Did you miss Chapter One?
Did you miss part one of Chapter Two?
From Dying for Gold
Chapter Two Continued
He pinched the bridge of his nose as if the mere thought of
groceries or anything to do with cooking gave him a migraine. “I
“It’s okay. I can poach the eggs.” I grabbed a pot and filled it with
water as I brought him up to speed on the success of the sale and the
overall events of the day. I ended with telling him that Dale Meyers
was making life a living hell for the Living History Day.
Jason sipped his wine, then groaned. “Dale’s a nightmare. He’s
making my life miserable too.”
“How’s that?” I asked.
Jason looked like his thoughts were a million miles away, then he
said suddenly, “I’ve been so busy I probably haven’t even told you yet,
but my department head got transferred and now I report directly to
Dale. It’s him who’s going to decide if I get promoted or not.”
“Oh, Dale’s not so bad. I thought you guys got along. Wasn’t he the
one who hired you?”
Jason was a computer engineer who did his best work uninter‐
rupted. It was sheer misery for him to go into an office and meet with
the business team, but once he and Dale met, Dale had arranged for
Jason to telecommute, and Jason hadn’t stepped foot into the Sacra‐
mento branch in ages.
Jason paled. “Yeah. Seems like a long time ago, though. A lot’s
changed.” He suddenly looked depressed.
“Why don’t you go work on your project while I fix the eggs?” I
His eyes lit up. “Oh . . . you don’t mind?”
“I’ll call you when dinner is ready.” I kissed his cheek.
He kissed me back, saying, “You’re the best,” then disappeared to
the front room where his laptop beckoned.
I proceeded to fuss about the kitchen and wipe down the counters
with a paper towel. When I went to toss the paper towel, I noticed his
garbage was full.
If things went according to plan, soon this would be our garbage!
Our New York garbage!
Oh, who cared if Jason was busy with work tonight. Soon we’d be
married. Of that I was sure.
I tied the kitchen garbage bag up and headed down the back steps
where the larger trash bins for his apartment were kept: a black one
for refuse, a green one for compost, and a blue bin for recycling. All
the bins were stationed along the alley next to his apartment building.
There was a little trail of dark droplets along the alley that lined up
right to the black garbage bin.
Yuk, someone must have had a leaky bag.
I popped open the lid of the trash can and spied a man’s shoe.
The shoe might as well have been connected to an electrical
current, because it gave me a shock of unmeasured proportions.
What I’d considered to be garbage refuse alongside the trash can I
now realized were droplets of blood.
Oh my God!
What was a bloody shoe doing in Jason’s trash can?
I dropped the kitchen trash bag in the alley and studied the shoe a
moment, a thousand thoughts zinging through my head. I grabbed a
nearby stick and prodded at the shoe. When I moved it, blood
A chill zipped down my spine.
Whose shoe was this?
How did it get here, and why?
Suddenly, a loud bang echoed down the street and the thought
struck me that I might be in danger. I slammed down the lid and
raced back up the stairs to Jason’s apartment.
“Jason,” I screamed as I pushed open his apartment door.
He appeared at me side immediately and grabbed my arms.
“What’s going on? What’s wrong?”
I was shaking uncontrollably, adrenaline coursing through my
veins. “I went to take down your garbage . . . I . . . there’s a . . . and
some blood . . . I . . .”
“What? Slow down, Frannie. Calm down.” He hugged me to him,
the warmth emanating from his body soothing me as I took a deep
“I found a bloody shoe in your garbage can,” I mumbled into his
He pulled away from me and looked me in the face. “You found
some blood in my garbage can? It’s probably from the ground beef I
“A shoe. A bloody shoe.”
I must not have been making any sense, because he blinked at me,
then shook his head.
“Why don’t you have a seat, Frannie? Did you fall on the stairs and
lose your shoe?”
“No, not my shoe!” I sat on his couch and stuck out my Jimmy
Choo clad feet. “Someone else’s shoe. A man’s shoe.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe someone threw away an old
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“It looked new.”
He sighed. “Babe—”
“And there was blood on it!”
He waved a hand at me, dismissing my fear. “I told you I cleaned
out the fridge earlier. I threw out some ground beef. Probably the
blood from that dripped on it or something. Look, I have to get this
project done. Why don’t you just chill a bit? Have some more wine
“No! You have to go see. What if there’s somebody skulking
He made a face.
I felt like an idiot. He had work to do, and here I was probably
overreacting. Suddenly, my fear was gone, but I still needed to be sure
of what I’d seen.
He sat down on the couch and pulled me to him, embracing me.
“Babe, you know this promotion is important, right? It’s the way we
get out of this town and to the Big Apple.”
He pressed his lips to mine. “You do still want to go with me,
“Will you feel better if I go and check out the bloody shoe?”
I laughed. “You’re making it sound like a stupid joke. Remember
the one about the bloody finger?”
I rolled my eyes. “It’s the one where the girl is alone and she gets
the call.” I made my voice low. “This is the bloody finger . . . and I’m
one block away.”
He shook his head. “It sounds like a pretty bad joke.”
“It is,” I agreed. “The girl gets the call three times and gets more
scared each time, and then a guy with a small cut on his finger arrives
on her doorstep and asks for a Band-Aid.”
Jason buried his head in his hands. “Worst. Joke. Ever.”
“I know. It’s Ginger’s favorite, and she’s probably told it a million
times since we were kids. Every Halloween especially.”
Jason rose from the couch. “Okay, I’ll check it out.” He made his
voice low and dramatic. “The bloody shoe.”
He left the apartment, and I paced.
Why was there a bloody shoe in his garbage can? I walked to the
front window of the apartment and looked out into the dark street.
No one seemed to be around. Certainly no one stalking the building
or anything else.
I grabbed my phone and sent a group message to Ginger and
NO PROPOSAL YET BUT FOUND SOMETHING STRANGE IN
Wendy texted back first.
A RECIEPT FROM A FINE JEWELER?
A USED NAPKIN FROM THE WINE JUG WITH SOME
Before I could reply, Jason came back into the room. “There’s no
shoe in the garbage, Frannie.”
“What? It’s gone?”
He shrugged. “I guess so. Now we have the case of the missing
How could it be gone?
“Are you sure you looked in the garbage can? The black one. It was
inside, not on top.”
“Yeah, I looked inside. You left my garbage bag in the alley, by the
way, and Terrance’s cat was already clawing it.”
Terrance was Jason’s downstairs neighbor.
“Anyway,” Jason continued. “Since when do you take out my
I shrugged, poured the last few drops of Chardonnay into my
glass, and shook the bottle, hoping for more. I didn’t want to confess
that I’d been fantasizing about domesticity, so instead I said, “I was
He crossed his arms. “Sorry I can’t entertain you, babe, but you
“I know. The promotion.”
He wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me close to him.
“One more week and everything will be different. I promise,” he whis‐
pered into my ear.
I pressed my cheek against his, the stubble of his beard scratching
“Why don’t you go meet up with Ginger and Wendy? I won’t be
offended,” he said.
“No! I’m not going to leave you alone on a Saturday night!”
He laughed. “Babe. I got my work. I feel like I’m the one leaving
you alone. I’ll walk you to the Wine Jug.”
“You don’t have to walk me.”
“Are you kidding? I gotta make sure you leave.” He chuckled at his
joke, but it left me feeling unsettled.
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