Carrots: A Shelby Nichols Adventure (4 page)

I pulled my mind away and took a deep breath. That weasel was in for a rude awakening. I was tempted to go over to the cop and tell him what I’d found out just to see the look on the guy’s face, but that wouldn’t be very smart of me. Maybe I could leave an anonymous note? No, it was probably better to tell Dimples…in a round-about way of course.

Just then Dimples returned. “Sorry. That took longer than I thought it would. The observation room is this way.”

“Um…before we go…you see that guy over there?” I surreptitiously pointed him out, and Dimples nodded. “I got one of my premonitions about him,” I whispered. “I don’t know what he’s here for, but I think he hid some stolen items in a hole or cellar or something on his grandmother’s property. You might want to check it out.” I could see that Dimples was having a struggle accepting this. He couldn’t tell if I was serious.

“I could be wrong, it’s just a premonition, but it might not hurt to check.”

He could see the logic in that, but how was he going to explain to the other officer how he knew?

“You could just tell him that a neighbor called in because they’d noticed some suspicious activity.” Dimples inhaled sharply, and then started coughing. “Are you all right?” I asked.

“Yeah…fine.” He swallowed and cleared his throat several times. When he finally looked at me, he didn’t know exactly what to say. Then he called the other officer over and gave him the information, using the reasoning I had given him.

“I don’t know how you do it,” he said when the officer left, “but if this pans out…” he shook his head with disbelief. “Come on, we’d better get going.”

I followed him down a long hallway and up a flight of stairs. “For your protection you’ll be in another room looking through a one-way mirror so the suspect won’t see you. We have seven men in the line-up. All you have to do is identify the guy whom you think shot you.”

He opened a door to a room that was dark inside and framed by a huge window. On the other side about twenty feet away, the men were lined up in a row, and numbers were on the wall above their heads.

Dimples shut the door, and had me sit on a soft chair in front of the window. “Don’t worry, they can’t see you.” He must have sensed the  tension that stiffened my shoulders. Through an intercom he told the officer we were ready, and at his command the men turned from one side to the other before facing front again.

I examined each one closely. They were all dressed alike, with the same complexion and dark hair, but number three looked the most like the guy in the bank. Still, I wasn’t sure. There was something about him that didn’t seem right. But what if it was him and I messed up? “How certain do I have to be?”

“We need to have a positive identification before we can press charges. Unfortunately, the only evidence we have is the mask, but a positive ID would be a step in the right direction. It would help us get a search warrant.”

Dimples was pushing for number seven. That guy’s hair color seemed too dark, but what if he’d changed it? I focused real hard on their thoughts, but the glass was too thick. I wasn’t sure it was any of them. “Can you have number three, and number seven come closer?”

Even then, I couldn’t tell. What I needed was the mirror gone, but how could I explain that to Dimples? “I’m just not sure. Is there any way I can look at them without the mirror in the way?” I knew that sounded funny, but Dimples was so eager for me to make an ID that he considered it.

“I can’t let them see you.” He was disappointed, but then added, “How close do you need to be?” He was thinking about my premonitions.

“I just need to be in the same room. If they all faced the wall so they weren’t looking at me, would that work?”

How was he going to explain that?

“You could let me slip in while they were turned for just a few seconds. No one would ever know I was there.”

“All right.” He couldn’t believe he was going to do this. He took me down the hall, and opened the door to the lineup. He left the door open, and asked the policeman in charge to tell them to face the wall. I slipped inside for a second, and scanned their thoughts quickly, lingering on three and seven.

Three was thinking about all the work he had left to do on his desk upstairs, so I knew it wasn’t him. Seven was sweating, but not because he’d just robbed a bank. He was running a meth lab in his basement, and was hoping the guys were clearing everything out before the cops got a search warrant. I sighed with disappointment. It wasn’t any of them.

I slipped into the hall, and hurried back to the observation room. When Dimples returned, I gave him the bad news. “I’m sorry. None of them are him.” Dimples let out a string of profanity, but it was only in his mind so I tried not to look shocked. He led me back to his desk with pursed lips, and kept cursing in his mind. He wasn’t taking it well, so I decided to redirect his thoughts.

“But you might want to check out number seven anyway. I think there’s something he’s real nervous about in his basement.” I hoped that was vague enough to make Dimples do something about it.

He sucked in his breath, then scratched his head as he contemplated it. “I don’t know. I need probable cause to get a search warrant.”

“I think it might be drugs. Has that guy ever been picked up for drugs?” I already knew he had. “Would it hurt anything if I was wrong?”

“Just my reputation.” He smiled at me, trying to bring some levity into this weird premonition stuff. It was a little too strange for him, but if I was right, how could he not follow through? Stopping the bad guys was more than a job to him. It was a calling. That was why he had gone into law enforcement in the first place.

We got back to his desk, and he searched my face for signs of insanity. I almost rolled my eyes and told him to knock it off, but instead, I took a deep breath and gave him a confident smile. I decided not to push it. He would do what he felt best.

“I guess I’d better go,” I said.

“Thanks for coming down, it’s too bad it wasn’t him.” The phone on his desk rang. “Can you hang on for just a minute?” I nodded, and he picked up the receiver. The conversation wasn’t long before he hung up. “That was the hospital. The other victim just died.”

“Oh no.” The room seemed to shrink around me.

“It’s armed robbery and murder now. I’ve got to go, thanks for coming down. I’ll keep you posted.”

“Okay.” My stomach twisted.

“Oh, and I’ll follow up on those ‘tips’. I’m real interested to see if they pan out.”

“You’ll keep it between the two of us, won’t you?”

His dimples went crazy when he smiled this time. “I won’t tell a soul, someone might think I was nuts.”

I smiled on the way to my car. He didn’t know how right he was. On the downside, I felt bad for poor Carl Rogers. I had really hoped he would make it. It was strange to think that he was dead.

I got in my car, and was surprised that it was nearly three o’clock. That visit had taken longer than I thought. All thoughts of the police station fled while I focused on what I needed to do to get ready for tonight. I wanted to look my best, and that meant having plenty of time to fix my hair around my stitches, put on my makeup, and figure out what to wear.


Chris got home late. I was strapping on my black pumps when he came in the bedroom. I was not very happy because my slinky black dress seemed a little tight on me, and I wasn’t sure I should wear it.

“Hey there,” Chris said. “You look nice.”

Nice? Is that all? After spending most of the afternoon on my hair and make-up that was all he could say? He turned away and rummaged through the closet looking for his black suit.

“Do you think this dress looks all right?” I called his attention back to me. “Or do you think it’s too tight.”

He flicked a glance over his shoulder, then studied me a second. “It’s fine. It’s a little tight, but it still looks good on you.” He figured I must have put on some weight since I wore it last. I wasn’t as skinny as I used to be, but everything considered, he thought I looked pretty good for a woman my age. Especially after having a couple of kids.

My age? Good grief, how old did he think I was? I was in my mid-thirties and younger than him. Mid-thirties wasn’t old. Unless he just thought I looked old. Sometimes women looked older than men, even when they were the same age. Was I like that? I didn’t think I had many wrinkles, or big bags under my eyes. My skin didn’t look sallow did it? Maybe in this sleeveless dress my arms were baggy. Sure, I wasn’t as skinny as I used to be, but I didn’t weigh that much.

Suddenly furious, I ran into the bathroom before Chris could see how upset I was. I leaned against the closed door, and took deep breaths to compose myself. Did he really think I looked old? I studied myself critically in the mirror. He was right. I wasn’t as young as I used to be. My eyes had a few creases at the corners, but with the foundation I had on, it wasn’t too bad. Still, angry tears started to form in my eyes, but I willed them away. I couldn’t let tears ruin my makeup.

Wait a minute. What was I thinking? I looked pretty darn good. My hair hung saucily across my well-defined eyebrow and my eyes held that knowing look of how to please a man. Sure I wasn’t skinny; but I had curves in all the right places. I was not the girl Chris married. I was a woman, and sexy as hell.

I tried to think rationally. It wasn’t his fault he’d hurt my feelings, so it wasn’t fair to be angry over something he didn’t actually say. At least he didn’t think I was fat – then I’d really be mad. Truthfully, I could probably lose a few pounds, but he was nuts if he thought I didn’t look good.

I squared my shoulders. I couldn’t get this upset over every little thing I heard about myself. Tonight, I had to act like I was normal. I couldn’t let my guard down, not even once.

“Sweetie? Are you almost done in there? If we don’t leave now we’re going to be late.”

“Just a minute,” I sang out. I pushed down the anger, and replaced it with a little defiance. Then I found the reddest lipstick I had and put it on. Take that “Mr. Looks Fine!”

Chris was sitting on the bed tying his shoes when I came out. This time he really looked at me, and I was rewarded with a low whistle. It must have been the red lipstick. “Oh baby, oh baby,” he said with a smile. “Let’s go.”

On the way to dinner, I told Chris about my trip to the police station. “I’m so disappointed they haven’t caught him yet.”

“Yeah. I called Harris this afternoon and we talked. He said they were getting tips all the time, but most of them were bogus. He still hoped something would turn up.”

“Did he tell you the other man who was shot died today?”

“No.” He glanced my way, his brows arched in surprise. “It makes me sick to think that you could have died. It also makes me mad. Stupid people like that bank robber should be put away for good.” He was thinking of how much he would like to catch the guy and beat him to a pulp, then pump a few bullets into him, and rip off his arms and legs. Wow, he really was mad. It put me in a good mood.

We were only a few minutes late to dinner. While Chris was talking to his co-workers, I scanned the room for Kate. I imagined her as the unattractive, serious, brainy type, who tried to be as tough and competitive as the men. That way, they wouldn’t even notice she was a woman. Or even better, she could be older, and a little on the heavy side. She was happily married, and had a matronly air about her.

All my hopes were dashed when I actually saw the young, flirtatious redhead, who looked like a fashion model for Victoria’s Secret. Why did she have to become a lawyer? She wore a spaghetti strap green dress that hit her long legs just above the knee. Her auburn hair was long, and fell in perfect symmetry over her bare shoulders. I had a vision of her wearing clothes like that to work, and realized this was worse than anything I could have imagined.

As Chris angled me over to meet her, she sized me up in one glance. “Hi Shelby, it’s so nice to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you.”

“That’s nice.” I wanted to add that I hadn’t heard a thing about her, but she might take that as a compliment.

“Chris just adores you,” she gushed. She was really thinking that I wasn’t bad, but Chris could do better. “He’s always talking about his wife.”

I glanced at Chris. He was trying hard not to look at the swell of cleavage above her low neckline. He smiled at me, wishing he were somewhere else. He had been dreading this meeting, worried that I would read more into it than there was. Not because of his actions, but because of Kate. She was young, and attractive, and seemed to really like working with him. It was a little uncomfortable.

He put his arm around me and drew me close. “Now that you’ve met her,” he told Kate. “You can understand why I like to talk about her. She’s an amazing woman.”

“Well, I hope we can get to know each other better,” she smiled. “I’m always looking for new friends. Maybe we could do lunch sometime.” She could see how possessive Chris was, but it didn’t put her off in the least. Her desire for Chris fell over me like a slap in the face. She wanted him, and it didn’t matter that he was happily married.

“That would be great,” I said. “How about Monday?” That took her by surprise.

“Uh…sure.” Her smile was false, and full of pretense. Deep down, she had no desire to spend any time with me. It was Chris she wanted to spend time with.

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