The following is another excerpt from my work in progress, Jen McDowell—Private Eye; Business is Booming, a Jen McDowell Series. This is a draft. I’m at 61k words now. I’ve decided to restructure my chapters and manuscript (maybe today). If you want to catch up, order the novella The Throuple Private Eye—Hate Crimes, on Amazon ($2.99). The link is https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084LTTHGN. Enjoy.
Jen had to admit that the more Marty hung around the office, the more she like him. When Marty left the room to make more coffee, Jen said to Molly, “You and Marty are really getting serious aren’t you.”
Molly grinned. “I think he’s going to pop the question any day. Last week we had dinner at his parents. They’re great folks.”
“I envy you, Molly. It must feel good to have that kind of love.”
“What are you talking about?” Molly asked. “You have two hot guys that would do anything for you.”
“It’s not the same,” Jen answered. “Sometimes I wonder if they truly love me for me or if they just like the sex we have. You and Marty will get married and start a family. I want that too.”
“Don’t your boys want that?” Molly asked.
“No,” Jen answered. “I think they like things the way they are. Neither one is thinking about marriage. Jonah is more likely to marry, but Doc isn’t interested. Neither one has said anything about having children. I want children more than I want to marry.”
“The old biological clock ticking?” Molly asked. Jen saw Marty coming down the hall, so she just waved her hand at Molly and returned to her computer.
Trying to track down baby Kidist turned out to be very tedious—the kind of hard work that private eyes do all the time but is never mentioned in crime novels. Marty helped Molly set up a FaceBook page and a web site for tips. It wasn’t long before tips started pouring in. It took time to track down the leads, most of which were dead ends.
Finally, a tip came in that showed promise. A woman said she was sure she had taught baby Kidist in preschool and had a picture. Molly asked her to come into the office. On Saturday, the woman’s day off, a young woman of color came to the office to meet with Molly. Jen wasn’t around and Marty was making copies of a flyer about Baby Kidist.
After introductions, the woman started to explain her tip, “My name is Alba Jimenez. I’m a pre-school teacher. I’m sure I had this child in my class last year.” She handed Molly a photograph of a young black girl. “Her name was Cleotha Jones. She went by Cleo.”
Of course, her name had to be Jones. Molly thought. Couldn’t be Rumpelstiltskin.
“This photograph is a big help,” Molly said as she looked over the photograph.
“She had that tear drop birthmark,” Alba continued. “At first I thought it was a tattoo. It’s a perfect tear drop.”
“Do you have any other information that could help?” Molly asked.
“Yes,” Alba answered. “I checked my files and I have the parent’s address. I don’t know if they still live there.”
“Wow,” Molly exclaimed. “This is great. It’s the first real break we’ve had. Thank you. Can you tell me about the parents?”
Alba gathered her thoughts. “They seem like a nice couple. They always volunteered to bring cupcakes or cookies if I asked. They came to every teacher/parent meeting. I liked them.”
“Did you notice how they treated Cleo?” Molly asked.
“I think they adored her.” Alba answered. “She was an only child. Oh, I almost forgot. Cleo is left-handed.”
“Wow, again,” Molly said. “These are great clues.”
Alba smiled and sat back. “I don’t mean to seem pushy, but is there a reward?”
Molly nodded. “In fact, there is. If this turned out to be the missing Baby Kidist, then I’ll put you in touch with the grandmother. She’s offering a reward. The NCMEC might also offer a reward.”
“The who?” Alba asked.
“The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children,” Molly answered.
After some more small talk, Alba left. Molly was excited. She felt that there was no time like the present. She grabbed her purse and head out to the address that Alba gave her. It was Saturday, so Molly figured both parents would be home along with the child. She thought it best not to call ahead, because she wasn’t sure what she was getting into. She left a note with the address for Jen just in case. When Molly knocked on the door, a man of color about Molly’s age opened the door.
“Can I help you?” the man asked.
“Mr. Jones? Mr. Oni Jones?” Molly asked. “Is your wife home? I need to talk to you both about Cleo.”
“What about Cleo?” Oni asked.
“It’s about her adoption and her biological mother.”
Oni nodded and opened the door wider for Molly to enter. He called his wife and Cleo. Both came into the room. “It might be better if I just talk to you two for now,” Molly said. Hannah Jones sent Cleo outside to play in the back yard. It took several minutes for Molly to explain the situation. She told them about Anna and her search for her granddaughter and about Olivia’s suicide. As she talked, Hannah began to silently cry. Oni sat very stoic. When she was done, Molly asked, “Could Cleo be Kidist? Is she left-handed?” Both Jones nodded their heads. Hannah buried her face into Oni’s chest.
“I’m guessing that Cleo isn’t your biological daughter,” Molly said. “I’m I right?”
Hannah could hardly speak, so Oni did the talking. “We knew this day might come soon or later. We hoped for later. Yes. Cleo is probably Kidist. The timing is right. Of course, we didn’t know her birth name. We named her Cleotha after Hannah’s mom.”