My summer’s been pretty good so far, and I hope yours has too.

Lately, I’ve been contemplating getting those fake eyelashes that they glue onto your own eyelashes. Mostly because, as I mentioned in my last post, all my friends had done it, and they looked pretty great. Of course, I already have naturally long lashes, but without mascara, they’re pretty much invisible. Which brings me to wonder how much easier it would be to have the fake ones. Looking good all the time without putting on mascara sounds awesome.

The only drawback I can see is the expense and the maintenance. My friend told me that after the first application, you have to go in every two weeks to keep them filled, or at least three to four weeks or they start to fall out and look kind of weird.

That seems like a big commitment to me, but her lashes looked so amazing, that I’m really tempted. But is the cost and maintenance worth it? She absolutely loves it, so it definitely is for her.

I’d almost made up my mind to do it, but then I remembered something that happened to me not too long ago. I broke out in hives all over my neck and face from a new face cream I was using. I’d ended up at the doctor’s office, needing a shot and a few days on steroid pills because of my allergies.

Since I’d heard similar horror stories about people having an allergic reaction to the glue that was used on the lashes, it made me wonder if that would happen to me. I could just imagine how bad I’d look with swollen eyes no amount of benadryl could cure. My doctor would probably think I was pretty stupid to even try it, which would mean I couldn’t go to him for help. And I’d just have to live with it until all my eyelashes fell out. How would I look then?

Just thinking about it sent chills of terror down my spine, so… I think I’ll just stick to mascara for now. It may take a few minutes to put on, and run down my face at inopportune times, but at least I’ll avoid the trouble of something even worse. I mean, if there’s something I’ve learned lately, it’s that if anything bad might happen to me, it probably will. Knowing that, it would be irresponsible to even try it. So I think I’ll wait. Who knows what they might come up with in a few years anyway, right?

I met some of the girls I’d grown up with for dinner the other night.

As you can imagine, I’d managed to avoid dinner with them for a while, mostly to save myself from hearing thoughts that might hurt my feelings. Not that these friends are mean or anything, but there’s always that element of competitiveness that comes when a group of women get together.

The drill goes like this: We start out by getting updates on what everyone’s doing in their lives. This is accomplished by going around the table so everyone gets a chance to talk about themselves. That’s when we get to hear about the cruises, trips, new cars, houses, and what activities the children are involved in, and how smart they are. Then we usually end with the latest gossip about other people we know. Pretty standard, right?

In some ways, I really wanted to go because I’ve got some crazy stories I could tell that might just top anything anyone else had to say. I’d also know how much of the truth they told, and how much they embellished their stories just to sound good.

But on the other hand, I’d know what they really thought about each other … and what they really thought about me. I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea, even as much as it enticed me to know.

Anyway, it just so happened that I was free on the night of the scheduled dinner. And in a moment of weakness, I told them I’d be there. That’s how I ended up in the restaurant, surrounded by six other women whom I’d known since grade school, but hadn’t talked to in almost a year.

When it got to me, I decided to tell them about my consulting agency. I picked up curiosity, and a lot of astonishment, that I had the guts to do something like that. They had a ton of questions for me about what kinds of cases I’d worked on. Mostly because they didn’t quite believe I was telling the truth, or that I was totally legitimate.

In fact, there were a couple of them who thought I couldn’t possibly be a real investigator, and it was just a hobby, or something I said to impress people. Then someone asked if I’d ever worked on a murder case, but she was thinking that was the true test of my legitimacy as a consultant.

So naturally, I took the bait, and told them about the case where I’d helped a young woman find her mother who’d been missing for ten years, but whom I found out had actually been killed by a serial killer. That got their attention, and they listened with astonishment to the whole story, amazed that I got out alive. And who was this Ramos person? (I’d sort of glossed over that part, since I couldn’t exactly tell the truth. But I had to say something about him. I mean, how could I leave him out when he’d saved my life?)

By the end of our dinner, I had their grudging respect, but they also didn’t want me to think I was too high and mighty for them. So they took what I said with a grain of salt, not quite believing all of it. (Mostly the Ramos part.)

It also made me realize that if one of them had told my story, I’d probably have a hard time believing it too, so maybe it was all right.

Still, as we left, I had a strong desire for Ramos to show up on his motorcycle and take me for a ride, just to prove it was all real. That would show them, right? Plus, they’d probably all die of jealousy.

But, as satisfying as that scenario might be, all it would really prove was that I was lots more competitive than I thought. Even worse, that I’d enjoyed being the center of attention and having the best story of them all.

Dang. I hoped that didn’t make me a bad person. It might also mean that I’d better keep my mouth shut next time. With as much trouble as I seem to get into, it’s probably a good idea.

 

 

As most of you know, I began my consulting agency nearly a year ago. So much has happened in that time that it kind of blows my mind. To say the least, it has been one adventure after another! I always seem to have my hands full, and right now is no exception.

I’m helping a police detective, whom I call Dimples, with a murder investigation. He found out my secret that I can read minds a few months ago, but he is the only one on the police force who knows the truth. Naturally, he wants my help when he’s assigned a hard case. I usually don’t have too many problems finding the guilty party, since all I have to do is talk to the major suspects and listen to their thoughts. The guilty person always thinks about how they did it, and I can usually wrap it up pretty quick.

But not this time.

So far, every single suspect I’ve talked to is innocent, and my ability isn’t as helpful as I’d like. The police chief is even getting a little upset with me and wondering what happened to my ‘premonitions.’ (This is what I call my ability to keep my secret safe). So now Dimples and I are scrambling to find the guilty party, and I’m finally learning what it’s like to do real detective work.

But after this morning, I’m ready to quit. Some evidence Dimples gathered yesterday makes it look like organized crime might be involved. Dimples actually had the gall to ask me to spy on Uncle Joey. He knows I used to work for Uncle Joey, but what he doesn’t know is that Uncle Joey knows my secret and I still work for him.

I can’t very well spy on Uncle Joey for the police, can I? So what am I supposed to do? If Uncle Joey is involved, does that mean I should warn him about the investigation? Maybe if I did, he could do something to cover up his involvement. But isn’t that aiding and abetting? I could go to jail for something like that.

On the other hand, if I find he’s not involved, that would be a good thing, too. My only way out, is to find the real killer and hope he’s not tied to Uncle Joey. Still, I think I might mention the investigation to Uncle Joey, just in passing, so it’s not like I’m actually warning him about anything. Then he’d be prepared, right?

Besides, I think if Uncle Joey had the guy killed, the body wouldn’t have been at the crime scene. From what I’ve picked up about how he does things, there probably wouldn’t have been a body to find in the first place. So in that respect, it couldn’t have been Uncle Joey, and all my worry is for nothing.

Ugh! See what I mean about quitting? As much as I enjoy having my own consulting agency, it’s not an easy thing to work on both sides of the law. In fact, it’s downright stressful. If I don’t quit the agency altogether, I should probably make a decision to either help the police, or work for Uncle Joey.

Or maybe I’ll just take some time off and quit working for both of them. That way, I’ll only have personal cases to work on, and I won’t end up in such dangerous situations all the time.

Of course, that’s not always true either. I’ve had a few of my own cases that nearly got me killed anyway. See my dilemma? If I had to choose between Uncle Joey and Dimples, I don’t think I could do it. I owe Uncle Joey too much to ever break ties with him, and Dimples is my friend and knows my secret.

So… I guess I’ll just keep going with what I’m doing and hope for the best. As long as I have plenty of Mylanta handy, I should be able to handle it, right? Especially if Ramos is around to save my bacon…and maybe take me on a motorcycle ride or two. But see what I mean about being between a rock and a hard place?

 

After my trip to Paris, I looked forward to going out to lunch with my best friend, Holly, and telling her all about it. She’s one of the few people who can really appreciate a certain hit-man, and all the juicy details that I always leave out with everyone else.

Naturally, I told her all about my brush with the terrorists, and how Ramos came to my rescue. I picked up that her jealousy spiked a little, mostly when I told her about the motorcycle ride with Ramos through the city. She tried to tamp it down a little, and rationalized that since I’d almost been killed a few times, she wouldn’t ever want to trade places with me.

That reasoning worked for her, especially when I told her about the bomb. Of course, it went out the window after that, because…what kind of a friend would I be if I couldn’t tell her what happened after we took care of the bomb? Her mouth dropped open, and I think she even drooled a little. After that, she was thinking that maybe all the bad stuff that happened to me wasn’t so bad after all.

In some ways, I had to agree that there was a silver lining in there somewhere, but I wasn’t sure coming so close to death made up for that. Still, I had to believe that the outcome was worth it all, or I might want to stay home and never leave my house again.

Then her thoughts turned to Chris, and the time she’d seen him with another woman while I was in Paris. It had troubled her, but after hearing about my adventure, she decided to leave it alone, thinking there had to be a reason for it.

I picked up more details, that she’d seen him at a furniture store with a pretty, younger woman. They were laughing together, and looking at a fine leather couch set and some artwork. Probably something to do with his job, although she couldn’t figure out what that might be.

Now my mouth dropped open, and my stomach tightened with dread. All those old feelings I’d had when Kate was around came to the surface, and threatened to overwhelm me with panic.

“Shelby? Is something wrong?” Holly asked.

“Oh no…nothing. This sandwich is really good. How do you like yours?” While we ate, all kinds of scenarios about what Chris might have been up to filled my head, but I decided that I’d try not to worry. I had no doubt that he loved me, and we were good, so there had to be a reasonable explanation. We’d talk and he’d think about it, and then I’d know. I was sure it was nothing, but I couldn’t help seeing the irony in the situation, either.

In the end, it kind of ruined my enjoyment of telling Holly all the juicy details about Paris, and this was one of those times I wished I couldn’t read minds.

 

 

 

 

 

My trip to Paris was quite the adventure, but once Chris arrived things settled down. Still, we had an amazing time there, and I’m so glad he came. Of course, he wasn’t too thrilled about me leaving him at home in the first place, but since he got to come and spend a few extra days with me, he couldn’t complain too much.

At least that’s what I told him when I had to explain all the little details about my crazy adventure there. Most of them I’d sort of left out when we spoke on the phone, but I couldn’t do that in person. In fact, there was hardly anything I could leave out. Although I did manage to keep a few details from him,😉😉.

He thought most of my story was pretty crazy, but knowing me, he had to believe it was true, especially after meeting Inspecteur Dumont, and my friend, Suzette. But it got him to thinking about my experience in the cemetery, and he wanted to go there in the worst way. Me? Not so much. Still, in the light of day, it was hard to refuse a visit there. Maybe I’d sleep better at night with a different memory of that place. It was worth a try, right?

We determined that the cemetery I’d been to had to be Père Lachaise, the most famous cemetery in Paris. My kids weren’t too thrilled about a cemetery, so we left early, telling them we’d be back in an hour or so and took the metro to the nearest stop. Exiting onto the street, Chris thoughtfully bought me a bouquet of spring flowers from a vendor to help cheer me up since I wasn’t real excited about revisiting that part of my adventure.

From there, we followed the map toward the address. Once we came to the tall wall on one side of the street, my heart picked up speed, and I knew exactly where we were. All those feelings of helpless fear came surging back, but I stoically pushed them away and held onto Chris’ hand a little tighter. “This is it. The gate should be coming up on the left.”

It was opened this time, and we followed the little cobbled street between the ornate tombs up the slope while I explained the details of where I’d walked to Chris. In the light of day this place seemed like a place of peace and tranquility.

We came to a crossroad, and I glanced down one side to find the special tomb where I’d hidden. As I pointed it out to Chris, the cracked door hardly seemed big enough to hide behind. Then I read the name carved into the stone. “Colette Marie Joubert, 1843 – 1879”

Was she the one I’d felt there? The one who’d helped me escape? Just then, a breeze carrying the fragrance of Hyacinths caressed my cheek with a gentle touch. As much as it freaked me out, it also sent a swell of serenity down my spine, leaving me a little breathless.

With a sudden idea, I took the flowers Chris had given me, and arranged them on her tombstone. A happy smile lit up my face and I turned to Chris. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to leave them here.”

“Not at all,” he said. “Are you glad you came back?”

“Yes. Thanks for bringing me.”

“Ready to go?” After I nodded he continued. “Good, because I have a surprise for you.”

I listened real close to his thoughts, but he’d shut them up tight. “Wow, how’d you do that?”

He chuckled. “Pure survival. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

A car waited outside the cemetery and Louis opened the door with a broad smile. “Bonjour Madam, Monsieur.”

I had no clue what was going on, but since surprises were rare for me, I could hardly contain my excitement for what Chris had in store. He explained that Suzette had the kids for most of the day, leaving us with a little free time. To make a long story short, we ended up spending the next few hours together doing the most romantic things and treasuring every moment. It ended up being the perfect finale to a trip I will never forget.

 

I first met Ramos not long after I got shot in the head and received my mind-reading ability. He’d just saved my life, but was thinking that he might have to kill me for the big boss. That’s why it came as a shock to ‘hear’ him singing a country song in his mind. Of course, the song was something about the Devil and The Long Road to Hell, so in a way, it made perfect sense. Back then, he was one scary dude, especially since he didn’t seem to possess any of those warm and fuzzy feelings for anyone or anything.

That changed after he met me. I seemed to make him feel guilty about things, and he hadn’t felt that way in years. I also brought out those protective instincts in him, and I knew it bothered him more than he cared to admit.

Since I’m now part of Uncle Joey’s organization, Ramos has had his hands full keeping me alive, and I will be eternally grateful to him for that. But it’s also opened a crack in his heart that kind of ruins his tough-guy image. At least where I’m concerned. That’s how I was able to find out the one thing that always puzzled me about him. How he got his affinity for country music.

He told me that before he worked for Uncle Joey, he started out as a security guard/bouncer at a club in Nashville that featured new artists. There was an amazing singer who got her start in that club. He told me she sang country like it came from somewhere deep inside her soul, and it woke something up inside of Ramos.

Of course being the sexy stud that he is, she was drawn to him, and he told me there were nights when it seemed like she sang to him and him alone. He didn’t tell me any specifics, but said that not long after that, he got in a fight and had to leave town in a hurry, but he never forgot her or her music. Then he told me she was a big star now, and he liked to think that he may have been the cause of her rise to fame.

Puzzled, I asked him why he would think that, and he just laughed. Then he admitted that her breakout album was obviously all about him. I thought that maybe he was a little too full of himself, so I bought the album, just to see what he was talking about. Now, after listening to it a few times, I’m convinced it must be true, and his reputation as a heart-breaker came through loud and clear. Poor girl.

I’d tell you who the singer is, but I promised I wouldn’t. Still, maybe if you listen to that album, you’ll know who I’m talking about. So now you know why Ramos loves country music. He may have broken her heart, but I think it may have broken his a little bit too.

 

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?”

“Uh-huh.”

“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?