Posts Tagged ‘Work’

I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow, I got roped into helping at the high school Spring Dance.

My best friend Holly is actually the one who roped me into it, since she was in charge. Her oldest child is a senior and Holly is president of the PTSA, so she needed the help. It didn’t seem fair since neither of my kids were going, but that was because Savannah is still in junior high, and, as a sophomore, Josh had no interest in Senior Prom. Still, when your best friend needs you, you help out.

Holly doesn’t know I can read minds, but she believes I have premonitions, which is what I tell everyone to explain my ability. Because of that, Holly thought I would be the perfect person to watch over the dance in a security capacity to make sure nothing bad happened. Considering all the school shootings, I couldn’t blame her for wanting the event to be safe, and who better to do that than someone who had premonitions? (her words… not mine)

Naturally, I said yes, but only on the condition that I was there in an official capacity. She agreed, and provided me with a black t-shirt that had SECURITY in white capital letters across the front, along with a school pass in a lanyard. That way, I could tell the kids what to do and get away with it. I’d be sure to wear my black jeans, along with a belt that held my stun flashlight. She had another t-shirt made for the gym teacher, who would be my partner, and we were all set.

That night, I arrived at the school wearing my official lanyard, along with the black security t-shirt, jeans, and boots. My stun flashlight in a case on my belt was a nice touch, and I’d pulled my long blond hair into a ponytail and wore my black cap with ‘security’ written across the top that I’d used before when I’d helped Uncle Joey. All in all, I looked pretty bad-ass.

I walked into the gym, which had been decorated like a woodsy forest, with fake trees, grass, and dangling vines and flowers, and, I had to admit, I was impressed. Holly was already there and hurried to my side. “Shelby! I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Hey, no problem. This looks great.”

“Isn’t it cute?”

“Sure is.”

She took me to her PTSA office and unlocked the door so I could leave my jacket and my purse inside. Back in the gym, she took a deep breath, hoping her news wouldn’t upset me. “Um… it looks like Coach Monson has come down with a bad case of stomach flu, or food poisoning, so he’s not going to make it. I’ve asked a couple of the other teachers to take his place, but so far, I haven’t had any luck.”

“Oh… that’s too bad, but I should be okay.”

She nodded, but she was thinking that, even though I looked official, the kids might not take me seriously. Sure, I had ‘security’ in bold letters across my shirt, but I wasn’t big enough to haul someone out of the gym on my own. But maybe I could ask someone for a favor? She wouldn’t mind seeing the hot hitman again, and he would certainly intimidate anyone who got out of line.

“You want me to ask Ramos?”

Her eyes widened. “Uh… yeah, I was just thinking that. Do you think he’d come?”

“I can’t ask Ramos. I owe him too much already. Besides, he’s probably busy.”

“You don’t know that for sure. Even if he could only come for a couple of hours, it would be worth it. We probably don’t need him until things get going, around eight or so. You could at least ask him, right?”

I shook my head. “Only if you have something to offer him. He won’t do it for free.”

“Even for you?”

“Oh… he’d do it for me, but then I’d owe him, and I’d have to do whatever he wanted… you know? I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

She blinked, immediately thinking that he’d want a night of hot love-making, and her eyes widened. “Oh! Wow! I see.” She was thinking that it might be worth it… unless Chris found out… then it would be bad. But a night with Ramos? It made her hot all over just thinking about it.

“Holly! I’m not doing that!”

“Oh… good. I mean… of course you’re not.” Her brow wrinkled. “Wait. Did I say that out loud?”

I shook my head. “You didn’t need to. It was written all over your face.”

“Sure. Got it.” The lights dimmed and a few of the kids from the dance committee began to drift inside. “I’ve got to go, but please think about asking him? I don’t want anything to go wrong tonight.” She handed me a small bag. “Here’s the other t-shirt. I’ll check in with you later.”

She hurried off, leaving me holding the bag – in more ways than one. Still, I was not going to ask Ramos. No way.

Half an hour later, I was having second thoughts. None of the kids seemed the least bit intimidated by me. A couple of the boys even raised their glasses of punch to me, thinking I had no idea they’d added vodka to them. I marched over and demanded that they hand over the flask they’d brought, but neither of them had it anymore. I picked up that it was being passed around, and they didn’t know where it was by now.

I spent the next half hour trying to track it down, but there were just too many students, and I had left my post at the doors for too long. Holly found me and asked me to patrol the hall outside the gym for troublemakers. I found a couple of boys trying to break into someone’s locker and told them to knock it off. One of them told me it was his locker and he needed something from it. Dismissing me, they went back to jiggling it open.

Since they were lying, it made me mad, so I stepped closer and pulled out my stun flashlight. “Move away, or you’ll get a taste of this.” I held the flashlight up and pushed the button. Instead of the zap I’d been going for, the light switched on. Crap. “I mean this.” I hit the other button and got the buzzing zap I’d wanted, but they weren’t impressed.

One of them held up his hands. “Oooo, I’m so scared.”

The other kid hit his friend and turned to me. “Don’t listen to him. We’re going.” He pulled his friend past me and back toward the dance, thinking that they’d come back later after I’d left.

The kid being pulled away called over his shoulder. “You know you can’t touch me with that thing… unless you want to get sued.”

I sighed. He was probably right. Kids didn’t seem to respect adults much. What was up with that? Or was it just me? Being the security person was a terrible idea. Defeated, I meandered back to my place at the doors. Was it even worth trying to do this job, or should I just let everything go and only act if someone’s life was in danger?

If Ramos were here, it would probably be different.

The next few minutes brought a new wave of kids into the dance. Most just wanted to have a good time, but I managed to catch a few stray thoughts of trouble… mostly pranks, but I didn’t like it. At least everyone had to pass through security, so I didn’t have to worry about guns or knives, but what the heck?

Holly came back to my side. “How’re you doing? Everything okay?” She was thinking that I might need some help with the crowd. “I called the coach, but he’s still too sick to come. Are you sure you can’t call Ramos?”

“Fine. I’ll call him, but that doesn’t mean he’ll come.” I pulled out my phone and pushed his number.

“Thank you.” She was thinking that the doors to the boy’s and girl’s locker rooms were locked, but someone needed to check them, along with the bathrooms and the halls again.

Ramos picked up. “Babe. What’s up?”

I sighed. “Um… I might need your help.” I explained where I was and how the coach was sick so I was going it alone. “But if you’re busy… it’s no big deal. But just so you know, my friend Holly really wants to see you again.”

Holly smacked me, but it was worth it.

He snickered. “Yeah… hang on.” I waited a few seconds until he came back on the line. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

“Great. I’ll meet you in the parking lot with Holly. She’ll make sure you can get in, but you should probably leave your gun at home.” That was mostly for Holly’s sake so she’d know what she was getting into. Ramos snickered again and disconnected the call.

“He’s on his way.”


Ten minutes later, Ramos arrived on his Harley. Holly nearly fainted, but managed to stay on her feet long enough to get him through security. I handed him the security t-shirt and the lanyard that went with it. He shrugged off his black motorcycle jacket and both Holly and I froze in anticipation. But instead of taking off his t-shirt, he just pulled the new one over it. I think Holly sighed, or maybe it was both of us. Either way, we managed to breathe again and took him down the hall to the gym.

Close to the gym, Holly unlocked the door to the PTSA room so he could stash his jacket there beside my purse, and we hurried into the dance. It only took a few minutes for our eyes to adjust, but we got started right away, and I found it was a whole different story with Ramos by my side. He hardly had to say a word to intimidate anyone, and the rest of the evening went by with only a few minor incidents.

The dance ended at eleven, but by then, most of the students had cleared out anyway. Holly hurried over to thank us before we left. In the process, she managed to give Ramos a big hug that lasted a little longer than was necessary. Naturally, I couldn’t blame her, and since Ramos didn’t seem to mind, I managed to keep a straight face.

After we gathered our things from her office, we walked out together, stopping at Ramos’s bike.

I turned to face him. “Thanks for your help. It made a big difference.”

“You’re welcome. It was… interesting.”

I smiled. “That’s putting it mildly. I guess I owe you… again.”

“Yes. You do. It’s turning into a long list. I’ll have to figure out where to start, or you’ll never get to the end of it.”

I chuckled. “You mean there’s an end?”

“Not if I can help it. But there is something you can do for me right now.”

“What’s that?”

“All you have to do is stand still and don’t move.”

Alarm tightened my chest. “That’s all?”


I couldn’t pick up what he planned. Still, it was a simple request. What could happen? “Okay.”

He leaned in close and I caught his woodsy, masculine scent that made me a little dizzy. Barely holding back a smile, he lingered close for a few seconds before brushing my cheek with a kiss. His mouth moved toward my ear and he spoke in a low tone. “Goodnight Shelby.”

Chills ran down my spine. He straightened and slipped on his jacket. Before he could put on his helmet, my wits returned. “So does that count? Toward the list?”

He arched his brow. “Babe… that’s just the tip of the iceberg… but if it will make you feel better, sure.”

“Great. See you Monday.” As he drove off, I sent him a wave, happy to start witling down the list. But on second thought, did I really want to do that? Maybe not, but since it was such a long list already, I’d have the rest of my life to get to the end of it.

With that happy thought, I headed home, ready to tell my kids they were only allowed to go to a school dance if I was there working security. Since they’d hate that, maybe I’d be off the hook, and never have to do security at a school dance again.

As most of you know, I work for a mob boss whom I call Uncle Joey. He’s not really my uncle, but after working for him for a couple of years, he’s become like family. This should make me more nervous than it does, but I make it a point to stay on the good side of things, and do my best to know as little about the bad side as possible.

Of course, the main reason I work for him is because I can read minds and he coerced me into it. But, since that goes for him as well everyone else, it gives me a little more wiggle-room than most people.

I’m also a certified private investigator, so I have clients that I help as well. Which brings me to my story.

My newest client, Henry, thought someone was following him, and he wanted to know who it was. That seemed like an easy task, since all I had to do was watch him for a day or two. If someone was following him, I’d take a few pictures, and that would be that.

Of course, it turned out that he worked for a florist making deliveries, which meant that I had to follow him all over the place. After two hours of doing that, I worried that my cover was blown, since I was now the one following him. Still, I did my best to keep watch.

That’s when everything changed.

My phone rang with the familiar tune of “Devil Rider,” which meant it was Ramos calling. He’s the hot, motorcycle-riding, hitman who works for Uncle Joey. Grateful for the distraction, I quickly answered. “Hey Ramos. What’s up?”

“Babe. Why are you following Henry?”

“What? Oh my gosh! Are you the person following him?” I glanced behind me, then along the street on both sides to see him. “Where are you?”

“I’m in a car just up the street.”

I looked, but couldn’t see him anywhere. “Which one?”

“It’s a white Camry.”

I still couldn’t see it, but then, I’m not much of a car person, and there are a lot of white cars these days. “Hmm… well… I can’t see you. I guess that means you’re good at your job.” I didn’t say, and I’m not, although I thought about it.

“Well… I’ve had a lot of practice. So I take it Henry hired you?”

“Uh… yeah.”

“What did he want?”

“He said that he thought someone was following him, and I’m supposed to figure it out, and show him pictures of who it is.”

“And you didn’t pick up anything else, like… what he did, or why he was worried?”

“No. He wasn’t thinking about that, and honestly, I didn’t want to know.”

Ramos let out a breath. “Hmm. This is good. I think we can help each other.”

“How’s that?”

“Henry’s been using his delivery service for more than just flowers. I won’t bore you with the details, but he’s been passing off… certain items in a messenger bag. I’ve been trying to discover who he’s been delivering them to, so that’s why I’m following him. But now that you’re in the picture, and he knows you’re there, you can keep an eye on him for me.”

“Hmm… okay, but you’ll owe me.”

“Babe.” His voice was low and gravelly. “You owe me far more than this little favor. Do I have to remind you of how many times I’ve saved your pretty little neck?”

Guilt washed over me. “Uh… no… no… of course not. I was just joking.”

He snorted. “Right. So this is what I want you to do. When he makes his other deliveries, he takes a messenger bag with him, and he comes back without it. I just want you to take note of where those deliveries are.”

That didn’t sound too bad. “Okay. How many of these ‘other’ deliveries are there?”

“I’m thinking three at the most. But he might surprise me with more.”

“Okay.” I spotted Henry coming out of the building he’d just been in. “He’s back, so I’d better go.”

“Thanks, Shelby.” He disconnected before I could ask him if he was going to keep following us, but since I was doing his job for him, he probably didn’t need to.

As I pulled onto the road to follow Henry, I glanced at all the white cars I could see, but I never spotted Ramos. He was good.

By the end of the day, I’d taken note of five different places where Henry had left a messenger bag. Ramos would be pleased. But what was I going to tell Henry? I was pretty sure Ramos wouldn’t want me to tell him he was being followed by the mob. But that left me looking a little incompetent.

Still, I figured I could tell him I hadn’t seen anyone… since that was true, and only charge him half of what I normally did to assuage my guilty conscience.

When he was done for the day, I gave him my offer and he took me up on my generosity pretty fast. “So that’s it? You’re not doing this again tomorrow?”

“Uh… nope. But good luck and all. Stay safe.”

He looked at me kind of funny, and was thinking that I might know more than I let on. I sent him a nod. “You might want to think about changing jobs. Messengers don’t always have the best of luck when they’re delivering something they shouldn’t… you know?”

His eyes widened, and I sent him a wave. “See you around.”

As I walked back to my car, I picked up that he was having second thoughts about his other delivery service. Maybe it was time to walk away before it got him killed.

Since I thought that was a good idea, I turned around and gave him a thumbs-up.

So that’s my story. I guess it just goes to show that a mob boss has all kinds of connections I’d never know about. But you know what? Like I said earlier, that’s just the way I want to keep it.

Yesterday, I got a phone call from Dimples asking for my ‘special’ help. This particular case had stumped him and the other detectives for several days, and they’d decided it was time to call in the big guns… me. As the resident ‘psychic’ for the police, I get called in when nothing else seems to work, even though not all of the detectives are convinced that what I do is real.

Only Dimples knows the truth that I can read minds, which is just how I like it. Can you imagine how twitchy everyone would get if they knew I could hear their thoughts? It would be a disaster of epic proportions, so it’s much better to say I have premonitions. Still, it does make things a little awkward when I have to explain myself. I mean… premonitions aren’t quite the same thing, so I always have to tell them I have a feeling about someone or something that’s about to happen, and it can get a little confusing.

I walked into the department and Dimples sent me his biggest smile, mostly because he knew how mesmerizing I found his dimples. It was kind of like a reward for coming in to help him, so I couldn’t complain. If you saw his dimples, you’d totally understand… I mean… they’re huge and they’re always moving, like they have a personality all their own.

“Glad you could make it,” Dimples said. “Have a seat, and I’ll explain what’s going on.” I took my seat beside his desk and he began to tell me about the case. “There’s a person of interest we’ve been watching for the murders of a couple of women, but we don’t have enough evidence to get a search warrant.”

“Wait… like a serial killer?” I’d actually known a serial killer. In fact, I’d almost become one of his victims. I shook my head. “You know how I feel about those types of murderers… are you sure you need me?”

“Yes. If anyone can stop him, it’s you.” Since I wasn’t convinced, he kept talking. “Shelby… you know how they work. If we don’t stop him, he’ll keep killing people. You’ll be saving lives.”

I closed my eyes and let out a breath. “Ugh… I know, I know. I just hate being involved with them. Their minds are…” I glanced around to make sure no one could hear me and lowered my voice. “… like the cesspools of humanity. I always feel like I have to take a long shower afterwards, and I’m still not clean.”

“I understand it’s not pleasant, but we’ve run out of options.” He was thinking that taking an extra shower or two was worth saving someone’s life.

“Ouch… that hurt.”

He had the decency to lower his gaze. “Sorry… I forgot you’d hear that.”

“It’s fine. So what’s the plan?”

“I thought we’d visit him at his house and maybe you could pick up something. We’ll say it’s a follow-up, since we’ve talked with him before. I’ll tell him that we suspect one of his neighbors is acting suspiciously, and ask him if he’s seen anything unusual. It actually works pretty well since the guy told us about the neighbor in the first place.”

“Okay. Just make sure he invites us inside his house. If I can ask questions about his house, it will get him thinking about where he hid the bodies, or what he did with them.”

“I can do that. Let’s go.”

It didn’t take long before we were knocking on the suspect’s door. The curtain twitched before the door opened and a thirty-something man with a dark beard and longish hair stood in front of us. He wore glasses and jeans with a graphic t-shirt that drew my eye, mostly because of the slasher movie depicting dead people and lots of blood. That seemed a little obvious. Was that why the cops thought he was their killer?

“Hey Colton. I’m Detective Harris, and this is my colleague, Shelby Nichols. I was here the other day, and we have a couple of follow-up questions about your neighbor. Could we come in?”

His gaze darted to the side, like he was checking out the cleanliness of the living room, before he pulled the door open. “I guess. What did you need to know?”

Dimples asked him a couple of leading questions about his neighbor, while I glanced around the room. It was clean enough, but something was definitely off. Colton kept fidgeting, tapping his hands against his leg and rubbing his arms. It smelled like he was cooking some kind of meat dish, with lots of onions and garlic.

He finished answering the question, giving me an opportunity to speak. “You must be a good cook. What are you making that smells so good?”

Instead of relaxing, he got even more agitated. “Oh… it’s nothing exciting, just a beef stew recipe of my mom’s. I like to make it when I’m feeling lonely.”

“Oh… that makes sense. I take it you live here alone?”

“Yeah. My mom passed a few years ago.” He was thinking after I killed her.

I blinked. “Oh… I’m so sorry. You must miss her.”

He nodded. “Yeah… every now and then, but the stew helps me feel like she’s still here.” He was thinking it helped him lay the past to rest and get rid of the evidence at the same time.

My stomach clenched. Did that mean what I thought it meant? I swallowed and tried not to freak out.

Dimples glanced my way, noticing my white face, and wondering what was going on. Since I’d quit talking, he continued the conversation. “My wife makes a great stew, but it doesn’t smell as good as yours. Could I get your recipe?”

Colton’s eyes widened. No one had ever asked him that before. “Sure. In fact… I was just about to eat. Would you like to have some?”

I coughed to cover my gagging reflex. I couldn’t seem to stop and Dimples began to pound on my back. “Could I get… some… water?”

“Sure.” Colton left and I turned to Dimples.

“We can’t eat that… it’s people.”

Dimples’s eyes widened. “Like soylent green?”


“Never mind… I get it. I’ll figure something out.”

Colton came back with a glass and I took it. After a couple of swallows, I managed to talk. “Thanks. I’m feeling a little sick, so I’ll have to pass on the food, but thanks anyway.”

He looked a little disappointed, but nodded.

“I’d like some,” Dimples said, surprising me.

“Great. I’ll get you a bowl.” Colton hurried back to the kitchen.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’ve got an idea.” Before Dimples could explain, Colton came back with a bowl of steaming stew and an eager twinkle in his eyes. He was thinking this was one for the history books. If anyone ever found out. Still… getting a cop to eat one of his victims was like the icing on the cake. “Here you go. I hope you like it.”

“Thanks.” Dimples stirred the stew and sniffed it. “It sure smells good… but it’s a little hot. I’d better give it a minute to cool down.”

I was ready to knock it out of hands. He glanced my way. “Shelby? Are you okay?”

I shook my head. “I think I’m going to be sick.” I wasn’t even lying this time.

“I’d better get you home.” He took my elbow and helped me stand. Then glanced at Colton. “Hey… do you mind if I take this with me?”

Colton’s mouth dropped open, but Dimples continued. “Thanks man. I’ll bring the bowl back.” He rushed me out of the house before Colton could protest. We practically ran all the way to the car. Somehow, I managed to get inside, and roll the window down for some fresh air. That would have worked just fine, but Dimples handed the bowl of stew to me so he could drive.

“Oh hell no.” A fresh wave of nausea rushed over me. “What are you doing?”

“That’s the evidence I need to nail him. Whatever you do, don’t puke.” He was thinking that the lab should be able to analyze the meat, and it would give him the evidence he needed to get a search warrant, or, even better, make an arrest.

I closed my eyes and held the bowl as far away from me as I could. Next, I leaned my face out the window so the cold air could blow over me. That seemed to do the trick, and my stomach settled a bit. Still, I didn’t dare open my eyes until we’d parked at the precinct and Dimples had taken the bowl from my hands.

“You coming?” he asked.

“Go ahead. I’ll be there in a bit.” It took a good ten minutes before I felt well enough to get out of the car. Dimples had taken the stew to the morgue, so I sat down and waited for him. By the time he got back, I had mostly recovered.

“Thanks Shelby. I know that was unpleasant, but I think we’ve got him.” He turned to the other detectives and told them what we’d discovered. I was fine until someone asked him if he’d tasted it.

“Gah! I’m going home.”

Dimples held back a chuckle and thanked me again. He said he’d let me know the results, and, in the meantime, they would be watching the house to make sure the guy didn’t leave town. He was hoping for an arrest tonight, or early tomorrow at the latest.

That was yesterday. This morning he called to tell me that he’d made the arrest and Colton was now behind bars. They’d found more evidence in the house, but I told him I didn’t want to know all the details. He was okay with that, but couldn’t help adding that he’d managed to take of photo of the stew recipe.

“Ugh!!” I hung up on him and tried not to puke.

So… I guess it all worked out, but seriously, I’ll never be able to eat stew again… probably for the rest of my life. Dimples told me catching the killer was worth it, and I guess he’s right. But please… if you ever invite me over for dinner… don’t make stew!

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time finding the right Christmas gifts for my family and friends. I mean… what do you give a mob boss who has a ton of money and everything he could ever ask for? So this year, I thought it would be fun to give Uncle Joey and his hitman, Ramos, t-shirts with funny sayings on them. But even that is proving hard. So I’m hoping you can help me pick the right one.

These are my my choices for Ramos. The first one I found says “If people could read my mind, I’d get punched in the face a lot.” Since I can read minds, it’s perfect, right? He teases me enough that I feel like punching him, although I’m not sure he’d think it was funny. What do you think? Here’s another one that could work. It says “I work out because punching people is frowned upon.” That’s a possibility – but then, he really does punch people, and he doesn’t think it’s so bad, so which one is better?

I found several that I thought might work for Uncle Joey, but I need your advice on that as well. The first one says, “Don’t piss off old people, the older we get the less ‘life in prison’ is a deterrent.” Saying he’s old might upset him, but the rest of it is funny. Here’s another one I found for him. It says “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.” And “I am not like a boss, I am the boss.” Or “I’m not bossy, I just know what you should be doing.” And finally, “The Big Bo$$.” So which of those do you think I should get?

Naturally, I found a couple that would work for me. One says, “My boss told me to embrace my fear, so I hug my boss.” Cool, right? Here’s another one, “My boss told me to have a good day, so I went home.” Hahaha! But since I’m getting shirts for them and not me, probably not.

I also found one for Dimples that I’ll probably give him. It says, “Stupid people keep me employed” and it has a police car and badge on it. There’s another one that says “If you run, you’ll only go to jail tired.” So which one of those should I get?

Last, I found one for Jackie, the person who really runs Uncle Joey’s office. It says, “Queen of the Office” and I found another one that says, “Secretary: noun. 1. An individual who does precise guess-work based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge. See also wizard, miracle worker.” I’m not sure about those either, so if you have a preference, let me know!

So here’s my multiple choice list for your vote.

Ramos: A – “If people could read my mind, I’d get punched in the face a lot.” or B – “I work out because punching people is frowned upon.”

Uncle Joey: A – “Don’t piss off old people, the older we get the less ‘life in prison’ is a deterrent.” or B – “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.” or C – “I am not like a boss, I am the boss.” or D – I’m not bossy, I just know what you should be doing.” or E – “The Big Bo$$.”

Dimples – A – “Stupid people keep me employed” or B – “If you run, you’ll only go to jail tired.”

Jackie: A -“Queen of the Office” or B – “Secretary: noun. 1. An individual who does precise guess-work based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge. See also wizard, miracle worker.”

So there you go! I hope you’ll take a minute to vote so I can get my Christmas shopping done!! Thanks so much – also here’s one for you: “A day without reading is like…. just kidding, I have no idea.”

Until next time!


The other day, I overheard Uncle Joey asking Ramos to pick up a package from a woman who did odd jobs for him. Since Ramos was going on his motorcycle, I jumped at the chance to tag along.

“Mind if I come with you?”

Before Ramos answered, I picked up from Uncle Joey that Celeste enjoyed these little visits from Ramos, and, if I went along, she might not be as happy to do Uncle Joey’s bidding.

Before I could back out, Ramos smiled at me. “That’s a great idea.” He was thinking that Celeste was a little overbearing, and having me along might keep her from drooling all over him.

I wasn’t sure I liked coming between Ramos and Uncle Joey, but if it meant going on a bike ride, I had to side with Ramos every time. I gave Uncle Joey a sheepish shrug, and hurried out the door behind Ramos.

Uncle Joey shook his head, knowing he’d lost that battle before it had even begun.

After donning my motorcycle helmet, I climbed on the bike behind Ramos, and we roared out of the parking garage. I picked up that Ramos enjoyed having me along. Not only was I good on the bike, but there was something about my arms around him that made the day seem a little brighter.

That brought a big smile to my face, and I gave him an extra squeeze to let him know I enjoyed it too.

Fifteen minutes later, we pulled in front of a quaint house in a nice neighborhood. Celeste came to the door and opened it with a smile. Her long, dark hair flowed around her shoulders, and the skimpy top she wore barely covered her assets. Her smile dropped and her eyes narrowed to find me standing beside Ramos.

Yikes. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I gave her my best smile. “Hi. I’m Shelby Nichols. I’m Mr. Manetto’s niece, and he wanted me to meet you.”

“He did?”

“Yeah. In case I run errands for him in the future, he wanted Ramos to show me the ropes. Have you got the package?”

“Uh… sure. Come in.” She started to open the door wider to invite us in, but a low growl came from behind her and she stopped. “As you can tell, I have a dog. He’s a sweetie, but he’s a little wary of strangers. I think I’d better put him on a leash.”

She was thinking that she wanted to sic him on Ramos since he’d brought me along with him, but if I was Manetto’s niece, she didn’t dare. Still… it pissed her off. I was ruining the best part of her day.

She slipped inside, and we waited on the porch while she tried to calm the dog. He kept repeating, stranger, bad, and I thought he might be picking up some of Celeste’s animosity toward Ramos.

“I don’t think the dog likes you,” I whispered to Ramos. “Have you ever met him before?”

He shook his head. “No, he’s usually outside in the back yard.”

“Well, if she invites us in, you might want to stay out here on the porch, just to be on the safe side.”

Celeste opened the door wide. “I think we’re good. You can come in now.”

Ramos didn’t want to look cowardly, so naturally, he followed me inside. Sitting at attention beside Celeste, was a large black-and-rust Rottweiler.

“This is Rusty,” Celeste said. “He’s my buddy, aren’t you, Rusty?”

He barked yup, and she rubbed his head.

“Hey Rusty. I’m Shelby.” I held out my hand for him to smell. He sniffed me before turning his attention to Ramos. “And this is Ramos. I guess you two haven’t met yet.”

“No,” Ramos said. After my warning, he was reluctant to let the dog sniff his hand, but he held it out anyway, and tried to project friendly thoughts. Rusty sniffed his hand, then opened his mouth and began to lick Ramos’s hand and arm, like he was getting ready to take a bite. Ramos moved his hand to pet the dog’s head, but Rusty growled and bared his teeth.

Celeste gave Rusty’s leash a little jerk, and Ramos backed away.

“Sorry about that,” she said. “He’s not usually like this.” But deep down, she wasn’t sorry at all. “I’ll be right back with the package.”

To my surprise, she left Rusty there and hurried into a back room.

Rusty’s demeanor changed from friendly acceptance to total attack mode in the blink of an eye. He focused his complete attention on Ramos, making both of us uneasy.

“Just don’t make any sudden moves and we’ll be fine.”

Ramos raised a brow, thinking, no kidding.

Celeste returned with the package and handed it to me. “There you go.” Noticing our frozen stances, she took hold of Rusty’s leash.

“Uh… thanks.” I gave her a big smile. “It was nice to meet you. Bye Rusty.”

We both backed to the door, and Ramos hurried out without a backward glance, thinking that, from now on, I would always be coming with him if he had to pick anything up from Celeste.

“As long as we take the bike, I’m good with that.”

Ramos shook his head, deciding to put me to the test. “What if it’s raining and we have to bring the car?”

I twisted my lips. “If we can’t wait until it stops raining, I’ll still come. I mean… it’s the least I can do to pay you back for all those times you’ve helped me out.” I shrugged. “In fact, I kind of like saving you from something once in a while, so this is perfect.”

He snorted, thinking I was stretching it, but he couldn’t deny that saving him from Rusty was well worth it. “Ready to ride?”

“You know it.”

As most of you know, I have my own consulting business, but now I can officially add that I’m a bona fide Private Investigator. My license came in the mail and I got it framed and everything. Since I don’t have my own business office, I thought it would look nice on the wall of my office at Thrasher Development.

Uncle Joey had given me my own office space, but I’d never used it for my consulting business. By hanging my license on the wall, I hoped that would change. I was testing out my theory by bringing my best friend, Holly with me to pose as a client.

Of course, Holly wasn’t really a client, but they didn’t need to know that. Besides, we were going out to lunch, and she wanted to see my office, so this was a good excuse. Although, from her mind, I knew she mostly wanted to run into Ramos again. She’d seen him once, but that was a while ago, and she really wanted to see him again, just to make sure he was real.

It made perfect sense to me, and I hoped Ramos would be there to fulfil her dream. After parking in the garage, I knew a perfect way to find out, and took her to the corner by the elevators where he normally parked his bike. We found it sitting there in all it’s glory, and her excitement was so intense that even my heart skipped a beat.

On the elevator ride up to the twenty-sixth floor, Holly touched up her lipstick, and smoothed down her hair, just to make sure she looked her best. I would have given her a hard time, but I knew the feeling and fluffed my hair up as well.

The doors swooshed open and we stepped out, both of us looking as good as we possibly could. I led her to the double doors with ‘Thrasher Development’ above them and pulled them open with a flourish.

“Ta-da. Here we are.” Inside, we found Jackie sitting at her desk, and I introduced Holly as my best friend.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Jackie said. She glanced my way wondering why I’d brought Holly here. Didn’t I want to keep my association with Joe on the down-low? Of course, if she was my best friend, she probably knew a lot more than she should.

“Likewise,” Holly said. “I’ve heard so much about you that it’s nice to finally meet you in person.”

Oops. “Holly’s here to help me hang my private investigator’s license in my office. We’re going out to lunch to celebrate.”

“Oh,” Jackie said. “I didn’t know you’d gotten your license. That’s quite an accomplishment.”

“Thanks.” I turned to Holly. “My office is this way.”

She nodded, but wasn’t paying much attention to me, mostly because she was hoping to catch a glimpse of Ramos. I glanced Jackie’s way. “Is Ramos here?”

“Yeah. He’s with Joe in his office.”

“Okay, great. Don’t let him leave without saying hi to me, all right?”

Jackie narrowed her eyes, knowing something was up. “Sure.”

“Thanks.” I tugged on Holly’s arm to get her moving to my office. Opening the door, the lights switched on automatically and Holly followed me inside.

“This is nice,” she said, glancing around. She was thinking that the office wasn’t anything special until she caught sight of the painting. “Wow. That’s beautiful.”

“Isn’t it? Uncle Joey gave it to me. I love all the complementary colors and patterns.”

“Yeah, it’s amazing.” She turned to me. “Where do you want to hang your license?”

We discussed the best places to put it before deciding on the right one. Holly is a lot taller than me, so she held it in place while I backed away to look at it. “Yeah. That’s it. Don’t move while I find a pencil to mark the spot.”

I hurried to my desk and rummaged through my drawer. Before I found one, the office door opened and Ramos stepped inside. He looked sexy as hell, with his hair slightly curling around his ears and his barely-there beard that darkened his jaw. He even wore his regular black clothes and leather motorcycle jacket.

Have you ever built something up so much that when it actually happens, it’s a little disappointing? This would never happen with Ramos.

In fact, Holly was so stunned, that she lost her grip on the frame and it fell to the ground. Luckily, it didn’t break, but she was totally embarrassed. “Oh shit.” Her eyes widened and her face turned red.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” Ramos sounded more amused than sorry, but hurried to her side to pick it up. He looked it over and realized it was my PI license. His gaze caught mine and he smiled. “You got it. Nice.”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

Holly had frozen in place with a funny look on her face. He turned his attention to her and she started. “Hi. I’m Holly. I’m… we’re… trying to hang that on the wall.” She pointed to the spot near her head. “Right there, I think.”

“Would you like some help?” Ramos stepped close to her and held the frame where she pointed. “Is that the right place?”

Holly caught a whiff of his clean, woodsy scent and swallowed. “Uh… maybe this way a little?” She took hold of the opposite edge of the frame and guided it toward her a pinch. “What do you think, Shelby?” She prayed that I’d take my time to answer, and I couldn’t stop the smile that broke out over my face.

“Uh… let me see.” I backed up and peered at them for a moment. “I think it needs to go lower a couple of inches, and a bit more to the left.”

They followed my instructions, but it wasn’t quite right, so I had them move it a few more times until I was satisfied. “There. That’s perfect. Now hold it still while I get a pencil to mark it.”

Again, I rummaged through my drawer for a few seconds before pulling out a pencil. Taking it over, I stepped between them to mark the top of the frame. “Okay you can take it down now.” Ramos took possession of the frame while I measured about an inch and a half lower and made the mark.

Holly picked up the nail and small hammer I’d brought and came over to do the honors. While she pounded the nail in, Ramos caught my gaze, wondering what I was up to. Had he met her before? Was she the friend I’d wanted him to meet a while ago?

I nodded and he shook his head thinking that I’d certainly taken my time with the frame. He knew I’d done it on purpose. Still, he hadn’t minded, but I should know that I couldn’t get away with it. I owed him now and he looked forward to collecting.

I raised my brow in response and he grinned.

“There,” Holly said. “Let’s hang it up and see how it looks.”

Ramos brought the frame to her and they hung it up together. Holly glanced back at me. “How’s that?”

“Perfect. Thanks so much for your help. Both of you.”

They stepped away to examine it. Then Ramos turned to face us. “I’ve got to go, but it was nice to see you again Holly.”

Her mouth dropped open that he remembered they’d met before today. “Yeah… you too.”

We said our goodbyes and he left. Holly let out a breath and fell into my chair. “That was… nice. He’s…” She shook her head. “Anyways… at least now I can die happy.”

A laugh popped out of me. “Shall we go to lunch?”


We stepped into the parking garage in time to see Ramos roar up the ramp on his motorcycle.

Holly glanced my way. “So… do you ever ride with him?”

My lips twisted into a smile. “Yup.”

She shook her head thinking holy hell, and for a moment, she wished she was me. Then she remembered all the trouble I got into and some of the times I’d nearly died, and thought better of it. Maybe just hearing about it was enough? “Nice. You have to tell me all about it.”

“Good, because I have a story I’ve been dying to tell you.”

Yesterday, I got quite a shock.

I had just arrived at Thrasher Development where I work for Uncle Joey, who happens to be a mob boss. He isn’t really my uncle, but I started calling him that so he wouldn’t kill me. It worked because all this time later, I’m still alive, and he’s claimed me as part of the “family.” All because he found out my secret that I can read minds.

The whole reason I met him was because of a woman named Kate, who worked in the same law firm with my husband. She’d been after my husband, and, after the accident where I got my mind-reading ability, I found out exactly how much she wanted him. Needless to say, it made me angry.

Naturally, I confronted her, and picked up from her mind that she worked for Joey “The Knife” Manetto, I threatened to tell the firm everything. At the time, I hadn’t realized that would backfire on me. She told her Uncle Joey (he isn’t her uncle either, but that’s another story) all about me and I had to tell him my secret so he wouldn’t kill me or my family.

It wasn’t the ending Kate had hoped for, and, since then, we’ve had to work together for Uncle Joey’s benefit. Now Kate lives in Seattle, and I haven’t seen her for several months. She runs a shipping company with the Passinis for Uncle Joey. It keeps her far away from me, so I can’t complain.

Until now.

I’d gone into Uncle Joey’s office to speak with him, and found her sitting in front of his desk. I jerked to a stop, nearly giving myself whiplash. Uncle Joey didn’t seem to notice, and welcomed me inside with a smile. “Shelby! Come on in. Look who’s here to pay us a visit?”

I gave her a thin smile. “Kate. What a surprise. What brings you here?”

She frowned, unhappy that I’d come into the office before she could leave. “Hi Shelby. I’m just going over some ideas I have for the business with Uncle Joey.” She was thinking that, now she’d have to speak with me, but at least she didn’t have to pretend she liked me.

“Yes,” Uncle Joey said. “After the merger with the Passinis she’s run into a roadblock.” He glanced at Kate. “I’m sure Shelby could help.”

With deep reluctance, Kate dutifully nodded her head, even though she didn’t want me involved. She knew I could read minds and it always put a damper on everything. Now I’d know exactly what she’d been trying to hide from Uncle Joey. This was the worst.

“What are you hiding from Uncle Joey?” I asked. Since she knew my secret, there wasn’t a reason to act like I couldn’t hear her thoughts.

She drew in a sharp breath. She was thinking damn you Shelby and pressed her lips closed.

Hmm… maybe it was a good thing I’d come in a little early. Uncle Joey sent me a clear nod of approval before catching Kate’s gaze. “Yes Kate. Tell us what’s really going on, and don’t make up some sob story because Shelby will know if you’re lying.”

Kate sighed in defeat. “Fine. I want to dissolve our partnership with the Passinis.”

That was a shock. She and Alec Passini had become quite close. I picked up that they were more than just business partners. They’d been lovers for over a year. So what had changed?

“Any particular reason?” Uncle Joey asked.

“I don’t trust them.” She’d had a big fight with Alec, and she knew he was keeping secrets from her. If he wasn’t willing to be honest with her, then they needed to part ways for good. “He’s been making deals behind my back, and I think… I think he’s having an affair.” Tears filled her eyes and she choked back a sob. That was the first time she’d said it out loud, and it hurt worse than she’d imagined.

“How do you know?” he asked.

“I’ve heard some of Alec’s conversations on the phone. He’s been talking to someone about giving her everything she needs and taking care of her… he even has a nickname for her. It’s Red… Red Velvet. Like she’s some cake or something. It’s disgusting.”

Uncle Joey held back a smile and I picked up his mirth at the whole situation. He felt bad for Kate, but she wasn’t being rational. She’d always been more than a handful, and when she wanted something, nothing would get in her way. Even if what she wanted was right in front of her, she couldn’t always see it, and suspected the worst.


“What?” she asked.

“No. We’re not dissolving the partnership.”

With a huff of indignation, she nearly flew out of her chair. “You can’t say that. Not after what he’s done!”

Uncle Joey picked up his phone and pushed a button. “Jackie, I need Alec Passini. Can you get him on the phone for me?… Thank you.” He put the phone down to wait. A few seconds later it rang and he picked it back up. “Alec? … Yes… I just have a question for you. Who is Red Velvet?”

Kate closed her eyes and covered her face with her hands. She was totally humiliated and thinking that she was going to kill Uncle Joey for this.

“Yes,” Uncle Joey said, glancing at Kate. “She’s here. I see. Well, I hope you’ve learned your lesson. Yes… that’s too bad, but it has to be done. No… I’m afraid not. Do you want out of the partnership? I didn’t think so. Yes. I’ll tell her.” He hung up the phone and pursed his lips.

“What did he say?” As much as she pretended otherwise, Kate didn’t want to lose Alec. But now that Uncle Joey was involved, she couldn’t back down, and she braced herself for the worst.

“I’ve got some good news, and some bad news. Which do you want first?”

“The good news.”

“Alec is not having an affair.”

“He’s not? Then who’s Red Velvet?”

“That’s the bad news,” Uncle Joey said. “You remember the yacht that got blown up?” At her nod, he continued. “Well, Alec got the insurance money for it, and he ordered a new one. He named it, Red Velvet, after you, I guess because of your red hair and sweet disposition.” Uncle Joey knew that part wasn’t true, but he wanted to rub it in a little. “Alec was hoping to surprise you with it when you got back from your trip. Now he won’t be able to.”

Kate’s shoulders fell. “Oh.”

“You still want to dissolve the partnership?”

She pursed her lips. “No.” She was thinking Alec should have told her instead of trying to make it a surprise. So it was partly his fault… still, she felt horrible that she’d ruined it. Now she’d have to make it up to him, and she hoped he wasn’t too mad or disappointed in her.

She gathered her things. “I guess I’ll be going now. Uh… sorry… why don’t you come visit and we’ll take the yacht out for a few days. Bring Jackie.” She glanced my way. “I guess you can come too as long as you bring Chris. It will be fun.” She didn’t want to invite me, but if Chris came, it would be bearable. She’d always had a soft spot in her heart for him.

“Gee… thanks.”

She ignored my sarcasm and stood. “Sorry for the misunderstanding, but it was an easy mistake to make. Hopefully Alec has learned his lesson. I’ll see you later.” With a quick wave, she hurried out the door.

Ramos came in as she left, nearly bumping into her. After a quick hello, she continued down the hall. Ramos gazed after her before coming inside. “What was Kate doing here?”

I smiled up at him. “You know… at first I wasn’t sure, but now I think there really is such a thing as karma.”

Uncle Joey snorted. “Come… sit down, and we’ll tell you all about it.”


You’d think that after working for a mob boss for over a year and a half that nothing would surprise me anymore, especially since I can read minds. But, after today, I’m convinced that nothing could be further from the truth.

In the past, being summoned to Thrasher Development by Uncle Joey made my heart race and my palms sweat. Now, I reveled in my role as the mob boss’s human lie detector. I liked the power of catching people in lies and making them answer for their deceit.

But today was a different story. Instead of one of Uncle Joey’s clients doing the lying, it was Ramos. For those of you who don’t know, Ramos is Uncle Joey’s hitman, bodyguard, and all around right hand man. When he’s the person lying, it has to be for a good reason, but it still threw me for a loop.

I met with Uncle Joey in his office, where he explained that he had a client in the conference room who was late making a payment. He wanted me to get to the bottom of it, since the client had insisted she’d already paid.

Ramos was keeping her entertained, and, after we entered the conference room, she was introduced to me as Mrs. Robinson. I immediately started singing the song about Mrs. Robinson in my mind and sort of missed the rest of her introduction. That was probably because she looked beautiful, sophisticated, and sexy, even though she was in her early sixties, and I hoped I looked as good as her when I reached that age.

I couldn’t help but admire her tenacity when it came to dealing with Uncle Joey, but it was Ramos who surprised me the most. He seemed under her spell, and went along with her explanation that her husband, who had recently died, had paid his debt to Uncle Joey in full.

Uncle Joey had no record of that ever happening, and wondered if her late husband had deceived her, or if she was just saying that so she didn’t have to pay up. Since I needed more clarity about what was going on, I had to ask some questions and get her thinking.

“I’m so sorry to hear about your late husband,” I began. “Was it sudden?”

Her eyes widened. “Why yes, it was. He had a heart attack and died before the paramedics arrived.” She wasn’t exactly lying, since his heart had given out, but it wasn’t because of a heart attack. It was because she’d pumped him full of adrenalin, and, because of his heart condition, it was fatal.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. That must have been a shock.”

“Yes. It was. He was in such great shape, that it took us all by surprise.” She was thinking that it took his mistress by surprise the most. But, now his mistress wouldn’t see a dime of his money. “In fact, he was full of surprises.”

She’d acted just in time, too, since he had begun the divorce proceedings and would have left her with nothing. As far as she was concerned, his debt to Uncle Joey wasn’t her problem, and if Uncle Joey insisted that she pay, he might find himself in the same condition as her husband. It wasn’t the first time she’d killed a man who’d crossed her, and he wouldn’t be the last, since she still had her brother-in-law to deal with. But he could wait until she had everything settled here first.

Yikes! She was downright scary. As she continued to explain all the ways her husband’s death had been a shock, I swallowed and glanced at Ramos. He was thinking that I needed to handle Mrs. Robinson with kid gloves. The money her husband owed to Manetto wasn’t worth dealing her kind of crazy. He didn’t know what had happened to her husband, but, after chatting with her, he had a bad feeling about it.

“I’m sure your husband paid his debt to us,” Ramos said, even though he knew the man hadn’t. At this point, he didn’t know what I would pick up from her, but he hoped I’d go along with him. Ramos knew Manetto wouldn’t agree, since he rarely let anyone get away with anything, but Ramos had seen something alarming in her eyes, and his gut told him that the money was not worth the price. Even if I had to lie to Manetto, he hoped I’d go along with him.

Wow. He didn’t know how right he was. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” I began, once she stopped complaining. “I’m sure your husband must have taken care of his debt to Uncle Joey. We’ll go over our records again. It must have been deposited in a different account. We’ll look into it. In the meantime, don’t give it a second thought. You have enough on your plate.”

“Oh, that is so thoughtful of you.” Her eyes filled with tears. “I won’t forget your helpfulness during this difficult time.” She turned to Uncle Joey. “What a wonderful niece you have. You were right when you said she would know what to do. Thank you so much. If that’s all, I’ll be going.” She took my hand. “Thank you Shelby.” Her smile warmed my heart, and I was grateful to see it after all that darkness.

“You’re welcome.”

She exited the room, and Ramos followed her out. He came back a second later and blew out a breath, grateful she was gone. Uncle Joey glanced between us, knowing something had gone on, but he had no idea what it was. “Do you mind telling me what that was about?”

“Sure, but you’re not going to believe it.” I related her murderous ways to both of them, adding the little tidbit that her killing spree had started with her father. “He was awful to her, totally abusive, so I can’t blame her, but it was all a little bit surreal. How much did her husband owe you anyway?”

Uncle Joey shrugged. “Around a hundred grand, but he had just paid half of it, so she must have thought it was enough. I still hate to see her get away with murder though, even if he deserved it.”

That kind of surprised me, since Uncle Joey got away with murder all the time. “What is it about her that makes you say that?”

He snorted. “I guess because she’s a threat to men everywhere. But at least she’s not a threat to me, so it all worked out.” He glanced at Ramos. “How did you know?”

Ramos shrugged. “What can I say? I’m a pretty good judge of character, and I’ve seen her type before.” He glanced at me. “You were kind of like that when you first started working here.”

“I was not!”

His lips turned up in that sexy grin that always made my chest flutter. His dark eyes intense, he leaned toward me. “I said kind of like that. I knew you were thinking of ways to get rid of Manetto, even if you don’t want to admit it.”

I glanced between the men and my face heated up. “Well, I was desperate. You both scared me to death. Naturally, I wanted to get out of the situation. But… that’s all changed now.”

“Has it?” Uncle Joey asked, his brows lifted and he had a sad, lost, and hopeful shine in his eyes.

I smacked him… lightly… and smiled. “Of course I have. You’re really going to make me say it?” At his nod, I continued, only slightly rolling my eyes. “I love working here… there.”

“But you left out a part,” he insisted. “You love working for me.”

I chuckled and nodded. “Well… of course… that goes without saying.”

“And what about me?” Ramos asked. “Admit it, you like me better.”

I glanced between them and shook my head. Ramos was thinking about all the motorcycle rides he took me on, so he would win, hands down.

“I’d better get going.” I stepped to the door and glanced over my shoulder. “And just so you know, I love you both.”

I left the office with a smile, which I’m still wearing as I write this. Yes… it’s true that I love my job, and I hope that’s okay to say, because, despite, or maybe because of the surprises, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Last week, Uncle Joey called me about something that was stolen from his home. He’d already questioned the hired help, but none of them admitted to taking anything. That’s where I came in. Since I can read minds, he knew I’d get to the bottom of it.

I met him at his house, since that was the scene of the crime, and he invited me inside.

“Thanks for coming,” he said.

“Sure.” It was nice that he thanked me, even though everyone knows you can’t say no to a mob boss. “So what’s going on?”

He scratched his jaw, feeling a bit foolish, since the missing item had no value except to him. “I just noticed that my grandfather’s old set of golf clubs is missing. I’ve kept them in the storage shed for years and I just noticed they’re gone. I’ve questioned everyone, but no one will confess to taking them.”

“Were they worth a lot of money?”

“No. That’s why I can’t figure it out. I mean… they’re old, so maybe someone would think they were worth something, but I’m pretty sure they’re not.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because they’re relics from the past, and they’re made out of wood. Nothing like they make them today, and totally worthless in today’s world. I guess I’ve been keeping them for sentimental reasons.” He shrugged. “But I suppose they could be worth something to a museum, but that’s hardly a reason to steal them. All my workers are still here. Would you mind talking to them for me?”


I followed him to his office. “Wait here, and I’ll send them in.”

The first worker to enter was the cleaning lady. She’d been cleaning Uncle Joey’s house for years, and she was miffed that he suspected her of stealing from him. I smiled and asked her about the golf clubs. “I’ve never seen them. I don’t clean the storage shed, so I don’t know anything about them.”

She was telling the truth, but there was something she was nervous about. “That makes sense,” I said. “And you’ve never seen anything missing around the house?”

She frowned, wondering why I was asking that. “Like what?” Her thoughts flashed to the master bedroom closet where she’d helped herself to a few items of jewelry that Jackie, Uncle Joey’s wife, had kept in the panel of drawers. The worker knew the real stuff was in the safe, but Jackie had so many sets of similar earrings, that she’d never miss the few she’d taken. Besides that, the drawers were stuffed so full of jewelry, it was like a browsing in a jewelry store. There was no way Jackie would remember what was in there.

“You know who my Uncle is, right?”

The skin around her eyes tightened. “Of course.”

“So it’s probably not a good idea to take anything from… say… his wife’s stash of jewelry, right?”

Her face paled. “Of course not.”

“Good. You’re free to go.”

She swallowed, and hurried out of the office. The next person to come in was the groundskeeper. He admitted that he had access to the storage shed, so I figured if it was anyone, it would be him. I asked him about the missing golf clubs and he nodded. “Yes, I know. Mr. Manetto is quite upset about them, but I don’t know who took them. I think they’ve been gone for a long time, though, and he just noticed it now.”

“When was the last time you saw them?”

He shrugged. “A year ago, maybe two.”

“Oh wow. Okay. That helps.”

He was thinking it was around the time that Jackie and Manetto got married. After she moved in, she made several changes, and he remembered that she’d cleaned up a lot of old junk. Maybe she did it?

“Thanks. You’ve been very helpful.”

After he left, the pool maintenance guy came in. He was more nervous than the others, but that was because he’d overcharged Uncle Joey a lot of money, and it had something to do with the pool filters.

“So do you keep an eye on the pool filters?”

His eyes widened. Why was I asking him that? “Yes. That’s part of my job.”

“How many filters are in Uncle Joey’s pool?”

“He has three.”

“Wow. So how often do they need to be cleaned or changed?”

He swallowed, completely thrown by my questioning. “It depends on how much the pool is used. I test it weekly.” He was thinking that he’d told Uncle Joey he needed the pool filters replaced every month, but it was more like every six months to a year. During that time, he just exchanged the filters with some he already had, but charged Uncle Joey the full price. But there was no way I could know that.

I sighed. Was everyone a cheater? “Look… I know you’re overcharging my Uncle for the pool filters. I don’t think he’ll be happy to know about that, but you’ve brought this on yourself. If you’d just been honest, you could have saved yourself some pain, now I can’t promise anything.”

“What? How? Wait… you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

My brows rose. “Yes I do, and I’m telling him.” I shook my head. “If I were you, I’d leave while you’re still in one piece.” He jumped up from his seat and hurried out the door.

I wandered into the kitchen to find Uncle Joey. He was pouring himself a soda and offered me one. I thanked him and he smiled. “So how did it go? Did you figure it out?”

“Not exactly, but I have an idea. Before I tell you what it is, I have some bad news. You’re going to have to hire a new pool maintenance company.” I explained what I’d found out and watched his face darken.

“Anyone else?”

“You might want to find a new cleaning lady too. The gal you have has taken a couple of things that don’t really matter, but I wouldn’t trust her in your house, either.”

“Damn.” Uncle Joey took a breath. “I guess it’s a good thing you came, but what about the golf clubs?”

“None of your workers had anything to do with them. But… you might want to ask Jackie. The groundskeeper said she cleaned out a lot of junk when you first got married. She may have gotten rid of them. Did you ever tell her they had sentimental value?”

He shook his head. “No, I guess I didn’t.”

I patted his arm. “Well… that might be what happened then.”

His lips twisted, and he gave a resigned sigh. “You’re probably right. I’ll ask her when she gets home.” He shook his head. “Well… that’s not what I expected, but thanks for helping me out.”

“You bet.”

“It’s kind of discouraging to think people aren’t as honest as they should be.”

“I know, and I wish it was different. I mean… they all know you’re a mob boss, so you’d think they’d be more careful, right?”

“Exactly.” He was thinking that he’d have to brush up on his image, so this wouldn’t happen again. Maybe make a few threats, that sort of thing.

I shook my head. “I don’t think that’s necessary. These guys just got complacent. But your groundskeeper’s a good guy, so it’s not everyone, and I’ll be happy to come over and check out your new workers, just to make sure.”

“Thanks Shelby.”

We said our goodbyes and I left, glad I could help.

Who knew being rich came with so many problems?

So that’s my story for today. If you’re at a thrift store and you happen to see some old wooden golf clubs, be sure and let me know. There might even be a reward!

Until next time,


Car Wash Blues

Posted: May 26, 2020 in Advice, Thoughts
Tags: ,

Yesterday, Uncle Joey asked me if I needed to get my car washed. Since I couldn’t remember the last time I’d washed it, I told him yes. He handed me a paper bag and told me to give it to the operator, who would in turn give me a free super-deluxe wash job.

I probably should have been a little worried because he told me not to look inside the bag. Naturally, I listened to his thoughts to find out what he was hiding. As a mind-reader, it’s hard for most people to keep a secret from me. But he put up his mental shields, and I couldn’t pick up a thing.

“For your own protection,” he said, “it’s better that you don’t know.”

“Fine.” I took the bag, along with the address, and drove to the car wash. I’d never been there before, and when I drove up, I found it was one of those old-time car washes, where you sit inside the car and watch while the machine goes through the wash and dry cycles.

The attendant came out, so I told him I wanted the super-deluxe wash, and handed him the paper bag. He seemed confused, so I told him that Manetto sent me. I raised my eyebrows up and down which finally did the trick. The attendant nodded vigorously, then glanced around to see if anyone was watching.

“Pull inside and stop when the light changes to red.”

Before I could say a word, he rushed back inside, leaving me on my own. So I did as he asked and drove inside the washing garage and stopped when the light turned red. I turned off the car, since this was the super-deluxe wash, and I might be here a while.

A moment later the doors on both ends of the garage came down, shutting me in, and the whirring motors began. A couple of machines sprayed down the car from the front, sides, and back. Then the biggest mop I’d ever seen began to spin, and started whipping at the front of the car, flapping against the windshield, and over the top and then to the back of the car.

Other whirring mops spun and came at the car from the sides, sending soapy splashes everywhere. The noise was louder than I liked, and I cringed every time one of the mops hit the windshield. Then came another spray and the process started all over again.

After the second time, I figured the wash was done, but it started up a third time. I knew I’d asked for the deluxe wash, but this was getting ridiculous. After the forth time, I was starting to get nervous. Was this ever going to stop?

Miraculously, all the mops pulled away and my hopes rose. Then a big blast of air blew down on the car, going from the front to the back several times. It was a relief when the dryers stopped, and I let out a sigh, ready to start my car and get out of there.

I watched the light, waiting with bated breath for it to turn green. After it still hadn’t changed, I wondered if I should honk my horn or roll down my window and start screaming to get the operator’s attention.

To my horror, the process started all over again, with the nozzle spray going over the whole car. The whirring mops began and traveled the length of the car, hitting the windshield with that awful thwapping noise, and sending soapy suds all over the place. What the freak?

It went through the whole cycle again, ending with the blowing dryers, howling around me. They finally stopped, and I held my breath for the light to turn green. The garage doors began to life and my hopes rose. Before opening all the way, they slammed back down and the whole process started over.

No! No! No! This was like an episode of the twilight zone. I picked up my phone and called Uncle Joey. “You’ve got to do something. This car wash is holding me hostage.” After I explained what was going on, Uncle Joey said he’d send Ramos and disconnected.

At last, the cycle ended, and I could hardly wait to get out of there. The garage doors slowly opened, and I let out my breath. As I drove out, I spotted Ramos waiting by the doors, a frown marring his handsome features.

I parked and jumped out, happy to see him. “Thanks for coming. What happened? Where’s the operator?”

“He’s gone, along with the bag. I think he must have set the car wash to cycle through a few times so he could get a head start.”

“Dang. I hope it’s not my fault.”

“Nah… I called the owner, and he’s on his way. We’ll find him and get the bag back.”

“What was in it anyway?”

Ramos smiled. “It’s better you don’t know.”

I shook my head, picking up that there was a large amount of money inside, one the operator couldn’t seem to resist.

“Oh… that’s what I thought.”

“Yeah. But we’ll get it back, so don’t worry.” He was thinking that the boss knew where the guy lived, so it wouldn’t be too hard to track him down. And, since he’d saved me again, it was totally worth it to see that look of adoration in my eyes. Even better, now i owed him one. He liked having me in his debt, and his devilish grin sent butterflies through my stomach.

“Uh… I don’t think this qualifies.”

His brows rose. “What? You don’t think saving you from a car wash qualifies?”

“Well… yeah, but—”

“No buts,” he said. “I saved you fair and square. Now… I’ve got to go, but I’ll be thinking about how you can pay me back.” With a saucy wink, he turned on his heel, and jumped onto his motorcycle. A few seconds later, he was gone.

After he left, I smiled, something I would never let him see. Sure… he was a big tease, but I had to admit that I enjoyed it. And, even better, my car was shiny and clean.

Still, I think that the next time it needs a wash, I’ll do it myself.