Olivia pulled into the driveway of their ranch-style house, which looked almost identical to the other houses on the block. She clicked open the garage door and saw that her husband was home. He had pulled his gray Honda inside. Maybe that meant he had the day off from work tomorrow. She parked her own yellow Mazda beside the Honda.
Rosemaria unclicked her belt, full of childish glee. “Daddy’s home!”
She ran to the door and burst into the kitchen where Steven Baker—tall, handsome, with light-brown hair that was starting to get a little gray in the sideburns—was leaning against the counter with a can of Budweiser in his hand. He immediately put it down at the sight of his daughter. Rosemaria flew to her father, who then lifted her high in the air and hugged her close. “What’s going on, little girl? Why are you home so late from school?”
“Movie. Mom took me to a movie, and it was really scary. And then we went to McDonald’s.”
He looked up as Olivia came through the door. “Movie, huh? During a school day?”
Olivia gave him a peck on the cheek as she walked by on her way to the bedroom. “Playing hooky one day won’t hurt. I’ll tell the teacher she had a slight cold.”
Steven kept Rosemaria trapped in a bear hug. “I guess one day of missing class won’t keep you out of college.”
Rosemaria laughed. “Maybe I’ll be an actress instead. School is boring.”
Olivia turned around and waved her finger in the air. “Oh no, you’re going to have something to fall back on. Not like me.” She disappeared down the hallway.
Steven poured the rest of his beer down the sink. “Since you’ve been sitting all this time, how about we go to the park and do some batting practice?”
“Will you tell me about your day?”
“All the gory details?”
Steven shook his head. “I’ll save those for when you’re a little older. Maybe next year.” He patted her on her back, sending her on her way down the hall. “Go get changed. You don’t want to let the boys outplay you.”
“Never!” She raced to her room.
“Were you scared, Daddy? Did you think that someone was still hiding in the house?” Rosemaria held her mac and cheese on her fork an inch from her mouth, waiting for his response. The dinner table was where she liked to drill her father about his day as a robbery-homicide detective, even though her mother would rather skip hearing about any of it.
Her father stopped chewing long enough to answer. “Well, we knew this was the house where the three robbers stored a lot of the stolen property, and we had a tip that one of them lived there. So, we were careful and cleared every room as we went through the house.”
“Cleared! That means make sure nobody is there!”
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