"Well, crap," I said to the ceiling and my sleeping husband. I looked over at the clock on Jeff's side of the bed - time to get the kids up and ready for school. I tried to slide out from under his arm.
"Where are you going?" he growled, his voice muffled by the pillow.
"Upstairs to awaken your children." I attempted to move his arm again, to no avail. "Jeff - it's almost seven."
"Five more minutes."
"No - everyone will be late, including you."
"I don't care." He turned over on his back. "Isn't it Saturday, yet?"
I was searching for my slippers under the bed. The dogs must have made off with them again. "Not even close. Honey, come on. I'll make pancakes," I offered. "Oh, and you promised you'd do show and tell for Jake at school today. I ironed that khaki shirt for you last night."
"You know, I only married you because you can iron like a Marine."
"That's because one taught me how. Now get up - the dogs are waiting for you." I stepped over Zippy and Mac on my way upstairs. The other two must be sleeping with the kids.
Taylor's bed was already made, backpack on the table outside her door. I heard water running in the bathroom on my way down the hall to Jake's room. Somewhere a six-year-old boy was buried under a quilt and two dogs.
"Rise and shine, boys." When I pulled the quilt off my sleeping son, Duncan and Willie scrambled off the bed, out the door and down the stairs. It was sure a lot easier to get the dogs moving in the morning than the men in this house, I thought to myself. "Jake, you can't be late - you have show and tell today."
That was all I needed to say. Jake sat up and rubbed his eyes. "I have to wear a red shirt," he said. "Do I got one for today?"
"Do you have one," I corrected him.
"That's what I was asking you, Mom," he answered and slid off the bed. "It has to be red. All my friends are wearing red shirts today."
I smiled. Jake was definitely the most social member of the family; the third day of school and he already had friends - plural. I grew up here and by the time I was in sixth grade, I had only made two real friends: Billie Jo and Jeff. I hope Taylor turned out to be more successful at relating to strangers than I had been. I finished straightening the sheets on Jake's bed as he wandered back into his room. "I'll get your clothes out if you fix your quilt and put the pillows in the right place, okay?"
I rummaged around in his dresser until I found a red shirt. I put the jeans, shirt, clean underwear and socks on the end of the bed. "You'd better be dressed and downstairs in ten minutes. I'm making pancakes and you don't want to be late. You know how much Daddy loves pancakes."
"Can we have blueberries?" His face looked hopeful. "I love blueberries."
"And I love you. I'll see." I hugged Jake until he started to squirm. Time to make the pancakes.
"Coffee, babe?" Jeff asked. He was probably on his second cup. "Hazelnut? Mocha? Tall, grande or venti?"
"Very funny. We don't go out for all that fancy coffee nonsense here. I will just have a cup of tea, thank you. Jake has requested blueberry pancakes - any objections?" I measured pancake mix into the batter bowl. Yes, I cheat in the kitchen when time is of the essence.
"None, whatsoever. Bring 'em on. I have a show and tell to attend this morning."
"Look on the bright side, Daddy," Taylor said, "if you do the show and tell it keeps Jake from telling some embarrassing story about one of us." She did have a point.
"What's with the hair?" I asked. Taylor's normally well-groomed hair was going in twenty different directions.
"I fell asleep on my wet hair. I was reading and forgot to brush it out and now I have a big mess. Can you fix it, Mom?"
I couldn't see much fix to it, other than a hat - but that's why I cut off my long hair years ago. "Go get your brush and an elastic band. Daddy will fix it for you. And bring your brother with you when you come back."
Not only does Jeff know how to cook and iron his own clothes - neither of which he voluntarily does very often, mind you, he can also do a mean French braid. I set the table and finished making breakfast while he untangled and expertly tamed Taylor's dark hair.
"Did you go to hair trooper training, Daddy?" Jake asked. He climbed into his chair at the table and looked at me expectantly and then at his empty plate, as if willing a short stack of hot blueberry pancakes to appear.
"Something like that," Jeff replied. "But we're not going to talk about hair at show and tell today, okay?"
"Okay." Jake's attention was diverted by the arrival of his breakfast.
"Can I come, too?" I asked, just to see what Jake would say.
"Next time, Mom," he said. "I'm not sure what you do anyway."
Jeff burst out laughing. "Oh, you know, Jake, secret math stuff. Satellite surveillance, targeting systems for smart bombs - nothing very exciting."
"I know," replied Jake. "That's why I asked you to come for show and tell instead. You shoot people."
"You'll thank me later," Jeff said and grinned at me.
"I'm sure you'll have a lovely time. Hey, did you have any voice mail from Danny last night?"
"Not a word. Our grave robber may have been deterred by the stake-out. I asked the coroner to make a big production of putting Millie back - floodlights and everything. Along with an official seal on the crypt. Leaving my car in front of Mr. Maguire's house last night probably wasn't necessary, but I've got to put a stop to this. If it was a joke, it's gotten out of hand. I have a feeling, though, that it's no joke."
"Me, too," I said. "I'm just having a hard time figuring out the motive behind all this."
"So stop trying. Figuring this mystery out is my job. Don't you have more stuff to unpack, pictures to hang, cookies to bake, equations to solve?" Jeff finished his coffee and put his napkin on the table.
"Why, yes, I do." I made a face at him. "Get your stuff, kids. You can walk Daddy up the street to his car and he'll drop you off at school."
"Yay!" yelled Jake. "Show and tell and a ride in the police car. This is a good day! Thanks for the pancakes, Mom."
"Breakfast was good, Mom," Taylor said. "And I know what you do. I mean, besides taking care of us." She gave me a quick hug and followed her brother out the door.
"Now I feel bad," Jeff said. "I was only kidding." Bless his heart, he actually did look sorry.
"I know you were. And I don't mean to interfere with your work. You know I just can't mind my own business when it comes to solving a puzzle. Character flaw." I smiled.
"Just one of the many flaws I love." He leaned down and kissed me. "How about date night tonight? I hear the band isn't too bad up at Me Oh My."
Date night? Oh, give me a break. "It's a recon mission and you don't want to go alone." I kissed him back.
"Something like that. Scouting enemy territory the low tech way can be dangerous," he said, heading for the door. He turned and looked at me. "But you know what they say, you dance with the one what brung ya."
I swear, that man thinks he's funny.