Thursday, February 13, 2014

All in the Family

For a limited time, my book, All in the Family is available from Amazon for 99 cents.

Taking over the police chief's job in her hometown should have been easy for Callie Johnson. At least that's what she thought. After
working in a big city, small town crime would be a breeze. What a suprise when she arrives to finc her grandmother, the judge, accused of murder. As if that isn't enough, she's attacked while walking to her car. Between criminal investigations, her nutty family's antics and her Aunt Beatrice Lulu's matchmaking, Callie definitely has her work cut out for her. Will her grandmother be exonerated? Can Callie ward off her aunt's unsuitable suitors? 

Callie's a small town police chief who doesn't need department investigators or a dating site. She's got Aunt Beatrice Lulul! And her other aunts, of course. A delightful, slightly wacky family you'll love.

Callie looked around her first crime scene in Symtheville. Typical vandalism – nothing special about it. According to Jim this park had been vandalized several times over the last couple months. But this time was different. This time they had a witness. Sergeant Billings nodded to the little girl standing next to Officer Peters.
“That’s my witness?” Couldn’t be more than six or seven – what could a kid that age tell them? Still better than nothing.
“Hi.” Callie knelt next to the child – eye to eye so to speak. “What’s your name?”
Berry, that’s pretty. What’s your full name?”
“Huckleberry Kane.”
“Huckleberry! How’d you get a name like that?” Callie darn near bit her tongue. One of these days she’d learn to think before she spoke. Although the kid didn’t seem to take offense.
“My Grampaw named me.” Berry pulled on a strand of curly, red hair, lowered her freckled face, and kicked the dirt with her bare feet.
Those had to be the prettiest, greenest eyes she’d ever seen. “Well, Berry, that sure is a pretty name. I understand you saw who spray painted the park and broke the swings. Did you know them?”
Berry hooked her thumb through the strap on her bib overalls, kicked the dirt and shook her head.
“Can you describe them to me?”
Berry shrugged. Her tiny little shoulders brushed against her curls.
“Okay then...” Callie stood. Kneeling wasn’t the most comfortable position, and Berry wasn’t much of a talker. Wonder what she’d do with a sketch artist. Names certainly weren’t forth coming. “Sergeant, where’s the child’s parents?”
“Uh, um, her parents are dead, Chief, her grandfather has custody. He hasn’t arrived yet. We sent someone for him about twenty minutes ago.”
“Twenty minutes, where do they live?”
“Just a few houses down, according to the kid.”
“Go see what’s taking so long. I want to take Berry to the station, let her look at some pictures, maybe sit her down with a sketch artist.”
 “Chief Johnson!”  Peters raced across the park and stopped just short of knocking into Berry. “Chief can I see you alone a minute?”
Callie followed him a short distance away from Berry. “Okay, Peters, what’s going on?”
“Her grandfather, he’s...uh...” The officer looked at Berry and lowered his voice. “They found him unconscious on the kitchen floor. They called for an ambulance. They just took him to the hospital.”
Great, just what she needed another complication. She blew the hair out of her eyes. “Does she have any other relatives?”
“I don’t know, I was going to check with the neighbors. No one around here talks much. It’s like pulling teeth trying to get information.”
“So I’ve noticed.” Callie went back to Berry and knelt down next to her again. What a rotten thing to happen, poor kid.  “Berry, do you have any aunts or uncles?”
“Uncle William.”
“Okay, good. Where is Uncle William?”
“At work.”
Callie let out a chuckle. Of course he’s at work, what was she thinking? “Do you know where he works?”
“At the flour mill.”
“Officer, contact the flour mill, see if you can find William Kane. Let him know what’s going on.  I’m taking Berry to the hospital. Tell him we’ll meet him there.”
Callie stood and took Berry’s hand.  Better stop off and get the kid some shoes. “Okay, Berry, where do you live?”
“Right over there.” 
“Good, let’s get your shoes, and then we’re going for a ride.  Your grandpa said it was okay.”
“Why is Grampaw in the hospital?”
 Smart kid.  Now what?  Be honest, sure she’s only a kid, but she deserved the truth. So much for trying to keep it secret. “Your grandfather got sick and the ambulance took him to the hospital.  I’m going to take you there now, and we’ll meet your uncle. Okay?”
Berry pulled her hand out of Callie’s and raced toward the house.
Callie hurried to catch up and followed Berry into a small bungalow and looked around. Neat and tidy, but lived in. She couldn’t contain her curiosity and looked around the small living room. Furniture looked old but in good condition. Small TV in the corner. Nothing fancy here. A fairly new rag doll sat on an old rocker. Probably Berry’s. She smiled. Didn’t look like Berry played with it much. If she ventured a guess, she’d bet Berry was a a tom-boy. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Heck, she’d been a tom-boy herself. Still was if push came to shove. The kitchen had been cleaned, but the delicious aroma of breakfast still filled the room. Bacon and eggs. Her stomach growled. Half a bagel wasn’t much of a breakfast.
Berry came back with her shoes and put them on. “Okay, I’m ready.”
“So Berry, how old are you?” Callie asked on the way to the hospital.
“Do you go to school?”
“What grade are you in?” She’d never found it so difficult talking to a child before.
“First. Is Grampaw going to be okay?”
Callie glanced at the little girl, sitting on the seat next to her. Poor kid must be worried sick about her grandfather. “I’m sure he’s going to be fine.” What else could she say? She had no idea what was wrong with the man. Hopefully, it was nothing serious. She pulled into the parking lot at Park General Hospital and helped Berry out of the car.
“Grampaw isn’t going to die is he? Like Momma and Daddy did?”
Fortunately, Callie was spared having to answer. The doctor reassured her and Berry that Grampaw was going to be just fine. “You’ll be allowed to see him in just a few minutes.”
Berry and Callie went into the waiting room and sat down when a tall, muscular man caused a disturbance at the information desk. She jerked upright to see what was going on.
“My niece!” the man shouted.
“Uncle William!” Berry jumped up, raced to the man, and flung herself into his arms, and clung to him.
Callie hurried to join them. “Mr. Kane, I’m Chief Johnson.  Berry witnessed some vandalism at the park. I was hoping you’d allow her to come down to the station and look at some pictures and maybe talk with a sketch artist.”
William Kane threw Callie a look so murderous; she thought she’d been stabbed. His brown eyes glared into hers.
“No! She can’t come down to the station.  What do you mean taking a six year old child in for questioning?”
 “Mr. Kane, she’s our only witness. And I haven’t taken her anyplace for questioning. I brought her here to see her grandfather, who, thank God, is going to be fine, by the way.”  Damn it! Callie turned away and bit her tongue before she said anything else to anger this man.  She needed his permission – unless Grampaw gave his, and under the circumstances, Callie figured William Kane would fight it.
 She turned back to face him. Good looking in a boy next door sort of way. His blond crew cut suited him.  “Look, Mr. Kane, we seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot here.  I know you’re worried about Berry and your father, and believe me – I only have her best interest at heart.  But she is a witness, and I think she can identify the boys who did this.”
William took a deep breath and redness deepened his cheeks. “I’m sorry, ma’am. You’re right I was worried about Berry and my dad, but that was no reason to attack you that way.” He wiped his hand on his pants and extended it toward her.
She shook his hand. His smile extended all the way into his eyes and wrinkled his nose in a funny sort of way.  Cute! “Good then you won’t object and will bring Berry down to the station to look at some pictures? This is the third time this summer that park’s been vandalized. I really want to get these kids.”
“I’ll bring her down, but only if you’ll agree to have dinner with us. My way of apologizing”
Berry hugged William’s neck. “We get to eat out, yippee!” She loosened her hold, slid down out of his arms, and skipped over to Callie. “Say you’ll come, Miss Callie, please say you’ll come.”

Callie laughed.  “Well, with an invitation like that how can I refuse?” 

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