Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

The Fall Halloween Festival is a major fundraiser for the school, and I was asked to help out. Savannah thought I should run a fortune teller’s booth for the event, with me as the gypsy with the crystal ball.

Since I had to help out anyway, this seemed like a fun idea, so I agreed. Most people know I have my own P.I. business, but they don’t know that I can read minds. I tell people I have ‘premonitions’ instead.

In the guise of a fortune teller, I could put my skills to good use without giving away my secret. Not only would it be fun, but I could raise a lot of money for the school.

I had to splurge on a great gypsy costume, but it was totally worth it, since it came with a black wig and a scarf with some cool coin tassels. Next, I needed a crystal ball, and I ended up buying the one that had electric-like lightning on the inside that was touch activated, because… well… it was the coolest.

On the night of the event, Chris and Josh helped me set up a little tent in the corner of the gymnasium. With Savannah’s help, we draped some brightly colored material around the inside for atmosphere. With a covered card table, pillows for people to sit on, and little lights strung up along the top, I may have gone a little crazy with the decor, but I wanted it to look authentic.

In the end, I probably could have donated the money I spent on getting the booth all fixed up, and come out ahead.

Then I had to figure out how much to charge the participants. With all the money I’d spent, I thought five dollars for the adults was a steal, with two for the students. The person in charge agreed on the price, but she didn’t think I’d have many takers. That didn’t bother me too much, since I was pretty sure it would be a hit.

Savannah volunteered to sit outside the tent and take the money. This meant she had to have a gypsy costume as well, which didn’t bother her in the least. Once we were all set up, she let the first people in. Soon, quite a crowd had gathered.

To make it more time-efficient, I told the participants they could ask me just one question and if they wanted more, they’d have to get back in line and pay again.

It was easy to pick up the answers they wanted me to give them, so I just decided to tell them what they wanted to hear. I mean…positive feedback is a powerful motivator, so it could happen, right?

Pretty soon, the questions started getting personal. One girl wanted to know who was going to ask her to senior prom. She was hoping it was Mason, so I told her if she wanted Mason to ask her, she’d better let him know with a few subtle hints. That wasn’t exactly predicting the future, but it was close enough.

By the end of the evening, I was ready to be done. Just before I closed up, a group of three teenage boys begged me to stay, saying they would come in together. They were joking around and laughing, but I caught an underlying thread of a mischievous intent to hassle me a bit, mostly because people were saying that I was the real deal, and the boys wanted to prove them wrong.

“You each get one question,” I said. “So make it count.”

“What college will I go to?” The first one asked. He was thinking this was a trick question, since he wasn’t planning on going to college. He’d decided on going straight to an underwater welding school, which wasn’t something most kids did, but which he was totally excited about.

I stroked my crystal ball, making it jump and hum with little sparks of lightning, and then I looked deeply into his eyes before answering. “You’re not going to college. You’ll do something unusual, and it involves… water and fire.”

The other boys laughed, but this kid’s eyes got huge. He hadn’t told them his plans yet. In fact, he’d only talked to his dad about it. so how did I know? One of them smacked him on the arm, so he halfheartedly laughed with them, but inside he was freaking out.

Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have done that. Oh well.

The next boy asked if he’d pass the test and get his driver’s license, which was a trick question since he already had it. He got a little quiet when I told him he already had it. Then he shrugged it off, thinking it was a lucky guess.

The final boy asked me if he’d get a football scholarship to college. He was hoping it could happen, but deep down, he knew he wasn’t quite good enough, although I didn’t know that.

“I get the feeling you’re a good player,” I said. “But to be on the safe side, you’d better look at other ways to get a scholarship. That, or start saving your money.”

Since that was a safe answer, he dismissed it. “Well, thanks,” he said, but he was thinking – thanks for nothing – and sent me a fake smile.

He stood to leave, glancing at the other two, and thinking about their plans for the night. He always enjoyed the rush of stealing pumpkins off people’s porches and smashing them in the street without getting caught, and tonight was the night.

“Uh…guys, before you go, there’s something you need to know,” I said, effectively stopping them. They all turned to stare at me with raised brows.

“You have something planned for tonight that’s not good. Whatever it is, I feel the need to warn you…don’t do it. If you do, it will change the course of your lives, and you’ll never be the same.”

All pretense of smug coolness dropped from their faces, quickly morphing into jaw-dropping astonishment. What did I know? Was one of them going to get hurt? Would they get caught, or worse, would someone shoot them by mistake?

“Thanks for stopping by,” I said, smiling.

They fled the tent and I stood, grateful the night was over, and needing to get some fresh air. As I stepped out of the tent, Savannah glanced my way with big eyes. “What did you say to them?” she asked, thinking those guys had looked scared out of their minds.

I shrugged. “I just told them to stay out of trouble, or something bad might happen to them. I guess it was good advice.”

She laughed, thinking that those three were known to be troublemakers. “Good job.” She leaned over and gave me a high five.

At the end of the night, we’d brought in enough money that the lady in charge was thrilled, and ready to book me for next year’s event. Now that I had all the props, I readily agreed. I mean…I’d had a blast. How could I pass it up?

On one hand, I could think of some worse-case scenarios, where this might come back to bite me, but nothing like that would happen, right? And I’d saved a few pumpkins in the process, so it was all good.

And who knew? Maybe I’d even get a new client or two out of it?

 

 

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School Play

Posted: April 24, 2018 in Advice, Experiences, Thoughts
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Some of you may know that I work for a mob-boss and he has an 18 year-old son who recently played the lead in his high school play of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Needless to say, my daughter Savannah, who just turned 13, has a huge crush on Miguel.

After seeing him playing the lead, I can’t blame her. In fact, most of the girls in the auditorium were practically swooning, and the sighs…oh my gosh…they came from every female no matter what their ages.

Of course, a lot of those sighs were in their minds where only I could hear them, so maybe that’s why they seemed so loud. Still…you get the picture.

Anyway, Miguel’s sudden rise to stardom inspired Savannah to try out for her Jr. High School play. They’re doing a watered down version of Beauty and the Beast. It should be a lot of fun for Savannah, but she’s hoping for the lead. The only problem with that is…she hasn’t got the chops for it.

Don’t get me wrong, her singing voice is great. It’s just not lead singer material. I hope she’s not too disappointed if she doesn’t get the main part. She’s been taking dance lessons forever, so she should get into that dance scene during the dinner and I hope she’ll be happy with that.

But it has given her a chance to talk to Miguel about trying out for the play, which he is totally encouraging her to do. So in her estimation, it’s a win no matter what, especially because it’s an excuse to call him for advice.

So what’s a mother to do? I don’t think she’ll get the part she wants, but I’m not about to tell her she’s not good enough either. That’s the hard part of being a mom. There are some days when you just have to know your kids will get disappointed. But I guess that’s just part of life. We all get disappointed, but it’s how we respond that builds our character.

I just hope I don’t have to worry too much about her crush on Miguel. I mean…they’d never end up together, right? Can you imagine having a mob-boss as my daughters’ father-in-law? Yikes! It gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

She’s bound to get over her crush with him at some point, especially with Miguel heading off to New York. They’ll hardly see each other after that. Although my family is planning on going to his opening night performance of Aladdin this summer.

That’s another thing I have to worry about. Not the part about going to Aladdin, but how I’m going to explain that my kids have a grandmother they’ve never met who lives there. She’s not really their grandmother, but I had to go along with Uncle Joey’s story that his sister is my mother for Miguel’s sake, since he thinks we’re cousins.

Why did I ever agree to do that? Well…it might have something to do with him being a mob-boss, but still…how am I going to explain all that to my kids? Just thinking about it gives me a headache.

I think for now I’m going to put it from my mind. No use worrying over something that hasn’t happened yet, right? Besides, Savannah will be coming home soon with the verdict of whether or not she made the school play. I sure hope she did, but I’d better have a alternate plan just in case. Like a consolation prize of some sort. But what should I do?

Wish me luck!

 

I work for a mob-boss. Doesn’t that sound nuts? There are some days I can’t believe it either. But, I have to say that he’s not your typical mob-boss, mostly because he runs several legitimate businesses, and he’s never been arrested…not even once.

Before you start thinking that I’m rationalizing about working for such a person, let me just clarify that I do it under duress. He found out my secret that I can read minds, and threatened harm to my family if I didn’t cooperate.

Sure, it may seem like I enjoy it, and sometimes I really do, but since I’ve nearly died a few times because of it, I know I should work harder at getting out from under him.

Still, if I’m honest, I do like being an indispensable part of his organization. That feeling of importance is pretty amazing. He’s also made sure I have someone to watch my back when I get in trouble, and I’ve grown quite fond of that person…and his motorcycle. Uncle Joey’s also deposited copious amounts of money into my checking account, and given me bonuses. I’ve even gone on his private jet to some great cities a few times.

So…what I’m trying to tell you is that I guess I’m in too deep to get out now. That should bother me a whole lot, but what can I say? I passed that point a while ago. Which brings me to my next conundrum. I also help the police. My partner, Detective Harris, aka Dimples, knows that I sometimes help Uncle Joey, he just doesn’t know how much.

So far, he hasn’t made a big deal out of it, but I just found out that he’s looking into it. What am I supposed to say when he tells me that he has a plan to take Uncle Joey down, and he wants my help to do it, especially when I know he’s doing it for my sake?

To top it all off, my husband also works for Uncle Joey as his lawyer. Could this get any worse? Actually, yes, because now my kids think Uncle Joey is my uncle and therefore related to them. In fact, our whole family had a chance encounter with his. I had to introduce my kids to his wife and son. Since then, he’s claimed us as part of The Family.

My thirteen-year-old daughter, Savannah, has a huge crush on Uncle Joey’s eighteen-year-old son. She thinks he’s not blood-related because of a story I made up about how Uncle Joey was first married to my aunt but they got a divorce and his son is from a different relationship. Complicated, right?

It’s no wonder that when taking a good look at my life, and all the complications involved in it, that I start to get a little stressed out. Which brings me to my next conundrum. You see, I’m meeting with Dimples this afternoon, and Uncle Joey just asked me to spy on the police department about a special case that could have repercussions for him.

He’s never really asked me to do that before, although it’s been implied, and it’s stressing me out. Can a good person work for people on both sides of the law? How long can I sit on the fence between the good guys and the bad guys without getting caught, hurt, or killed?

Honestly, I don’t want to find out, because I know one thing for sure…I could never betray Uncle Joey. But just as important, I don’t want to end up in jail either. So I guess for now, I’ll just have to keep balancing on that tightrope, and hope I don’t fall off.

It’s what you’d do, right?

Wish me luck – I’m going to need it!

 

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not someone who likes to make new year’s resolutions. Not that I don’t want to accomplish things or set goals. But it seems like most of the time, resolutions are for stopping a bad habit, or changing something about yourself to make you a better person.

I’m totally aware of my shortcomings, because as a mind-reader, I’m always hearing what people think of me. While some of it’s nice, a lot of it isn’t, and trying not to take it the wrong way is hard, but since none of them would ever say such things to my face, I have to try and get over it.

So you can see why I’d rather not concentrate on my shortcomings. But what else is there? Glancing through my Facebook feed (which is probably something I should make a resolution to change because it’s a huge time drain) I found a post about a resolution that I could really get behind. The first thing it said to do was plan a vacation.

Doesn’t that sound like fun? I thought so too, and I started thinking about where I’d like to go. Italy came to mind. One of my favorite shows from a long time ago was Only You, with Robert Downey Jr. and, after seeing that, I’d always dreamed of going there someday. Now I could go with Chris, and it would be so romantic.

That’s when things got strange. Not too long ago, I’d mentioned to Uncle Joey that Jackie was thinking about how much she’d like to go to Italy. He hadn’t seemed too excited about that, and I picked up that he’d been there a few times, and he wouldn’t be able to go back without paying his respects to the “family.” It didn’t seem like it was something he wanted to do again. Now why was that? Was there bad blood between them?

Still, that didn’t have anything to do with me. If I went to Italy, I’d be safe from them because I’m not really part of the family. But since there was a part of me that had some misgivings, I decided to test the waters and mention it to Uncle Joey, just to see what he thought.

If you’re thinking that was a bad idea, you’d be right. I should have just planned my trip and told him I was going to Canada. I would have been better off, even if I lied.

As soon as I mentioned that I was thinking about planning a trip to Italy, he got that calculating look in his eyes, and his thoughts turned to how I could solve one of his biggest headaches. He’d avoided going back because of what had happened the last time, but if he sent me as his emissary, I’d know if they were still upset with him, or if he’d done enough to earn their forgiveness.

Then if the way was cleared, he could take Jackie for a visit like she’d wanted and he wouldn’t have to worry about his reception. It was a win-win.

He caught my widened eyes and knew I’d picked up everything. His lips turned into a frown, but he patted my shoulder. “Don’t worry, Shelby. I’d never send you to see them if I thought it was dangerous. It would just mean taking a moment to stop by, say hello, and give them my regards, then you could leave. You’d know right away if they still held any animosity toward me.”

“But I can’t speak Italian,” I blurted. “So it wouldn’t work.”

“That’s true,” he agreed with a slight twist to his lips. “But it wouldn’t take a mind-reader to know how they felt. And it seems like you can pick up feelings almost as well as you can hear people’s thoughts.”

He had me there. I did pick up strong feelings of anger or revenge along with the thoughts that accompanied them. But I wasn’t sure if that was because of the way they said the words in their minds, or if it was how they really felt.

His stern gaze sent my heart into palpitations, so I quickly agreed. “Uh…yeah, that’s right. I guess I forgot that part.” At his satisfied smile, I continued. “Well, I’ll be sure to let you know if Chris and I decide to go. There’s a few other places we’re also thinking about, so it may not happen this year. In fact, Canada might be nice too.”

Uncle Joey wasn’t fooled. Canada might be nice, but it certainly wasn’t Italy. “If you decide to go, I have some connections that would save you a lot of money. I’m on good terms with a second cousin who owns a beautiful villa right on the coast of Tuscany. He’s turned it into a bed and breakfast and he hosts guided tours and amazing dinners. You’d love it.”

“Yeah, I’m sure I would. That sounds great. Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.”

Uncle Joey had me over a barrel, just how he liked it. Now if I wanted to go to Italy, I’d have to tell him. On the other hand, it was always nice to have connections. I mean, that villa sure sounded amazing. Still, I wasn’t sure it was worth it. Sure, he’d said it wouldn’t be dangerous, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t get into some sort of trouble.

It made me realize that even a simple task of making a fun new year’s resolution could backfire. So… I think I’m not ever going to make resolutions again. I’m also going to check on some vacation spots in Canada. It may not be as fun, but it would be safer, and they speak English.

But I really want to go to Italy. So, if you were in my place, what would you do?

 

 

Last Monday around four-thirty in the afternoon, I got a phone call from Ramos. That wasn’t unusual, but what surprised me was the desperation in his voice. If you know Ramos at all, you know how crazy that sounds. He is the King of Cool.

Then he explained the situation, and I couldn’t help blurting out my surprise. “What? You’re babysitting? Are you kidding me?”

That might not have been the best thing to say to someone who’s sounding desperate, especially when that someone is a renowned hit-man for a mob-boss.

“No. I’m not kidding.” His voice sounded a little menacing, so I quickly changed my tone.

“Oh, okay. What do you need?”

He explained that his neighbor had taken his wife to the hospital because she was in labor, and the guy’s mother-in-law couldn’t get there for a while. For some reason, they asked Ramos to watch their five and two-year-old kids until she got there.

“Wow. How did you get roped into that?”

“I was in the yard raking leaves, and I guess they were desperate. What could I say? I mean, she was moaning and crying with pain, and I thought that baby might just be born right there in the driveway.”

As he spoke I heard a child yelling in the background. Then came a high-pitched scream and something clattered to the floor. “Can you come over?” he asked.

“Sure.” He gave me his address, and I jumped in my car. As I drove to the house, it hit me that now I’d finally get to see where he lived. That was something I’d wondered about for a long time.

He spent a lot of time at the apartment at Thrasher Development, but I’d always known he had a house somewhere. Now I’d see it and maybe uncover a little more about the hit-man that I didn’t know.

The neighborhood in which he lived wasn’t exactly what I’d expected. He didn’t live in a ritzy part of town, and the houses were nice, but not huge. Still, they were well-kept and the neighborhood had a feeling of community about it.

I recognized his black car in the driveway of an older, red-brick home. Large maple trees lined the street with golden color, and piles of leaves rested in many of the front yards. The leaves in Ramos’s yard were heaped in a pile, with a rake lying haphazardly across the top of them.

I parked my car in the driveway behind his, and got out. Ramos must have been watching for me, because he opened the door in the house on the right and called my name.

I started toward him and paused in mid-stride with my jaw dropping open. He stood there holding a two-year-old girl on his hip like a regular person. It was a picture of Ramos that I never thought I’d see in a million years. It was so jarring that I really wanted to take out my camera to record the moment, but his frown was enough to dissuade me from doing anything of the sort.

Putting a happy smile on my face, I continued to the house. The five-year-old boy was adorable and talked a mile-a-minute, but he was a little upset that his parents had left him in the care of a virtual stranger.

My presence calmed him down, and once he was settled, his little sister wanted to get down to play. He showed us his favorite toys and explained what they did and how they worked.

Soon, we were all sitting on the floor, playing with a hot wheels play set where the little cars could race down a spiraling track. He got Ramos to pick a car and have a race with him, and it was something he wanted to do over and over again. It reminded me of how Josh was at that age, and I got a little nostalgic.

I tried to coax the little girl over to sit by me, but instead, she walked right over to Ramos and sat down in his lap. Ramos’s eyes widened and I knew it made him uncomfortable, but then he glanced at me and shrugged. He was thinking that all the girls liked sitting in his lap, so he shouldn’t be too surprised.

I laughed, glad that he was relaxed enough to joke about the situation.

Half an hour later, their grandmother showed up. She thanked us profusely and we got up to leave. The little boy told Ramos that he needed to come back and play some more. Ramos’s brows rose, but he smiled and told him that he’d see him around.

Then we left. The outside air cooled my face, and I glanced at Ramos, noting the relief in the deep breaths he took.

“That wasn’t so bad,” I said. “Right?”

He shook his head. “I had no idea what to do with those kids. Thanks for coming.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I just have one request,” he said, catching my gaze.

Of course I picked it up from his mind. He didn’t want me to tell anyone, because it would ruin his reputation. “Not even Uncle Joey?”

His lips thinned, so I relented. “Okay. I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“Good. Thanks.” He walked back over to the pile of leaves and picked up his rake. “You want to help with this, too?”

I chuckled. “I think you can handle that just fine. I’ve got to go, but I’ll see you later.”

He gave me that chin lift thing, and I got in my car, grateful that I could come to his rescue for a change. As I waved, I noticed the little boy watching Ramos from the window of his living room. I backed out of the driveway, and started down the street.

Glancing back at Ramos, I had to chuckle. The boy had escaped his house and stood at Ramos’s side, talking up a storm. Then he jumped into the leaves and scattered them all over the place.

Whether he liked it or not, it looked like Ramos had a new friend. Ramos might not like it much, but it sure warmed my heart. Plus, I knew I’d have fun giving him a hard time about it. What could be better than that?

 

Christmas Errands

Posted: December 16, 2016 in Advice

In December I don’t usually do a lot of work for Uncle Joey, so I was surprised when he asked me to run an errand for him. I’m always a little bit nervous about running errands for Uncle Joey, mostly because it seems like I always get into trouble, even when he says I won’t.

But this errand didn’t seem so bad. He wanted me to pick up the gift he’d ordered for Jackie at the diamond jewelry store. Since I was curious to see the expensive gift he’d bought her, I was happy to do it.

I was also supposed to stop at the Nut Warehouse and pick up his order of Christmas gifts for his friend and associates. He’d figured that since the stores were close to each other, it made sense to take care of them both at the same time.

He gave me his credit card to pay for everything and sent me on my way. I stopped at the Nut place first and went inside, telling them I was there to pick up the Manetto order. The person at the front desk said she had several orders waiting in the back, and told me it would take a minute to sort through them.

Just then, two more people came in wanting their orders, followed by a third. She took all of their names down, and left to find our orders at the same time. A few minutes later she came back with a heavy box. After setting it down, she went back again, repeating the process several times.

Once she had all the boxes in front of her, she then had to check the orders against the papers with the orders on the boxes. I was hoping that since I was the first one there, she’d help me first, but of course, that’s not what happened.

Needless to say, everyone else got their orders before I did, and it made me a little cranky. In fact, the first box that she’d carried out was on the bottom of the stack, and it was the one with the Manetto name on it.

After everyone else had left, she finally brought up my order and held out her hand for my credit card. I reached for the card in my purse, and came up empty. I checked my coat pockets, but it wasn’t there. My jeans pockets were also empty. Next, I unzipped every little nook and cranny in my purse to check there, but still couldn’t find the damn thing.

As panic began to set in, I tried to remember what I’d done with the card. I knew I’d had it in my hand when I first entered the shop, so where had it gone? Maybe I’d dropped it? I glanced at the floor, then got down on my hands and knees to see if it was underneath something.

“What’s wrong?” the clerk asked.

“I’ve lost my credit card. I know I had it when I came in here, but now I can’t find it.”

“Oh, that’s not good.” She glanced at all the paperwork in front of her and lifted papers up to see if it had ended up on her desk. Then her eyes widened as she remembered that I’d handed her my card, but she couldn’t remember what she’d done with it. “I’ll be right back,” she said, making a bee-line for the back room.

I stood, heaving a sigh that at least I hadn’t lost it, and waited for her to come back. After several minutes with no sign of her, I hurried around the partition to her desk to search for it myself.

It wasn’t on the desk, or on the floor, or anywhere else that I could see. So she must have taken it into the back room with her. Just as I started back there, she came out with her eyes round as saucers. “Did you find it?” she asked.

“No.”

“I can’t find it either.” She was thinking that she’d never told me that I’d given it to her, so maybe she’d stick with that and hope I thought I was the one who’d lost it.

I wasn’t about to go along with that. “Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I gave it to you. So what did you do with it?”

Her shoulders sank. “I don’t know.”

“Let’s go over everything that happened from when I first came in.” I took her through it, and we retraced her steps, still coming up empty-handed.

Then I noticed that she had front pockets in her plaid shirt. “Did you look in your shirt pockets?”

With a startled gasp, she reached in and pulled the card out. “Oh my gosh! Here it is!” After apologizing several times, she ran the card and handed me my box, making sure I had the receipt and the card. “Just a minute.” She ran to the back room, then came out with a small box of nuts. “This is for all the hassle.”

I thanked her and left, grateful that it had turned out all right in the end, but seriously? Why does this always happen to me?

I made it to the jewelry store, holding the credit card tight in my fist where I wouldn’t lose it. The jeweler recognized me from the last time I’d been there with Billie when we’d picked out Dimples’ wedding band. It took him by surprise that I was the one Uncle Joey had called him about. “You’re Shelby?” he asked.

“Yup.”

He thought that I sure got around, but maybe that’s why I worked for Uncle Joey. He took out the velvet box containing the necklace and earrings set that Uncle Joey had bought for Jackie and caught my gaze. “Do you want to see it?”

“Sure.” My eyes widened as he opened the box. The set was stunning with a combination of sapphires and diamonds in beautiful white gold. Then he pulled out a couple of smaller boxes.

“Which one of these do you like best?” he asked, opening the boxes to reveal a different set of earrings inside each one. One style was more formal with a single diamond on a swirl of white gold, while the other was more whimsical with three strands of white gold chain laced with smaller diamonds.

I caught his gaze. “For me, or Jackie?”

He smiled, thinking nothing got past me. “Would it matter?”

I shrugged. “No. They’re both beautiful, but I like one with the strands the best.”

“That’s the one I would have picked for you,” he said, thinking that my husband would be pleased, and he hoped he hadn’t given too much away. Covering his tracks, he went on to explain, “A friend asked me to pick something out for his wife, and she is a lot like you. That’s why I asked.”

“Oh, I see. Well, your friend’s wife is lucky. She’ll love them.”

He smiled, pleased with how sneaky he’d been, and got the jewelry for Uncle Joey all packaged up. After the transaction, he handed the box to me, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

I made it back to Thrasher Development in one piece and everything turned out all right in the end. Yes, I know about the earrings, but there’s not too many presents I don’t know about, if you know what I mean.

So, I can’t complain too much about running those errands for Uncle Joey. Even if one was a pain in the butt, the other more than made up for it.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas! (With lots of surprises under the tree!)

XOXO,

Shelby

 

I know it’s rude to just drop in on people, but sometimes if you really want to know what’s going on, that’s the best way to find out.

So today, I decided to stop by Chris’ office and see how things were going. He has this gorgeous new secretary – er – executive assistant, who kind of has the hots for him. Because she sometimes forgets, I’ve learned that it’s a good idea to stop by to remind her that my husband is not up for grabs.

I exited the elevator and made my way to Chris’ office. I found Elise sitting at her desk with her head down. As I approached, she glanced up with an expression of sadness which quickly changed into a smile for my benefit. She greeted me pleasantly enough, telling me that Chris was in court, but underneath that I picked up that she was barely holding herself together.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Uh… nothing,” she said, lying through her teeth. Her mind went to the results of her LSAT and how she’d just missed getting a good enough score to go to law school. If only she could get someone to help her study. Maybe if she told Chris, he could help her, and she could take the test again. That way she could spend more one-on-one time with him, and get the help she needed. Win-win.

I wanted to say, “Hell, no!” but managed to keep my mouth shut. Instead, I asked her when Chris would be back, and if I should wait.

“You could,” she answered. “But he might be an hour or so.” She didn’t really want me around, mostly because it reminded her that Chris was off limits.

Just then, Ethan came around the corner with a stack of files. He was a junior associate at the firm and Chris was mentoring him. Ethan had a few secrets of his own, and one was a connection to the district attorney’s office. They wanted him to snitch on Chris in order to get to Uncle Joey.

“Mrs. Nichols,” Ethan said. “Nice to see you.” He knew that I’d told him several times to call me Shelby, but he just couldn’t do it. My presence also reminded him that Chris was a good guy with a great family, and guilt swamped over him that he was supposed to spy on Chris. He wished there was a way out of that.

“Hey Ethan,” I answered. “You too. Uh… how did you do on your LSATS?”

“Pretty good,” he said, thinking that he had one of the highest scores possible, and wondering why I asked.

“Great. Did you know that Elise is studying for the exam?” I caught a blast of surprise from both of them before Ethan answered.

“No, I didn’t.” He turned to Elise. “That’s great. How’s it coming?”

She stared at me, thoroughly confused at how I knew, then swallowed and glanced at Ethan. “Uh… I already took it, but I didn’t pass. I know all this stuff, but taking timed tests just freaks me out.”

Ethan nodded, thinking that he’d been trying to figure out a way to talk to Elise outside of the office. Maybe helping her would get him a date. “I could help you, if you’d like. I got a pretty good score and maybe you just need a good coach.”

Elise nodded, then smiled at him. He was cute in his own way, and spending time with him might be fun. Not as great as with Chris… but Ethan was a smart guy and knew his stuff. “That would be great.”

As they worked out the details, I told them goodbye, and left the office with a smile, knowing I’d just killed two birds with one stone.

Now Elise had someone besides Chris to focus on, and Ethan might be distracted with her enough to forget about spying on Chris for a while. I always liked it when things went right for a change. Now if only I could count on that happening all the time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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??

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.