Thursday, October 1, 2020

Thursday's Fifth Scene Murder and Tainted Tea #BWLAuthor #MFRWAuthor #Mystery #Santa Fe #murder


I pulled into the carport beside Lars’ silver Mercedes, twin to the car he drives back east. The house seemed larger than my “Painted Lady,” circa 1890. The difference was that mine has two stories and an attic while this house is on one level.

With the kitten carrier in one hand and my purse in the other, I walked to the front door and rang the bell. To my surprise, the door was ajar.

When no one answered, I rang a second time. Where was Lars?

What now? My foot beat an impatient rhythm against the flagstone walk. The kitten cried and scrambled around the carrier making my hold iffy.

I pushed the door open. “Lars, I’m here.”

He didn’t answer. I set the carrier on the slate floor of the foyer. Since the door was open and his car sat in the carport, he was probably in the rear of the house or at one of his children’s. I returned to the car for my suitcases.

I left my luggage in the foyer and stepped into the living room. A portrait of my friend hung above the massive fieldstone fireplace. Several Navaho rugs hung on the cream colored walls.

Through the archway I glanced into the dining room. The table was set for one. The sight of a partially eaten breakfast sent fear surging through my veins.

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“Lars, are you here?” My voice echoed in the deserted room.

What if he’s had some kind of attack? A stroke or his heart.

Those thoughts propelled me through the dining room and into the kitchen. I glanced into the pantry and stepped into the sunroom.

Lars, where are you? Had something dreadful happened? Was my visit responsible for his disappearance?

Don’t be a fool. The world does not revolve around Katherine Miller. He’s at Don’s or Bonnie’s.

Those thoughts failed to staunch my rising panic. Though I felt like an intruder, I made a quick tour of the house. I found three empty bedrooms, a deserted office, two powder rooms and three bathrooms, one for each bedroom. Nowhere was there a sign of my friend.

I returned to the dining room. The food was cold. A fork lay on the oak floor. What had happened here? Lars and I are in our sixties. He’s my senior by six months, but his health has always been excellent.

In the living room, I reached for the phone. Whom could I call? Other than Lars and his children, I knew no one in Santa Fe. I opened the directory. Were their numbers even listed?

My legs trembled. I sank on a chair and glanced through the bay window. Don and his daughter walked across the drive. I went to the door.

Megan, clad in a bright pink puffy jacket, dropped her father’s hand and ran up the walk. “Told you she come.”

Don reached us and hugged me. Warmth infused my thoughts. I believed we’d moved beyond accord.

“Aunt Katherine, you look wonderful.”

The spicy scent of his aftershave was a welcome addition to the sterile air of the deserted house. “You look great and Megan has grown.”

The dark-haired child danced around us. Her blue eyes sparkled with excitement. She pointed to the carrier. “That’s a suitcase for pets. You bring Rose Prairie. Let me see him.”

Momentarily I pushed my concern for Lars aside. No need to upset Megan, especially since she’d lost her mother just eight months ago. “He didn’t come this trip.” I looked at Don. “You may hate me when you see what I’ve done.”

“Never.” He ran his fingers through his hair, a color between blond and brown. “Never hated you. Back then I let my sister run my life.” He closed the door.

I opened the carrier and lifted the kitten. “This is who I brought.”

“Rose Prairie, you shrink.” Megan’s blue eyes widened and she touched the kitten’s brown, white and sable fur. “Him soft.”

“This is Robespierre’s baby sister. Thought you might like to take care of her.”

“Me! Daddy, can I?”

“Yes.” Don met my gaze. “Thanks. This is the most animated she’s been since Ramona...” Sadness clouded his blue eyes.

I grasped his hand. “The kitten will help Megan with her grief. Rose Prairie has had all her shots and you won’t have to worry about offspring.”

“Bless you.”

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