Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter sixteen, part three

“Dodo!”  Mona shrieked, throwing her arms around me.  “What happened?  Mom said you were in some sort of trouble.”

“You can’t keep out of it, can you, Dodo?”  Hank asked affectionately, ruffling my hair.

“Dodo, what are we going to do with you?”  Owen asked, sighing and rolling his eyes.  Michele, who was with them, said nothing but just stared at me.  Taking a deep breath, I went through the litany again, stopping every time one of them had a comment, which was often.

“You scared the hell out of us,” Rafe said quietly, squeezing my hand.  He was subdued instead of being his usual effervescent self.

“You still haven’t told me why you’re here,” I said, squeezing back.  “I’m glad you are, but how did you know?”

“Van called me,” Rafe said, nodding at my mother.  “She was worried about you and wanted to know if I’d heard from you.  When I found out you’d left in a huff, I was worried, too.”  His voice was matter-of-fact, but there was an undercurrent of hurt to it.

“We have to talk,” I said softly.  “Later.  Don’t worry.  It’s a good talk.  I hope.  At least, it was good when I was thinking of it in my mind.”  I knew I was babbling, but I wanted to reassure him.  He didn’t look very reassured, however, which was a shame.

“Uh, Ms. Chen?”  Detective Bradley poked his head into the living room.  “Do you know your front door is open?”

“Come in, Detective Bradley,” my mother said, escorting in the good detective.  “What can you tell us?”

“Ms. Crawley waived her right to a lawyer and confessed.  She killed Lydia and Mr. Bates killed his brother.  She also confessed to stabbing Ms. Chen in an attempt to make it appear as if Ms. Chen was the primary victim.  The shooting in the driveway as well as the living room shooting were done by Ms. Drake.  I think that covers everything.”  Detective Bradley looked weary but proud.

“Thank you so much, Detective Bradley,” my mother said, holding her hand out to the detective.  “Can I get something for you and your partner?  Tea?  Coffee?  Sandwiches?”

“No, thanks, Ma’am,” Detective Bradley said with a wan smile.  I could picture him tipping his hat at her like in the westerns.  “I better be on my way.  Ms. Chen, I’d like you into the station in the morning so we can get your statement.”  Too weary to talk, I simply nodded my head.  I was exhausted by the week’s event, but I managed to thank him as well.  I even told him to thank Detective Sands for me; he said he would.

Once it was just family and a few lovers, I told everything I knew.  I started with how Antoinette and Phillip were having an affair, which cleared up a lot of logistic questions.  It made sense that there were two people collaborating rather than one person acting on his/her own.  I really felt sorry for Eddie.  Not only was he betrayed by his girlfriend, but by his own brother as well.  Not only were they fooling around behind his back, they were embezzling from him to boot.  Then, after they plotted and carried out his murder, they smeared his reputation by spreading the rumors that he had a gambling problem.  It was a smart cover story because they had to explain the missing money from the FunLand coffers somehow, but I couldn’t understand how they thought they’d get away with it in the long run.  Eddie would have checked the books sooner or later and discovered the discrepancies.  That’s why I believed that Phillip and Antoinette had planned to get rid of him from the very beginning.

“So they had nothing to do with shooting at you in Mom and Dad’s driveway?”  Mona asked, trying to piece together the puzzle.

“Nope, that was Shannon.”  Throwing Shannon into the mix really complicated matters because it threw the scent further off the former murders.

“Lydia was the main target the whole time?”  Owen asked, furrowing his brow.  I didn’t blame them for asking questions because the whole situation was incredibly twisted.

“She was the initial target until Eddie found out about them—then he had to go.”  I didn’t know if he found out from Lydia before she died—which I rather doubt as he didn’t say anything or act any differently—or if something about Antoinette and/or Phillip tipped him off.  My guess was that he had his suspicions all along and finally broke into Antoinette’s computer to verify his beliefs.  I briefly thought a good thought for Eddie.  Even though I hadn’t like him, nobody deserved what he got in the end.

“What was Phillip’s part in this whole thing?”  Hank asked.  “It seems to me that he was the backbone of the whole operation.”

“I think he was,” I replied.  “I think he manipulated Antoinette right from the start.  It was clear from reading their emails that she was doing it for him.  Not to say she didn’t get anything out of it because she did, but it was his idea all the way.  I hope he gets life imprisonment.”

I was flagging.  Any residual adrenalin I had had left with the detectives.  I wanted nothing more than to sleep and to put this whole disaster behind me.  I slumped into Rafe, nestling my head on his chest.  I could hear his heart beat, and I thought about how nice it was to have someone I could rely on.  Rafe was gently stroking my hair, causing me to feel sleepy.  I snuggled closer, not wanting to be separated from him.  All the things I had thought about when I thought I was going to die came rushing back to me.  I knew it was time for me to get over my fear of commitment and to hold onto this terrific man.  It was time for me to fully live.

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