We spent most of the evening at the police station giving statements, and finally Detective Cassie Jones drove me back to the LEKU building and helped me get my car started. Sgt. Sanders had told me that they would contact Barrie, so all I had to do in the morning was itemize and mail her bill. I might have been inclined to waive some of the charges- it totaled over $2,500- but when I remembered that she had wanted to leave her husband if he had cancer, I decided not to. I worked a little bit on a couple of other cases, but I was too tired to do much. When lunchtime came I went out and bought a new coffee maker. I had just plugged the machine in and taken the old one out to the dumpster when my desk phone rang.
"Thank you for calling Chelsea Detective Agency, how may I help you?"
"Hi Quinby." It was Garrett. I wondered where he had gotten this phone number. I assumed he'd picked up my real name at the station last night.
"Garrett, what a surprise. Can I help you with something?"
"I want you to meet me and talk. Not a date, just talk. Please? It's important."
I guess that was the least I could do for the man who had saved my life. "Okay, you know the McDonald's off of Parkside?" You probably think I have an obsession with McDonald's, but hey, it's a public place with plenty of witnesses. And cheap too. "I'll meet you a three-thirty."
The phone rang again as soon as I hung up with Garrett. This time it was Kent. "Quinby you're all over the news!" he fairly yelled. "Everyone's hearing about how you caught a vicious drug dealer singlehandedly!" If there was one thing you could count on the media for, it was to get everything wrong. I was about to say as much, but Kent didn't give me the opportunity. "Oh, and by the way, where's your cell? I tried it, but it went straight to your voice mail."
"Yeah, Mason flushed it last night."
"Flushed? As in toilet?" I couldn't think of another proper use of the word, "Ewww."
"You're telling me. I need to get a new one, I guess."
"You ought to look into the new ones Samsung is putting out with Android software. They have some features that would be real handy for you."
"Sounds expensive too. I just bought a coffee pot and I want an apartment."
"Well, I'm sure those are better investments." He said, "Oh that reminds me, I emailed you the ad for that efficiency unit."
"Oh, thanks. I'll look at it after a while. Maybe I'll actually be able to afford it if Barrie pays me."
"If? How much does it add up to?"
"Just over twenty-five hundred."
Kent whistled, "I think I'd be calling a collection agency if she doesn't."
"I guess I should. I hate to resort to such tactics, but…" I looked at the clock. It was three exactly. "Kent, I've got to go. I have a meeting in thirty minutes."
After I hung up, I went to the bathroom to brush my hair and touch up my makeup. I told myself I wasn't trying to impress Garrett, as I swiped on my mascara. I just wanted to be presentable. We met in the parking lot. Garrett bough a hot fudge sundae for me, and a McFlurry for himself. He wanted to sit out on the patio, but I refused. I wanted as many people watching as possible. I wasn't sure if I trusted him or not. We sat at a table in the corner eating out ice cream for a while before he spoke.
"I guess you're probably wondering why I wanted to talk to you. I have a confession to make." I said nothing, but braced myself for what he might say next. "I've been following you." He said quietly.
"I kind of thought so. I mean, your truck was fine last night, so you obviously didn't show up at that cabin because of car problems."
"I assure you, Quinby, my intentions were noble." He said, leaning forward. "Actually, that's what I wanted to discuss. You see, I work at Salisbury and Ashton, Attorneys at Law, as a paralegal, and we are looking for a new detective agency to use when circumstances require such. I have been authorized to offer you the position. You would still be free to run your own agency, but we would give you a regular salary whether you worked a case or not."
There is a word I've read many times in books, but have never had the opportunity to use. It seemed perfectly appropriate now. I was flabbergasted. "I'm flattered, Garrett," I managed to say. "Bit why me- not that I'm complaining or anything- I just don't understand- one of the bigger firms…"
"We've gotten quotes from several. It is actually more cost effective to pay one salary every week than to cover what they would charge 'as needed'. Besides, we prefer to always have the same person handle our business. There's no guarantee of that at a larger firm. So, what do you say?"
"Um…" that was about as coherent as I could be right now.
"Oh, I forgot to mention, we offer medical and dental insurance as well as two weeks' vacation after a year."
"Let me think about it." I wanted to go home and research the firm before I committed to anything.
"Okay. Just give me a call. Say, do you have a different cell phone? I tried the one you gave me this morning, but it never went through."
"It met with an unfortunate accident last evening involving Mason and the- ah- commode. I guess I should pick up a new one on my way home."
"I'm sorry about your old one, but why don't you wait a few days?" Garrett suggested, "If you do decide to join us, the firm pays for each of us to have a smartphone so we can all communicate for free."
My goodness! Vacation time, medical insurance, and a cell phone? To say nothing of a regular paycheck. This offer was getting more tempting by the minute. "I appreciate that generous offer, Garrett. I'll call you in a few days."
Monday morning I called Garrett as soon as I got back from the post office, I had spent Saturday evening researching Salisbury and Ashton, and had found nothing but good things about them. Well, except for a few disgruntled clients whose cases hadn't been won, but I wasn't concerned about that. I had spent the rest of the weekend praying about the offer. I was afraid that if I accepted it would be for the wrong reasons- and that I might not feel quite so dependent on the Lord if I had steady employment. But by Sunday night, I couldn't help but believe it was His way of providing for me. Knowing that He had arranged such unusual circumstances to take care of me is truly humbling. It's great to be loved.