“Here are the first three chapters of my novel,” says Gavin.
“Thank you,” says Ashley. “I was getting ready to hunt you down when I heard you had come back from wherever you were. By the way, where were you?”
Gavin raises an eyebrow. “Pardon? I am way past the age of answering to anybody.”
“Well, if that’s how you feel about it, I guess I won’t tell you my good news.”
“That you’ve been offered a recording contract?” asks Gavin. “Yes, I’ve heard. Congratulations. Does that mean you’ll be spending less time here at the office?”
“Actually,” says Ashley, with a thoughtful look, “I hadn’t thought of it. I guess I’ve been too much in seventh heaven to work out the details. But, if I leave this, I don’t know who’ll take over.”
“I’m sure things will sort themselves out,” Gavin reassures her.
“Carl has received instructions to stay,” says Rachel.
“Interesting,” says Belle. “Do you know who the instructions came from?”
“A Bill Riley, in New York City,” says Rachel.
“Anything else?” asks Belle.
“Only that it involves you and Gavin.”
“Thank you,” says Belle. “I wish I could send you to New York, but it wouldn’t be safe for you to go alone. And if you went with Nicholas, the Steeles wouldn’t go for it.”
“No,” says Rachel. “But if there’s anything else from this end, I’d love to do it.”
“What about your regular job?”
“Most of it’s routine right now. It’s not as if Brighton has something major like this investigation going on – and it’s top secret right now.”
“True,” says Belle. She sits and thinks for a moment, then as an afterthought, she pulls out her cell phone. “Find out what you can about this man, Ryan Loomis.”
Rachel looks at the picture, gasps and turns pale.
“Do you know him?” asks Belle.
“Yes, but not by that name,” says Rachel.
“Mrs. Flint,” says Nicholas. “The checks I’ve run on Melanie Black show that she was married to a Carl Black. But I have not been able to locate any divorce proceedings. Of course, a lack of evidence does not necessarily mean that it does not exist. Especially if the divorce was obtained outside of the States.”
“I understand,” says Marie. “But, that’s not my biggest concern right now. Of course, any weapons we have against her would be additional armory. But I need some evidence that she is scheming to benefit from this marriage. Even if she didn’t get a divorce, we cannot prove that she didn’t know that she was still married. She claims her husband arranged it.”
“But why didn’t she do it herself? After all, if she was leaving her husband – ”
“She claims he walked out on her,” says Marie. “Of course, with a husband like that, I can’t understand why she didn’t leave him first. That’s why I don’t trust that woman.”
“I feel very guilty about this,” says Amanda.
“It’s not really our fault,” says Michael. “We’re not going to be the only family with two working adults. In fact, we hadn’t even considered starting a family until this situation with Lucas came up.”
“But we agreed to take turns with him,” says Amanda. “And I feel we’ve let him down.” She buries her face in her hands.
“When we made the agreement, you were on leave,” says Michael. “And it seemed like a good idea. But, hey, it still is. This makes us realize that if we were to start a family now, we would have to use the services of a good daycare.”
“We can’t possibly put Lucas in a daycare the whole time he is with us.”
“Why not?” asks Michael. “It would be exactly what would happen if we decide to adopt him. We can’t raise his expectations and then do that to him later. In the heat of the moment, we were willing to do everything for him. Now that things have settled down, are we sure we are ready to take on that responsibility? If we’re not, it would be unfair to him and to the others to continue with this.”
Amanda sighs. “It’s not that I don’t want him, because I really do love the poor kid. But, he does need a more stable home than we can provide right now. I can’t expect my parents to watch during the day when they also have their work.”
“Maybe we should have an open discussion with everyone, including your parents.”