Posts Tagged ‘Work’

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.