Authors: Mak K. Han
“You girls have a funny way of passing the time,” Harold joked when we were all untied.
“We've been spending too much time around Alex,” I shot back.
Alex sighed. “Come on, that was one time.” She paused, nibbling her lip. “Okay, maybe two. But he was into the S-and-M scene.”
“How did you know we were in trouble?” Emily asked.
“Well, I showed up and saw Daniel's truck in the driveway and the bulkhead opened. I went over to see what was going on and saw Daniel in the basement with Emily. When you all went downstairs, I followed you at the top. I heard everything.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over. Daniel was down. The mystery was solved. “Check his pocket,” I told Alex. “Find your phone. Call the Sheriff.”
Harold produced his phone and smiled. “Already did it. I called when I snuck outside to get the rebar.”
Sure enough, over Harold's shoulder I could see blue lights flashing on the curtains.
Harold and I missed the movie that night.
We were busy at the station giving statements. According to Sheriff Caldwell, there was a good chance that Daniel would be going behind bars for a long time. With three witnesses to Daniel's admission of guilt, he didn't have much of a chance.
The night Alex, Emily and I went up to visit Mrs. Brooks, she'd been down at the library laying flowers in the secret room. When she got back to the house, she didn't have any idea what had happened. With Daniel behind bars, Mrs. Brooks felt like she could move on. She used a substantial portion of her inheritance to build a new wing of the library. A children's wing, which the library had been lacking. The donation was so well-received that the town voted to let Mrs. Brooks rename the library, which had simply been called the Strawberry Shores library, to The Edward R. Brooks Memorial Library.
The children's wing was built atop the ruins of the secret room, which had been cleared out, the books donated to the Strawberry Shores Athenaeum.
After a lengthy battle, Chester Rutherford ended up getting Mr. Brooks's old job.
Susan still works at the library with me. She and Chester broke up shortly after the Daniel situation.
Sheriff Caldwell is still the sheriff and took the credit for apprehending Daniel. I was okay with it—trying to take credit would have probably done more harm than good. The only way to explain finding the glove would have also involved admitting that I'd been poking around a crime scene, which could have damaged the case against Daniel. As far as the rebar through my windshield goes, Jane and I got together and came up with the story that Jane felt bad that Edward had been so rude to me and paid for the windshield as a gesture of good faith using the money she had inherited from Edward. She also sent each of us a bouquet of flowers. To date, Jane is the only one outside of Emily and Alex that know about my unofficial investigation.
As for me? Harold and I are friends. We resolved to go on another date after missing the movie on that night with Daniel, but it hasn't happened yet.
I'm still working on refining my psychic power. With every lie, I get a little better attuned. There have been times when I've been able to tell when someone is lying even when there isn't a radio around. Alex said it probably has to do with the radio waves in the air—she suspects that the better I get at it, the more sensitive I'll be.
I still work at the library and live in Strawberry Shores. In the weeks that followed I finished my book and got it published. With Jane's help, I was able to self-publish a few copies in paperback.
The first thing I did when I got the box of freebies of my book? I donated it. It can be found in the fiction section of the Edward R. Brooks Memorial Library.
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Strawberry Shores Mystery Series:
Excerpt from book 2 of the Strawberry Shores series,
Emily stared at me. I could feel Alex staring at me too, but I was focusing on Emily. Her green eyes. Her blond hair tied up in a bow. Her mouth, speckled with crumbs from a chocolate cupcake.
“One more time,” Emily said. “My mom's name is Dawn.” She paused. “Strawberry Shores used to be called Strawberry Shoreline.” Another pause. “Alex and I first met in second grade.”
I nibbled my lip and listened for the static. One of the three statements was a lie. I had the ability to tell when someone wasn't telling the truth because if there was a radio nearby, I heard static in my head when they were lying. We were testing my ability to hear the static when there wasn't a radio.
This was the twelfth round of questions, six from Alex and six from Emily. Alex was keeping track of which ones I'd gotten right and which ones I'd gotten wrong.
“The second one,” I said. “Strawberry Shoreline sounds stupid.”
Emily giggled. “Wrong-o. Alex and I didn't meet until you came to town, Laura!”
I sat back in the chair and relaxed, rubbing my eyes. The tension drained from the room. I felt like I'd been under the microscope for the last hour. Emily stuffed the rest of her cupcake into her mouth and headed to the kitchen for another. I looked to Alex. “How did I do?”
Alex counted up the right answers. “Three out of four. Good. Not great.”
I shook my head. “Not good enough. I want to be at a hundred percent.”
“The only time you've been at a hundred is when you had the radio on in the background,” Emily said as she returned from the kitchen, her mouth filled with a cupcake.
It was true. We'd already tested it with a radio and sure enough, I'd been able to tell precisely when one of the girls was lying. The static had been unmistakable. However, without the radio, I had a harder time figuring out which was the lie and which was the truth.
I sat back and rubbed my eyes. I'd had enough fun being under the microscope for one night. I turned to Alex.
She was wearing one of her custom outfits: a t-shirt, painted and glittered. It had been black at one point until Alex had glittered it to look like outer space with the word 'REBEL' written in pink capital letters. She was wearing black stockings with matching heels; her shoes had also been customized with stars and glitter. Alex's tagline was
Stand Out from the Crowd: be a Superstar
, hence the emphasis on stars. Her black hair had a fluorescent orange streak in it and was clipped to one side with one of her custom clips, also adorned with stars.
“How goes the clothing business?” I asked her.
Alex interlaced her fingers behind her back and propped her feet up on the table. It was an unconscious gesture. She did something similar every time someone asked about her clothes. Putting her hands behind her head gave full visibility to the shirt and putting her feet on the table gave full visibility to her shoes. “It goes, I guess,” she said. “I made a Facebook page and I have about ten likes. I don't have enough money for a web page yet. I'm hoping that by wearing my clothes more often, people will talk about them.” She sat up straight. “Hey! I have an idea!”
Emily and I looked at her. She looked at us. Whenever Alex had an idea, she got this rather manic look in her eyes and rubbed her hands together. She looked like a mad scientist.
“You guys could wear my clothes around town! And then whenever people ask about your clothes, you can point them my way!”
I chuckled. “I think I'm all set, Alex.”
She cocked her head and raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure? You could definitely use a wardrobe adjustment.”
“Hey!” I looked myself over: jeans, t-shirt. “What's wrong with the way I dress?”
“Nothing,” Alex said. “It's just a little boring. Spice it up!”
“Yeah!” Emily chirped. “Alex has a style. I have a style. You need a style too, Laura.”
I opened my mouth to interject but Alex beat me to it. “You have a style?” She said to Emily. “What, the 1950s look? You look like you're about to meet a swell guy to go jitterbugging.”
Emily frowned. “I look classy. You look like a groupie for a washed-up eighties hair band.”
“At least the eighties are recent.”
“No more recent than the 50s. The difference is, I look good and you look trashy!”
Alex and Emily launched full into a fight about clothing styles. While they sorted things out, I picked Alex's list off the table. Sure enough, nine of the questions had been marked correct, three were incorrect.
It didn't make much a difference to me. I didn't have any plans on using my psychic powers. I'd used them about six months back to help solve a murder, but that was a one-off kind of thing. The odds of me being involved in another murder were slim to none.
So I thought.
to continue reading Barnyard Murder.