Family Jewels: Rose Garder Investigations #1(3)

By: Denise Grover Swank

But one look inside the window revealed the real source of her distress.

“Neely Kate, I thought you fired Marci.”

“What are you talkin’ about?” she asked, digging in her purse. “I did.”

“Then what is she doing in our office?”

“What?” Neely Kate screeched, leaning forward to peer inside the windows. “I fired her. You heard me.”

“Well, she’s in there now. Let’s go find out why,” I said as I hopped out of the truck.

Neely Kate followed me. I opened the previously locked office door, and Neely Kate slammed into my back when I came to an abrupt halt.

Muffy stood on her back legs, and her front paws scratched frantically at my legs.

I gasped as I bent down to scoop her up. “What in the Sam Hill . . .”

Files and papers were scattered everywhere—the floors, the chairs, and the desks. Not one inch had been left uncovered. And in the middle of the chaos stood a woman with long blonde hair, cut-off jean shorts, and a lavender-colored tank top.

She spun around to face us, and a frown tugged on her lips. “You just ruined the surprise.”

“That a tornado came through?” I asked in dismay.

She laughed. “Don’t be silly, Rowena. I’m redoing your filing system.”

“But Neely Kate fired you,” I said.

She waved her hand and rolled her eyes. “She was always such a kidder.”

“I wasn’t kidding!” Neely Kate’s voice rose as she stepped around me. Her foot slipped on a folder, and I grabbed her arm to keep her from falling on her booty. “What else did you do?” Neely Kate asked.

Marci put a hand on her hips and gave us an impressive pout. “I was only trying to help.”

“I told you that you are not auditioning for Plant or Die!”

Marci lifted her chin and gave Neely Kate a defiant look. “That wasn’t it. It was something else entirely.”

“What was it?”

“It’s something you love to do anyway,” Marci said with attitude. “You’ve said so a million times.”

Neely Kate crossed her arms. “What TV show did you think you were on this time?”

“Not me,” she said. “You.” Then she pointed to me. “And Rowena.”

“Her name is Rose!” Neely Kate shouted. “Who doesn’t get their own boss’s name right?”

“Are you sure it’s Rose?” Marci asked, giving me the once-over.

“Yeah,” Neely Kate said. “I think I’d know since she’s my best friend. Now, what did you promise?”

“That poor man needed help. He was desperate.”

“What man?” Neely Kate asked.

“Radcliffe Dyer. His grandmother’s jewelry is missing.”

A shiver ran down my spine, but Neely Kate perked up. “Why did he come by here?”

“He heard that you and Rowena were good at finding things.”

“Rose,” I said with a sigh.

Marci shook her head. “He’s not looking for roses. It was jewelry.”

Tipping her head back, Neely Kate released a loud groan. “What did he say, Marci?”

“He said, ‘I need to talk to the two girls who work here,’ and I said, ‘Well, you’re lookin’ at one of ’em.’”

I gave Neely Kate an exasperated look. Had we really let this girl represent our business for ten hours?

“Why did he want the two girls who worked here?” Neely Kate asked.

“He said,”—Marci’s voice lowered into a deep bass—“‘I need them girls to find my grandmammie’s jewelry for me. My ex-wife has something to do with ’em going missing, and I want to get to the bottom of it.’”

Neely Kate put a hand on her hip again and waited. When Marci didn’t continue, she asked, “What else did he say?”

“He said,”—she lowered her voice again—“‘Sorry to hear about your yellow dress. When do you think they’ll be back?’”

Neely Kate turned back to me. “She obviously left out what she said to him, but I’m scared to ask what it was.”


Neely Kate turned back to her. “What did he say when you told him when we’d be back?”