Carrots: A Shelby Nichols Adventure (3 page)

No, that didn’t make sense. Besides the detectives, I’d heard other people as well. Probably even the doctor who sewed up my head yesterday, and last night it was Chris and the kids. At that point, I thought maybe all I needed was a good night’s sleep, but now I knew nothing had changed. It hadn’t gone away. This was real, and it scared the living daylights out of me.

The phone rang, startling me so much I nearly jumped a foot. When I got my breathing under control, I gingerly picked it up. The caller ID said it was my mom. Would I hear her thoughts over the phone? “Hello?”

“Shelby? Is that you? You sound funny. Are you all right?”

“Oh, sure Mom.” I listened to silence, and brightened considerably.

“Well you don’t sound fine.” Again there was nothing in the pause, and I sighed with relief. “Are you going to answer me?” she continued. “What’s going on?”

“Sorry Mom. I thought someone was coming to the door, but they kept walking up the street.” I was lying, but it was the only thing I could think of at the moment. “Did Chris call you?”

“Yes, and it’s a good thing he did before the paper came. Have you seen it?”

“The newspaper?”

“Oh, never mind,” she huffed. “How’s your head? Chris said you had to have stitches.”

“Yeah, but it’s not too bad, although it still hurts some. I’m just a little out of it today, so I thought I’d take it easy.”

“That’s a good idea. Do you need me to come over?”

“No, not at all. I’ll be fine.” That came out a little forcefully, but I knew I wasn’t ready to face her thoughts.

“Well, call if you need anything. Don’t worry about dinner. I’ll fix something, and bring it over later.”

“Oh, that’s great. Thanks.”

We disconnected, and I felt better. At least now I knew I couldn’t hear anyone over the phone. I had a sudden vision of being locked in my room, and talking to everyone I knew on the phone, kind of like the people in prison. Yikes! There had to be something else I could do. Maybe all I needed was time. Maybe once my head healed up, it would go away. If I just knew it would get better, I could handle it. Maybe I could make it go away by sheer force of will. The words, “go away and never come back” brought me up short. Where had I heard that before? Now I was driving myself crazy. Get a grip, Shelby!

I wandered into the kitchen for breakfast. I wasn’t very hungry, but since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I thought I’d better eat it. I decided to pretend that nothing was wrong. And if it was, maybe there was a bright side to all this. Maybe I could get in one of those poker tournaments, and win a million dollars.

I read the paper while I ate. I was on my second bite of toast when I saw the article. My throat got tight, and I couldn’t swallow. There was a picture of me, and the other man who was shot. My picture wasn’t bad. I was sitting on a gurney holding a towel to my head, and talking to the nice paramedic. Besides being so nice, he was really good-looking.

The other photo showed them loading the man who was shot into the ambulance. All the tubes and medical equipment covered up his face. He looked like he was in bad shape, and I realized that I didn’t know if he’d lived or died.

I scanned the article and found out that he was in critical condition. It was a relief to know he was alive, and I really hoped he’d make it. I was surprised to find how thorough the newspaper was. Not only were Dimples and Williams listed as the officers in charge of the investigation, but it also included both my name, and the other victim’s. His name was Carl Rogers, an average guy who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kind of like me.

There were several eyewitness reports, but they were mostly reactions to what had happened. Apparently everyone else had ducked when the shots rang out.

It was hard to believe someone would rob a bank inside a crowded grocery store, but according to the paper, this was the third time in two months this had happened at different stores. Only this time, people got hurt. Poor Carl Rogers. At least my injury was small compared to his.

The phone rang, but this time it was my best friend, Holly. She wanted to know all the gory details, which I felt obligated to tell her. Plus, she would definitely appreciate the cute paramedic part. Talking to Holly was always good therapy. Of course, I left out the fact that I could read minds. I wasn’t going to tell anyone about that. They’d think I was crazy, or delusional. Until I told them what they were thinking.

I’d barely hung up the phone when Then they’d probably want to stay as far away from me as rang again. This time it was my next door neighbor, and when I finished that call, it happened again. It seemed like everyone I knew in the neighborhood had read the newspaper, and wanted to know the whole story. After about the eighth time, I was ready to throw the phone at the wall. I figured an abbreviated version was in line, so the next time it rang, I answered abruptly without checking the caller ID.

“Yes I was shot in the head, but the bullet only grazed me, and I’m still alive. I had to have stitches, but my hair pretty much covers it up, so you won’t be able to see any blood. Other than that, I’m doing fine.”


“Oh, hi Chris.”

“I take it you’ve been getting a lot of phone calls.”

“Yeah, only about fifteen or so.” I was exaggerating, but by the end of the day it could be true. “But that was the first time I used the shortened version.”

“I just thought I’d call to see how you were doing. Did your mom call?”

“Yes, she’s bringing dinner tonight. Isn’t that nice?”

“Yeah, that’s great. Maybe you should turn the phone off.”

“That’s a great idea. I think I will.”

“I’ll try and come home a little early. Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. So how early is early?”

“I’ll try and be home around five-thirty…unless you need me before that?”

“No, that sounds good.” Five-thirty was early for him, and I didn’t want to push my luck. We said our goodbyes and I quickly turned off the phone. All that talking had given me a headache, and the stitches didn’t feel too good either, so I decided another pain pill was in order. Besides, who knew? Maybe I’d be back to normal after a little nap.


I woke to the back door slamming. That had to be Josh. He always made a grand entrance. “Hey mom! Where are you?” Before I could answer, he was striding into my bedroom full of excitement. He had Chris’ brown eyes and my blond hair, and I knew he’d been fighting off the girls since he was ten or eleven.

“Did you see the paper? You’re a celebrity! Everyone at school was asking me about it. So did you really see the guy who shot you?”

“Um…yeah. The police came over this morning with an artist for a description.”

“Cool. We’ll have to be sure and watch the news tonight so we can see what he looks like.” Before I could answer, his attention was already wandering. He was hungry, and wanted to play his new video game. He also had a lot of homework that was due tomorrow.

“Why don’t you get something to eat, and then start on your homework?”

“I don’t have any homework.” I arched my brow and narrowed my eyes at him. He frowned. “Okay, I have a little, but I can do it after dinner.” He really wanted to play his video game.

“Not tonight. You do your homework first, and then when you’re done, you can play your game.”

He gave me a sharp look, but reluctantly agreed. As he thought about his homework, he decided he could rush through it pretty quickly. It was a stupid science class anyway. Then he could get together with his friends after dinner.

“And do a good job or you’re grounded from playing your game for the rest of the week, and maybe forever.” This time there was anger in his eyes. “What’s so stupid about your science class?” I asked.

“What? I never said it was stupid. And how did you know I had homework in science?”

Oops. “It was just a guess. Plus it seems like you don’t like science.”

“The teacher’s just boring, that’s all.” He turned to leave, thinking I’d never understand what his life was like, and he wished I would just leave him alone. Why did I have to be so involved in his life anyway? He was old enough that he didn’t need anyone telling him what to do.

Wow. That was a surprise. Is that what he really thought? “Hey Josh.” I was about to remind him he was only fourteen, but changed my mind at the last minute. “You’re a great kid, you know?”

He looked at me like I was a moron, but I wasn’t offended because I knew he was secretly pleased. “I’m going to get something to eat.”

“Okay.” I listened to his retreating footsteps, and took a deep breath. My nap hadn’t changed a thing. I could still read minds. And if I wasn’t careful, I was going to get in a lot of trouble. How was I going to manage around my family?

Maybe knowing what they were thinking could help me understand them better. But the thing that made shivers run up my spine was realizing I’d know what they thought about me. I mean…really thought. Could I handle it? Especially from Chris?

We hadn’t been as close to each other lately. His long hours as a junior partner in a big law firm didn’t help. His firm handled all kinds of important cases, which he couldn’t always talk about. Now that I thought about it, it seemed like all we had in common anymore were our kids. Most of our conversations were about them, or paying the bills, and taking care of the house and yard.

Would I find out that he thought I was boring? Or worse, that he didn’t even like spending time with me? I was his wife, sure, but did he see me as anything else? He needed me to take care of the kids and house, but what did he really think of me? Was I boring? I didn’t think I wanted to know.

I eased out of bed, and hurried into the small room we used as an office. Maybe there was something on the Internet about reading minds that would help me. I googled mental telepathy, and was shocked by all the hits. I even found a how-to book I could buy, but most of the information was based on developing mental telepathy, not stopping it. There were some interesting articles, but nothing more than conjecture. The only thing that looked like it might work was making a hat out of tin foil. I was desperate, but seriously, how would that look?

Savannah came home from dance class, and it was only a matter of minutes before my mother and Chris would be there. Maybe blocking out people’s thoughts would be like blocking out background noise. I had done that before, so that was an option. Still, I got out a piece of tin foil just in case.



Chapter 2

Dinner was a disaster.

My mother got there just a few minutes before Chris, and in the process of setting the table and sitting down to eat, I thought I was going to die. With the talking and all the thoughts flying around, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of noise. I never realized how much gibberish everyone had going on in their minds.

My mom thought I looked pale and tired, but what she said was she thought I looked great considering I’d been shot in the head. I guess both things were true, but I was getting tired of hearing about the shot in the head part. It just wasn’t that funny to me anymore.

Christopher was genuinely happy to see me looking so good after last night. He was even happier to see the pot roast. When a man’s hungry, it’s pretty hard to compete with a pot roast. While his attention was on the food, I slipped into the other room and put in a CD. I figured the music would help distract me from hearing unwanted thoughts. I made sure I knew all the words to the CD so I could sing along in my mind. At least that was the plan.

“Thanks for bringing dinner,” I said to my mom. She assured me it was no problem, all the while thinking about everything she’d had to do to fit it in. It was a lot more work than anyone would ever appreciate, but it was a worthy cause. She just hoped I was all right. She looked at me and smiled, thinking how glad she was I hadn’t been killed. She probably would have had to step in, and take care of Chris and the kids.

“So,” I said brightly, not wanting to hear any more. “How’s everybody doing? How was school?” The kids weren’t that talkative so I turned to Chris. “How was your day, honey?”

It was an effort for him to pull his attention away from his potatoes and gravy. “Good. The case I’m working on will be going to trial next week. We’ve just about got everything ready.” He took another bite while he thought about an important document that had gone missing. It amazed him how anything ever got done in the office. Brad screwed up the last case, and now it was up to him to redeem them. But how was he supposed to do that when they misplaced important files? Sometimes he just got so angry he could hardly think straight.

I was shocked. None of these thoughts showed up in his expression. He was really angry, and I wished there was something I could do to help. “What is it you’re missing?”

That took him by surprise. He wasn’t used to me being that sensitive to his comments, and he hadn’t said anything was missing. “Just a file of some information from a witness that was misplaced. I’d like to go over it before the trial. Make sure I’m ready.” That wasn’t all of it, but he didn’t really want to talk about the case at home. That was one of his priorities, leaving work at work. But he couldn’t help thinking about it. Maybe the information was stuck in another file by mistake. He’d have to check it out first thing in the morning. If he could get Kate to help him, he was pretty sure between the two of them they could get to the bottom of it, and she was always willing to help him whenever he needed it. Sometimes even when he didn’t.

“Did you know Mom is famous?” Josh asked.

Everyone chimed in about the newspaper article, while I was busy trying to figure out who the hell Kate was. I knew I’d never met her before. Then it came to me. She was the new lawyer they’d just hired. I hadn’t been paying attention when Chris told me before, and I had no idea the person they’d hired was a young woman. At least that’s how Chris thought of her.

He’d also thought that I was insensitive. He was truly surprised that I was paying attention to what he said. Like I never listened to him. What did he mean by that? Was I really that insensitive to his comments? Did that make me a bad wife? Was Chris disappointed in me? And what about this Kate person? Was something going on with her?

“Shelby?” Mom said. It was strangely quiet.

“Huh?” Everyone was staring at me. 

“Why did you put tin foil on your head?” That thought pretty much echoed from everyone.

I must have put it over my head when I was trying to concentrate, and they were being so noisy. With a spasm of embarrassment, I quickly removed it. “I just read about it on the Internet. That it can help head wounds.” Josh and Savannah almost bought it, but Mom and Chris thought I was losing it.

“Does your head hurt?” Mom asked, clearly perplexed, but wanting to give me the benefit of the doubt.

I jumped on her explanation. “Yeah, it does. I should probably just take a pain pill, but I don’t like to be so out of it.”

“You could take some Tylenol,” Chris suggested. “Let me get you some.” He left the table, worried that the trauma may have affected my reasoning abilities.

They all thought the same thing only with different variations. “Hey, you guys,” I smiled. “I’m all right. You don’t have to look at me like I’ve lost my mind or something.” I forced a laugh and everyone smiled, relieving some of the tension.

Chris came back with the Tylenol. I smiled while swallowing them, trying to keep things light and cheerful. “Thanks. That should help.” I hadn’t eaten much, but I didn’t really have an appetite anymore. “Will you excuse me? I think I’ll go lie down.” They all thought that was a good idea, so I didn’t feel too guilty about leaving them to clean up.

Once in my room I was far enough away to find it quiet. Whew! I was going to have to work harder at blocking thoughts. It scared me to think that I couldn’t be around the people I loved. Reading minds was horrible. There had to be a way I could stop it, or at least block it out. If I couldn’t, I just might end up in the loony bin, and that was not an option I wanted to think about.

Chris came in a little while later. He sat on the bed, and pulled me into his arms. His soothing touch calmed me, and I relaxed. I concentrated on how good it felt to hold him, and it helped block his thoughts.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said. “Even though you weren’t hurt that bad yesterday, you’ve still been traumatized. It probably wouldn’t hurt to see a counselor about it. I’m sure you’re probably feeling vulnerable and scared, and don’t even realize it.”

I smiled. That was the last thing on my mind, but it was sweet of him to suggest it. I understood that he was trying to explain my strange behavior.

“Why don’t you call Dr. Westerman, and see if he can refer you to someone?” he added.

“That’s a good idea,” I said. “I think this whole thing has kind of stressed me out.”

“And it’s not resolved. The gunman is still out there. It really makes me mad that they put your name and picture in the paper. Hopefully, once the artist’s rendering of the suspect is broadcast on the news, someone will turn him in.”

I hadn’t even thought about that. “Do you think the gunman would come after me?”

“I doubt it. If he’s smart he’ll run, but you never know. At least the paper didn’t say you were the only eyewitness. Then I’d be worried. Right now he doesn’t know how many people can identify him, so I doubt that he’ll be concerned about you.”

“But I am the only eyewitness. I got a good look at him when everyone else ducked. That’s why he shot at me.”

Chris tensed. “That’s true, but he doesn’t know how much the surveillance camera caught on tape, and I don’t think Harris would give out that information.”

“Who’s Harris?”

“You know, the cop with the dimples.”

“Oh, right.” I’d forgotten his real name. “Dimples.”

Chris smiled. “I’ll call the police department tomorrow. I want to make sure you’re safe. In the meantime, maybe you’d better stay home, or at least don’t go anywhere by yourself. Do you think you’re still up for the big dinner tomorrow night?”

“The dinner? Oh, I totally forgot! Yes, of course I’m up for it.” It was a special dinner from the senior partners in Chris’ law firm. When they won a big case, they liked to treat everyone in the office to a celebration dinner. If Kate was there I wouldn’t have to ask Chris about her. Then I would know if something was going on. Though I knew nothing was going on for Chris, she was a different matter entirely.

“Good, because I really don’t want to go without you.” He kissed me lightly, and then with gentleness, deepened the kiss. I melted inside. He really did love me. When he pulled back we were both a little breathless, and my eyes widened when I caught his thoughts. “I don’t want to leave,” he said, “but Savannah needs help with her homework.”

“I can help her.”

“No, you stay here and rest. I’ll take care of it.”

He shut the door behind him and I relaxed, feeling better. Focusing on other things really did help block all those thoughts. And if there was something more I could do, I was determined to find it. This couldn’t be permanent, but until it went away, I had to learn how to make it work.

I rested in bed for a while, but I wasn’t sleepy, so I decided to practice my blocking techniques. I wandered into Josh’s room where he was playing video games.

“Hey there,” I said.

He was annoyed that I was interfering with his game. “I finished my homework.”


“So, what’s up?” he asked.

“I just wanted to watch you play.”

Josh sent me a look of disbelief and shook his head, wondering if I was checking up on him. He couldn’t think of any other reason I would suddenly be interested. “There’s nothing wrong with this game, so you don’t have to worry about me playing it.”

“Great, then you won’t mind me watching.”

He shrugged his shoulders, slightly annoyed, but was soon engrossed in the game. I picked up his thoughts on what he should do next, and concentrated on shutting off whatever it was that let me hear him. After a moment, it began to work. His thoughts faded to an annoying whisper that I couldn’t really understand. Unfortunately, I could only keep it up for about ten minutes because I got a pounding headache. But it was progress, and I hoped it would become easier the more I practiced.

I went to bed soon after that and fell asleep quickly. I didn’t wake when Chris came to bed, and was disappointed that I couldn’t follow up on those thoughts he’d had earlier. The ones that made me hot all over. He was gone before I woke the next morning so I was kind of cranky, but I rationalized that tonight would be different.

I vowed to use my new abilities shamelessly at the party. How else was I supposed to know what was going on at the office? Especially with this Kate person. I smiled, realizing this was the first time I was actually grateful for my mind reading abilities.

The phone rang, and I answered to find Dimples on the other end of the line. After we exchanged pleasantries, he got down to business. “Since the description and drawing went out we’ve had several tips. We haven’t let this out, but we have a suspect in custody. Do you think you could come down to the station and look at a line-up?”

“Of course! When do you want me?”

“Just come as soon as you can.”

I rushed to get ready, feeling a big weight lift off my shoulders, and I realized I was more concerned about finding the robber than I thought. I brushed on the minimum amount of make-up for now. Later, before dinner I would take time for the full effect. I still had to figure out what I was going to wear. I had a slinky black dress I’d only worn a few times. It was sexy, but with class. Just what I needed for tonight.

Dimples smiled when I arrived, and it brightened my day. He ushered me into the main room where several policemen had their desks. His desk was back in the corner, and he offered me a chair beside it. I tried to block out as much of the noise as I could, and concentrated on Dimples. He enjoyed talking to me, and was looking forward to closing the case. He thought it would look really good on his record to make an arrest this fast.

“I hope it works out,” I said after I sat down.


“That you can make an arrest.” Uh-oh. “I mean…it would look good on your record…right?”

Dimples nodded, but his mouth dropped open, and his dimples totally disappeared. He closed his mouth with an effort. “Wow. That was weird. I was just thinking that exact same thing. Do you have ESP or something?”

Should I tell him? Not the whole thing, but maybe a little? With that kind of opening, how could I pass it up? Besides, it would be nice to confide in someone. “You know, I kind of do. You might think this is weird, but sometimes I have premonitions about people. I mean…not all the time of course, but once in a while.”

“Really? That’s amazing. I’ve always heard about people who could do that, but I never actually met anyone in person.” He studied me for a moment, wondering if I was for real, or just pulling his leg.

“Should we go?” I asked, starting to feel like a specimen under a microscope.

“Oh, yeah. Just give me a moment to get things set up. Can you wait here? It won’t take long.”

I nodded, and he was out the door in a flash. I hoped I hadn’t scared him off. I really liked his dimples, and he seemed pretty nice too. As I studied the room, I noticed another man who was sitting beside a policeman’s desk. Only this guy’s hands were cuffed behind him. He noticed me staring, and blew me a kiss. Yuck! The cop told him to mind his own business, and the guy made a face. I wondered what he was in for, and immediately focused on his thoughts.

I heard a string of profanity that made my ears turn red, but then came the real information. He was pretty smug that the cops couldn’t hold him. He’d been real careful about fingerprints, and no one would ever know where he’d stashed the goods. The cops had checked his grandmother’s property before, and never knew they were standing right on top of it. That root cellar was the best thing he’d ever come across.

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