Mystery and Crime Fiction posted January 11, 2019 Chapters:  ...4 4 -5- 5... 

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Franci's comes home to a surprise

A chapter in the book Murder and the Angry Avenger

Changes, Part 3

by krprice

Franci is a murder suspect and is hunting for the real killer.
Before I left, I took the bottles and nipples up to the girl's room, filled them, and stuck them in the fridge before going downstairs.

I collected by purse, locked the front, and drove away from my house. Since Hill's was on the next street behind Kramer's Bookstore, I stopped there first and explained the reason for my visit.

"There won't be any problem, Ms. Kimball," the tall, lanky man said. He'd introduced himself as Marlon Hill, the owner's son. "Just have Mr. Jefferson show some ID, and we'll take good care of him."

"Thank you," I said and departed.

From there, it was only a short hop to the bookstore. I parked and strolled to the door. I knew it wouldn't be open yet, so I knocked. Gayel spotted me and came over. She unlocked the door and let me in, closing and locking it behind me.

"I was heating water for tea," she said. "Want some while you explain why you're here so early?"

"Yes," I answered. "Thank you."

She walked back to the kitchen when the kettle whistled.

I walked over to the table and sat. How was I going to accuse my best friend of breaking into MJ's house without sounding judge mental when I had done the same thing, I wondered? I shook my head.

"Something the matter?" Gayel asked as she entered with a steaming teapot, cups, saucers, silver, and other items on a tray. She set them on the table.

We remained quiet as we put sugar, lemon, or cream in our cups and stirred.

"First, I have a confession to make, and then a question for you." I paused to sip the hot tea. It was mint, a favorite of mine. "Jeremy and I broke into MJ's house the other night right before you did. Why were you there, and who was with you?"

Gayel blushed. "The man was MJ's brother. Long story short, he came back for something he had sent her. Anyway, he's a writer and needs a place to stay and write. Do you have any place he can rent?"

Not much of an explanation, I thought, wondering if I should push further. I decided not to, at least for the time being.

"One side of my duplex at 230 Windward Drive was just vacated and cleaned up," I said and quoted her the rent. "If he's interested, have him come by, introduce himself, fill out the paperwork, and pay the rent. What's his name?"

"Uh," she said. "I'll have him explain things when he goes to your place."

I finished my tea. "All right." I said and left.

What was she hiding? Something was going on. Well, I guess I'll find out when he comes. I got into my cart, drove to Mr. Carlson's office, and signed the papers for the animal shelter.

A question had been haunting me ever since the day of the murder, and I decided I wanted an answer. My next stop was Angelica Richland's house. For some reason, she lived on the opposite side of the city in a rather modest one story, dark blue house. Weeds seemed to have taken over the yard and reached my knees. She was supposedly very wealthy why did she reside in this part of town?

I waded my way to the door and knocked. She answered almost immediately.

"What do you want?" she snarled.

"Why were you at MJ's the morning she was killed?" I asked, crossing my arms over my breasts.

"As if it's any of your business, I came to get her mortgage payments. She was four months behind. If she didn't pay up, I was going to start foreclosure proceedings."

"Or was it to pay her blackmail money for your bribing someone?" I lifted my head high.

Her eyes narrowed as she reached for something. The door opened more, and she held a broom.

"Don't you dare make an accusation like that without proof!" She started to swing the broom at me.

I spun around and ran for my cart, jumped in and drove home. My heart pounded like an anvil on a piece of iron.

The first thing I noticed when I unlocked the front door was a vocal greeting by Smokey and Midnight who tried to wrap themselves around my ankles.

"How did you get out?" I asked.

Suspecting trouble, I walked down the hall and found the gate open to the playroom. Bells jangled in the dining room. So I strode there to find the window smashed open, glass on the floor, and Jangles sniffing it.

Cast of Characters
Vivian Francine Kimball (Franci)--heiress to great-aunt's estate, mystery author,
Angelica Richland-- wealthy descendent of Atlantica's founders
Gayel Kramer--Owner of Kramer's Bookstore

Trivia: The city is names Arlington which is the part of Jacksonville, FL where I lived for eight years growing up.
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