“What was he thinking?” asks Alex.Â “Did he deliberately sabotage his own chances of winning?”
“Why are you so upset?” asks Tara.Â “I thought you’d be happy that you beat him, even if you didn’t win the event.”
“I just wonder if he is purposefully trying to become an employee.”
Tara shrugs.Â “What of it?Â I said he’s very good.Â I also told you he’d be very distracted.”
“But I’m not sure I like the idea of hiring him.”
“Jealous?” Tara asks.Â “If you’d rather not hire him, then I should at least offer to have dinner with him as a consolation prize.”
Alex scowls.Â “I’ll leave it up to you to decide.”Â He walks away.
“What’s happening with Gavin now?” asks Rachel.
“I’m not sure,” says Belle.Â “I can’t reach him.Â I think his phone is dead.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Nothing,” Belle replies.Â “I can’t do anything until I hear something from somebody.Â I don’t know if it’s good news or bad news, but I can’t make it worse by rushing in.Â All I can do is wait.”
“I know I’m inexperienced in investigations,” says Rachel, “but I’m willing to do anything you ask.”
Belle smiles.Â “I have to concentrate on my schooling so I can graduate.Â I need to makeÂ sure certain people stay out of my hair.Â At the same time, I am involvedÂ in an investigation that no one shouldÂ know anything about.Â What you could do for me is find out more about CarlÂ Black and his family.Â Â Especially, their whereabouts and activities.”
“Right on it, boss,” says Rachel, as she walks out the door.
Ashley turns around.Â “Yes?”
“I’m Jared Starr,” the man says, holding out his hand.Â Ashley reluctantly takes it and shakes it.Â “I heard you perform at the Hot Spot CafeÂ the otherÂ night and I read the wonderful review.Â I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only who appreciated your talents.”
Ashley smiles.Â “Thank you.Â But there must be more to this visit than just congratulations.Â Though it is a good start to flatter a publisher before you ask to get your book accepted.Â I take it that you are a writer?”
“Actually, no,” saysÂ Jared smiling.Â “I’m a music producer.”
Ashley raises her eyebrows in surprise. “Oh.”
“Starr Productions is only a small recording studio.Â But, being small, weÂ concentrate only on the best local talents.Â I think, though, we have a chance of making you bigger than just local.”
“Oh,” Ashley says again.
“Unfortunately, because we are small, we can’t offer you a big recording contract or anything.Â But we’d like you to consider working with us to record a CD.Â We can work out the details and make an equitable split.”
Confused, Ashley answers, “I’ll have toÂ have some time to consider it.Â I wasn’t expecting any of this.Â My family eventually wants to have their own recording studio, but that is sometime down the line.”
“Well, I don’t think you should wait that long.Â But give me a ring when you’ve made up your mind.”