If you missed the first chapter, start here!
The more she thought about it, the more Penelope liked Esther’s idea, at least the dinner and candles part. True, the department was in the middle of a homicide investigation that had snowballed to include bank robbery, extortion, and possibly an involved policeman, but if it wasn’t that there would be something else. There were always reasons to procrastinate if one looked for them.
First things first — if she was planning a romantic dinner for two she had to make sure both people would be there and nobody else. Penelope scrolled through the contacts on her phone and frowned. She had Anne’s number but not Brian’s. Given her last conversation with Anne, she didn’t want to go through her, even if the couple was back together, which wasn’t a given. The guest bedroom door had been closed when she’d left in the morning.
Luck was with her. Brian was at his desk typing on the computer when she went to the station. “I have a big favor to ask,” she said when he looked up.
“I’ll warn you right now, I don’t have the key to the evidence locker,” he said. “But anything other than that is yours.”
Penelope sat down at the chair next to his desk. “I need a couple hours alone with Jake this evening,” she said in a voice low enough that it wouldn’t be overheard. Nothing secret ever stayed hidden long in the station.
“No problem. I’ll go out for a drink with the guys. You can text me when it’s safe to come over.”
“And I need you to make sure that Jake makes it out of here on time.” She saw his doubtful expression. “I know, but can you at least try to make it happen? I’ll leave you some Chicken Kiev and cherry cobbler if you come through.”
Brian leaned back in his chair and played with a rubber band. “Bribing a cop has some serious penalties, but if you promise to make lasagna some day soon, I’ll overlook it. What time do you want him home by?”
“Seven.” She stood up.
“I’ll do my best.”
Knowing that Jake would wonder about her visit if she didn’t stop in, she went back the hall to his office where she found him on the phone. He covered the lower portion with one hand. “Do you need me?”
She shook her head. “Just passing by. Dinner at seven?”
He glanced at the chaos on his desk. “I’ll try. I’ll text you if I’m running late.”
Penelope blew him a kiss and left.
Jezza’s son, Steven, was in line in front of her in the grocery store, buying a sandwich and chips. He glanced at her when she got in line and grinned. “Penelope! I’m glad I ran into you before I left.”
“Heading back to school?”
He nodded. “Yes, but I’ll be back when they release my mom’s things. I guess it might be a while, with…” he waved with the arm not holding his items, “well, everything.”
Moved by the impulse to be a better friend to Jezza in death than she had in life, Penelope gave him her phone number. “Let me know when you’re coming back and I’ll arrange things on this end.”
They chatted until he had paid and left.
“That was her son, wasn’t it?” The cashier paused with the package of chicken breasts in one hand as she watched Steven walk out of the store. “I still can’t believe everything his mother was getting up to. She made a joke a few weeks ago about having a get-out-of-jail-free card, but I thought that meant she was dating a cop. I didn’t realize it meant she was blackmailing half the men in town.” She started scanning Penelope’s purchases. “Big night with the chief, hm? Can’t go wrong with candles and wine.”
Penelope smiled and nodded and hoped that Jake would be the last person in town to find out about their dinner.
(Comments, requests, and suggestions all welcome!)