I planned my excursion to the dry cleaners to a T. I knew I couldn’t just walk in and start asking questions because nothing says suspicious like walking into a dry cleaner without clothes. Which is why I grabbed a dress that’s been hanging in the back of my closet for god knows how long. I thought about staying home, but with everything going on I needed to get my mind off of everything. Why not do that by sticking my nose into police business where it doesn’t belong?
I got out of my car to stand in front of what looked to be a run of the mill dry cleaners. Opening the door to the shop caused a shrill bell to ring throughout the small store.
“I’ll be with you in a moment!” A deeper voice called out, causing me to nod my head in response. I took the time to glance around the sound. Other than the various certifications lining the wall and a few family photos nothing else caught my attention. In one of the photos, I could see Mr. Crenshaw’s distinct receding hairline, a half-smile on his face.
A few moments later, an older man came from the back of the store.
“Welcome to Lean, Mean and Clean. What can I help you?” The man asked me.
“Hi, I have a dress I was hoping you could dry clean.”
“Of course, what the special occasion?”
“I’ve got an uh- thing with a person later. Maybe?”
The guy chuckled, taking the dress off the counter. “Ah, so you’ve got a date huh. All I need is a name and a phone number to contact you at when it's done.” I nodded my head as I began writing down my info.
“So, did you hear about Crenshaw yet?” I tried asking casually, hoping it didn’t sound too out of character.
“Of course, I heard about Kevin, he fucking worked here! The cops already showed up here, asking a bunch of questions. They seemed to be stuck with the fucking idea that he had some sort of enemy.”
“I ran into his wife in town. She said they were telling her the same thing.”
“At least they’re being consistent with their lies.” We both chuckled as I handed over my information.
“Think they’ll come up with any leads anytime soon?”
“With the rate they’re going at, probably not. Alright, I’ll call you once this is done.” Nodding my head, I turned my back and began walking out. Shit, that gave me absolutely nothing. How the hell am I supposed to solve a crime if I’m finding out jack shit about said crime? This is going to be a lot harder than I thought.
As I got back to my car, a Penbrook Falls squad pulled up in front of me. Leaving the car running, both Samuel and what I assumed to be his new partner got out of the car as well.
She looked to be of average height. Her black hair was cut into a pixie cut, perfectly shaping the pale skin of her face. A set of stunningly bright hazel eyes contrasted nicely against her skin. I don’t mean to sound like one of those women who's constantly self-conscious, but I look like shit compared to her.
Samuel must have seen me because he raised a hand in the air before speaking. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at work by now?” Concern began to shine through his voice. He quickly cleared his throat, most likely remembering that his partner was with him.
“I stayed home today. I wanted to make sure my mom was ok, which is why I’m here. She wanted me to take something in for it to be dry cleaned.” My voice stuttered as I finished my thought. Smooth Cassandra, real smooth!
“Well, that’s why people go to a dry cleaner.” After a brief smile, he cleared his throat. “Cassandra, I would like you to meet my new partner, Sara Wilde. She just recently transferred from the Phoenix area.”
“Phoenix, to here? You must be insane.” I thought that would be a nice ice breaker. Sara apparently didn’t think so because next thing I knew, she huffed before storming into the dry cleaners.
“She’ll warm up to you once she gets to know you, trust me.” Yeah, is that before or after she’s done being a bitch? Before I could walk away Samuel had dragged me back into the conversation.
“Did you happen to get the text I sent this morning?” He shifted his weight, adjusting the rolled-up sleeves of his shirt in the process.
“Yeah, I did, I’ve just been busy this morning with my mom and everything. I haven’t had the chance to respond.” A wave of relief seemed to wash over him as he stopped fidgeting.
“Good. I should probably get back to work. We’re here to talk with Crenshaw’s boss.”
"I’ve got some shopping I need to get done for dinner. Mom wants me to make eggplant ravioli tonight.”
“Oo, maybe I’ll stop by. Someone has to make sure you don’t burn the house down.” He winked at me, walking back towards the store.
“You’ve never seen me cook; how would you know If I’d burn the house down?” Samuel refused to answer me as he slid his sunglasses on top of his head, slowly entering the dry cleaners in the process.
Later that Day
Right now, I’m sitting in my room, my legs crossed in front of me as I stared at the corkboard that hands above my bedroom wall. Normally, the corkboard normally held a calendar as well as the occasional important announcement. Now it’s been turned into my investigation board. Let’s just hope my mother doesn’t come into my room anytime soon otherwise we’re going to have an awkward conversation.
I had been staring at the picture of Kevin Crenshaw for 20 minutes now. How could a man who despite being a major asshole at times but was generally regarded as a good guy, have an enemy? Why are the police so stuck on the idea of one? Especially Samuel. I mean- I don’t know him all that well but he doesn’t seem like the type of guy to just go along with an idea. If he knew something was wrong though why wouldn’t he say anything?
I shook my head as I got up off the floor. All this murder solving was making me thirsty. In my oversized shirt and sweatpants, I made my way into the kitchen. As I grabbed the water, I heard the sound of two people having a conversation. One of them being my mother.
“Samuel, you MUST stay for dinner. Cassie’s cooking you know.” Damn, I didn’t think he’d actually make good on that promise.
“She told me about that when we ran into each other at the dry cleaners.”
“What was she at the dry clean- “Before my mother could finish her sentence, I slid from the kitchen into the living room, almost colliding with the wall in the process. When I straightened myself against the doorway, I earned smirks from both Samuel and my mother.
“Cassandra, where are your manners? We have company over. You really couldn’t change clothes before he came over?”
“But Ma- I didn’t even know he was coming over- “My mother cuts me off before I could finish my thought.
“That’s no excuse!” At this point, my face turned beat red. I lifted my eyes from the ground to glance in Samuel’s direction. His blue-green eyes shone brightly as he tried to contain his laughter. It wasn’t long before he began to let the smile slip. He was CLEARLY enjoying me being embarrassed by my mother. I, however, was not.
“I should probably start dinner.” He stood up from the couch, almost gravitating towards me.
“Let me help you out. My mom taught me how to cook before I went off to college.”
“No, it’s ok. Really.” Samuel bypassed mt persistent no and followed me into the kitchen. Knowing full well that he wasn’t going to leave me alone, I proceeded to get out what I would need.
“Sorry about my mom. She can be a little- brash sometimes.” I spoke, crouching down on the ground to grab the pot that I needed.
“Cassandra, you know I love your mom. Besides, you look cute when you’re embarrassed.” I completely ignored the compliment he had given, I got up off the ground with the pot I needed in my hand.
“Would you mind grabbing the milk out of the fridge?” Cassandra, back at it again with the great deflection skills!
“Sure, but you know it wouldn’t kill you to accept a compliment from me, right? I don’t compliment many people.” I began chopping up the eggplant while he proceeded to get the milk out of the fridge.
“And what’s that little tidbit of information supposed to clue me in on?” Out of the corner of my eye, I watched Samuel placed the gallon of milk down next to my hand.
“The fact that I’ve been shamelessly hiding the fact I’ve been wanting to ask you out for the longest time now.” Wait, what?! Did he just say what I think he just said? Samuel Rhodes wants to ask ME out?!
I whipped my body towards him, the knife still in my hand. “What are you talking about?”
“First, put the knife down. You’re actually scaring me with that blade pointed towards me.” Sighing, I set the knife down on the counter as I crossed my arms over my chest. “I shouldn’t have to explain myself. Honestly, you should have noticed it by now.” Samuel crossed his own arms, mirroring my posture.
“Have I ever told you I fucking hate your attitude, Sam?”
“Every single day you’ve known me and- Sam? Wow, I think hell just froze over. I should let you spend some time with your mom. I’ve got to meet up with Sara anyways and discuss the case. I’ll see you later.” Samuel smiled before walking out of the kitchen. I heard him have a brief conversation with my mother before leaving the house entirely.
I was still standing in the kitchen with my jaw on the floor when my mother called out to me. “Cassie- what did Samuel say to you? Why did he leave? I thought he was staying for dinner?”
“He had something come up with his partner at work he had to take care of. And it was nothing. Sam just said he wanted to take me out sometime.” I heard a brief gasp come from my mother.
“Sam huh? Sounds like the two of you are getting cozy. I called it!”