Did you miss Chapter One?
Did you miss Chapter Two?
From Lethal Lullaby
By the time we reached Toscano di Napa, it was blisteringly
hot outside. The gentle breeze had ceased, and the sun
beat down on us relentlessly.
“This is beautiful weather!” exclaimed Nick as we reached our
“Is that so?” I asked wryly. “Feels like an oven to me.”
Natalie grabbed the invisible microphone. “The weather is a balmy
ninety degrees, but the humidity is only at twenty percent.”
“It’s a dry heat,” said Nick. “Like a sauna.”
The back of my shirt was damp with sweat, and I chuckled at the
phrase dry heat. What did that even mean?
“You wouldn’t believe how humid it gets on the East Coast, Kate,”
said Andrew. “Sometimes it feels like you’re immersed in a full-body
hot tub when you’re just walking down the street. This does feel nice
A group of three people came over the hill: an attractive middle-aged
couple dressed impeccably and a heavyset African American
woman. I did a double take at the African American woman. She was
quite pretty, with flawless eye makeup and manicured nails, but she
was at least forty. Was Lisa an older college student, and not the
twenty-one-year-old I’d pictured?
Then Nick waved at them with a huge smile. “Roxi, I didn’t realize
you were coming!”
“Oliver’s assistant,” Andrew whispered to me under his breath.
“She’s a lot of fun, and definitely the smartest person at the firm.”
“Ah.” So, this wasn’t Lisa.
Roxi called back, “Of course I’m here. You know Oliver wouldn’t
be able to keep his left and right hands straight if I wasn’t here to help
him.” She gave a dramatic wink.
I almost gasped, but everyone else just chuckled—including Oliver
“She’s not wrong,” said Oliver. He approached me and reached out
to shake my hand. “I’m Oliver Fischer. This is my lovely wife Susan
and my long-suffering executive assistant, Roxi.”
“I’m Kate Connolly, Andrew’s sister,” I said, returning the
Oliver was tall, dark, and handsome, with an easygoing manner. If
I hadn’t already been determined to dislike him, I’d have been
charmed. His wife, a pretty blonde perhaps fifteen years his junior,
gave me a limp handshake, and Roxi waved at me.
“So nice to meet you, Kate,” said Susan. “You must be the private
“Oh,” I said, startled. “Yes, I am. I’m surprised you know that.”
“Andrew brags about you,” Oliver replied. “Your record is most
impressive. Brains must run in the family.”
At the compliment, Andrew seemed to perk up.
Nick looped his arm through Natalie’s and said, “We’re almost all
here. Lisa’s coming too.”
Oliver’s jaw tightened, but he didn’t respond. I studied his wife
carefully, but Susan didn’t have any reaction.
My heart sank. She doesn’t know. I hurt for her. Would it be better
for someone to tell her?
But it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to interfere with Andrew’s
colleagues like that, so I bit my tongue, my resentment toward Oliver
bubbling back up to the surface.
Oliver added, “Good to see you, too, Tracy.”
At the sound of her name, Tracy glanced up from her phone and
gave a little wave. “Hey, everyone.” Then she turned her attention back
Andrew helped me sit down on the picnic blanket in a reasonably
dignified fashion, and we perused a menu. A minute later, a young
woman joined us.
She was about twenty, a classic beauty with long blonde hair swept
up in a loose bun.
This must be Lisa.
“Lisa,” said Nick with a tight smile, confirming my suspicions.
Natalie and I locked eyes again, and she reached for her invisible
microphone, then seemed to think better of it.
Andrew, who was still totally oblivious to the awkwardness of the
situation, introduced us. “Lisa, this is my sister, Kate. Kate, this is Lisa
Camacho, intern extraordinaire. She has a very bright future in real
estate investing, and I hope she comes back to Fischer Capital after
Lisa smiled at everyone but didn’t say a word.
Oliver managed a stiff nod at Lisa, then abruptly turned to face
Denny Brannigan. “Denny, old pal!” he cried, slapping the man on the
back. “I know I said this yesterday, but I am so very glad that I might
finally be bringing you into the business.”
A college-aged server approached us. His gaze fell on Lisa, and he
stuttered his first words. “Um . . . hey. W-welcome to Toscana di
We ordered a cheese platter, sandwiches, and four bottles of wine
—plus a water for me—but the server didn’t take his eyes off Lisa.
As he left, Roxi studied her acrylic nails. “Well, someone’s got a
crush,” she quipped with a teasing glance at Lisa.
Another bead of sweat rolled down my back.
Lisa studied Roxi, then offered a small smile, as if she weren’t quite
sure how to react. “Guess so.”
“So,” said Oliver to Denny Brannigan, “I hear you’ve arranged
quite the excursion tomorrow.”
“Yes, I did,” said Denny with a grin. “An evening at Alcatraz. It’ll be
a great team-building exercise.”
“Alcatraz is on an island, right?” Nick asked. He was sitting on a
blanket near Natalie, his fingers threaded through hers. They were a
really cute couple.
“That’s right,” replied Denny. “Alcatraz Island.”
“Right! I used to know that,” said Nick. “The island is called Alca‐
All at once, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. I should have
used the restroom as soon as we got here. Now I was going to have to
stand back up, waddle to the main building and back, and sit down
again, all without mooning any of my brother’s colleagues.
If I solved a whole case last month, surely I can walk to a bathroom this
I squared my shoulders. Being pregnant with twins was no joke.
Setting my hands firmly on the ground, I gathered my feet underneath
me—very slowly, so as not to draw attention to myself—then I pushed
myself up . . . and almost fell forward.
But I balanced myself right at the last moment and brushed off my
hands on my slacks, stealing glances around the group to see if anyone
had noticed. If they had, they were gracious enough to not show it.
Relieved, I set off toward the building at the quickest waddle I could
When I reached the air-conditioning, I stopped in my tracks for a
moment. What a relief! I’d always been grateful for air-conditioning,
but never more than I was at this moment. I hoped whoever invented
it had become a multimillionaire. They deserved every bit of success
that came their way.
I followed the signs to a small, single-stall bathroom, and after I
was done, I let the cold water run over my hands for an extra fifteen
seconds. Had I read somewhere that splashing cold water on your
wrists could cool you off? It was worth a try.
I let out a regretful sigh as I walked back into the California heat.
“It’s a dry heat,” I muttered, mimicking Nick and rolling my eyes.
Then I froze.
From around the corner, I could hear Susan’s voice . . . and Lisa’s. I
swallowed. So, Oliver’s wife and his paramour were talking . . . and
they didn’t sound happy.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
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