Come on in. You want some coffee? I just made a fresh pot. Kelly’s not here yet, so I’m taking the time to do my nails. That girl will come waltzing in here around nine after she’s made both her daughters late to school. I already been to the Grill with my José for breakfast, ‘cause he works nights. He’s the Neighborhood Police Officer for Fairmount.
I’m Keisha, Kelly’s office assistant. She plucked me right outta vocational school, and I know how she describes me—large, African-American, given to wearing caftans and muumuus, and, yes, my hair spikes change color to match my outfit. Today’s a pink day—see, even my spike heels match. Oh, don’t worry, I got flip flops under the desk for just wearing around here.
There was no job description for my so-called position, but I knew it would involve using the computer, and I don’t mind making the coffee, going to get take-out lunch sometimes, and running errands. Also I like being alone here while Kelly does her running around on one of her wild goose chases—gives me a chance to pretend I’m a real estate agent. I’ve actually made a few sales for her. Some day I’m gonna take that class and get my real estate license.
But I never bargained for some of the things Kelly has gotten me into—like living with her poor lonely mama when there was a serial killer targeting old women in our neighborhood, only Ms. Cynthia turned out not to be so lonely or at first welcoming, though now we’re soul mates.
Or escorting Kelly to the county hospital when her new husband, Mike Shandy, got busted up bad in an automobile accident—I wasn’t going to let her go there alone at night. She’s not street smart like I am, though she thinks she is. Mike used to be the Neighborhood Police Officer before José but he limps too bad to do that anymore. He’s in the Narcotics Division now.
Kelly used to buy groceries for Miss Lorna, our neighborhood recluse, but now she’s heaved that job over to me. I get along just fine with Miss Lorna ‘cause I don’t take her sass like Kelly did.
You see, I got the sixth sense. I can tell when Kelly’s in danger. José sometimes loses patience when I say we have to do something right now, like the time I made him and Kelly’s girls leave the zoo when we’d just gotten there. But if I hadn’t, Kelly’d be deep-sixed somewhere in Mexico by now and we’d never find her.
Now she’s getting all involved with this runaway girl and her abused mother and drug-dealing dad. No telling what’ll come of that—and what I’ll have to save her from, besides herself. You know, I can distinguish between when she’s just done something downright foolish and when she’s in real trouble. So far, in spite of all the protests from me and Mike Shandy, she’s just being headstrong. But danger’s gonna come home, I know that.
I wouldn’t trade my job for anything. I love my mama, but Kelly’s given me a whole new family what with her adorable daughters, Maddie and Em, and that Mike Shandy, and Ms. Cynthia and her unlikely boyfriend Otto, Theresa and Joe—he used to be a gangsta but he’s a good boy now, goin’ to college. And then there’s Claire Guthrie and her daughters—Claire lives in Kelly’s former house. We have great potluck suppers all the time—sometimes my mama comes and brings her chiffon pies. Nope, I’m settled and happy. Just got to keep that woman out of trouble so nothin’more rocks our boat.
Oh, here she comes. Now you say you want a two-story house? I’m taking down facts as fast as I can so Kelly’ll know I been doin’ more than polishing my nails and bendin’ your ear.
You can read more about Keisha in Danger Comes Home, the fourth book in the “Kelly O’Connell” mystery series. The first book in the series is Skeleton In A Dead Space .
In Danger Comes Home, daughter Maggie is hiding a runaway classmate; protégé Joe Mendez seems to be hanging out again with his former gang friends and ignoring his lovely wife, Theresa; drug dealers have moved into Kelly’s beloved Fairmount neighborhood. And amidst all this, reclusive former diva Lorna McDavid expects Kelly to do her grocery shopping. In spite of Mike’s warnings, Kelly is determined to save the runaway girl and her abused mother and find out what’s troubling Joe, even when those things lead back to the drug dealers. Before all the tangles in the neighborhood are untangled, Kelly finds herself wondering who to trust, facing drug dealers, and seeing more of death than she wants. But she also tests upscale hot dog recipes and finds a soft side to the imperious recluse, Lorna McDavid. It’s a wild ride, but she manages, always, to protect her daughters and keep Mike from worrying about her—at least not too much.
Meet the author
Judy Alter’s newest Kelly O’Connell Mystery, Danger Comes Home, launched July 22 in e-book form with print to follow. Others in the series are Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, and Trouble in a Big Box. Her second mystery series, Blue Plate Café Mysteries, launched in February with Murder at the Blue Plate Café.
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.