“And gone is exactly what it was.” I tried to be nonchalant as I pulled a candy cane from beside my front walkway. I wasn’t fooling any of my neighbors, though. I never did outdoor decorating, or undecorating, as in this case. And when the police car pulled in front of the house, at least three of the houses nearby suddenly had activity at their windows.
Blinds suddenly had a kink in them. Curtains were pulled back. A crazy dog started barking and pawing in the front window at the house across the street. I knew Mrs. Myers was crouching in the dark behind the dog. She probably even had her binoculars out.
I resisted the urge to wave at her and pulled up another candy cane as I turned my attention to the young officer.
He eyed me, holding a stylus above an iPad. “I realize the poster was gone, but I need to know what happened leading up to that moment.”
“Well, there isn’t much to tell. The auctioneer announced that the freakshow poster was the next thing to be auctioned. I picked up my paddle, but I never got the chance to bid. When they revealed the item, all they revealed was a big fat empty.”
“And you . . .”
I felt the heat rise up my neck. “Well, I had a plane to catch. I couldn’t bid on the item I wanted, so what was the point of me staying?”
“You went directly to the airport?”
Sort of. I reached for another candy cane and dropped my voice to a little over a whisper. “I did have to use the ladies.”
“So you stopped along the way.”
I merely nodded at this point. I wasn’t about to go into detail. “Bottom line, I had nothing to do with the disappearance of the poster.” I shook a candy cane in his direction. “No matter what you heard from Cathe Swanson. I was only interested in it for memorabilia anyway. I’ve collected all the books of the series; why not add to the presentation. And it really is a nice poster – was a nice poster.”
“And you never went near the poster before the auction began?”
Okay, that was a different question. I certainly couldn’t outright lie about it. Even if I could force out something that might sound rather affirmative, my flaming face would give it away. Judging from my feverish cheeks, it already was. “I wanted to see the thing before I began bidding on it. You know how it is. I had to be sure it was the real thing.”
“So . . .”
I glanced up at the sky and then down the street toward the corner. Why was some officer questioning me about the auction now? Out of the blue? I spotted a car parked on the entry road to my neighborhood. Cars never parked down there. A head ducked as I looked at it. Was that Cathe Swanson? Surely not. She lived way up north, for pity’s sake.
Was that why the officer was here?
“So you were the last to view it.” This officer, young or not, wasn’t missing anything.
I thought back to the episode I’d seen. Cathe had raced out of the auction house dragging some poor terrier in a hideous Christmas sweater. A moment later, security guards followed in hot pursuit. I had the chance to check under the red drape over the picture. “I wasn’t alone. April Hayman wandered over as well. She held up one edge of the drape and I held up the other.” It had been the real thing, all right.
“I see.” He lifted one eyebrow and jotted something into his iPad.
I pointed at him with the cane. “All I did was look at it. I didn’t touch it. I wasn’t even the last one with it.”
I couldn’t really be sure about that. A few others joined us as we viewed it. “I think there were a few people there when I dropped my corner of the drape. I know April Hayman was. Have you even spoken to her?”
He ignored my question. “You’re certain she was there?”
“Yes. She had been standing right next to me and went around to the other side as I was leaving.” I took a breath, hoping this would encourage him to leave. I’d already tangled myself up in the candy cane wires and I still had about a dozen of them left to remove.
“I’ll see about this.” He didn’t even say goodbye as he strolled back to his car and got in. The dog across the street stopped barking. The curtains in the house next to it fell back into place. The blinds next door suddenly lost their kink.
I glanced toward the car parked at the corner as it pulled away. If it was Cathe Swanson, she’d been meddling in the wrong barrel. I had nothing to do with the theft no matter how much I’d wanted that poster. I pulled up another cane and solidified a huge tangle around the others and myself.
There was a reason why I didn’t do the outdoor decorating.
The authors of the Ever After series are celebrating Denise Barela’s release of Silencing the Siren, even more special because it is her premier publication! Woohoo! It’s available today on Amazon. Here’s a little more about her story:
Andrew Grayson thought he had everything… until he met her.
The indulged son of wealthy parents, Andrew has always gotten whatever he wanted almost before he knew he wanted it—clothes, gadgets… even a car! What more could a young man desire?
Enter Annabel Thompson. Freakshow mermaid extraordinaire… in a wheelchair!
Of course, her beauty attracts him. How could it not? Add to that a kind heart, and Andrew can’t help but fall for her.
Annabel’s connection with the freakshow repels his parents and their society friends. They want him to sever all ties with her and his new friends. Oh, and marry the “right” girl with the “right connections.” But he won’t do it. He’ll defy them and marry his little mermaid.
When Annabel turns up missing, declared dead, things don’t add up, Andrew begins asking some difficult questions, the most important being, “What happened to the little mermaid of the Coney Island freak show?”
Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. Silencing the Siren offers a retelling of “The Little Mermaid” that will keep you gripped to the edge of your seat as you watch the story unfold.
Enjoy the rest of this little bloghop:
And don’t forget to enter the giveaway below! Great opportunity to win an Amazon gift card!