Did you miss Chapter One?
From Prams and Poison
The next day, Mom was practically glowing when she
arrived for babysitting duty. She hung her purse on a hook
on the wall and danced to the couch to take Laurie from me.
When Mom was this excited about something, it usually meant
trouble—that she’d bought something for Laurie that she loved but
knew I would secretly hate, or that she’d gotten deeply invested in
another one of her projects, which almost always involved meddling
I eyed her suspiciously. “What are you so excited about?”
She planted a big kiss on Laurie’s chubby cheek. “Oh, I just had a
perfectly lovely date with Hank yesterday. We went to Pier 39 to
watch the sea lions!”
Yup. Trouble. But I kept my face pleasantly neutral and started
picking up the toys strewn around the living room. “That sounds like
I didn’t even know where to start with my mom’s love life. She’d
been dating two men, who were both crazy about her. They knew
about each other—she hadn’t kept it a secret or anything—but it was
quickly becoming clear that she was going to have to pick one to
settle down with.
It was like she was running her own personal finale of The Bache‐
Hank, an adventurous pharmacist who’d struck it rich on the stock
market—Mom had no idea how rich—seemed nice enough. Though I
did need to check into an odd claim another PI had made about him
that he was part of a nefarious underground gambling ring and had
exhibited a violent temper. I was planning on looking into that—it
was actually on my schedule for this evening. If that allegation turned
out to be untrue, there was really nothing I could hold against Hank.
He and Mom got along well, and he took her on a lot of interesting
But he wasn’t Galigani.
Albert Galigani was my mentor in the private investigation busi‐
ness. He was helping me get the required hours so I could apply for
my own PI license, and he’d taught me so much about investigation.
Through our professional mentorship, I’d come to see him as a father
I was always and irrevocably Team Galigani. Maybe I should make
signs: Galigani for Stepdad.
Galigani was steady and loving and good for my mom. He fit in
our family. He just . . . wasn’t quite as fun as Hank. He didn’t have
ideas for creative dates, or an instinct for spontaneity.
Maybe he just needed some help in that department.
I put a set of building blocks in the toy chest in the corner of the
room. Whiskers, my orange tabby kitten, ran up alongside me and
peeked into the toy chest. I laughed and ruffled her fur.
“How are ballroom lessons with Galigani?” I asked. He’d signed up
for those the month before, after he’d realized how much my mom
He’d certainly spent long enough resisting the idea of dance lessons,
so this was progress.
Mom waltzed around the room with Laurie. “Oh, they are
delightful. We go every Thursday morning. He’s hopeless at salsa, but
his rhumba is actually quite romantic when the song is slow enough.
He loses control of his hips if it’s too fast.”
I quirked my lips, amused at the thought of Galigani attempting
salsa. But he was trying, and I knew that meant a lot to Mom. I made a
mental note to add an item to my list: Help Galigani plan some inter‐
What was something quirky and unique that Mom would love?
Maybe karaoke? I’d suggest it, but I had a very hard time picturing
Galigani agreeing to what he would call public humiliation.
But who knew? He was competing with Hank for my mom’s affec‐
tions, which might give him just the motivation he needed.
A knock sounded at the door, and Mom went to answer, still
Moments later, little Danny raced into the room, holding his
Spider-Man action figure up in the air.
“Well, hello,” I said from where I sat cross-legged next to the toy
bin. “Are you Superman?”
“No!” he yelled. “Pie-da-Man!”
Paula walked through the door carrying a sleeping Chloe in her
car seat, somehow managing to look elegant while balancing the car
seat and a diaper bag.
It was probably the pencil skirt and four-inch heels. I glanced
down at the outfit I’d chosen for the day. While it wasn’t as stylish as
Paula’s—even when I wasn’t pregnant, I was never as stylish as Paula
—I felt great about myself today. I was wearing maternity skinny
jeans, a flowing empire-waist blouse, and red shoes that looked like
ballet flats but had arch support to die for.
Who knew arch support could look stylish?
Who knew that I’d even care about such a thing? Arch support?
Less than a year ago, the topic had never even entered my mind!
“Shh,” Paula warned Danny. “Remember your sister is sleeping.
Please don’t wake her up.”
Danny nodded solemnly.
Paula set down the car seat and knelt in front of Danny. “Are you
going to be good for Miss Vera?” she asked sternly.
Mom danced from foot to foot, rocking Laurie back and forth.
“We’re going to have a wonderful time!” she declared.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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