The pale winter sun shone through the kitchen window. I cleaned up the last of the mess from my adventure. The caper hadn’t gone as planned. How many do? In my many years of life, most of my plans have taken an unexpected turn.
Merup.” Robespierre my Maine Coon cat announced a visitor on the way. He’s almost as good as a doorbell. The firm rap on the door told me this wasn’t one of my female friends. “Come in.”
Pete Duggan strode across the room and thrust a bouquet of bright carnations into my hands. A red hue, almost as vivid as his hair, stained his face. “Mrs. Miller, got to hand it to you. I’ve come to eat crow.”
To hide a smile I buried my face in the flowers and inhaled the spicy fragrance. “How about chocolate chip cookies and mint tea instead?”
“Sounds great.” He straddled one of the chairs at the table and picked up the local newspaper. “Local Woman Thwarts Robbers.” His grin made him look like the ten-year-old who had moved into the corner house on my block. He cleared his throat. “The guys at the station ribbed me about this. Did you forget the plan?”
How, when the idea to catch the real thieves had been mine? A series of burglaries had plagued the neighborhood for months and had troubled me. Especially when the police had decided two teenage neighbor boys were the culprits. I knew the pair and had disagreed strongly enough to set myself up as a victim. Then I informed Pete.
“Did you forget?” he repeated. “When I crept up the stairs and saw you grappling with one of the men, I nearly had a heart attack.”
Heat singed my cheeks. “How was I to know my date would poop out early?”
two mugs with mint tea I opened a tin of freshly baked cookies. How could I admit to a nagging doubt, or tell
him I had wanted to be part of the action?
In July I had turned sixty-five and in September retired from the
nursing staff at
scowled. “You could have gone to the
“They’re away.” I sipped the tea and savored the cool mint flavor.
“The Randals’ them.” He pulled the other mug across the table. “The guys insist the two of us make one perfect cop. Want to hire on?”
“I’ve no desire for a third career.” Until my husband’s death twenty-five years ago I had been the organist and choir director at St. Stephens Episcopal Church. Needing a way to support myself and my son, I enrolled in the nursing program at the community college. “Besides, I’m too old.”
“Old, never. You look the same as when we moved here.”
“It’s the dye.” His puzzled look tickled me. Dyeing my hair makes me look younger. “I came into the world with red hair and I intend to leave the same way.”
Laughter rumbled deep in his chest. “A worthy ambition you nearly fulfilled last night.” He touched my hand. “Thanks again. You kept me from making a mistake that could have ruined those boys.”
I lifted my mug and inhaled the aromatic steam. The evidence against the pair had been circumstantial and strong. They had done odd jobs at all the houses that had been burglarized. “I’ve known them since they were infants. Nothing I’ve ever seen in their actions to make me believe they were guilty.”
Pete made a face. “I’ve known them just as long. Didn’t stop me from suspecting them. How could you be sure?”
“Forty years of living in the same house has attuned me to the rhythms of the neighborhood.”
“Twenty years hasn’t helped me.”