Makeup and Murder

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Chapter 11

“How are you feeling? Can you hear me okay?” Harlan asked. He noticed that she had an IV and wondered what else might be wrong with her. Upon closer inspection of the IV, however, he saw that it was just antibiotics.

Dixie was still a little disoriented and had been trying to rest with her eyes shut. She gave him a weak, half smile. The anti-nausea drugs the nurse had given her hadn’t kicked in yet.

“Fancy meeting you again,” she said softly. “I can hear you a little better now, but the ringing won’t stop.”

“Yeah, funny how we keep meeting up in life-threatening situations,” he said, but he didn’t smile. “Dixie, I think we need to have a real heart-to-heart about your situation. I spoke with the investigators after you left and someone attached a bomb under your car and connected it to your ignition. They may not have done it 100 percent right, but they gave it a good try.”

Dixie didn’t reply right away. Until now she assumed the stalker was her ex-boyfriend. Based on his prior behavior, however, she didn’t think he was dedicated enough to try and kill her with a bomb. Mike had been a womanizer, and she was willing to bet that he probably had a girl or two around to keep him busy. She didn’t think that he would go to this much effort, even for her.

“Do you still think it might be your ex?” he asked, searching her face for a reaction.

Dixie squinted her eyes a little and tried to shake her head ‘no.’ Moving her head at all, however, still made her queasy. She closed her eyes.

“Who else might be mad at you? A neighbor, a road rage driver, an unhappy customer?” he asked, hoping that something would jog her memory.

“I can’t think of anyone that I’ve made mad. My life is pretty boring. I get up, I try to get a few makeup orders each day, and I take care of Louie and Angie. I haven’t seen or talked to my ex-boyfriend in ages, and I’m not dating anyone now,” Dixie said, wondering if Harlan took the hint.

“Holly was a customer of yours. Outside of your business, did you spend time with her?” he asked.

“Miss Holly played canasta with Angie and her friends. I think you’d have to ask Angie about that for the particulars,” she replied.

“How about her maid, Marleen? Did she get along with Holly?” he asked.

“As far as I could tell. Miss Holly told me that she had worked for her for a long time and that she was her friend. I don’t think Marleen could have done it though. She has pretty bad arthritis in her hands,” Dixie replied.

“Maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way. I’ll tell you what; I’ll come back to check on you later after my shift. The doctor on call says that you’ll be staying overnight for observation. You’re lucky that you were walking away from your car when it blew up.”

“Lucky, yeah, I guess,” she said in a quiet voice. She was still trying to wrap her head around the idea that someone tried to blow her up. “Hey, you promised that you would look in on Louie.”

“I was wondering if you would mind if I stayed there tonight. I could take care of Louie and make sure nothing happens to your house,” he offered, looking at the floor before meeting her gaze.

“I don’t see how I have a choice right now,” she said, giving him a weak smile.

“I’ll be getting off soon. I’ll pick up some stuff at my house, and then I’ll head over there. Where do you keep the cat food?” he asked.

Dixie explained to him about Louie’s routine, and that he would probably be hanging out in her bedroom because he felt safe on her bed.

“Can you stop by Angie’s room and let her know I’m here? She’ll be trying to get me on the phone and worry if I don’t answer,” she asked.

“Sure, I go up there now before I hit the road again. What’s your aunt’s room number?” Harlan asked.

“227. Angie’s friends are taking turns keeping her company until she can go home, which should be any day now,” Dixie said.

“Alright. We’ll talk later, okay?” Harlan said before patting Dixie’s leg and heading out the door.

Dixie waited for the doctor to return and hoped that she didn’t have many more tests to go through. She was still waiting on a chest x-ray, but otherwise was holding her own.

She lay back on the bed and closed her eyes. A short time later a new nurse came in with a dinner tray and introduced herself. Dixie wasn’t very hungry, but a small bowl of strawberry banana gelatin looked promising, as did some crackers. Before she could get settled in, one of Angie’s friends showed up.

“Dixie!” Eleanor said, coming in for a big hug.

Dixie braced herself and then relaxed. Eleanor didn’t squeeze her in a bear hug like she usually did.

“What on earth happened? Why is someone trying to kill you? You better start talking honey. All of the ladies are worried to death! And your poor auntie, she is beside herself with worry,” Eleanor said, not giving Dixie a moment to get a word in sideways.

“I made a schedule change so we can keep an eye on you too. Angie doesn’t want you left alone for one moment, just in case someone tries something,” Eleanor said.

Dixie could see that she was in her element. She was going to direct everything about her hospitalization, as well as Angie’s. Eleanor had served in the Army during the Vietnam War as a nurse, and it would be only a matter of time before she started ordering the floor nurses around.

Eleanor straightened out her blankets, felt her forehead and set up her ice water where she could easily reach it. Dixie assured her that she was feeling okay and just needed a little rest.

“Everything is going to be okay, Dixie. We’re all here to watch over you. Go ahead and get some rest now,” Eleanor said. She sat down in the recliner, put on a pair of reading glasses and opened up a paperback book she had in her cardigan pocket.

Dixie watched her for a moment and then closed her eyes, grateful for her aunt’s friends. It made it easier to rest knowing that no one was going to attack her while she slept that night.

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