Makeup and Murder

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Chapter 8

Nothing is more tiresome than arming yourself, and your house, Dixie thought. Another trip to the DIY hardware store took up most of her morning. She had thought about upgrading her entire house to a ‘smart home’, but the opportunity for a cyber-attack worried her. For now, she decided to upgrade the security on her windows and doors. Later that afternoon, an alarm company would be installing the sensors.

After she had completed checkout, she walked to her car while scanning the parking lot for any signs of the attacker. While some of her aunt’s friends thought she was a little paranoid, it paid to be careful. Dixie knew what could happen when caught off guard.

During her time dating Mike Lowell, she had learned the hard way to expect anything, and everything horrible, from her boyfriend. She could be doing dishes, and he would fly into a rage over a spot on a glass. That had ended with her wrist broken and a bruised jaw. On another occasion, he had taken the distributor cap from her vehicle so she couldn’t leave. Even today, every time before she got in her car, she looked in the back seat and glanced under her car to make sure no one was there.

She scanned the area around her car before unlocking the door and getting in. Once inside, she quickly locked the door, put her keys in the ignition and fastened her seatbelt. Checking her mirrors one last time before pulling out of her parking spot, she eased out onto the road and back to her house. Dixie wondered if she should move away. To her, it seemed that it would be safer for her aunt, and she could go under the radar again, throwing Mike off her trail. At least for a while until he caught up with her. He always did.

When she arrived home, she was surprised to find Detective Granger waiting on the porch for her. Today he wasn’t dressed in his uniform- he was wearing a t-shirt and jeans. She looked at his cherry-red truck parked in front of her house and smiled, realizing he was there to help her.

Harlan opened her car door for her after she parked and offered to carry her bags. She gratefully accepted.

“What brings you here today?” Dixie asked, smiling. She hoped she already knew the answer.

“I couldn’t leave you here without a door, for safety’s sake,” he said, walking in behind her with her bags. “I also wanted to check what you had going on regarding security. Yesterday, Officer Greenlea was concerned for your safety too.”

“Well, it is nice for the two of you to be concerned. I think I may have it under control, though,” Dixie said as she led Harlan around to the back of the house and unlocked the rear door.

“How is your kitty doing?” he asked as he entered the kitchen, noticing the absence of the large orange tabby.

“Oh, Louie is hanging out in my bedroom for now. I think it may take a while before he is back to his old self. I wish he could talk and tell us who did it,” Dixie said, frowning.

“I’m sorry to bring it up,” Harlan said. “It is only out of concern for the little guy.”

“I know, and thank you for caring about him. He is my buddy,” Dixie said.

“How about I get the measurements for your door and take care of that for you,” Harlan offered.

“Great. I would really appreciate it,” Dixie replied. “I was going to have to pay someone from the hardware store to do it.”

“No worries. I’ll let them know,” he said.

After Harlan had the measurements, he left to get a replacement door with a frame. He assured her that it wouldn’t take much time at all to install.

Dixie heard yowling after Harlan left, and she went to check on Louie. When she opened the door to her bedroom, she found the distraught cat.

“What’s up, Lou?” Dixie asked, collecting the cat up into her arms. He looked at her with his big, green eyes and clung to her shirt. “It’s okay,” she whispered, trying to calm him down. “Everything is going to be okay now. We’re making the house safe again, for both of us.”

Dixie felt sorry for her cat. The attacker hadn’t shaved his head, so it looked huge compared to the rest of his body. His tail was partially shaved, which made him look pathetic. Whoever had shaved him had done a horrible job, probably due in part to Louie trying to get away from his attacker. She hugged the cat and gently rubbed the bridge of his nose. Eventually, he purred and relaxed enough to remove his claws from her shirt.

She sat on the side of her bed and let him rest on her lap where he stayed until her doorbell rang.

“Sorry Lou, that’s probably the security folks,” she said. Louie looked at her for a moment and then crawled into his tent bed at her urging.

When she went to the door, she found the security system installers waiting. She let them know about Louie, and they said they would let her know when they needed to install the sensors in her bedroom. Relieved that things were finally coming together, she headed into the kitchen to make a fresh pitcher of iced tea for she and the workers.

Half an hour later, a loud noise at the front of the house startled her. When she went to check it out, she saw Harlan unloading a replacement door with a frame all by himself. She had to admit; he looked tough enough to tackle the job. In the back of her mind, she wondered if he was tough enough to tackle her stalker too.

Dixie admired Harlan’s biceps as he carried the door from his truck to her front porch steps. It was hard not to gawk. She scurried to open up what remained of the existing door.

“Hey,” she said. “Is there anything I can do?”

“Naw, I’ve got it. It isn’t my first door replacement project,” Harlan said, smiling. “I’ve got to get my tools,” he added before going back to his truck.

Dixie admired him while he walked away from her. He was a tall drink of cool water, and she wouldn’t mind taking a sip.

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