Chapter Twenty-One

Start from the beginning

"Fingers crossed," Bryan agreed, with a wink, and complimentary raising of crossed digits.

Michelle tip-toed around them to the desk, fishing her keys from her pocket. She swapped her gym shoes for her purse from the filing cabinet that served as her locker, then sat in the chair her brother had recently vacated. It was weird to put the shoes on without socks, but at least they were warm.

Bryan leaned on the partition around the desk. "Talked to Dad?"

"No, not lately. I know he called but I haven't had a chance to get back to him yet," she admitted. "I've been busy screening dancers."

Bryan's eyebrows knotted.

"I told you about this."

"Remind me?"

She stretched. "We're renting the space out to dance classes in the evening."

"Oh right, you did tell me this."

"Yeah. It's going well. One is a couple that teaches, like, swing or jazz or something, and the other is a ballet teacher. She wants us to wash the mirrors, though, which is making me a bit..."

Bryan regarded the expanse of graffiti. "But if it means more rent coming in..."

"Oh, I know." Michelle bounced to her feet. "I haven't ruled it out yet. But I like our wall. Our 'puffs like the wall too. And I do have other people to interview. Besides, the swing dance couple said they didn't mind the graffiti, and Mona and Jeff, well, they contributed so I can't see them caring. We're set for rent already, so we can afford to be a bit choosier, find someone who's going to be a good long-term fit."

"Smart," Bryan agreed. He played with a rubber bracelet, snapping it against his wrist.

Michelle stopped bouncing. "What?" Without being told, she knew something big had happened. Her brother sighed, running a hand through his hair.

"They caught him."

The air disappeared from her lungs. "Where?"

"Thailand."

"Thailand!"

"Yeah, apparently he was running a jet ski rental for tourists. No license, no taxes, nothing like that. Beachside huts."

"Thailand," Michelle repeated, head tilted to one side. "Beachside huts, huh? You know, that might explain the chickens."

"The what?"

"Nothing. Never mind. Was it the Thai police, or—"

"No, someone turned him in and he's being extradited."

"They extradite people for jet ski fraud?"

"Oh god no. There's a list as long as my arms. Longer. All petty stuff, but adding up." Bryan stopped as Dolores approached them.

"Change rooms are all mopped," she sang out, then stopped at the expressions on their faces. "What happened?"

Bryan glanced at his sister.

Michelle shrugged. "I tell her everything anyway, might as well."

"Oh, no, your uncle," Dolores said, immediately, hands flying to her face, and Michelle laughed, stifling it off into a cough at Bryan's reaction.

"Sorry. Sorry! But you knew he was going to get caught eventually."

"I know," Bryan retorted. He went back to snapping his rubber bracelet with a sigh. "I guess... part of me just hoped he'd get away with it."

CreampuffsRead this story for FREE!