Death on the Run
“Mama? I can’t find my sweatshirt. It’s not in my drawer!” Isabella hollered down the stairs.
“I think you left it down here. Come look.”
Isabella was excited to spend her first overnight with Cal, Mike, and Brian’s largest client for their detective agency. We all had referred to him as ‘the mystery man’ when we didn’t know that he was the boss and not the chauffeur he portrayed. Cal had become part of our family, with Isabella calling him her ‘grandfather.’ Recently, he’d bought property close by—a large house with a separate cottage in the back where Virginia was living. Virginia was our former housekeeper and now Grandfather’s girlfriend. We loved them both and were glad that they had found each other at this time in their lives.
As Isabella’s foster mother, along with her Aunt Maria in Santa Fe, I was learning what it meant to be a parent to a 12-year-old daughter who was psychic. It reminded me of the time I was her age, living with my grandmother, who also had the “gift” and taught me so much about my own abilities. My grandmother’s spirit still popped in with messages…sometimes at ill-timed moments.
“I’ve looked everywhere. I can’t find it; can you help me, please?” asked Isabella in a frantic state.
“Weren’t you working in the office earlier?”
“Let’s see if it’s there. I’ll go with you,” I said.
Isabella, with Sweet Pea, our Silky Terrier, at her heels, raced to the club chair furthest from the door. Chagrined, she picked up the sweatshirt off the floor. “Got it.”
We smiled at each other. “Are you all set? Grandfather should be here soon to pick you up.”
My saying that seemed to make him magically appear, and as soon as Isabella heard the car pull into the driveway, she ran forward to meet him. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and warmer temperatures—typical March weather for Las Vegas. Despite that, when Cal entered, he looked upset.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“A friend of mine called to say that his granddaughter came to Las Vegas for a stay, and now she seems to be missing. I need to talk to Mike about this and see if he’ll add her to the other girl who I’ve hired him to find.”
“It’s amazing that so many girls go missing,” I said despondently.
“It’s easy to do here, that’s for sure,” he conceded.
“Do you want to wait for Mike, or will you contact him later?”
“I’ll call him later. Right now, I think that this beautiful little girl and I had better not be late for Virginia’s homemade pizza party. She has all sorts of things laid out so we can put on it whatever we like.”
I smiled. Pizza was Isabella’s favorite thing to eat. “Are you taking her to the soup kitchen tomorrow for her volunteer work?”
“Yes, and I’ll pick her up afterward. We’re going to spend the entire weekend together. That’ll give you and Mike a chance for some alone time, too,” he said with a wink.
My face warmed. “Yes, it will.”
Shortly after Isabella and Cal left, Mike walked through the door. Each time I saw him, my heart lifted and beat faster. This time was no different. His handsome, dark looks drew attention, and his shy, disinterest was intriguing to women who’d like nothing better than to change that. I had been entirely unaware of his romantic interest in me when we’d worked together to bring down a drug operation. Instead of doing that, I’d broken up the auctioning off of four little girls in a sex trafficking scheme. Isabella had been one of those girls. And now, here we were a year later living like a family—the three of us—Isabella, Mike, and me.
Mike looked around. “It’s mighty quiet. Did Isabella leave already?”
I laughed. “It doesn’t seem possible that she’s the same quiet girl who came into our lives not that long ago, does it?”
“It sure doesn’t.” He smiled and stepped closer. “So, we’re all alone? No Sweet Pea, either?”
“Then, l think we should make up for lost time,” he teased, grabbing my hand, pulling me toward the stairs.
I tugged against him, causing him to stop and look at me. “Before I forget to tell you, there’s another missing girl Cal wants you to find. She’s the granddaughter of Cal’s friend. He’s going to call you later.”
He breathed in deeply, shaking his head. “There’s no end to all the girls who come on the run to Las Vegas looking for trouble.”
“It seems to be that way.”
Mike’s eyes twinkled as he eyed me. “Now, you’re a different kind of trouble.”
“Me?” I protested.
“Do you know how much I love you? Come, my queen, and let me show you,” he urged, grasping my hand and leading me forward.