Archive for July, 2020

Last night, I stayed up late reading a book. At midnight, I was still going strong when my phone rang. My heart rate went into overdrive, because… let’s face it… a phone call in the middle of the night usually means something’s wrong. I answered quickly so the ringing wouldn’t wake my husband. “Hello?”

“Babe. Sorry to call so late, but Manetto needs you. Can you come to his house?”

“Uh… you mean right now?”

“Yeah.”

I waited for him to explain what was going on, but he didn’t say another word. “So… should I be worried?”

“No. There’s been an incident and Manetto needs your expertise.” He was talking about my ability to read minds, and, since I was at the beck and call of the local mob boss, it didn’t really matter what time it was.

“Okay. I’ll throw on some clothes and be right there.” I disconnected and pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, with ankle boots on my feet.

Next, I splashed some water on my face, combed through my hair, and added a tint of lip gloss. Ready to go, I shrugged on my black, leather jacket, and hurried to my car.

As you might have guessed Uncle Joey lives in a mansion, and it didn’t take long to get there, especially so late at night. Ramos’s motorcycle was parked in front, so I pulled up next to it. I’d expected the lights in the house to be blazing, but it was mostly dark.

Not sure if I should ring the doorbell, I sent Ramos a text. He came to the door and let me in, happy that I’d made it so quickly.

“So what’s going on? Is Uncle Joey okay?”

“Manetto’s fine. There was a thief who broke in. Manetto caught him, but he’s not talking. That’s where we need you.” Ramos was thinking that he could have made him talk, but my method was faster and less of a mess, and he hoped I didn’t mind too much.

I shook my head and rolled my eyes. “It’s fine, I was awake anyway, and this is probably better than the book I was reading.”

Ramos chuckled, and I followed him inside, then down the hallway and into Uncle Joey’s study. Uncle Joey sat behind his desk in an elegant bathrobe. A man dressed all in black was trussed up and tied to a chair. His bottom lip was swollen and bloody, and he leaned forward as if his stomach hurt.

“Shelby… thanks for coming. Sorry it’s so late. Have a seat.” After I sat, Uncle Joey motioned to the captive. “This man tried to rob me tonight, but he won’t tell me what he was after, or who he’s working for.”

I studied the man, taking in his dark eyes and short beard. He was thinking that he’d made a big mistake tonight, and all of his carefully laid plans had gone up in smoke. He wasn’t sure how to get out of this mess, or what was worse… the humiliation of getting caught… or facing Manetto. He never should have taken the bet.

“So,” I began. “Tell us about this bet.”

Shock rippled through him. How did I know that? “How… uh…” He glanced at Uncle Joey and shook his head. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Of course you do,” I countered. “You made a bet with… James Patton that you could break into Uncle Joey’s house and steal his… Rolex Cosmo… something watch.” I glanced at Uncle Joey.

“It’s a Cosmograph Daytona worth about twenty-four grand.” He frowned at the man. “James Patton put you up to this?” Uncle Joey had a friendly rivalry with the billionaire philanthropist. But he’d never gone this far before.

The man stared at me. “How did you know? This was just between us, there wasn’t anyone else involved. There’s no way you could know this.”

“We have out sources,” Uncle Joey said. He didn’t want this guy to think about me too hard and figure out my secret. “I knew James admired my watch, but I didn’t know he wanted it so badly.”

The man was still confused, but since the jig was up, he wasn’t going to play the game any longer. “My name is Oliver Chutney.”

Uncle Joey’s eyes widened, and he realized Oliver was supposedly one of the best thieves in the business. “So this was a dare?”

“I was trying to prove a point.”

I snickered. “He was trying to prove how good he was, but that sure backfired. Is your reputation on the line now?”

Oliver’s lips turned down and his eyes narrowed. He didn’t like how easily I read him. What was it with me? How did I do it? None of this could be explained and it didn’t make sense. “What was your name again?”

Uncle Joey didn’t want me to get under James Patton’s radar. James would want me for himself, and that was not negotiable. “I think you should forget that you ever met my niece. If you can promise to do that, I’ll make you a deal.”

Oliver’s eyes widened. A deal? With a mob boss? This might be the worst thing that could happen… or the best, depending on what it was. “What’s the deal?”

“You do a job for me, free of charge. I’ll let you take the watch and tell James that you were successful. If he decides to hire you for something else, I want to know what it is. If it’s something I want, you’ll give the item to me instead of him.

“But I’ll lose the money he’d pay me.”

“That’s not my problem.” Oliver didn’t respond, so Uncle Joey continued. “Or I can call the police right now, and they’ll arrest you for trying to steal from me. What will it be?” Uncle Joey picked up his phone.

“Okay, okay. I’ll do it.” He was thinking that he didn’t have to tell Uncle Joey anything, as long as he got away with the watch. But deep down, he knew it wouldn’t be that easy. For his reputation alone, he’d have to keep to the deal.

Uncle Joey glanced my way, asking me if Oliver could be trusted to follow through with the deal. I shrugged and he nodded, deciding that was good enough.

He opened the safe behind his desk, and pulled out a box. He’d been saving this decoy for years and now it was finally going to be put to good use.

A decoy?

“Untie him.”

Ramos loosened the bands, and Uncle Joey handed Oliver the box. “It’s inside.”

Not about to trust Uncle Joey, Oliver opened the box and took a look at the watch. Satisfied, he stashed it in his pocket. “I’ll be in touch.”

“Ramos will walk you out.”

After they left, Uncle Joey turned to me with a grin on his face. “I wonder how long it will take for James to figure out the watch isn’t real?”

“How did you know he’d send Oliver after it?”

“James has been itching to get his hands on that watch for years. I had the fake watch made a long time ago, and I’d just about given up. The other day, I may have let it slip that I kept it in my safe here in my office, but I was thinking of donating it to a museum. I knew he’d hate that, so I’ve been waiting for someone to show up.”

I just shook my head. “How did you catch Oliver if he’s so good?”

He shrugged. “It’s easy if you know he’s coming.”

“I guess.”

Ramos came back in, and I picked up that he’d been in on the whole thing.

I let out a breath. “Well, that was fun, but I guess I’ll go home now.”

“Thanks for coming,” Uncle Joey said.

“You bet.”

Ramos walked me out to my car. “So was that better than your book?”

I chuckled.”Yeah… it was pretty darn close. Only in my book there’s a torrid sex scene, and that didn’t happen here.”

“It could,” he said, giving me his smoldering smile. He leaned in close enough for me to smell his aftershave, and I felt his warm breath on my cheek.

I inhaled deeply, then quickly ducked into the front seat of my car and closed the door. I sent him a jaunty wave before driving off.

Whew, that was close. I should know better than to tease Ramos… but did that ever stop me? Nope. At least everything worked out well for Uncle Joey.

I got home pretty late, and decided to get some sleep instead of reading. It made me realize that sometimes my life was way better than a book. After that, I fell asleep with a smile.