If you missed the first chapter, start here!
At three o’clock in the morning, with the streets quiet and no moon to light the backyard, Penelope was having second thoughts about her decision to stay alone in the house. Part of the agreement she had with all of her clients was that she wouldn’t invite strangers into their homes while they were gone. That rule had to include her boyfriend, even if he was the acting chief of police. Or possibly especially because he was the acting chief, given the paraphernalia that some clients left casually strewn around the house. Still, this was the first night she had ever really regretted that rule.
She could hear Chewy’s tags jingling somewhere in the bushes, but an entire army of burglars could be hiding in the darkness and she would never know.
“Come on, Chewy,” she hissed. “Let’s go!”
The chihuahua bounded past her into the house and she locked the door and headed upstairs to go back to bed. Now that the house was empty of people, her brain imagined masked intruders around every corner She had just turned out the light and slid between the sheets when Jake called. Penelope pulled the phone under the covers with her. “What’s wrong?”
“You weren’t kidding when you said that dog needed to go out every two hours, were you?”
Penelope sat up and looked out the window. “Where are you?”
Headlights flashed across the street. “I should have brought Brutus to keep me company.”
“You left him at home?” Penelope flopped back down on her pillow. “You’ll be lucky if there’s anything left of your house when you get back.”
“He’s and Brian were snoring and drooling on each other when I left.”
A comfortable silence stretched between them.
“You could go home, you know,” Penelope finally said. “I’ll be fine.”
“I know.” His yawn came across the line. “What are you wearing?”
Penelope snorted. “You know exactly what I’m wearing because those idiots stood and took a few hundred pictures of all the clothes I have with me a few hours ago.” Safe in the darkness, she smiled. “Oh sorry, were you trying to set the mood?” She was quiet for a minute while her mind wandered. “Why are there so many pineapple fixtures in this house? It’s weird.”
“Pineapples used to be some sort of symbol of good luck. A lot of the older houses have them.” There was a creak of fabric on leather as he settled into another position. “You didn’t take anything from Jezza’s house that day, did you? I keep thinking of why someone would go through your things and ignore all the obvious spots people store valuables.”
“I guess technically I did sort of take the murder weapon from the scene when I put the leash on Brutus, but I didn’t keep it. And I suppose someone might have thought that I took all the stuff Brutus ate.” She yawned, warm and comfortable in the bed.
“Get some sleep. If you have any problems throw something through the window and I’ll be there in seconds.” Jake cleared his throat. “It would be a good use for that hammer you stashed under the bed.”
Penelope opened her eyes. “How did you…?”
“Good night.” Jake was still laughing when he hung up.
(Comments, requests, and suggestions all welcome!)