It Takes a Photographer
Quint and Clay Art Crimes #5
Olivia is a photographer working at Rory and Lou's art gallery. While taking pictures at the party Clay and Quint throw to celebrate the adoption of their son, she captures what seems to be a murder in the building behind them.
Lou and Quint take it upon themselves to investigate--unofficially at first--with the help of Rory and Gideon Monahan. When they find out the presumed victim is alive and denying anything happened, they dig deeper. Things heat up as Rory goes undercover to try to learn the truth while the others delve into the backgrounds of the people involved and Olivia finds more photos relevant to the case.
Now all they have to do is find out what the photos really show, and if what looked like a murder may be even more than it seems.
"He's beautiful," Trev said, tentatively touching the baby's cheek.
Quint smiled proudly. "We know. Beautiful, handsome, cute, um..." He glanced at Clay, who was holding their son.
"Sweet, darling, adorable?" Clay kissed Jamie's forehead.
"You do know," Zack pointed out, "until he gets a little older, some people will think he might be a girl with that name."
"Blame his mother," Quint said, glancing fondly at Amanda's niece, who was sitting a few feet away. "Wendy found it in some romance novel and insisted it had to be his."
Wendy nodded. "My first gift to him. My second was giving him to you and Clay to adopt."
Rory joined the small group at one end of the building's rooftop patio above Quint and Clay's loft. "I can't think of a better gift for everyone concerned. They'll be great parents."
"Thanks," Quint replied. "For damned sure, we're going to try."
Clay wagged a finger at him. "And your first step is not swearing in front of Jamie." That earned him laughs from everyone within hearing range.
All of Quint and Clay's close friends were gathered on the patio to celebrate the finalization of Jamie's adoption that morning. Amanda, the manager of Clay's gallery, was the reason that the adoption had happened in the first place.
Eight months earlier
"Okay, do you want to tell me why you're in such a funk," Clay asked Amanda. She'd been wandering around the gallery, straightening paintings for the past hour, looking as if she'd lost her last friend.
"It's my niece, Wendy," she blurted out. "She's pregnant."
"No it's not. She's sixteen."
"Okay. That's not so wonderful."
"Tell me about it. My sister is..." She shook her head. "Wendy kept it a secret as long as she could." Amanda smiled wryly. "It wasn't that hard at first, given that she's always been on the plump side. Anyway, she finally told her parents, and they're furious."
"They threatened to kick her out, so I volunteered to let her stay with us until the baby's born. She arrives in the morning."
"What about the father?"
"She won't say who he is." Amanda sighed. "I'm not sure she knows. She's...a bit promiscuous. I hate to say it, but I suspect that's because she's not thin and svelte the way most of her friends are, so she sleeps around to prove to herself she's got some worth."
"That's sad, but, unfortunately, it happens." Clay gave her a hug. "You'll survive this. At least the gallery's closed tomorrow, so you can get her settled in."
"Is she planning on keeping the baby?" Clay asked.
"I don't know that she's made up her mind yet. If you want my honest opinion, I hope she puts it up for adoption. She's got her whole life ahead of her and being tied down, raising a child..." Amanda shook her head.
That evening, when Quint got home from work, Clay told him about Wendy. He had an ulterior motive, other than just filling his partner in on his day. Recently, they had been dancing around the idea of adopting a child.
"There are hundreds, thousands, of kids out there who need families," Quint had said at one point, "and too few people willing to adopt them. We could. We're stable. We're old enough to get what it takes to bring up a child."
"You're serious," Clay had replied, surprised, but maybe not as much as he could have been, knowing his caring detective.
Quint had shrugged. "I know I haven't said anything until now, but I've been sort of thinking about it. If you don't like the idea..."
"It would be a big undertaking. Not something we should just jump into. That said, I think it's a wonderful idea."
When Clay finished telling him about Wendy, Quint understood immediately where he was going with the story. "If she does plan on putting the baby up for adoption--"
"Are we ready to step in? Maybe?" Clay smiled. "No, not maybe. Definitely."
That was all it had taken. It hadn't been easy at first. They'd met Wendy a week after she'd moved in with Amanda and her husband. The girl was sweet--and scared, not at all surprising as far as Clay was concerned. She had spent the next two months--before the baby was born--vacillating between keeping it and letting them adopt, after she'd accepted that they wanted to.
"I have no problem with it being you," she'd said more than once. "It's just--"
"A mother's love. We understand."
It was a bright, sunny spring day when Wendy delivered a healthy baby boy. Quint and Clay were there, along with Amanda. When they walked into Wendy's room, she was lying with the baby in her arms, looking exhausted but elated.
She's going to keep him, after all. Clay's spirits sank.
"His name is Jamie," she said softly, looking up at them. "Do you like the name?"
"It's beautiful," Quint replied.
"Then you won't change it, once he's yours?"
Clay shook his head, barely able to get the "no" past the lump in his throat.
Quint, being Quint, was a bit more practical. Pulling up a chair, he sat, looking between Jamie and her. "Are you sure?"
She nodded. "It took a long time to make up my mind, but he deserves a real family, not a sixteen-year-old single mom." She stroked Jamie's head. "I had plans, before this happened. I still do. College. A job. Maybe I'm being selfish, but that won't happen if I have to take care of him, too. I couldn't give him the life he deserves."
"You're not being selfish," Quint replied. "You're doing what's best for both of you." He smiled. "Of course, I'm a little prejudiced when I say that."
Wendy managed a weak laugh. "You might be, just a bit, but that's okay. Do you want to hold him?" When Quint nodded, she handed Jamie to him.
Clay watched Quint holding Jamie for the first time, and tears came to his eyes at the look of love in Quint's expression. He knelt beside them, taking one of Jamie's tiny hands in his, and he felt the same love flood him. "Welcome to the world," he said softly. "We'll do our best to make it the world you deserve."