Archive for the ‘Consulting’ Category

SECRETS THAT KILL
A SHELBY NICHOLS ADVENTURE

Chapter One
When I was a kid, the best part of my trip to Disneyland wasn’t the park, the rides, or the entertainment. It was the swimming pool at my cousin’s house where we stayed. I loved going to their house after a long hot day, and gazing into the pool’s clear blue water. With the pool light turned on, there was just something about that water that made me want to jump in. With the dark starry night overhead, it was soothing and magical.
That’s why, on the last day of our vacation to Orlando, I found myself sitting beside the pool. It was late, and most everyone had gone to bed, so I was there by myself. If I could have gone swimming, I would have, but the pool had just closed for the night. So I sat back in a chair and gazed into the water, smelling the slight odor of chlorine, and feeling the tension ease out of my body.
It felt so good to have my thoughts to myself that I almost cried. Hearing people’s thoughts in all the crowds these last two weeks had been murder on my poor brain. I had put up my shields as much as I could, but it left a constant tension between my eyes, and worse, I was sure I had new wrinkles to show for it.
I had no idea there were so many different theme parks and attractions in Orlando. We had visited at least five parks, with several other attractions thrown in. Although we’d taken a couple of days off in-between to recover, mostly for my benefit, the constant barrage of thoughts had gotten on my nerves, making me irritable and short-tempered. I’d done my best, but I knew that Chris and the kids were happy to leave me at the pool and go inside for bed. Chris tried to understand, but I knew it bothered him.
It bothered me too, but for different reasons. Sure, I had the ‘super-power’ of reading people’s minds, but this vacation had proven that even I had my limits. I might have handled one week, but two was over-kill. Today had proven that. I cringed to remember how I’d yelled at the father who was only ‘thinking’ his cute daughter was a pain in the butt, and today was one of those days he wished she’d never been born. I’d told him to quit being so selfish and enjoy this time with her. That she’d grow up before he knew it, and he’d be sorry and full of regret for his poor attitude.
The problem was, she was just a baby, and had thrown up all over him. So I had probably over-reacted. His first thought in reaction was guilt that I was right. But his second impulse quickly over-rode the first, and hot anger turned his face red. How dare I chastise him in front of all these people when he hadn’t done anything wrong?
Acting fast, Chris wisely pulled me away and apologized over his shoulder, telling the guy I had forgotten to take my medication. My outrage at Chris quickly changed to embarrassment and then self-loathing. Chris couldn’t believe I could be so callous and mean. What was wrong with me? Where were my shields? My behavior was totally unacceptable. Not only that, but he was so embarrassed he could hardly stand it.
But he only thought all of those things, so I couldn’t be too angry. Especially when he also thought being privy to everyone’s thoughts had to be rough on me, so he needed to cut me some slack. Still…
Shame and regret flowed over me, so I shoved the memory away and glanced up at the stars. Our flight tomorrow didn’t leave until three o’clock in the afternoon, so we still had some time in the morning to relax. Or at least Chris and the kids did. I had an errand to run for Uncle Joey. He was the mob-boss I had to work for since he knew my secret.
Although he compensated me for my time, we had a tenuous relationship. It had evolved over the last few months, and I liked to think it was now based on mutual respect rather than fear that he would kill me. Still, it was a balancing act to work for him on my terms rather than his.
When he found out I was coming to Orlando, he’d asked me to deliver a letter for him. Not a big deal, right? So I’d saved his errand until the last moment, hoping it wouldn’t ruin my vacation. That was a big mistake, since thinking about delivering the letter everyday had done exactly that. I should have just delivered it the first day we’d gotten here instead of dragging out the torment. That was just plain stupid.
First thing in the morning, I’d take care of it. Then we could go home. Our vacation was over. With the exception of that embarrassing incident today, we’d had a fun time here, and I was grateful we’d come, but now I was eager to go home and get back to normal. Plus the extra space from all the people wouldn’t hurt.
Ha! Who was I kidding? I could hardly wait to be alone in my own house. Just thinking about it brought such a profound sense of relief that I was a bit giddy. Did that mean I was losing it? Had the stress finally gotten to me? Maybe I did need some kind of medication. What I’d done today was…I shook my head and sighed. A cool breeze brushed my skin, making me shiver. It was time to put a stop to these gloomy thoughts and go to bed.
***
Chris checked the address one more time. “Are you sure you’ll be all right delivering this by yourself?” He was thinking how worried he was about me, and wishing I hadn’t waited until the last moment to do this. He could have come with me if I’d gone earlier. What was I thinking?
“Yeah. It’s no big deal. I’ll be fine.” I gave Chris a reassuring hug and kiss, wanting to ease his worry and escape his censure. “See you at the airport. Bye kids.” Engrossed in their packing, they absently waved.
I took the elevator to the lobby and hurried out the door. A cab was waiting for me, and I got in, giving the driver the address. “How long will it take to get there?” I asked.
“About twenty-five minutes,” he replied.
“Okay,” I answered. It was a little before ten a.m. and I didn’t have to be to the airport until one, so I had plenty of time. I would probably get to the airport long before Chris and the kids, but I wanted to play it safe and not miss my flight.
“How far is it from this address to the airport?” I asked the driver. I probably should have checked a map since I was basically clueless as to where I was going.
“Um…probably about twenty minutes,” he said.
“So do you think I’ll make it by one?” I asked, mostly for his benefit so he’d know I was on a schedule.
“Of course,” he said. “Unless you plan on staying for more than a few minutes, you should be to the airport by…eleven-thirty or so.”
“Oh, okay. Thanks.” Maybe I shouldn’t have left so early, but with my luck it was probably better to plan for extra time.
I spent the drive making sure I had everything in my carry-on bag that I needed for the flight. Chris was in charge of my luggage, so I didn’t have to drag it around with me, but I still felt loaded down with both my carry-on and my purse. Luckily, my carry-on was just a big bag so I could carry it over my shoulder. In fact, if I moved things around, there was probably enough room to stuff my purse inside as well.
That accomplished, I heaved a sigh of relief, grateful I wouldn’t have to worry about lugging two bags around. Before zipping it all up, I found the letter from Uncle Joey that I’d put in a special compartment, and pulled it out.
It was addressed to Warren Peace, which I knew had to be a fake name, or maybe even a code of some sort, and held it gingerly. Getting rid of this couldn’t come fast enough for me. I’d tried to tell Uncle Joey to mail it, but he wouldn’t, saying he needed my ‘special touch’ so I could tell him what Warren was thinking. That worked fine as long as Warren didn’t take it out on me. Especially since I had a feeling that the message it contained couldn’t be good.
The cab pulled to the curb and came to a stop. I glanced up at an apartment complex, and realized I was in trouble if he wasn’t home. What was I going to do then? I didn’t even have a phone number.
“I’ll only be a minute, if you don’t mind waiting,” I told the cab driver.
“No problem, as long as you know the meter’s still running.” He sent me a friendly smile and settled back in his seat to wait. He hoped I’d take my time and pulled out a book to read.
I got out, taking my bag with me, and scanned the apartment numbers. I found the one I was looking for on the bottom level, which was basically in the basement. The outside light was on, and for some reason that made me nervous. Did that mean he wasn’t home? What would I do then?
Taking a deep breath and letting it out, I started down the stairs and rang the bell. I heard some rustling inside before the curtain parted and someone glanced out at me. I caught sight of a bearded face and glasses, before the door opened a crack.
“I’m not interested,” he said, and began to close the door.
“Wait,” I said, pushing against the door to keep it open. “Are you Warren Peace? I have a letter for you. Then I’ll go. Here…” I held it out, “Just take it.”
His eyes widened, and he glanced behind me, then stuck his head out the door to look up the stairs. “Are you alone?” he asked, frowning.
“Yes. I’m only here to deliver this letter and take your response back to Uncle Joey.”
He hesitated, then his thoughts filled with about every swear word imaginable repeated several times. I would have held my hands to my ears if it had done any good. “All right,” he finally said, still not taking the letter. “You’d better come in.”
I hurried inside and he closed and bolted the door behind me. “Did anyone see you come here?” he asked.
“Well, no…just the cab driver. He’s waiting outside for me.”
This time he cursed out loud. “You’ve got to get rid of him! A yellow cab like that will draw attention. Quick, before someone notices.”
“I can’t,” I said, alarmed that he was freaking out. “He’s taking me to the airport. Just read the damn letter and tell me your answer!” I tried to shove the letter into his hands, but he held them up.
“I don’t have to read it. I know what he wants, and I just can’t do it.” He sent a searching glance at me, desperation filling his eyes. “You’ll have to do it for me, or I’m a dead man. Please…I just need you to take what Manetto wants back with you. You can give it to him for me. If you don’t, I swear I’ll be dead by morning.” He grabbed a wad of bills from his pocket. “Pay off the cabbie and I’ll take you to the airport. It’s not safe for you or me with him sitting out there like a yellow beacon. Manetto has no idea what he’s gotten you into here…Hurry! Go!”
I took the cash and hurried out the door. He wasn’t lying about my safety, or anything else he’d said, and that scared me. I paid the cabbie, giving him an extra twenty for a tip, and hustled back to the apartment. Warren waited at the top of the stairs, watching up and down the street until I came back. He ushered me into the apartment, locking and bolting the door behind us.
“Hopefully, we have a little time,” he said. “At least I’ve prepared for this moment. I just didn’t know Manetto would make his move so soon.” He was thinking about everything he needed to get before we left. He had stashed all his cash along with his passport and ID in the freezer.
“Wait,” I interrupted. “Read the letter first, and then tell me what’s going on.” I shoved the letter into his hands, and planted my feet in front of the doorway to the kitchen.
With great reluctance, he tore open the envelope and pulled out the letter. As he read, I heard the words in his mind.
Warren…I need the information you’ve obtained for me. I know it might put you in danger, but I’ve discovered through my sources that it’s time you moved on anyway. Bring it to me without delay, and I’ll help you disappear. The lovely woman delivering this letter is Shelby Nichols. Tell her you’ll bring the item to me, and then send her on her way. If anything happens to her because of you, you’re A Dead Man. Don’t keep me waiting. Yours…etc…Joe E. Manetto.
Warren glanced at me and licked his lips. Maybe he’d been too hasty in sending the cab driver off and enlisting my help. Manetto didn’t make threats he wasn’t ready to keep. “What time does your flight leave?” he asked.
“Three o’clock,” I answered.
“Oh good,” he said, checking his watch. “We’ve got plenty of time. Should be a piece of cake.” He was thinking it would be close, but it could still work. As long as I hadn’t been spotted by Carson’s goons. “I’ll get my stuff, and we can leave in a few minutes.”

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A Hot Ride

Posted: August 19, 2012 in Consulting, Experiences, Thoughts

I have a friend who helps me out sometimes. Mostly when I get in trouble. In my line of work, I’ve decided it’s a good thing to have someone around who’s willing to watch my back now and again. Not too long ago, this friend and I needed to talk to some people without revealing our identities. As part of the disguise, we had to ride his motorcycle. I’ve never been riding on a motorcycle before. I couldn’t even tell you what kind of motorcycle it was, except it was black and all shiny and nice. My friend was looking pretty bad-ass, so he fit the motorcycle to a tee. Me, not so much. In fact, I was wearing a skirt, of all things. But somehow we made it work, and I was clutching his middle pretty hard when we roared out of the parking garage. Woohoo! I have to tell you it was pretty exciting, and I enjoyed myself immensely. Me, a muscled hot dude, and a motorcycle… yup… fun times. The only problem? Well, besides my skirt flapping in the breeze (you should never wear a skirt on a motorcycle), the helmet he gave me was too big. I could hardly see a thing. It kind of ruined my experience. So next time, (and I hope there is a next time) I’m finding a smaller helmet. And I’m wearing pants.

Hunting for lost treasure runs in my family.

As a youngster, I went prospecting with my Grandpa up into the mountains to look for gold. He had plenty of ideas about where the gold was, and we always found lots of pretty rocks, but never any gold. Just the same, I’ve always thought it would be cool to find some buried treasure.

Now I was actually looking for a lost treasure, although technically speaking, it was stolen money, and it wasn’t really lost. The bank robber who stole it knew where it was, and he had been willing to kill his partner to keep it all to himself. Lucky for me, I had a clue as to where it might be. Even better, the bank from which it was stolen was willing to pay me to find it.

The bank manager, Blaine Smith, had discovered that I worked for the police as a paid consultant, and hired me on the spot. He didn’t even blink too hard to learn that I had ‘premonitions’, and that’s how I helped the police.

Since I didn’t want anyone to know I could read minds, saying I had ‘premonitions’ seemed like a safer way to go. Especially after what had happened with Uncle Joey, the local crime boss. His ‘niece’ Kate, had been after my husband, and with my talent, I found out about Uncle Joey. I threatened to expose her if she didn’t leave my husband alone. Uncle Joey’s hit-man, Ramos, had orders to take me to the big boss, and I had to tell Uncle Joey I could read minds to keep him from killing me.

After that, he used my special ability for his own purposes, until I had enough leverage to bargain my way out. We now had a precarious alliance. I still had to work for Uncle Joey, but now it was on my terms. So far, so good, but it put a terrible strain on me, knowing how easy it would be for him to change his mind.

Besides Uncle Joey, my husband, Chris, was the only other person who knew the truth about me. Unless I counted Ramos. Even though he thought he knew the truth, I had never confirmed his suspicion, and I intended to keep it that way. The less people that knew I could read their minds, the better.

It was hard enough to work things out with Chris. Knowing I could hear his thoughts was rough on him. He was mostly resigned to his fate, but there were times it really got on his nerves. Like now…he was thinking that I was crazy to take on the job of finding the stolen money, especially based on the only clue I had.

“But when you pair the word ‘underwear’ with a box or crate, that could mean something.” I said defensively.

“Yeah, like the money is hidden inside a box of underwear,” he shot back. “What kind of a clue is that? What underwear box? Where is it? In a store? In a closet? It could mean anything! See…you really don’t have much to go on.”

I sighed. He was probably right, but with my new consulting agency on the line, I had to give it a shot. Maybe I just needed more information. “I still have to try. I already told the bank manager I would. I just wish I had a better clue.”

Chris shook his head. He was thinking that me getting in over my head was nothing new. He just wished I would learn when to stop. There was a point where most people knew to back off, but not me. What would it take? Even nearly getting killed wouldn’t stop me. Why was I so different? What was it in my make-up that made me so darn stubborn?

He glanced at me, realizing I had probably heard everything he was thinking. Again. Which made having this conversation that much more difficult for both of us, but mostly him.

“I don’t think it’s more difficult,” I said, needing to squelch his frustration with me. “I mean, it might be okay if you actually said what you were thinking, but since you don’t, I think it’s helpful for me to know. Now that I know you think I’m stubborn, I can try to be more open to what you say.”

“Right,” he huffed. “So, are you going to back off? Because really, I don’t think you have much to go on.”

Now it was my turn to squirm. “Probably not,” I said. Chris’ eyes gleamed in triumph, so I rushed on to explain. “I want to look into it, and if I don’t find anything, then I’ll admit defeat.”

“Okay, fine.” He was thinking ‘whatever’ but I’m glad he didn’t say that. It would have hurt my feelings. “So what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to talk to the bank manager tomorrow and go from there.”

I had a few ideas up my sleeve, but decided not to let Chris in on it. Since he thought I was crazy to take this job, I didn’t feel like explaining myself. I’d wait until I got some more leads before I did that.

Since I already had an appointment with the bank manager for the next morning, I spent most of the evening on the Internet reading up on bank heists, and money laundering. I found the best information on howstuffworks.com. Their podcasts are great. I went to bed feeling hopeful that I had some good questions to ask, plus I wouldn’t make a fool of myself.

Chris came to bed feeling a bit sheepish for being so hard on me. So I cut him some slack. “Hey, remember how Uncle Joey wants to send us to Seattle? Maybe we should start thinking about when would be a good time to go.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Although I don’t know how fun it will be if we’re looking for Kate and Hodges.”

“True,” I agreed. I had special feelings for Kate. Feelings of revenge and intense dislike, that is. She had been after my husband, even though he was a happily married man. So she wasn’t on my list of people I wanted to run into. She was also the person responsible for all my troubles with Uncle Joey.

He was actually Kate’s Uncle Joey, even though he wasn’t really her uncle. It was because he didn’t like being called Uncle Joey, that I called him that. Now it was a habit I couldn’t break. Especially since I knew it bothered him.

Kate had found out that Uncle Joey was the man responsible for her father’s death, and was trying to put him away for good when her accomplice, Walter, got in the way. To avoid Uncle Joey’s wrath, Kate escaped with Hodges, taking a few million dollars’ worth of jewels and money Hodges had stolen from Uncle Joey. Now Uncle Joey wanted it back, and was willing to send my husband and me to find them, paid for by him, of course.

I was hoping for more of a second honeymoon than a working trip. If Uncle Joey knew where Kate and Hodges were, it wouldn’t be too hard to get close enough to hear their thoughts, and let Uncle Joey know what they’d done with the money.

But did I really want to get involved with Kate again? Not so much. Maybe Chris was right, and I was in over my head, and not thinking things through. But I wasn’t a ‘normal’ person anymore, and I was trying to embrace that. I really wanted to do some good with my mind-reading skills. If only it didn’t have to involve Uncle Joey. But I didn’t have a choice. I had to make some concessions with Uncle Joey, or he’d take away what little control I had.

“You’re awfully quiet,” Chris said. “What’s going on?”

“You’re right about me,” I admitted. “I am in over my head. Especially with Uncle Joey. What am I going to do?”

Chris gathered me in his arms. “We’re going to take care of this together,” he said. “Don’t worry about everything at once. Just worry about the bank for now. We’ll figure it out as we go.”

“What would I do without you?” I asked, snuggling against him. He was thinking that I’d probably be in worse trouble, and hoping I had learned my lesson about trying to take care of everything on my own. Plus, I should listen to him more. But he couldn’t ask for a miracle.

I knew I wasn’t supposed to ‘hear’ any of this, so I had to act like it didn’t bother me. I tightened my hold on him and sighed, wishing it was easier to shield my mind from his thoughts. He was probably right about everything he’d thought, including the fact that I didn’t like to use my shields around him. I had to face it. I wanted to know what he was thinking more than I wanted to block his thoughts, even if it wasn’t always what I wanted to hear. How crazy was that?

I leaned up and kissed Chris smack on the lips. Right now all I wanted to think about was how much I loved him. It surprised him, and he was thinking how glad he was that I hadn’t heard his thoughts just now. Especially about the miracle part. I chuckled, and soon all thoughts of our disagreements went out the window. Which was just what I had hoped for. After that, sleep came easily.

Caught Red-Handed

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Consulting, Experiences

Not long ago, the police department gave me an honorary badge to wear so that it would be easier for me to be admitted to a crime scene. I was working on a case, and needed to find out if my client’s husband had a record, or any outstanding warrants. So I went to the police department, showed them my badge, and got into the records room and pulled his file. While I was looking over the file, the Police Chief walked in. This wasn’t exactly police work I was doing, so naturally, he startled me. Especially when he said. “What are you doing in here?”

As my heart was racing, I responded as truthfully as possible, and hoped I wouldn’t get into too much trouble. “Working on a case. I needed to see if this person had any outstanding warrants before I went to see him.”

“That’s smart thinking,” he said. “Hey, I’m really glad I caught you. Could you do me a favor?”

“Sure,” I answered.

He hesitated, knowing asking for my help to use my “premonitions” might seem weird, or make him look silly. But he really wanted to know what his wife was giving him for his birthday. I took a deep breath, relieved to know I was off the hook for being in the records room.

“Umm…I know this sounds crazy, but can you get any vibes for what my wife is giving me for my birthday?”

I smiled. “Sure, let me concentrate for a minute.” Of course, since I don’t really have “premonitions” I couldn’t tell him. So I listened to his thoughts to see what he wanted. He was hoping for a new fishing pole, and all the stuff that goes with it, but he didn’t think his wife would give him that since she didn’t like to go fishing. Maybe I could call her later, and tell her what he wanted.

“When is your birthday?” I asked.

“Next Wednesday,” he replied.

“Okay,” I said. Since today was Thursday, I had plenty of time to tell her. “Sorry, but all I’m getting is fish. That doesn’t make any sense, unless that’s what you’re having for dinner. Sorry.”

“No, no! That’s fine. Thanks.”

He left happy, and I left to call his wife.

My Agency

Posted: November 12, 2011 in Consulting

I’m so excited to announce the opening of my consulting agency. As a consultant, I hope to help you find solutions to your problems. Plus, for a limited time, I will waive the fee for your first visit.

Do you feel someone is cheating or lying to you? I can help. Do you need to find out what your children are involved in? I can help with that too. Are you in a relationship and having problems communicating? I think you will be amazed at how helpful I can be to resolve any issues you may face. Is there someone at work you need help with? I can mediate any type of challenges you may have with great results. So, next time you are in a bind and don’t know what to do, give me a call or leave a comment on this blog and I will be happy to respond.