Romance Fiction posted August 2, 2020

This work has reached the exceptional level
(1,233 words) A new member gathers some clues.

Murder Mystery or Romance?

by LisaMay

“A man came into the information centre yesterday, asking for you,” my friend, Sarah, reported to me. She works at the Botanic Garden and we’ve gotten to know each other well because of my regular visits there. “Who might that be? How come he knows your writing name but not your real name? I told him you live locally, but then I realised I probably shouldn’t have. Sorry.”

“What did he say then?”

“He muttered something about closing in and getting warm. I don’t think he was talking about it being a sunny day. Murderers can be handsome, too. You’d better keep your hockey stick handy to clobber him if he climbs through your window,” Sarah added, relishing the drama and the look on my face.

*  *  *
“A man rang up yesterday asking for your phone number,” my boss told me. “He asked to speak to one of my staff – a writer. He didn’t  know your real name, but we all know you write as a hobby. I asked him to leave his phone number. He said mysteriously that his plot was to track you down himself. That sounded suspicious and somewhat threatening. I know this isn't America, but watch your back.”

*  *  *
“Is there something you haven’t told us?” my next-door neighbour, Rosie, enquired teasingly yesterday.

“About what?”

“You tell us! There’s been a man hanging around our street, snooping, looking over your fence, asking questions about you. Maybe he’s a stalker, but he looked like a private investigator. He used that name you told me was your pen-name. I think I put him off the scent by saying I didn’t know you. I hope you’re not in trouble.”

*  *  *
“You’d better keep your garage door locked to keep your motorbikes safe.” Another neighbour had called to inform me of spying behaviour. “I saw a man peering in your garage yesterday.”

*  *  *
It’s Saturday today and I’d just let Lily, my young cat, out into the backyard while I settled down with the newspaper and my two pieces of toast.

Five minutes later the phone rang. “I’ve got your cat...” a stranger’s voice said triumphantly.

Oh my gosh! My sweet little Lily’s been cat-napped! “Please don’t hurt her,” I begged. “I’ll pay the ransom!”

“What? Why would I hurt her? I love cats.” The man had a soothing voice. “I know you’re a writer… your imagination’s gone into overdrive.”

“How do you know I’m a writer and when can I get my cat back?”

“I’m standing at your front door. I jumped your back fence and grabbed your cat because I could see she had a collar on with a disc. I figured her name and your phone number would be on it,” he said calmly. “I really need to talk to you. I’m not dangerous. This is important.”

“You sound like a private investigator. Why didn’t you just ring my door bell and introduce yourself?”

“Too easy. It makes a better story this way, when there’s some action in it!”

I smiled to myself. Now that I knew my cat was safe, this man sounded intriguing.

“I’m coming to the front door now, so I’ll hang up. See you soon.”

I opened the door. Lily was settled in the crook of his arm, purring contentedly.

“Hello. I’m Simon.” 

The man was gorgeous! I trusted him on sight. Obviously my cat did, too. He held out his free hand. I couldn’t shake it straight away – I had to put my hockey stick down first.

If ever I’m put in charge of assembling a desirable man, he would look like this guy – with a tall, athletic frame, friendly brown eyes, and dark hair that I immediately wanted to run my fingers through. In fact, I wanted to run my hands all over him.  

“You’d better come in. It seems we have a lot to talk about.” I was going to make sure I kept him talking for a long time.

As he followed me down the hallway I offered: “I’m having some toast. Would you like a slice?”

“Yes, please. I bet you’ve got crunchy peanut butter on it. I loved that poem you wrote about peanut butter! Let’s sit at the table in the bay window so we can look out over your remodelled garden. It sounds like your young friend’s done a good job on the re-design. Afterwards we could go for a walk around the Botanic Garden, thinking up limericks. Or perhaps you’d prefer a motorbike ride together?”

I was astonished at his accuracy about my life. “You’ve been very thorough in your homework. How did you know all that?” 

“It’s a long story. I’m not a flash in the pan. In fact, I can be quite poetic. Actually, I’m hoping it’ll be a book. Possibly a Detective story.”

“Just so long as it isn’t a Murder Mystery with me as the corpse!”

“I was worried for a while it might be a posthumous story about ME, with my head bashed in by a hockey stick,” he chuckled. “What position do you play?”

I couldn’t help it. My naughty imagination made me snigger, picturing the two of us in various positions.

His beautiful brown eyes sparkled, and I noticed the crinkles at the corners of his eyes. Clearly he was no stranger to laughter. 

I made a pot of tea and we sat at the table. My weekend was looking up. He began his explanation.

“I saw you last month in the Hokitika Library, over on the West Coast. I overheard you talking to your friends that you were with on your recent camper van trip. It sounded like you were having a great time, going hiking on the glacier, beach walks, and doing that tree top walk as well. I love stuff like that, too, but I don’t have anyone to do it with.”

“Why not?”

“I came back here because of this Covid thing. I’ve been overseas for years and my old friends have all moved on. 

Anyway... You had your computer open at the library and I walked behind you on my way to borrow a book. Your screen showed something called FanStory, with what I assumed was your profile page with your pen-name. I was working up the courage to speak to you, but when I came back you were gone.

I love research. I love a challenge. And this will sound utterly corny, but I realised I’d fallen in love with you at first sight. I had to find you. So I joined FanStory and read all the postings written by you. I hoped like mad that your stories were fact-based. It was like following a bread crumb trail of clues. I’ve been up and down so many streets near the Botanic Garden that you mentioned, looking for a tabby kitten named Lily and signs of major garden work being undertaken. Your profile said you enjoyed motorcycling, so when I found a garage with motorbikes in it I thought I might be on the right track.”

I’d been sitting there with my mouth open, a glow of anticipation seeping through my dormant bones. After all these years, my Prince Charming had found me.

He asked: “Would you like to be the star of a Romance story instead?” as he leaned forward to kiss me. 


How would it happen? contest entry

Author's Note:
In my dreams! How I wish!!
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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