you know what they say: while the catâs away!â Junior yelled out from the den. âParrrtay!â
âNoooo, none of that,â Chance corrected, heading to his pot to give it a stir. Juanita followed him.
âSo just you and the kids for two weeks?â she asked. Chance glared at her.
âI can handle it. Why do you and my wife think I canât handle it?â
âI didnât say anything remotely like that ...â Juanita grinned.
âYes, you did,â he fussed playfully.
âNo worries, heâs got me,â Rainey said. âI can handle these boys,â she assured.
âIâm sure you can, baby.â Juanita again noticed how pretty Rainey was. She felt immediately melancholy, imagining Rainey to be her own daughterâbut, alas, she was Rashawnâs daughter. She was the glue that held Chance by Rashawnâs side. âYouâre more and more like your mama every day,â Juanita said.
Chance looked at her as if unsure of what she would say next. âAnd that means?â
âDonât be so defensive. That means sheâs turning into a beautiful young lady.â Juanita laughed and then whispered loudly and playfully to Rainey, âWilling to get in over your head, but then,â she turned to Chance, âIâm sure thatâs the you in her,â she added, bursting into laugher. Chance clearly couldnât resist and laughed too. Dipping the spoon in the pot, he tasted the soup.
âYeah!â he exploded.
âOhhh, let me taste it,â she requested. It was a knee-jerk request but she was caught up. Warm house, warm laughter... . Yeah, she was caught up. And as soon as Chance raised that spoon to her lips, the door opened and Rashawn walked in. Yeah, she was caught up, or she would have been ready for that one.
âWell. Cozy,â Rashawn said. Her tone cooled the room down by degrees. Surely it matched outside now. Chance quickly set down the spoon and hurried over to her, kissing her tenderly. Juanita felt her own mouth open slightly as if she had received the tenderness of his lips.
The moment was suddenly awkward. âWell,â she began. âJunior. Iâm going. If you need more stuff, just have your dad ...â she glanced at Rashawn and Chance standing there, âor just come get it,â she stumbled.
âYeah,â Junior answered, sounding as if his mouth was full.
Quickly, Juanita grabbed her purse and brushed past Rashawn, pausing only to whisper, âHave a nice trip,â before rushing out the door.
Climbing behind the wheel, she noticed Rashawnâs car parked on the street. She was parked in Rashawnâs normal spot. She looked back toward the house and thought about the perfect family inside. She thought about how that family could have been hers if she hadnât cheated, schemed, and lied so much. âIâma get back on my meds tomorrow,â she promised herself.
He didnât have time to wait for the local police to figure out that Craven had been murdered by Allen Roman. Somehow, someway, he was going to have to prove it to them. They were stuck in the ânatural causesâ groove and refused to move, according to Maravel. Heâd been working with Lawrence Miller for a couple of days now, but still heâd not reached his sensibilities. He could tell. âMaybe if I were more forthcoming with the real deal ...â he began. âLike that would really get me further,â he admitted, picking the lock and slipping into Craven Michaelsâs house unnoticed. Lawrence Miller was a good cop, but even he hadnât been willing to just open the door and let him inside Cravenâs house to look around again. It could have been because British Intelligence hadnât heard of him. Lawrence had been quick about checking out his references.
âIâm on special assignment,â Ovan had told Lawrence, hoping that would win his