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From A Deathly Rattle
Chapter Three Continued …
“Although,” I continued, “she did pee through her diaper last night, so I get to wash all her sheets today. But that’s not why I called, either. I got the measuring tape out, and Jim, I don’t know how we’re going to fit two more baby beds in this room. Even if we move the dresser and the little bookshelf out, it’s going to be a really tight fit. I don’t know if we’ll even luck out and find two more cribs the size of Laurie’s. And, you watch—we’ll blink and Laurie’s going to need a toddler bed.”
“That’s at least a year away,” Jim said in a reassuring voice. “But, you’re right. I was actually looking at that the other day. And you worked so hard on that nursery, babe. I’d hate to see it all covered up by cribs.”
“But what are we going to do?” I eased myself down to lie on the floor. “It’s not like we have a spare room.”
“What would you think about converting the garage?” he asked.
“Oh,” I said, thinking. “Can we afford a renovation like that right now?”
“I ran a few numbers, and it seems like it.”
Laurie grabbed a chunk of my hair and tugged.
I winced and disentangled her fingers from my hair. “I mean, that would make the driveway a little cluttered . . . but honestly, that’s probably our best bet, if we can make it work in the budget.”
“I’ll get some quotes, but it’s definitely cheaper than buying another house in this market.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s true,” I said with a laugh. “You really okay with losing the garage?”
“I’ve got the shed in the back that I can clean out,” he said. “And I think Paula has some good contractors she can recommend, right?”
“That’s also true,” I said.
“They’ll only have to insulate three of the walls, since the garage is connected to the house. And the ceiling in the garage is already insulated, which will cut down the cost.”
“Wow, you’ve seriously been looking into this, haven’t you?” I wanted to kiss that man.
“You know I’m always looking out for you.” He chuckled. “What do you think? Please say yes, because that’s half the reason I took this LA job.”
“You’re a saint, Jim,” I said. “Yes, I think that would be fantastic.” I sat up and looked around the room at all the ducks. Then I grinned at Laurie.
“All right,” I said to Jim, “but you pick the new nursery theme for the twins.”
“Seriously?” he asked, his voice almost giddy.
“Yes, seriously,” I said. “Look, I came up with this whole ducky thing for Laurie and barely even ran it by you. It’s very me. So, for the twins, let’s do something that’s very Jim. You pick the theme, and I’ll make it work.”
There was a long pause. “Okay, so . . . honestly, I kind of already had a couple of ideas.”
I picked a piece of lint off Laurie’s shoulder. “You’re precious. What are your ideas?”
“I had two,” he said. “Maybe a sort of carnival theme? But I also thought about doing a film thing—old reels or something like that, since I’ve been doing a lot of work with the movie industry lately.”
“I love both those ideas!” I exclaimed.
“Really?” he asked hesitantly. “You’re not just saying that?”
“I can already picture it,” I assured him. “The carnival theme would be super cute and colorful. With the movie theme, we could do something classy and aesthetic. Oh, Paula would have a cow over either of those. So, you decide which one you want, and I’ll start shopping around online for some stuff.”
“Don’t jump the gun too soon,” Jim warned me. “We still have to close in the garage. Have Paula text me some numbers, and I’ll call a couple of contractors when I get some spare time today. I’ll have them send me some estimates in writing.”
“Sounds perfect,” I said.
My phone buzzed against my ear.
“Oh, shoot, Jim. I’m getting a call from Barramendi. I’ve got to go.”
“Love you. Good luck with the case,” he said.
“Thanks, I love you too,” I said, quickly switching over to Barramendi.
“Kate,” Barramendi said in a gruff voice. “I’m at the hospital. I wanted to talk to you about the case. Are you ready to get going?”
“I’m ready,” I said. “I’ll be there soon.”
“How is Vicente?” I held my breath, waiting for the answer.
“Stable, but that’s the best I can say for now.”
“I’ll be out the door as soon as I can.”
We hung up, and I looked down at Laurie. “Okay, looks like I’m going to have to call Mr. Kenny.”
I made another phone call, and within ten minutes, my teenaged neighbor, Kenny, rang the doorbell.
When I answered, he smiled brightly. He was sporting a fresh hair dye of bright pink. His hair had been so many different shades this past year that I’d actually forgotten his natural color.
“Morning, Kate,” he said, and Laurie immediately reached for him, giggling happily at the sight of her favorite playmate.
“Thanks for getting over here so quickly,” I said, handing Laurie over. “Love the new hairdo.”
He nodded. “Box said ‘persuasive pink,’ but I think of it more as ‘passion pink.’ What do you think?”
“Absolutely. It inspires a mad passion in me to get the heck out of here. Or maybe that’s just the case I’m on.”
He laughed as I hurried to get ready before practically sprinting out the door. On the way out, I shouted over my shoulder, “Don’t forget to feed Whiskers!”
“Aye-aye, Captain,” Kenny called after me.
One good thing about morning sickness—I didn’t worry too much about breakfast. At least it saved time. I stuffed a power bar in my purse to eat at the hospital once my stomach settled down.
Barramendi met me outside the ICU doors, in the same spot he’d taken his smoke break yesterday.
“Kate,” he said with a nod. He looked like he hadn’t slept.
“What have you got for me?” I asked.
“I thought it over last night,” he said. “Vicente mentioned a few cases to me recently. I think those would be a good place to start. Look for case files labeled Dickenson and Williams. Some guys he’d been investigating blew up at him recently. Not too uncommon, especially considering one of them is a cheating-husband case, but worth looking into. The other is fraud, or something. Might be good leads.”
“I’m giving you the key to Vicente’s office—I tracked it down overnight. See if you can’t find those case files. Take any other files you need, of course. But I do remember him mentioning those two cases in particular.”
“Was he threatened?” I asked.
“I believe so,” Barramendi said, digging around in his pocket.
He shrugged. “I wish I could tell you more, but this sort of stuff happens all the time in our business. People don’t like private investigators digging up their dirty laundry. Nothing stood out to me . . . I wish I’d told Vicente to be careful.”
“You couldn’t have done anything to stop this,” I assured him.
He handed me a set of keys. “Not sure which one is for his office. But he keeps all his keys on this thing.”
“I’ll head there now and collect the files,” I said. “And, thank you. This is a good lead. I’ll follow up on it. You can count on me.”
“I hope so.” Barramendi sighed heavily. “Vicente is hurt, Kate. Bad. Police have a guard outside his room because they’re worried about someone trying to finish the job.”
“All the more reason for us to work fast to catch whoever did this,” I said. “Go back inside and be with him. Trust me. I got this.”
Barramendi paused for a moment, nodded, and made his way back into ICU.
I took a deep breath. I’d sounded confident.
I was confident.
But . . . there was a lot riding on this. Even though I had a proven track record, I really hadn’t been solving cases for very long.
And for Vicente, I was going to have to work ten times harder than I ever had before.
Someone had tried to take down a fellow PI. I wasn’t about to let that slide.
The ring of keys felt heavy in my hand.
Not on my watch.
This would-be murderer is going down.
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