If you missed the first chapter, start here!
The next morning Penelope entered the police station, detouring around a man reading the riot act to his teenage son. The desk clerk looked at the grey plastic bag Penelope held between two fingers. “Is that what I think it is?”
Penelope smiled. “Probably. Is he free?”
The clerk rolled his eyes and picked up the phone on his desk. “What did he do to deserve that?” he asked as he dialed. “Sir, Ms. Standing is… Thank you.” He hung up the phone and hit the button to unlock the door.
Penelope waved an went through the door, looking to see if Brian was around. Jake had told him that Penelope had gotten information from a woman who refused to get further involved, but she was worried he’d be able to read more from her face if he saw her. Luckily he wasn’t in the room and she was able to make it to Jake’s office without interference.
Jake was waiting by his door. “To what do I owe this honor?” he asked after he gestured her into his office.
“You know those clay sculptures you have that your aunt made?” The small figurines looked like a kindergarten project until you looked closer and realized they were poorly rendered imitation netsukes.
Jake took a long breath. “Sadly yes. I promise I’ll get rid of them as soon as I can come up with a good excuse.”
“Good news. You don’t have them any more. Brutus ate them.”
Jake blinked. “Is he okay?”
Penelope waved his concern away. “He’s fine. The parts I can’t account for are small enough to make it through to the other end. Which brings me to the real reason I came by.” She dropped the bag onto the only clear spot on his desk with a wet plop.
Jake eyed the bag but made no move to pick it up. “Thanks?”
“I took Brutus for a walk and while I was cleaning up after him I noticed that there was a wad of paper and some fabric in there. I saw Jezza’s picture and some writing on the paper so I thought I ought to bring it in.” The picture had been of a younger Jezza wearing a Hooters t-shirt, of all things, and she was standing next to an older man who was posing with a gun. If Penelope hadn’t seen the picture with her own eyes she never would have believed that staid, pampered Jezza had ever held a job much less worked at Hooters. “You probably want to wear gloves. And maybe open it outside.”
Jake picked up the bag gingerly. “Thank you.”
“I mean, I know it’s not the most romantic gift, but you’re a really hard person to buy things for…” She ducked her head out the door. “Coast is clear. I’m going to leave before Brian gets back. Dinner at seven?”
Jake nodded, his nose twitching as the smell of the incompletely sealed bag began to permeate the room. “Yes. Oh, and if there’s more where this came from…” He held up the bag.
“I will treasure it until we meet again.”
Penelope couldn’t keep the grin off her face as she left the building.
(Comments, requests, and suggestions all welcome!)