Did you miss Chapter One?
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Did you miss part one of Chapter Three?
From Rockabye Murder
Chapter Three Continued
“I said, get out,” Eddie growled. “I won’t say it again.”
Monte flipped him the bird, then turned and stalked out of the
“Unpleasant business,” muttered a British accent from behind me,
and I realized Leo had followed us out.
“Yes, very unpleasant,” replied Eddie, scowling in the direction of
the door. Then he turned to us, brightening. “Jim and Kate! Dave said
you were coming.”
“Where is Dave?” Jim asked, wrinkling his nose.
Petunia typed something on the computer and said, “He went out
to grab some subs for dinner. Monte’s a coward, and Dave intimidates
him. He must have been watching the studio, so he could come bother
us as soon as Dave left.”
This was my opportunity. “What’s been going on with Monte? I
take it this isn’t your first run-in.”
Jim shifted beside me, and I could tell he was trying to suppress a
smirk. He could see right through me.
Jack, who was shorter than Eddie and Dave by a full head but
looked remarkably like Dave, slumped into one of the lobby chairs.
“Monte opened up a dance studio next door, and he wants our
“Wants to drive out the competition, more like,” muttered Petunia,
re-tucking the flower in her hair. “Our dance instructors are better
Jim stepped over to the window and peered out, no doubt looking
to see if Monte was still lurking. “Why would someone open up a
dance studio right next to the competition?” he asked, still staring
outside. “Doesn’t seem like a winning strategy for a successful
Eddie rolled his eyes. “It’s not, but—”
Dave walked in, cheerily holding up a bag of subs. He stopped
short, his eyes darting from his brothers to Petunia to Jim and me.
“What happened?” he demanded.
“Monte paid us a visit,” said a tight-lipped Petunia. She rubbed her
temples. “Gave all of us quite the headache.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” I asked, taking a step forward.
If there was ever a time to offer my PI services . . .
But Dave waved me off. “You guys are already doing so much for
us. We’ll deal with Monte. He’s more of an annoyance than anything.”
The door jangled, and a crew of giggling girls walked in, with an
equal number of much-less-enthusiastic guys following in their wake.
Late high school or early college, I thought, and no doubt the guys had
been dragged here.
“Uncle Leo!” squealed one of the girls.
I glanced at Leo, and he looked almost softhearted. “Ready for the
lesson, then, love?” He trained a steely glare on a boy with moppish
blond hair. “You’ll not drop my favorite niece on any of the lifts this
week, mind you.”
There was the grumpy, impatient Leo we’d met on the dance floor.
I looked at the clock and realized that our hour was up—this group
must be Leo’s next lesson.
Jim and I excused ourselves and headed off to finish the evening at
our favorite Italian pizzeria. Tony, the perennially tall, dark, and
handsome son of the restauranteur, greeted us and showed us to our
table. Only when we sat down, did I realize how famished I was. All
that exercise made the babies hungry.
“Monte was odd,” Jim said as I scanned the menu to decide if I
should add a second appetizer to our usual order.
“Leo was odd,” I grumbled.
At that, Jim laughed aloud, then reached out and grabbed my hand.
“You figured out your balance beautifully. You’re a natural dancer. It’s
just going to take a little practice on each move to figure out what
balance looks like with the twins jostling for space. And I’ll . . . well, I’ll
get the hang of it eventually.”
Tony took our order—I stuck to our usual bruschetta for the appe‐
tizer—and then my phone buzzed.
It was a text from Kenny.
Laurie is fast asleep and already an expert at the tuba.
I showed the text to Jim. “I’m so grateful for Kenny. You really hit
it out of the park when you asked him to be our regular babysitter. He
The phone vibrated with another text from Kenny. Any chance you
could pick up ice cream on your way back?
“—and dependably starving.” Jim finished my sentence with a
chuckle and leaned across the table to kiss me.
“Jo-Jo can be eccentric,” said Paula as the waiter set down our
hot drinks at brunch that Saturday. “Always enthusiastic. Occasionally
forgetful. Make sure you write down everything he needs to remem‐
ber. But I am certain he won’t run off with your ten thousand dollars.”
“I hope so.” I buried my face in my hands. “If we lose that money,
we won’t be able to afford a new contractor, and we won’t have a
nursery for the twins, and I’ll have to take apart Laurie’s nursery to
bunk all three of them in there, and move my office onto the kitchen
“You already do almost all of your work at the kitchen table,” Paula
pointed out. “I don’t even know why you have an office in there.”
I gave a strangled cry and curled my fingers around my steaming
coffee cup. It was a little chilly at our outdoor table.
“But,” she hastily added, “it doesn’t matter. Jo-Jo will come back
and finish the work. You won’t lose that money.”
Please let Paula be right, I prayed fervently.
Mom slumped into the seat next to Paula. “Albert won’t take dance
lessons with me! It was excuse after excuse.”
“Well,” I said, taking a sip of decaf, “as my mother, you’re contrac‐
tually obligated to keep dating him until I get my PI license.”
Albert Galigani, my mom’s boyfriend, was also the licensed PI who
was supervising me while I worked toward my six thousand hours of
experience that would let me get my own license. We defined “super‐
vision” loosely, but he’d been an invaluable mentor and I loved him
Mom rolled her eyes dramatically and motioned for the waiter. “A
pot of tea, please!” Then she turned back to Paula and me. “‘I’m not
good at dancing,’” she said in a spot-on mimicry of Galigani. “Well”—
she popped back into her normal histrionic voice—“that’s why you
take lessons, my dear. ‘What if I break my ankle again?’ Perhaps
dancing would strengthen your ankle! ‘Too much exercise.’ You know
your doctor wants you to exercise more. It’s good for your heart. ‘I
hate music.’ Objectively a lie. He loves music, and he knows I know it.”
Leave it to Mom for a dramatic reenactment. I’d gotten my artistic
chops from her.
“Well,” I said in a teasing voice, “maybe you’d like Dave’s brother
Eddie better. He’s still single, and an excellent dancer.”
“Still single, eh? I always liked Eddie. Maybe I should get myself a
younger man,” warbled Mom with a wink, mollified for the moment.
Paula pulled a fussy Chloe out of the stroller parked between her
chair and Mom’s. “Kate says there’s also an odious teacher named Leo.
He’s the worst, but he does have a British accent, so he can’t be the
I wrinkled my nose. “Ah, yes. Leo. He’s closer to your age, but he
teaches dance, so I imagine he wouldn’t claim to hate music.”
Paula tucked Chloe under a nursing cover, and I felt a little pang of
nostalgia. Laurie was already getting so big—we’d left Laurie, along
with Paula’s two-year-old son, with Kenny for the afternoon—and I
missed her being that tiny.
Instinctively, I cradled my baby bump, the nostalgia vanishing into
a flare of panic. Laurie was getting bigger, but soon enough I’d have
two teeny-tiny babies and a one-year-old capable of opening drawers
and dumping flour on the floor. Imagine the chaos . . .
Batting away the panic, I blurted, “The money the event raises is
going to cover fertility treatments for Dave’s sister-in-law. She and
Jack have been trying to get pregnant for five years.”
Paula’s eyes widened, and she sat up straighter. “You didn’t tell me
“I didn’t know until last night.”
“Poor thing,” said Mom as the waiter set a white teapot full of hot
water and a basket of tea bags in front of her. She sorted through the
selection and plucked out a bag of Earl Grey. I looked mournfully at
my decaf and asked the waiter if I could have a pot of tea too.
He nodded brusquely, and swept back toward the kitchen.
“Well”—Paula’s eyes were alight—“this is about more than building
my business and having something to do. We’re going to make this the
best fundraiser of all time.” She grabbed a legal pad out of the stroller
and started scribbling line items. “Can we run by the studio after this,
so I can take a look at the space?”
“Vera!” called a man’s familiar voice.
I froze, and even Mom looked startled.
Hank, Mom’s ex-boyfriend, was walking toward our table.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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