Amelia narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips as she watched the hefty man walk out of her office. She was upset. He had demanded she drop her new case or she would be sorry. Yes, he had threatened her if she continued her search, but he did not know that his threat only encouraged her.
Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, was in her thirties and had a positive outlook on life. She had short honey brown hair that framed her face and complemented her hazel eyes. Amelia was confident, stubborn, and spunky. She took her job seriously and enjoyed her work. She always chose cases that made a positive difference in people's lives. This assignment, however, was unusual.
When Mrs. Brody approached her, she was thrilled about her new case, but for some reason William's cousin did not want her to investigate the situation. He had come to her office and told her in no uncertain terms to drop the case. Why?
Amelia realized she needed help with this one. She would call Rick. She hired him two years ago and found he was quite helpful in many ways. Rick was a cunning and crafty man who did just as he pleased and had great talents that helped in solving her cases. Many times he used unorthodox methods, which caused more trouble than she wanted, but the end result was worth it.
Rick was not at all like the men she was accustomed to. The gentlemen she dated were just that. . . Gentlemen. They would open the car door on the passenger's side for her to get in. Not Rick! When they were on a case, he would open the driver's side and tell her to scoot in.
When her gentlemen friends took her out to eat, they wore their best attire. Not Rick! When they went out to discuss a case, he always wore Levis and a tee shirt, either with a V-neck or one that had four buttons down the front that he never buttoned up.
It was obvious that he worked out every morning at the gym. His shirt could not hide the muscles rippling along his chest and shoulders. And his biceps? He was totally ripped. Rick Bonito was a good-looking man with chocolate brown hair, dark eyes, and an olive complexion. He was proud of his Italian roots and let it be known.
He never came to work with a clean-shaven face because he hated shaving. His dark stubble was usually close to his face so Amelia wondered if he had a special shaver that kept it at one length. It did not bother Amelia. She would never discourage the stubble-look because that was who Rick was.
Often, when they were on a case, he would stop by her apartment and tell her about his progress. After a short conversation he would ask her to dinner just because he did not want to eat alone. Of course, she accepted because they were good friends. It was not a date. That would be against her work ethics.
Amelia picked up the phone and dialed. When she heard the deep familiar voice on the other end, she said, "Rick! I've got a job for you."
"You do? How soon do you need me? I'm in the middle of another job right now."
"Whenever you're free."
There was silence on the other end for a few moments and then Rick finally said, "Okay. Just give me a day or two. I'll meet you at the office after the gym around nine o'clock."
Amelia rolled her eyes and laughed. "Yes, after you exercise. Of course." She knew his routine and couldn't help but laugh.
He chuckled. "I've got to go. I'm in the middle of something."
Amelia nodded. "Sure. See you in a couple of days."
"Or sooner if I can."
As she hung up the phone, Amelia thought about her new case. Mrs. Brody was in her sixties and had asked Amelia to find her younger brother, William. He had been missing for two months.
Amelia was puzzled why a relative had threatened her and told her to drop the case. Wouldn't he be as anxious as Mrs. Brody to find William? What was going on?
~ * ~
Rick Bonito slid his cell phone into his pocket and then carefully picked up the diamond necklace and grinned. It was beautiful. He then grabbed an envelope full of cash and closed the door of the safe.
As he placed the necklace and money into his backpack, he muttered, "These people don't have a good enough security system."
He put the pack over his shoulder, then walked toward the laundry chute and looked inside. It was an old home, more like a mansion, and the chute was big enough for him to escape. He could see a large clothes basket at the bottom, so he climbed in. Rick applied pressure to each side of the chute with his feet to control his speed and then slid down the chute, landing in the basket.
The maid who was taking the laundry out of the dryer saw Rick hop out of the basket and begin walking toward her. Her eyes widened, but he just grinned and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Don't worry. I won't tell a soul that you were napping just a half hour ago with a novel in your hand." His eyes sparkled with mischief as he smiled and whispered, "That . . . if you don't tell on me, either. Deal?"
The maid was speechless. She stood still, staring at him as he climbed through the basement window he had left open. No alarms had gone off. He knew they wouldn't. The alarm system was only set for night, when everyone was in bed or when they were gone. The alarms were turned off during the day because there were employees going in and out of the house.
It was not difficult for Rick to reach the second floor when he had arrived. The maid on the first floor was vacuuming and the maid on the second floor was dancing to some "oldies" music from an old fashioned jukebox that was part of the household decor. He suspected she was supposed to be cleaning one of the many bedrooms.
Rick strode toward the street and climbed into his truck. After making a few phone calls, he headed to a restaurant and waited for his client. He knew the man would not be happy with the news he had.
A half hour later, a man in a suit walked into the restaurant and sat down across from Rick. He was solemn as he asked, "Did you get it?"
Rick nodded. "It was easy. I didn't have any trouble at all."
"Really? Let me see it."
Rick shook his head. "My payment first."
The man handed him an envelope full of money and waited while Rick counted it.
He gave a curt nod and pulled the necklace out of the backpack. "Here you go, Mister Swartz. It's a beautiful necklace."
"Is that all you took?"
Rick shook his head. He pulled out the envelope and handed it to the man.
"I only asked for the necklace."
He shrugged. "Just thought I would empty the safe while I was at it. Didn't want to leave any loose ends. Don't worry. It's all there. I don't cheat my clients."
Mr. Swartz frowned. "How did you do it? I have provided my home with the best alarm system money can buy."
With a shake of the head, Rick said, "Apparently not!"
"How did you get in?"
"Through the basement window. The alarms are shut off during the day."
"I told you to go at night so I could see if my home was safe," Mr. Swartz complained.
Rick nodded. "I know what you said but I needed to prove a point. You don't want your alarm on in the daytime because it's a headache to turn off every time you walk in and out of the door. And you don't want to give the security code to your servants because you don't trust them. You should have a separate alarm for your windows that aren't shut off. That's what I'd do, anyway. Other than that, your home seems quite secure at night."
"How did you get past my servants?"
Rick shrugged. "This is my job. Can't give away my secrets."
"Thanks," said Mr. Swartz as he gave a nod. "I appreciate it."
With that, Rick stood and walked out the door, heading for his truck. His assignment was done. He now needed some time to himself before accepting a new case from the lovely Miss Amelia. He shook his head and smiled. She was as stubborn as she was beautiful. Why did he enjoy working for her? It was simple. He loved the challenges she provided. Each case seemed to have something new and exciting for him to do.
Right now he was headed for dinner at the Barbequed Ribs Cafe. They had the best-darned ribs in America. When he and Amelia went out to eat, he liked taking her to the cafe because she seemed to enjoy it so much. She did not mind getting her fingers all gooey like most women he had taken there. That was what made her so much fun to be around.
That wasn't all he noticed about her. Many times both of them ended up getting dirty during an assignment and it did not bother Amelia one bit. She was not worried about breaking a nail or getting a smudge on her face.
He smiled. Tomorrow was his day off. He would head to her office the following morning and find out what case she had accepted.