Crime Time (Chapter Three, page 1 of 7)


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Once I slept, it was the sleep of the dead and I didn't awaken until Betsy jabbed me. I opened my eyes to full daylight. It remained overcast and I could hear the rain pelting the roof and a murmur of voices below. Betsy reached for a bathrobe and I pulled on my jeans.

"I smell coffee," she said with a smile. "Let's go. I'll race you for the bath room."

Martha was mixing batter while Quinn stood at the stove, heating a frying pan. "Ready for pancakes?" he called.

"Coffee first, please," I answered as the bath room door closed behind Betsy. Howie was nowhere in sight.

"Did you two get a good night's sleep," Martha asked as she poured me a cup.

"No problem," I answered. "The rain on the roof was soothing."

"If they got any sleep," Quinn quipped as he poured pancake batter into the sizzling pan.

I was using the bathroom after Betsy and heard her tell Martha she'd slept like winter bear.

"It's so nice not to listen to police sirens and taxies honking their horns but I'm afraid we might have woken Howie up earlier."

"He's sleeping in late," Martha said. He'll miss pancakes. I better knock on his door."

Martha was already on the stairs when I returned to the room. Betsy was seated at the table, forking sausage onto her plate and smothering pancakes in maple syrup.

"That syrup is the real stuff," Quinn reported as he poured more batter into the pan. "It's straight from the trees; not like that watered down grocery store junk. That jug is grade double A light. We drive up to Vermont every spring. The sausage is country fresh too."

"It's delicious," Betsy said as I poured myself another cup of coffee and sat down beside her. Quinn was flipping the pancakes when Martha hurried down the stairs.

"Howie's not up there," she said, alarm in her voice. I felt a shudder remembering the night before.

"Maybe he went for an early morning walk," Betsy offered.

"In this weather?" Quinn asked with a frown. "He'd drown. It's raining enough to make Noah do a double shift."

"Well, he's not in the house," Martha said.

"He was upset last night," I admitted reluctantly. "We heard him come downstairs and when he didn't return, I came down to check on him. He spoke of having some sort of flashback."

"I'll bet it was the damn buzzing of your Tesla thing. The poor guy probably didn't sleep a wink."

Betsy gave me a look. "You said he was fine when you came back upstairs!"

"He was; maybe a little upset." I paused. "I heard him come down again later before I fell asleep."

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