The Silver Sleigh
The tea had steeped long enough. I filled a cup, brought it into the living room, and turned on the lamp. The hot drink chased away the chill. As I frequently did, I looked at my silver sleigh on the mantel, admiring its shine.
Had it been that shiny last night?
Well, of course. Something seemed different, though.
A silver sleigh, eight tiny reindeer, each one unique…
Each one was exactly the same! Cookie cutter reindeer pulled the sleigh!
I sprang up. Hot tea splashed down on my woolen skirt. Hardly aware of the sting of burning, I rushed to the mantel.
The flower-and-scroll pattern had vanished as if rubbed away by a vengeful hand. This wasn’t my sleigh. How could this be?
I lifted it off the mantel, noticing immediately that it was lighter. It was an imposter, a changeling. A lightweight.
Just for a moment, I wondered if magic at been at work in my home. Then I remembered the dogs’ unusual behavior. I couldn’t blame the supernatural for this mysterious exchange.
Somebody had broken into the house and stolen my treasured antique, the good luck artifact coveted by the women with the Christmas names. He or she had left this cheap imitation in its place, no doubt hoping I wouldn’t notice the substitution.
Apparently this had happened today when the feistiest of the collies were at the groomer’s. But how could anyone have known?
The thought of an intruder with an unknown agenda in the house galvanized me into action. The side door had opened normally. The front door? Hurriedly I opened and closed it again and could find no sign that it had been tampered with.
Next I checked the windows on the first floor, trailed by Halley and Sky, while Misty slipped into Sky’s favorite place under the kitchen table. More strange behavior.
The windows were securely locked, but someone must have found their way inside. The sleigh hadn’t driven itself off the mantel into the unknown.
It was still snowing, a fresh layer to cover the evidence of footprints. This was no impulsive break-in but a well-planned assault on our home.
Which led me to a question. Who would have the nerve to burglarize a deputy sheriff’s house?
A person unaware of Crane’s profession? One who didn’t care because the prize they coveted was more important than any risk.
In my view, those women at The Silver Sleigh were guilty until proven innocent.
Laurie’s heart didn’t stop racing until the cab stopped in front of her building. She was still shaking when she entered the apartment. Leaving the rooms in darkness, she pulled off her shoes and tossed aside her small clutch, then went into the bathroom to undress and wash off the excessive makeup. Images of Tosh and Lani seemed to reflect back at her in the mirror. She shook her head at the illusion. Would this anguish never end?
Pulling on pajamas and a warm robe, she felt calmer and used the lights of the city shining through the windows to guide her way to the kitchen. Though not something she usually did as an escape, she reached into the refrigerator for one of Rachel’s left-over wine bottles, grabbed a goblet and went out on the terrace. Huddling on a chaise lounge and listening to the familiar night sounds of the Big Apple, she consumed the rest of the liquor to try and quell the memory of a naked Lani in Tosh’s bed.
Point of No Return
“Nothing to be sorry about. Your mother can’t wait to have you home. We’ll soon have you back on your feet again.”
Digby shuddered. Gratitude at their blind faith clashed violently with anger. The fear of facing another person, who still believed in him when he no longer believed in himself, sliced through him. The knife glowed red hot, the butter creamy and soft. He reached for the door handle. If he hurled himself from the car, the pain would stop.
“I rang her with the good news as soon as it was announced. She was right happy.”
Digby released the car handle and sat on his hands to resist the overpowering urge to wrench the door open. Cold sweat ran down his back as he fought the desire to obliterate himself. The pressure of expectation only an only child can know, pinned him to the seat. He swallowed hard as the turning to the right approached. The switch-back lane followed by a tight turn to the left past Palmer’s farm house before the road dipped down towards their small cottage at the foot of the hill. A gush of air involuntarily escaped his lungs as the car sailed past the turning.
The Khartoum Project
The jury was out only an hour when the news spread around the courtroom like wildfire.
“They have a verdict!”
As the bailiff led the jurors into the courtroom, suddenly, like a thick, dark blanket, silence descended on the room. The twelve jurors took their place and poker-faced they stared at the blank wall facing them. The judge arrived, took his seat on the bench as the bailiff sounded off, “Hear ye, hear ye, be upstanding the court is in session, His Honor Mister Justice Malcolm O’Connor presiding.”
“Be seated,” the judge said. He turned to the jurors. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a verdict?”
The foreman rose and declared, “Yes, your Honor, we have.”
“The defendant shall rise,” the judge announced.
Monica Brett and her lawyer stood up.
“On the sole count of murder in the first degree, what did you find?” the judge asked.
The foreman cleared his throat, looked at the defendant, and in a clear voice announced, “We, the jury, find the defendant…”
Coming Next Month
If It Kills Me by Mona Jean Reed
The Red-Haired Witch by JoEllen Conger
Wyatt by Shari Rood