Did you miss Chapter One?
Did you miss Chapter Two?
Mona turned to Vicki and mouthed, “Murder?”
Vicki was far less subtle, “Leo, that’s not possible!”
she shouted. “There wasn’t anyone there today but Mona.”
“The firemen discovered a body in the shop’s warehouse,” Leo said.
“A body?” Mona repeated, still in shock.
Leo nodded slowly.
Mona frowned. “That can’t be right. The warehouse is all boarded
up. We haven’t even had a chance to clean it …” She shook her head,
trying to process her thoughts.
How could someone have been in the warehouse?
Vicki jumped in to say, “We weren’t using the warehouse. It was
badly in need of repair.”
“It was just me in the shop today, I swear.” Mona said. “There
wasn’t anyone with me.”
“You may not have been using your warehouse, but someone was
there today,” Leo said.
Vicki shook her head and said, “No, Leo. You must have it wrong,
we would’ve known if someone was there.”
Mona thought about her morning at the shop and quietly admit‐
ted, “Wait Vicki, it might be true, I mean I did have the music on while
I was pricing stock in the front of the store. Someone could have been
in the warehouse, and I may not have heard them. I just can’t imagine
who would have been back there, it was a mess.”
Leo provided the answer, “We were able to identify the remains as
belonging to Collin MacInroy.”
Vicki gasped, and Mona stared at Leo, “Collin was in our ware‐
house? What in the world was he doing there?”
“Collin MacInroy?” Mona muttered. “Lacey’s husband?”
“That can’t be right, it just can’t be,” Vicki said.
Leo shook his head back and forth in silence. “I’m afraid it’s true.”
A stunned silence fell on the group. Mona knew Collin had been
Leo’s dear friend in high school. They had served in the military
together, but they’d returned home separately and never seemed close
again. She studied Leo’s face now, full of grief, and she longed to
embrace him. Instead, she reached out and brushed his hand.
His jaw tightened, and he gave her a brief nod.
Vicki had no reservations, she wrapped Leo in a bear hug and said,
“No. Leo! Not Collin. I’m so sorry!”
Leo stiffened under his sister’s hug, and he uncoiled himself
from her grip. He stood. “I have to find out why he was there,” Leo
“I was at Lacey’s bakery today when the fire broke out,” Mona said.
“She called me and, pretty much, insisted that I go over immediately
to meet with her.
“Meet with her for what?” Vicki asked.
“She said I had to approve a recipe, how weird is that, I was at her
bakery when her husband was in the warehouse, that can’t be a coin‐
cidence, can it?” asked Mona.
“That is interesting,” Leo said, pulling out a small notebook from
the breast pocket of his uniform. “I have to take a statement about
your whereabouts today and the events of the morning, are you
prepared to do that tonight?”
Vicki and Mona exchanged glances, and Mona sighed.
The news of Collin’s death in her warehouse was more than Mona
could handle for one day, she turned to Leo, “You’re the officer in
charge of this case, if I need to make a statement tonight, I’ll do that
for you, but I can’t think anymore—”
“I can swing by in the morning.” Leo offered.
“If it can wait until tomorrow, I’d be grateful,” Mona said.
Leo nodded and put the notebook back into his pocket. “It’s been a
tough day for all of us,” he said, standing. “How does seven tomorrow
“Seven will be fine, I’ll make sure I’m awake,” Mona said.
Leo turned to Vicki. “Vicki, are you going to be okay?”
“I’ll be okay.” She glanced at Mona and gave her a reassuring smile.
“We both will.”
Mona grimaced but said nothing.
Vicki turned back to her brother. “Do you need a statement from
“I’ll call you tomorrow and arrange for one of the other officers to
take your statement, since I’m your brother. I don’t want anyone
accusing me of having a conflict of interest.”
Vicki nodded. “Okay. If you need me, I’m staying here with Mona
tonight.” She leaned over and gave Mona’s knee a squeeze.
“No problem,” Leo said.
Mona started to stand to see Leo out, but he stopped her.
“Don’t get up,” Leo said. “You’ve been through a lot today, get some
rest and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I’ll walk you out,” Vicki said.
Mona waved at them, “See you later,” she called to Leo as he left.
Vicki closed the front door softly behind them, and Mona was left
alone in her living room.
Arson and murder.
Those words replayed over and over in her head as she lay on the
couch and pulled the afghan over her head. Willing herself to wake up,
she found that she wasn’t dreaming.
This wasn’t a nightmare.
It was all happening, and there wasn’t anything she could do to
Mona awoke before dawn the following morning, she hadn’t
slept well and the image staring back at her in the bathroom mirror
confirmed that. Even the dark bags under her red, puffy eyes had dark
Mona showered, dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Brushing
her hair, she debated with herself about putting on make-up.
Do I want to look like I’m trying to get his attention?
Settling for tinted moisturizer, a dab of concealer, and a swipe of
berry lip stick, she walked out of the bathroom and joined Vicki in the
Vicki greeted her with a smile, “Good morning, I made a pot of
“What would I do without you?”
“This morning you might have to find out, I’ve to get back to the
farm, my chickens and honey bees are probably wondering where
Mona tried not to panic. She hadn’t planned to be alone with Leo,
“Vicki, can’t they wait until after Leo leaves, I mean, after I give my
Vicki slid her purse onto her shoulder and hugged Mona as she
said, “I wish I could stay, but I need to get home to see about the
chicks; they are accustomed to their freedom at five a.m. and I’m
“I understand, call me later.”
“I sure will, bye!” Vicki waved as she walked out the door.
Mona poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table.
She glanced at the clock on the wall and realized that it was quarter to
seven, and Leo would be there any second. Her heart raced, and she
was overcome with anxiety.
Managing to convince herself that she was over Leo all those years
he was in the army, Mona wasn’t prepared for his return. It was easier
to lie to herself about her true feelings when Leo was on the other
side of the world and not seated across from her. Drinking coffee in
her kitchen, her hands trembling, she hated to admit it, she was still in
love with Leo.
She ran to her bedroom and looked at the reflection in the mirror,
she suddenly didn’t like what she was wearing. Staring at the clothes
in her closet, she fretted about what to wear.
Her cell phone vibrated on her nightstand, and she jumped for it.
Maybe Leo was calling to cancel.
The screen told her it was Aunt Bee again. She hesitated, if she
didn’t pick up, Aunt Bee would be on her doorstep soon, and yet, did
she really have the energy to talk to her Aunt right now, when Leo
would be here any minute?
The doorbell rang, it was too late to change or talk to Aunt Bee.
She sent her into voicemail and raced out to the front room.
Mona opened the door to find Leo standing on her front porch
gazing at the mountains in the distance. He spoke in a hushed tone,
“The view from your porch is magnificent. I missed the mountains
when I was in the desert.”
Mona stepped out of her house and joined him, “That is one
reason I stayed in town. I don’t think anywhere else in the world
could rival this.”
They stood side by side, gazing at the green mountains rising into
the low hanging clouds of the morning sky. Neither spoke in that
tranquil moment, but the thoughts swirling in Mona’s head didn’t let
her enjoy the moment.
Leo was standing beside her, her heart ached to feel his arms
around her, his lips on hers, but it was a daydream. Leo had never
held her, and she’d never felt his kiss. If anything, he was always
fraternal with her, but this misty morning on the porch, she
discovered she wasn’t over him.
Resisting the urge to throw herself at him, she looked at the
mountains instead, waiting for him to speak or act.
“I could stand on your porch for hours, but we have work to do,
are you ready?” Leo asked as he tuned to face Mona.
They were only about a foot apart.
It would be so easy to lean in and kiss him.
“Mona, are you okay,” Leo asked.
Mona jolted out of her fantasy. “What?”
“Are you ready to give me your statement?”
“Yes, I’m sorry, I didn’t sleep well, please, come in,” she said. “Vicki
made us some strong coffee before she left.”
Leo nodded and followed her inside to the kitchen. He sat down at
the table and waited patiently for her to pour him a cup.
I could get used to looking at him, Mona thought. He looks like he
He belongs with me.
She placed the coffee on the table in front of him and asked, “How
do you take it?”
“Black is fine. Just a word of warning, this is going to be informal,
so I may have to ask you to come to the station in the future as things
come up, do you understand?”
“Sure,” Mona replied as she sat down.
“Good, let’s get started. I need to ask you a few questions to get the
ball rolling in this investigation. You were the only other person in the
shop yesterday. Any details you can provide will help me solve this
case and find out what happened to Collin.”
“Collin, I’m struggling not to think about that, I had nightmares
about it last night when I tried to sleep. How is Lacey, I mean, how is
she taking it?”
Leo answered, “I’m not supposed to talk about this, but I’ll tell you
she’s taking it hard, telling her about her husband was difficult.”
“I’m sure it was,” Mona said as she assessed the situation.
It had been a strange chain of events, Leo had broken her heart
when he started dating Lacey. Then right after graduation, he left
Lacey and joined the army. Lacey married Collin less than two
months later. Although shortly after that. Collin followed in Leo’s
footsteps and joined the military. Now, he’d died in a fire in Mona’s
warehouse while she was with Lacey, and Leo was the one to notify
her of her husband’s death.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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