From Prams and Poison
Despite the slight chill in the air, it was a glorious day. The
sky was the perfect crystal blue you only find in California,
and even Paula’s spirits seemed to soar as we hurried past the packed
out dog park at Alamo Square Park.
“You brought Paws here yet?” I asked, gesturing toward the
“Just once,” she said, “but I need to come back. He had so much fun
meeting the other dogs. That’s actually how I met Glenn and struck
up the conversation about the upcoming renovation. He was waiting
for his bus, and I was out with Paws.”
We reached Postcard Row on Steiner Street, and Paula laughed
giddily. “I just can’t believe I was even considered for one of these
jobs,” she said as we took in the Victorian architecture and bright
colors—buttercream yellow, light and dark blue, bright red and faded
burgundy, mint green. She motioned toward one of the houses, where
a light-haired man paced in front of a garage. “That’s Glenn, with the
She waved as we approached, and he raised an eyebrow at her as if
daring her to explain the delay.
“I was beginning to worry you weren’t coming,” he called as we
crossed the street, threading our way through the multitude of
tourists and locals who had come to gander at Postcard Row on such
a beautiful day.
But Paula maintained perfect poise and professionalism. “I wasn’t
coming,” she said, “until you texted. I thought Carrie had canceled the
meeting, but once I got your message, I figured I’d better come and
sort it out.”
She showed him the text, and he furrowed his eyebrows.
“Carrie sent this?” he asked, sounding like he didn’t believe her.
Paula clicked into Carrie’s contact profile and showed him her
He rubbed a hand over his two-day stubble. “Well, I’ll be damned.
That’s strange. We’re still negotiating and don’t have signed contracts,
or anything. But she didn’t tell me anything about Andy turning down
the buyout. We have his permission to tour through the house—he
confirmed last night. Carrie wasn’t set to talk to him today, I don’t
think. Let me call her.”
He made a phone call and stepped closer to the house. Paula and I
glanced at each other and shrugged, and I turned to study the sea of
humanity passing through this perfect slice of San Francisco. No
reporters—looked like Glenn and Carrie had managed to keep the
renovation quiet so far. Two big tourist groups were taking photos of
Postcard Row from the other side of the street: one group was full of
rowdy American teenagers, and the other seemed to be a group from
China, if I was picking up the language right from this far away. A
young couple walked a beautiful Goldendoodle into Alamo Square
Park. A little girl in a stroller dropped a handful of crackers on the
sidewalk, and a regiment of pigeons dove for the food.
I loved San Francisco.
Paula tapped me on the shoulder, and I spun back around. Glenn
was walking toward us, shaking his head.
“I left a message,” he said, “but I don’t see any reason why we
shouldn’t go in and take the tour. I have the permission in writing
from Andy and . . .” He stared up at the house.
“And what?” Paula asked.
He glanced back at us, a worry line creasing his forehead. “That
message just didn’t sound like Carrie to me. It almost makes me
wonder if someone stole her phone.”
My ears perked up at the possibility of a stolen phone. That was
smaller stakes than my usual cases, but since I was between jobs . . . I
reached out to shake his hand. “I’m Kate Connolly, Paula’s friend,” I
said. “I’m just here to help her out today, but I’m actually a private
He nodded, his eyebrows shooting up like he was impressed.
I didn’t say more than that about my PI career—just letting on that
I was a PI was enough to get people talking if there was anything
suspicious going on. It was how I’d landed quite a few of my jobs.
“Shall we go in, then?” asked Paula, tapping her black leather port‐
Glenn led us up the stairs and unlocked the front door.
Paula and I shared a look of wide-eyed excitement a moment
before we followed him inside.
“It needs a lot of work,” Glenn said apologetically.
He wasn’t wrong—the paint along the stairs was peeling terribly,
and I was pretty sure the trim had been last updated in 1965. Plus, the
wood floors were pretty scuffed. But the further in I walked, the
harder it was to keep a huge smile off my face.
I loved it.
“I want to keep its distinctive Victorian character,” said Glenn, “but
also fit well with a contemporary aesthetic. Light and airy, you know.
Open it up inside a bit, maybe. I think we’ll maybe knock out that
wall”—he gestured to a wall that seemed to separate a kitchen from a
formal dining area—“and we’re going to do some substantive remod‐
eling of the bathrooms and kitchen. But other than that, we’re mostly
looking at working with the existing structural quirks and just
making it . . . pretty, you know. Saleable.”
Paula had opened her portfolio and was scribbling notes on the
legal pad inside. “We’re definitely going to want to fully restore the
wood floors throughout,” she began.
“Oh, yeah.” Glenn grimaced. “There’s a ridiculous orange shag
carpet in the bedrooms on the second floor. And you should see the
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
Share the love!