“You were mugged, that right, Shanna?” Newman said.
They were all seated in various places in Lex’s living room. Newman took one end of the couch with Lex on the other and Link curled up on her feet between them. Shanna and Geni took the love seat and Danny pulled a chair in from the kitchen.
Once she’d been able to walk out of the bathroom, she wanted to run back in and lock the door. Seeing Danny Wolfe was a shot through the chest. Everything about him was familiar from the way his curly dark hair stuck out around his ears to the way his deep baritone fluctuated with each word.
“Yes, it happened about an hour ago,” Shanna said, “and we need to get out there and find him.”
“Don’t worry, Shanna, we’ll find him.” Geni patted her knee. “The detectives just want to get a few questions answered so they can get the right guy. Okay?”
Lex straightened, her hand tightening in Link’s fur. If she hadn’t been so focused on Danny she wouldn’t have noticed the smile he sent Geni and the friendly one she returned. What just happened? Geni hated Danny as much as Lex did. When did they start being friendly toward each other?
Shanna rubbed her face. “I know, Geni. What else do you want to know, dear?”
Newman said, “Was anything taken?”
“Yes,” she stretched the word out.
Danny asked, “What was taken?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Shanna,” Danny leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, “we’re trying to help you. Trust us.”
Lex snorted, “Yeah, Shanna, trust him.”
“Lex,” Geni started to speak but stopped at a look from Lex, then Geni looked down at her folded hands in her lap. They hadn’t been friends since grade school not to know when the other had realized they were being deceived. Lex didn’t know what was going on with Geni and Danny, but she didn’t like it.
Danny sat back in his seat, not looking Lex in the eye and Newman cleared his throat then rubbed his jaw--clearly not sure what to do.
Shanna looked from one person to the next, “I don’t understand.”
Lex waved her words away, “Don’t worry about it. If you don’t want to tell us what was stolen, then don’t. Describe the culprit instead.”
“Um.” She looked around the very quiet room. “He was roughly Detective Wolfe’s height and build, wearing a dark green hoodie--the hood was up so I didn’t get a clear look at his face--but he smelled like peppery, fresh grass. It was familiar to me at the time, but I couldn’t put a name to it. I still don’t know why I recognized the smell.”
Lex raised an eyebrow. “He smelled like grass.”
“Uh huh, fresh grass, on a bright sunny day.”
“Uh, okay.” Lex looked at Geni for help, and felt pain in her heart to see Geni still staring at her hands as if they had all the answers. Lex hadn’t meant to hurt Geni, well, maybe, a little. She bit her lip and looked away. She was mean. Geni was the nicest person Lex knew and it was no wonder she’d be nice to Danny--Geni was just that type of person.
Newman spoke up, “Do you remember anything else about him? Anything at all?”
Shanna tapped her manicured finger against her chin in thought, then slowly nodded. “Yes, there was a tattoo on his wrist. One word in cursive. Do you have a pencil and paper?”
Newman handed her his pocket notebook and pencil. Geni and Danny were still lifeless to what was happening around them. Lex shifted on the cushion and twisted the end of her pony tail around her finger. She’d spoken out of anger toward Danny, but she hadn’t meant to hurt Geni like this. Oh, she was a terrible friend!
Shanna handed the notebook back to Newman who looked at the word and shook his head then handed the notebook to Danny. Danny quietly read the word, shrugged and passed the book to Geni.
“Ch-r-i-so-zi-zan?” Geni read the word out loud and laid the note book on the table.
Lex looked at what Shanna had written and was as stumped as everyone else. Chrysozizan.
“This word is familiar.” Shanna nibbled the tip of her nail. “I know I know it. But I can’t think straight about it. Oh, if only I weren’t so stupid and got mugged in the the first place!”
“Hey.” Geni came out of her stupor and wrapped her arm around Shanna. “Getting mugged isn’t your fault. Sometimes bad things happen, but that doesn't mean you did anything wrong. We’re all here to help you.” She shot Lex a dark look.“You can trust us.”
“Thanks, Geni,” Shanna said and pulled Geni into a hug.
Lex focused on rubbing Link’s ears and tried not to feel the pain at the barb Geni threw at her. ‘You can trust us’ not ‘you can trust me.’ Geni was including Danny in the ‘us’. Cheating. Lying. Danny. What happened that November night that made Geni completely change her mind about Danny Wolfe? How could she turn against Lex, her best friend, so quickly? Why did she feel like crying? Colds were the worst.
“Alright,” Newman stood up, “I need to get back to work, but I believe Wolfe has the day off and can remain on the job,” he continued as Danny confirmed with a nod. “I can’t force you to report the mugging, Shanna, but I’ll only give the four of you 24 hours to find this guy, and then I’m calling Michael.”
Shanna’s face paled. “You wouldn’t dare.”
Michael Burton, Shanna’s husband. Lex had never met him, but now she was intrigued. She didn’t know there was anyone who could make Shanna Burton squirm.
“Try me.” He zipped his coat and opened the front door to leave. “And Shanna, you may want to consider telling us what was taken. It’s easier to find something when you know what you’re looking for. I’m sure Michael won’t care, whatever it may be.”
The door shut on Shanna’s surprised gasp.
Was that why she wouldn’t say what was stolen? She didn’t want her husband to know? Lex thought about all she knew of Michael Burton, which wasn’t much, but nowhere had she heard that he mistreated his wife. In a small town like New Haven, it was hard to keep secrets like that.
Danny stood up, followed by Geni. “Let’s start at the crime scene and work out from there,” he said.
Geni checked her phone and groaned, “I need to get back to Brandy’s play group. I told them I’d only be gone an hour. I’ll work on deciphering the tattoo from home and check in with you guys later.”
No, Lex thought, please don’t go, Geni. Don’t leave me alone with Shanna and Danny.
Lex slowly got to her feet, keeping her lips tight so the begging and pleading wouldn’t tumble from her mouth.
Danny caught Geni’s arm on her way out the door, “Thanks for letting Olivia tag along with you and Brandy to play group today. I’ll pick her up in a couple of hours if that’s okay.”
Olivia? She had to be his, and that woman’s, daughter. Who else would go to play group with Brandy? Briefly, Geni’s eyes met Lex and it was like that November night never happened and they were friends, on the same side, and everything felt right again. Then it passed, and Geni said, “Yeah, Danny, that’s fine. Just text me when you’re on your way.”
They’d swapped numbers. What happened that night? Were they dating now? Lex felt sick. This couldn’t be happening.
“See ya, Shanna.” Geni adjusted her coat and put her beanie on, then looked at Lex. “Bye, Lex.”
Those two words felt like more than just farewell for the moment. Something had changed since November, and Lex wasn’t sure what it was, but she had a strong idea that it had to do with the man who broke her heart and now stole her best friend.
Written by Linsay Ernst