Dirty Little Murder

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Authors: Traci Tyne Hilton
a year.
    Jane sidled over to Jake’s counter. “What’s up?”
    “Just really fast, why didn’t you call me? I mean, it was a whole year.”
    Jane licked her lips. “I didn’t know you wanted me to call you.”
    “Really?” Jake’s voice was low so the people in line couldn’t hear him. Not that it would have been easy, with the noise of the blenders, shakers, and yogurt machines whirring behind him. Jane noticed two tall redheads whipping together drinks for the people in line. “I’m not kidding. After what we went through together you really didn’t think I wanted you to call me?”
    Jane looked at her hands. Then she looked back up. “You didn’t call me either.” She lifted her eyebrow and tried to laugh. “It’s not like you were waiting around all year to hear from me.”
    “Yes, I did call you, and yes, I was waiting.” Jake drew his eyebrows together over his gray-blue eyes. “I called two weeks after the funeral, and you never called back.”
    Jane bit her lip. She remembered that call. She remembered ignoring that call. “I’m sorry.”
    “Good. Make it up to me, but not right now. I’m totally swamped. Your timing is atrocious, but I know you’ll call me. Tonight, okay? Call tonight sometime.” He flashed her a grin and then turned to the redhead at the cash register.
    Jane stared at him. What was his game this time?
    She pulled her eyes away, and meandered slowly into the mall lunch crowd. She couldn’t call him tonight. His number was stored in the waterlogged phone being held as evidence in the murder of Douglas Swanson.

    After her mall recon and meet-up with Kaitlyn, Jane popped over to Paula’s house. She still wanted to find a way she could serve the woman who had given her whole life to missionary work. She had yet to figure out what it was Paula wanted or needed, but she was determined to keep trying.
    At the house, Paula led Jane into the kitchen. “How are the plans for your small group ministry going?”
    Jane accepted a cup of coffee. “Slowly.”
    “Care to elaborate?”
    “I think our idea is… complicated.” Jane took a sip of coffee and watched Paula’s eyes. While Paula was looking in Jane’s general direction, she had a distant, almost vacant look on her face. She wasn’t truly in the moment. “Kaitlyn wants to do something pretty unique, Valerie isn’t convinced it’s a good idea, and I can’t quite tell how it would work, even though I came up with it.”
    “Do you think it is worth attempting?”
    “Yes? Maybe? I mean, it’s certainly a noble idea.”
    “Noble is good. Perhaps you three have stumbled onto something entirely new. New can be hard for people to wrap their minds around.”
    But was reaching out to youth new? Jane pondered that. Sunday School was invented to reach out to children who weren’t being brought to church. Then there was AWANA. And the Boys and Girls clubs were around to connect with kids at loose ends. Not to mention all the variations of scouting programs available. And youth groups—the most obvious outreach to teenagers of all. Was there really anything new to what Kaitlyn was proposing?
    “You’re quiet… what are you thinking?”
    “I’m just wondering if the idea is truly new. Maybe it’s an old idea that we are making harder than it needs to be.”
    “How much time have you all spent praying over it together?”
    Jane looked down at her cup. “None.”
    “No wonder the job seems too big.” Paula took her coffee cup to the sink. “If you don’t mind my giving you a little advice, I recommend getting together for prayer. No planning, no brainstorming, just prayer.”
    Jane chewed on her lip. “You’re right.”
    “You are wondering how you can manage it, aren’t you?”
    Jane looked up, her eyebrow lifted.
    Paula chuckled. “You’re a bit like me, I think. You don’t feel like a leader when you share responsibilities with noisier personalities. But I think if you put yourself forward—not as

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