Tag Archives: chapter fourteen part one

Plaster of Paris; chapter fourteen, part one

I wake the next morning, Friday, feeling particularly refreshed.  I did not wake up screaming from a nightmare, nor did Lyle have to wake me up.  I am downright cheerful on my walk to work.  I have put on a green blouse and white slacks because I feel so good.  I even whistle a bit as I walk.  The weather is sunny with no wind for a change, so it seems as if even the heavens are smiling on me today.  At work, nobody is overtly friendly towards me, but no one pointedly ignores me, either.  I pour myself a cup of coffee before sitting down at my desk.  I drape my jacket on the coat rack, then power on my computer.  I like to execute the same movements every morning as my own little ritual.  I have emails from my sister and from Vashti as well as a voice mail message from Vashti.  There is nothing from Ursula, however, which surprises me a bit.  I decide to try to call her again during my lunch break.  I read the email from Libby.

Rayne, thank you again for the advice.  I appreciate your unique point of view.  Really, I do.  It’s so hard to do the right thing sometimes, isn’t it?  I know I love Wallace; I just wish I loved him more.  I haven’t made a decision yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.

“Hey, Rayne!”  Jamal grins at me as he bounces around.  I am glad that he’s gotten over being mad at me as he’s my favorite kid.  He is munching a Snickers bar, and it’s probably not his first this morning.  “How’s your homey?”

“He’s awake, Jamal,” I say, grinning in return.  “He’s going to be just fine.”

“That’s great,” Jamal says softly, standing still for a minute.  He’s lost his grin, and there’s something wistful in his eyes.  “You lucky, you know?”  He waves at me with the Snickers before disappearing up the stairs.  I watch him fondly before turning back to my computer.  I’m immersed in my work for the rest of the morning.

“Hey, Rayne!”  Quinn McGowan, my coworker who used to be a quasi-friend until she started avoiding me like the plague because of the rash of murders I’ve been involved in.  She interrupts me just as I’m about to take my lunch break.

“Hey, Quinn,” I say pleasantly.  Even though she’s a basket case with more than a few issues, she’s still attractive.  Five-feet two with generous curves, pure green eyes and glossy dark brown hair cut pixie-style, she dresses to accentuate her positives.  Today she’s wearing a tight green sweater that matches her eyes and a short black skirt.  I’m cautious, however, as the last time she talked to me it was because she wanted me to have a threesome with her and her boyfriend.  “What’s up?”

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Plaster of Paris; chapter thirteen, part one

“What a day,” Lyle mutters, the first to break the silence.

“I say we don’t talk about it for the next hour at least,” my mother says firmly.  “Let’s talk about the inspector manufacturing excuses to see Rainbow, instead.”

“What?”  I exclaim indignantly, my cheeks flushing red.  “She came because Paris woke up.  She needs his statement.”

“Oh please, girlfriend,” Lyle says, rolling his eyes.  “Paris is in no shape to give a statement, and she knows it.  She just wanted an excuse to see you again before the night was through.

“Did you get a chance to talk to her, alone?”  My mom grins at me, her temporary fatigue forgotten.

“You guys!”  I blush deeply, unable to control my reaction.

“Did you kiss her?”  My mother’s eyes are mischievous for the first time in a long time.

“Mom!”  I do not discuss my sex life with my mother.  Not that I’m ashamed of it, but I’m just not comfortable sharing the tidbits.  However, I am bursting with the news, and they are two of the people closest to me.  “I asked her to dinner once this case is over,” I confide, slyly grinning myself.

“You go, girl!”  Lyle crows as he and mom hi-five each other.  “Pay up!”  He holds his hand out to my mother who slaps a five dollar bill into it.

“What is that for?”  I ask, glaring at both of them impartially.

“We had a little bet,” Lyle explains, slipping the five in his pocket.  “I bet you’d ask the inspector out while the case was still ongoing while Songbird bet you’d ask after.  I should have bet more.”

“You guys are unbelievable,” I laugh, shaking my head.  Friends and family betting on my love life.  Well, I’m glad someone gets some enjoyment out of it.  “Did you bet on me breaking up with Vashti as well?  Perhaps the date?”

“No, honey,” my mother says, placing her arm around my shoulder.  “We wouldn’t bet on something like that.”

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Rainbow Connection; chapter fourteen

“Change of plans,” Paris says cheerfully.  “We’re walking you to group, having a cup of coffee or a beer at some Mission dive, then we’ll pick you up at nine sharp.”  I want to argue, but it’s not worth the effort.  I simply nod, and we’re off.

“How was the funeral?”  I ask, needing to get my mind off the murders.

“It was hard,” Paris says, his shoulders drooping.  “The casket was so tiny!  It looked like a shoe box.  My mom started wailing the moment she laid eyes on it and wouldn’t let up.”  His face twists in remembrance.  Lyle squeezes his hand on one side while I do the same on the other side.  “Douglas kept shushing her.  He was fucking embarrassed!  Told her she was making a scene.”  Paris sneers as he utters the last word.  “I finally had to tell him to leave her alone.”  Lyle puts his hand on Paris’s back and rubs.  We walk in silence, reaching A Ray of Hope in fifteen minutes.  Paris and I smoke just to have something to do.  When it’s time, I give each of them a brief hug.

“Call when the meeting’s done!”  Paris orders.  Before I can respond, he and Lyle are gone.  I shake my head in mock exasperation.  I take a minute to look for the police, but I can’t spot them—they are that good.  I go inside where the atmosphere is glum.  The women are huddled in their chairs, not looking at each other.  Sharise isn’t there, and I have a feeling that the group is going to disintegrate very soon regardless of what happens tonight.  Jennifer is rocking back and forth and mouthing something, most likely a rosary.

“Good evening,” Carol says, her professional smile in place.  “I know this is a difficult time for all of us, so I’d like to open the floor up to anyone who wants to speak.”

“Dis has gotta stop,” Maria bursts out, her eyes flashing.  “First, Ashley.  Den, Rosie, now her kid.  Who’s gonna be next?”  She throws back her head, but her voice is trembling.  She can’t cover the fear in her eyes.

“Why were you on television again?”  I ask, bringing up the question foremost in my mind.  It has nothing to do with the murders, but I have to ask.

“I know it may seem cold-blooded,” Carol says carefully, looking at each of us in the eyes.  Only Astarte and I return her look.  “I want to help as many people as possible with their pain!  This is a good opportunity to spread the word.  I hate the fact that it’s death that gives me the chance to promote the clinic and my book, but I’m trying to make the best of a bad situation.”

“I won’t be coming any more,” Jennifer says, still rocking.  “I can’t be a part of this.  That girl, she was just a child.”

“Listen, please.”  Carol raises her voice slightly, the smile no longer on her face.  “This is the time when a group such as this is needed, when in the middle of a crisis.  If you quit now, you may regress.  Besides, Mariah’s death proves that the murders have nothing to do with the group.  You’re all safe.”

“I don’t know about that,” I say demurely.  “Maybe Mariah knew something about her mother’s death, and that’s why she was killed.  Maybe she read her mother’s notebooks.”  The silence is sudden and chilling; I have everyone’s undivided attention.  For once, Carol isn’t scribbling in her own damn notebook.

“What notebooks?”  Carol asks, her voice neutral.

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Parental Deception; chapter fourteen, part one

“So. Sushi. School me.” Rembrandt says as we are seated at our table in Fujiya. He glances around him in appreciation at the bright and lively room around him. It’s busy as it always is, but the noise level is low.

“My favorite is unagi, which is barbecue eel,” I say. The look on Rembrandt’s face tells me he’s not on board, and I hasten to add, “It tastes just like barbecue meat, I promise. I know you’re hesitant to try raw fish, but hamachi, or yellowtail, is so fatty and good.” My mouth is watering, and I control myself with difficulty. “They also have noodles and tempura if you’re really against trying raw fish.”

“No, I want to try it. There’s no reason to go to a sushi place if I don’t.” Rembrandt sets down the menu and looks at me. “Tell you what. You order for the both of us, and I’ll trust you won’t pick anything that’ll kill me.”

“Sounds good to me!” I order pork gyozas and salmon cream cheese wontons as appetizers. I order a variety of sashimi, nigari, and rolls as entrees, making sure to include seafood ones in case he hates the raw fish ones. I order two miso soups and edamame as well. We talk about nothing in particular while waiting for our food. The appetizers come out in record time, and Rembrandt can’t stop raving about the salmon cream cheese wontons.

“These are amazing!” He exclaims as he gobbles down a second one. “We may have to order another helping because three might not be enough.”

“Wait until after we eat our sushi,” I counsel. “You may enjoy it so much, you won’t want more salmon wontons.”

“I will always want more salmon cream cheese wontons,” Rembrandt says, his eyes dilated in pleasure. “Thank you so much for bringing these into my life. I have to figure out how to make them.” I am pleased that I could give him something that brings him so much joy.

His eyes further widen when our sushi is brought to us. It is attractively arranged, and there is plenty of it. I have the Taiwanese curse of ordering four times more food than we can possibly eat. I act as his tour guide, pointing out the different fish and seafood. He gamely tries a bit of each, and soon, he’s gobbling down the sushi as fast as I am. I beam at him as I eat because I love it when I can widen the horizons of other people, especially with something as delicious as sushi. There’s no shame in not knowing something or not having tried something, but your real character shows through in how you respond to the challenge of trying something new. I have to admit that I’m not always open to change, but I’m trying to be more flexible. Taiji helps, quite a bit, in fact. Rembrandt and I are quiet as we devour piece after piece of sushi. By the time we slow down, there’s still plenty left. I don’t like bringing home sushi because it goes bad so quickly, but I admit defeat while there’s still a third of what I ordered left. We order green tea and sip it while our server boxes our leftover sushi. I have a hunch we’ll finish it tonight so it won’t go to waste.

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Dogged Ma; chapter fourteen, part one

Chapter Fourteen; Part One

“Hello?  Is this Margaret Wang?”  A British voice filtered through my cell phone, causing me to perk up.  It was Wednesday night, and I’d just been ready to turn on the television to watch a little sports when the phone rang.

“Yes, it is.  Is this Alan Rickman?”  My heart beat a bit faster.  What other Brit did I know?  None.

“Yes, it is, love.  How are you?”  Alan Rickman, talking to me like we were friends.  I had to breathe deeply a few times before answering.

“I’m just fine.  You?”

“Smashing.  I just wanted you to be the first in Minnesota to know that I’ve agreed to perform at the Guthrie.  This fall.  I shall be moving there, temporarily, of course, in a month or two.  What do you think of that?”

“That’s fantastic,” I blurted out, not caring that I sounded like a star-struck teenager.  I thought about it a second and realized that while it was, indeed, fantastic, it was also going to complicate my life somewhat.  There was no denying I was powerfully attracted to Alan.  Would I be able to keep my hands to myself?  “What’s the play?  No, wait, don’t tell me.  I want to be surprised.  It’s enough to know that you get the girl.”  I was rewarded by Alan’s wonderful laugh.  “Thank you for the orchids, by the way.  They were beautiful.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed them,” Alan said warmly.  “You know, you could ring me every now and then.  I did give you my number for a reason.”  My heart stopped at those words.  He actually thought I’d dare to call him?

“I’ll try,” I said inanely.  “I just know how busy you are, and well, I don’t want to bother you.”

“Listen, Margaret,” Alan said in his inimical voice.  “I wouldn’t have given you my number if I didn’t mean for you to use it, all right?”

We chatted for several more minutes until he had to go.  He promised he’d be in touch the minute he got to Minnesota which nearly gave me a heart attack.  I hadn’t thought he was serious when he said he wanted to be friends, but apparently he was.  I said goodbye in a dreamy voice, not caring that I was giving something away.  I knew I’d have to be damn careful when he came into town, but I could dream, couldn’t I?  There was no harm in that.  I knew I was playing with fire, but I just didn’t give a damn.

“So, the Brit is coming back into your life, is he?”  It was Lucifer, of course, and he was glaring at me.  I was glad I had changed into sweats as soon as I got home so I wouldn’t be as appealing.  Then again, it was easier access, something I did not need to think about.

“He has a name, you know,” I said dispiritedly.  I wasn’t in the mood to fence with Lucifer as I wanted to savor my phone call with Alan.

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