Amelia Moore, founder of the Moore Detective Agency, sat at her desk as she watched an eighteen-year-old girl take a seat in front of her. The young woman wore the new fashion trend, worn out Levis with the washed out look and with a hole here and there.
"I can pay you," said the young woman as she pushed her strawberry-blond hair behind her shoulders. "My name is Kate Clemmons. My parents said they would finance this because it's so important to me. Money is not an issue."
Amelia smiled. "How can I help you?"
Kate sat up straight and said earnestly, "Do you believe it's important to learn about your heritage?"
"Well, it all started with this class I'm taking at college. My professor told us to write an essay titled: Why research our ancestors? How will knowing them help us in our lives?"
Amelia could see the excitement in the young girl's eyes. Kate seemed animated when she spoke, and this made Amelia smile as she clasped her hands upon her desk.
"After writing the essay, I read it to my parents, but they didn't respond to it like I thought they would. They seemed distracted and didn't say much." Kate sighed dramatically. "A week later our new assignment was: Why I'm proud of my heritage. I was excited about it and couldn't wait to begin."
Amelia nodded. "It sounds like you really enjoy this class."
"Oh, yes! I do." Kate leaned forward and squinted her eyes in a mysterious manner as she said, "When I told my parents about my next assignment, they acted so strange and left the room. I could hear them arguing in the study. They said: 'Should we tell her? She has every right to know.' I suspected the worst. Did my ancestors have an unsavory past that has been kept hush-hush? I couldn't stand it any longer, so I burst into the room and asked them what was going on."
The young girl was talking so fast, that Amelia could barely keep up.
Kate took a deep breath as she clutched the folder on her lap. "Mom went to her file cabinet and pulled out this folder. She handed it to me and told me to look at the contents. Inside were a picture of a man and woman on their wedding day, two death certificates, and a birth certificate. I was confused. Why had she given this to me?" Kate tapped the folder with her fingers and said, "She told me to look at every detail of the birth certificate. I did. And I was shocked at what I found."
Amelia's curiosity was growing by the second as she asked, "What did you find?"
When Amelia saw the emotion in the girl's face, she pushed her chair back and walked around the desk so she could sit next to her client. Looking into Kate's eyes, Amelia nodded for her to continue.
Kate gave a slight smile as she said, "It was my birth certificate. I was adopted. They never told me. They said they didn't want me to feel different and didn't think it was important to tell me. I asked her why she was finally telling me this after all these years. Do you want to know what she said?"
"It was because of what I wrote. It was like a wakeup call to her. It finally dawned on her why I wanted to know about my heritage."
"Did she tell you what happened to your parents?"
Kate handed her the wedding picture from the folder. "This is a picture of them."
Amelia looked at the photo and smiled. "You look like your mother."
"I think so, too," said Kate. "Dad told me that Doctor Adams knew my parents quite well. He said they came to America from Ireland in search of a better life. Sometime after their arrival in the states, she gave birth to me." Kate handed Amelia the birth certificate. "Five days later she died from childbirth complications. My father mourned her death and became ill. With each day, he got worse until it turned into pneumonia. A couple weeks later, he passed away, too."
When Kate handed Amelia the two death certificates, she looked at the names and dates. Turning to her client, she said, "Go on."
"Since the doctor was a friend of the Clemmons...my adoptive parents, he asked them to care for me until Social Services could find my relatives. When they couldn't find them, they wanted to keep me." Kate smiled. "They were forty-years-old at the time, but that didn't matter. They said they fell in love with me the day I was put in their arms. Two years later, they adopted me."
Kate's eyes brightened as she said excitedly, "Well, I did a lot of thinking after that. If my parents were alive today, they would be in their forties. That would mean that my grandparents would be in their sixties or seventies."
Amelia nodded. It did not take much for her to realize what her client was about to ask.
Kate grinned. "Ms. Moore, I want you to find my grandparents. This is important to me. I want to meet them and learn more about my heritage. I would like to know what my parents were like."
Amelia looked at the wedding picture, Kate's birth certificate, and the death certificates of her parents. "Is this all you have? Do you know your grandparents' names?"
Kate shook her head. "That's all.'But my birth certificate and their death certificates have my parents' birth dates and the city where they were born in Ireland. That's a good beginning, right?"
Amelia smiled. "Yes, it is." She took the folder from Kate and slid the papers inside. After placing it on her desk, she said, "I'll take good care of these and give them back to you after I've made some copies of them."
Kate nodded. "Thanks. I really appreciate this."
"I also require a deposit which will take care of my expenses. The remainder won't be due until completion of the case. Do you understand?"
"Yes, I do," said Kate as she pulled a checkbook from her purse. "I figured as much, so I came prepared."
After Kate left, Amelia sat at her desk and opened the folder. She looked at the names of Kate's parents and the cities of their birth. She had always longed to go to Ireland on vacation. It was on her bucket list. Little did she know that an assignment would finally give her the opportunity. It was not only important to find Kate's relatives, but Amelia needed to talk to them and make arrangements for her client to meet them.
Amelia was in her thirties with medium-length honey brown hair, which framed her face. She owned her own detective agency and enjoyed helping her clients. With the help of Rick Bonito, a cunning and crafty man, her business was flourishing. He was one man she could not do without. Rick did what he pleased and had great talents that helped in solving her cases.
It was not difficult for Amelia to notice his build every time he walked in the office. He was a muscular man and his shirt could not hide the muscles rippling along his arms. He was totally ripped.
Amelia shook her head and decided to concentrate on her new job. She took Kate's birth certificate and read the name of the physician who had attended her birth. That would be the first step. She needed to question the doctor. But first, she had to get in touch with Rick.
Taking her cell phone, she dialed his number. She had an assignment for him.
~ * ~
Rick Bonito looked up at the majestic Rocky Mountains and the rugged cliffs above him. The rest of his climb would be more difficult. There were small clumps of trees growing around the cliff above him. Perhaps he could use them to his advantage.
When his cell phone vibrated in his pocket, Rick pulled it out and glanced at it. He smiled. It was Amelia. She probably had another case for him to work on. He glanced down at the valley below and his precarious situation. He was standing on a ledge over a thousand feet above ground level on a rescue mission. He shrugged. Might as well take it now while he was resting.
"Hi, Amelia," Rick said as he leaned against the wall of the cliff. "What's up?"
"I've got another assignment for us. I think you'll like this one."
"Really? I hope it's not another one of those stake out assignments. I hate those. A man can get very bored waiting for things to happen."
Amelia laughed. "No, it's not a stake out. We have to go to Ireland, instead."
"Ireland?" Rick said with enthusiasm. "What's in Ireland?"
"My client's grandparents. We have to find them."
He shifted his weight and accidently sent a rock tumbling over the ledge. "Hey, let's talk about this later. I'm in the middle of something right now."
"Sure. How about tomorrow?"
"Uh..." he said as he looked up at the cliff above him. "I should be done by then."
"Great! See you tomorrow."
Rick shoved the phone into his pants pocket. He loved mountain climbing and was good at it, but today was different. Rick was on assignment to rescue a twelve-year-old boy who had hiked too far up the Rocky Mountains and could not get back down again. Apparently the boy had gotten off the trail and was stuck. He had taken a shortcut down the mountain and ended up on a precipice, making it too steep to retrace his steps.
Thank goodness the boy had his cell phone to call his parents, or they would not have known where he was. Sometimes it took a couple days to find someone who was lost in the mountains. The boy was in a section where helicopters could not reach him, so the forest service called Rick. This was not his first attempt at rescuing someone. He worked for a search and rescue team and had done this several times.
He grasped a large root that was protruding from the bottom of a ledge. Sliding his foot into a crevice for support, he pulled his body onto the ledge. The warmth of the sun beat down on his shoulders and the dampness from the physical exertion clung to his skin. He wiped the sweat away with his shirtsleeve and examined the cliff above him.
A tall cottonwood tree was growing from the edge of the cliff. Rick knew that was the best way to get the young boy. The mountainside was too steep. He grabbed hold of a limb and began his ascent.
When Rick was even with the top of the cliff where the young boy was trapped, he jumped down from the branch and onto the ledge. The boy looked up at him with tear-filled eyes. He held a cell phone in his hand and was talking to his parents.
Rick knew he was receiving comfort from them, so he sat down to rest and leaned against the rock wall with his knees bent.
Rick 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 went to work with a clean-shaven face because he hated shaving. His dark stubble was close to his face but it did not bother Amelia. She rather liked it. The stubble-look was his signature.
When he heard the boy tell his parents that his rescuer had arrived, Rick shrugged off the rope that was hanging over his shoulder and under his arm. He then tied it around the boy's waist.
"What's your name?" asked Rick.
Rick smiled and gave a nod. "Okay, Charlie. You're going to climb down that tree." He pointed to the one he had jumped from. "But I'll lower you down as you go, just in case you lose your footing. Got it?"
Charlie gasped as he shook his head.
"It's okay," said Rick when he saw the fear in the boy's eyes. "I won't let you fall. I promise."
He then wrapped the rope around a limb a couple times and pushed his feet against the trunk for support. This way he could gradually loosen the rope and lower the boy a little at a time.
"Ready?" asked Rick.
The boy nodded. As he climbed down the tree, Charlie's foot slipped, and he gasped and quickly grabbed hold of a limb not far from his reach.
"It's okay," called Rick as he watched the boy from above. "I've got you. You're safe in my hands. Trust me."
Charlie was trembling as he answered in a shaky voice. "Okay."
"Just go slow and be sure of your footing before putting your weight down on the ledge. Do you understand?"
"Yeah. I'm ready."
As Rick loosened the rope a little at a time, the boy slowly climbed downward.
When the boy finally stepped on the ledge below, Rick called to him, "I'm climbing down next, Charlie. Don't move. I'll be there in no time."
He coiled the rope and put it over his shoulder, so he could climb down the tree. Then he grabbed hold of a limb and began his descent.
When he stepped to the ledge where Charlie was standing, Rick smiled at him. "You see? Piece-a-cake! The rest is simple compared to this."
Charlie gave a crooked smile as he nodded. "Yeah, piece-a-cake."
Rick laughed at the boy's attempt to be positive. He liked kids and tried to be upbeat with them. This boy needed his reassurance.
"Okay, Charlie. Are you ready?"
Charlie nodded, but Rick could see the uneasiness in his face.
"Just follow me. We'll take the safest route."
Rick gave the boy a hug and then helped him down to the next ledge below. It was slow going but he spoke to the boy as they went, hoping to take Charlie's mind off the downward climb. Then they rested on the ledge for a while, so the boy could get his breath.
Rick clapped his hand on Charlie's back and said, "The rest of the way isn't so bad. No more cliffs. It's an easy slope from here on out."
The boy looked at the cliff above his head and sighed. "I was following this trail up the mountain. It's one my friends told me about. But when I came back down, I took a short cut and got stuck."
"Yup," said Rick with a chuckle. "You certainly got stuck, all right. Remember! Never stray from the original trail when hiking. You could get lost or..." He pointed to the cliff above. "Or end up on a precipice."
Charlie shook his head. "I'll never do that again."
As Rick untied the rope from the boy's waist, he asked, "Hungry?"
Rick pulled a granola bar from his pack and handed it to the boy.
With a sigh of relief, Charlie followed Rick as they slowly made their way down the mountain toward a rescue team.