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 5

SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS – “A Second LaChance” (Part 1 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). This week begins a new serialized story, “A Second LaChance,” about a young woman who originally hoped to have the children of a wealthy spoiled man to get paid off to leave him, but ends up with  more than she ever bargained for when deciding to take a chance to start a new life for herself.

This is part 1 of 16.

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

Marnie, Zane, Blake, Sophia and Holly agreed to meet up again under better circumstances at Suzette’s cafe not many days later.

“I am so sorry for giving you such a bad impression of me when we first met,” Suzette said. “That’s why I invited you all back, to get to see the person I really am. But I was so concerned about that night. It’s been so important to me After what has happened though, the event’s reputation may be tarnished beyond repair. I may never hold it again.”

“That’s up to you,” Blake told her. “But I don’t think you should give up. Maybe, however, make a few changes to have it feel more welcoming to the community. Like, I don’ t know, maybe allowing the bookstore next door to sell books? It might lose you money, but people will see you caring about your neighbors and bringing a community together.”

Marnie worried Suzette might lash out at Blake. Instead, she simply smiled.

“You may be right,” she told him. “The man who killed Barto was angry because he felt my views were rigid and not open to change. Let me think on that.”

Now Marnie watched as Suzette handed Holly an envelope.

“Before I forget, here is what I owe you for the beautiful work, and a little extra for what you went through recently.”

Holly took the envelope with only a nod, no added comments.

“Holly, where else can we see some of your work?” Marnie asked.

“Not a lot of places. Most of my work is in private homes. I think my best work is in a mansion on the hills above a beach in the Dreamer Shores community. Sophia knows the owners. Maybe you’ll meet them someday.”

Marnie looked over at Sophia.

“Sophia, I know you’re a social butterfly, but you sure know a lot of people.”

“It makes the world an interesting place,” Sophia said.

“I’m glad the police found the real killer,” Zane said, sounding like he was trying to bring the conversation back to why they all came in the first place. “And I’m so glad it wasn’t Colby. Maybe he’ll get the chance to make something good of the Royale heritage.”

“Now that you helped restore Colby to getting the inheritance he was meant to, you think you’re going to look into getting involved in mysteries in the future?” Holly asked.

“No!” Marnie and Zane insisted in unison.

Marnie noticed that Sophia tried not to laugh.

“What’s so funny?”

“Marnie,” Sophia pointed out to her. “Ever since I met you, it seems that mystery after mystery falls in your lap, and you can’t hesitate to solve them.”

“But all of these have somehow involved my family,” Marnie pointed out. “Hopefully, this puts an end to skeletons in the closet.”

“You have a natural curiosity that’s hard to suppress,” Zane said. “Sophia’s right about that. It’s part of what makes you interesting.”

Marnie wasn’t sure to take that as a simple statement of fact, or something more. Right now, she just wanted to be happy for what she had and take it one step at a time.
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MARNIE AND ZANE’S SPONTANEOUS CHOICES COMPLETE SERIES 

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SPONTANEOUS CHOICES SHORTS – “A Spontaneous Kind of Mystery” (15 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 15 of 16.

Zane took Marnie back to her office so she could pick up her car, and then followed her home to make sure she got in all right. Once she did, Marnie immediately called Sophia.

“You’ll never believe what I found out!” Marnie told her hurriedly.

“Hey, that’s my line. You’ll never believe the update I got from Holly!”

“Is she all right?” Marnie asked.

“Fine! They found the person that committed the murder. It wasn’t Colby. Turns out there was someone angry that Suzette kept turning him down for years to be part of the poetry reading, and he decided to get his revenge on her employees.”

“Huh,” Marnie said, a bit stunned. It seemed a bit out of left field from their perspective, but then again she didn’t have all the facts.

“Guess you never fully know what’s going on,” Sophia continued on the other end of the line, in her characteristic bubbly manner. “Now, what’s your news?”

Marnie wondered if she should tell Sophia, or just keep it to herself. Then she thought about all the times Sophia helped her out and had been a true friend over the last several months, and even trusted her with personal secrets. Marnie needed to return that trust.

“The student we saw that works for the bookstore next door, Colby. He is who Tessa thought he might be. He’s from Aubryville, and going to community college for journalism.”

“Wait. He’s a Royale and going to community college?”

“He’s got his mother’s last name, Cralle. And Tessa’s ex saw to it that Colby didn’t see his part of the inheritance his was meant to, so everyone is claiming.”

“But Clif is in jail now,” Sophia pointed out. “We know he did other nasty things. Maybe you and Tessa can talk to the lawyers for her divorce and see if anything can be done. None of this is the kid’s fault. Maybe you can make something good out of something bad.”

“I’ll think about it. Glad your friend Holly is all right. Hope to meet her again under better circumstances.”

Marnie hung up the phone, and then called Tessa.

“Marnie, all you okay? It’s a bit late to be calling.”

“I’m calling because I found out more about Colby,” Marnie told Tessa. “And I’m wondering if we can help.”

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.”

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