Short Story Sunday 264: Disappoint (Part Two)

Short Story Sunday: Disappoint | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Creative Writing | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Mystery | RachelPoli.com

Lilah was the one who let Richard into the building. They had their polite greetings – Richard was somber and Lilah attempted to be her usual perky self, but she knew something was terribly wrong. She led him down the hallway to George’s office in silence. She had left the door open and George saw them coming. He stood, buttoning his suit jacket as he walked around to the other side of his desk, and stuck out a hand for Richard. He took it, they dipped their heads as Lilah always saw men do, and then they took their seats. George at his desk, Richard in the client’s chair, and Lilah beside George.

“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice.” Richard began.

“Of course. I’m glad we had an opening.” George replied cracking a small smile.

Lilah wanted to mention they’ve had plenty of openings lately, but she knew well enough when to bite her tongue.

“So, uh, do I just start explaining?” Richard asked. “I’m sorry, I’ve never had to do this before.”

“No worries. Starting at the beginning is helpful, but tell us what you like and take your time. There’s no rush.” George said soothingly.

“Well,” Richard cleared his throat and shifted his weight in his chair, “I don’t really know where to begin, actually… my wife, Beth, she started acting strange a couple weeks ago.”

“Can you be a little more specific than a couple of weeks, please?” George interrupted. He opened his notepad and began scribbling down what Richard dictated.

Richard turned his chin to the ceiling. “Three weeks? I had gone away on a business trip and the day I came home she was acting strange. I had thought she was having an affair. I honestly thought there was a man inside my closet or something and she was nervous I’d find him. I didn’t think she’d ever do anything like that though. We’re very open and honest with one another so I felt comfortable asking her about it.”

Lilah’s draw dropped. “You mean to say you just asked your wife up front if she was cheating on you?”

“Yes,” Richard said matter-of-factly. “Everyone should feel comfortable talking to their partner about anything and everything.” He sighed. “Which is why I don’t understand why she would keep secrets and then disappear into thin air.”

“Wait a minute,” George held up a finger, “has this talk about anything and everything thing mutual between the two of you? Or would you say you’re more of the talker and feelings one in the relationship?”

“Mutual,”

“So, how did she react when you asked if she was cheating on you?”

“It was weird,” Richard began, “she laughed. It wasn’t the kind of laugh where she thought of question was ridiculous or the kind of laugh that’s nervous as she tries to cover it up. Her laughing was filled with relief. It was almost as though she thought I was going to accuse her of something else.”

“Do you know what that something else could be?” Lilah questioned.

“No idea,” Richard shook his head.

George drew in a sharp breath. “So, what did you mean when you said she disappeared into thin air?”

“She vanished.” Richard said, his solemn gaze at the ground. “I woke up one morning and she wasn’t in bed. I thought she had to go into work early so I drove by her work to bring her a coffee. On my way there, I got a phone call from her boss. Beth never showed up to work and never even called. They had called her cell phone a couple of times but she didn’t answer. I lied to Beth’s boss. I told her Beth was sick.” Richard paused. He closed his eyes. “I didn’t want to lie but I didn’t want them to think something was wrong. I didn’t think anything was wrong at the time.”

“It’s okay, I would have done the same thing.” Lilah said quietly. George glanced at her and she shrugged. She felt awkward and wanted him to feel better. She didn’t want him thinking this was his fault, but what did she know? Maybe it was his fault and he either didn’t see it or he was lying to them as well.

“When did you wake up and Beth was gone?” George asked.

“Three days ago.”

“She had been acting strange for nearly three weeks, you didn’t do or say anything about it other than asking about a possible affair, and then she just got up without a trace?” George rehashed.

Richard nodded. “I went back home and found all her things including her wallet and phone. Her car and keys were gone, that’s it. She didn’t take anything.

“And I did ask her what was wrong occasionally. She wouldn’t tell me. She asked for space and said she’d tell me when she was ready. So, I stopped asking. I wanted to respect her request.”

“That was nice of you.” Lilah piped up.

“But now your wife is missing so maybe not so much?” George said bluntly. Lilah elbowed him, but he didn’t so much as flinch.

“Richard,” George leaned forward, “did you know that Beth made a call here a week ago?”

Richard’s head snapped up and he stared at George with wide eyes.

“No, I didn’t think so.” George sighed leaning back into his seat.

“What are you talking about?”

“We knew who Beth was when you called. As soon as you mentioned her name, we remembered her phone call from a week ago.” Lilah explained. “She didn’t give us any information though. She wanted our help but was unsure if we could help.”

“It was almost as though she was at war with herself. She wasn’t sure if calling us was the right thing to do. I asked if she’d come in, but she refused. I told her when she was ready, she was more than welcome to stop by. She said she would think about it and that was it.” George clarified. “She originally called asking if we were taking on more clients but never stated whether she was the one who had interest in hiring us. I wondered if she was calling for you, but obviously that’s not the case.”

Richard remained silent. He turned his gaze to the floor again.

“Now that I think about it, and after hearing your side, I’m sure now. The tone in her voice.” George said cryptically.

“Share with the class, George. There’s no need for secrets.” Lilah deadpanned.

“She was afraid. She was worried about something. Whether she was afraid for herself or for someone else, I’m not sure. It seems as though she ran away, so she must be afraid for herself. She’s scared of something. She disappeared with the intention of not being found.” George explained.

Lilah elbowed him again. She noticed he was staring off into space as he spoke and realized he was getting carried away with his thoughts. Meanwhile, Richard looked like he was about to explode in a waterfall of tears at any second. She was blunt, she knew that much, but George sometimes had no emotional tact.

Her nudge nabbed his attention. George looked up at Lilah in wonderment and she nodded her head to their potential client. When George noticed Richard trying to keep his emotions in check, he sighed.

“Richard, do you need a minute?” he asked. “You can tell us what you’re thinking.”

“I’m…” Richard mumbled something, but Lilah didn’t make out what he said. She leaned forward.

“I’m sorry?” George said leaning forward as well.

Richard lifted his head, his face filled with sorrow. “I’m disappointed.”

“Disappointed?” Lilah repeated in a snarky tone. Now George elbowed her and she waved him away. Disappointed was not the exact emotion she thought Richard would be feeling.

“I’m disappointed because,” Richard sniffled, “Beth felt the need to come to you. Why didn’t she come to me?”

Words: 1,327

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

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Death By Vanilla Latte (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 4) By Alex Erickson [Book Review]

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Death By Vanilla Latte by Alex Erickson | Book Review | Cozy Mystery | Mystery Month | Mystery | Fiction | Book Blogger | RachelPoli.comEver since café owner Krissy Hancock settled into a relationship and—mostly—forgot about old flames, life has become surprisingly serene. Too bad her father, famed mystery writer James Hancock, had to pay an unexpected visit to Death by Coffee and brew up a batch of trouble…

While caught off-guard by her dad’s presence, Krissy never dreamed he’d become the biggest murder suspect in town. But that’s exactly what happens when James’s boorish agent—a man he allegedly fired just hours earlier—is found cold and lifeless, a still-warm vanilla latte resting by his hand…

With Pine Hills divided over her father’s innocence and a fanatical fan keen on locking the author away for safe keeping, Krissy must end the madness and identify the real criminal—even if that means meeting an ex or two along the way. But as her social life becomes increasingly chaotic, Krissy may be caught in a case that’s far too hot to handle…

Author: Alex Erickson
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Fiction
Series: Bookstore Cafe Mystery
Publisher: Kensington
Published Date: May 30, 2017
How I got the book: I got a paperback copy as a gift from my parents for Christmas.

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comAs always, I enjoy the book cover. It sticks with the theme for the rest of the series and I always love seeing a cat on the front.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI’ve read and reviewed the first three books of the series and I’ve wanted to keep going, so here we are with book number four.

Plot | RachelPoli.comKrissy isn’t in so much hot water this time around, but her father is. When her best-selling author dad’s agrent kicks the bucket, Krissy’s dad is a suspect. Now it’s up to Krissy to find the real killer and save her father’s reputation.

I think this plot is my favorite so far of the series. All the characters are well established and familiar. It was nice to see more of Krissy’s dad in this one as well. Plus, the plot was interesting as it was more personal than the rest.

Characters | RachelPoli.comI’ve always liked Krissy’s dad from what we’ve heard of him through phone calls on Krissy’s part. I was glad for him to play a major role in this one. Overall, I still enjoy the characters. Krissy still isn’t my favorite protagonist, but she’s eased up througout the series.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

Like the rest of the books in the series, this is an easy to read. The book is a decent length, the ending is wrapped up nicely, and it’s fun to follow along the characters and figure out the mystery yourself.

Overall | RachelPoli.comAs I said earlier, I think this was my favorite of the series so far. I don’t suggest starting at this particular book so you can get a feel for the characters, but it’s a great one to read nonetheless.

Death By Vanilla Latte (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 4) by Alex Erickson gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

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What To Include In Your Mystery Novel’s Outline [Mystery Month]

It’s Mystery Month and we’re starting right at the beginning of creating a mystery novel. I know most people don’t care too much for outlining, but when it comes to writing a mystery, I find an outline really helps. So, here’s what to include in your mystery novel’s outline.

What To Include In Your Mystery Novel's Outline | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

A List of Characters

This probably goes without saying, but it’s always helpful to have a list of characters handy. So many people are involved in a mystery novel. There’s the detective or police officers, witnesses, suspects, any assistants, the victim, and their family and/or friends, the culprit and anyone who knows them, etc. Even if you just write down their names and their title for the novel (witness, for example), at least you have something. I personally like to write down their first and last names, title, age, and any major plot points that affect them or they had an involvement in.

A List of Clues and Evidence

With crime comes evidence, clues, witness statements, you name it. It’s a good idea to have a handy list of what these clues are and what they mean. Also, how and when they’ll be discovered. Not to mention you can always strategically place them throughout the book. Which one should be discovered and discussed in which chapter and the like.

The Details of the Crime

Who, what, where, when, why, and how. That’s really all you need to know and it’s better to figure it all out before you start writing. Or else you’ll be ripping your hair out later.

A Timeline

Going along with the details of the crime, it’s always a good idea to have a general timeline of the events of the book as well. Not just for the crime but also for the investigation. Despite it being fiction, it’s pretty unrealistic for a homicide to be solved in one day or within a few hours. Evidence needs to be processed, bodies need to be autopsied, travel time to the crime scene, and so much more. There are only so many hours in a day, remember.

An Outline is Not Your Book

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story, but an outline makes that first draft easier to tell… and it also relieves a lot of pressure on the editing part. Outlines are optional and even if you create one, it’s just a guideline for your book – know that things will change. Still, it’ll help in the long run. Your ideas will be in order and it’ll be less remembering for you later.

Do you outline your mystery novels? Or for any genre? Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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7 Elements Of A Mystery Novel [Mystery Month]

We all know what goes into a story – plot, characters, settings, etc. However, there’s more to it depending on the genre you write. Since I main in mystery and it’s Mystery Month, we’ll be talking about the 7 elements of a mystery novel.

7 Elements of a Mystery Novel | Creative Writing | Mystery Writing | Mystery Month | Mystery Genre | RachelPoli.com

Cliffhanger Hook

This goes without saying for every book, but you want the beginning of the novel to really hook your reader. You want them to sink their teeth into the words and frantically turn the pages for more. The hook can be anything though introducing the crime right off the bat is a good way to do it. Of course, not everyone does it that way but do what you think works best for your story. A cliffhanger on the first few pages is a fun way to go too.

Suspense All Around

Of course, you want your mystery novel to be suspenseful. It doesn’t matter what sub-genre of mystery you’re writing it, you want to keep your readers on their toes. The characters need to have high stakes – what if they don’t solve the crime? Or, what if they do? Why is this particular crime such a big deal? What sort of evidence is just evidence or damning evidence?

Red Herrings

Red herrings are “leads” that turn your characters (and readers) in the wrong direction. In some ways, red herrings can be pretty predictable. I know a few books and TV shows that the first person they accuse is a red herring because they do it so often. Still, if woven into the book correctly and the evidence line up, red herrings are a lot of fun to write. It added meaningful filler and add some in-depth character development. Plus, it’ll keep your readers guessing.

Strong, Compelling Characters

If you’re going to write a mystery novel, you want to have characters with purpose. Why are they involved in the case? What does it have to do with them and why do they care about it? Your characters need to have meaning or maybe even a personal involvement in the case. The case, in the end, will only make them stronger. During, though, it’ll push their limits.

Evidence The Makes Sense

While evidence can serve as red herrings as well, each piece needs to make sense. You need to connect all the evidence to one person or a group of people as well as to the crime as a whole. Why is each piece of evidence important and what does it mean? If a clue is a red herring then you need to explain why they thought it pertained to the case and what it actually was when they figure out it had nothing to do with the case in the first place. Everything should be tied in together in one way or another.

Reader Involvement

Part of the fun of reading mystery novels is that I get to play detective. There are some novels where it’s easier to take a look at the crime than others. Depending on the POV of the protagonist, your reader can easily follow along and make their own deductions. Sometimes readers know only what the detective knows or sometimes they’ll know more than the detective and rip their hair out when the detective overlooks something crucial. Still, that sort of involvement is fun, engaging, and adds so much more suspense for the reader.

A Satisfying Ending

Like all good books, we want a good ending. Whether it’s happy or sad, we want it to be satisfying. For a mystery, everything should make sense and be wrapped up neatly and clearly. If there’s a book two, it’ll make your reader rush out to get the next one.

What are some other things you like to see in mystery novels? Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Short Story Sunday 263: Find Me (Part One)

Short Story Sunday: Find Me | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Lilah kicked her foot lightly against the bottom of George’s desk making a low thud sound. She slouched all the way back in her chair swinging her leg aimlessly and mindlessly. George peered over his book with every thud, his eyes getting narrower each time.

She let out a huge sigh – she made it bigger and louder than it needed to be. Since George wasn’t paying any attention to her, she needed to emphasize and be a little dramatic in order to get his attention. Her sigh turned into a yawn and she groaned as she did so.

George lowered his book and let out a small sigh of his own. He placed his paper bookmark in his reading spot, closed the book, and gently lay it flat on his desk. He leaned forward with his hands folded on top of the book. “Lilah, did you need my attention for something?”

“I’m bored.”

“Then go read a book or play your video games or clean or something. I’m trying to read here.”

“What are you reading?” Lilah asked.

“Nothing,” George replied sternly. “Lilah, I want peace and quiet.”

She rolled her eyes. “There’s nothing to do though! We’re usually out and about trying to solves cases at this time. I don’t know what to do with myself.”

“You have plenty of things to do.” George said leaning back in his seat. He picked up his book again but didn’t open it. Instead, he stared at Lilah.

She knew exactly what he wanted. “Are you kicking me out of your office?”

George nodded. “I said I want peace and quiet.”

“I’m quit,” Lilah defended herself.

“Sighing over-dramatically and kicking my desk is far from quiet.”

“I’m peace,” Lilah shrugged turning her gaze away.

George deadpanned. “Get out.” He waved his hands shooing her.

Lilah stood up from her chair. She turned her back and headed for the door. When she stood in the middle of the room, she turned back around to face him. “Are you should you don’t want to do anything?”

“I’m sure,”

“Do you want to go out to eat or something?”

“No, thank you,”

“Wanna play a game?”

“Lilah…”

Lilah went boneless and fell to the floor.

“Oh, dear Lord…” George muttered burying his face in his hands.

The room fell silent. Lilah remained on the ground lying on her back, spread-eagle, staring up at the ceiling. She didn’t dare look up at George, though she wondered if he was taking this chance for his peace and quiet since she was silently protesting.

“Lilah, get up.” She heard him say.

“I want a case.” She replied. “I’m bored. We haven’t had a case in a while.”

“I can’t make a case appear out of thin air. Trust me, if I could, I would.” George said with a grunt. “You think I don’t want to have another case? It allows me to pay rent and it makes you less annoying.”

Lilah sat up on the floor. “Didn’t a lady call us about a week ago? What about her?”

George shrugged. “She called, but I don’t know. What about her?” he repeated.

“How come we didn’t take her case?” Lilah asked pushing herself up from the ground. She found her chair on the other side of George’s desk and sat down there.

“I’m not sure. She told me that she might need our services. I asked her to come in and we could discuss the possibility together, but she didn’t want to.” George answered.

“Why not?” Lilah asked.

“Maybe money is tight for her? Maybe she wasn’t sure if she even had a case for us?”

“Then why would she call at all?”

George sighed. “Lilah, I don’t know. I can’t read minds.”

“You should work on that.” She grinned. He glared at her.

“Listen,” George began, “This woman called about a week ago and asked about our services. I told her what we did and she said she might be able to use us. I asked her to come in and we could decide if that’d be the right decision but she hastily refused.”

“Hastily refused? Why do you put it like that?” Lilah asked.

George hesitated to reply. “Because she hastily refused?”

Lilah waved her hand. “Okay, never mind.”

“She seemed troubled, that was for sure. But I can’t help her unless she wants my help.” George explained. “If she hasn’t called back then I’m left to assume she figured out what she needed to on her own or maybe with the help of a friend.”

“For free… without us.” Lilah said dully.

George cracked a smile. “Not everyone needs us to solve their problems.”

“Well, they should.” Lilah pouted.

George pointed to the door and Lilah rolled her eyes. She got the hint. She had lost this battle. She was going to have to find something else to do to entertain herself. She got up and headed for the door. The moment her hand wrapped around the door handle, the phone rang.

She twisted back around and dashed over to George’s desk. “Yay!” she shouted.

“Shush!” George glared at her. He already had the phone in his hand. “George Florence-”

“And Williams,” Lilah quickly added in a whisper.

George glared at her. “Private Detective, how may I help you?”

Lilah stiffened in her seat as George listened to the voice on the other end of the phone. She brought her hand up and began to bite lightly on her nails. She knew it was bad habit, but the last phone call they got – other than that woman – was a telemarketer. She hoped this was an actual case and not a false alarm. Though she wondered if George would have stayed on the phone this long if it was anything else.

“Well, I’m open for another two hours and my afternoon is wide open. You can come in now, if you’d like?” George replied. Then he smiled and a grin grew on Lilah’s face. “That would be great, we’ll see you soon. My pleasure, good bye.” George hung up the phone.

Lilah jumped up from her seat and fist-pumped the air. “We have a case, don’t we?!”

“A potential case, yes, but we haven’t talked to him in person and don’t know all the details. Who knows if he’ll hire us?” George replied.

“It’s a start.” Lilah said sitting back down. “Besides, it at least gives us something to do this afternoon.”

“Yes,”

“Is he on his way over now?”

“Uh-huh,”

Lilah frowned. “You don’t seem enthusiastic about this. What’s wrong? What’d the man say?”

George opened the top right drawer of his desk and rummaged through some papers. “The man, Richard Wiley, called about his wife. She’s missing. She’s been missing for almost a week.”

“And… that bothers you?” Lilah wondered aloud.

“It’s bothers me because,” George pulled out a sticky note and placed it on his desk, the words facing Lilah.

“Beth Wiley?” Lilah read. “Who’s she?”

“Richard’s wife.” George answered.

“How did you…?”

“She’s also the woman who called us last week.”

“Oh,” Lilah said quietly. “Does he know she called us?”

George shook his head. “He didn’t mention it.”

Lilah slouched down in her chair as George leaned back in his own. Both were deep in thought as they awaited the arrival of the missing person’s husband.

Words: 1,224

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | FiverrTwitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com