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 8 of 16.

“For now, please let us stick with my client’s perspective,” Marnie heard the attorney told the police detective.

Then she turned to Marnie.

“Do at least answer his question, since you’ve mentioned the name.”

“Yes, Zane is one of my friends,” Marnie confirmed. “And we both heard the same thing. Basically the guy behind the counter – I think his name tag said Barto – told the other guy to go away. The other guy suggested they might do better working together, and suggested Suzette wasn’t flexible to change. Barto demanded the other guy leave and don’t come back.”

“Uh huh. Did you catch the other guy’s name?”

“I think I heard it, but I don’t remember for sure. I think it might have been the name of some kind of cheese. Oh yes, it was. Colby was the name he said. I’m pretty sure.”

“Other witnesses have mentioned someone named Holly. Does that name mean anything to you?”

“Not really, I only met her briefly when Zane and I went back to where Blake was. I guess she like painted the place or something, The reading started soon after. I didn’t really get to find out much about her.”

Marnie took great pains to avoid Sophia’s name, as she didn’t begin to understand the connections explained between Sophia and Holly.  There wasn’t any reason to mention Sophia at this point, anyway.

The detective asked a couple more things, but Marnie didn’t know about any of them. She also wanted to know who was murdered, but the police didn’t seem to want to reveal that info to her for fear it would jeopardize the case. Then the police detective thanked Marnie for her time, and she and attorney Karleen Graf left together.

“Thank you for coming today,” Marnie told Karleen. “I’ve just been through a lot in such a short time. While I’m not involved in whatever happened, I’ve just been through so much. That’s probably why Mr. Trenton didn’t want me to go in feeling alone. He really feels he owes me for helping his daughter and reuniting his family.”

“Mr. Trenton is a good man to have on your side,” Karleen reassured her. “Let me know if you need my assistance again.”

Marnie headed home, hoping this would all be the end of it and the police could find who murdered whoever met their end after the reading the night before. She so desired to go on again with something resembling a normal life.

However, one unanswered question remained. Why did Blake give her name and number to the police to begin with?

Once she got home, Marnie dialed Blake.

“Marnie?” Blake said. “Glad to hear from you again so soon.”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on it until I got a call from the police. Apparently there was a murder in the area around the cafe last night, and the police got my name and number from you, or at least that’s what they claim.”

“Listen, Marnie, after everything we went through when we first met, I felt it was in everyone’s best interest to clear things up with the police sooner rather than later. I just wanted out of all this and the ability to go on with a normal life.”

“And you think I didn’t? Look, did you even get a lawyer before you talked to the police?”

“I didn’t see a need. Better to be out of trouble as quick as possible.”

“Given you’re a close friend of Suzette, and you invited the rest of us, you probably needed a lawyer more than I did.”

“You got a lawyer?”

Marnie could hear complete surprise in Blake’s voice.

“I couldn’t be careful enough, even though I had nothing to do with it. And now they’ll be questioning Zane too, just when I finally thought we’d made a good step forward. Just a few days ago I was so glad to have found a cousin and so looked forward to introducing you to my sister Tessa and her family Now I’m starting to wish I never found you!”

Marnie angrily hung up her phone, then collapsed into the couch, sinking into the cushions. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Every time she felt that her life finally found steadiness to head in a new direction, something else knocked the trajectory off course.

Sophia and Marnie already saw a lot together, so she wasn’t worried as to where the two of them stood. Now she had to see how much damage might have been done to her budding relationship with Zane.