Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, and Chapter 16
The conversation went well into the morning and now Hanson knew he needed to get back. Hanson ported to Caden’s. Trout was already there speaking to Caden in the living room. Daisy was standing in the living room as well, pacing back and forth while taking deep breaths and saying, “I can do this, I can do it.”
“She can do what?” Hanson asked.
“We don’t know,” Trout admitted.
Turning to Caden Hanson asked, “What did she and Rebecca talk about last night?”
Caden put on a weak smile.
“You fell asleep didn’t you?”
“They were looking at scrap books, what do you expect me to do?” Caden asked.
“What I asked you to do,” Hanson stated.
As she continued to breath deep Mildred came up and licked her hand. This caused Daisy to jump, I almost forgot. Mildred, I need you to stay hidden for a while. She took her into the study and shut the door. No sooner had she done so then the doorbell chimed. The three dead men in the room all ported in front of the window at the same time. Hanson thought back to how nice it was when these two only ported when he wanted them to. Being smashed together brought them all back to when they rode in Jim’s corvette and looking out the window, there it was. And standing on the porch was Jim.
“Oh great,” Hanson complained, looking at Caden. “She’s going to confront the murder herself. This should give him a chance to finish the job the coffee failed to do. This has all the makings of a bad horror film.”
“Don’t blame me,” argued Caden. “I didn’t know she was going to invite Jim over.”
“Of course, you didn’t, because while she was planning this you were sleeping.”
Caden stated, “Sorry, I’m human, I need sleep. What’s the big deal?”
“First off, you are dead, you don’t need sleep. And second, the big deal is, she will say, ‘Jim did you dog nap Mildred and give it to Rebecca?’ and he’ll say, ‘you know about that?’ She will replay, ‘yes, I know about that and am going to call the police.’ ‘No you won’t,’ he’ll say. ‘Yes I will,’ She’ll reply. After a good holsome debate he’ll pull out a gun and then Daisy will be pushing her namesake up out of the ground.”
“You don’t even know if Jim brought his gun.” Caden optimistically offered. As the words left his mouth Jim, still waiting for the door, tapped his jacket, clearly verifying for himself that his gun was still there and ready to go.
Caden seeing this joined in Hanson’s concern with a simple, “uh oh.”
Daisy was about to open the door, when Caden yelled, “Don’t let him in Honey.” The thought, like last time, clearly got to her. Daisy stopped her reach to the door knob and paused, before saying, “No, I can do this.” Then she grabbed the door and opened it.
“Would it kill you to listen to me just once?,” Caden yelled.
Hanson whispered to Trout, “In fairness to Caden, she didn’t listen to me on this one either.”
“Good morning Jim, thanks for coming,” Daisy said as she motioned him in.
“Well you mentioned it was important, and if it’s important to you then it’s important to me.”
Caden was letting out all his frustration on Jim, punching him over and over, but he had learned by this time it was worthless, he simply didn’t know what else to do.
Jim calmly asked, “I smell coffee, you had any coffee yet this morning?”
“No, but would you like some?”
“No, no, I’m fine.”
“You don’t mind if I go ahead and have some?” Daisy asked.
“Oh no, you go right ahead,” Jim said with a smile.
After getting him to sit she went and poured them both a cup. She walked back to the living room, “I poured you one, just in case you change your mind.”
They both sat and set their cups down. They sat quietly for a second and Jim asked, “Aren’t you going to drink your coffee?”
“In a minute, it’s still a little too hot. Well Jim, I wanted to call and talk to you about the other day.” She paused, “I shouldn’t have said some of those things.”
Jim smiled, Caden did not, “Of course, you should say those things, and a lot worse, why are you apologizing to this guy?”
Hanson ported back into the room, which was a surprise to both Caden and Trout who had missed that he had left. Hanson had a peace about him that was not there when Jim first entered and with a smile said, “Caden, calm down, I think your wife knows what she is doing.”
“Getting herself killed, you mean?” Caden asked.
“I don’t think so,” Hanson said.
“And why is that?”
“Always so mysterious with you,” Caden replied.
The argument would have likely continued but Daisy spoke and they wanted to hear so even Caden shut it. “Jim, my point is...perhaps,” Her delivery was excessively slow, but Jim simply assumed apologies were not her strong suite. “What I mean to say is…” She was in the middle of yet another long pause when the doorbell rang. “Oh, I wonder who that could be.” She stood, went to the door and once opened she revealed quite the congregation. There was Captain Driggs, Tom in handcuffs, Detective Lung and smiling behind Rebecca, with a big smile on her face. And unseen to Daisy, the dead contingent of the party, Stilton and Barbara.
“This had better be good.” Captain Driggs whined as he was let in.
“Oh Jim, look who is here. Why don’t we all have a seat in the living room.”
As the group trickled through the door, Jim finally recognized Rebecca and all the color drained from his face. He looked as dead as so many others in the room. He quickly stood up, “I don’t want to interrupt this meeting, and I have a very busy morning. It was good to see you all, but I must be off.” He started heading for the door, but Daisy cut him off.
“No, stay,” Daisy was now the one with the smile on her face. “I want you to get to know Captain Driggs and Detective Lung.”
“Why?” bristled Driggs.
Daisy ignored him. “You of course, already know Tom and Rebeeca.”
“Hi Jim,” Rebecca said with a huge grin.
“Yes, but I really have to go,” Jim was determined and made a clear motion to the door, he would shove Daisy if necessary. She stood her ground and as he came in contact and prepared to shove, Detective Lung grabbed him by the shoulder and said, “You better stay and have a seat.”
Soon they were all cozily sitting in the living room. The two large wingback chairs that faced the love seat and couch were filled by Daisy and Rebecca. The love seat was occupied by Jim and Lung, who had decided he better stay close to this guy. This left Captain Driggs and Tom, who was forced to sit next to the large blood stain, which became the lone empty seat. Caden decided it was the right spot for him and sat down. This left Trout, Hanson and the Worthlin’s standing behind the loveseat and couch.
“Well before we start why don’t I get each of you a cup of coffee,” Daisy said as she went to the kitchen and poured out 4 mugs.
As Daisy was in the kitchen Rebecca spoke up, “Well last night Daisy and I were talking.”
“It’s a shame Caden wasn’t listening,” Hanson said in a half cough.
“And we thought it would be good if we all got together and talked through a few things.”
“Can you just get to the point and tell me why we are here?” Driggs continued his whining.
“We will get to that.” Daisy said as she walked back in and handed out the coffee.
“Hanson,” Caden called out. “And you thought my wife was going to get shot. Looks like she has it under control to me.”
Hanson chose not to engage. Except for Caden’s side remarks, he was very pleased with how things were progressing.
“Well, let's begin by making sure we all know each other. Captain Driggs and Detective Lung you got to meet Rebecca today.”
“Yes, she barged into our office this morning and demanded we show up with Tim here,” Captain Driggs throughout.
Daisy ignored the name error and continued to smile as she spoke, “But you haven’t met Jim. Jim why don’t you introduce yourself to the detectives.”
“Hi,” was all he could muster.
Hanson was watching Jim very closely. He was trying to get to Lung that the man was armed. He noticed that Jim's eyes glanced around intently from person to person.
“I see Jim is being shy,” Daisy added. “See Jim is the CEO of Canine Hope, the organization that gets the majority of my husband's money according to his will.”
Detective Lung sat up and took notice after that tidbit of information. “See Detective,” Daisy turned her attention to Lung, she could see he was the one who was prepared to listen. “Three weeks ago, my dog Mildred went missing.”
“You called us over here over your missing Dog?” Captain Driggs had found just the excuse he needed, “I’m sorry lady, your missing dog doesn’t make your brother any less guilty.” Jim was really starting to like this Captain Driggs. The lug next to him he could do without, but this Captain seemed like a great guy. Any crook would be happy to have him on their case. “I’m sorry but we need to leave.” He stood with these last words. Deciding exiting was a movement he could get behind, Jim stood as well.
Detective Lung joined in as well by standing, but he brought the exit party to an abrupt end. He shoved Jim back into his seat, “You will be staying here,” then turning his head and fixing his eyes on Captian Driggs said, “and so will you.”
“Subordination,” Driggs said, but not with much force. Lung only increased his stair on Captain Driggs eyes and the Captain backed down, with a turn of the head and a bend of the knees, he was back in his seat.
Seeing he had gotten things to where they needed to be, Lung turned to Daisy, “Please continue, Mrs. Mason.”
“Thank you. So, as I was saying 3 weeks ago my Mildred went missing but last night she came home.”
“Oh joy,” Driggs muttered.
“See, she has been with Rebecca.” Rebecca nodded to add volatility to the story and Daisy continued, “But how Rebecca came to get Daisy is a very interesting tale, “Jim do you care to tell the officers?”
All eyes turned to Jim.
“Clearly, I don’t know,” Jim tried.
“That’s funny because you gave her to me,” Rebecca offered.
Detective Lung stared at Jim.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Jim said. “I found the dog. How was I to know it was Daisy’s?”
“You told me you rescued it from an abusive owner,” Rebecca was getting angry as she spoke.
Hanson continued to note Jim’s every movement and saw Jim’s eyes watching closely as Tom who with handcuffed hands raised the mug to his lips. A smile cracked over Jim’s lips as he continued to lie, “I found the dog nearly starved wandering the streets, we were fairly confident it came from an abusive home.”
“And a place that prides itself on proper animal care, including installing chips, didn’t bother to check for one. One they had installed?” Daisy added. With no shortage of energy.
The back and forth continued but Hanson knew what needed to be done.
“Caden, you must insist to your wife that she’s sick, very sick.”
“What?” You are the only one that might be a bit off kilter. My wife is fine.”
“She’ll listen to you.”
“She hasn’t so far.”
“I could tell you were getting to her both times you told her not to open the door. I am convinced if you really try you can convince her she is sick.”
The group was yelling at Jim and Hanson could see he was debating if he should go for his weapon. He simultaneously was trying to convince Jim that he was more likely to get away if he didn’t reach for his gun and trying to continue to warn Lung about it’s presence.
“So, how do I make her feel sick?”
“Tell her over and over that she is. Focus on how awful her stomach feels.” Caden gave Hanson a look. “Look Caden, you might not like me, but helping me has always worked out, I need you to trust me. We don’t want this thing to get ugly.”
“Fine,” Caden walked over to his wife and almost mockingly began to repeat in his best hypnotist impressination, “You feel very sick, very sick indeed. Look into my eyes and you will begin to feel sick and queasy. Then you will throw up. The room is spinning.” Caden stopped, “This is ridiculous.”
“Keep going, and mean it,” Hanson demanded. He could see Jim begin to reach into his jacket.
“Honey,” Caden’s voice turned to honesty. “I’m afraid you need to be sick, really sick. Queasy like never before.”
The yelling went on and finally Driggs yelled above the crowd and said, “This is silly, I won’t be silenced by my junior partner.”
This took Lungs focus off of Jim and it was all Jim needed, “He reached into his jacket grabbed his gun and was moving it out when Daisy grabbed the attention of the room, “I don’t…” she put her hand over her head and looking down said, “I don’t feel so good.” Silence fell over the group. And Jim smiled as he relaxed his hand and allowed the gun to settle back into his jacket pocket.
Caden was shocked, “It worked.”
“Keep going,” instructed Hanson.
“Right, you feel tired and sick and need rest.” Caden continued
“I’m sorry everyone, but I suddenly feel really odd.” Daisy said as she continued to hold her head and stomach.
Jim pulled his empty hand out and began to laugh. “You guys want to know the truth about Mildred?” No one responded, as they were all perplexed by Jim’s sudden change in behavior. “Yes, I broke into your yard and took her. I had planned to poisen her, just like I did to your other stupid dog, but when I found out Rebecca here was desperate for a Dalmation I decided to take her, so I could squeeze some money out of her. Worked like a charm.”
“Why kill the dogs?” Lung asked.
“You know dogs. They make it very difficult to quietly sneak into a house and shoot somebody.”
Caden looked strangely at Jim. “I hate this guy, after all, he did kill me. But I’m starting to feel bad for him. He’s got to be the dumbest criminal on earth.”
Hanson looked up at Caden, “Let’s just hear him out.”
“That’s right. I snuck in here on that night. I made sure Tom was working, I had planned to shoot both you and Caden in bed but Caden heard me and came down stairs. I hid in the safe until he fell asleep. Then decided I’d kill him. It was so easy to just stick the gun with the silencer to his head and pull the trigger. I then dropped the note I had prepared with your husband's handwriting as a template. I knew I could come back and kill you if I needed more money.”
Lung stood up, “Jim you are under…”
Jim shoved him down, “I don’t think so,” and pulled out his gun. “Nobody moves,” he yelled as he stepped back away from everyone.
“I have been telling you about that gun since you got here,” Hanson said in desperation.
This thought turned up in Lung’s mind, and he realized that he should have known this guy could be armed. This only added to his embarrassment and he wished he hadn’t been so casual in making the arrest. Jim’s willingness to openly confess had led him to assume he was prepared to come quietly. But despite his extreme embarrassment he became the first to speak, “So you plan to shoot all five of us.”
“No. I plan to watch you for the next little while as you all slowly die.”
Rebecca joined in, “I’m no expert on life expectancy but that may take a while, even in my case.”
“Very funny Mrs. smarty pants. But you all drank the coffee, I saw it. I snuck in here two nights ago and filled that coffee so full of poison. So, trust me, I’ve had some experience in the matter, you all don’t have much time left on this earth.”
All of their faces went completely white, suddenly none of them felt very good. Lung picked up the coffee to smell it, hardly believing it could be true. The only person who reacted differently was Daisy. Suddenly she didn’t feel so bad. It was her turn to start laughing, “The coffee. You poisoned the coffee.” She sputtered out between a belly aching laugh. “My hand,” she looked down at the bandage. “That explains it. You poisoned the coffee.”
While Jim was staring at this woman he assumed was having a mental breakdown before she died, Hanson pushed the thought as strongly as he could to Lung, ‘the coffee now.’
Lung threw his coffee onto Jim’s face and Jim instantly cried out in pain as he tried to wipe it away. Lung did not just grab for the gun but wisely did a full body tackle that sent him and Jim sprawling onto the floor. The gun went off and put a nice hole in the ceiling. Lung fully on top of Jim quickly took the weapon and then spun him around as he slapped the cuffs on. With his face shoved into the floor Jim got out, “It doesn’t matter, you’ll all be dead soon enough.”
The gun shot had stopped Daisy’s laughing, but once she and everyone else realized Detective Lung had everything under control. She picked the laughing up where she had left off, “I think we will all be just fine.”
“Yes, do fill us in,” Tom said to his sister. Whether or not they were about to drop dead seem to preoccupy most of the thoughts of those in the room.
“I made coffee last night, and when Mildred showed up she wouldn’t let me drink it. She bit my hand to stop me. I didn’t know what had gotten into her. She threw the coffee, the pot I made and the whole can on the floor. This was a new can.”
We may all have moments when someone delivers bad news, but news that the people you confessed to murder to, who you thought were almost dead, are all actually quite healthy and likely to live for at least long enough to be witnesses at your trial, may top the charts of personal bad news. And Jim felt it.
The rest however felt a much different sensation at Daisy’s announcement. The world was full of springtime and rainbows for the rest. And it was with particular glee that Lung read Jim his rights. And even Driggs was smiling as he took the cuffs off Tom.
Tom could only think of one thing, “Where is Riley?”
“She is upstairs,” Daisy said with a smile and Tom bounded upstairs. It had only been a day since he had seen her, but having lost and regained his freedom and thinking he had lost his life only to find it very much still his, made this reunion particularly poignant.
As the officers walked out with Jim, Trout spoke up, “Wow, that worked out rather nicely. I guess our work is done.”
“Not for us it’s not,” Hanson spun around and in the corner where Trout had not noticed her sat a woman. “Hi Stacy, I knew you wouldn’t miss it.” Anger filled her whole body as she disappeared.
Here is Chapter 18