Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Mystery at the Castle. Chapter Two: Suspicion

Last week I reintroduced you to the concept of our Progressive Story Projects. They are stories composed by a number of writers, each building on what those before them have created. This is our 7th story. I hope you'll read them all.

Progressive Story Project, one piece of fiction written by a group of bloggers, each contributing to but not controlling the story | Graphic property of and story presented by www.BakingInATornado.com | #blogging #collaboration

I also, last week, published chapter one of our current story, Mystery at the Castle. Today I'm happy to present the second chapter of that story. As always, to the far right, I've given you the name of and a link to the website of the author of that segment. 

Be sure to read (or you may want to reread) Chapter One: Friends for Life

Mystery at the Castle, a Progressive Story Project, one piece of fiction written by a group of bloggers, each contributing to but not controlling the story | Graphic property of and story resented by www.BakingInATornado.com | #blogging #collaboration

Chapter Two: Suspicion

Jill swallowed hard and visibly pulled herself together so that when she spoke it was pure coroner who was relating the facts of the deceased. Not Jill, whose friend was dead by the bar and another who had been unconscious next to her on the floor.

The rest of the ladies were removed to another room until they could give their statements, but Jill stayed to help in any way she could. "I just can't believe it," she said mostly to herself. The detective looked over at her and said, "tell us what you know about Kathryn".

"I met Kathryn on my first day of college over 15 years ago. We were both lost and so confused," she said looking back at the girls they once were. "She was so considerate and loyal she wouldn't hurt a flea! Who could have done this to her?" she asked even though she knew they didn't have the answer yet.

"Is there anyone you can think of who would want to hurt her? Someone who didn't like her? What about the other ladies? Do you think one of them could be involved?"

"No way! We've all been friends since college. I would trust these ladies with my life, we're sorority sisters." Jill said confidently. 

"Does everyone get along well, your sorority sisters?" the detective asked her.

"Well, we all have our quirks and pet peeves, but underneath the bickering and jealousy there is love and a very strong bond."

"So which one was bickering and which one is jealous," the second detective asked her.

"What I meant was, we are a strong group with strong personalities and sometimes those personalities clash, but we'd never hurt each other."

"Well, we'll talk to each one and get their statements. I understand you all have weekend reservations so you're free to go up to your rooms, but we ask that you don't leave the premises until we say so."

"I am Detective Jameson from Newport PD. Please state your full name for the record," the policeman told her as they were sitting down at the wooden table in one of the castle's meeting rooms and switching on the camera that was going to be recording the interview. 

"Heather Deen Laughlin."

"Tell us how you met Kathryn."

"Just like everyone else here. We went to Cambridge College together. My roommate dropped out after the first semester, that's when Kathryn moved in with me. We've been best friends even beyond graduating. I studied psychology, Kath was a business major. We couldn't have been more different where personalities and interests were concerned, still we had a strong bond. Kathryn's first job was for Prudential Financial, I think she worked for some Risk Management hotshot for a while, until she got promoted into the International Insurance Division. She had jobs all over Europe, and whenever money and time would allow it, some of us would actually take trips to visit her wherever she was working at the time. It was very exciting. I remember one time in December we flew to Munich, Germany, and we strolled through the most charming Christmas Market, we had Gluhwein and Lebkuchen, that's gingerbread . . . , Heather trailed off.

Detective Jameson, with the straightest face he could keep, told Heather as interesting as the Christmas Market bits were - they did not contribute to establishing a profile of the victim, which ultimately was the reason for their "chat", so could she please stick to the relevant facts: jealous or vindictive people, enemies, (ex-) lovers, boyfriends, husbands . . . ? 

That's when Heather gave him an overview of Kathryn's love life. It was a short story: college boyfriend, long time ago, affair with coworker that ended amicably, and Phil, aka the Jerk, she met at a business convention last year.
  "So this Phil character, you thought he was bad news?"

"Very much so. I have never met a more controlling and jealous person. You see, Kathryn had always been an ambitious, independent and strong woman. And all of a sudden this guy thinks he can order her around, tell her how to dress and whom to meet or not. I remember the time she was so happy about the Gucci dress she scored: it was really classy, and she wore it with her Manolo heels but no, Phil thought it was too revealing and suggested she put on something more conservative. When she wanted to go out with a group of coworkers, he basically requested a list of people to see if any guys were going to join, and if that was the case, he either joined her or told her not to go by coming up with surprise opera tickets or some other bribe.

Kathryn felt somewhat protected and courted at first. "That's how much he cares. He just wants me to be safe, I'm his princess," she kept assuring me. As time went by her perception began to change though, and she got tired of justifying her every move. This trip to Rhode Island must have been a very welcome change of scenery."

Kimberly of When I Grow Up 
There was a commotion outside the door. A male voice said, "You can't go in there, there's an interrogation going on." There was the click of heels and the door burst open. Ash strode into the room, her Fendi leather trench coat billowing behind her.

"This deposition is over," she stated forcefully. "Heather, don't say another word." She turned to the officer, "I believe there is a conflict of interest here. I hear you brought Kathryn back here after drinks in town last night. The caretaker said you both stumbled in around 2 am and that you snuck out just before dawn."

"I thought you were told to not leave the premises. The caretaker's cottage is a mile down the drive. We posted officers at all the doors. How did you get around them?"

"I didn't leave," she said smugly. "I know Kathryn's fondness for good bourbon and knew when I passed that bar in town that she would have been there. It just took some internet sleuthing and a phone call." Of course he didn't know her background included investigative reporting or that she had spent several years covering court cases in New York City. "So, what happened to our friend?"

The officer paused, then sighed. "I knew this was a bad idea. She called me when she got to town and asked me to meet her. We go way back," he explained. "My family lived next door to hers and we went through grade school together. I met her at the bar and she told me about a business deal she was worried about. It seems her boss may have violated international laws and she wasn't sure what to do. After a few drinks, we reminisced and then Ubered back here. I slept on the couch. I had to be at work, so I left early to go home and shower first. I took the call when it came in. We're a small force, so I really had no choice about responding. I should have told the captain when she came in, but I've known Kat my whole life; I need to find out what happened."

Ash looked skeptical but didn't challenge his version of last night's events. It all sounded plausible, but she had to ask a question to be sure he was telling the truth.

Winter Coffee Nog, a hot cup of coffee meets winter holiday flavors, spiced and spiked. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #drink
Winter Coffee Nog
Winter Coffee Nog, a hot cup of coffee meets winter holiday flavors, spiced and spiked. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #drink

Lydia of Cluttered Genius

Ashley was as nervous as could be for her first assignment. She and Jill were working together officially for the first time since they each finished college and their training.

"Jill. What is there's a dead body?" Ashley asked.

"I'm counting on it," Jill answered, a smile spread across her face. This was what she lived for. And having one of her best friends on the scene and in the conversation with her would make it that much more fun.

Ashley and Jill approached the scene, flashed their credentials, and ducked under the caution tape. There, they found a white mound on the ground surrounded by orange cones, labeled number tents, and the shuffle of men's dress shoes.

"Ash, you're going to be ok. You're here to get the story, and you're the best investigator I know. Don't worry!" Jill patted Ashley on the back and moved over to the dead body. Her game face was on, and Ashley knew better than to interrupt. She reached into her bag and pulled out her Stenopad and pen.

Glancing around the faces at the scene, she settled on one. In disbelief, she made her way over.

"Kat. What in the world are you doing here?" she asked Kathryn who had her arms wrapped around her and was standing right beyond the yellow tape.

Kathryn didn't answer her. Instead, Ashley noticed how she rocked slightly on her feet. Her shoulders were shaking. She didn't look good.

"Kat. KAT. What's going on?"

"It's him," Kat said. "I know it."
Jenniy of Climaxed 
"While you're here, Mrs. . . . uh?"

"Ashley Devereaux. Ms. Ashley Devereaux. But I prefer Ash if it's all the same to you."

"Okay then, can we go ahead and get your interview squared away? Surely you know questioning everyone who was here is procedure."

"Who is going to question you then?"

"Fair enough. But I will be giving my official statement to my superiors at the station. If you'd prefer, you can do the same."

"Is that some kind of threat, Officer?"

"It's Detective."

"Quaint. They actually need a detective in Newport?"

"Ms. Devereaux, this hostility is completely unnecessary."

Ash paused, staring him down trying to make him break, but he didn't so much as blink. She was the one, actually, who looked away. She turned to look out the windows over his shoulders and crossed her arms over her chest. Tears threatened to spill over her cheeks. She hated to cry.

The silence and tension were thick like a wet blanket making everyone uncomfortable. The detective stood his ground, though. He knew people like her. If he bowed to her now, she would railroad this entire investigation.

"You're right. I'm being completely over the top. I'm angry, upset, terrified . . . this is one of my closest friends lying dead in there on what was supposed to be our annual girls' weekend. I have had zero time to process it, so I'm doing the only thing I know how to do - aggressively attack it for the truth."

That didn't go the way he'd hoped.

"Listen, I feel like we've both gotten off on the wrong foot here. Let's start over. I love Kath. I always have. We've never been in the same place at the same time to be together, and this time it just might have worked out, and now this. I'm hurting too, full disclosure. We're all hurting. But I can assure you that my personal feelings for Kath will absolutely not impede my ability to do my job. If anything, it will fuel me to do even more to find out what happened and who might've done this to her. We don't have to be enemies in this."

Ash's posture completely changed. She was absolutely being unfair. She knew it. When she turned enough to meet his eyes, she could see tears just as real as her own. "I want to do everything possible to help find who did this. Where do we start?"

"I know how you all met. I've heard the stories. I know the background. I know about the relationships. I know she was getting ready to break it off with Phil and was scared of his reaction, so that's going to be one of my first tasks. But I also know Kath had some secrets. She danced around telling me for years now. I know at least some of you know what happened to make her so jumpy and paranoid the last few years. If it could have even a remote chance of being related to what's happened to her now, I need to know. Please."

Ash felt a cold rush over her. This was absolutely not what she thought he was going to ask. How could Kath have been so stupid as to hint at what had happened with a cop?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Read on! Chapter Three: The Past is Present ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Winter Coffee Nog

Printable Recipe

1 cup hot brewed coffee  
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup Eggnog
1 oz spiced rum
1 oz Kahlua
1/2 tsp vanilla

whipped cream and nutmeg for garnish

*Stir the sugar into the coffee.
Mix together the Eggnog, spiced rum, Kahlua and vanilla. 
*Pour the Eggnog mixture into the coffee and stir.
*Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.


  1. Oh, wow! I'm so wrapped up in this story! We are good! ;)

  2. That's what I get for coming here a week late. Just finished the eggnog yesterday. Better luck next year! Now onward to the next chapter. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com


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