Did you miss Chapter One?
Did you miss part one of Chapter Two?
From Prams and Poison
Chapter Two Continued
Paula pulled her phone out of her pocket and glanced at the
screen. Her eyes widened, and her shoulders slumped. “No!” she cried.
“What is it?” I asked, alarmed.
“It’s from Carrie.” Disappointment laced her voice. “The client.”
“Oh no. They’re not . . .”
She looked up and nodded, tears brimming in her eyes. “They’re
“Canceling the meeting today, or the whole job?” I asked with a
“The whole job.” Her chin quivered, though I could tell she was
trying to hold herself together.
“I’m so sorry, hon,” I said, hurrying over to her and wrapping an
arm around her shoulder.
She tilted her chin upward. “It’ll be fine. I’d just let myself get really
excited about the job.”
“Hey, look at me. You’re going to build the city’s premier interior
design firm, with or without this job.”
She bit hard on her lip and nodded. “Just a setback,” she croaked.
“Well, what did the message say?” Mom asked, peering over Paula’s
Paula turned the screen back on and showed it to us.
Tenant rejected offer. We won’t need your services. Sorry.
“Ooooh,” I said through my teeth. “They’re buying out a tenant?”
She nodded glumly. “They said that negotiations were pretty much
done, though, and that it was a sure thing. But I guess these things are
never sure until the ink has dried on the contract, huh?”
“Really, not until the tenant has moved out and handed over the
key,” said Mom. She handed Laurie back to me. “I’m so sorry, dear.
Would you mind if I skated out?”
She didn’t add, since you don’t have a meeting to get to, but the impli‐
cation was palpable. Paula stiffened and clenched her hands into fists
—a telltale sign that she was trying not to cry.
“Of course,” I said to Mom—although she had been the one who
wanted to come see Laurie before I finagled her into babysitting for
Paula too. “What’s up?”
“Hank invited me to go skating,” she said. “I told him that I’d
committed to babysitting and that we’d go another time, but now I
might . . .”
“Skate out?” I finished wryly.
“Precisely.” She leaned over and rested a hand on Paula’s arm. “I’m
sorry, dear. These disappointments are never easy. But Kate is right—
you’ll build a fabulous design career whether or not you get a leg up
from this project.”
“Thanks,” Paula whispered.
My mom headed out, and Paula stood up, a look of fierce determi‐
nation on her face.
“Just a setback!” she declared. “We talked about this the other day
in my women entrepreneurs group. No use grieving over the ones
that got away. There’s only moving forward and finding the next
In the baby carrier near the door, Chloe let out a little shuddering
cry. We pivoted to look at her, but she settled back in and went to
sleep, smacking her lips.
“What does your marketing look like?” I asked. “Maybe you could
sit down with Jim to go over a few ideas for cost-effective ways to
Her eyes lit up. “Would he do that?”
“I know he would. And he’s a genius at it.”
She laughed. “That’s why his clients pay him the big bucks.”
Danny opened the toy box, and then jumped to his feet and let out
a screech that could wake the dead. I winced. Paula hissed, “Don’t
wake your sister!”
But Danny didn’t hear a word. He’d fixated on a set of cars in the
toy box and began pulling them out one by one and lining them up.
Laurie watched him but made no sign that she wanted me to put her
I glanced at the clock on the wall. “Actually, Jim should be back
from meeting with a client soon. Should we sketch out a few ideas?
When he gets home, we can ask him if he likes any of them.”
I pulled out a fresh legal pad, and we started our brainstorming
session. About ten minutes later, Jim walked in.
“Hey, hon,” he said. “Hey, Paula.”
Waving the legal pad at him, I said, “I’m glad you’re home! Meeting
“Meeting went great.” He leaned over and kissed the top of my
head. “Whatcha working on?”
Laurie reached for Jim, and he picked her up and held her while
Paula and I tag-teamed the story. We’d just gotten to the part where
I’d volunteered Jim to help Paula with marketing when Paula’s phone
She checked it and looked up at me, confusion written on her face.
“It’s from the client.”
“What’d she say? Did the tenant change their mind?” I asked.
“No, I mean it’s from Glenn, Carrie’s husband. He’s asking where
What a strange situation. Jim and I shared a long look, and I
“That’s odd,” he said. “Maybe Carrie didn’t tell him the tenant
rejected the offer?”
“What do I do?” Paula demanded, raking a hand through her long
hair. “What if the job is still on somehow?”
“Tell him you’ll be there in fifteen minutes,” I said. “If there’s even
the smallest possibility of the renovation moving forward, you want
to take the meeting.”
“Right.” She fired off a text and stood. “Oh no! Your mom bailed on
babysitting when the meeting got canceled!”
I looked at Jim with pleading eyes. “Is there any way you can watch
the kids? I really want to see the house, and Paula could use moral
Paula grabbed her purse. “Oh, Kate, I really could. I’m sorry, Jim, I
hate to ask you, especially at the last minute like this . . .”
Jim gulped and glanced from the baby carrier to Danny. “Um.
Sure.” Then he brightened. “I could use some practice taking care of
three kiddos. We’ll have three of our own soon.”
“Thank you!” Paula let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, I’m so glad I don’t
have to go alone—especially if I’m just going to show up to learn
there’s no job.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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