Reading Between the Lines

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Chapter 7

I took a few days off from work, but I knew I would have to go back to the store eventually. I had to make sure that my mom was ok before I could even think about going back. It’s important to note, for my sake anyway, that I haven’t seen or heard from Samuel since the night in the kitchen. Not that I’m upset about it but it’s weird considering he’s usually the barnacle that I can’t get rid of.

When I entered the store, Hazel came rushing from the back and brought me into a bear hug. “Oh my god, you’re here! I no longer have to deal with the stupidity that is this town alone!’

I couldn’t help but laugh as I placed my purse into the armchair by the front door. “Aw, you poor thing. Anything exciting happen while I was gone?”

“Besides getting the opportunity to watch two older women nearly get into a fistfight over the last Agatha Christie novel, no. A man by the name of Ethan did call and leave a message, said he wanted to call and make sure you were ok. Is there something you’re not telling your best friend?” Wait, Ethan? The possibly creepy guy from earlier? Why would he call me?

“Did he say he wanted anything else?”

“No. To be honest he was kind of cryptic about the whole thing.” Hazel suddenly pointed her finger towards the front door. “Something tells me this is Ethan.” Following her finger, I did, in fact, see Ethan walking on the sidewalk outside the shop.

Ethan turned his head to glance through the window. His eyes scanned through the store, resting on me. Once he saw me, his entire demeanor changed as he opened the door. Ethan looked out of place in his three-piece black suit and bright blue tie. His hair was perfectly combed back and gelled, giving him a completely professional appearance.

“Ethan, what are you doing?” The nerves that filled my stomach that appeared the first time came back, except this time I pushed them down. Sure, this guy’s a little weird but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy.

“Just thought I’d check-in and see how you’re doing the other night.” An innocent smile crossed his lips. See, I knew he couldn’t be a completely terrible guy!

“I’m fine, thank you for asking. I was just feeling a little under the weather that night.”

“I’m glad to hear there’s nothing seriously wrong. Did that uh- officer end up taking you home?”

“He’s a detective and yes, he took me home that night. That’s only because he’s my neighbor.” Ethan’s eyebrow rose at the word neighbor.

“Living next door to a cop. That’s got to be interesting.”

“I guess. He has more contact with my mother than me.” I spoke up, making my way towards the counter. I could tell by the questionable look that rose on his face that he didn’t fully believe my last statement. “My mother’s sick. He helps us by doing some work around the house.”

“Us? You just said he has more contact with your mother than you.” Why does he care so much about Samuel and his role in my life?

Before I was able to question things any further Samuel walked into the store. He looked like another GQ model, this time in a dark blue dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and khaki dress pants.

“Hey, I came with coffee- yes there’s one for you Hazel.” Samuel finally noticed Ethan standing off towards the side. “And you would be?” He set the cups of coffee on the table before turning towards Ethan. “Wait, aren’t you the guy she was with a week or so ago?”

Beads of sweat appeared on Ethan’s forehead as he stood there, his gaze switching between Samuel and me.

“That would be me.”

“I just want to say thanks, man. I appreciate you looking after Cassandra that night before I got there. She’s a good friend of mine.” If he would have said this BEFORE he told me he wanted to ask me out, I would be taking this in a completely different context.

Samuel stuck his hand out for Ethan to shake. I watched as Ethan’s eyes widened at the sight of his outstretched hand.

“It’s no problem. I should probably go though; I’ll see you around Cassie.” Without so much as a glance in my direction, Ethan bolted out of the store and down the street.

Samuel his outstretched hand hang for a few moments before chuckling as his hand fell down to his side

“You must really know this guy if he’s calling you Cassie.” Do I detect jealousy in his tone?

“Not quite. Not that I mind you bringing me coffee because I most certainly do not but what do you need? Last time you came here with the coffee you asked for my input on a murder case.” I narrowed my eyes as I crossed my arms over my chest.

“You know me so well,” Samuel smirked briefly before continuing. “I don’t need your advice per se, but I have a theory. Sara doesn’t go for theories.”

“You want me to sit here and listen to you? I don’t know, I’m forced to listen to you speak and all I get is a cup of coffee? I think I’m going to require more payment this time around.”

“Ok, I’ll bite. How about I take you out to dinner once I get a break in the case?”

“You know me, I’m down for anything that involves free food.” It took me a few seconds to realize the consequences of what I just said. I’ll be going on an ACTUAL date with Samuel. Holy fucking shit.

“Hazel, you’ve got coffee here with your name on it!” I called towards the back before turning back towards him. “Continue.”

“Crenshaw was killed in his home, taking a shower, right? Meaning that the killer had to have gotten into the house, but there weren’t any signs of forced entry.”

“So, Crenshaw let him in then?”

“Possibly. There weren’t any strange cars parked outside. We talked to all the neighbors and they all saw nothing.”

Grabbing the cup of coffee, I brought it to my lips and took a sip before speaking. “Ok maybe it’s because I spent way too much time watching crime tv but what about repair vehicles? Cable man, maybe an electrician of some sort?”

“Some of the neighbors did report that their cable had gone out. I’ll look into it.” He wasn’t afraid to let a smile slip. “You know, I don’t think people give you the credit you deserve Cassandra?”

“Give me credit for what?”

“For everything. You thought of something a seasoned detective such as me had yet to consider. You certainly earned yourself that dinner.” Samuel paused his train of thought as he took a few steps towards me.

“How about you come over tonight for dinner?” I didn’t have the chance to formulate a response as Samuel leaned forward, pressing his lips against my cheek.

“I’ll see you later tonight Cassie.”

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I didn’t know whether it was the caffeine still making its way through my system but I’m currently standing outside Samuel’s house. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been affected by his charisma. I’m past the point of denying he has any effect on me. That doesn’t mean I have to like him though.

When I made it to the front door, I realized it was wide open. You’d think for a detective he would know better, but I guess not.

“Come on in Cassandra, I’m in the kitchen.” I heard his faint voice call out. Entering the house, I was instantly greeted by an unknown heavenly smell. I had only crossed the threshold when I heard the sound of nails clicking against the floor.

A large, younger-looking dog came down one of the halls. With his beige and black floppy ears and scruffy hair, this dog was one of the cutest looking creatures I’ve ever seen.

The dog charged towards me, his pink tongue flapping as he reached me within a few seconds. I got down on the floor to be at eye-level with the dog. The dog then proceeded to lick my face continuously all while wiggling his large body.

“Aren’t you the cutest thing ever.” I managed to get out in between the licks to my face. It didn’t take long for me to start running my hands through the dog’s soft fur.

“I’ve never thought of myself as cute but thank you.” There was a glimmer in Samuel’s eyes as he suddenly entered the living room. “I see you’ve met my sisters’ dog which is now mine. Cassandra, meet Buddy.”

As I hopped up into a standing position, he spoke up. “Dinner’s just about ready.”

“You weren’t kidding when you said you can cook,” I said as I began following him to the kitchen. He turned his head towards me, smirking slightly.

“Why would I lie to you?”

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For the next few hours, we talking about whatever came to mind. The topics of my sick ailing mother or the murder were purposely avoided.

“Oh, come on, that never happened!” I exclaimed, tucking my feet underneath me on the couch.

“I’m dead serious.” Samuel sat next to me before moving forward. “Back when I was in Boston, I lived next to a single mother and her daughter. I arrested both of them on the same day, at different times with the same charges.”

“What were the charges?”

“Prostitution and possession of a controlled substance.”

“Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Yawning, I glanced at the clock that hung on the wall. Almost midnight?! Shit, I did not plan on being here for over four hours!

“As informative and entertaining as this conversation been, I should go. I’ve got to open the shop early tomorrow.” When I stood up from the couch, Samuel stood up along with me.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“Walking you home, what does it look like I’m doing?’

“I live next door; I don’t need you to walk me home.” What can I say? I have a stubborn streak.

“Fine, if you’re going to be stubborn- “Samuel whistled, causing Buddy to shoot up from his slumber. “Take him at least.”

“Seriously, it’s fine. Besides he’s your dog.” He groaned before chuckling loudly.

“Would you stop arguing with me for once in your life Cassandra? Just give me some peace of mind, just this once.” I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but Samuel can be such a drama queen.

“Alright I’ll take Buddy, but not because you want me to.” All I had to do was look at the dog and he was up and by my side. This is why I like animals more than most humans.

With Buddy now at my side, the two of us made our way towards the door. “I’ll drop by the store and pick him up tomorrow.”

“I don’t know, I’m already becoming pretty attached to him. Don’t know if that’s going to be possible.” As if on cue, Buddy leaned his meaty against the side of my thigh.

“That would surprise me. Have a safe walk.” Samuel let his hand drop to the small of my back. Goosebumps rose on my skin as his touch lingered. After a few moments, he dropped his hand and walked further into the house.

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I'm falling more and more in love with this story as I write these chapters! Hopefully, you guys feel the same way :)

I plan on making fun of more 'mystery and crime tv cliches' as this story goes on so drop some suggestions in the comments below on what mystery and crime tv cliches you think I should make fun of in this story!

~Miranda~

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