Official Blog for the Animated Insights of Shannon Muir: Animation Pro and Author

An animation professional known for her desire to give forward to pros and fans alike, Shannon has expanded her reach to writing prose, and showcasing those authors as well. Read interviews and guest posts from INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS, plus Shannon's own content.

Category: Spontaneous Choices Shorts Page 2 of 4

SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS – “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery” (14 of 16)

Presented by SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS

SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS features short serialized fiction by author Shannon Muir, that may be later released as part of e-book or print collections. In 2019, these serials will appear every second and fourth Thursday (and fifth Thursdays as they occur) beginning January 17, 2019. The story line featured over the next sixteen days is “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery,” featuring the return of Marnie and Zane. This is part 14 of 16.

With Zane at the wheel of the car, Marnie went back to Aubryville – the town where she’d first met Blake – and they went to the address they’d found. Marnie knocked on the door, while Zane waited nearby in the car just in case.  A woman in her 40s answered the door, which reassured Marnie she likely had the right house.

“My name’s Marnie Hawkin. I work for TrentonDeviceMed.”

Lara shook Marnie’s hand.

“I’m Lara. Pleased to meet you. I’m surprised you came here though, to our little town. I’m no longer active in nursing, only volunteering in hospice care.”

“Lara, I’m actually trying to locate someone I believe is your son. Do  you have a son named Colby that goes to community college now?” Marnie asked Lara. “I understand he started going when in high school through some sort of bridge program.”

“One of my sons is named Colby,” she said. “My younger one. I have an older son named Jared and as well as a daughter, who is my oldest child. Colby isn’t here, though, nor does he have any interest in the medical profession.”

Marnie watched Lara’s look change from friendly to highly suspicious.

“Who did you say you were?”

“Marnie Hawklin from TrentonDeviceMed. I’m looking for Colby not for professional reasons, but personal ones. One thing I’d like to do for my sister’s kids is help them build a family tree of who they are related to. Their father is Clif Royale.”

Lara slammed the door.

“Go away!” she shouted from the other side. “I never want to hear the name Royale again!”

“So the Royales messed with you as well,” Marnie said. “My sister was betrayed by her now ex-husband Clif. It turned out our mother was married to a Royale who beat his infant son to death. Those of us with ties to the Royales should stick together, Lara.”

Lara cautiously opened the door.

“I remember hearing about that. I’m sorry, Marnie. Being a Royale, or even having Royales in your life, really does lead to heartbreak.”

Manrie noticed Lara wasn’t inviting her in. She wouldn’t push it.

“Can you at least tell me about how Colby fits in to all this?”

“My husband Jared had only been dead a few months when I got the assignment to care for Hampton Royale. I’d met Jared while I was in school, helping to assist his wife unofficially as she struggled with an illness while I worked at the local grocery store here in Aubryville. It’s a complicated story, but we ended up falling for one another, getting married, and having two children, though there’s a bit of an age gap between our daughter and Jared Junior. It didn’t change that Jared was twenty years older than I was and died in his sixties. Our son Jared Junior just started kindergarten, so I needed to go back to work. While Jared Jr and his sister were in school, I commuted the the big city to work a day shift caring for Hampton Royale.  I wasn’t ready, and really not ready to be helping a charming older man. He got to me in all the ways I was weak, played to my desires for security and comfort, and when I realized I’d be having a child with him, I left.”

“He didn’t provide for Colby in his will?”

“He did, and I thought Colby would be all taken care of,” Lara admitted. “I reassured him that he could have any future he wanted once he turned eighteen. Boy, was I wrong. In the intervening years, Colby’s older brother Clif manipulated things so he got nothing. Colby spent his whole life not planning out what to do with his life, and suddenly didn’t know what to do. My son was so frustrated and angry, and I didn’t know how to help him.”

“What did he do?” Marnie asked.

“He got a job starting last summer at a new bookstore in town, trying to build a normal life for himself. Yet every day, he struggled with it. Colby knew he’d been destined for better, or at least, I’d raised him to believe that. It’s all my fault.”

Marnie could see that Lara needed comfort, but as a stranger it would be rather awkward for her to give it.

“I’ve taken enough of your time, Lara.  And I’m so sorry, for everything.”

“I hope your family has better luck coming out of the shadows of the Royales than my family,” Lara told her.

SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS – “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery” (13 of 16)

Presented by SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS

SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS features short serialized fiction by author Shannon Muir, that may be later released as part of e-book or print collections. In 2019, these serials will appear every second and fourth Thursday (and fifth Thursdays as they occur) beginning January 17, 2019. The story line featured over the next sixteen days is “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery,” featuring the return of Marnie and Zane. This is part 13 of 16.

When Marnie woke up, she immediately checked her texts. No answer from Zane yet. She had breakfast, got dressed, and headed off to work as she normally did. She hoped Zane would answer and let her know something, even if it was that he couldn’t help.

Around lunchtime, Marnie got a text back from Zane.

FOUND SOMEONE HERE THAT RECOGNIZES THAT NAME. MIGHT BE A LARA CRALLE FROM AUBRYVILLE. THE PERSON I SPOKE TO WENT TO NURSING SCHOOL WITH HER YEARS AGO. SAYS SHE STILL LIVES THERE.

Marnie texted back.

I’LL HEAD OUT THAT WAY AFTER WORK.

Zane responded.

WAIT FOR ME TO PICK YOU UP. DON’T WANT YOU TO GO ALONE.

While Marnie didn’t feel she needed protecting, she definitely wouldn’t turn down the chance to be with Zane. She agreed to wait for him.

As promised, Zane pulled up after work.

“Figured it was easier if you left your car here and we went together, than you trying to park at the hospital. Get in.”

Marnie did.

“You have an address?” she asked.

Zane indicated the paper on a seat next to him.

“I’ve got the last known address anyway. As you know, Aubryville’s not all that big. Still can’t believe we’re going back to where we met Blake.”

“And where both my mother and Blake’s mother are from,” Marnie reminded him. “And also where this Colby went to high school. I’m just concerned the police could get on us for obstructing an investigation,” Marnie said. “But I just can’t let this go.”

“It’s only a problem if it’s the same Colby, and that’s a risk we’re taking. All we’re looking for right now is a Colby related to the Royales, and that one would be family to you no matter what. That’s a family history mission, and it happens to cross paths with the murder, that’s coincidence.”

Marnie winked at Zane.

“I like the way you think,” she told him. “Come on, then, let’s go.”

SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS – “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery” (12 of 16)

Presented by SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS

Presented by SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS

SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS features short serialized fiction by author Shannon Muir, that may be later released as part of e-book or print collections. In 2019, these serials will appear every second and fourth Thursday (and fifth Thursdays as they occur) beginning January 17, 2019. The story line featured over the next sixteen days is “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery,” featuring the return of Marnie and Zane. This is part 12 of 16.

Marnie didn’t know what else to say. She couldn’t reassure her friend Sophia, or give any concrete proof that their suspicious about Colby were correct.

“I’m going to reach out to Holly and be sure she’s fine!”

Sophia hung up on Marnie before she even had the chance to say anything more. Meanwhile, Marnie turned her thoughts back to her own research. It would definitely be a long night, with little sleep for any of them. Marnie decided to put her energy into finding out who Colby’s mother might be, to see if the Colby they dealt with was indeed the same one Tessa thought he might be.

The next piece of information she needed would be Colby’s last name.

Marnie sat down at her computer and tried to figure out how to search. Colby might be a local college student working at the bookstore; she did know there was a community college near that area of town. Since Fall already came and went, maybe he’d done something of merit to be mentioned in the school paper there.

Marnie went to the community college website, found the news section, and from there located the community college’s student paper. In the search box she typed one word: COLBY.

She knew it to be a long shot, but at this point she didn’t know what else to do.

Marnie tapped the magnifying glass icon to begin the search and waited.

The search returned a Student Staff profile.

COLBY CRALLE

It listed both the current school year and the prior school year as his terms on staff.

More importantly, it also had a picture of the same young man they’d seen buying coffee.

Marnie read the paragraph about Colby aloud.

“Colby joined the school paper staff while still a senior in high school in Aubryville, doing a series of special reports on being a bridge student on our campus. Now a freshman at the college, Colby works as a Staff Writer on Arts and Culture stories.”

Marnie immediately recognized the name of the town where Colby went to high school as being not far away from the city. Just days earlier, they’d met Blake there while trying to learn more about the Royales. The connection didn’t surprise her.

Now, Marnie realized the time to be getting late in the evening. Zane told her to contact if there was anything more, but it seemed a bit late. All she had was a cell phone number.

She decided to text him, even though she wasn’t sure if it was a personal or work phone or not. Marnie decided to keep it pretty vague, just in case.

So she sent a text that simply read:

THE LAST NAME YOU ASKED ABOUT IS CRALLE.

With that, Marnie decided to go to bed. There wasn’t much more she could do tonight.

SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS – “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery” (11 of 16)

Presented by SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS

SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS features short serialized fiction by author Shannon Muir, that may be later released as part of e-book or print collections. In 2019, these serials will appear every second and fourth Thursday (and fifth Thursdays as they occur) beginning January 17, 2019. The story line featured over the next sixteen days is “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery,” featuring the return of Marnie and Zane. This is part 11 of 16.

Once she got home, Marnie phoned Blake back up. She knew how late it was, but right now she didn’t care. Besides, she felt Blake owed her.

“Marnie?” Blake said, groggily.

“Look,Blake, I know it’s late, but I need your help. You are a librarian with access to research tools. I talked to my sister about all that’s been going on.”

“That’s great you two are still talking. But why are you bothering me in the middle of the night?”

“My sister thinks that the Colby kid we saw at the cafe might be an illegitimate son of Hampton Royale, the father of my sister’s ex-husband, who ended up not getting what he was promised in the will. As an illegitimate son yourself, I’m thinking you’d probably know how to look the quickest to verify a story like that. Tessa’s concerned we’re all in danger. Look, I’m still not happy at how you handled things with the police, but this is your chance to make up for it.”

“I’ll check remote databases from here and get back to you as soon as I can,” Blake promised her.

As she hung up from talking to Blake, Marnie knew what she needed to do next. She dreaded doing it, especially this late. Zane might not answer her, or get upset she called so late. However, this area would be his expertise.

Slowly, she dialed the numbers. Zane did answer.

“Marnie, do you realize how late it is?”

“Yes, yes Zane, I do and I’m sorry. But I need your help.”

“I can’t just drop everything and come rescue in the middle of the night!”

“Oh, sorry. That’s not the advice I mean. I need your expertise as a male nurse.”

Zane’s tone changed; this piqued his interest.

“What can I help you with?”

“Did the police ask you about some murder at the cafe we went to?”

“They did. I didn’t know a thing.”

“Well, that kid in front of us in line that caused a fuss, Colby? He might be related to my sister’s ex.”

“Whoa, that’s deep. But I’m not following what that has to do with me.”

“My sister thinks his mother might have been one of Hampton Royale’s care nurses not quite twenty years ago. If I needed to locate someone with a current or past nurse’s license, how would I go about it?”

“I can tell you, but shouldn’t you leave that to the the police?”

“I need to see if my sister’s theory is true before I go back to them. Please, give me a hint where to look. That’s all I ask. I’ll do the legwork myself.”

“You could ask Blake for help.”

“He’s on a different assignment, following the paternity angle. I’m verifying who his mother is. I can handle this if you point me the right way. Please, Zane.”

“There are some databases to do that,” Zane explained. “But you’ll definitely need a name for those, possibly additional information depending on what you are needing. And not all are open to the public. If you do come up with a name, let me know, and I’ll see how I can help.”

Marnie figured Zane must not be too upset with her if he was willing to help in some capacity.

“I’ll let you know if I find anything more. Sorry to bother you, Zane.”

“Looks like we’re in this together. Have a good night, Marnie.”

Zane hung up, but Marnie didn’t feel rejected – just concerned that they might be missing a very important clue and running out of time.

Now she decided to call Sophia.

“Marnie, I am so glad you are okay! The police have been asking so many questions about what happened. I still can’t get a straight answer, just a hint that it is someone who works with Suzette. They won’t even tell me if it’s Holly. I’m so concerned about my friend!”

Marnie told Sophia what Tessa shared with her.

“I’m so glad you went to your sister, but now I’m really afraid. What if you’re right and it is this Colby kid? If he’s taking out revenge on people who work for Suzette, Holly comes in and does contract work for her. Since she still needs to get paid, I’m sure she’ll go back. Oh, I hope she’s not in danger!”


SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS – “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery” (10 of 16)

Presented by SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS

SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS features short serialized fiction by author Shannon Muir, that may be later released as part of e-book or print collections. In 2019, these serials will appear every second and fourth Thursday (and fifth Thursdays as they occur) beginning January 17, 2019. The story line featured over the next sixteen days is “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery,” featuring the return of Marnie and Zane. This is part 10 of 16.

Once inside, Marnie caught Tessa up on everything that happened since Christmas and New Year’s, after getting Tessa’s kids off to bed. Marnie talked about the slow struggle to get Zane to even notice her, followed by Owen in the Legal department’s attempt to take advantage of her around Valentine’s Day, to the drama of trying to learn more about the mystery of their mother and not only meeting Blake but learning that Owen had connections to the Royale family, up to the murder investigation at the library.

“That’s why I never came over to tell you anything before now,” Marnie said. “You’re so happy with Brandyn Yorke now, once we got Clif out of your life for good. I didn’t want to wreck that.”

“Oh, Marnie, I’m glad you care. And I’m not sure I deserve it, after the way I tried to act so much better than you, feeling you got all of Mom and Dad’s attention before they died in the cruise accident. My kids missed out on being with their Aunt because I was so selfish. Please, feel you can come to me at any time.”

Marnie watched as Tessa reached for her hand.

“We need to be there for each other now, more than ever.”

Marnie took her hand and held it tight.

“I just hope I did the right thing, telling the police what I overheard. I’m concerned it makes this Colby kid look guilty when he probably only stood up for his boss. He seemed nice enough, just a college age kid trying to work through school maybe.”

Tessa’s limply let go of Marnie’s hand.

“Did you say Colby?”

“Yes, like the cheese. Why?”

“Describe him to me.”

Marnie did so, and then watched Tessa pound a fist into her chair.

“These damn Royales? Can’t I ever get rid of them?”

Marnie slowly got up.

“See, Tessa, this is why I didn’t want to come to you before now. I didn’t want to upset you.”

Tessa quickly stood up and put a hand on Marnie’s shoulder.

“No, I’m glad that you did. Because if this Colby is who I think he might be, you could be in danger if he realizes you gave his name to the cops. He’s a Royale, Marnie, even if not by name. Clif’s father Hampton had two sons. Clif was the older one by a few years, and his mother was Hampton’s wife. As you know, he came down with an illness and needed regular care. He had an affair with one of his care nurses, and from that union Colby was born. Hampton named the boy in his will and set aside money for him when he was of age, but Clif saw to it that things were legally manipulated so that Colby never saw the money.”

“Why haven’t I heard of this before?”

“Colby only turned eighteen this summer. That’s when I found out about what Clif did. It was one of the things that already had our marriage headed for the rocks before what happened this past Christmas. I beg you, Marnie, be careful whatever you do next. I want you to stay safe so I can invite all your friends to dinner and meet them.”

Marnie laughed nervously.

“Are you serious?”

“About Colby, the dinner, all of it. Just stay safe and keep your guard up until this mystery is solved.”

Page 2 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén