If you missed the first chapter, start here!
Penelope looked up from the untidy stack of paper in front of her on the kitchen table when Jake came through the front door. “There’s spaghetti casserole in the oven if you’re still hungry.”
Jake dropped a kiss on her cheek as he passed her on the way to the oven. “I forgot I had ‘Coffee with a Cop’ this evening. Next time I swear we’re going to have it someplace I can get something to eat.”
“How’d it go?”
“Not too bad.” His voice was muffled as he leaned into the refrigerator. “Everyone wanted to know when we were going to arrest someone in Jezza’s murder.” He sat down across from her with a plate of food and a beer.
Penelope scribbled a date on one invoice and moved it to another pile. “This is me not asking how it’s going.”
“Such admirable self-restraint. Because even if we had made progress I wouldn’t be able to tell you.” From the tone of his voice the case hadn’t progressed.
“Anne came by to see him this afternoon. She wants to get back together.” He put his fork down and took a large swallow of beer. “They went out to dinner to talk.”
Penelope put her pen down and looked at him. “Did she make that decision before or after she found out the mayor isn’t coming back?” The depth of her irritation surprised her. She’d thought of Anne as a friend, but the other woman had carried on an affair for months and hurt Brian deeply in the process.
“I didn’t ask.” Jake leaned across the table to touch her hand. “He’s a bright guy. It won’t be lost on him. We need to stay out of it.”
Penelope took a deep breath and blew a strand of hair out of her face. Even if the couple got back together, she and Anne were never going to be going out to lunch again. She flipped another piece of paper into the “done” pile and picked up a check. “Do you think it’s safe to cash Jezza’s check? They won’t have closed her accounts, will they?”
Jake pushed Brutus’ nose away from his plate. “Send it in. It’s a debt on the estate. If there isn’t money in the checking account you’ll need to contact her executors.” He shook his head. “You know you could put all that on the computer and not have to kill so many trees.”
“You sound like my son.” She flipped another page. “Ha, you’re a good one to talk. This is yours.” She slid him a printout with the police department header across the top. “Don’t be throwing stones in your glass house, buddy.”
Jake frowned at it briefly and pushed it to the corner of the table. “Not guilty. Must be Brian’s.” He took another bite and pulled the paper back to look at it.
Penelope neatened her stack of checks and put her pen down. “So… I was thinking about something today but I wanted to run it by you first.” She waited.
Jake looked up from what he was reading. “This sounds serious.”
“His Honor is not coming back. At some point he’ll need to be replaced.” Penelope picked up the pen again and toyed with it.
Jake’s eyebrows went up. “You’re thinking of running?”
“Well, with all the time I’ve spent trying to fight that bastard, I’ve learned a lot about how the city works. And I think I’d actually be pretty good at it, if I can get elected.” She looked up from the pen and met his eyes. “What do you think?”
“I think you’d be good at it.” Jake looked down at the paper again.
“Yes, but what do you think about the idea?”
He looked up and cocked his head. “You aren’t really asking me for my permission, are you?” His eyebrows went up. “Who are you and what have you done with my girlfriend?”
Penelope flushed. “I’m not asking permission. I’m just… it’s never come up with us before and some guys have a hard time with their partner getting all the press. I just don’t want to mess up what we have.”
“Ah.” Jake got up and took his dishes to the sink, then came back around to stand next to her. “I would be honored to be known as the mayor’s boytoy.”
“Well, you’ll have some time to get a name plaque made with that title on it. I still need to get elected.” She reached back and hugged him without getting up. “Now are you going to tell me what was on that paper that is so important?”
“It has the status on an open investigation that shouldn’t be public knowledge. Something that might have implicated Jezza and her husband. And it was printed out the day before the murder.”
Penelope stared up at him. “So how did it end up here?”
Jake put his hands on her shoulders. “Are you absolutely sure you didn’t take anything from Jezza’s that morning?”
“Of course I’m sure!” Penelope shrugged his hands off her. “You think I went through her papers after finding her body?” A thought struck her and she closed her mouth. “Oh…”
Penelope winced. “The invoice and check. They were paperclipped together on the counter like they always were and I think I shoved them in my bag before I started cleaning up the mess Brutus made.” She rubbed her face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t even think about it before now. I must have grabbed the other paper without noticing it.”
Jake nodded. “I thought it might be something like that.”
Penelope stared at the paper on the other side of te table. “But how did Jezza end up with it?”
Jake’s voice was grave. “I’d like to know the answer to that as well.”
(Comments, requests, and suggestions all welcome!)