“Mom, Trevor’s breathing my air!”
Geni dropped her head onto the table. Sometimes being a mom wasn’t fun and Geni didn’t always like it. In the weeks since she and Lex had closed the Essential for Life case, everything had gone back to normal--boring normal. Geni missed the crazy of the case, of being a private detective. She’d fallen into a bad time after Todd passed and Lex had picked up the pieces, caring for her and the kids. Even with what happened with Danny, Lex had still been strong enough to care for them.
She missed Todd. Waking up every day was a struggle. Getting dressed every day was hard. Even breathing hurt. But Geni loved her kids, so she got up every stinkin’ day and tried her best to put on a happy front for them.
She sat up and wiped the chunk of mashed peas from her hair and gave Brandy an exasperated look as she sat in her highchair. Her exasperation quickly turned to giggles when she saw the mashed peas all over Brandy’s face and hair and the giant grin curving her lips.
“I love you, baby girl,” she said, as she gently cleaned Brandy up.
“Mom, Trevor took the swing from me!”
“She took it from me first!”
This was not the fun part of being a mom. It was Thanksgiving Break and they’d been at each other since school got out the day before.
“Enough,” she broke into their arguing, “I want both of you to spend 30 minutes in your rooms doing something quiet.”
“But, mom,” Jocelyn whined.
“No buts. I am mom and this is not a democracy. Rooms for 30 minutes and I will restart the timer if you come out before it goes off.”
Trevor said, “I didn’t do anything.”
“Does it need to be 45 minutes.”
They both said, “No, mom,” and left the room still bickering.
Geni turned back to a partially clean Brandy. “Let’s finish getting you pretty.”
Brandy giggled and lifted her arms to be held. Just as Geni cleared the last bit of smashed peas off Brandy her phone rang showing Lex Stevens name on the screen.
“Hey, Lex,” Geni said.
“Why do you sound so far away?”
“You’re on speaker. I’m redressing Brandy from smashing her food all over herself, and me, while Trevor and Jocelyn have 30 minutes in their rooms and the house looks like a pack of wild dogs ran through it. It’s been a fun afternoon.”
“Sounds like a blast. Too bad I’m missing it.”
“No, Lex,” Geni clutched the phone, “Don’t cancel on me! You promised you’d watch the kids for me so I could spend quality time at the bookstore.”
“I’m not, Gen, calm down. I will be about an hour later than planned cause Corrine called and will be late so I won’t get off on time, again.”
Geni groaned, “I really don’t like her.”
“Ha ha! I’ll be late, but I’ll be there with pizza.”
“The kids will love you. See you at 6:30 then.”
Corrine had made Lex late getting off work every other night for the past week. Two of those nights happened to coincide with the ones Lex took watching the kids so Geni could have a few hours to herself. Call her selfish, but those few hours to herself gave her strength to make it through the week.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
“Alright, kids, come to the kitchen.”
Jocelyn and Trevor slunk into the kitchen and stood before Geni. She tried not to smile as she watched their approach. They looked like sheep walking toward the shearer.
“What do you have to say for yourselves?”
“Sorry, mommy,” they said in unison.
Trevor said, “I won’t breath Jocelyn’s air anymore.”
Geni quickly turned her laugh into a cough and choked out, “That’s nice, Trevor. And Jocelyn?”
“I won’t take the swing from him again,” Jocelyn sniffled out.
“Very good. Now give me a hug and run and play.”
They threw their arms around her and she closed her eyes, squeezing her kids against her. She loved these rascals!
She pulled away and shooed the kids out the sliding back door then picked up Brandy and walked to the front door. The man standing on the other side of the door caused Geni’s heart to stop and the blood to drain from her face.
“Detective Wolfe. What are you doing here?” She didn’t mean for the harshness in her voice to come out so strong.
“Hi, Geni,” he said as the smile fell from his lips, “May I come in and talk?”
“Two years, Wolfe. Todd was your best friend and you didn’t even come to his funeral, and then there’s what you did to---”
He held up his hands, “I know I messed up, Gen, but I need your help. Please, can I come in?”
She didn’t want to let him in, but Detective Wolfe was a proud man and he wouldn’t come asking her for help if it wasn’t serious. Geni nodded and opened the door wider to let him pass.
Once they were seated in the living room Geni asked, “What do you want?”
He looked around till his gaze landed on Brandy, “I didn’t know you had another kid, Geni. What’s her name?”
Geni pulled her daughter closer, “Brandy. But you didn’t come to talk about my kids.”
“No,” he looked her right in the eyes, “I came to talk about someone else's child. There was a kidnapping a couple of hours ago and I need your help to find the boy.”
He had her full attention, “Who? When? Where was he last seen?”
“He is 10 year old Luke Hansen and he was last seen on his bike leaving his house to go to a friend’s. He never made it to the friend’s house. This was two hours ago and the family received a ransom call from the kidnappers an hour after he left his house. It wasn’t until they received the phone call that his parents even knew he was missing, but it was an hour after that that the friend’s parents called the police to report him missing.”
“His parents didn’t report him missing when they got the ransom call?”
Wolfe shook his head, “They said the kidnappers told them they’d kill Luke if the police got involved.”
Geni couldn’t imagine what she’d do if she received such a phone call about one of her kids.
“Why do you need my help, Detective? Aren’t there enough officers on the force to search for the child?”
“Everyone is searching, but we found something odd on his bike and Newman said you’d know what to do with it.”
She sighed, “Lex would be better at helping you than I will be.”
“Newman recommended you, Geni. He said you did amazing work on the Essential for Life break in with the oil bottles. I’m asking you for help on this case, Geni.” He glanced at Brandy and then back to her, “Lex is a great investigator--so are you--but I need more than that, I need a mother on this case.”
Her eyes narrowed. “That is low, Wolfe, after what you did.” She stood up, “I think you should leave.”
The Detective leapt to his feet. “Geni, wait, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” He ran his hands through his hair, “I know that Lex would be amazing on this case.” He smiled at her. “She’s always amazing. But I can’t, Geni. I can’t face her after what I did to her. It was the worst moment of my life and I can’t take it back. But don’t make Luke Hansen pay for my mistakes, Geni. Help me bring him home, please.”
She let the air out of her cheeks and nodded. “But I’m not doing it for you, Wolfe, I’m doing it for Luke and for Lex.” She looked at the clock on the mantle, “My sitter won’t be here for another 30 minutes but I can meet you anywhere at 7.”
“Thank you. Meet me at this location.” He handed her a slip of paper, “I’ll see you in an hour.
Geni stared at the closed door with the feeling that she’d just made a big mistake letting Detective Wolfe back into her life.
Written by Linsey Ernst