Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Girl Sleuth-Chapter 9

(If you'd like to read from the beginning go Here.)

Swallowing against the tightness in her throat, Anne picked her way through the mess. She could not resist the lure of her desecrated typewriter. Reverently she righted it and returned it to its place. Bending over it she caressed the keys and examined the carriage. It did not seem to have sustained any serious damage. She rubbed at a scuff mark. Would it come out, or it would it be a permanent reminder of this awful violation?

“What happened here?”

With a squeak, Anne whirled to face the door. For lack of a better weapon she brandished her handbag, determined to do what damage she could.

Erik Carter raised his hands as if she were holding him up.

“Oh, it’s you.” She dropped her handbag and plopped onto the couch, burying her face in her hands.

He settled on the couch beside her. Close, but not touching her. “Did they take anything?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. But who could say for certain.” She waved a hand at the room.

“Have you called the police?”

“If nothing is missing there isn’t much point.”

“It is still vandalism.”

“Do you really think they will do anything about it?”

“Well, you have a better chance than if you don’t call them. Leave them out and there is zero chance of catching whoever did this.”

“There is no chance that they will waste their precious time with this anyway.” What had her back against the wall? Just a week ago she would have encouraged someone to do the exact same thing, but then again a week ago her confidence in the police had not yet been shaken. She tried to explain her vehemence. “My friend was killed by a car two days ago. The police refuse to even consider that it was anything more than an accident, but I saw the body and their explanation just doesn’t cover it all. If they won’t even look at a potential murder—”

“Why are you so certain your friend was murdered?”

Anne wanted to bite her tongue off. “I’m sorry but I have to go.”

“You’re not still going out?”

“Why not?”

It was his turn to wave a hand at the chaos that had swallowed the room.

“It will still be here when I get back.” She rose and smoothed her skirt. “Why did you come up here? Did you need something?”

“Oh.” He blinked and held out the hammer he had borrowed earlier.

“Thanks.” She smiled her sweetest ‘little woman’ smile. Her fingers brushed his as she accepted the hammer. “It is important that I go or I really would stay home.”

“What was your friend’s name?”

She looked at him blankly.

“The one who died?”


“I’m sorry for your loss.”

Anne was not quite sure she knew how to respond to that.

He saw himself out, and Anne minced her way into Jilly’s bedroom. The destruction extended even here in her sanctum sanctorum.

The world had gone mad, neither she nor Jilly owned anything worth the effort of theft, and it looked as if the intruders had realized that pitiful fact. Anne held her handbag closer. Either she had fallen asleep and woken in a B grade spy movie, or Carol had been hiding something. Something dangerous.

Carol had passed those papers to her for a reason. She had to figure it all out or the danger would continue to spread like a stain. She grabbed the first clothes that came to hand. A pretty blue dress which Jilly filled out perfectly.

In a moment she was on the street again, marching toward the subway. No way she was going to walk another eighteen blocks today. Her feet were already worn to stubs. She shut out the thought of all the work they would have to do to get the apartment cleaned up. She would cross that bridge when she came to it.

Once more she sensed a presence following her. Was she simply becoming paranoid? She darted into the station heedless of her sore feet. In a matter of seconds she had shoved through the turnstile and plunged into the ladies’ restroom.

She held the door open an inch and peered through the crack. She didn’t have much of a view of the stairs, but she could see most of the platform. At this time of day the traffic was fairly moderate. Maybe she would recognize whoever was following her. Or maybe the pursuer would believe she had disappeared and give up. She had reverted to wishful thinking, never a good sign.

A tall figure crossed her line of sight. She stiffened and flung the door open. He certainly had a knack for turning up at odd moments. She had been too trusting. Of course, he had had the plenty of time to ransack the apartment. But why? Whatever the reason, this was all just too much of a coincidence.

She stalked up behind the man. “Are you following me?”

Erik spun on his heel. “Apparently not very well.”

“What do you want?”

“I just wanted to make sure you are safe. After what happened—”

“Why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to come with me?”

He turned sheepish. “I didn’t think you would let me.”

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