It has been at least two weeks since Jennifer Mason has had a case. Things being slow like this is not uncommon for her, her business is dependent on other people's problems. So if things are slow, it isn't necessarily a bad thing and money is not an issue for her. A lot of the cases she has taken on have paid her considerably well, allowing her to have a nice savings account to fall back on. Besides, a nice long break now and then is good for her since she is a middle-aged woman.
Jennifer leans back in her chair, preparing to get a bit more comfortable with today seeming like today is it is going to be another day where she can just laze about and not worry about anything. She adjusts her white blouse and pushes her long, wavy black hair behind her shoulders before she props her bare feet up on her desk. Placing her feet on top of her desk, she looks at the blue polish that adorns her slender toes. The nail polish is starting to chip and the edges of her well-kept nails are visible, making her think that it may be time for another pedicure. Perhaps her husband may indulge her and tend to her feet, it would be a nice money saver. Wiggling her toes, she can't help but find some delight in this idea. Her attention is turned away from her pretty peds when the door to her office is opened, putting an end to how slow things are going.
A woman, who is wearing a green dress, steps into her office, her hazel eyes full of worry. She seems to be in her mid-twenties, her pretty face nicely framed by her long brown hair; which has been done in a thick braid which reaches to her knees. Another thing the private eye notices is that she is clutching a folder, holding it to her chest. "Excuse me, are you Jennifer Mason?"
"Yes I am," she answers, "Though most people call me Barefoot Jenny."
"Oh," the woman sounds surprised at what Jenny had just told her. She can't help but glance at the woman's bare feet, which are still propped up on the desk, "you go barefoot too?"
Jenny leans forwards so that she can take a look at this woman's feet, and sure enough, this woman is standing in her office barefoot. Her feet seem to be well taken care of, her nails painted green to match her dress and recently done too. She is shifting her feet, curling her toes and rubbing her one sole along her arch as if she is distraught. Jenny can't help but notice that her feet do look considerably large. "Left your shoes behind?"
The woman shakes her head, "No, I just don't wear shoes. I find them to be very uncomfortable."
Jenny leans back in her chair, crossing her legs as she gets comfortable once again. She can't help but have some admiration for this woman's commitment to go completely barefoot. "I imagine that you didn't come here just so we could talk about our preferences for footwear, or lack of I should say, Miss…"
"Misses Ashley Randal. You are right, Lieutenant Kirschenbaum referred me to you. He said that you were the best person who can help me."
"You want me to check in on your husband? Make sure that he isn't seeing someone else?"
"What?" There is a tone of disbelief in her voice as she says this. "No! Gabriel would never cheat on me." Walking up to the desk, she places the folder that she has been carrying on the desk. "My husband is a detective, he works at the same precinct as Lieutenant Kirschenbaum. He was working on a case and got very close to closing it, but I haven't heard from him for over a day."
Jenny picks up the folder, now seeing that it is actually a case file, and begins to look through it. "Are you sure that something has happened to him?" Jenny asks as she is looking through the file. "Maybe he is busy on this case, or his phone has no signal."
"Yes, I am positive. Gabriel always keeps in contact with me, he knows how much I worry about him when he works."
The details in the case file are organized, making it easy for Jenny to see just who Gabriel was investigating. From what she sees he was following a woman named Alex who has been accused of hacking ATMs to empty them of all their cash. While their cameras haven't been able to catch her, it looks like Gabriel managed to gather the evidence he needed to confirm her guilt. Placing the case file down, Jenny looks at Ashley who is hoping that she can be helped. "I'll find your husband."
"Oh, thank you so much." The grateful woman leans in to hug the private eye. "You have no idea how much this means to me," she says as she leans away.
"As far as my fees go…" Jenny begins to explain.
"I don't care how much it costs," Ashley interrupts, "Just, please, find my Gabriel."
Escorting Ashley out of her office, Jenny notices that her newest client is a couple of inches shorter than her. The two barefoot women say their farewells, the private eye promising that she will find Ashley's husband as she is ready to start on her newly acquired case. She is eager to find this woman's husband, not because she is getting paid for it, but because she can relate to how she is feeling. She remembers when her husband, Lieutenant Kirschenbaum, was shot and put in the hospital. She was worried about him.
Luckily for Jenny, the case file did contain a last known address for Alex, the best place to start. Looking at the address, she sees that it is all the way out in Loveville. With this being all the way down in Southern Maryland, Jenny knows that she has a bit of a drive ahead of her. Reaching for her shoes, she hesitates for a moment, her mind thinking back to when Ashley stated how she never wears shoes like a true barefooter. Maybe she should try it, just for today, to see how it feels. Walking out of her office and heading to her car, the barefoot private eye feels that she is off to a good start.
The drive is long, but the change of scenery is nice. As she leaves out of the DC area and heads farther south, she notices that the scenery is becoming more country; trees and open fields, she even passes by some horses that are grazing. Her biggest surprise is when she passes by a horse and buggy on the shoulder of the road with an Amish family in tow.
Her right foot is constantly pumping the gas pedal to maintain a constant speed. This isn't the first time she has driven barefoot, and it most certainly won't be the last. She can easily feel the grooves of both the gas and brake pedals, providing a nice, relaxing sensation as she slides the sole of her foot from one to the other. If she was driving a manual, her left foot could experience a similar sensation from pushing down on the clutch.
As Jenny is getting close to her destination, the sky is getting dark as clouds are starting to roll in, the weather now threatening to storm. The threat soon turning into reality as the first raindrops begin to make contact with her windshield. Unfortunately, this isn't just a light drizzle, as it quickly turns into a torrential downpour.
Finally arriving at her destination, Jenny parks on the side of the road that is opposite of the address. The place is small, looking to be a single-wide manufactured home, at least that us what she can see through the heavy rain.
She looks down at her bare feet, regretting her decision to leave her shoes behind so that she could try going barefoot all day. "Of all the days to try this out." Taking a deep breath, she opens up her car door and steps out. Immediately she can feel the cold water against her soles, only adding to her regret.
She is quick to cross the road and make her way to the yard. She is moving at a quick pace, her clothes becoming soaked and clinging to her body as a result of the wet weather. She is used to this from how many incidents she has been through where she has fallen into some form of a body of water. The worst comes when she steps into the wet grass, which feels even colder than the pavement. "How does Ashley deal with this?"
Looking at the yard, she can see that it is not the best looking one she has seen. With only several patches of grass and a lot of dirt. Well, what used to be dirt until it started to rain.
Eager to get out of the rain, Jenny begins to head for the front door, her bare feet sinking in the mud as she can feel the cold, squishy ground getting between her toes. This is a minor concern though, as this isn't the first time she has walked barefoot in the mud. Due to her quick pace, she loses her footing and falls forward, landing face first in the muddy yard.
Pushing herself back up, she spits out the mouthful of wet earth he has received from the fall and stands back up. Her clothes are caked with mud, even more so as she wipes her hands off on the sides of her pants before she wipes her face off. "I am definitely adding this as an expense."
Finally making it to the front door, the porch providing some much-needed shelter from the rain, even if it is a bit too late. She tries to open the front door is, which is locked. "Typical," the muddy private investigator mutters as she reaches for her lock pick set. It doesn't take her long to unlock the door, she has been on enough cases which required her to enter a property in such a manner that it is practically second nature to her. With the door's lock picked and now open, she gets ready to step inside.
Barefoot Jenny is hesitant to step inside when she remembers how muddy her feet are. Leaving muddy footprints behind is not a good idea. She had no real clues on whether Gabriel is even here. If she does decide to enter, track mud throughout this home, and he is not here it could cause her some serious problems later on.
Fortunately for her, she can hear a masculine voice groaning from inside. "That sounds like probable cause to me."
With confidence, she steps inside, leaving behind a set of muddy footprints on the floor. A lot of mud is being left behind, her feet being flat from both her age and all the time she has walked around barefoot. It isn't hard to find the source of the groaning, the man's voice echoing throughout the hallway. She turns to enter the first room she passes.
In front of her is the Detective, Gabriel, tied to a bed. "Why hello there, Madam," he says with what appears to be a drunken smile on his face. From how he is acting, Barefoot Jenny is assuming that Gabriel has been drugged. "You aren't the usual woman who has been visiting me. You look very different, and good looking for someone your age I might add."
Barefoot Jenny huffs, not particularly caring for the backhanded compliment she was just given. Normally she would retaliate against such a remark, but she knows that the detective is not in his right frame of mind. "I am Jenny, your wife sent me to find you."
"Ashley sent you?" Gabriel asks as Jenny heads to his side. "The most beautiful woman in my life sent you? I must say, when Ashley gets to be your age, I am sure that she will look twice as young as you do."
Jenny takes a deep breath, calming herself a bit as she listens to the latest comment that Gabriel has made. "You are lucky you are drugged," she mutters under her breath. As she reaches for the man's bindings, she hears the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked, now ready to fire.
"Hands up and slowly turn to face me," a feminine voice instructs. "No quick movements or I will shoot you in the fucking face."
Jenny has no choice but to comply. Slowly raising her hands, making sure that they are in easy view, she slowly turns to face the woman who is threatening her. Finally getting a look at the woman who is holding a revolver. Short black hair and wearing a white tank top and blue jeans, Jenny recognizes this woman from Gabriel's case file. "Alex, I presume?"
"Keep your fucking mouth shut!" Alex looks over the intruder, two notable things standing out to her; she is covered in mud and barefoot. "You look like a backwoods hillbilly?"
"If you are referring to my muddy appearance and lack of shoes, I assure you that I have a good explanation." Jenny sounds confident as she is speaking; she knows that if she were to sound angry it could provoke Alex; while sounding scared would let her know that she is full control and could cause her to take action.
Alex presses the barrel of her gun against Jenny's cheek, "Not another word out of you. I don't want to hear any bullshit coming out of that mouth of yours." She reaches into Jenny's pocket, her eyes never leaving the woman's face. She has no intention of giving this woman any opportunities to try anything.
"Aha!" Alex exclaims as her fingers wrap around a small, rectangular object. Pulling it out of the private eye's pocket, she steps away as she holds up Jenny's cell phone. "Yeah, no fucking way." With that she drops the phone on the floor and stomps on the screen with her boot, cracking the screen so that it looks like it is covered with a spider's web. "Now," Alex begins as she adjusts her aim, "what to do with you?"
"Look," Jenny says calmly, "I know Lieutenant Kirschenbaum. If you release me and Gabriel and turn yourself in, I can make sure that he will cut you a deal."
"How stupid do you think I am? Sure, the cops may cut me a deal, but the court will find some other charges to tack on making the supposed 'deal' worthless."
Watching as the two women are having a standoff, Gabriel can't help but comment. "Two lovely women are here in this room, but the two of you together are only half as lovely as my wife, Ashley."
"Oh, would you just shut the fuck up about Ashley already!" Alex shouts in an annoyed tone. She shifts her aim away from Alex, pulling the trigger as she shoots the wall behind the drugged detective.
In the brief moment that Alex points the revolver away from her, Jenny rushes forward and tackles ls Alex, knocking the firearm out of her hand. The two struggle to overpower one another. Despite being the same height, Alex has the upper hand, Jenny's mature body not having the same vigor that it used to. Alex can't help but grin, feeling that she is the one that is going to come out on top. The sound of glass smashing and her eyes closing, Alex falls to the ground unconscious.
With Alex on the floor, Jenny can see that Ashley is standing behind where Alex once stood, her hands covering her mouth as though she had done something horrific. "Sorry?" Ashley says with a confused look on her face.
"Ashley!" Gabriel calls out.
"Gabriel!" Ashley wastes no time in rushing over to her husband's side, wrapping her arms around him. "Thank God you are okay."
"With the most beautiful woman at my side, I am more than okay." Ashley is so relieved to see her husband, that she is blissfully unaware of how he is acting. "Ashley, your feet are muddy. I can only imagine how uncomfortable you must feel about that."
Ashley looks towards her bare feet, caked in mud from the wet ground. "It's fine, I have you to worry about, so I am not bothered by it."
"No, that is unacceptable. Allow me to wipe your pretty feet clean, so that everyone may see just how pretty your feet are."
Ashley can't help but smile. Even with his odd behavior, Gabriel just can't help but be the sweet man she fell in love with. "I would love that."
While the couple is busy getting close, Jenny begins to secure Alex, with a couple pieces of cloth she can bind the woman's hands and feet together. As she is doing this, she notices the muddy footprints that Ashley left behind. They are large. Compared to her own, Ashley's prints have to be at least a full inch longer. She can't help but wonder how such a short woman has such long feet.
With Alex taken into custody and the happy couple reunited, Jenny finds herself back in her office. It has been two days since Ashley has been reunited with her husband. Since then, Alex was released on bail, who then fled. It is only a matter of time before she is found again.
Jenny is leaning back in her chair, her bare feet, once again, propped up on her desk. She can't help but admire the pedicure that Lieutenant Kirschenbaum had given her last night, which was then followed by a nice, relaxing foot massage that put her to sleep. While staring, she can't help but think about Ashley and how she chooses to go barefoot twenty-four seven. Maybe she should try barefooting it all day from time to time more often.
The door to her office opens up, a familiar face stepping inside. She doesn't bother to lean forward or remove her feet from her desk, this person is not here for a case. "Ashley, how are things with you and your husband?"
"Great," Ashley replies in a grateful tone. "Gabriel is doing great and Lieutenant Kirschenbaum has given him some time off to recover and spend some time with me. I have decided to stop by and pay what I owe you."
"Let's see," Jenny leans forward, just enough to open one if her desk drawers. "There are my usual fees, the gas I used to drive out to Loveville, and there is my dry cleaning as well…" She is interrupted when Ashley places an envelope on her desk.
"This should more than cover all your expenses," Ashley says with a smile, sliding the envelope closer.
As Ashley walks out, Jenny opens the envelope, finding a check enclosed. Her jaw drops when she sees the amount that it has been written for, never before has she seen so many zeroes. She looks up to see that Ashley is now long gone, unable to thank her for the generous payment. "Well, this is going to be fun to cash."