As the desserts melt, Chief Lively questions the witnesses of the bloody crime.
MEET ME IN MAINE
The blood congealing in the chalk outline made my stomach queasy. Jonathan and Eric stood behind the counter, their faces pale, ice cream dripping from the sides of the banana split dish. Colorful dessert melted in the deserted dishes on the tables and the cones that had fallen to the sparkling white floor.
“Elizabeth.” David rushed to me. “What are you doing here?”
“We were ordering ice cream when the man collapsed.” I shivered.
David pulled me into his arms and whispered, “I’m sorry you witnessed this,” as he rested his chin on my head.
“You know her?” Logan’s deep voice rumbled behind me.
“Have you met Logan?” David stepped back, staring at me, his hands gripping my shoulders.
“I met both of you today.”
“Nice,” the chief said. “You come to Blue Harbor and meet two of my men… how convenient.”
“What are you suggesting?” David glared at Lively.
“I’m not suggesting but pointing to the fact these two women have insinuated themselves into our town on their first day.”
“A coincidence.” David focused his stare on Logan. “How did you meet?”
Logan raked long fingers through his thick hair. “Bella was showing them the town when I bumped into them… a coincidence.”
“We’re full of coincidences today.” The chief paced the room, sidestepping the crime scene outline. “And now, we have a dead body.” He pointed to the thick mass of blood.
“How does this relate to us?” I asked.
“It could be nothing.” Lively scowled. “Or could be everything.” A strange light shone in his dark eyes.
“Stop with the macho act.” Logan marched to the chief, jabbing a finger at his chest. “They’re new to our town.”
The chief stepped back. “Okay, big boy, no need to argue. I’m doing my job.”
“So, do it, and don’t harass the women.” Logan took a deep breath before approaching us and turning his face from Lively. “Ladies, please have a seat. We have a few questions.”
“Sure,” the chief mumbled behind Logan’s back. “Do my job for me.”
David led me to a table, taking a position behind my chair, while Bella and Scarlett took seats on either side of me.
With a stern expression on his face, Logan halted in front of Scarlett. “Did the shop appear unusual before the man entered?”
Scarlett cleared her throat. “I don’t know what’s unusual for this town since I just arrived.”
“You know what I mean.” Logan lowered his face near hers.
“I was trying to lighten the mood.” Scarlett averted her face. “No. I saw nothing strange.”
“Did you?” Logan directed his sharp gaze at me.
I shook my head.
When he glanced at Bella, she mouthed, “No.”
“Okay, let’s try this.” Logan circled the table before standing in front of Scarlett, his hands on his hips. “What do you remember?”
Scarlett squirmed in her seat. “The man ran into the store, blood gushing from his neck. He said, ‘they’re back,’ and then collapsed.”
She shook her head. “Nothing else.”
“Elizabeth?” He faced me.
David’s fingers tightened on my shoulders as I replied, “I remember the same.”
Logan swiveled his head to Bella. “I take it you have nothing to add.”
“There’s nothing to add.” Her face reddening, Bella came to her feet. “He walked into the store and bled to death.”
“Did you recognize him?”
We shook our heads in unison.
Logan directed his icy glare at me. “Why did you choose this week to visit Blue Harbor?”
“What do you mean?” I squinted at him, confused.
“Most people visit our town during the summer and leave after Labor Day.” Logan tilted his head, watching me. “Why are you visiting after the season?”
“We’re not visiting.” Scarlett rushed to her feet, her voice rising in tone. “We’ve moved here.”
Logan spun to her. “You’re staying?”
“Why is that so strange?”
David replied, “It’s unusual because we didn’t hear of your arrival.”
Scarlett shoved her hands on her hips. “We didn’t arrive with a parade and horns blaring.”
David gave her a sullen look.
The chief grunted. “I don’t enjoy surprises.”
“I didn’t think we were an unpleasant surprise,” I said.
“You’re a pleasant surprise.” David patted my shoulder.
“We had nothing to do with the man’s death,” Bella said. “Let us go home.”
Logan frowned at Bella. “Thank you, women. You can leave.” He strode to the door and held it open for us.