Tag Archives: chapter five part one

Plaster of Paris; chapter five, part one

“I see,” she says at last, picking up her fork again.  “Perhaps you have a problem with me yourself?”  She doesn’t look at Lyle, but concentrates on her food.

“I’m just having a hard time believing it’s a coincidence that Paris gets hurt immediately after you show up in his life.”  Lyle has his arms folded across his chest and is glowering at Ursula.  I cannot reconcile this sullen, angry man with the easygoing, laidback Lyle that I have come to know.

“Are you accusing me of hurting my own son?”  Ursula sets down her fork again, the better to glare at Lyle.  I barely restrain a sigh of impatience.  There is enough tension between Mrs. Jenson and Lyle without adding this complication to the situation.

“I’m not accusing you of anything.”  Despite the soothing words, Lyle’s countenance becomes even more grave.  “I’d just like to know why you chose yesterday to contact Paris.”  Although I would have phrased it differently, I’d like to know the answer to that question as well.  Ursula sits up straight in her chair, losing her insouciance.  She places her napkin carefully by the side of her plate.

“Giving up the t—Paris was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life.  My parents told me in no uncertain terms that I would be out of their house if I kept a child out of wedlock.  I cried for the last month of my pregnancy.  Jersey?  Horrid.  The trip to Tijuana?  I don’t even remember it.”  She pauses to take a sip of water.  “Paris was the sweetest, most perfect baby ever.  Oh sure, I know all mothers think that but in this case, it’s true.  He didn’t cry and when he smiled, I just melted.  When the lawyer took him from my arms for the last time, I felt as if my soul was ripped from my body.  I had to bite my tongue until it bled so I wouldn’t beg for him back.”  Ursula laughs a shade bitterly, bemused by her own stupidity.  “I saw him everywhere I went.  Of course, I didn’t know his name was Paris.  I only knew he was adopted by a healthy Caucasian couple.  Back in those days, they didn’t tell you anything!  I got on with my life as best I could, but still thought of—him every day.  Five years ago, I had a little cancer scare and realized life is short.  It was time to reconnect with my past.  I hired a private investigator.”

“It took the P.I. five years to find Paris?”  Lyle interrupts, his forehead furrowed.  “He must not have been very good.”

“She was fine,” Ursula says pointedly before relaxing again.  She waves off the server who is hovering behind her.  “It’s just, my second husband served me with divorce papers around that time, leaving me for his secretary.  What a cliché!  That’s when Lois started acting out.  One day, she’s a sweet, tiny thing—the next, she’s this big, blond monster.  She shot up over night!  We moved to San Francisco for the proverbial new start.”  She reflects for a minute, her eyes hooded.  They clear as she continues.  “If it weren’t for the support of a very dear friend, I never would have made it through.  Those were some desperate days before my breakout book.  ”  She made twenty-five million in three years?  That’s simply amazing—unless she had money to begin with.

“Still, five years?”  Lyle protests.  “I’m surprised it took that long.”

I don’t say anything as I digest what I’ve heard.  I want to believe her not only because I like her, but because she’s Paris’s birthmother.  However, there is so much about her that has been left unsaid.  She is glibly explaining why it took five years to find Paris.  She didn’t know his name at all, which was a big stumbling block.  By the time she started her search, Mr. Frantz was dead and Paris’s mother had remarried which made the trail doubly hard to follow.  There were other things she had to deal with in the meantime.  I am eager to hear what exactly those other things are, but Ursula declines to talk about them.  She also declines to talk more about Paris’s father, saying she doesn’t even know his full name.  Seeing the skeptical look on our faces, she hastens to explain that he just told her to call him Benny.  She hasn’t seen either him or his sister since high school, and that was almost thirty years ago.  I can’t really fault her for that as I have a porous memory myself.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter five

“Rayne!  The police!”  Paris looks at me with wide eyes even though neither of us is a stranger to the police.  During the last investigation, they talked to one of us at least every other day.

“Sergeant Grimes, Ms. Liang.”  He is over six-feet tall, rangy with a buzz cut and muddy brown eyes.  He is not prepossessing at all, except for the stare which all cops cultivate.  “Detective Brady.”  He nods at a shapely blond with a curvaceous figure not disguised at all by the black pantsuit she chooses to wear.  Her light green eyes are fringed with blond eyelashes—a contrast that should be off-setting, but is seductive instead.  Wire-rimmed glasses cover her eyes.  She is carrying a pad of paper.

“What can I do for you?”  I struggle to keep my voice matter-of-fact so he can’t read the panic on my face.  What can I tell them that won’t make me sound phony, or, worst of all, guilty?

“May we come in?”  The sergeant barges into the room, ignoring the fact that I haven’t answered his question yet.  “We just have a few questions to ask you about the murder of Ashley Stevenson.”  He pauses expectantly, waiting for me to fill in the blanks.  Resigned, I usher him and Detective Brady into the living room.  I gesture for them to sit, but they remain standing.  So do I.  “This won’t last long.  I just have a few questions I have to ask you.”  The sergeant’s voice is genial, as if he’s discussing different flavors of tea.  “Please have your roommate leave.”  Paris exits the room without saying a word.  I know he’s huddled in his bedroom, straining to hear what is being said.  “Ms. Liang, how did you know Ms. Stevenson?”

“We were in a group together,” I say firmly, hoping that will be the end of it.  Of course it isn’t, and they persist in asking me questions.  What kind of group?  Group therapy; therapy group—take your pick.  What was the group specifically for?  For some reason, I am reluctant to answer this question.  “Trauma healing,” I finally mumble, hoping they’ll let it go.  Of course they don’t.  How often does the group meet?  Who is the leader?  Who in the group didn’t like Ashley?  I finally protest as the content of the meetings is confidential.

“Nothing is confidential in a homicide investigation, Ms. Liang,” Sergeant Grimes shoots back as he looms over me.  Neither of us is sitting—he because he refused a seat; I because I won’t put myself at a further disadvantage by sitting down.  The man is over six-feet tall, so he’s already a foot taller than me.  The detective is discreetly scribbling away while the sergeant and I exchange glares.  I wish the cop from the other case, Inspector Robinson, was in charge of this investigation, but I understand that it’s outside of her jurisdiction.

“Sergeant Grimes, why are you asking me about the group?”  I stare at him as haughtily as I can.  “I only went one time.”

“You were involved in another homicide investigation quite recently,” the sergeant explains, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth.  “Perhaps you weren’t as innocent in the last case as you make yourself out to be.”

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Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter five, part one

“So, what happened?”  I greet Paris eagerly when I get home from work the next day.  The reporters have given up on us, so I don’t have to dodge them any more.  A pity, really.  I had come up with some pretty creative ways to evade them, and I rather enjoyed myself doing so.  “Did Inspector Robinson royally ream Max out for withholding information?”  I guiltily admit to myself that I am looking forward to hearing the gory details about the dressing down of Max.

“She was pretty pissed,” Paris admits.  “She got that look in her eye, you know the one that says, ‘I’m disgusted with you.’  I think she cultivated it on purpose to make people talk.”  I know the look he is referring to, and it certainly works on me.  “Her voice got really low.”  Here, he imitates Inspector Robinson.  “Ms. Bowers.  This is a murder investigation.  That means we investigate.  In order to do so, we need information.  I should think you of all people would want us to be successful.”  He reverts to his normal voice.  “If she looked at me the way she looked at Max, I would have spilled the beans for sure.”

“Did you get to sit in on the interrogation?”  I doubt the inspector would allow that, but I  can always hope.

“No.  After Max blurted out the thing about someone coming out of Moira’s room, the inspector took her away.  I had to wait nearly an hour for her.  I took Max to a diner after so we could talk about it.”

They both ordered coffee as it was between mealtimes.  The whole time Paris was talking to Max, he had the feeling that something else was going on.  There was a subtext that he wasn’t getting, but he didn’t like it whatever it was.  Max would say something, then pause and look at Paris significantly, but he didn’t know why.  It pisses me off that Max is playing such games with Paris because I hate seeing him upset.  After an inordinate amount of lead-in time, Max finally got to the meat of the interrogation.  She told the inspector everything she had told Paris, and Inspector Robinson got excited and rushed away, most likely to have another chat with Ms. Fullerton.  As Paris is talking, he’s walks into the kitchen to make himself a hero sandwich.  I must look woebegone enough because he offers to make one for me as well.  I accept with alacrity.  In college, Paris was famous for his hoagie sandwiches.

I watch, mouth watering, as Paris slathers zesty honey mustard onto a hoagie bun.  He starts piling fixings and trimmings as if there is no end to his hunger.  He tells me that the inspector let slip that Moira was gagged after she was killed.  Paris doesn’t know the significance of this, but I make a guess.  I think it means that she was a willing participant in the bondage game because she would have been screaming her head off if someone had tied her up against her will.  By this time, Paris is done building up the hoagie.  He cuts it in two, plates it and hands it to me.  I happily start munching as he prepares another one.  As Paris makes a sandwich for himself, he points out that if Moira was drugged, she wouldn’t have made noise.  I protest that drugging her didn’t make as much sense as her playing games with someone she trusted, someone who quickly shot, then gagged her.

“Why would someone gag her after?”  Paris protests, cutting his own sandwich in half.  He pours us each a coke.  We set our sandwiches on plates and take our food to the living room which is where we do most of our eating.  I don’t know why we even bother having a table in the kitchen as we rarely eat there.  We are silent for a few minutes as we make serious dents in our food.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter five, part one

Chapter Five; Part One

“Mrreow!” I bolt awake to the sight of Onyx’s face inches from mine. Her eyes are small slits, and her fangs are showing.

“Do not do that!” I push Onyx’s face away from mine, wincing as her breath hits my face. It stinks of salmon and kibbles, and I push it further to the side. She eludes my hand and bonks her head against my face. Jet is standing to the side of me, watching his sister with something akin to amusement on his face. I glance at the clock and note that it’s four-fifteen in the morning. I sigh and snuggle down into my pillow, but I’m wide awake. I check the comments on my latest post, and I’m warmed by how enthusiastic people are in response to the post. Several say that they’d love to meet my best friend, with one or two saying more cheekily that they’d like to date her. It’s funny as I don’t mention describe what she looks like or post her picture, but her personality shines through, even on paper. I frown at QueenBee’s comment as she acerbically writes, “All bark and no bite. You can tell she’s got no substance, and her voice is ugly, too. I don’t know what you see in her. She was a waste of space.” I frown as this is the second time she’s said something negative about Julianna. I dismiss it from my mind, then promptly fall back asleep for another hour. I’m not feeling refreshed when I wake up, but it’ll have to do.

“How are my little boops?” I ask, rubbing first Onyx’s nose and then Jet’s. They both nuzzle against me before nudging at my shoulders. It’s clear that they want me to get up and feed them, so I begrudgingly comply. Getting out of bed is my least-favorite activity, and it happens with depressing frequency. I drag myself over to my closet and quickly pick out an outfit. After I feed the cats and eat a bagel with peanut butter, I’m out the door. I arrive early to work, so I allow myself a minute to hop online (on my phone) and check the news. When I open the Strib website, I get the shock of my life. There’s Julianna’s face staring back at mine, on her bed, with her throat slashed. I gag and cry out, quickly stifling it. The next thing I see is that her tongue is cut out, and there’s copious amounts of blood surrounding her. That’s when I lose it—stumbling away from my desk. I make it to the bathroom just in time to puke out the contents of my stomach into the toilet. I keep gagging long after I’ve thrown everything up. I sag onto the floor and begin weeping uncontrollably. How could this be happening to me? How could Julianna be dead? Also, who could have done that to her tongue? Who hated her that much?

I fumble with my purse, pulling out my phone. There’s the Star Tribune website and Julianna’s destroyed face is looking back at me. I quickly close out the tab before plugging Julianna Araki into Google. The first five hits are about the murder, and I cautiously open them in new windows. None of them have pictures, for which I’m grateful. I learn that Julianna was killed at about four in the morning, the same time Onyx had awoken me from my sleep. Remorse overcomes me. If only I had called her, texted her, or something. Maybe I could have saved her. I check my phone to see if I have any messages. I do—a text from her at around 3:45 a.m. I stare at the phone, not believing my eyes. This is a text from Julianna, and it might be the last thing she said before she was—I finally check the text, my heart in my mouth. I don’t want to read it, but I know I must.

“Hey, Liang. I just got the fucking of a lifetime. You should try it! It’s good for what ails you. I’m ready for another round, but Ramona had to go home, damn it. Wanna come over and lend me a hand? Just kidding. Love you, girl. Thank you for the Dong Yuan. Talk to you soon.”

“Oh, Araki. How could you do this to me?” I cradle my phone to my chest, rocking back and forth as I weep. What am I going to do without my best friend, and who could have done this to her? Ramona? Simon? A disgruntled ex? I don’t know, and all I can do is weep.

“Megan? Are you OK?” Tania Smith, one of my coworkers, stares at me, her mouth agape and her hazel eyes wide. She pushes a hank of greasy brown hair from her brow, but it falls back in place.

“I’m fine.” I choke back my sobs and gather my things. I pull myself up off the floor and brush by her to wash my face. I rinse my mouth before turning off the faucet. “I think I might have a stomach bug. I’m going home. Tell Cara I’m taking the rest of the day off.” I sweep out of the bathroom, keeping my head held high. I don’t crumble until I reach my car, and then I burst into sobs again. Somehow, I manage to make it home in one piece before collapsing on the couch. I start weeping as if I’ll never stop. Onyx and Jet hop onto the couch, Onyx on my stomach and Jet on the cushion squished next to my thigh, and they’re both staring at me in consternation. I try to placate them with a smile, but all I can do is howl. I can’t live without my Julianna; I just can’t bear it.

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Trip on This: Chapter Five (Part One)

Chapter Five (Part One)

“What’s the word, Rock?”  Trip asks her favorite bartender as he plunks a Freezin’ Seamen in front of her.  It’s only five in the evening, but it’s never too early for a Freezin’ Seamen.  She drains it in one gulp.  There are two guys at the bar, and a few scattered patrons elsewhere.

“What’s up, Trip?”  Rock asks, giving her soulful looks.  He turns on the puppy-dog eyes which succeeds in irritating her.  “How come I haven’t heard from you since, you know.”

“Since we fucked?”  Trip asks bluntly, not missing the wince on his face.  “Rock, I had a great time, I really did, but it was just one night.”  Her tone is matter-of-fact.  She had made herself abundantly clear that night that she wasn’t a stand-by-your-man type of woman, but it appears that Rock hasn’t gotten the message.  Of course, they’d both been bombed out of their minds, but she had thought he understood because he had nodded after she spelled out the rules.  Right before she fucked the shit out of him.

“I thought you really liked me,” Rock says, his lower lip trembling.  He’s older than she by three or four years, but seems more vulnerable.  “I thought we really had something going.”  Good god, not another closet romantic.  Could it be for all his tats and piercings, he is a wilting flower at heart?  She knows how to pick them, yes, she does.

“Listen, Rock, I have to ask you a question.”  Trip changes the subject as she doesn’t want to waste time coddling the broken-hearted.  “Did a man come in here the last week or so asking about me?”

“What, are you some kind of celebrity and nobody told me?”  Rock laughs a bit meanly.  The two guys sitting on their bar stools snigger, not even bothering to pretend that they aren’t listening.

“You tell her, Rock,” the older one who is missing a few teeth, not to mention most of his stringy white hair, crows.  “You have to keep the ladies in check.”

“Let me rephrase that,” Trip says evenly, her dark eyes impenetrable.  Rock shrinks back a bit, even though he outweighs her by a hundred pounds or so.  “Has someone been asking for a repo man?”

“You’re not a repo man,” the younger barfly snorts, sucking down his Bud.  He has a baseball cap jammed on his head, but his watery blue eyes are keen under the brim.  “You’re a broad.”

“Rock!”  Trip snaps, tensing her muscles.  “I do not have time for this shit.”  Her eyes lock onto Rock’s until he looks away.

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