomach muscles wiggle with laughter. We left the city behind and took a loop around the University past some big homes with huge trees lining the residential streets. The leaves kicked up as we drove through them and rained down from above as well. It was a timeless moment, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Then we hit the main road and traveled back to the city.

Parking in the garage, I got off the bike like an expert, and stowed the helmet and jacket back in Ramos’ trunk. “That was awesome!” I said, grinning widely. “Thanks.”

“Sure,” he said, thinking it was the best part of his day.

“Me too,” I agreed. “So tell me… if you were going to a Halloween party, what would you dress up as? I think I’d want to go as a biker chick.”

“Babe,” he said. “I’d just go as a hit-man, then I could wear whatever I wanted.”

We both laughed and I was still chuckling in the car on my way home. Then it hit me that not too many people could say that, and here I was, a normal soccer-mom housewife…who’d just taken a ride with a real live hit-man. See what I mean about taking a ride on the wild side?