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.”