Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Excerpt - Dead in a Park: Leah Norwood Mystery #2

When I stepped out of the front door of Scents and Sensibility, a dark blue SUV pulled up to the curb and Griggs stepped out.
“Are you leaving?” he asked me as he shut the door.
“Going to lunch,” I said pointing over my shoulder.
He looked behind me at Nora’s Bakery and then smiled.  My stomach churned.  I wasn’t sure if it was the smile or hunger.  Although I wanted it to be hunger, I’m pretty sure it was the smile.
“May I join you?”
“What?” I asked nervously.
“Come on,” he said taking my arm and leading me next door.
It wasn’t until we were standing at the counter that I came out of my stupor.  I glanced at him.  He was dressed casually in jeans, a button-down shirt, and a light jacket.  Neither his gun nor badge were anywhere in sight, but I was sure he had both.  He looked relaxed and comfortable.
“You’re not working?” I asked him.
He shook his head.  “Day off.”
When I looked surprised, he laughed softly.  “I do take one now and then.”
“I know.  It’s just…”
“Hi Leah.”  I turned back to the counter and gave Jake Turner a brief smile.  Jake is a college student who works part-time at Nora’s.  He is used to me coming over to get a bite to eat.  He returned my smile.  “What can I get for you?”
I ordered the lunch special and a glass of tea.  Nora’s serves breakfast and lunch but has a limited menu.  Their main business is pastries and cakes.  Each weekday, they have a lunch special, usually some combination of a sandwich, soup, and salad. 
“And a strawberry scone?” Jake asked.  He knows me really well, and Nora’s strawberry scones were the best I’ve ever tasted.  I get them quite often.  I nodded quickly and reached into my pocket for some cash.
Griggs stepped a little in front of me and said, “I’ll get it.  Why don’t you choose a table?”
I started to protest and then shrugged.  If he wanted to pay for my lunch, I wasn’t going to argue.  I had originally planned to pick up my food and leave, but Griggs obviously wanted to talk.  The store was mostly empty.  Only one table was currently occupied.  I chose a seat in the corner near the back.  It was out of the way so we had some privacy. 
Griggs joined me a few minutes later with my meal and drink.  He had a cup of coffee and a strawberry scone for himself.  I guess he had already eaten lunch.
After we were both settled, he asked, “How are you?”
“Fine.”  I swallowed a bite of my sandwich.  “No one tried to break in last night.  With Leon in jail, Myra is planning to return to her house tonight.  You think that’s okay?”
“Should be.  We can hold him for a few days.  Eventually, a judge will set bail, but until then, she should be safe.” 
Griggs broke off a corner of the scone and popped it into his month.  I watched him a minute wondering what he wanted.  He was acting differently, causal, friendly.  It was bugging the hell out of me.
“So what did you want to talk about?” I finally asked him.
“Nothing in particular.”  He paused and looked around.  “I thought Tuesdays were your day off.”
“Normally.  But Emma is on vacation so I came in to cover the lunch breaks.  Kara and Myra could have probably handled it alone, but I don’t like there to be only one person in the store so I came in for a couple of hours.”
“But you’re off the rest of the day?”  When I nodded, he asked, “What are your plans for the rest of the afternoon?”
I leaned forward and lowered my voice to a whisper, “I’m planning to follow someone.  Dig up some dirt.”
His face changed immediately.  I had known it would.  Griggs is a police officer through and through.  If he thought I knew someone was doing something illegal, he would expect me to report it.  I didn’t say a word while I watched the thoughts flick briefly across his face before his features settled into a blank stare.  I had followed Trent back in December when I was still trying to determine if he had been involved in Isabel’s death.  Griggs had yelled at me.  Well, maybe he didn’t yell – just told me I was interfering with the investigation.  I had thought he trusted me now not to cause problems, but I wasn’t sure.
If I hadn’t been watching, I wouldn’t have seen the humor dancing in his eyes.  When he spoke, his voice was stern and unyielding, “Are you interfering in a police investigation, Ms. Norwood?’
“Would I do that?” I asked innocently.
“Hell, yeah,” he said with a laugh.  “But I don’t think you would have told me about it.  So, who is it?”
I huffed out a breath, but couldn’t deny his accusation.  I shook my head and told him about Aaron.  Twenty minutes later, I was in the front seat of his SUV heading to the Weston’s house.

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