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Fatal Hesitation-Chapter 1


Staring at the sign, When Heaven Meets Hell, above the moderately comfortable building it adorned, the onlooker sighed. She had to admit to a degree of trepidation at the name of the agency, which she'd located from the numerous ones in the phone book. It didn't exactly give peace of mind in ones hour of need. Shaking off the initial doubts, the woman opened the door to the office area and walked in as confidently as she could muster.


Inside, she was amazed to see how normal it looked. Perhaps too normal, maybe this was the catch to knock you off balance before reality set in. Glancing around, she saw a couple of desks in what appeared to be a small reception counter that as far as she could see was unmanned. The walls covered in small landscape paintings...nothing too elaborate...soothing in their own way. She saw no angry depictions of waves crashing over gigantic rocks or stark and lonely scenery. No, these depicted more gentle scenes, babbling brooks and colorful cottage garden types. The colors adorning the walls, done in pastel greens and yellows, produced a feeling of calmness to wash over one's soul."


A phone rang and a voice appeared from nowhere, or, at least they must have been hiding because she never saw anyone. Waiting a few minutes until the call had ended the woman neared the reception counter and in a soft tone said, "Hello." She virtually jumped out of her skin when the head of a woman peeked over the top of the counter.


With an engaging smile, the person replied, "Hello."


"My goodness I didn't realize you were hiding behind the counter," the potential client remarked. Her voice initially breathless, gaining her composure soon after by catching her breath, after the surprise of seeing the woman.


Teal grinned warmly, cheerfully explaining, "Sorry about that. I like to work at my level for all the normal duties. I'm a dwarf you see," Seconds later Teal appeared from behind the counter and motioned her to the desk on the left. "How can we help?"


How they had stumbled across such the name for the agency baffled her, as the place seemed far removed from a troubled scenario. Instead, she had been greeted by soothing ambiance and now a woman though of tiny stature, was certainly big on personality and abundantly cheerful. "I'd like to book an appointment with a private detective. Today if possible. I'm in town from for the day."


"Of course, I'm sure we can arrange that. Detective Santos is free...let me see now. Ah yes, she'll be available for a consultation at one or four o'clock this afternoon, take your pick," Teal announced in an upbeat professional manner, while flicking through a diary on the desk


"One will be better for me then I can get an earlier train back home." The woman accepted the appointment gratefully.


Teal grinned as she picked up her pen. "I need a few details...nothing too personal." Teal asked her questions casually noting the answers on what looked like a form of some description. With the formalities over, the woman stood up and wished Teal a polite goodbye.


Taking only a few minutes over the relevant particulars, she was ready to leave until her appointment later that day.


"See you at one o'clock, Ms. Agnew." The door closed quietly behind the woman. 


Teal began to speculate, which was a small game she played, as to what type of case this would be. Perhaps an affair gone she's too timid. Maybe the husband doesn't understand her syndrome and all that went with it. Then again, it could be...


The inner door of one of the offices adjoining her domain opened and crashed shut behind the person leaving the room hastily. From Teal's position it looked like the session wasn't very productive, as the man, red faced and angry, left the building without a word. A few minutes later, that same door opened and an exasperated woman with a frustrated expression on her face stood there. "Teal, any chance of a decent coffee? I think I'm in need of an OD of caffeine."


Teal chuckled softly, as she saw one of her bosses and good friend, look none too relaxed. "I think you need more than an overdose my friend. I see Mr. James was his usual bubbly self after your session.?"


"Teal, how can you equate bubbly and Mr. James in the same sentence? Hmm, well at least we're making progress." Doctor Amelia West walked into the calming atmosphere of the room and lounged against the desk where Teal was sitting.


"I'll take your professional word for it, Amelia," Teal stood up placing a friendly hand on her friend's shoulder, which she could only just reach. Fortunately, Amelia wasn't as tall as she other was employer. Because there was no chance of the same action being taken with the private detective, no matter how much she dreamed of touching the muscles in that well sculpted body. Eat your heart out Theron, Teal thought as she left to make the requested coffee.


Amelia glanced down at the diaries of both hers and the private detective, amazed to see that the detective had more appointments than she did for the rest of the week. Although, in truth, since moving away from her old neighborhood and taking up residence in a district a couple of miles away. Her clients had been severely reduced while detective's had increased dramatically. Perhaps she should rethink her profession along with her old lifestyle. Not that she had completely cut herself off from her Order, she hadn't. In fact, with the recent changes and the need to find out what she really wanted in her life: be it the church or... To be honest, she hadn't decided yet. She'd had wonderful and meaningful conversations with Mother Sara, every Saturday late afternoon now for six months. Perhaps one of the Mother's suggestions that she take a vacation wasn't such a bad idea, especially with such a small amount of work on her books now.


A visit to the ocean with her folks, who were heading to Maine next week for a month, might be a good tonic for her. Had it really been so long since she'd visited the old haunt by the Ocean. Amelia's memory kicked in big time as she recalled the last summer that she had been there. The weather had been glorious and life had been beckoning her to do something great with her life. As all adolescences think of it as being their right and as her parents had often told her she would be wonderful at whatever she chose to do. Then there had been Don, Don Clayton Jr. he had been her long time pal through the summers of her childhood and on through her teenage years. Everyone thought that they would eventually end up together when they grew up. Smiling at the old memory of the young man she recalled with warm affection, she wondered what he would look like today. Had he changed in any way. Where had his life taken him? Yes, she would take a vacation. It would be the ideal solution for her at this time. Old familiar places might be the tonic she needed to know where her path should lead her.


Concentrating on the diary in front of her, she shouted softly to her associate. "Teal, do you think it would be possible to rearrange my calendar for next week, no maybe two weeks, without any hassle?"


A voice that wasn't Teal's made her look up. Her eyes moved in the direction of the only person who had a voice like that...Private Detective Olivia Santos. "Darn it, Olivia, do you have to creep up on people like that?"


A glimmer of something, tht Amelia decided was mischief, glowed in Olivia Santos' eyes, as she neared her business partner's position. "All part of the training my dear, Sister Amelia, are you going someplace nice, Doc?"


Amelia's head moved from side to side as she pursed her lips about to retort something smart knowing it would be futile. Olivia Santos could be so childish sometimes. Take the flicking of her nose as an example, which she still did from time to time much to Amelia's dismay, was all part of her agenda to find out how the detective ticked. "I'm considering taking a vacation; therefore, the answer would be yes."


Dark eyes followed the doctor as she moved away from her locality and headed toward Teal. "Doesn't always equate in my book, however to each their own. Any place special or...perhaps with someone special?"


Teal walked back into the reception area and listened to the banter between the two partners. 'I swear the atmosphere in the room changes significantly when you two are in the room together. Would you call that good or bad chemistry?' As her bosses' gazes turned to stare at Teal she quickly countered, "I can clear your schedule Amelia for as long as you need."


A laugh erupted from the detective at Teal's second remark. Through the laughter, Olivia remarked, "No clients to keep you occupied, Doctor. Want to take one or two of mine and lighten my load?"


Slightly angry at the reference to her lack of cliental, Amelia wanted to respond harshly, but fortunately, her invaluable church training took over and decided she would suffer in silence. Finally, taking a deep breath, she answered her at times insufferable business partner. "I'm taking a vacation with my folks. Any objections?"


Olivia's dark eyes smoldered in Amelia's direction and she opened her mouth to speak when Teal interrupted her.


"Olivia, I've booked you another appointment at one, don't be late. Great idea, Amelia. Don't your folks go boating in Maine this time of the year?"


Amelia smiled at her friend thankful that at least Teal was on her side. She laughed inwardly as the detective groaned at having to go through another meeting. One thing the detective hated was the initial interviews and the paperwork that entailed. "Yes they do. It's been a while since I last took a vacation with them." Her eyes were in a far distant place as she took the offered coffee and ambled in a better state of mind back to her office.


"What are her folks like Teal?" Olivia asked nonchalantly.


Teal smiled warmly, she knew Olivia's tactics. She was interested in Amelia's background but refused to ask the doctor personally. "Great, wonderful people you couldn't ask for more stable parents. I think deep down they were disappointed that Amelia went into the church like she did...they thought she had the promise of being a high flyer in her profession."


Olivia didn't immediately reply. Then she asked, "What do you think they think of her decision to join up with me?"


With her hands behind her back and her fingers crossed Teal cheerfully answered, "Oh, they think it's great." They didn't...far from it. Olivia didn't have to know that. It wasn't as if she was ever likely to meet them. Olivia Santos and meeting parents didn't quite ring the bell.


For a few moments, Olivia appeared to digest the information and with a shake of her head, glanced down at the solid list that were her appointments. "What was the new potential client like in that role-playing mind of yours, Teal?"


They both laughed as Teal's supposed secret musings that apparently weren't all that secret. She began to describe Ms. Sharon Agnew and what her thoughts were on what the case might entail. 


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