This month’s Monday excerpts are from Dead in a Park: Leah Norwood Mystery #2.
Griggs and Reddish were standing at my door. I stepped back automatically which they took as an invitation. Before I knew it, both men were in my living room. Griggs watched me as David greeted Harry. Harry loves David and demands attention every time the captain stops by the store. I glanced at them briefly before returning my attention to Griggs. He stood in a relaxed stance with a blank look on this face. He has the best poker face of anyone I have ever met. I couldn’t stop the flutter in my stomach, but I schooled my features into what I hoped was simply a friendly expression.
“This is a surprise,” I said. “What are you two doing here?”
“Are you alone?” Griggs asked sharply. I didn’t like his attitude so I crossed my arms and glared at him. I saw his lips twitch briefly. He raised his hand as if in apology. “I meant we need to speak with you, but I’d like to keep it confidential as long as possible.”
“I’m the only person here. I doubt Harry or Pandora will be spreading any gossip.”
“Pandora?” Griggs asked in a perplexed voice.
“Her cat,” David supplied, pointing to the black bundle of fur on the couch.
“You have a cat, too?”
“Yes. I have a cat too,” I said. “What’s the big deal?”
“I was just…no, never mind,” Griggs said. “We need to ask you some more questions.”
“All right. Have a seat. Does anyone want anything to eat or drink? I was about to have some pie.”
“Strawberry pie?” David asked.
“Is there any other kind?” I asked with a grin
Although I’m not a great cook, I can make a really good strawberry pie. David knows this as he had the opportunity to taste one. When I bake, I usually make two pies and take one to work. The last time was the same day he had stopped by to visit.
He grinned back. “I’d love a piece of pie, but we should probably get on with the questions.”
I sighed and nodded before sitting on the couch. Pandora immediately crawled into my lap while Harry settled at my feet. Griggs shook his head at the animals. I'm not sure why he thought my having a dog and cat was so odd, but he seemed preoccupied by it. David sat on the other end of the couch, and Griggs took the chair. He studied me a moment.
“You said you didn’t know the victim?”
“I said I didn’t think I knew the victim. I couldn’t see much of his face so I can’t say for sure. Should I know him?”
David pulled a picture from his coat pocket and handed it to me. “This is the man. Do you recognize him?”
I studied the picture a moment. It was a young man with light brown hair and hazel eyes. As when I had found him, he was dressed in a suit. It looked odd on him as it was similar to the other one. Dark with long, broad lapels and stripes. The picture only showed his upper body, but it appeared to be a double-breasted suit. Very strange attire for such a young man. Both Griggs and Reddish seemed to think I should know him, but I had never seen him before. “No, I don’t recognize him. Should I?”
“His name is Donald Collins,” Griggs said. “Goes by Donnie.”
“No.” I shook my head. “I don’t know him…wait, my grandmother’s maiden name was Collins.”
Griggs nodded. “Young Donnie is a distant cousin of yours.”
“Really?” I looked back down at the picture. My grandmother had passed away about three years ago. She and I had been very close, but I hadn’t met anyone from her side of the family. I didn't see any resemblance between Donnie and anyone in my family, but then I didn't look like anyone in my family either.
“Yes,” Griggs continued. “Donnie had been arrested numerous times in New York so when we ran his fingerprints, his record popped. We got his picture off the Internet. I didn’t think you would want to see his mugshot. We wouldn’t have traced him to you except for the ring.”
David pulled out a small plastic bag with a ring inside. When he held it up, I gasped. “That’s my great-grandmother’s ring.”