If you missed the first chapter, start here!
Ordered chaos reigned in the lobby of the police station when Penelope entered after noon, a man and a woman shouting at each other from opposite corners, a pair of young Mormon missionaries seated in between filling out theft reports. Three small children sat on the floor playing with the toys in front of the reception desk, playing with the toys that were normally stored in a basket under the bench, ignoring everything around them. She held up a plastic food container and mouthed “Is he in?” to the unflappable clerk. After a quick phone call she was waved through.
Jake met her in the hallway, tension lines wrinkling his forehead. “You didn’t have to come all the way down here.” He kept his hand on the small of her back and guided her to his office. “I don’t really have time for lunch. This day…”
Penelope pushed the door closed behind her. “Five minutes.” The noise from the rest of the station receded although she could still hear a phone ringing. She handed him the container, ammunition from a late night confession when he’d finally admitted his secret comfort food. “Peanut butter and banana on white bread with the crusts cut off. And I won’t tell anyone.” She stood on her toes to kiss the grey hairs at his temple before sitting on the edge of his desk. “You should take something for that headache.”
Jake took a deep breath and slowly let it out, then sat down in his squeaky chair and opened the container. The scent of peanuts filled the office. “I had to put one of my best patrol officers on administrative leave until I can either prove that he printed out that page you took from Jezza’s house or prove that he didn’t.” He took a bite and kept talking. “And with that scene this morning… We have to go back and re-interview everyone because naturally before we had photos every single person claimed that the extortion rumors were baseless lies.” He closed his eyes. “I hate politicians.”
Penelope cleared her throat.
Jake opened one eye. “Present company excepted, of course.”
“Of course.” Penelope opened the top drawer of his desk and took out the bottle of ibuprofen that lived next to a pile of pens, staples, and rubber bands. Shaking two out into her palm, she held them out and winced as he dry-swallowed them. “Should I make plans for a candle lit dinner with Brutus or do you think you’ll make it home?”
“I’ll try, but no promises.” He closed both eyes again.
Penelope pushed off the desk. “Understood, but if Brutus eats all the candles in the house you only have yourself to blame.” She decided the slight twitch of his mouth counted as a response. “I’m off to see a dog about a run. I’ll see you whenever you make it home. Don’t forget to drink something other than coffee.” She opened the door and headed toward the exit.
Jake's raised voice followed her down the hall. “I love you!”
One of the officers in the hallway, a burly veteran with a buzz cut winked at her. “We love you, too, Chief!”
Penelope left the station to the sounds of laughter.
(Comments, requests, and suggestions all welcome!)