Archive for the ‘Consulting’ Category

My last post was all about Career Day at the high school and guess what? The lady in charge got back to me. I said I’d come as a consultant for the police. Naturally, I asked Dimples to come with me, and he was planning on it, but had to cancel at the last minute because of a murder.

Sure, that was a good excuse, but it ruined all my plans, and I had to go it alone.

So instead of focusing on police work as a detective, I’d have to tell them about my work as a consultant for the detectives. But it could still work. I could use the brief outline I’d prepared of what happens when a person is charged with a crime, and how a detective would go about investigating it. That seemed easy enough, and whatever time there was remaining, could be turned into a Q & A session.

That might have worked out just fine, but when I got into the classroom, everything I was going to say changed in a flash. Josh and his friends, who included Chloe, had all decided to come to my session. They all knew that I’d helped Chloe out of a dangerous situation because of my premonitions.

With Josh there, I couldn’t get away with anything, especially lying. So I stumbled my way through my initial outline about the investigative process. It only took about five minutes. With nothing left to say, I opened it up to questions.

The first question, of course, was about my premonitions. They wanted to know how they worked… even asking if I got visions. I had to explain that it was more like a hunch after I spoke with someone. Another student asked if I needed an object that the murder victim had touched, or something like that.

I picked up pretty quickly that they were basing most of these questions on TV shows they’d seen. I hated to burst their collective bubbles with the truth that none of that stuff was real, but how could I even think about saying that? Needless to say, it got a little awkward.

At last, someone asked if I could tell them about an experience I’d had helping the police arrest someone. Since I’d actually thought about an experience I could share, I sighed with relief, and began to tell them about a guy who’d been arrested for killing his girlfriend. They ate it up, and it was actually kind of fun. The time flew by, and before I knew it, the bell rang.

The teacher wrapped it up, telling everyone to thank me, and the kids filed out. Josh and his friends each gave me high fives, which was kind of cool.

After they left, I gathered my things. The teacher thanked me for coming, but he didn’t think I’d offered much more than entertainment. It was supposed to be career day – not story-telling day. I hadn’t given them any information about the “real” world.

It might have hurt my feelings, but I had worse things to worry about. I’d picked up that Josh was thinking seriously about becoming a private investigator… because of me. He liked the idea of being his own boss. More than that, he thought it sounded interesting with lots of excitement and never a dull moment. He’d definitely look into it.

Crap! I guess I made it sound too good. I should have added the bad side of the job, like all the times I’d nearly been killed, and how the strain of working for both a mob boss and the police was sure to give me an ulcer.

Of course, didn’t he already know most of that? There were some things I didn’t tell my kids because I wanted to spare them the worry, but now I wasn’t sure I’d done them any favors.

I guess it all comes down to this. Do I want my child to follow in my footsteps? No way! Not even a little. It’s way too dangerous, and bad enough that I’m involved, let alone, him.

So, now it looks like I’m going to have to do a little career searching, so I can suggest other careers for him to consider. It will have to be something interesting and exciting without the worry of death hanging over his head. Maybe Chris could talk to him about being a lawyer. That was interesting, right?

If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Until next time…

~Shelby

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

As some of you might know, I just got a new office at Thrasher Development. I’m pretty excited about it, but there’s not a lot for me to do there.

Mostly, I go to Thrasher when Uncle Joey needs me for something. I sit in on his meetings and stop by my office to leave my purse in the desk drawer. Sure, I can sit at my desk for a minute or so, but there’s nothing there for me to do besides look at the fabulous painting on the wall.

Since I hated to let the space go to waste, I decided I might as well make good use of it, and meet there with a client from my consulting business. Uncle Joey hadn’t said I couldn’t, but he hadn’t said I could, either. And, knowing he liked people with initiative, I decided to go ahead with my plans. If needed, I’d ask for forgiveness later.

I’d received a phone call from a guy who sounded a little desperate for my help, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to use my office. I also made sure to schedule our meeting at a time that I knew Uncle Joey wouldn’t be there, just in case.

I arrived at the office a little early, surprising Jackie. “Shelby? What are you doing here? Joe’s at a meeting, so he’s not here.”

“Oh…this is something else. I’m meeting with someone in my office. He should be here in about ten minutes. I’ll watch for him so you don’t have to do anything.”

She nodded, but her eyes narrowed, and she wondered what I was up to. It wasn’t something for Joe, so what could it be? Then she remembered Joe complaining that I had my own consulting business and he didn’t like it much. Was that what this was about?

If I was meeting with clients from my business, she’d definitely let Joe know, because she wasn’t sure he’d like that. Still, it wasn’t really hurting anything, and my office mostly sat there empty and unused. She just wished I’d okay-ed it with Joe first.

“Uh…just so you know, it’s okay with Uncle Joey,” I added, wanting to calm her down and hoping it was true.

“Oh…good.” She smiled and her shoulders relaxed. Then she glanced at me with raised brows. “Is it about something juicy, like an affair?”

I gave her an indulgent smile. “I don’t know. But I guess I’ll find out soon enough.” I hurried down the hall so I wouldn’t have to answer any more of her questions, and propped the door open. That way, I could hear my client when he came in, and I could meet him before Jackie had to do anything.

Sure enough, I heard a man’s voice asking for me. “I’m looking for Shelby Nichols?”

While Jackie answered, I jumped out of my chair and hurried down the hall to greet him, excited that I looked totally professional with an office and everything. “Hi David. I’m Shelby.” We shook hands and I told him to follow me to my office.

He came inside and took the seat in front of my desk, thinking I must do really well for myself. He’d heard of Thrasher Development, but couldn’t place the company. Was it in real estate? He glanced at me and wondered why my office was here. It didn’t make sense, unless I worked for Thrasher and did this on the side.

Since that was exactly the case, I sent him a smile. “How can I help you?”

“Well…” he began, then paused. His eyes widened and he caught my gaze, realizing all at once where he’d heard of Thrasher Development. The company was owned by Joe Manetto, and there were rumors that he was a mob-boss.

“Um…I’ve changed my mind,” he said, standing abruptly. There was no way he was telling me his troubles just so I could use them against him. Was that what I did? How could I call myself a legitimate consultant?

“Wait! My business has nothing to do with Thrasher Development. It’s totally separate, I promise.” He was thinking that it sure didn’t look that way, so I continued. “I know it doesn’t look that way, but everything we say and agree to here in this office is totally confidential.”

That calmed him down a little, but he knew his problem could be exploited, and he didn’t want to take a chance on me. “Sure. But I’ll pass. Thanks anyway.”

He left in a flash. By the time I got to Jackie’s desk, he was long gone. I hadn’t even picked up what he’d needed me for. Wow. What a bummer.

I glanced at Jackie, and she gave me a rueful smile. “That was quick.” She knew something had scared him off, and she was pretty sure what it was.

“Yeah. I guess I won’t be meeting with clients here after all.”

She shrugged. “Some people might think it’s a good thing. I guess he wasn’t one of them.”

“True. Well…uh…I guess I’ll go home now.”

She nodded, thinking she couldn’t wait to tell Joe. He’d certainly get a kick out of it. But she felt a little sorry for me just the same. It was a nice office, and she didn’t blame me for wanting to use it. “Maybe next time you can mention that your office is in Thrasher Development and ask if they have a problem with it. That way you can weed them out before they get here.”

“Yeah. That’s a good idea. I’ll think about it.” I wanted to ask her to keep this little mistake between the two of us, but her loyalty was to Uncle Joey, so I knew that wasn’t going to happen. “I guess I’ll see you later.”

I gathered my things and left, discouraged that it hadn’t worked out the way I’d hoped. Maybe it was a good thing? At least I didn’t have to worry about upsetting Uncle Joey.

So…as much as I like my office, I guess using it for my consulting agency is probably not a good idea.

 

 

I don’t know about you, but it’s been HOT this summer.

So when Savannah asked if we could go swimming at the country club where Josh is working as a lifeguard, I couldn’t say no. We’re not members of the swanky country club but, because Josh is working there, we’ve been given special dispensation to use the swimming pool.

Of course, that might have something to do with Uncle Joey, my ‘adopted’ uncle who happens to be a mob-boss, and for whom I also work (mostly under duress). In fact, he helped Josh get the job. Needless to say, he has a lot of clout…and not just at the country club. He’s even talked about sponsoring me and my husband so we can join up, but after taking a look at the monthly fees…let’s just say they were a little on the ‘way-out-of-our-league’ side.

Even though we could use the pool, we hadn’t yet because I was uncomfortable since we weren’t actual members. But with Savannah’s incessant whining, and Josh’s encouragement, I decided to throw caution to the wind, and try it out.

In retrospect, I think the heat had something to do with it. Or maybe it was temporary insanity. Either way, I gave in and got ready to go.

Josh said there were great changing rooms, but I decided Savannah and I would wear our suits there, since I didn’t want us to intrude where we didn’t belong. He didn’t understand what the big deal was, but he also didn’t read minds like me, and didn’t know how much that affected my decisions.

The bathing suit I chose to wear was one I’d bought in Orlando last summer. I hadn’t worn it since and, even though it was on the cheap side, I really wanted to wear it, mostly because it reminded me of Ramos and the time we’d spent there.

So against my better judgement, I pulled it on. Then I slipped a gauzy, light blue cover-up over it, and grabbed my beach towel. I loaded a bag with my sunglasses, a book, and plenty of sunscreen, and was ready enjoy the afternoon.

We arrived before Josh’s shift and hurried inside together. Josh led the way to the pool, and we soon claimed a couple of lounge chairs in the corner under a big umbrella. There weren’t many people there, and I began to relax, hoping that no one would notice us.

As we got settled, Josh came back out and made his way to the lifeguard chair. The current lifeguard spoke to Josh for a few moments, then Josh motioned to us, and led him over to introduce us.

His name was Liam, and he was a lot older than Josh. In fact, he’d just graduated from High School and knew Miguel. This drew Savannah’s interest, and she was thinking that he was really cute, and she admired his toned abs and muscled arms.

I tried not to roll my eyes and wondered if he was interested in Savannah. I was ready to tell him she was only thirteen, but as he walked away, he was thinking that I was a babe and I must be Josh’s step-mom or something, because I looked way too young to be Josh’s mother.

I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face, since that kind of surprised and pleased me at the same time. Then I caught that he thought Savannah had potential, and he’d have to remember to look her up in a couple of years.

I huffed out a breath at that, but a sliver of unease gripped my chest. Sure, she was thirteen now, but in only three years, she’d be sixteen. Yikes! What would I do when I heard thoughts like that about her then? A vision of me smacking boys upside the head didn’t help.

Before I got carried away, I shoved those unhelpful thoughts out of my head, and got busy applying sunscreen to her back. After she’d done the same for me, she jumped into the pool and I soon followed after her. The water felt amazing, and I was so happy we’d come.

A little later, I got out, eager to relax on my chair and start reading a good book.

It wasn’t long before a few more people showed up, and a stick-thin woman wearing makeup, and her hair perfectly styled, took possession of the chairs beside mine. I knew she wasn’t about to get in the water and mess up her face. I smiled a greeting, and went back to my book, hoping she’d get the idea and leave me alone.

Unfortunately, she had other plans, mostly because she’d never seen me before and wanted to know who I was. She also thought my swimming suit looked a little tacky, but at least I wasn’t fat.

“Hi,” she said. “I’m Crystal Davenport. I don’t think we’ve met.”

“Shelby Nichols. Nice to meet you.”

She waited for me to continue, but since I didn’t she began to question me like a pro. “Nice to meet you too. I come almost everyday, and I’ve never seen you here before. Are you new members?”

“Uh… my son is one of the lifeguards, so we thought we’d spend a few hours here.”

“Oh. I see. That’s nice.” She was lying. She didn’t think it was nice at all, mostly because her son had wanted the job, and he’d been passed over for someone else. It must have been because of my son.

Then she realized I’d never said we were members. “So you’re not members of the club?”

“Not at the moment.”

“Oh.” She nodded, but her eyes glazed over with anger. She thought being a member was a requirement. But even if it wasn’t, those who were members should be considered for the lifeguard job before those who weren’t. This was totally wrong, and she wasn’t going to stand for it. Her son should have gotten the job, not mine.

“Excuse me.” She smiled politely, then headed toward a group of women on the other side of the pool and began talking to them about me.

Oh great! She was going to get Josh fired! All because of me.

I picked up what I could from the other women. They hissed their disapproval, but deep down, most of them could care less. Still, they glared at me for her sake. All but one of them, who looked my way with a puzzled frown. Didn’t she know me from somewhere?

Crystal glanced my way with a triumphant gleam in her eyes. She was going to make a formal complaint and get me kicked out. With her head held high, she left the pool area to find the person in charge.

I sucked in a breath and sat up, ready to gather my things and leave. I glanced at Savannah. She’d been having a great time. To be honest, so had I. Should I allow this woman to ruin my day? It wasn’t my fault that her son didn’t get the job. This wasn’t my fight, even if she made it look that way.

With a determined sigh, I lay back down and picked up my book. She was not going to get the best of me. It took a while to get back into the story, but once I did, I completely forgot about her until I realized she stood directly over me.

With her arms crossed and her lips flattened into a grim line, she began to speak. “I don’t know how you did it, but you don’t belong here. I think you should leave.”

Whoa. Now that was going too far. “You first,” I said.

“I’m a member, you’re not. So get out.”

“No.” Her mouth dropped open. Before she could say a word, I continued. “What did you say your name was?”

“Crystal Davenport. My husband owns Davenport Security. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.” She was thinking that she had a lot of clout, and I shouldn’t mess with her or my son would be out of a job by the end of the day.

“Yes, of course I’ve heard of him. Now, if you want to make a formal complaint, go ahead, but I’m not leaving, and you’re blocking my light.”

She inhaled sharply and opened her mouth to let me have it, but one of the ladies from the other side of the pool grabbed her arm. “Crystal, my dear. What are you doing?” The woman asked. “You need to calm down and apologize.”

The woman glanced at me. “I’m Rosalyn Fairbanks. We met at the Museum Gala. My husband introduced us.” She hoped I put it together that her husband was the mayor, and he’d presented me with the honorary plaque that was now hanging on a wall of the museum.

“Of course,” I said and smiled. “It’s nice to see you again.”

“It’s an honor to have you here.” She turned to Crystal. “Shelby is a major contributor to the arts. Just last year, she found the man responsible for the stolen Monet and the other paintings. She recovered them for us.” She glanced at me. “And didn’t you help capture that escaped convict that was terrorizing the community a few weeks ago?”

“Uh…yes. I did.”

“You lead such an exciting life. Maybe someday you can share some of your most interesting cases with us. I’m sure we’d all love to hear some of the more intimate details.”

My brows rose into my forehead and my mouth dropped open. “Uh…maybe.”

“Don’t worry, my dear. I don’t mean now. We’ll let you get back to your book. Oh…how’s your Uncle doing?”

“Uncle Joey? Uh…great.”

“Good.” She glanced at Crystal. “Joe Manetto is her uncle.” She turned back to me. “Tell him hello from me, won’t you?”

“Of course.”

“Good.” She nudged Crystal, who glanced at me with widened eyes.

“Uh… Sorry for earlier. Uh…can I get you anything? A drink or something?”

“Oh…no. I’m good.”

She nodded. “Maybe next time, then?”

“Yeah, sure.”

With that, the women left, and I tried not to smile too big. It had surprised me that the mayor’s wife remembered me, but I couldn’t complain since she’d come to my rescue. Of course, she also knew Uncle Joey, and I gathered that had more to do with it.

Now it looked like I could come to this pool anytime I wanted. Like I was a big-shot celebrity or something. I sighed. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not, but relaxing here by the pool… I had to believe that, every once in a while, there had to be some perks for all the times I’d put my life on the line.

So I might as well enjoy it, right?

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!

 

 

As most of you know, I’m a paid consultant for the police. I help out when they have a difficult case and not much to go on. They don’t know the truth that I can read minds, and I try to keep it that way by telling them I have psychic abilities – like premonitions and such.

This works great when they are questioning suspects, mostly because I can pick it up pretty quick if the suspect is guilty. After that, it’s usually easy for me to ask the suspect leading questions that either trick them into admitting their guilt, or trick them into giving away important information that only they would know. This usually freaks them out so bad that they confess to the whole thing. In the process, it makes me look pretty awesome.

Only today didn’t go quite so well.

I was at the precinct waiting for Dimples to arrive, when the chief got the call about a double homicide. Dimples is the only detective who knows the truth about me, and we’ve become partners. But since he wasn’t there yet, the chief asked me to go with Detective Bates.

Normally, Bates would have refused to take me with him, since he doesn’t like me much. But things have changed in the last couple of months, and he’s more accepting of my psychic abilities. He’s now a believer, since he’s seen first hand how good I am at finding the guilty party.

But right then, I wished he still hated me, because I wasn’t sure how I could help at a crime scene. I couldn’t read dead people’s minds, and the killer was probably long gone. But what could I do? As I stood there with indecision, Bates smiled encouragingly, thinking I hesitated because he hadn’t been very nice to me, but he was willing to let bygones be bygones.

Great! How could I tell him to go without me after that? “Uh… I’m not too good with blood. Maybe I’d better stay here?”

At this point the chief noticed my hesitation and frowned at me, thinking that with my ability, I might pick up something his detectives would miss and they’d get a jump start on the killer. So why was I hesitating? Isn’t this what they paid me for?

“But if you really need me,” I continued. “I’ll go.”

“Good,” the chief said. “Detective Harris has been held up on another case, but I’ll send him to the house as soon as he’s available.”

I let out a relieved breath since Detective Harris is my partner, Dimples. I hoped he didn’t take took long since he could run interference for me if things got tricky. Plus, I didn’t like going out on a case without him. I knew Dimples had my back if something went wrong, and I couldn’t say that about Bates.

Before I knew it, we arrived at the house with the dead bodies, and a wave of dread washed over me. Even worse, there were a lot of police officers there, but Dimples wasn’t one of them.

Bates noticed my white face and thought I was a big wimp. He shook his head thinking it was a mistake to bring me. Sure, I’d been right a few times, but I didn’t seem to have the mojo to be a real detective.

The grudging respect he’d held for me slipped a few notches. So I offered him a quick nod, and jumped out of the car. I even led the way to the door, but a police officer stopped me from entering, and Bates had to tell her it was okay to let me in. As obnoxious as that was, it restored Bates’ good mood, so I couldn’t be too upset.

With misgiving, I took a deep breath and followed him in. The first thing I noticed were the rusty red blood spatters all over the living room wall. Then came the coppery smell of death and the sight of two women’s bodies sprawled out on the floor. I stopped in my tracks, then managed to cover my nose and avert my gaze until I found an out-of-the-way spot near the doorway to the kitchen.

I swallowed a few times to keep from throwing up. I hadn’t expected the dead people to be women. Somehow, that made this whole thing worse. I glanced into the kitchen and noticed food on the table along with three place settings. So where was the other person? Was that person still there? Was that person the killer?

My neck tingled and a sudden chill ran down my spine, as if someone’s icy breath had brushed against my skin. I hunched my shoulders and glanced behind me, catching sight of blond hair and wide eyes before it registered that my reflection looked back at me from a tall mirror at the end of the hall.

Letting out a breath of relief, my shoulders slumped and I closed my eyes. Then I heard a sound, like a woman singing. What the freak? It came from the end of the hall where two doors stood open.

I wasn’t about to go that way, but an icy tingle crept against my neck and across my shoulders, pushing me in that direction. The singing got a little louder and I followed the sound to the room on the right.

I held my breath and peeked inside, letting it out to find the room empty. As I took a step inside the singing stopped, and I caught the scent of roses. Then a picture frame on the dresser toppled over. I inhaled sharply, then squealed with alarm as a hand clamped down on my shoulder.

“Whoa! It’s just me,” Bates said, catching my arms before I hit him. “Didn’t you hear me? I called your name twice.”

“You did?” My breath came hard and fast. At his nod, I shook my head. “I didn’t hear a thing. But I think you’d better take a look at whoever’s in that picture frame on the dresser.”

“Why?”

“Because it just fell over for no reason!”

His eyes narrowed. He was thinking that maybe my imagination was working overtime. He’d seen that happen at homicides before, because of the shock of dead bodies and all that blood. But what if there was something to it? Was it part of my powers at work?

“Sure. I’ll get it.” He moved to the dresser and pulled on some rubber gloves before picking up the frame.

I glanced over his shoulder into the photo of a smiling man wearing a suit and tie. “I don’t know who that is,” I said. “But I think he might be the killer.”

Bates glanced at me, thinking that maybe it wasn’t a waste to bring me after all. “Sure. I’ll look into it.”

I closed my eyes and let out a relieved breath. “Is it okay if I go sit in the car now?”

“Yeah, go ahead. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

I held my breath and hurried out of the house, keeping one eye closed so I wouldn’t see the dead bodies again. After pushing through the door, I stumbled down the porch steps in my haste to get out of there.

I managed to keep my balance and continued toward the car, where I stopped to plant my hands on my knees and lean over to settle my stomach. Sheesh! That was horrible!

As I opened the car door and sat down, I decided then and there, that I was never going to a crime scene again. I’d much rather sit in on a suspect’s questioning than get scared half to death by a departed spirit.

On the other hand, at least it was Bates and not Dimples who’d been there. Bates wouldn’t question my ability, but Dimples would have had questions that I didn’t want to answer. How could I tell him that sometimes I heard dead people… Of course, since he knew I could read minds, did it really matter?

Probably not. But maybe working for Uncle Joey and not helping the police so much would be better for me… even if it wasn’t exactly the right thing to do.

Helping the police has always been a little nerve-wracking, mostly because the local mob-boss, Uncle Joey, doesn’t like it much. So I try to keep a low profile when I’m helping my partner, Dimples, or I should say, Detective Harris, solve a difficult case. Since Dimples knows my secret that I can read minds, we make a good team. I also feel like it eases my conscience to help out the good guys once in a while, since I’m sort of obligated to help the bad guys out the rest of the time.

This can sometimes be a little tricky, but I do my best to keep things on the low-down. Even so, things can get complicated. Like today.

Dimples and I were  just returning to the police station when a call came through about a man with a gun at the State Capitol Building. We were only a block away, so naturally, Dimples flashed on his lights and siren, and swerved the car around to rush to the scene.

We were the first to arrive, and Dimples told me to stay in the car, while he jumped out to run inside and save the day. Naturally, I couldn’t let him run into danger like that if I could help. So, much to his consternation, I quickly followed.

“What the … Shelby, you can’t come, you’re not armed.”

“I’ll stay behind you.”

Since there wasn’t time to argue, he just swore a blue streak in his mind, and continued up the steps with me right behind him. Then I caught that he wished I wasn’t there, since he’d have to worry about my safety, and it kind of hurt my feelings. I mean, seriously, I can read minds… that’s a huge help, and it can also keep me safe since I’ll know what’s coming ahead of time, right?

We passed several people running out the doors, and I picked up that the man with the gun had cornered s few people in the rotunda by the busts of all the former governors. As we hurried inside, I relayed that information to Dimples, and his annoyance with me dissipated a little.

As we approached the back of the rotunda, Dimples slowed his steps and then came to a stop just out of sight. We could hear a woman trying to calm the man with the gun, so I took the opportunity to zero in on the man’s thoughts.

His underlying desperation hit me first, but his thoughts didn’t make a lot of sense. The harder I listened, the more I realized I could hear three distinct voices all trying to talk at the same time. They were arguing about doing whatever it took to get what he needed. One was pushing him to put the gun down, but another was arguing to use it to get them to listen to him. It scared me so bad, I jerked out of his head.

“What’s wrong?” Dimples whispered, noticing my widened eyes and shallow breath.

“He’s crazy.” At Dimples’ raised brows, I continued. “I mean, literally… he needs his medication. Wait…that’s what this is all about. He has no insurance and can’t pay so he came here to get help. At least that’s what it sounds like.”

“Do you think he’ll shoot someone?”

“I don’t know…” I listened to the different voices and thought I just might go crazy. Then I caught it. “I don’t think the gun’s loaded.”

“Are you positive?”

Before I could answer, we heard soft footfalls and turned around to find a fully armed and loaded SWAT team slowly coming our way. A couple of them crept up the stairs where they could get a clean shot and take him out before he killed someone.

Knowing I didn’t have much time, I caught Dimples’ gaze, then took a deep breath and walked around the corner. “Hey Benny, it’s Shelby. I’ve got your meds for you.” He turned around, pinning me with his startled gaze, and raising his gun in my direction. “Uh…Jerry wants you to put the gun down now. He says everything’s going to be all right. But you have to put the gun down first. You should listen to Jerry and not Cindy. Jerry’s got the right idea. He doesn’t want anyone to get hurt, and I don’t think you do either.”

Benny’s brows rose  with astonishment. “He… told you that?”

“Yes.”

His mouth opened and closed, then he shook his head. “Cindy’s going to be mad.”

“She’ll get over it. You should listen to Jerry and put the gun down. He’s right you know.”

“O..kay. If you’re sure…”

“I am.”

With his brows drawn together in confusion, he lowered the gun to the ground.

Dimples rushed in and kicked the gun away before pulling Benny’s arms behind his back and cuffing him. All at once, police officers came out of the woodwork and surrounded us. They had Benny subdued before I could blink. That’s when I realized that with Benny’s focus on me, all the hostages had taken off.

I glanced toward Dimples to find him examining Benny’s gun and hurried to his side. His gaze caught mine and he shook his head, thinking that I’d taken a hell of a risk talking to Benny like that… because the gun was fully loaded.

“Are you serious?”

He let out his breath and nodded, then thought that even though I was wrong about the gun, I was right about everything else, and it was kind of creepy the way I talked to that guy. But it worked.

I let out a breath, grateful it was over, and a little wigged out by the whole thing. And now I had to worry about the unwanted attention that was sure to come my way. “You did this, not me,” I whispered. “I’ll meet you at the car.” I turned around to get out of there before someone stopped me.

Luckily, I made it to the car before I heard my name. Cringing, I turned to find Billie Jo rushing my way, and knew it was time to lie my head off. “Oh hey Billie, Dimples saved the day in there. You should go talk to him.”

After asking me a couple of questions, she high-tailed it up the steps and I breathed a sigh of relief. That was close, and I thanked my lucky stars that the hostages and the police didn’t witness my conversation with Benny. At least I sure hoped not.