Chapter 19

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Three days passed since Art and Natalya returned from North Dakota, and he hadn't done anything more to move the investigation along. Life was getting in the way, preventing him from working on her case. He had neglected his lawn, and he hadn't trimmed his hedgerow since last winter. Both were ratty-looking, so he dedicated his first day back to lawn work.

The next day, Art had a dentist appointment in the morning. When he returned after lunch, one of the springs on his garage door broke and needed replacing. Otherwise, it wouldn't shut tight. He spent the rest of the afternoon visiting three different stores to find a proper match and installing the new spring.

This morning he was in the process of washing and waxing his Mustang. Overcast skies and a cooler than normal temperature made for ideal conditions to complete the chore.

Although Art's hands were busy rubbing wax from a fender, his mind was busy digesting the information gleaned from the trip, trying to make sense of things and coming up with a plan on how to proceed. His decision to contact LODO before approaching Werner Gunther still seemed the best approach. The more details he had prior to calling on the fixer the better off he would be. He wanted to be more informed before having that meeting.

Art felt edgy having taken the three days off from working the case. He worried about losing the forward momentum he had going. Despite Jen reminding him he was retired and doing Natalya a favor, for free, he wasn't able to shake his restlessness. In his long career, he couldn't remember a more challenging case. It awakened a passion within him he hadn't felt since before Ellen's passing.

He thought a lot about Natalya and missed her company. Having spent the better part of three intense days together during their trip, he felt a strange emptiness after driving her and Joey home.

The logical part of Art's brain warned him to deaden those feelings. She was a client. He was doing a job for her. He needed to stay focused and professional. Nothing good could come from growing too close to the woman.

He sighed and concentrated on rubbing out a heavy deposit of wax.

Jen came out of the house ready to leave for work. "Hi, Dad."

The sight of his daughter made Art stop what he was doing. Instead of her usual work attire consisting of sneakers, jeans, and a blouse, she wore a dress and low heels. "You look nice."

"Thanks."

"What's the occasion?"

She bent and inspected her face in the Mustang's side mirror. "After my shift this evening, I'm going to dinner with Greg."

As far as Art knew, Jen hadn't seen her husband since she moved in with him. "Was that his idea or yours?"

"I called him."

Art didn't know how to react to her admission.

"Dad, since Natalya allowed me to babysit Joey those three days, it's made me want to fix things with Greg, or at least explore the possibility of fixing things."

He thought he understood what she was trying to say. "You want one of your own, don't you? A child. You're ready to try again?"

Jen chewed her lower lip and nodded.

"That's great, Jen. The thing is, Greg needs to stop being an asshole by blaming you for the miscarriage. If he can't get beyond that..." Art let his thought trail off.

Jen said nothing.

"I hope you can work things out."

"Me, too, Daddy." She opened her arms for a hug.

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