September Projects

It seems like after March and April, the months have just flown by and I have very little to show for it when it comes to writing.

Writing has been hard for me the past few years and the pandemic did not help. Sorry, ‘Rona. I know you tried by giving me a month off work, but it turns out I couldn’t capitalize on that like I’d hoped/planned/wanted.

However, as slow as I’m working and as little as I’m working on, I still count progress as progress and accomplishments as accomplishments. I keep hoping these little bright spots will lead me to the light.

This month I should wrap up the first draft of Early Snow. It’s turned out to be a decent novella, I think.

And then I’m going to work on a couple of short projects.

As luck would have it, a contest and an anthology looking for submissions both crossed my path. The contest challenges folks to write a story in 100 words, which I used to do all the time when I was doing fandom drabbles. And the anthology is a themed horror affair, something I’ve always found myself gifted at. I don’t presently have ideas for either of them, but the contest deadline isn’t until October and the anthology submission deadline isn’t until December. I have faith that I will be able to come up with something for both of these before the month is out.

Sad that it feels like I’m overestimating myself.

The bad news is that Murderville: The Coldest Case has ended. The very good news is that patrons can get the eBook on September 15th. And it’s not too late for you to become a patron, too. There’s one season left of Murderville, so don’t wait. Become a patron now. $1 an episode lets you read and gets you the eBook. $2 an episode lets you read, gets you the ebook, and gets you a sweet bonus every other month.

Episode 15 of Book ’em, Danno is live and episode 16 will arrive at the end of the month. In the latest, Wo-Fat is back, and there’s some trouble with an uncooperative witness. Listen, rate, review, share, like, tell your friends, shove it in your family’s ears. Any support is appreciated. In other podcasting news, I’m back on Eventually Supertrain, chatting with Dan about Automan. Listen in. We’re delightful.

August Writing Projects

July was slightly productive, which was a nice ego boost. I managed at least a page a day on Early Snow all month (and some days more than a page). It’s looking more and more likely that it will be a novella rather than a novel.

I’ll continue with my page-a-day plan for August.

And, aside from podcasting (I’m back on Eventually Supertrain and this time I’m talking with Dan about the great and wonderful Automan…go listen…we’re delightful as always and the other short-lived shows and guests are swell, too), that’s pretty much it for the month.

Between some health issues that I was finally able to address at the end of the July (hey, it turns out that I have severe patellar tendonitis in both knees which requires physical therapy and my blood pressure situation is to the point of medication, oh boy) and some big changes happening at my day job (I’m finishing up a huge conversion project while taking on some new responsibilities because a co-worker is leaving), I simply don’t have the energy for much else right now.

Believe me, no one is more disappointed than I am.

Boy, 2020 is some kind of thing, ain’t it?

You know what’s a good thing, though? Murderville: The Coldest Case and the last episode of the season goes live on August 11th. And even though it’s the end, it’s still not too late to become a patron. $1 an episode let’s you read, $2 an episode gets you a bonus every other month and this month it just happens to be the cryptic teaser for the next -and last- season of Murderville, which goes live on the 25th. Become a patron and see how it all ends.

Episode 15 of Book ’em, Danno should be up at the end of the month, but Episode 14 and the beginning of Season 2 of Hawaii Five-O is live and ready for your ears. Remember that liking, sharing, rating, reviewing, retweeting, and forcefully suggesting it to your friends is love and very much appreciated.

Murderville: The Coldest Case–Episode 6

Conclusions, Dead Ends, and a Fourth Date

Christabelle couldn’t sleep.

It wasn’t unusual. Keeping odd hours for so many years had firmly disrupted her circadian rhythms. The nights when she wasn’t required to stay up until the wee hours of the morning following some creep cheating on his wife or some floozy cheating on her husband (how she’d never been hired for a cheating case for a same-sex couple, she didn’t know), Christabelle found herself either struggling to make herself go to sleep or to entertain herself until she was tired enough to go to bed.

Tonight, it wasn’t only her inconsistent schedule keeping her awake. It was also Rena. More specifically, Rena’s kiss. Even more specifically, Christabelle was performing great feats of mental strength trying NOT to think about it. Because to think about it was to ruminate about it and to ruminate about it was pointless and would no doubt lead her to getting her hopes up, and that was already a losing battle. She didn’t need to lose that battle faster. Christabelle had already made up her mind that the kiss was part of Rena’s gag with the love stone she’d given her, and it ultimately meant nothing.

To keep her mind off of her inevitable heartbreak, Christabelle researched the four teenagers last seen with Marybeth Cooley. The internet being the wonderful thing that it was, she found the fates of the three boys without much trouble.

They were all dead.

Dwight Harmon, successful businessman, died a few years back, apparently suffering from a heart attack and drowning in his hot tub. The insinuation was he had become overstimulated during a “party”. That seemed a little tame for Murderville and a little suspicious that someone could so easily drown with so many people in proximity. It was a hot tub, not the ocean. A little research into this “party” dug up rumors that Dwight Harmon was a multi-millionaire known for his orgies featuring the biggest names in the higher social circles, including his younger brother Winchester Harmon, the man found dead on Pam and Drew Bendixen’s front step the previous year. Dwight Harmon’s heart attack occurred while he was having sex with a woman in his hot tub and he drowned when she left to get help from someone inside. Christabelle supposed it wasn’t easy to attract attention at an orgy, people being very involved in their activities and all. That sounded closer to the truth than what was printed in the paper.

Butch Taylor, another successful Munsterville businessman, died the same year as Winchester Harmon in a bizarre electrocution incident. In a fight with this fourth wife, Butch decided to cut her off from everything. Literally. After she stormed out in a dramatic huff, Butch proceeded to go down to the basement intent on cutting the power. Instead of turning it off with the switch, he took a pair of gardening sheer and cut into the wires. Instant fried millionaire. It was only pure luck that the house didn’t catch on fire. His wife came home hours later and found him, his corpse still smoking a little. Christabelle could only imagine the smell.

In another familial twist, Butch Taylor’s nephew Simon Sidney had recently been murdered by his second wife and a business rival. And in another neighborhood twist, Christabelle’s neighbor across the street, Velvet Li, found the body, along with her fellow security guard Otis Gorski, who, along with his cousins, also found Marybeth Cooley.

Christabelle was beginning to suspect that everyone in town was connected to this case in some way.

Jimmie DuPage died out at the End Of. He shot himself in the head when he was twenty-one. A routine sweep of the area found his body. No foul play was suspected. Like many of the suicides that happen out there, he didn’t leave a note. The speculation, though, was that he killed himself to avoid a prison sentence for manslaughter after killing a man in a bar fight. Christabelle had some doubts. It all felt a little too neat. But there was nothing that overtly suggested that his death connected to Marybeth Cooley’s murder, either.

So, Christabelle pressed on and ran straight into a brick wall.

Nannette Sullivan seemed to have disappeared.

***

It turns out the coldest case in Munsterville is the coldest for a reason. It’s a tough one to crack. Become a patron for as little as $1 an episode and read all about it.

Murderville: The Coldest Case–Episode 5

Talking to the Wyliss Boys

Christabelle met the Windoms in the same diner she’d met them before and ordered the same breakfast plate. They wore the same sunglasses and cast the same furtive glances.

Things changed after Christabelle gave them her findings.

“They’re swingers,” she said bluntly.

Mr. Windom stared at her, his dark sunglasses masking some of his reaction. Mrs. Windom, though, whipped off her sunglasses in shock, revealing wide, blue eyes.

“Excuse me?”

“Swingers, not drug dealers,” Christabelle said, adding a little salt to her hash browns. “The people coming and going? Are doing it in the literal sense. They’re all folks that are part of the lifestyle.”

“Oh my God,” Mr. Windom said, sounding like a married couple having an open sexual relationship with other married couples was somehow worse than running a drug den.

Mrs. Windom nearly poked her own eye out in her haste to put her sunglasses on.

“I see,” she said. “Well. That’s very…um…yes, well…I…” She elbowed her husband. “Pay Ms. Calder, so we can go.”

Mr. Windom scrambled for his checkbook and quickly dashed off Christabelle’s fee.

“Thank you so much for your help, Ms. Calder,” Mrs. Windom said. She stood up too fast and hit the table, jostling it and nearly upsetting Christabelle’s orange juice.

Christabelle took the offered check, thanked them, and watched the couple all but run out of the diner having learned a valuable lesson about being nosy.

After finishing her leisurely late breakfast and running to the bank, she arrived home just before noon. She pulled into her driveway and sat there for a minute, debating. It was probably late enough that Lister McKinney was awake, but early enough that he couldn’t have gotten too deep into the day’s dirty thirty. Christabelle decided that now was as good as time as any to talk to him.

Even though it was January, even though there was snow, even though that day there was a windchill in the teens, Lister McKinney was still sitting in a lawn chair in his garage with the door wide open. Christabelle walked down the plowed street and up Lister’s shoveled driveway, a fact that tickled Christabelle considering Lister probably hadn’t his license in two decades, if not more.

“Lister,” Christabelle called about halfway up the driveway.

Lister, sitting in his lawn chair, contemplating his can of beer, looked up, recognized Christabelle, and gave her a wave.

“Whatcha doin’ over here, mystery neighbor?” Lister asked with a grin. Christabelle smiled and shook her head. She’d lived in her house on the other side of Raul Santos for quite a while before a block party encouraged her to meet her neighbors (even though she knew who they all were, being naturally nosy on top of being a private investigator). It was only then that she realized just how familiar everyone in the neighborhood was with each other and how she stood out as a mysterious presence because she’d never introduced herself, a fact that until then she hadn’t regarded as strange since her previous neighborhoods hadn’t been so well-connected.

“Come to chew a little fat with you, Lister,” Christabelle said, surprised at how warm the garage was even with the door wide open. She spotted two space heaters going full blast, one of which was a few feet behind Lister’s chair, and realized that’s how Lister was able to drink out here in the dead of winter without suffering from frostbite.

“Yeah, what kind of fat you want to chew?” He reached into the bright orange cooler beside him and pulled out a can of beer, holding it out to Christabelle. She took it but didn’t open it.

“I wanted to talk to you about Marybeth Cooley,” she said.

Lister froze, the air temperature in the garage dropping lower than the windchill outside.

“Now, why would you want to be talking about that?” he asked.

***

Turns out only one of the Wyliss boys does much talking. But which one? Become a patron for as little as $1 an episode and find out.

May Writing Projects

Oh, hey, am I still revising The Support Group Meets on Wednesday? You bet I am.

Unfortunately, my hopes of getting it done last month weren’t realized. I fell about 30 pages short of finished (and it’s likely more because this part of the novel requires a lot of rewriting). Productivity has been hard to come by since the pandemic started here and I ended up being incredibly busy with library and podcasting projects during the last couple weeks of April. Which meant that revising took a bit of a backseat. I might have worked on it most days, but many of those days I only managed to get a few pages done.

Such is the way life is right now.

The goal is to finish revising it this month, which I should get do.

(Please, Universe, let me get it done.)

And if I happen to get it done before the month is out…I have no idea what I’m going to work on next. It’s not that I’m hurting for projects. One might say that I have too many waiting for something to happen. But, I can’t deny that right now motivation is in short supply.

I guess I’ll just play it by ear, as they say.

Good thing we have Murderville: The Coldest Case to keep us happy. Episode 5 goes live on May 12th. $1 an episode let’s you read. $2 an episode gets you a sweet bonus every other month. Become a patron and get some guaranteed entertainment.

And I always seem to have the motivation to produce episodes of Book ’em, Danno. Episode 13 covering the last episode of season 1 will go live at the end of the month, but in the meantime, check out episode 12, which covered “Not That Much Different” and “Six Kilos”. Steve undercover is a joy not to be missed.

Murderville: The Coldest Case–Episode 4

Connections to the Past Lead to a Third Date

On lunch the next day, Rena went to the old Kiwanis Rotary Park, now called the Morgan Michael Memorial Park. Since Christabelle had been nice enough to offer to talk to her neighbor Vernee Dean, Rena figured that the least she could do was check out the park where Marybeth Cooley was last seen.

The day wasn’t too bad. It was overcast, but without any threat of snow. The wind was calm, so it was cold, but bearable, and Rena found the chill to be quite invigorating as she traipsed across the park towards the woods.

Jerry Cooley had been right when he said that park was the same except for the playground equipment. There was no sign of expansion or contraction of the space, and there was also no way that any kid before about 1990 went down any of the plastic slides on display. Rena figured that the kids had been loitering at the picnic tables on the far end of the park, though probably much older models compared to the sleek-looking new ones that sat there now. The teens were teasing Marybeth Cooley, the teasing got out of hand and she got upset, and then Nannette Sullivan walked her across the park to the woods, never to be seen again.

The woods weren’t much more than a fat copse of trees that separated the park from some neighboring houses. Hidden in it was a creek that was fenced off on the house side, but open from the park side. Rena found the worn path that Marybeth and Nannette, and probably decades of kids, had taken into the trees and she followed it. Even with all of the leaves gone, the trees still grew close enough together, thin and competitive, to affect a sort of shield from prying eyes. Rena hadn’t been able to see anything from the road or the park. Marybeth had disappeared in late spring when the leaves were well on their way in and any kind of scraggly bush that could get hold would be growing. Even walking along the path, it would difficult to see too far ahead.

The path ran to the vicinity of the creek and then split off, going left and right, running parallel to the creek. Left ran further into the trees, most likely ending at the next street. Right led to the road the park sat on, where the creek ran underneath the street through a drainage tunnel.

Rena ignored both of these options and instead walked straight to the bank of the creek, stepping carefully in her winter boots. The creek had shrunk in the cold weather, contracting into a narrow sheet of ice, but Rena could see the faint markings of where it usually ran. In the spring, with the rain and the snowmelt, that bank would easily overflow by several feet. She had no idea where it might have been when Marybeth and Nannette had been here.

Daring to get a little closer, Rena took a few tentative steps towards the frozen sheet of water. The third step was nearly her undoing. The ground practically collapsed under her weight, swallowing her foot up to the ankle, and leaving Rena flailing for balance. She kept her feet, or at least kept the one that wasn’t sunk in the mud, and managed to prevent her fall, which would have been a nasty one between the mud and the broken off saplings. Grabbing onto a nearby tree for balance and leverage, Rena pulled her foot out of the mud, feeling lucky that she didn’t leave her boot behind.

Rena stood there for a moment, breath coming out in quick, tiny puffs of steam, her heart thudding a little in her chest. The creek was frozen, but the bank wasn’t. Bizarre. Rena would have bet money that the ground would have been frozen, too, but apparently not. The whole place was tricky.

Tricky and secluded.

No wonder Marybeth Cooley disappeared without a trace.

#

Christabelle sat in Miss Vernee Dean’s living room, waiting for her to bring in the two cups of coffee she’d gone to the fetch. Once Christabelle had finished her rudimentary investigation into the possibly drug-dealing neighbors (who were not dealing drugs) for her clients, Christabelle grabbed a bit for lunch and then headed over to Miss Vernee’s house. The woman answered the door within seconds of Christabelle ringing the bell, adding credence to her reputation for being the hawk eyes of the neighborhood.

She only hoped Miss Vernee had that reputation when she lived across from the park, too.

“Here we go,” Miss Vernee said loudly as she came into the living room. She handed one of the coffee cups to Christabelle, who took it and gave it a test sip. She nodded to show that the coffee was just fine, which she probably would have done even if it tasted like distilled antifreeze. She wasn’t there for coffee and Miss Vernee knew it. “Now. What is it that you wanted to jaw about?”

Christabelle set her coffee mug down on the table in front of her, mindful not to spill, and pulled the papers that Rena had printed out from her coat pocket. She opened them up and handed them to Miss Vernee, pointing to the place where she’d highlighted her name.

“I was hoping you could tell me about Marybeth Cooley,” Christabelle said, keeping her voice just south of a shout.

“Oh, yes,” Miss Vernee said, nodding. “Poor girl. Just up and vanished.”

She looked at Christabelle with sad eyes.

“Paper said you were a witness, Miss Vernee,” Christabelle said, trying to nudge her into talking. “What did you see that day? Can you remember?”

“I’m old, but I still have my faculties,” Miss Vernee said and Christabelle chuckled. “You never forget something like this.” She rattled the papers in her hand.

***

Want to know what Miss Vernee remembered? And there’s also another date to be had. Become a patron for as little as $1 an episode and get the whole story.

April Writing Projects

March was one hell of a year, huh? Yeah, it felt like it. I was already struggling with some mental health issues when the Rona came in full force and I found myself sanitizing every book that came into the library before we ended up having to close to the public due to shelter-in-place. That happened on March 17th and I’ve been at home since (with pay because our board loves us and looks after us), but perhaps unsurprisingly I haven’t been as productive as I’d like to have been. The stress right before we closed and right after the shelter-in-place used up most of my energy. It was a push for me to get episode 11 of Book ’em, Danno out on time and I really doubted that I’d get it done.

So, revisions on The Support Group Meets on Wednesday will continue. I have about one hundred pages of the manuscript left. Unfortunately, it’s also the section that will probably take the most re-writing. Ideally, I’d like to get the revisions done this month, but the way things have been going…

I’ll also be doing episode 12 of Book ’em, Danno. Back to the usual grind of covering two episodes, so it should be easier for me to get it done this month providing I don’t procrastinate. Stop laughing. Only one more episode and season 1 will be done. Wild, huh?

I know April is poetry month and I usually write a poem a day for it, but I think I’m going to take a break from it this year. You may all breathe a sigh of relief.

And while you’re relieved, why don’t you check out episode 4 of Murderville: The Coldest Case, which will go live on the 14th? $1 an episode lets you read, $2 an episode gets you a sweet bonus every other month. Like this month on the 28th. So become a patron and get your jollies.

Don’t forget to check out episode 11 of Book ’em, Danno. It covers three episodes, a regular episode and a two-parter. A longer episode, but since we’re all safe inside, you’ve got time to indulge. Feel free to like, heart, favorite, subscribe, share, and otherwise show a little love to my little show. I do appreciate it.

Murderville: The Coldest Case–Episode 3

An Intriguing Second Date

Christabelle stood outside Walley’s Cove wondering if this was how she’d spend her time if she ended up dating Rena on a regular basis, always waiting for her. When Pam called to tell her that Rena was open to seeing her again, Christabelle jumped at the chance to ask her to dinner. She felt like she needed another shot at impressing the woman after lunch getting derailed by Jerry Cooley. Pam had shamed Christabelle good for not knowing his story, but Christabelle had grown up and gone to school just outside of town; and her trips to Dillman’s were usually at the window. Her nosiness had also been confined to the what the living were doing currently, not so much what they’d done before she was born. The past didn’t concern her. She didn’t really have much interest in cold cases.

Rena arrived at Walley’s Cove, Christabelle spotting her little car as it sped into the parking lot and found a spot. Like a replay of that afternoon, Christabelle watched Rena hurry across the parking lot to the door, saying sorry as soon as she got within earshot of Christabelle, though this time her coat was buttoned up.

“I promise you I’m not usually late,” Rena swore, a little out of breath, as Christabelle opened the door for her. “Today has just been a day for last minute things.”

“It’s okay,” Christabelle said. “I’m used to waiting. It’s what I’m usually getting paid to do. Wait for a cheating husband to show up. Wait for him to kiss his mistress so I can snap a picture. Wait, wait, wait.”

“Is that what you’re most often hired to do? Follow cheating husbands?” Rena asked, sounding a little disappointed.

Christabelle shrugged. “Sometimes I follow cheating wives.”

“Oh.”

The hostess met them and escorted the two of them to a booth. Walley’s Cove was a typical seafood place. Decked out in blue and white with nautical everything, it was warm and cozy. Their booth ended up underneath some kind of ceramic fish that looked like it was jumping out of the wall, simultaneously quaint and gaudy.

The two of them sat and slipped out of their coats.

“I told you that private investigation isn’t very glamorous,” Christabelle said, picking up where they left off. “It’s a lot of sitting in my car at night and watching buildings. It’s really dull, actually.”

“Why do I have the feeling that you’re trying to put me off asking about it?” Rena said, smirking a little. “Making it out to be less than what it is.”

“Because you can’t believe that my job could possibly be so boring,” Christabelle said. “TV has corrupted you all. We’re not all Thomas Magnum or Jim Rockford or Frank Cannon.”

“Frank Cannon?”

“See. You have to learn all the great TV private investigators before you can judge.”

Rena laughed and opened her menu.

The two of them fell into the same easy chat that they’d established when they first sat down to lunch. It was like they were picking up where they left off, which Christabelle was thrilled about. Now maybe the two of them could make a little progress and see if this might be worth pursuing.

“I feel like I’m putting a disclaimer on everything I do, but I’m going to throw out another one here,” Rena said, glancing up from her menu at Christabelle. “I’m going to pick up the check tonight because I’m about to order a whole bunch of food. I am starving.”

Christabelle chuckled.

“Okay. So, what’s the disclaimer? That you don’t usually pick up the check or that you don’t usually order a whole bunch of food?”

Rena hesitated. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment when she realized what she’d just said.

“The second one. The second one,” she said with a nervous laugh. Christabelle thought it was cute. “Of course, I pick up checks. I was going to pick up the check tonight anyway because you were nice enough to buy lunch and this place was my suggestion. But, no, I normally don’t eat so much in one sitting. Like I said, I am starving.”

“Well, we didn’t have a very good lunch,” Christabelle said apologetically. “I ended up eating the rest of my burger when I got home.”

“Yeah, I forgot about mine in my car. It’s still in the passenger seat, probably frozen solid,” Rena said, making a face.

“You can always thaw it out and eat it later,” Christabelle said. “Trust me when I say that Dillman’s burgers are just as good leftover. Even when left to freeze in a car. Believe me. I know.”

“I will trust you on that. You haven’t steered me wrong about the food so far.”

Their waitress appeared, a pert young woman with big brown eyes and dark hair pulled up in pig tails. Christabelle ordered the shrimp tacos and a Coke. Rena got a seafood sampler appetizer, a bowl of Walley’s chowder, and the Surf ‘n’ Turf special which came with steak (Rena asked for medium rare), popcorn shrimp, a lobster tail, and hush puppies. It wasn’t the most that Christabelle had ever seen a woman order for a meal, but it was still more than she thought Rena could feasibly eat.

“We can share the appetizers,” Rena said, reading the look of doubt on Christabelle’s face. “But I’m craving calamari and you can only get it in the sampler. It’s a scam.”

“It’s worth it, though,” Christabelle said, thinking of that fried calamari, probably the best you could get in a landlocked state.

“Which is why I put up with ordering the whole sampler.”

“At least everything on the sampler is worth eating.”

“True.”

They fell back into easy conversation once again, talking about Rena’s work for a change. Christabelle never thought much about what a librarian did, but it turned out that they did a lot. Rena did more than shelve books and send out letters about late returns. She was in charge of fundraising and ordering and reading programs and everything else.

“We are a little short-staffed right now,” Rena admitted with a shrug. “We just don’t have the money to hire anyone else at the moment. So, I take on the bulk of the work. It’s not fair to dump it on everyone else when they already have a ton to do.”

“It’s not exactly fair to you, either.”

“It’s why I get paid the big bucks.”

“That’s what I think when I’m sitting in my car, freezing my ass off while waiting for Mr. Stick-Your-Dick-Elsewhere to show up.”

Rena laughed loudly as the waitress arrived at their table with her tray loaded with appetizers and their drinks. She laid it all out for them, asking the customary questions of whether or not it all looked good and if they needed anything else. As soon as she turned to leave, Rena snatched a mozzarella stick from the plate, dunked it in marinara, and took a healthy bite.

“Oh. Hot,” she said around the boiling cheese in her mouth.

Christabelle laughed and shook her head. “You are hungry, aren’t you?”

“I told you so.” Rena nudge the mozzarella sticks closer to Christabelle. “Here. Help yourself.”

“And burn my mouth? No, thanks.” She instead grabbed a pita chip and scooped some of the spinach artichoke dip. It wasn’t nearly as hot as the cheese stick that Rena barely swallowed.

“So,” Rena said, grabbing a piece of friend calamari, the rest of her mozzarella stick left on a plate to cool. “How was work today?”

She grinned as she asked it and Christabelle couldn’t help but grin back. There was something infectious about the woman, more like giggles and less like the flu.

“The only thing I had to do today was meet with a couple of clients this morning,” Christabelle said. “Winter is kind of dead for me until Valentine’s Day when everyone wants to know whether or not their other half is cheating so they know if they should buy a gift.”

Rena snorted.

“The couple that I met this morning, though, is asking me to investigate their neighbors,” she continued, grabbing her own bite of calamari. “They believe that they’re involved with drugs, like selling them, but they don’t want to go to the police about it until they have some kind of evidence.”

“Ah. That sounds…slightly paranoid.”

“Looks it, too,” Christabelle said, thinking about the dark glasses and furtive looks.

“You don’t mind taking a job like that?” Rena asked.

“So long as the check clears. It’ll probably end up being nothing, but at least the clients will leave their neighbors alone.” Christabelle finally gave in and took a mozzarella stick. She broke it in half and left on her plate to cool for a minute. “How was your day?”

Rena giggled. “Slow this afternoon, thankfully. I got all of my work done in a couple of hours.”

“Oh yeah? Is that how the library business goes?”

“Some days,” Rena said with a shrug. “Even short-staffed we have those slow days where we get all caught up and then have nothing to do.”

“So, what do you do to entertain yourself on those days?”

Rena laughed nervously and looked at the remaining mozzarella stick on her plate. She scooped it up and quickly jammed it in her mouth. Christabelle raised an eyebrow. The interpretive dance of avoidance was obvious.

“Don’t tell me you were looking at porn on the library computers,” Christabelle said with a smirk.

Rena nearly choked on her mozzarella stick.

“Oh my God, don’t say things like that when I’m eating!” she gasped after having safely swallowed her food. She took a drink of water. “You’re going to kill me doing that.”

“Sorry,” Christabelle said with a laugh. “It wasn’t my intention. I couldn’t resist a library porn joke.”

“You wouldn’t think it was so funny if you were the one that had to police those computers. I have seen things.”

“Yeah? What kind of things?”

“This is not first date talk.”

“Technically it’s our second date.”

“So it is.”

They smiled at each other, letting a little silence infiltrate the conversation. Christabelle looked down at her plate after a moment. Oh, it would be so easy to fall for Rena. So very easy. But the distrust from her divorce lingered. There had to be something else going on here, something she was missing. Why was it that she could be so observant about everyone else’s lives, but not her own?

“So, anyway, to kill time today I ended up spending the rest of my shift looking into the Marybeth Cooley case,” Rena said.

###

Will Christabelle help Rena look into the Marybeth Cooley case? And will that derail their budding relationship? Become a patron for as little as $1 an episode and find out!