I grew up in New Canaan, Connecticut, just a short train ride from New York City. New Canaan is a fairly small town, but New York? Well, you know about New York. Busy, bustling, blunt masses of people you will never see again and who don’t even see you as you walk right past them. The cops don’t sleep, and neither do you if you have an apartment anywhere near a street.
I guess you could say that I saw my fair share of disturbing newspaper articles and television reports as a kid, what with millions of people for insanity to infect with its contagious bacteria, but I can honestly admit that I have never once heard of any crime as repulsive as today’s.
Even worse: it happened just down the street.
More frightening still: I was planning to drive to the scene of the murder to buy my grieving family (my kids and me for our friends, Warwick for his job) some pumpkin bread and pecan Danishes before I caught wind that the pastry chef hadn’t had a chance to bake anything this morning—he had been too busy baking himself.
“Dear lord,” I gasp, collapsing onto a kitchen stool across from my husband, who has yet to say a word about last night’s fight. I’m not sure whether I should feel grateful or remorseful for the more important events occupying his mind.
“Done up with icing and everything,” Warwick finishes gruffly. He’s biting into a glazed donut as he says this, and I can’t help but wonder if he picked up his breakfast when he went to survey Wildewood’s newest homicide.
I hold my stomach a little tighter and keep an eye on the nearest trashcan in case he pulls out a frosted finger petit four with nail-flavored sprinkles next.
“So we’ve had three people murdered in all,” he mumbles, though I’m pretty sure he’s talking to himself at this point. “Eloise Huffington in the salon.”
With the dagger, I think before I can stop myself. Whoops. That was disrespectful, but a forgivable slip-up.
“Eli in the barn.”
With the rope. Okay, now that one was inexcusable.
“And Finn in the bakery.”
With the kitchen utensils. Hm. As far as I know, that’s not in Clue.
“You know what’s similar in all of them?” he asks, not even pausing for my answer before continuing, “There are two things, actually. First off, they all happened in town.”
I blink at him, beginning to wonder if he’s already started his drinking binge for the day. “It wouldn’t be our problem if they happened in Chicago, would it?” I joke weakly.
He rolls his eyes. “I meant that they all happened while people were out and about, not in their houses. So I’m going to issue an emergency lockdown.”
“Can you even do that as mayor?”
“I can certainly declare it unsafe to be outside.”
“Why not evacuate the town? Then there would be no risk of being killed at all.”
“That’s too drastic,” he growls. As if a lockdown isn’t. And while we’re on the topic of my husband’s ignorant and hypocritical nature, as if having a serial killer prancing through the cornfields doesn’t call for being a little drastic! Oblivious to my judgment, he continues, “I don’t want mass hysteria.”
I raise an eyebrow but stifle my next comment, knowing that there will be no changing his mind. If I want my children to be safe, I’ll have to take them out of here myself. Secretly.
Sighing, I accept, “All right, then. What’s the second thing?”
“The second ‘thing’ is actually a person,” he tells me, something like a sneer forming on his lips. “Without evidence, there’s no way to put her in jail, but coincidences don’t lie. She was dating the baker, having some sort of an affair with the high school student, and her mother was friends with Eloise…as well as with you.”
I start at the prospect of being linked to the murderer, but as I settle back into the stool, a pit forms in my stomach, hardening into a nervous ball that assures me that there is something horribly wrong with Warwick’s assumption.
“Yes Ophelia,” he contradicts, still smirking. I feel like slapping his overly talkative mouth right off his face. “The sheriff’s own daughter just dug her own grave.”