Tag Archives: chapter nine part one

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter nine, part one

“Bea, you’re running late,” Antoinette said in a bossy tone as I dressed for work Monday morning.  I ignored her as she was not the boss of me, no matter what she seemed to think.

A huge yawn escaped from me before I could swallow it.  Rafe and I hadn’t gone to bed until well after two in the morning, and as it was now eight o’clock, I was bushed.  Gone were the days when I could skate by on four or five hours of sleep.  Now, if I didn’t get a solid seven hours, I was a basket case.  It was worth it, though.  A smile crept on my face as I recalled some of the more creative positions in which Rafe and I had found ourselves in last night.  One of them gave me fierce cramps in both legs, but I had been past the point of caring by then.  By the time we were through, we had each had four orgasms in two hours.  Not bad for a night’s work.

“Phillip wants to talk to you at some point today,” Antoinette said, primping in the mirror.

“What for?”  I asked sharply.  I didn’t relish the new boss breathing down my neck, especially if he was anything like his dead brother.

“He wants to get to know his employees,” Antoinette said, her voice reproachful.  “He’s a real hands-on type of guy.”  I refrained from supplying the obvious retort and pulled on the giant duck head.

“Hey, where’s the mouse head?”  I asked casually, trying to make it sound as if I were just making conversation.  “I thought the police were returning it,” I added lightly.

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Plaster of Paris; chapter nine, part one

“I suppose you’re wondering why I called this meeting,” Sandra says to me, smiling a brittle smile.  We are in her office, with the door closed, of course.  She is wearing a prissy white blouse buttoned up to her neck and beige pants, perfectly creased.  Today, her hair is scraped off her face and held back with a gallon of hairspray.  It does unfortunate things for her buck-toothed grin.

“Uh, sure.”  I have no clue, nor could I care less.  She could be giving me a raise or firing me for all I know.  I’m pretty sure it’s not the former, but it certainly might be the latter.

“Rayne, I know it’s been a hard time for you lately,” Sandra says with faux sympathy.  She leans forward, a semblance of concern lurking on her face.  “What with the, uh, incidences and all.  Because of your involvement in the, uh, events of the past few months, the administration has tried to cut you slack in your time of grief.”  She pauses expectantly, waiting for me to say something.

“Uh huh,” I say, not sure what it is she wants from me.  I have the distinct feeling she’s looking for thanks, which she’s not going to get.  “Hard time.”  I nod my head like an idiot, waiting for her next move.  Even though I had slept soundly after my nightmare, I am still bone-tired.

“Yes, a hard time.”  Christ, now she’s repeating me repeating her.  There has to be a point to this, but I’m not sure what it is.  “The thing is,” she pauses, fiddling with the cuff of her shirt.  She moves it a quarter of an inch down, then a quarter of an inch up.  When she has it to her satisfaction, she finally me square in the eyes.  “We’ve been having complaints about your work.  Paperwork not done on time; emails going unanswered—that sort of thing.”

“Who’s complaining?”  I ask idly; I don’t really care, but I’m curious to see if she will come up with anything more substantive.

“You know I can’t reveal that,” she says with a strained smile.  “Confidentiality and all.”

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Rainbow Connection; chapter nine, part one

“Rainbow, how are you?”  My mother asks as she ladles some tofu surprise onto my plate.  My mother is a vegetarian and serves the best meatless dishes I’ve ever tasted in my life.  If I could cook vegetarian food like that, I would be happy as a clam.  Now if she would just call me Rayne instead of Rainbow, I wouldn’t have anything to complain about.  I don’t think that’s going to happen.

It is Saturday night, and I’m having dinner at her house in Berkeley.  Lyle and Paris were supposed to come as well, but obviously, that didn’t happen.  It’s not the house I grew up in, but it’s still home.  My mother bought it after Libby went to college, right before the Bay Area became such a hot place to buy land.  If she were to sell her house now, she would triple if not quadruple her investment.  The décor is stuck in a time warp because my mother bought the place from a hippie, of course.  The carpet is orange, the furniture is yellowish with floral patterns and such.  There are Dali-esque prints on the walls and posters of the Grateful Dead.  I don’t mind that my mother is still a hippie, but I wish she had better taste in décor.  Surprisingly, she eschews the hippie clothing fashion and wears tailored clothing that looks smart on her.  Tonight, she is wearing a taupe pantsuit that is flattering to her slender figure.  She doesn’t look old enough to be my mother which is disconcerting.  She smiles and pours me more dandelion wine.

“Fine, Mom,” I say, eating as fast as I can.  “I’m in a therapy group for posttraumatic stress.  Did I tell you that?”

“You mentioned it.  How’s it going?”  My mother’s face creases into a smile.  She has been after me to get into therapy ever since the other murders.  I have been resistant up until now.

“Not so good,” I say softly, setting down my fork.  I am unsure whether I should tell her the next part because she’s been so worried about me lately, but I want her take on it.  “You know the two murders that have been in the news lately?  The daughter of the Godiva CEO and the maid?  Um, they were in my group.

”Oh, no!”  Mom is distressed.  “You’re involved in that?”

“Not directly.  The cops aren’t even sure the therapy group has anything to do with the murders.”

“I have a friend who lives in Marin,” Mom says earnestly, leaning forward.  I don’t question that as she has friends everywhere.  “She knew the Stevenson girl; they lived in the same neighborhood.  Apparently, my friend saw her the night she was murdered.”

“What?”  I sit up, my eyes widen with interest.  “Tell me what your friend said.”

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

“Rise and shine, Rayne!”  I hear a voice from a distance and desperately try to block it out.  I lie very still, rationalizing if I act dead, it may leave me alone.  “Come on.”  The tone turns from cheerful to cajoling.  “It’s after twelve, Rayne!  Time to get your lazy ass out of bed.”  It’s Paris, of course, and he’s standing over me.  When I do not respond, he reaches down and rips the covers off me.  I let out a shriek as a) I’m naked and b) it’s freezing.

“Paris Frantz!  You give me back my covers!”  I curl into a ball as I wait for him to comply.  Instead, he hands me a pair of sweats and a sweatshirt while waiting for me to get up.  When I realize that he’s a) not going away and b) eyeing my naked body, I quickly slip into the sweats.  Once I am covered, I fall back into bed and ignore Paris.

“Vashti called.  She wants to see you tonight.”  Paris frowns as I make no movement to get up.  “I’ll make you pancakes if you get up this very minute.”

“Chocolate chip pancakes?”  I ask, my voice muffled from the pillow I have placed over my head.

“Yes, Ms. Sweet Tooth,” Paris sighs loudly.  “Now get your ass out of bed.”

“Why are you so mean to me?”  I emerge from under my pillow to gaze dolefully at Paris.  “Why do you never show me any love?”

“I tried the other night,” Paris quips.  “You rebuffed me, remember?”  He waits until I sit up before slipping out of the room.  I yawn as I contemplate going back to bed.  I don’t understand why Paris has such a thing about me sleeping past noon.  He considers it a great failing of mine that I like to sleep in.  At least he didn’t shake his head sadly this time.  I would have had to clock him one, pancakes or no pancakes.  I shuffle out of bed and head to the bathroom.  I take a shower, brush my teeth, the usual things.  I wash my wound and put more gauze on it, best I can.  It isn’t red or weeping, so I assume it’ll heal.  I slip the sweats back on and go to the kitchen.  It’s only Paris, so there’s no need to look my best.  Besides, he’s wearing sweats, too, only his are gray and mine are black.

“Smells good.”  The fragrance of the chocolate chip pancakes perks me up.  There are few odors I like better than baked goods.  Especially ones with chocolate in them.

“Pancakes a la Paris, coming right up.  How’s the neck?”

“Come take a bite and find out,” I reply with a wink.  Paris laughs, but stays focused on his cooking.  I decide to call Vashti while he’s doing his thing and hunt down my cell phone.

“Hello?”  As usual, her voice makes me think of molasses and honey, with blindfolds and gags thrown in for good measures.

“Vashti?  It’s Rayne.  Glad that you called me back.  Sorry we’ve been playing phone tag.  Can you believe it about Max?”

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Parental Deception; chapter nine, part one

“Gah.” I’m awakened by my phone ringing. It’s Jasmine’s ring, and it’s not stopping. I let it go to VM as I glance at my clock. It’s five in the morning, and I’m going to kill Jasmine for calling me so early. A minute later, my phone starts ringing again, and it’s Jasmine—again. I have a hunch she’s not going to stop calling me until I answer, so I grab my phone. “What?” I snap, pissed off that she’d call me so early. “This better be important.”

“He’s dead, Megan!” Jasmine screams, causing me to wince. I yank the phone from my ear and glance over at Rembrandt. He’s still sleeping, of course, because nothing short of a hurricane will wake him up.

“Who’s dead, Jasmine?” I ask, slipping out of bed so I can grab a cigarette while we talk. Onyx and Jet meep in protest, but they remain on the bed. I go downstairs, take my cigarette and mug outside, and smoke.

“Henry! Our father! Look at the local news.” Jasmine is still screeching, which is setting my teeth on edge. Then, her words sink into my brain, and I’m jolted awake.

“Hold on.” I quickly pull up the Strib’s website, and there’s a picture of that man staring back at me from the lower right corner. The photo is just of his face, thankfully, but it’s accompanied with the question, “Who is this man?” I frown. Why would they need to ask that question? He should have some identification on him that says who he is. Come to think of it, why the hell didn’t I ask for any identification from him? I curse myself, then dismiss it as unimportant at this point. I read the article, and it says that he was hit by a car last night in Richfield. Richfield. Why does that tickle my brain? I go through my mental rolodex of what that man told me, and I finally recall that he used to work for the IT department of Best Buy, who are based in Richfield. He also talked about being bilked out of money by somebody or bodies during that time, so it wouldn’t be surprising if those people live in Richfield.

“Did you read it?” Jasmine asks, her voice tearful.

“Yes, Jasmine,” I say. “I did.”

“I’m going to the police to tell them what I know,” Jasmine says, breaking down. “I’ll let you know what they tell me.”

“Do you want me to go with you?” It’s going to make it difficult for me to get to work on time, but I’ll do it for her.

“No. I can do it myself. You go to work.” Jasmine’s voice is wavering, but she sounds determined.

“OK. Let me know as soon as you’re done there.” I could sleep for another hour, but I’m wide awake with this news. It’s bothering me that I never asked that man for identification, and I’m kicking myself for being so stupid. I didn’t push him hard enough on why he scrubbed his online history, and I brushed off that phone call he received when we first met. In addition, I didn’t ask more about the business venture that went wrong and—oh shit. He sent me that rambling email last night in which he said he was going after the people who stole his money.

I take a shower, a long one because I have the time. When I get out of the shower, Onyx and Jet are on the counter. I give them each a skritch behind the ears before going back into the bedroom to get dressed. Rembrandt is in the middle of the bed, his arms splayed to the sides. Ginger is smack dab in the middle of his stomach, also splayed on her back. I snicker at them before pulling on a pair of brown corduroy pants and a magenta blouse. I’m hungry, so I go downstairs to see what I can rustle up for breakfast. I usually just make toast and jam, which is what I resort to this time. Toast and strawberry jam. It’s not very original, but it gets the job done. I still have time before I need to leave, so I check my blog. The debate about sex is still raging, and people on both sides are getting heated. No one is crossing the line into disrespectful, though, so I don’t step in. I Google more about that man being run over, but there isn’t much. Let’s face it, it’s not a sexy story in any way—an older Taiwanese man gets hit by a car—so I don’t expect it to be front page news. The fact that they don’t know who he is does add to the mystery, but that won’t take much to clear up. I’m startled out of my musing by my phone ringing. It’s Jasmine, which means she’s probably done with the police.

“What did they tell you?” I ask, making sure I have everything I need for work.

“He’s not our father,” Jasmine says before bursting into tears.

“You don’t say,” I say, my tone even. I’m not completely surprised, though I am angry at his deception.

“They called the police out where he’s supposed to have lived, and they found out Henry Liang died a month ago in San Francisco.”

“What?” That does surprise me, though I can’t say why. “So this man stole our dead father’s identity?”

“Yes!” Jasmine is sobbing, and I ache to wrap her in my arms. “I can’t believe I was so stupid.”

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Marital Duplicity; chapter nine, part one

“Megan, I’d love to meet you for a cup of coffee after work. Seward Cafe at six?” It’s an email from Lee Bradley, and it’s the first thing I read when I get up. I dash off a quick yes, and I’m pleased to have made progress. I get through work with minimal mistakes before heading for Seward Cafe. It’s in South Minneapolis, which means I don’t get there often, but I like it’s homey atmosphere. Lee Bradley is already at a table, and I take a minute to look her over. She’s tall—five-foot nine inches, and she’s got a booty that would make Nicki Minaj envious. She’s wearing a pinstripe suit with a knee-length skirt. It’s clear she’s trying to minimize her curves, but to no avail. Mother Nature certainly took her time with the creation of Lee. Today, she has finger waves pulled up in a high ponytail and big gold hoops. She’s tapping her magenta-tipped fingers on her coffee cup. I order myself a large coffee and a chocolate croissant, then head to Lee’s table.

“Lee? I’m Megan.” I hold my hand out to Lee, and her grasp is firm and hearty.

“Megan. I’m so glad you emailed me. Please, sit.” She gestures to the seat across from her, and I sink into it. I take a bite of my croissant, then wash it down with a sip of coffee. I’m trying to think of my approach, and I decide the truth is for the best.

“Lee. Let me be honest with you. As you know, Bob is missing.” I sip my coffee again while watching Lee’s reaction. She’s nodding, and her eyes are reddened.

“I can’t stand it. It’s driving me crazy.” Lee’s hand is trembling as she picks up her coffee cup. “I did a little research of my own, but I can’t find shit.”

“Same here. It’s mostly fluff.” I sip some more and set down my cup. “Except.” I feel shitty for saying this, but I have to. “We have reason to believe he’s having an affair.”

“Bullshit!” Lee says, slapping her hand on the table. “Bob adores that sister of yours. You can take that to the bank.” She nods her head several times, and there’s nothing but sincerity in her voice.

“We determined her name was Lee.” I keep my eyes trained on Lee’s face, and there’s nothing but surprise on it.

“Me? You think he’s stepping out with me?” Lee flutters her fingers at her chest, and a second later, there’s guilt and/or anger on her face.

“I didn’t say that.” I spread my fingers to show her I mean no harm.

“Nah, but you sure as hell implied it.” Lee grips the edges of the table before relaxing. “I ain’t ashamed to say I wouldn’t have minded, but he was stuck on Jasmine like flies on—glue.”

“I really don’t mean to be disrespectful, but are you sure he didn’t say or do anything untoward?” I sound like a dime store romance novel, and I’m not proud of myself.

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Dogged Ma; chapter nine, part one

Chapter Nine

“Girl, what are you wearing to dinner with Ted?”  It was Ned on the horn, of course, as I drove home from work.  “It better be something fierce.  He’s a great catch, and I just wished he swung my way.”

“I’m glad he doesn’t,” I retorted, executing a quick lane change to avoid a yahoo who didn’t seem to know you’re supposed to signal, look, then change lanes in that order.  I was using my Bluetooth so I didn’t feel guilty about talking while driving.  I just wished other idiots would catch a clue and do the same.  Most people were horrible drivers when they had both hands on the wheel.  Divide their attention by making them hold onto a phone with one hand, and it was a disaster waiting to happen.  “I was thinking of wearing jeans and a t-shirt.”  I wasn’t, of course, but I wanted to tweak Ned for having so little faith in me.  Just because he was a fashionista didn’t mean that I was some slouch when it came to dressing myself.  I knew what colors and lines looked good on me, and I wasn’t afraid to flaunt what I had.

“You wouldn’t!  You couldn’t!  He’ll take one look at you and run,” Ned moaned, proving once again that he was the drama queen in our relationship.

“Shouldn’t he like me for who I am?”  I asked innocently, wanting to see how far I could push Ned.

“Only after he gets to know you,” Ned shrieked, causing me to flinch.  Luckily, I wasn’t in the middle of a tricky maneuver, or I’d be in trouble.  “Until then, you have to put your best foot forward.”

“Relax,” I said mildly, approaching my apartment building.  As usual, I had to look for a place to park as both sides of the street were filled with cars.  “I clean up good when I want, and I definitely want.”

“Call me when you get home.”  It was an order, not a request, and I decided I better fulfill it this time.  I clicked off the phone as I swung into a spot right in front of my apartment.  Talk about your karma.  God must be looking out for me.

“That was a joke,” I said out loud, not wanting another visit from the Almighty.  “In fact, can you not show up tonight at all?”  I didn’t think He would as He rarely showed Himself in front of others, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

“No problem!”  A voice boomed as I unlocked my door.  “I wouldn’t want to impede things with Ted.”  I ignored Him as I hopped out of my car, fairly confident He wouldn’t talk to me out in the open with the chance of someone coming along.  No such luck.  “I think you should wear a skirt,” God continued as I walked into my apartment and checked my mail.  He didn’t manifest, however, so I was pretty certain I was the only one who could hear His voice.  “I gave you a nice pair of legs, and it wouldn’t hurt you to show them once in a while.”

“TMI,” I muttered under my breath.  A passing woman gave me a strange glance but looked away when she saw I had caught her.  I didn’t need to know what God thought of my legs or any other part of my anatomy, thank you very much.  I flipped through my mail, saw it was mostly junk, then went up to my apartment.  God was silent, so I assumed He had gone.  I couldn’t feel Him all the time these days which really put me on edge.  He was easier to take when I knew for sure He was around.

“I’m still here,” God said, materializing as soon as I entered my apartment.  In copper this time, which made Him look like a giant penny.  “Now, remember, you have a tendency to get overly talkative when you meet someone you really like.  Give Ted a chance to talk about himself before filling him in on your life story.  Guys like a bit of mystery in their women, so don’t give everything away at once.”

“What, You’re my relationship coach now?”  I asked sharply, tossing my purse on the living room couch.  “Do You mind?  I want to take a shower before I go out tonight.”

“Good idea,” God said, disappearing in an instance.  “You go, girl,” I heard from above.  The distinct strains of Eminem filled my living room for an instant before falling silent.  “Sorry about that.”

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