Hello Pendleton Files fans. Today, for the first time, I'm introducing Humpday Freebie. That's right. Every Wednesday (Or "Humpday") I will post a random chapter from my latest book "File 31410: Pioneer Courthouse Square" for free. No catch. Except for one of course. I will not be posting the last two chapters. You'll have purchase the 2nd book https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/636328 So, without further ado, I give you ....
Dark Lydia 2.0
“Oh my God! Did I step through a time machine? It’s the eighties all over again! I almost forgot you used to be a brunette. What made you change it back?” Susan came by to drop off a book I loaned her. I hadn’t been getting any real cases to work, so when I wasn’t catching up on paperwork, I was reading erotic paranormal romance novels to pass the time. When I told Susan about them, she got into them as well.
She sat her purse on the table in the hall, next to the answering machine. “So what’s this about?” She asked.
“Well, I found out why I wasn’t getting any really good cases. No, that’s not true. I think I could’ve guessed the reason all along.” I looked at Susan. She was patiently waiting. “It was because of my face.”
She looked confused and shook her head. “Your face?”
“You know … my fame? Everybody knows who I am and …”
“Ohhhh! Your face! I get it.” She took a moment to have another look at me. “You did a good job.” She tilted her head. Then she held out a hand, twisted it with her fingers splayed and added, “Almost.”
“How bad is it?”
She put a hand to her chin with a finger tapping her lips for a moment before saying, “Well … I remember it being more … colorful. This just looks … I don’t know … flat?”
Oh just great! I took another look at it in the hall mirror and startled myself again. I still hadn’t gotten used to the change. “Maybe it’s the lighting in here,” I said, picking at my hair as if that would help. “Let’s go to the kitchen. I made some coffee.”
“Oh! You know … I think you might be right. It does look different in here,” Susan said the moment we walked through the swinging door to the kitchen.
“Oh stop it,” I said while pouring her a cup.
“Drink your coffee.” I set it down in front of her and checked the level on mine, ’bout three-quarters left, and sat next to her.
“So spill,” she said. “What was the catalyst to this epiphany?” She took a sip.
She rolled her eyes and nodded her head. “I should’ve guessed. So where is he?”
“He had to go back to doing whatever the Feds have him doing.” Then I proceeded to give her the abridged version of the fight we had last night, leaving out the part where I broke down and had a tiny relapse. “… and then we said his last name in unison and … what?” She was giving me this incredulous look. Like she couldn’t believe something I told her. “Don’t tell me you have a connection with this too.”
“No. No, it’s not that,” she said.
It took her a moment to answer. “You’re going to be working one of those cases again. The kind where I have to keep my distance from you.”
The last and only time, so far, I worked "one of those cases" we still tried to spend time together. Unfortunately, it was while her eldest daughter, Teresa, was home for her first college break. God, I still feel immensely guilty about it. She and Susan had met me at a new café I’d been raving about. It was right after I realized who the killer was. He followed me, or I should say followed Kris who, unbeknownst to me, was keeping an eye on me. The killer showed up at the café with a knife and threatened Teresa’s life with it. Kris took him down, but Teresa ended up getting her arm sliced open during the scuffle.
“No. It’s not like that this time,” I said. She wasn’t convinced. “I swear. No one is going to harm anyone.”
“Lydia. It’s a murder investigation.” Crap. She said Lydia. Usually, she calls me Lyds or Lyddy. She’s the only person in the world I allow to call me those nicknames. She’s usually right when she says “Lydia”. She shook her head and said, “Unbelievable. Just when I was about to suggest we start a book club.”
“Well, I’m sure this won’t take as long as that one did. My client has statistical data that I think will help narrow things down.”
“Statistical data? What exactly happened? If it wasn’t ice piss from a plane, then how was this guy murdered?”
“His sister is a physicist too. She did a lot of research about it. I mean she covered just about every angle. The wind speed. The barometric pressure.” What else did she say? “Oh and the trajectory. That reminds me. I’ll need to get that information from her.”
Susan took a sip of her coffee and swallowed. “Sounds like someone used a catapult.”
“I’m supposed to be the detective, not you.” I flicked her on the shoulder. She retaliated by swatting at me with the back of her hand. Then I swatted her back. Scott returned after seeing whats-her-name, so we had to stop and pretend to be adults again. He walked by us without a word on his way to the fridge. While his back was turned, Susan sneak attacked me and flicked me on the shoulder.
“Hey, Aunt Susan,” he said. “Where’s Mom? Wait. What the … ?”
-Greg Wilhelm, author of The Pendleton Files