Did you miss Chapter One?
From Rockabye Murder
1. Research best baby-proofing system.
2. Land new client? (Maybe Dave’s studio?)
3. Dance lesson—tonight.
4. Meet contractor who is doing garage reno.
I surveyed the fiery-haired man standing on my doorstep. He had
thick glasses, a bulbous nose, and so much energy that he couldn’t
seem to keep his hands still. I glanced toward the street. A pickup
truck bearing the name Jo-Jo’s Jobs was parked at the curb, but this
couldn’t possibly be the contractor, could it?
“Yes, I’m Kate Connolly,” I said, trying to hide my amusement.
“And you are?”
His head bobbed like a pigeon, and he grabbed my hand and shook
it. “Jo-Jo Jones,” he exclaimed in a strong Irish brogue. “I’m here to do
the garage renovation job.”
“Of course,” I said, drawing back my hand and glancing at my
watch. He was an hour early, and Jim wasn’t home yet. But better
early than late, right? At least I hadn’t tried to bake anything today. I
beckoned him inside. “Come on in.”
He stayed on the porch and waved a sheaf of papers at me with
frenetic energy. “I got muddy boots, lassie. Don’t wanna track it in yer
house. Got yer plans here and just need to take a look around, make
sure everything’s in order here to start. So, maybe if you’d just open
up the garage door, I could go in and outta there?”
“Oh, sure! I’ll do that,” I said. I closed the door and opened up the
garage for him. As the door began to roll up, I called, “Just let me
know if you need anything!”
Jo-Jo had as much energy as my mom. Well. Paula did say he was
And also, that he did great work at half the cost of the big general
contracting companies in the area.
I could live with eccentric.
At a little cry from Laurie’s room, I padded down the hall and into
her ducky-themed nursery, accented with pink and mint green, and
scooped her out of her crib.
“Hello, little duck,” I whispered, smacking a big kiss on her cheek.
“How is my favorite girl?”
A meticulously clean Whiskers rubbed up against my legs. The
evening before, I’d bathed all the flour and crusted egg off Whiskers
while my mom vacuumed the living room and finished the brownies.
They’d tasted more like cookies than brownies, but they were still
delicious if I did say so myself.
Hard to go wrong with chocolate and sugar.
In the living room, I set Laurie down next to the coffee table and
sat beside her. “Guess what, peanut? You get to see Mr. Kenny today
while Mama and Daddy and Grandma go to dance class!”
Dr. Greene had assured me that dancing was a perfectly good
prenatal exercise, as long as I avoided full-on acrobatics. I assured her
that I had no intention of letting Jim, or anyone, toss me into the air,
and so dance lessons were on—starting tonight.
And so was a little sleuthing.
Laurie’s squeal interrupted my reverie. She reached up and
gripped the edge of the coffee table as I made a silly face at her.
“That’s right,” I said. “You’re going to have a lot of fun with Mr.
My phone buzzed, and I opened a text from Paula.
Let’s do it!! I’m between clients and need to do something besides laundry
and changing diapers, stat.
I pumped my fist. Paula’s savvy interior design skills would be a
huge help with the fundraiser, and I wanted an excuse to spend more
time with her.
Tell me about it, I typed back. You would not believe the mess Laurie
and Whiskers made yesterday.
The phone buzzed with her reply: Wait till there’s 5 of them.
My nose scrunched, and I typed back. 5?
L, twin 1, twin 2, cat, Jim, she replied.
I snorted and searched my mind for a witty reply, then glanced at
Laurie and gasped.
My baby was standing, clinging to the edge of the coffee table.
She’d pulled herself to her feet.
My. Baby. Had. Pulled. Herself. To. Her Feet.
I dropped the phone and squealed, “Good job, peanut!”
Laurie fell back onto her bottom, looking almost affronted, like
she couldn’t figure out how she’d ended up back where she’d started.
“You did so good!” I picked up my phone and opened the camera
app in case she did it again. “You stood up!”
Laurie, Prodigy Baby Extraordinaire and no doubt future partner
in Connolly and Connolly Private Investigators, gurgled and clapped.
A pounding at the basement door which separated our house and
garage interrupted my celebration. Must be Jo-Jo. I grabbed the
$10,000 cashier’s check off the counter.
Farewell, life savings.
I opened the door to the garage to find Jo-Jo jumping up and
down. “Mrs. Connolly!” he yelled in that thick Irish brogue. “It’s
“What’s grand?” I asked slowly.
He paced the garage back and forth, his flaming hair taking on a
life of its own, as if it too, thought our garage-turned-bedroom reno
“I’m glad you think so,” I said, crossing my arms and taking a step
into the garage, then closing the door behind me so Whiskers couldn’t
make a mad dash for the great outdoors. Eccentric, indeed.
No, he didn’t have as much energy as my mom—he had more
energy than my mom. Paula will certainly never hear the end of this.
“Everything’s set to begin.” He held his arms up like a referee
declaring a 49ers touchdown.
“No trouble with the plans, then? You’ll be able to do it for the
price you quoted?”
“No trouble at all! It’ll be under budget! Gonna be a grand addi‐
tion, lassie. I’ll begin the work soon!”
“Wonderful!” I held out the cashier’s check. “I guess I owe you this,
He took the check from me and stuffed it into his breast pocket.
“There’s just one more thing, lassie. But not to worry.” His voice hesi‐
tated but his feet didn’t. He kept up his rapid pacing. It was making
me dizzy. “I’m not sure exactly what day I’ll be set to start. I ’ave to
catch a flight back to Dublin tomorrow to get me visa straightened
I tried to process what he’d just said. “You’re leaving the country
He ran into a pile of cardboard boxes and sent half of them
tumbling to the floor, stirring up a layer of dust. My throat tickled,
and I sneezed.
When I opened my eyes again, he was already out the garage and
in my driveway, waving back at me. “We’ll get ya started as soon as I’m
He practically waltzed to his truck, clambered into the cab, and
drove off, his tires screeching. I stared after him, my brain still trying
to catch up with that one unexpected, terrifying detail.
What did getting his visa straightened out entail? What if they didn’t
let him back in the country, and I’d just sent him away with a cashier’s
check for ten thousand dollars? My throat felt tight. But he’d already
driven away. I couldn’t change it now.
I could only hope that Paula hadn’t steered us wrong and that Jo-Jo
wasn’t running off with our deposit.
I tiptoed into the living room to check on Laurie. She was chewing
contentedly on the foot of a stuffed duck. All was well in babyland. I
collapsed onto the couch and rested a hand on my midsection.
We were going to think positively about this.
Jo-Jo would come back. And my biggest problem was going to be
dealing with all that frenzied energy. If Jo-Jo and Mom worked
together, I was pretty sure they could singlehandedly power the sun.
I’m an extrovert, but this might feel like a very long renovation. “It’ll be
worth it for you two,” I murmured to the twins, still cradling my
bump. “We’ll have a beautiful nursery.”
Snagging my phone, I fired off one more text to Paula: He’s going
back to Ireland tomorrow?
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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