Cara Mia Delgatto and the Protector, Conclusion
“One of top 25 US speakers”
— Sharing Ideas Magazine
“One of mystery’s rising stars.”
— RT Reviews
Chicken Soup for the Soul Contributor
Endorsed by Toastmasters International
Silver Anvil Award Winner
2009 Agatha Award Finalist
Paper, Scissors, Death
2013 Daphne du Maurier Award Winner
Death of a Schoolgirl: Jane Eyre Chronicles
A few days later, I was scrubbing down the windows when another car pulled up. This one brought a smile to my face. Jay Boehner jumped out and gave me a hug. Jack pranced around on his two hind legs until Jay reached down and patted him on the head.
“MJ said you were slaving away. I thought I’d drop by with food. I know you like coconut shrimp.”
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I’d add that it’s also a way to get any healthy woman’s attention, too.
“MJ was right. These windows haven’t been washed in months. Maybe even a year. I have no idea how I’ll get the tall one over the second bedroom.” I pointed to the octagonal window that serves as a beacon at night when I turn on the light in the hallway to the second floor studio.
“I can do that for you. But first, let’s eat. I brought iced tea. Let me get that out of the car.”
Before I could grab his collar, Jack jumped into the white Mercedes sedan. His tiny wet feet left damp marks on the leather. “Oh, no! Let me grab a towel! I’m so sorry. I’ve got one in the garage.”
But when I found the towel on a shelf, I heard a skittering noise. “Jay? Would you come here?”
“What’s up?” he asked.
“There’s something in my garage. Something alive.”
We stood there and listened. The scraping noise began again. Jay followed the sound around my parked Camry. Squatting down, he peered under a set of metal storage shelves. “It’s a blue land crab. He must have found his way inside while you were working with the garage door open. Want me to get him out?”
I laughed. “No. He’s welcome to make this his home. Especially now that I know he’s here. The noise just startled me.”
But Jack wasn’t convinced. He had followed Jay to the shelves. Now he began to bark at the crab, but he couldn’t get to the shelled creature, so I didn’t worry about the dog or the crustacean.
Jay and I both laughed. He said, “Such a big bark for such a small fellow. Honestly, Cara, I’d feel better about you living here alone if you owned a bigger dog. Have you thought about getting a companion for Jack? Something bigger? More fearsome?”
Actually, I’d thought a lot about that, but I felt disloyal when I did. Jack only weighs two pounds when he’s soaking wet, but you’d never know that to hear him carry on. “Yes, I have. Then I remind myself that Jupiter Island has more police per capita than any city in the US. This place is covered with security cameras, too. I’m safer here than I was in downtown Stuart.”
Jay shook his head. “That assumes you get to a phone and make a call. I’m talking about a protector to run off anyone who intrudes on your privacy. Could be an unwanted neighbor. Or someone wandering down from the public beach.”
“Let’s sit under the sea grapes,” I suggested, as I nodded toward the winding trunks and large fan-like leaves that formed a cool bower on the seaside of my house. I’d set up inexpensive plastic chairs and a cheap table so I could picnic out-of-doors. One day I would buy nice furnishings, but for now, these would do.
“I heard you’ve already had an unwelcome visitor,” said Jay. His eyes crinkled at the corners. As a young man, he spent a lot of time on the water, so he has this sort of perma-tan that adds character to his craggy features. MJ thinks he looks like Harrison Ford, only younger. But not by a lot. Jay has a good ten years on me. Maybe fifteen. I can’t be bothered to ask.
“My sister Jodi dropped by to say that I’d stolen this property from her.”
~ To Be Continued ~
Author’s Note: Okay, I’m seriously hooked on writing and sharing serialized short stories, but I depend on YOU to give me feedback. So, please comment! To read Part 1, scroll down to OLDER POSTS and click on that.
“That sounds suspiciously like a threat,” said my friend Skye Blue. She twisted a strand of her dishwater blond hair around a finger. Skye was dressed to go across the street and work at Pumpernickel’s, a deli. The stark white blouse and black slacks seemed odd on a person who loves gauzy skirts, loose knit tops, and boots.
“It doesn’t just sound like a threat,” said my other pal, MJ Austin. Today MJ wore a turquoise dress that emphasized her decollete. Matching earrings picked up the color, and a bracelet of the same gave the outfit extra points for style. “It was a threat. Cara, you need to talk to the Jupiter Island police. She can’t get away with this.”
I shrugged. “That would only encourage her. Jodi would know she’s gotten under my skin. Besides, she hasn’t done anything. I didn’t even let her into the house.”
“But you’ve been working so hard on that place.” Honora McAfee is my oldest employee, and a dear nurturing soul. She plucked at her seersucker dress nervously. “What if she decides to splash it with paint. Or take a can of spray paint and write graffiti on the walls. She’s done as much to the windows out front.”
My friends knew I’d moved in when the cottage was a mess. Our newest hire, Jillian, was working with me to We sat around the small table in the back where we take our breaks. Since I love to cook, I’d baked a batch of biscotti for us to have with our coffee and tea. Bits of almond cookie were floating in my hot drink. “I need to talk with Poppy. If he’s giving the property to me, and nothing to her, she’s right. It’s not fair.”
I could see Skye and MJ’s jaws drop. Honora even sputtered and said, “That’s not true. She’s inherited money from her adoptive parents. And her adoptive grandparents. I know that because the Wirekas were friends of friends. From what I’ve heard, they were rather successful in their own right. Furthermore, they probably had life insurance and savings.”
“She can’t have it both ways,” agreed Skye. “She can’t collect whatever the Wirekas left her and also claim whatever your parents and Poppy want you to have, too.”
They had a point. “I swear, she gets me so rattled that I don’t think straight. Each time she shows up, I feel guilty. Logically, it makes no sense. I had nothing to do with the decisions our parents made. I would do anything I could to welcome her into my life. I’ve steered clear of Cooper. I’ve apologized. I didn’t even call the police when she vandalized the store.”
MJ set down her coffee mug so hard that the brown liquid sloshed over the rim. “That’s the problem, Cara. As long as you feel guilty, as you roll over and bare your jugular vein, she’s going to come after you. It’s like two dogs when they meet. When one of them acts submissive, the other takes the dominant role. You’ve shown her that you won’t fight. She knows she has you cowering. Honestly, what do you expect? Open arms and roses?”
“When are they getting married?” Skye had hopped up to grab a paper towel and sop up the mess in front of MJ. Because Skye works as a waitress, she’s fast on her feet like that. “Maybe when they do, and she’s Mrs. Cooper Rivers, she’ll ease up on you. Right now, she’s bound to feel insecure.”
I shook my head. “That’s part of the problem, I think. I ran into Philomena Humberger at Publix. She told me that Cooper and Jodi’s wedding has been postponed again. I guess everyone in town knows he’s dragging his feet.”
“Oh, my. She’s probably blaming you for that,” said Honora.
I nodded. “I think so.”
~ To Be Continued ~
Author’s Note: Okay, I’m serious hooked on writing and sharing serialized short story. This one will be done by Saturday, so I hope you’ll stick with me and give me feedback as I go along.
The minute I looked across the crowd and noticed my sister, Jodi, staring at me, I realized she’d make trouble for me. Not then. Not in front of all those people who’d gathered to help landscape Martin Gardens. Not while her fiance Cooper Rivers was looking on. But eventually. She’d find a way to punish me for being involved in a project that brought me in contact with Cooper. She’d make me suffer. That’s how she rolls.
My heart hurts a little each time I see her. Only recently have I learned that my parents gave their first child up for adoption. All my life I’ve wanted a sister. While I was wishing for one, Jodi was planning her revenge on me.
I can understand her anger. Her adoptive parents told her early on that she was adopted. They explained that her biological parents loved her very much, but they were young and not married, so they did what they thought was best for her. Jodi might have accepted that explanation, but she decided to search for her biological parents, and when she did, she discovered that they were happily married, successful, and the parents of a second child, me. Next she tracked down my grandfather, Dick Potter.
Poppy has been coy about the details of his relationship with Jodi. He’s provided for her in his will. They’ve met. But she isn’t a part of his life.
I wouldn’t have been a part of HER life either, except that I took a road trip and landed on Poppy’s doorstep in Stuart, Florida, when my car broke down. And that’s how I reconnected with Cooper Rivers, my first boyfriend and Jodi’s soon-to-be-husband, only to find that he was engaged to marry–and his intended was my long lost sister.
Sure enough, five days after the big community event at Martin Gardens, I heard a car crunch gravel in my drive. Jack, my rescue Chihuahua, thinks he’s a pit bull. Ever since I moved into this tiny cottage on Jupiter Island, Jack’s taken on a new personality. He’s my protector. When someone arrives, he barks his tiny head off, and he doesn’t stop until I go and see what’s up. Usually, the sound of tires on the drive signals the arrival of the public works guys, picking up my recycling or my garbage. Since I was folding clothes, I planned to ignore Jack’s antics.
But he didn’t quit. The vehicle didn’t drive off, and soon I heard a tap-tap-tap on my door. I was watching Jack as I opened it, because he’s small and has a tendency to get underfoot. Coming face-to-face with Jodi was a surprise, to put it mildly.
“First you steal my parents. Now you steal my property,” she said. Her dark eyes flashed with anger. As usual, she was dressed to the nines. On her feet were gold kitten-heel sandals that picked up the highlights in her auburn hair. The dress she’d chosen was A-line embellished with stones and shells around the neck. She looked gorgeous.
By contrast, I wore a pair of my son’s cut off jeans and an old tee shirt of