Archive for the ‘Experiences’ Category

Dirty Deals

Posted: October 4, 2019 in Advice, Experiences, Thoughts
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As most of you know, I work for a mob boss. As a mind reader, Uncle Joey finds my services invaluable, and he’s more than willing to pay me the big bucks to keep me around. I used to help him so he wouldn’t kill me. I’m not sure he’d do that anymore, but I don’t want to find out, so I accept the money, and try not to feel too guilty.

Recently, he asked me to meet him for lunch with one of his friends. Usually, I help him in the privacy of his office, so meeting him in a public place didn’t seem like a good idea. I mean, what if I saw someone I knew? How would I explain that?

He didn’t seem too concerned, so I agreed and he filled me in. His friend, Kurt Johnson, owned several used car dealerships, and was starting to make a name for himself. Uncle Joey had heard rumors that Kurt had a side business going on that involved some of Uncle Joey’s contacts. Naturally, Uncle Joey didn’t like that, but since no one would give him a straight answer, it was time to bring in the big guns – me.

I met them at a fancy restaurant under the pretext that Uncle Joey wanted to reach out to Kurt because of his recent success and perhaps offer him a business deal.

Uncle Joey introduced me to Kurt as his niece, and explained that I was an invaluable part of his team, and I would be involved if an arrangement was made between them.

Kurt glanced at me, surprised that I had so much power in making the decision. Did that mean he needed to impress me, offer me a discount for a car, or pay for my lunch? It put him on edge.

But, after a moment, he brushed away his concern. He relished the idea of being in the same league as a mob boss, and he was happy to listen to an offer, thinking he could use the mob boss’s money and influence – as long as it was a partnership.

I picked up some nervousness about the side business Kurt had going. If the mob boss made him a really good offer, he could always shut down his side business. That way Uncle Joey would never know what he’d been up to, and it would all work out.

“So,” I said. “I understand you have a side business as well. What’s that all about?”

Kurt’s eyes widened and his face paled. He swore in his mind and couldn’t seem to form a coherent sentence.

“Yes,” Uncle Joey said, following my lead. “Mind explaining?”

Kurt’s heart raced, but he reasoned that, if we were both asking what it was, then he still had the upper hand. “Oh, that… it’s nothing much. I just have a side business offering warranties on all the cars I sell. It brings in some income, but not nearly as much as I’d like, so it was hardly worth mentioning.”

Kurt was lying. The warranty thing was standard procedure and not a side business. No, it was something else entirely. I listened real close and began to piece it together. Kurt was thinking about poker chips and face cards, along with black jack and Texas hold’em. It all fit together as a gambling club he operated in the basement of the new bar he owned.

He’d started the enterprise about three months ago, and it was a real money-maker. Not only that, but he rarely lost out on collecting the debts the gamblers owed due to the fact that he claimed the business was run by Uncle Joey. His two enforcers didn’t have a problem collecting after they mentioned that detail.

Holy cow! It reminded me of the two men who had accosted me at the antique dealer’s place a few weeks ago. They’d said Gino owed them money from a gambling debt, and he’d better pay up because they worked for Uncle Joey. It couldn’t be a coincidence could it? This had to be Kurt’s business, and he was using Uncle Joey’s name to run it.

I came back to the conversation, grateful Uncle Joey had filled up the silence with questions about Kurt’s dealership and the warranties while I’d been busy gathering information.

As we finished up our lunch, Uncle Joey asked, “Do you have any other questions for Kurt?”

“Nope,” I said. “I think I got it all.”

“Good,” Uncle Joey said, sending me a pleased smile. He turned to Kurt. “I’ll get back to you with a proposal, and we’ll go from there.”

“Okay,” Kurt replied. He mentally wiped his brow, relieved that he’d deceived us, and thinking that he’d only accept the offer unless it was too good to refuse. If that was the case, he’d shut down his gambling operation, and Uncle Joey would never know. He could still come out on top.

I hated to burst his bubble, so I just sent him a smile.

“I’m sure you have to get back,” Uncle Joey said, dismissing him. “So I’ll pick up the tab. I’ll be in touch.”

“Okay, thanks.” Kurt stood, thinking he may have missed something, but since he was eager to leave, he just smiled instead.

Once he’d left, Uncle Joey turned his attention my way. “So what’s going on?”

I explained it all, even telling him about the two thugs at the antique shop. He seemed more upset about that than the rest. “You should have told me about that.”

I shrugged. “I know, but I thought they were just making that up, you know?”

He nodded absently, his mind already racing ahead to how he was going to deal with Kurt. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know that part, so I asked him if he needed me for anything else.

“Not right now. Thanks for your help though.”

“Sure,” I said. “It’s hard to believe he’d use your name like that. Has that ever happened to you before?”

He shook his head. “No. Or at least, not that I know of.” He caught my gaze and we shared a smile. “Thanks again. I might want you and Ramos to visit his gambling establishment, but I’ll let you know.” He needed names, and, with my help, he wouldn’t have to torture anyone to get them.

“Okay, sure.”

We said our goodbyes and I drove home, knowing I had one more crazy thing to look forward to.

Who knows when it will happen, but once it does, I’ll be sure and tell you all about it.

Until next time…. Shelby

Yesterday, Uncle Joey sent me to visit one of his ’employees.’ The guy was behind on his payments and Uncle Joey wanted to know why. Because of my special ability to read minds, I’d pick up the truth no matter what lies he was likely to tell to explain his delinquency.

I used to complain about those kinds of errands, since I didn’t like ‘leaning’ on the poor people Uncle Joey had under his thumb. But since Ramos was going with me, and we were taking his motorcycle, I jumped at the chance. I guess Uncle Joey knows how to make me an offer I can’t refuse.

We arrived at Gino’s Antique Shop, where “one man’s loss is another man’s gain”… or at least that’s what the sign said. Inside, Gino stood behind the counter going over his books. As we entered, his eyes widened and his whole body jerked with alarm. Then he backed away before Ramos even had a chance to get close.

“Hey Gino,” Ramos said. “The boss wants to know why you haven’t paid him for the last couple of months.” Ramos stepped right up to Gino. The man cowered, and his eyes darted back and forth as if looking for an escape route.

“Uh… things have been real slow around here, and I haven’t been able to pay all the bills, let alone your boss, but I’ve got a big sale arranged for this afternoon. If you’ll come back tomorrow, I should have it covered.”

Ramos glanced my way, lifting his brow to question if Gino was lying. Since he was, I nodded. I would have told Ramos what was going on, but I didn’t want to take away all his fun.

“You’re lying,” Ramos said, pinning Gino against the wall. “So what’s really going on.”

“What? No I’m not. It’s the truth, man. I know better than to lie to you.”

“That’s not true,” I said, stepping forward. I knew Ramos didn’t mind roughing him up. Mostly because he had to protect his image, but he didn’t like doing it in front of me. “He’s got a stash of cash upstairs under his mattress. I think it’s enough to pay what he owes.”

Gino’s mouth dropped open. How did I know that? As Ramos tightened his hold, he gave in. “Okay, okay. It’s upstairs.” He was thinking that it was a good thing he had more than one hiding place for his money, since he didn’t want to give all of it to Ramos.

As they left, I didn’t mention that little tidbit to Ramos, since I felt a sorry for Gino. While they headed upstairs for the money, I roamed around the shop in case there was something of value I might want.

Hearing the chime of the door opening, I hurried toward the counter, and turned to find two men stepping inside. With their scruffy faces, graphic t-shirts, and ripped jeans, they didn’t seem the type to be looking for any antique treasures.

“Can I help you?” I asked, planting my feet firmly in front of the cash register.

With surprise on their faces, they sized me up, wondering when I’d started working for Gino. As their gazes roamed over my body, they thought a few other things that aren’t appropriate for this blog, but let me tell you, my heart rate spiked with alarm.

“Hey sweetheart, where’s Gino?”

“Uh… he’s in the back. But he’ll be right out.” As they stalked closer to me, I backed up, just like Gino had earlier with Ramos. When my back hit the counter, they continued toward me, invading my personal space.

I swallowed. “What do you want Gino for?”

They both smiled, then one of them spoke. “We’re just here to collect the money he owes us.”

“He owes you money? What for?” Pushing away my fear, I planted my feet and straightened, ready to send my fist into the guy’s throat if he got any closer.

The other guy flanked me, ready to grab my arm, and spoke. “Gino has a bad gambling habit. He bets more than he can lose, and then he thinks he won’t have to pay up. Not too smart of him is it?”

“Uh… no.”

“So we’re here to collect. Our boss doesn’t take kindly to losers who don’t honor their debts.”

My brows rose with surprise. “Your boss? Who’s that?” I knew what they were thinking, but I needed to hear it out loud.

“Joey “The Knife” Manetto. Ever heard of him?”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed… in their faces. They didn’t like that much, and one of them stepped even closer. “What’s so funny?”

That made me laugh even harder, and I doubled over in uncontrolled mirth. The guy closest to me grabbed my arm and told me to shut up. I used an Aikido move to get out of his grasp. It worked just like it was supposed to, but the other guy grabbed me around the waist before I could step out of his reach. I slammed my elbow into his jaw, but he held on tight and started cursing me… loudly.

“What the hell’s going on?” Ramos roared. “Let go of her. Now!” He rushed around the counter and grabbed the guy holding me by his neck. The guy released me and tried to pull Ramos’s arm from around his neck. He kicked and yelled, but he was unable to get Ramos’s arm to budge.

The other guy took a step forward to aid his friend, but wisely held back and spoke instead. “He didn’t do nothin’ wrong. Let him go.”

“Ramos. Don’t kill him. I’m fine. Really. They didn’t hurt me.” I’d never seen Ramos so upset. He was usually cool and calculated. But right now, he was contemplating snapping the guy’s neck.

He slowly released his hold on the man, and the guy coughed and rubbed his neck. That’s when it dawned on the guy that I’d called his attacker Ramos. What the hell? Was it really him? Damn! He was so…  I won’t repeat what he was thinking, but you get the idea.

The guy knelt on one knee and began to beg for mercy. The other guy went down on both knees to do his begging. Whoa. Who would have thought? They couldn’t tell Ramos they were sorry enough, and kept mumbling apologies until Ramos finally told them to shut up.

“Uh… Ramos… do you know these guys? Because they said they work for Uncle Joey.”

His brows rose, and he turned to them. “Is that right?”

If they weren’t groveling before, they were now. Shocked that “The Knife” was actually my uncle sent them both into quaking masses of blubber.

“They said Gino has a gambling habit, and he owes them money.” I glanced behind me, but Gino was nowhere in sight. Go figure.

Ramos heaved a sigh. “Get up.” After they stood, he continued. “I don’t know who you two think you are, but Manetto doesn’t like liars, grovelers, or cheats. I don’t recall ever seeing your ugly faces before, so, if you want to live, I’d suggest you stop using his name for your own purposes.”

He stepped closer to them, and they both backed up. “In fact, I think you’d better take your lying, cheating, skum-sucking selves somewhere else, because if I ever hear of you again, you’ll both be wearing cement shoes at the bottom of the lake. Now get out of here.”

They ran out of the shop faster than I thought two men could move.

I caught Ramos’s gaze and grinned. “Wow. You are so bad-ass.” That earned a chuckle from him. “So did you get the money from Gino?”

“Yeah.”

“You have to admit that was pretty funny.”

Ramos shook his head. “I don’t know.” He didn’t like finding me being manhandled by those two thugs.

“I get it. But you missed the best part.”

“What part’s that?”

“When they were threatening me because they worked for Joey “The Knife” Manetto.” I started laughing again, but Ramos just shook his head.

“Come on. Let’s get out of here,” he said, turning to leave.

I followed behind, chuckling all the way out to his Harley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, Chris and I were invited to a game night at a neighbors’ house. There were eight people who came and we all brought treats. My best friend Holly and her husband were there, along with several others from the neighborhood.

We had a great time socializing and catching up with each other’s lives. Most of them had seen my photo in the paper recently about an incident at the newspaper, and I got lots of questions about my premonitions.

Since I didn’t want my friends to think differently about me, I explained it as intuition, or a hunch, and that I’ve learned to listen to that part of my brain. No way did I want any of them to know my real secret that I can read minds. They accepted my explanation pretty well, and it was a relief to be off the hot-seat.

Soon, it was time to start the games, and someone bought out an interactive game they were really excited to play called The Resistance. They explained it as a social deductive game where you’re either Imperial Spies or Resistance Operatives.

At the beginning the moderator tells everyone to close their eyes. Then he tells the spies to open them and see who the other spies are. They then close them, and then the leader tells everyone to open their eyes and the game begins. With eight people there are three spies and five resistance, so it seems a little stacked against the spies, but since they know who everyone is, it evens out.

If you are with the resistance, you don’t know who is on your team, or who to trust, and the spies are always lying and saying they are part of the resistance. The leader picks people to take on missions which everyone votes on. This is part of the strategy and discussion to figure out who is who. If it passes they run the mission and this goes on for five rounds.

When the mission is run, the spy can sabotage it. If that happens, you know that someone on that mission is a spy. So you try different combinations of people to go on the missions so you can figure out who are resistance and who are spies. When one of the teams wins three missions they win the game, and you start over with new roles.

This game is great fun unless you’re a mind reader, and you know who everyone is. It wasn’t so bad being a spy, because we always knew everyone’s roles anyway, but my competitive nature always over-ruled the fairness of knowing who was who, so I knew the spies right off the bat, and, unless I was on the team, they always lost.

Then, as a spy, I always knew what the other team was thinking about who might be who, so I could play to their strategies and deceive them with lies. It bothered me just a little that I was so good at lying, but not enough to stop. Needless to say, I was always on the winning team.

A couple of the guys weren’t happy with that, so we played some other games. One was called Code Names. I tried really hard not to cheat, but when someone thinks about a  word you’re supposed to guess, and gives the clues for that, I can’t help but pick it up and shout it out.

Once again, my team always won.

Chris kept telling me in his mind to stop listening and play fair. I really tried to do that, but it’s a lot harder than you’d think.

Later, after one of the couples left, someone suggested playing a few rounds of Texas Hold’em. It had been a while since I’d last played poker, and I couldn’t hold back my enthusiasm for the game.

Chris shot me a warning glance, but I ignored him. We weren’t playing for money, so what was the harm? It ended up being a lot more fun than the other games for me, mostly because it wasn’t so cut and dry. I did end up winning all the chips pretty fast, and I was declared the king of poker.

I didn’t mind too much, but the hosting couple was thinking that they weren’t going to invite me and Chris to game night… EVER again. That kind of hurt my feelings. But, on the bright side, at least no one accused me of cheating.

As we left, one of the women suggested that Chris and I try to get on one of those game shows. With me in the mix, we’d probably win everything.

We all laughed, but her husband was already planning a trip to Las Vegas. He was thinking about paying my way, and ready to put down his life’s savings so I could win him a few million dollars playing poker.

He never said it out loud, but once he got the logistics figured out, he’d come up with a plan. He thought he’d have to split the winnings with me so I’d go along with it, say…80/20, but he could do that.

Before he got too carried away, I spoke up. “I could probably make quite a haul in Vegas, right?” They mostly nodded. “Maybe someday I’ll enter a poker tournament, but for now, that’s the last thing I want to do. Too much pressure… you know?”

He mostly got the message, but he wasn’t about to give up the idea.

In the end, I don’t think we’ll get invited back to game night.

I know there has to be a solution to that. There are lots of games out there where reading minds wouldn’t matter so much in the outcome. If I can find some of those games and offer to bring them next time… it could work.

If there is a next time.

 

 

 

 

Until lately, I didn’t think I was a trouble magnet like my friend, Ramos, kept telling me. But now, I’m not so sure. Maybe I’m jinxed because I can read minds. That seems to be the only thing that makes sense. Still, it’s starting to give me a complex. Take yesterday, for example.

I was at Thrasher Development helping Uncle Joey and needed a diet soda. Usually, Ramos or Uncle Joey have some in the refrigerator in the office or adjoining apartment. But today, they were all gone. Probably because of me, since I’m the one who drinks them. Although lately, Uncle Joey’s been joining me, so maybe it’s not all my fault.

I know you’re thinking that drinking diet soda isn’t good for me, so maybe I should take this as a sign that I should stop drinking it, but hey…this is my only vice… so you should cut me some slack. (Don’t even think about my other vice – riding on the back of a motorcycle – if you had the chance, you know you’d be just like me.) 😉

Anyway, I decided to make a quick run to the corner store and pick up a bottle or two. Once I got there, I found out that the six pack bottles were on sale, so naturally, I had to buy two packs. Then I had to lug them all the way back to the office, which I will admit, wasn’t the best idea. But it was totally worth it.

Because they were getting heavy, I decided to take a short-cut through a parking lot. This meant I had to step over a few chains, and snake down an alley, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

At the end of the alley, I came upon a couple of parked cars beside the back of the building. Two men in wife-beater t-shirts and grubby jeans were working on one of the cars. It looked like they’d pulled the front bumper off the car, and one of them was spraying it with spray paint.

They both jumped a little to see me walk by, but I just smiled and kept going, like I was minding my own business. I glanced back once, just to make sure they weren’t following me. That might have been a mistake, because one of them noticed and stood up, taking a couple of steps my way. Luckily, the other guy told him to let it go, and he got back to work.

I kept up a normal pace, so I wouldn’t give myself away, but that was the longest hundred yards of my life. It wasn’t until I got to the parking lot that I could breathe again. That’s because I’d picked up that one of them had just been involved in a hit-and-run, and they were working on the bumper to cover up the damage.

With my heart racing, I ducked behind the nearest parked car and glanced back at them. It looked like they were just getting started, so it gave me plenty of time to call Dimples. He’s my partner at the precinct. He picked right up, and I told him what I’d heard and where these guys were hanging out.

He confirmed my story, telling me that there had indeed been a hit-and-run accident about an hour earlier. He asked if I’d gotten a good look at the car, but all I could tell him was that it was black, and had four doors.

It was enough to match the description of the hit-and-run, so he told me to hang tight, and he’d send a squad car. “They look dangerous, so it might be best if the officers sneak up on them by coming through the alley.” He said he’d tell them and we disconnected.

Dimples didn’t tell me that I needed to stay, but I didn’t want to leave and miss all the action. So I found a more comfortable spot and sat down and waited for the police to show up. With the soda handy, I figured I might as well open a bottle and take a swig or two.

I was about half-way done with the soda when the police showed up and surprised the men. Drawing their guns, they yelled at the men to put their hands up. The man standing on the other side of the car took off running and headed straight toward me.

I scrambled to my feet, hoping the cop wouldn’t start shooting at him and hit me by mistake. In a panic, I stepped to the back of the car and ducked down. I heard the labored breathing of the man coming my way and had an idea.

Just as he closed in, I stuck my leg out. He tripped over it,  but he only stumbled a bit before getting back on his feet. He glanced my way and his eyes widened to see me, but he turned to keep running, so I threw my bottle of soda at him.

The lid was off, so the soda sprayed everywhere while it flew through the air. It didn’t come anywhere close to hitting him, but some of it sprayed his neck and shirt. By then, the police officer caught up and tackled him to the ground.

After he cuffed the guy, he caught sight of me. I smiled and waved. The officer recognized me, and smiled back. He was thinking that I was Shelby Nichols, and Detective Harris had mentioned that I’d called it in. He’d also mentioned that I might still be there, so the officer wasn’t surprised to see me.

He radioed his partner that he had the suspect in custody and was on his way back. As he passed me, he stopped. “Thanks for the assist.”

“You bet.” He reminded me a little of Nathan Fillion in his new cop show, so I didn’t mind helping him out. “I’m going back to work, but tell Dimples ‘hi’ for me.”

His brows rose, and he was thinking Dimples? Then he grinned and hauled the guy back to his cruiser, thinking that he couldn’t wait to tease the detective by calling him Dimples when the time was right.

Oops. Oh well. Not much I could do about it now. My phone rang and I pulled it from my purse. I answered with a cheerful hello, and heard the low growl of one of my favorite people.

“Babe. You’ve been gone a while. Is everything all right?”

“Yeah. I’m fine, but you won’t believe what just happened.”

“What do you mean?”

“I just helped the cops arrest a couple of guys. They were involved in a hit-and-run earlier, and I found them. I called the police, so it’s all good.” Ramos didn’t say anything, so I continued. “It’s over now, so I’m on my way back with the diet soda. I’ll tell you all about it when I get there.”

He let out a low groan…or maybe it was more of a growl. I knew what it meant, even if I couldn’t read minds over the phone. He was thinking that I was a trouble-magnet. He mumbled that he’d see me soon, and I put my phone away.

After picking up the bottles of pop, I began the last leg of my journey back to the office, and I finally had to admit that maybe Ramos was right after all. Trouble always seemed to follow me. But, on days like today…at least it had all turned out right, and I couldn’t complain.

Now I just had to worry about tomorrow.

 

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?