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 6  of 16.

Both of them took their lattes and returned to join Blake and Sophia, who chatted away at a table near the stage. With them was another woman who spoke energetically with both.

“Another friend of yours, Sophia?” Marnie heard Zane ask. She was glad he asked first, she wondered but didn’t want to be too nosy.

“Holly and I have connections, you could say that. Holly, these are my friends Zane and Marnie. Marnie is Blake’s cousin.”

Holly pointed out the walls of the cafe.

“I did all the painting and design here. Suzette’s always been such a great supporter of the arts.”

“How do you know Sophia?” Marnie asked.

Holly looked nervously at Sophia.

“Don’t worry, they know everything,” Sophia told Holly then turned to Marnie and Zane. “Holly has four daughters who are half-sisters to my daughter with Early Manley.”

“Good to meet you,” Marnie said, not sure what else to say. If and when Sophia wanted her to know more, she would.

“Do you usually come to this event?” Zane asked Holly. “What’s it like?”

“Actually, I wasn’t even here for the reading,” Holly admitted. “I did some touch-up work here recently and came by to see if I could get my payment from Suzette. She’s behind on her invoice. However, apparently this event is the only thing on her mind. I can’t even get a clear answer on when she intends to pay me. So frustrating! Truthfully, I would have left by now if I hadn’t seen Sophia here.”

Blake pointed to the stage.

“Ssh! Looks like they’re starting!”

Marnie loved the wide variety of poets and poetry they heard. Some poems evoked joy, others sadness, but all the readers proved to be top notch. Marnie wondered how Suzette vetted the presenters, but she’d ask Blake another day. For now, she’d just enjoy the evening. Even Zane appeared to be into it.

At the end of the evening, they made sure to stay behind and meet each of the poets in person. Soon, though, they all started to head home as each had work the next day.

“Thank you for coming,” Marnie told Zane right before they headed to their respective cars.

“Glad to,” Zane told her. “I really had fun. Thank you for inviting me.”

The next morning, Marnie was awakened early next morning not by the alarm, but the phone. In her half-awake state from very good dreams, she assumed it was Zane and scrambled for the phone.

“Zane?” Marnie said, groggily.

“No, ma’am. This is Detective Donovan Raley. We got your name and number from a man named  Blake – who claims to be your cousin – who said he invited and several of your friends to a poetry reading last night.”

Marnie worked to quickly gather her thoughts.

“Is everything all right?” she asked.

“There’s been a murder,” Detective Raley told her. “And I am hoping you can help.”