Makeup and Murder

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Chapter 5

When Saturday rolled around, Dixie was feeling unnerved. A feeling of dread was eating at her. She had lost her enthusiasm for her makeup business, and she was worried for her aunt and her friends. Would the next client she visited be dead?

Officer Harlan Granger had not called her, which bothered her. She wondered if she should call him, and then chickened out. He had given her his number, but it was his office number. Dixie chastised herself. If he had wanted to see her, he would have called her. Thinking about the possible rejection made her head hurt.

A pint of chocolate cherry froyo would fix everything, she thought. It was going to be a day of relaxation, chick flicks, and forbidden food.

As she rounded up what she needed for her film fest, she checked the locks on the doors before she sat down. A girl couldn’t be too careful; she reminded herself.

Just as she sat down, the phone rang, and her heart jumped a little. Dixie cleared her throat and prepared to answer the phone. She didn’t want her voice to sound too girly if it was Harlan.

“Hello?” she said in a warm voice.

There was silence on the other end. Dixie checked the caller ID. It read “unknown caller.” She could hear someone breathing on the other end, but they said nothing.

Her skin prickled and the hair on the back of her neck stood on end; her mouth went dry. The caller disconnected without ever having said a word.

With a shaky hand, Dixie put her phone down and looked at it as if it were a snake. It brought back many bad memories of her time spent with her abusive boyfriend. He was always playing games like that, trying to intimidate her. She wondered if he had decided to stalk her again. However, Dixie wasn’t the scared girl from the past. Dixie was a force to be reckoned.

After summoning up her courage, she picked up the phone and dialed Harlan’s office number. He finally answered on the fourth ring. “Officer Granger,” he said.

“Officer Granger, this is Dixie Carver,” she said. “I’m calling about something that happened today. It may be unrelated to Miss Holly’s murder, though,” she said.

Harlan’s interest was piqued. “What’s going on?” he asked.

“I received a strange phone call just a little while ago. It was a hang-up, but it wasn’t your typical hang-up,” Dixie replied.

“What happened?” he asked.

“The person on the other end was just breathing. I said ‘hello’ several times, but they never said a thing. They finally hung up,” she replied.

“Do you know who it was?” he asked. “What did the caller ID say?”

“I have no idea who it was; the caller ID said ’unknown caller,” she replied. “It could be someone I used to know, though. I had a stalker once.”

“Uh-oh. Who was it?” Harlan asked, his voice lowering.

“It was my ex-boyfriend, Mike Lowell. I lived in another state at the time. I moved here to get away from it all,” Dixie explained.

“Do you have a restraining order against him?” he asked.

“Yes, but it hasn’t always stopped him in the past,” she replied.

Harlan was quiet for a moment. He hadn’t counted on Dixie having a tumultuous past. He couldn’t ignore this latest bit of information, though, as it might be related to the murder.

“Dixie, I hate to say this, but there isn’t anything we can do about a hang-up call. If you knew who it was, that would be different,” he said. Harlan felt bad about telling her this, but it was the truth.

“I kinda knew that,” Dixie replied. “I’ve been through this before.”

“I’m sorry. Given the circumstances, I think you should keep a log of the phone calls, just in case this happens again. It may have something to do with the murder, not your ex-boyfriend.”

Dixie was shocked. She hadn’t thought about it being the killer on the loose. She just assumed it had been Mike again or at the very least a crank caller.

“Are you still there?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said in a very small voice.

“I know you may be scared. How is your home set up? Is everything secure?” he asked.

“Everything is locked down like Fort Knox,” Dixie replied. After Mike, she had gone out of her way to make sure she always locked her doors and windows all of the time.

“Great, that’s good to hear,” he said.

Dixie waited for him to offer to stop by, but the conversation ground to a slow, painful halt. It seemed obvious to her that he wasn’t interested.

“Well, thank you for your advice,” Dixie said, feeling rejected. “Good-bye.”

“Bye,” Harlan said. He felt like he should have said something more, but for the sake of his job, he said nothing else. Dixie was a suspect, even if he didn’t think she did it.

Dixie hung up, turned the ringer off and placed her phone on the coffee table. She didn’t think it was possible to feel more alone than she did right at that moment.

Louie walked over to her and jumped up on her lap. She rubbed his cheeks, and he began to purr. “Lou, things are getting weird again. I hope we’ll be safe this time,” Dixie said.

Louie looked up at her with his big, green eyes and for a moment she thought everything would be okay. In her heart of hearts, however, she worried that things would take a turn for the worse. They always did.

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