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Cole Matthews

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Cole Matthews last won the day on August 30 2016

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About Cole Matthews

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    Biking, travel, gardening, cooking, and of course eating. Has two adorable cats who make surprise appearances occasionally.

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  1. Discovery - Chapter 3

    I saw an autocorrected comment of mine and I just blanched. I’m sorry I didn’t review more carefully. I’m mortified by this. 🤮
  2. New chapter of So Weeps the Willow is posted.  Twyla remembers her brother fondly.  Rush meets with Naomi who tells him about the case.  We meet Jake's mother.  

  3. Discovery - Chapter 4

    Discovery 4 Twyla watched the news and she felt a weird sense of deja vu. There were reports of another death from a kerosene heater. Like her brother. Like had happened to her fucking brother. This time, it injured the employees of a business. According to the news report, a thirteen-year-old girl living upstairs had escaped through the back exit, just in time. That fucking heater almost killed a child. Some woman, named Charity or Cherish, was being interviewed and told the reporter a firefighter had save her too! Twyla turned up the volume on her television and listened. “It was so smoky and there was heat coming from the back room. I didn’t know what to do. They tell you not to run for a door. You are supposed to wait, or follow a plan. It was very scary.” “What happened next?” the reporter, a vivacious and curvy black woman asked, her hair was carefully coiffed straight and shined in the lights of the camera. “I followed, did what the fireman said, and then we got out. It was crazy. I can’t thank Brenda enough. If she hadn’t come in and found me, brought me to safety, I’d be gone now. The flames were so hot and the smoke bad…it was so scary. I don’t know how to describe it.” A woman dressed in full firefighting gear, in the background, stepped into the camera’s eye. “Getting Charese and the little girl in the upstairs apartment to a safe place is our job. We’ll have more details following the investigation. That’s all.” She said into the microphone. The camera’s quickly cut from the scene. Another man blinked into existence. His face was sympathetic. His eyes were downcast. His voice was almost robotic. “In other news, Minneapolis is looking for another school superintendent. Test results and school board dissatisfaction with the most recent head of the city’s school district reportedly…” Another heater almost killed someone else? This was serious and she felt a little sick. After quickly reviewing the stories online locally, she found a few others that echoed the reporter’s sentiments. This was disturbing. There would be no reason a person would die of a kerosene heater death now. She stroked her cheek and considered. Twyla searched the Internet and chewed a nail as the search engine found answers to her questions. Getting up quickly, she went to her kitchen, grabbed a couple of sleeping pills, tossed them down with some water from the tap, and returned to the computer. Her search showed several complaints about the brand of kerosene heater in question. There were illnesses, reports of problems, shutoff complaints, and finally, a few other reports on sites like Consumer Reports and even Yelp. There were reasons for serious attention to this kerosene heater’s problems. Lots of social media sites had posts about people feeling sick. Other comments said the problem had been fixed. She was feeling disquieted. Yet, her brother’s face kept zooming into her mind, his lovely eyes, shining so blue and mischievously and taunting her. Jake was a little shit. They had their struggles, but so many times, he’d been there for her. God knows, she’d been there for him. They not only loved each other; they actually enjoyed being together. She couldn’t say that about many people. He deserved the best advocate possible, now that he was gone, unable to be a voice for himself, it was up to her. It made her remember his call from a month ago. He sounded so lost, forlorn, and defeated. There isn’t a more frightening sound to a person’s affect than losing the battle. She had experience with the sound of it, and the repercussions. Yeah, Jake was definitely a lost soul that night. Her cell phone rang, seeing it was her brother made her pause. He’d been such an asshole lately. His confidence and optimism had degraded to cockiness and arrogance. She was floored how these positive attributes could become so awful over a few months’ time. It was Jake though, and she answered. “Hey big brother,” she said, sounding cautious even in her own ear. “Twyls, you’re up late.” He was slurring. She’d heard that quite a bit lately. “You called me. What’s up?” The silence seemed to stretch out, waiting for the actions of someone or something to nudge it forward. “Are you upset?” She realized, he sounded watery. “Of course not,” she answered quickly. Her tone softened a little. “How are things going tonight?” “I’m sad tonight,” he slurred, the words were stretched out. He meant them though. “I think I can’t make it work. I try, but it pulls me back in. I want to be happy. Fuck!” In hindsight, she could hear he needed a voice at the other end, reassuring him, being there for him. Her chest felt tight. She answered. “What’s going on with you? Are you okay?” There was breathing, a kind of subtle intake and release of air. Finally, he cleared his throat and answered. “I’m okay. You know I love you, right? I’d never do anything to hurt you.” Another pause, and then she heard, “I’m so fucked up, Twyls. I need help. I really do.” “Call me tomorrow. Let’s get together and talk, okay?” It seemed an eternity for him to answer. “You aren’t brushing me off, are you?” She remembered the exact moment he’d said those words. It was like a gun had shot off and the race had begun. Now she knew this had occurred several weeks ago, long before the horrible conclusion, the fateful act. Or accident. She wasn’t the source of her brother’s problems, and he probably had died a terrible, but accidental death. “No, Jake, I’m just tired tonight. Let’s get together and talk about things. It’s been too long, don’t you think?” The sound of her brother’s voice was so different now. He sounded hopeful. She remembered feeling calmer as he said, “Okay. Twyls, I love you. I’m going through a hard time right now, but you know me. I’m okay. I’m a survivor. I get things figured out. Good night.” The words started clearly and became more slurred as the response finished. That night, she had trouble falling asleep. Her memory had recalled the events so efficiently, when needed. Jake was okay. He didn’t lie to her. He hid things, but he didn’t… well, he wouldn’t have chosen those words. He wouldn’t have answered as he did, if he didn’t mean it. It hurt to replay the memory. Why wouldn’t it? This was the time to recall and find out what happened. She didn’t believe or accept the things said about him. It wasn’t fitting. It was also pretty awful, because it was her only lifeline. Yeah, part of the reason was because she didn’t believe Jake would leave her alone, not like this. Jake wouldn’t abandon her with suicide, not after what she told him about her husband. This thought gave her no comfort. In fact, it made her feel terrible. Fuck, she hated this shit. *** “So, Clay threatened to leave and got you to call Rush?” Naomi asked, smirking at the paralegal, who was bright pink. “I guess so. That kid is a master manipulator. He gets his way all the time.” “Aren’t you a wee bit glad he steered the two of you back together.” Rush patted Ben’s hand. “I’m grateful he gave me a second chance.” Ben breathed in deeply. He looked at Rush and nodded. “I’m glad Clay got us to see reason finally.” The three old friends chuckled a little. Naomi proceeded to chat about her latest conquest, a poetry-slam, vegan bisexual woman who worked at a food co-op. Apparently, this new woman was just the thing Naomi needed, though she admitted the granola crunchiness of her weird hippy-ness was beginning to wear a bit thin on her. Rush leaned back, cupped his hands around the coffee mug, and cleared his throat. “Maybe you should tell me a little about his job you emailed me about.” Naomi grinned at him, took the last bite of her Sacher torte, licking the chocolate ganache from her fork, and then nodded to Ben. “I’ve watched him this whole meal. He’s been fidgeting and itching to find out what the job is since you sat down.” Ben pushed his sherbet dish to one side. “He’s always working, even when we’re supposed to be enjoying time off.” He looked at his partner, and shook his head. “Rush, I thought we agreed this dinner was just for catching up.” Rush shrugged and answered. “Since we’re caught up, I thought Naomi could give me an idea of what her law firm needs.” Naomi was tempted to torture Rush, but in the end, she simply informed him of the situation. “Frankly, the job I called about is more of a ‘Hail Mary’ kind of deal. When the managing partner gave me the thumbs up, I wanted to get you on board quickly before they changed their minds. We need someone to question potential witnesses and follow up with the first responders. It’s a negligence case, pretty terrible really, and there are a few things that aren’t lining up.” Rush wilted a bit, his shoulders drooped, Ben could see. The last couple of days, the former BCA agent had a little more spring in his step and his kisses were more excited. Ben knew the detective business wasn’t what Rush thought it would be. He came home drained and a little sullen until either he or Clay would pull him out of his funk. “What’s the case about?” Ben asked, hoping to uplift the mood on their side of the booth. “It’s a negligence case, she repeated, and continued, “pretty complicated. Last September, a guy used one of those kerosene heaters in his bedroom, didn’t vent it correctly, and died of carbon monoxide poisoning while he was sleeping.” “That’s terrible,” Ben exclaimed. “So, are you representing the family of the person who died?” “No,” Naomi said slowly. “I work at a defense firm. We’re representing the company that made the heater and a couple of other related suppliers.” “Really?” Ben said, scowling a bit. His face softened and he said, “I guess everyone deserves to be represented.” “Yeah,” Naomi agreed. “You mentioned things aren’t lining up. What does that mean? It sounds pretty simple.” Rush said the words very matter-of-factly, but his demeanor had changed. He looked more intense and his eyes were riveted on Naomi’s face. Ben saw he was also not moving, his hands were still and his bouncing knee had calmed. “We thought so too, at first. After reading the fire marshal’s report, talking with the people on the scene, and discussing the case with the claims adjuster and the corporate counsel, we were ready to discuss a settlement. The guy died of carbon monoxide poisoning and the heater had obviously produced the gas.” “Something happened…wait, someone didn’t want to take the blame on this,” Rush said, wagging a finger in Naomi’s direction. “Was it the CEO?” “Owner,” Naomi said, nodding. “The owner of the company, the guy who designed this heater part looked at this implement and said it had been altered, tampered with. He said the safety switch which should have turned it off had been disabled. He refused to sign off on paying to make it go away.” “You sent it to an expert,” Rush said confidently, “and they found the owner was right. The heater had been compromised.” Naomi grinned at Ben and said, “I knew he was the right man for the job. The heater was sent for inspection to the defense expert. After a visual and x-ray inspection, he found problems with the heater, but not due to any fault by the safety device. He found damage, but nothing showing the mechanism failed. It was broken. Now, here’s the tricky part. Somebody had to have tampered with it, but we don’t know who or why. We think it may have not worked right without being properly vented, so the victim did it himself. Except for the fact, he was a waiter who went to school for psychology and couldn’t operate a bike lock without help, so we don’t think he did it.” “You think someone he knows did it. That would take away a fact question for the jury since it was altered which voided any warranty.” “Exactly. All the plaintiff’s counsel would be left with is a negligent warnings case, which is notoriously hard to win. There are warning stickers all over it as well as the warnings in the operator’s manual. But Rush, we don’t want the plaintiff to know we are looking for the person who futzed with the safety switch. We want that to be a surprise they can’t counter. You need to be extremely low profile and careful.” Rush said, “You want this mystery person to be a surprise to plaintiff’s counsel? Right?” “The victim’s friends and family won’t necessarily know what you’re looking for at first. We haven’t turned over the expert reports yet, so they don’t know about our pet theory.” Ben watched as the attorney and detective bantered back and forth discussing different tactics for finding the person who may have rigged the heater. It was too bad for the family, but then they’d already lost their friend, their son, their sibling, so this wouldn’t bring him back. It was too bad the owner of the company didn’t just let it go. A check might have helped the grieving parties feel a little better. He remembered the previous case where he and Rush met, the Barbed Wire Heart Ranch case, and he couldn’t help but think of the poor guy who had been framed. Maybe the owner of the heater company felt the same way. The person who did the wrong thing should be the one to pay. Unfortunately, in this case it was probably a friend of the victim who bent a wire or dented a switch so the heater worked indoors. The person who did this, probably didn’t have any money, and anyway, it was an accident. In the end, the guy died from a tragic accident. At least, that’s what it seemed like, for what it was worth. *** The apartment complex was rather disappointing. It was yellow brick, aging none too gracefully, with fragmenting mortar, sad, sagging window sills, and prominent air conditioning units that looked inoperable. In fact, the air conditioner units jutting out underneath each bank of those tired-looking windows appeared to be the most prevalent of the architectural features of the building. Rush sat for a moment and soaked it all in. This was his first interview since meeting formally with Naomi and the managing partner of her firm, Jessie Oakland. Oakland had succinctly explained Rush’s job, a series of tasks really, that involved more finesse than he was used to. He loved jobs like this. In fact, he was still humming with the thrill of this case. It felt like more. No, his former partner at the BCA said it best. Hartman said it ‘smelled’ like more, because bad cases are like spoiling meat or overripe fruit. There is a distinctive tang in the air around them. It’s sweet to the discerning nose, with an off-putting smell of rot and decay, but it leads the curious to it. Rush thumbed his phone, looking at the last call from Ben, and considered his next move. Oakland had insisted he take this witness statement very slowly and discreetly. The woman inside the homely building was the victim’s mother. She was a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, and while they had every right to question her, opposing counsel had informed them an attorney of theirs would be present. Oakland’s words refreshed his perspective. “Winnie Ogden is not going to admit anything useful. From my understanding, the sister is the reasonable one, but the mother is hellbent on taking our client to the cleaners. It’s doubtful she helped her son deactivate the safety switch, but she may know who did. From the victim’s phone records, we know he spoke with her every day. During those conversations, he may have mentioned the heater and the switch or something about the situation. You must ask without asking, if you know what I mean. Even if she doesn’t recognize the target of your questioning, the plaintiff’s counsel may figure out where you’re going. It’s imperative they don’t know where this inquiry leads, or the direction we’re taking with this.” Rush tapped his phone and Ben’s picture appeared. He kissed the screen tenderly, then shut off the ringer on the phone and opened the car door. He exited and rehearsed his questions. As he approached the apartment building’s front door, he felt a tiny rush of excitement. After a year of serving complaints, subpoenas, and watching people do not much of anything; this job was a thrill. His blood was now surging through his veins and he felt alive. This was what he was meant to do. *** Rush took a sip of the lukewarm coffee and nodded in agreement as the plaintiff counsel finished reciting his list of forbidden topics. Murphy still had a smattering of pimples on his neck. He looked a little older than Clay, but not by much. He was youthfully good looking, but he was as plain as the day is long. His nose was hawk-like, cheeks sunken, his eyes were small and darted as he scanned the page he was reading and then, peeked at the detective once or twice. Rush appraised the situation and realized his first approach wouldn’t work. This associate had been carefully prepped, but the detective also understood, this newbie lawyer was green as grass and as Clueless as Alicia Silverstone, in her starring role. “I’m comfortable with your objections,” Rush said, after the young man stopped his litany of prohibitions. “Can we start with a few background questions? If I veer into territory you’re not comfortable with, let me know. Okay?” The associate shifted in his chair and scowled. “I guess so.” Murphy then reviewed the paper in his hand again, as though the wisdom of the ages was hidden in the symbols scrawled across the page. “Your name is?” Rush asked, turning on his recorder, but palming the notebook and clicking the ball point pen to attract their notice. “My name is Winifred Ogden. I’m Jacob’s mother.” Her voice was slow, slurred and laboriously forced. It was only ten-thirty in the morning, and yet a gentle breeze of whiskey wafted from her breath. “Tell me about your relationship with your son,” the detective asked after jotting something in his book. “Were you close?” She sighed and answered, “He called me every day, or I called him. I can’t sleep now that he doesn’t check up on me. I worry, and then I remember he’s gone.” Winnie did have dark circles under her eyes from lack of sleep. Rush thought the sallowness of her complexion had more to do with the amount of liquor in her than the sleep loss. He didn’t say that aloud though. “Did you speak with him before the accident?” Her face tightened and she exploded. “It’s not an accident when a company makes a poison machine. The woman gasped and snorted. “That heater fucking killed my son. They might as well shoot him in the fucking head!” Rush pulled away, made note, and then regrouped. “I’m sorry to upset you.” The attorney next to her, whispered something in her ear, she nodded, and then seemed to settled down a bit. “I’ll rephrase the question. Did you speak with your son before the incident?” She looked angry again, but instead took a sip from her coffee mug, breathed and continued. “He called me and asked how I was doing in the afternoon. Jake was a good boy. He loved his mother and took care of me. Now he’s gone and I don’t know what I’ll do.” Her tears started flowing. Murphy the attorney at her side pulled a tissue from the box and handed it to her. She staunched the flow on her cheek and poked at her eyes, then continued. “He was always here for me. When I needed something, that boy was at my side, and your PEOPLE,” she said, pointing at the detective, “Took him from me. They need to pay.” “I understand,” Rush said. “It was a chilly day, wasn’t it?” She nodded. Her long black hair bobbed, brushing against her shoulders. “I really don’t remember what the weather was like. I know he called me because the next day he was gone and I realized, I’d never hear my boy’s voice again.” Gentle puffs of alcohol perfumed the air between them. Fresh sobs erupted from her. Rush didn’t think this was going well at all. She seemed half in the bag already, and the morning was only half over. Clearly, her memory of her son was a bit self-centered. He decided to try a different tack. “Had Jake ever mentioned the heater before to you?” “What heater?” she asked, looking at Rush and then at her attorney. The young man whispered into her ear again, and understanding dawned on her face. It dawned slowly and creeped across her face and then glinted into her eyes, which sparked furiously. “Yes, the fucking heater that killed him. What was the question?” She took another sip from her ‘coffee’. Her attorney scowled and looked away. “Did Jake ever talk about the heater?” Rush didn’t finish the logical question forming in his head. He desperately wanted to ask, “not working” but they’d already nixed that line of questioning. This would have to be freeform inquiries. “Why would he talk to me about a heater?” Rush felt like throwing up his hands in frustration, until Murphy prompted her. “He’s asking about the heater that killed your son.” She blanked for a moment, and then exploded again. “You’re with the insurance company, right? The one that won’t pay for my son’s death? I need to pay rent. I need food. You assholes took Jake away. Why don’t you make things right?” She started sobbing again, but it didn’t seem genuine. It wasn’t sorrow, but frustration. Her tears had more to do with anger than sadness. The tears sprung from her hot and steamy. Her red cheeks glowed with fury. “Why won’t they just pay the claim?” The detective apologized to her. She accepted it without much grace, and then studied her coffee mug, taking small sips and licking her lips. “I think that’s all I have,” Rush said finally, starting to rise. “I’ll see you out,” the associate said formally. “It’s this way.” Murphy pointed down the only hallway in the apartment toward the scarred and splintered door. “Sorry to have wasted your time,” he said as they neared the exit. “I found her drunk when I got here an hour ago.” “She seems very upset,” Rush responded. “Thank you for allowing me access.” “No problem,” the young man said. His face changed, and he asked abruptly. “You’re from the insurance carrier? I thought it was the owner who was balking at settlement?” Rush considered his words carefully. The legal team had talked about this at length and it was absolutely the truth, sort of. “The insurance company paid me to follow up with questions for the fact witnesses. They wanted a third-party evaluation of the situation before final settlement talks concluded. It’s just a formality, really.” The young man nodded and gave the detective a perfunctory smile. “Sound good. I’ll let the firm know this is merely final paperwork. Are there more witnesses you need to question?” “Yeah,” Rush said. “I need to speak with three more. Can I set that up through you?” he asked. Murphy pulled out his smartphone, quickly slid a few windows this way and that, and finally looked up. His smile was slightly more attractive than his serious look. Now, he was almost boyish and charming. “Who do you need to question next?” Rush flipped back a few pages and looked over his notes needlessly. He knew the next name without looking. It was important the plaintiff’s counsel didn’t know that. “How about a meeting with the sister? I realize she’s been deposed, but we want to ask a few questions just to clarify things?” Murphy’s brow wrinkled. “I’m not sure that’s possible. She’s been deposed so her testimony is on record. I’m not letting you confuse her.” Rush figured that would be the case. “Okay, how about his coworker, the one who found him.” “We can accommodate that,” Murphy answered, tapping his phone and then said, “Let me call her and set up a time.” “Sounds like a plan,” Rush answered. He left the apartment and skipped down the carpeted steps which reeked of old booze, stale tobacco smoke, and oddly enough, rancid butter. He felt more alive than he had in several months. Sure, having Ben back in his life had made things better, but having a job to do, a real one, was uplifting. While he didn’t really have much from this interview, something struck him as interesting. Jake Ogden’s mother didn’t remember much, was drunk out of her mind early in the day, and was an emotional mess, but she’d revealed something important. It was what the woman hadn’t said that mattered. Winnie Ogden had revealed something vital, by not talking about it, not at all. *** The girl -- young woman, was perfectly ordinary. When you delved below the ripped fishnet top with the lime green bra peeking through, the fauxhawk with pink-tinged hair, the septum nose ring, the huge hoop earring pulling her earlobes down in a fashion that looked painful; she was very plain Jane. Natalie Howe had a round face, full and fleshy, with thin, pinched lips, tiny slits for eyes and a double chin above a painfully thin chest and shoulders. If she hadn’t been wearing the neon colored bra, Rush wouldn’t have known for sure she was female. She looked boyish or adolescent instead of like a woman in her twenties. The detective also noted she’d been crying. Her cheeks were lined with melted mascara and then rubbed off incompletely. Faint traces glowed gray under the brilliant lighting of the conference room. The associate, Jason Murphy, had arranged for him to question the victim’s best friend. She’d been the one to find him, pink and still, before their shift. Ms. Howe was listed as a key witness since she’d also turned off the heater and called the police. “Thank you, Natalie, for agreeing to this meeting. According to Mr. Romer, the insurance company is close to settling the case and closing the books on this. We are hoping this will allay any concerns they have about the death of your friend.” Murphy was good. He had her nodding and looking especially mournful. When she turned her gaze to Rush, he noticed her smile was lovely. Animated, her face had character and there was a vivacious quality to her eyes. Opened wide, they captured one’s attention. While Natalie Howe would never win a beauty pageant, it was clear she was an attractive creature. Rush reached out and shook her hand. Her grip was limp and brief, barely touching him. He sat across from her and pulled out his ubiquitous notebook and pen, clicking it loudly as he pressed the record button on his phone. “Yes, Ms. Howe, I appreciate your time today.” “I’m here for Jake and for his family. They are devastated by this horrible, horrible event. The sooner you can get this settled, the better.” She wiped her left eye and snorted delicately. She had a lovely voice, almost melodic in its cadences and tone. Since Jake Ogden was dead, Rush presumed his friend was expressing hope for the family. She was obviously upset about her friend’s death, but her sentiment seemed odd, for some random reason. Rush shook that off. He told her how sorry he was about her friend’s death and introduced himself. The woman acknowledged him as he sat down. “You found Jake the morning of his death?” It wasn’t much of a question, but he had to gauge the witness’s communication skills. After the victim’s mother’s breakdown and drunken rantings, he was being as methodical as he could. “I did. I pick up, picked up, Jake for work every day.” “Did you always have the same shifts?” “Not always, but I usually drove when we worked on the same days.” “What time did you get to his apartment that day?” Rush asked. “Isn’t this all in the police report or the emergency service record or something? Why are you asking me about things like this?” It was obvious Natalie was uncomfortable now, thinking of that day. “The insurance company wants to confirm the facts. Please, indulge me with a few repetitious questions,” Rush said, trying to look sincere. He also saw she fidgeted. “Maybe Ms. Howe can just tell you about that day in her own words. Will that work?” Murphy said. The associate looked back and forth between the witness and the detective. Rush nodded his concession, and waited for her to begin. “I, we usually worked at four that afternoon. I’d pick him up at three so we can get a coffee before our shifts begin. That day, it was around ten o’clock or so. I walked in, saw he was still in bed, and called out to him.” “Was the door open or do you have a key?” Rush asked, startling her. “It was open. I mean, the door wasn’t ajar or anything, it wasn’t locked. It never was.” “Please, continue,” Rush urged her. “Like I said, I called out to him, the apartment isn’t very big, it’s only a studio, and he was obviously still in bed. I walked over to shake him and he didn’t respond. He was pink and wasn’t moving. I touched his arm, and it was cold.” She shivered at the memory. “I never thought a dead person would look so ordinary. Jake didn’t look dead. He looked like he was sleeping.” “Then what did you do?” Rush asked. He diddled, like he always did. It calmed him, and usually those he was questioning as well. “I called 911 and told them he was dead.” She stopped speaking and shook her head. “The room was so hot and he was so cold.” “What did you do next?” “I turned the heater off. It was really hot and dry in the room.” Rush wrote a quick scribble and asked, “Was there any smoke in the room?” Her head cocked a little, thinking. “Not that I remember. I thought it was odd and there was an odor of some kind, but not smoke.” She finished and looked at Rush with her head cocked, like she was assessing him instead of the other way around. “There wasn’t any smoke though, not really.” “When you turned the heater off, did you notice anything about it? Anything you didn’t expect?” “No, I turned it off and that was it.” Rush thought her words were interesting. “Did you open up the windows?” She tapped her finger to her lips. “I did. It was so hot in the room and outside was a beautiful day. The police didn’t seem to care. The fire department guy asked me about the windows, now that I’m thinking about it.” “They were closed when you got there, and then you opened them, correct?” Rush repeated. “Yeah, I’m sure.” She continued talking about when the fire department arrived, the EMTs with the ambulance showed up next, and finally four police officers questioned her and wrote it all down. Natalie seemed to recount the day’s events without much emotion. However, when she finished talking about the victim’s body rolling out of the apartment, she choked back a sob. Taking a deep breath, she rubbed her eyes and stared past the detective and out the glass wall. She wasn’t focused on anything though. It was as though her mind was a million miles away and a thousand years in the other direction. Rush took a few miscellaneous notes about her behavior as Murphy finished up the interview. The associate thanked her, and showed her out of the room. The detective looked over his jottings and thought about her account. There were things missing and he couldn’t identify what they were. By the time Murphy was back, he realized there simply wasn’t anything to investigate. He was charged with finding out who tampered with the heater. There was another witness, the last person to see the victim alive, and if he didn’t know more, this was a dead end. Murphy announced the last witness had just arrived. The last witness. Rush felt his heart sink. Was this almost over, already?
  4. Discovery - Chapter 3

    I know what you mean. I hope you enjoy the investigation, as it unfolds. It will be more involved. Lots more coming up with Clay, Rush and Ben. Their dynamic is a central part of the story. I hope you enjoy seeing them figure it out. Thanks for the lovely comments. Greatly appreciated!
  5. Discovery - Chapter 3

    Clay is playing nice and Ben is still nervous. They are figuring out who they are to each other. It's an easy exercise. I wanted this story to talk about the process here. Civil litigation is what I do, so I've seen a lot and have observed things from inside and outside. Hopefully, this will give the reader an idea of how it unfolds and what traps and benefits are there. Thanks for the wonderful comment. I appreciate it.
  6. Discovery - Chapter 3

    Thanks Lisa! I think Tom is schmoozing a client. He's trying to build rapport, though he is a bit of a cad. I'm glad you enjoyed some of the scenes, especially some of the humor. I love adding that to a story. Clay is trying to make good with Ben. He was seriously worried about Rush and so he's on his best behavior. Trust me, Clay is a teen through and through and it will come out, in the future. Naomi's firm is handling defendants being sued, and in this case it's one of the components of the heater in question. I should add something about that, though it will be more clear soon enough. Another heater has caused an incident. Next chapter is coming up!!! Thanks so much!
  7. Discovery - Chapter 3

    Exactly!!!! Thanks!
  8. Discovery - Chapter 3

    Hahaha!!! I guess I should explain better. Mo is short for homo, a kind of sibling joke told among friends. It's all in friendly jest. Thanks for the question.
  9. Discovery - Chapter 3

    Brandon and Brenda are firefighters. Fire related deaths are primarily investigated by the fire department in Minnesota. First responders like this look into the fact investigations. I should explain a little more in the upcoming chapters. Thanks for the comments! I love hearing how the story is unfolding in the reader's mind. Thanks!!!
  10. Discovery - Chapter 3

    Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying the sections with Rush, Ben, and Clay. Their story is important. This is an interesting perspective on Laura. In a way, I think you're absolutely right and I love seeing it in that light. This is why I love comments like this. Thank you so much!!!
  11. Discovery - Chapter 3

    Thank you!!! I'm glad the chapter worked for you. Awesome!
  12. Featured Story: Christmas at Famous-Barr

    AC Benus's Famous Barr Christmas stories are epic, filled with unforgettable characters, real heart, and some emotional imagery that will capture your heart. Famous Barr becomes a character itself in these stories. It acts as more than a setting, it's like loving father, not speaking on stage, but definitely there nurturing the ensemble cast. It's a joy you're sharing this and reminding readers of how wonderful it is. I highly, highly recommend reading, and for me rereading, these treasures. You'll have a new appreciate for this holiday season and what joys there are if you just embrace them. Excellent choice Timothy M.!!!
  13. Fun Pics

  14. The cookie advent calendar is going well. Tonight I made mistletoe treats and did Christmas cards.  I love this time of year. 

  15. Discovery - Chapter 2

    Thanks for the lovely compliment. I hope it's good. I'm working hard on it. There are more clues to come, so you can collect them over the next few chapters. Lots of stuff to come. I appreciate the kind words!!!

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