Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Recently, I attended my son’s parent-teacher conference. While there, the lady in charge of career day stopped to talk with me. She asked if I’d be willing to talk to students on career day who were interested in becoming private investigators. I could tell them how I got started, give them an estimate of how much money they could make, and explain what the job entailed.

I immediately imagined telling them that I’d gotten my start at the grocery store while shopping for carrots. I’d explain that I’d been caught in the cross fire by a bank robber and gotten shot in the head, thus giving me the ability to read minds – which led me into this perfect career.

I had to admit that I’d get a kick out of seeing their eyes bulge while they wondered if I was for real, or if I was just messing with them. At least it would get their attention, which is a big deal for a bunch of teenagers. Just thinking about doing that brought a smile to my lips.

The lady cleared her throat, wondering what was so funny.

My brows drew together, and I tried my best to look interested. “Do you really have that many students who’d be interested in a career like that?”

“Well, to be honest, I don’t know. I thought I’d ask if you could speak first, and then if there was enough interest from the students, I’d have you as a resource. What do you think?”

I hated to let her down, but I wasn’t a licensed private investigator. “I’m sorry, but I’m a consultant, not a P.I.” Her lips turned down, so I continued, “I consult for the police and I have my own consulting business. It’s different from being a P.I. So you’d probably need someone else.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” she said, then her eyes brightened. “But maybe you could talk to them about your consulting business, and how you got involved with working for the police. I imagine your work is quite interesting, and something the students might want to know.”

“Uh… well that’s a possibility.” I immediately thought of my consulting work for a mob boss. I was sure they’d love to hear about that! I let out a little chuckle.

The lady frowned and scrunched up her nose, wondering why I kept smiling and laughing. Did I think this was a joke or something?

“Uh… but I have a better idea,” I continued, not wanting to give her the wrong idea. “If there is interest in that kind of a career, why don’t we ask a detective with the police? I have a friend on the force who would be happy to come.”

She nodded, thinking that would be a great way to go. “Sure,” she agreed. “But only if you come with them. Your friend can talk about being a detective, and you can share what it’s like to be a consultant.”

“Well… yeah… I guess that would work.”

“Great! Career day is usually in April, so you should be hearing from me soon.” She smiled, excited to have me on board, and thinking she was sure there would be a lot of interest from the students. “Talk to you soon.”

As she walked away, I let out a sigh. What had I gotten into now? I could imagine that Dimples would have enough information to take up most of the time. I’d just have to hope that no one would have questions for me.

Then the biggest realization of taking part in career day hit me. Since I’d built my career on the fact that I could read minds, or as I called it, “premonitions,” how was I supposed to talk about that? I was a consultant for the police because of my psychic abilities. Did they have a career path for psychics? Not in a million years.

If she’d known about that part, I was sure she never would have asked me. Now what was I supposed to do? I sighed, deciding I’d just have to wait and see what happened. There was a chance she wouldn’t call me, but if it ended up that she did, I’d just have to let Dimples do the talking, and pretend I knew something about it.

On the other hand, I could always tell the career day lady that my expertise was in psychic abilities, and if she wanted me to talk about that, I’d be more than willing to share what I knew. That would probably get me off the hook, and I’d never have to worry about hearing from her again.

Yeah. That makes the most sense, but now I don’t know what to do. Which is best? SO – Now I’m asking you. What do you think I should do? Go with the whole premonition thing, or just play along like a normal person? Let me know in the comment section below – but tell me soon, April isn’t too far away!

Thanks for reading!!

~Shelby

 

 

 

 

 

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This morning I got a call from Uncle Joey, asking me to come into the office to help with a problem. Of course, he didn’t tell me the nature of the problem, only that he needed my special mind reading skills to help him solve it. And he didn’t sound happy.

The first few times I helped Uncle Joey, I often wore a black wig and fake glasses to keep my identity a secret. I mean… the less people who knew I worked for a mob boss, the better, right? Plus I didn’t want it to get back to my husband and kids.

But of course, things didn’t work out like I had expected. Now, I even have my own office at Thrasher Development. Still, getting summoned there by Uncle Joey often sends a tendril of dread down my spine.

What will it be this time? Will my involvement mean that somebody’s going to die? Or will it mean catching someone in a dreadful lie? I tend to like catching liars the most.

But you get the picture. My part in the scenario can be stressful and fascinating at the same time.

As soon as I walked into the office, I felt the tension, and my stomach clenched. Jackie, Uncle Joey’s secretary and now his wife, glanced at me with trepidation. She doesn’t know my secret that I can read minds. Like most people, she believes I have psychic powers, or premonitions, as I call them.

She pulled in a deep breath to settle her nerves, thinking that now Uncle Joey would know the truth about her past, and she wasn’t sure she was ready for that.

What did that mean? What had she been hiding all this time?

“Hi Shelby,” she said with resignation. “They’re waiting in the conference room for us.”

She didn’t wait for my reply, so I followed her into the large room across the hall. A man in his mid-twenties sat at the table. His shoulders twitched nervously and sweat gleamed on his forehead. As we entered, he stood, rubbing his sweaty palms on his pants.

“Sit down,” Uncle Joey told him. He quickly sat, and Uncle Joey turned his attention to me. “Thanks for coming in Shelby. Please have a seat. You too, Jackie.”

After I sat, he glanced at the man. “Weston. Please tell Shelby what you told us.”

Weston glanced at me and licked his lips. He didn’t like the way I looked at him. Was I a cop? No, that couldn’t be true, now that he knew Jackie’s husband was a mob boss, that wasn’t a possibility. Still, coming here might have been the biggest mistake of his life. He hoped it wasn’t his last.

“I’m here because I believe Jackie is my mother. I told them all of the details. They match up with everything I know.”

Surprise rippled through me. I hadn’t expected that. I listened closely to Weston’s thoughts and picked up that he’d done his best with the information available. Gavin had made it sound easy, and he was the best hacker around.

Too bad nothing in the database indicated that Jackie’s rich husband was also a mob boss. If this didn’t work, he was totally screwed.

“Are you willing to take a blood test?” I asked him.

“Of course,” he answered, thinking that was part of the plan. Gavin could easily hack into the system to change the lab results, so that wasn’t a problem. He’d done it a few times already, but now he realized they’d been lucky.

He glanced at Jackie, hoping she’d crack just a little. “Look, I thought you might want to know that I’m doing all right. My mom recently passed away. Before she died, she told me I was adopted, and gave me the information I needed to find you. I just wanted to connect if you were okay with that. Here’s a card with my number. I’ll go now, but call me if you want to talk.”

He handed her his card, then stood to leave. He wanted to get out of there before he got caught, and even hoped that she didn’t call him back. She hadn’t come across as the sentimental type, and his deception might not work on her.

Then there was her husband. He was the real reason Weston was ready to call it a day. He felt like he’d stepped into the lion’s den with that one. Even if he could get a lot of money out of it, he wasn’t sure the deception was worth the risk of getting killed.

Now I had to decide if I should call him out now, or wait until after he left. Because of his misgivings, I wasn’t sure that he’d answer if Jackie called him back. All I knew was that I didn’t like his plan of preying on women who’d given up a child for adoption.

“Just a minute,” I said. He glanced at me with widened eyes. “I know you’re lying. You’re not Jackie’s son. You and Gavin have quite the scam going, but it’s over now. We know all about it.”

He froze in shock. Then self-preservation kicked in and he bolted. We followed him out of the office, only to hear the sound of rushing footsteps in the stairwell before the door clanged shut.

“Are you going after him?” Jackie asked Uncle Joey.

“No,” he replied. “I’m in good shape, but he’s faster.”

He gave me the evil eye, thinking that I should have let Jackie call him so they could have had a chance to get to “know” him better, and teach him a lesson he wouldn’t soon forget.

I smiled and shrugged, but with Jackie there, I couldn’t exactly tell him that he might not have answered her call. Plus, I wasn’t sure if Weston would survive the teach-him-a-lesson part. At least now he would be looking over his shoulder for a long time to come.

Uncle Joey shook his head, then glanced at Jackie. He felt bad that she hadn’t told him about her past. Then he wondered if she regretted giving up her child for adoption, and if she’d want to find him now.

“I think we need to talk,” Jackie told him.

His eyes softened and he nodded, then turned my way. “Thanks for coming Shelby.”

“Sure. I’m glad to help. I’ll see you later.”

With that, I left them to work it out. I didn’t know if Jackie wanted to find her son, but I knew she was ready to tell Uncle Joey the story.

I was also glad that she’d been so wrapped up in the possibility that Weston was her son that she didn’t think to question how I knew so much about his devious plans.

All-in-all, this visit hadn’t turned out so bad. In fact, that powerful feeling of catching someone in a lie gave me a lingering sense of euphoria.

Because of that, I was determined that the next time I got summoned to the office, I’d look forward to it.

 

 

 

 

 

I got a call yesterday from someone who was desperate. I don’t like calls from desperate people because it doesn’t usually end well, but she seemed so excited to hire me, that I couldn’t say no.

We met at a coffee shop, since I don’t really have a bona fide office for my business. Because we’d never met, I didn’t know what she looked like, but I shouldn’t have worried. With the exposure I’d recently acquired in the news, she spotted me quickly, and waved me over.

“Shelby! It’s so nice to meet you,” she gushed.

“You must be Monique DeClare,” I said, offering my hand. She was lots younger than I thought, probably in her early twenties. After a polite handshake, I settled into the seat across from her and smiled. “How can I help you?” I picked up a great deal of anticipation from her, and cringed inside.

“I bought a lottery ticket last week, and I just have a wonderful feeling about it. I thought that maybe you could take a look at the numbers and tell me if I’m going to win.”

My mouth dropped open. Was she serious?

“If it is the winning ticket, I’m completely willing to share the money with you. But I just wondered if you’d take a look, because the last number has been bothering me. If you think it’s a different number, I can buy another one.”

She pulled the ticket out for me to see, and went into great detail about why she’d chosen each number. I just let her talk, not even sure how to respond to her request. She finally wound down and glanced at me expectantly. “So, what’s your verdict?”

I smiled before I replied, “Honestly, I have no idea. My premonitions don’t exactly work like that. I mean, if they did, don’t you think I’d try it? I’d be happy to win the money myself but, I’m just like most people when it comes to the lottery. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it’s the truth.”

She sighed, thinking that she’d half expected me to say that. I could have won every lottery by now if I was a real psychic. But she’d thought for sure I’d get the same vibe about the numbers she had, and disappointment washed over her.

“But hey,” I continued. “Don’t give up. Sure, the odds of winning the lottery are about one in a million, but you never know. Those feelings you’re having might mean something.”

“That’s true,” she agreed. But I’d put her dreams into perspective, and she didn’t have much hope anymore. She’d wanted a piece of that money to begin a start-up business, but now she didn’t know where she’d get it.

“Monique,” I said. “I do know one thing. If you want to succeed, you have to put in the work. Say…if you wanted to start a business…like selling meal kits and delivering them to people, there’s no reason it wouldn’t work as long as you put in the hours and resources to make it successful. What do you know about that?”

“Oh my gosh!” she said. “I’ve been thinking about that. Did you know it’s one of the biggest growing markets for small businesses?” She’d taken a small business class and knew a lot about start-ups. She just didn’t have the resources to make it happen.

“No, but it makes sense. Lots of young professionals don’t have time to cook and would love the ability to make fresh meals without all the work and wasted food involved.”

Monique stared at me, wondering if this was the answer she was looking for after all. She had enough enthusiasm to make it work, she just didn’t know how to get started.

“I have some friends who own a bakery and catering business. They might be interested in your ideas. Let me talk with the owner and I’ll get back with you.”

“That would be amazing. Thank you so much.”

“Sure. Just remember that if they’re not interested, I still think you’ve got a good idea. It might turn out different than you think, but you should still look into it.”

She thanked me again and we said our goodbyes. As I left, I wondered if I’d done the right thing. Starting a new business is a risk some people are willing to take, and who knew? She might be highly successful.

Plus, I did know something she didn’t. I’d spoken with Shannon recently, and she’d mentioned wanting to expand her business, but she wasn’t sure which direction to go. This might just be the start of something great for both of them!

Who knew? Maybe I have premonitions after all.

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

School Play

Posted: April 24, 2018 in Advice, Experiences, Thoughts
Tags: , , ,

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!