Greetings from the Netherlands. Or as they say over here… Hoi. Pronounced like Koi with an ‘H’ sound. But you didn’t come here for language lessons. I’m hoping you came over because you enjoy a bit of fun and mischief.
It being Halloween and with my latest release, Gravedigger, in Amazon stores, I decided to write a short story with Rhysian and Josephine. I hope you enjoy.
Jo grinned at the costumes Rhys and Rian had chosen for the night. Rhys looked sexy in his Dr. Who outfit. Where Rian dressed up as something called a Dalek.
“So, you’re the what number Doctor? And why are they numbered again?”
Rhys and Rian sighed almost in tandem. “He’s number ten, Jo. And the numbers are complicated because it has to do with the alien basically regenerating at the end of a human’s lifespan and taking on a new appearance.”
“Wait. You’re both aliens?” She needed to watch the show. It wasn’t necessarily her thing, but then again, she hadn’t thought she’d actually enjoy Star Trek either.
“Yes,” Rhys said lacing their fingers together as they turned the corner into the trunk or treat event.
“Oh.” She fell silent processing the latest information. She’d thought the whole concept of the television show was traveling through time or something.
Jo knew this street well since she’d come with Sullivan, her partner on the force, and his daughter, Arabelle, to trick or treat.
Decorated cars lined the street with scary yards and houses as a backdrop. This street was known for having the best candy, and since it ended in a cul-de-sac that backed up against a heavily wooded area, there was even a haunted trail event. A few years ago, they added Halloween themed cars, and it had turned into a hit. Kids in every costume imaginable streamed through the street, tripped along the sidewalks giggling, shrieking and roaring in equal measures all monitored by indulgent adults with cameras.
Lights bordered the sidewalks and street leaving the houses and yards to battle the darkness alone. Brave trick or treaters stepped from the light into the shadows in the hopes of more candy and maybe a scare or two.
“About time you three got here,” Sullivan growled from the right. A cup of coffee in one hand and an orange pillowcase in the other to hold Arabelle’s overflow candy.
Jo tipped her head in greeting to one of the off-duty cops manning the barricades keeping traffic off the street. “Bobby. How’re the wife and kids?”
A smile covered his face as he pointed to his wife pushing a stroller with the twins in it. “She’s taken them all over the neighborhood. Says she’s gotten a lot of candy too.”
“Can they even eat candy yet?” Jo asked. She hadn’t thought the twins were a year yet.
“Nope, but we can.”
Sullivan chuckled while bumping fists with the man. “Smart, man.”
“Hey, I’m the one who thought of it,” Penny said joining them. The two babies dressed as pumpkins slept oblivious to losing out on a night filled with sugar.
“Have they been sleeping the entire time?” Jo took the hug Penny gave as she made a quick circuit among their group to greet everyone.
“Good Lord, no. Just the last two houses.” Penny leaned against Bobby. “I’m taking them home, bathing them and tucking them in for the night.”
Bobby pressed a kiss to her temple. “Leave some candy for me, and we’ll watch a few of those scary movies you picked out.”
“It’s a date.” Penny threw a wave over her shoulder as she hurried to her car. Bobby’s gaze never left her until she’d gotten safely behind the wheel and pulled away.
Elle, Sullivan’s girlfriend, and Arabelle joined them. Elle’s light brown hair was now blond, and she wore a tan blazer with suspenders decorated in frogs. Something Arabelle must have chosen given her addiction to all things frog.
With all their group together, they waved to Bobby and Jo and Sullivan herded their families to the first car. Ahead of them Rhys, Elle, Rian, and Arabelle chattered about Dr. Who. It was then Jo realized Elle was dressed as a character too. “Wait. I thought the Doctor was male.” She looked to her partner for answers, but he only shrugged.
“Why’re you asking me? I don’t watch the show. I do know she can work a pair of suspenders and looks hot as a blond.” Sullivan waggled his brows and Jo smacked him in the stomach as the kids gathered their loot from the trunk of the snoopy car.
“Rhys looks good with dark hair,” Sullivan taunted as they followed in their families’ wake.
“Screw you, he looks awful. Like the weird wizard kid Rian and Arabelle love.”
“I love your hair with its natural color too, hon,” Rhys said spinning on his heel and walking backward. “And this stuff washes out.”
“Thank, God,” Jo retorted.
“So, the TARDIS I have one of the original…”
Jo leaned closer to Sullivan. “TARDIS? Is that even English?”
“Why the heck do you keep asking me these things?” Sullivan scratched his chin. “It must be. The series is made in England.”
Jo and Sullivan pulled up short to keep from running into Rhys and Rian. Rian shook his head his face devoid of color.
“What’s going on?”
Rhys leaned close, his breath ghosted across her ear making her shiver. “The spiders are scaring him.”
Jo looked to the house and shivered for a whole different reason. Spooky didn’t cover it. Downright chilling was closer to the mark. Spiders crawled across the delicately strung webs arcing above their heads. A desiccated corpse in a coffin looked as if it’d break apart in the lightest of winds. Nightmarish shadows danced between the leaves of the trees there one second gone the next. Sharp claws, bright eyes, glistening teeth but no definite form Jo’s eyes could latch on to. The house wasn’t the same as the others on the street, this one more dilapidated with misshapen boards and rickety steps.
Turning, she nuzzled into Rhys’s neck. “Screw the spiders the whole thing is giving me nightmares, and I’m not even asleep. How about we skip this one?”
Rhys shook his head. “Arabelle thinks this one will have the best candy since everyone is giving it a wide berth.”
It was true. Groups were stepping off the curb into the street to pass the house not chancing something leaping from the hedges to drag them into the yard.
“Rian, I have an idea,” Arabelle stated. “I’ll ride on your shoulders and keep the spiders from touching you, and you get us up the stairs without the zombies getting us.”
“Zombies?” Sullivan asked.
Arabelle’s brown ponytail bobbed as she nodded and pointed. Just under the porch, Jo could make them out. Half-covered in dirt and grime. Jesus, the people who lived here went all out for Halloween. She wished they’d curtailed some of their enthusiasm.
Rian smiled. “Deal. Zombies don’t scare me; the spiders are a lot smaller and can get trapped and bite.”
He easily lifted Arabelle to his shoulders and with Sullivan’s help had her secure in a matter of seconds. Compared to Rian, Arabelle looked like a dainty fairy. A few inches over six-foot and with a sturdy frame to match, he was handsome in a boy next door meets shy librarian.
Jo knew this as she’d stepped in to protect him on more than one occasion from women hitting on the poor kid. Yes, he was nineteen. However, his brain would never mature past the age of twelve due to an accident when he was younger. He opened doors for Jo when they were out and about, helped her lift and carry things. Most times she called him kiddo or lil‘ bro. Where Jo saw a kid in an adult’s body other women saw a healthy young man tanned and strong with a bright smile and a contagious laugh. They wanted him. Unfortunately, for them, they had to go through Jo to get to him.
“Okay, ready?” Rian asked.
Rhys and Elle fell in behind them while Sullivan answered his phone. Jo watched from the sidewalk unwilling to brave the spiders, zombies or rickety porch. Curious what was taking her partner so long, she searched the shadows to see him still on his cell. Sullivan hated taking calls and would limit them to the barest exchange of information. Ten to thirty seconds at most. There were a handful of people that he would stay on to talk to for longer, and all of them were here except his mother and their captain.
Before Jo walked over to see what was going on, hurried footsteps had her turning in the kids’ direction. Arabelle was clutching Rian’s shirt like her life depended on it while he cradled the nine-year-old to his chest. She should’ve been too heavy or giving Rian hell for carrying her. Instead, she looked as if she’d burst into tears any second and shook like a leaf in a stiff wind.
Arabelle whimpered and ducked her head into Rian’s chest. Catching the sharp shake of Rhys’s head, Jo tipped her chin. Instead, of quizzing the kids further, she pointed at a bright green car. “Maybe we should lay off the scary for a bit and hit the dancing frog car. What do you two think?”
Arabelle squealed the second she caught sight of the frogs jumping from lily pad to lily pad before they stopped and did a quick dance. A hard wiggle and she was out of Rian’s hold, her feet firmly planted on the ground. Forgetting all about whatever had frightened her.
“Come on you two, maybe they have cool frog candy too,” Elle said herding them across the street toward the car.
The second the group was out of earshot, Jo rounded on Rhys. “Spill.”
Rhys’s easygoing demeanor morphed into a hard scowl as he looked at the house they’d fled from. “A teenager answered the door. He was dressed in heavy goth clothes with black makeup and these little fangs.”
“Okay.” It was good Rhys was describing the punk so Jo knew who to hurt.
“Doesn’t matter. What matters is when the kids asked where his parents were he said in October they practice killing someone every night. The reason? Because no one would come and investigate the screams.” Rhys took a step toward the house his hands curled into fists. “He kept egging it on too. How his father was an expert in knife wounds, so the victims stayed alive a lot longer–”
“Really?” Jo snarled. “I think I’ll go have a chat with him.”
Rhys swung around to face her, his gaze raked over her and he smiled. “I think you’ll scare the punk a lot more than I will.”
“Too bad Karma’s not here, I’d have her rig up some explosives to make the asshole crap his pants.”
“I think you and Sullivan can handle it without blowing anything up,” Rhys chuckled the gold in his eyes warming again as he relaxed. “You want me to hang around?”
Jo snorted. This was her realm.
“Right.” He pointed to the sidewalk. “I’ll just wait right here. That way we know you won’t have to arrest anyone.”
“I don’t know if your lucky charm effects will work this far out,” Jo stated with a smirk.
They both knew he was her lucky charm. Since they’d been together, she hadn’t needed to make an arrest in public in months. At least as long as Rhys was with her. If it were just her and Sullivan, then it was like the crazies knew they could act up. Probably an instinct since Jo would destroy anyone who put Rhys or Rian in danger. Just the thought had her heart racing, gaze scouring the groups near her small family as adrenaline pumped through her system.
It was Rian who helped center her as he hollered from the frog car. “Rhys! You gotta see this. They have a car in the shape of a Star Trek Shuttle.”
Rhys’s eyes widened, and interest sparked in the gold depths. Tension broken, Jo laughed. “Go on. I promise to make the kid pee himself, and I’ll record it for you.”
“God, I love you.” He gave her a heated kiss. When they separated she dug her nails into her palms to keep from dragging him into the bushes and mussing him up.
The hot nerd look really worked for him.
“Love you too, you tease. Now go look at whatever has your brother bouncing as if he were on a pogo stick.” Jo took a step back from Rhys missing his warmth the second she left his arms.
“Not a tease when I’m delivering when we get home.” His smile held a promise Jo couldn’t wait to fill. “Have fun terrorizing the teenager,” He shouted over his shoulder as he jogged over to Rian.
“I’m surrounded by smartasses.” She turned back to the house in search of her partner when a sharp trill from the right caught her attention.
It was Sullivan’s signal when he needed backup. Racing to the right, she rounded the corner in time to see Sullivan approaching a man about his height with something draped over his shoulder. Jo tapped Sullivan on the shoulder and moved to his right. She pushed her blazer back so her badge would show. Motion sensor lights flickered on and highlighted a hand poking out just below the carpet as well as the trickle of blood dripping from the where the feet of the victim would be.
“This is the police. We need you to gently–” Before Sullivan could finish the command to lay the body down a high-pitched screech came from the man carrying the corpse.
He swung around his hands automatically flying up. The body unrolled from the carpet and what looked like a water balloon burst across the pavement covering the bottoms of Sullivan’s and the man’s pants. Jo’s gaze dropped to the victim only to find a gem-like stare set in a generic face.
Turning her attention to the man, she growled. “Quit the screeching. Swear to God you sound worse than a hooker we tackled once and accidentally broke the heel of her shoe.”
“Oh, man. Ginger was so mad at you.” Sullivan stepped closer to the fake body and crouched.
“Don’t remind me. She had a pair of lungs on her that would rival an opera singer.” Jo poked the empty balloon with the tip of her boot. “Blood? Fake or real?”
The normalness of the back and forth calmed the man.
“You can put your hands down, sir.” Sullivan rolled to his feet and stepped back.
The side door burst open and a compact woman dressed in jeans and a gray t-shirt with a local band logo and streaked with smears of dried blood appeared. Seeing the chaos, she hurried down the stairs to join them. “Oh, Franklin did you have to drop the bag of blood too? We just got the color right.”
“Sorry, hon. But when the police announce themselves, my first reaction was to raise my hands, so I didn’t get shot. I think you would’ve done the same,” Franklin said bending to help the woman roll the mannequin into the rug again. “Detectives this is my wife Linda. Linda, this is the police.”
If Jo hadn’t seen the same kinds of dummies used in training, she’d swear it was a person. It was so lifelike. “So, you do use actual blood?”
Franklin’s head tipped from side to side. “Not human and a proprietary formula for the rest. It’s a family business.”
The couple lifted the rug-wrapped body from either end and walked it back toward the house. Jo and Sullivan following up the narrow stairs into a kitchen. Jars of blood, what looked like shreds of skin laid out carefully in different paint trays with labels attached and bloody knives arranged from smallest to largest next to the trays. A few of the jars of blood gave Jo pause, but none quite looked like the real thing, so she moved on. After they settled the carpet onto a long butcher block, Jo turned with an arched brow. “A family business?”
Franklin stopped then chuckled. “Yeah, my great grandfather became intrigued by it while in France in the early 1900s. He’d been traveling with a company who made silent films. They’d gone to France to swap some of their trade secrets as it were and to learn what they could incorporate into their films.”
“And that led to this?” Sullivan gesture encompassed the kitchen.
“I’ve heard this story more times than I care to remember, I’m going to check on Kyle.”
Jo’s eyes narrowed, Kyle must be the teenager that harassed her family.
“Okay, hon.” Franklin pressed a quick kiss to her lips, and she headed through an archway behind him. “Anyway, my grandfather ended up on a French set while they were filming The Mask of Horror, the 1912 version with Édouard de Max–”
“I’ve no idea who that is, and I don’t watch horror films because they annoy me,” Jo interrupted.
Sullivan laughed. “That’s an understatement. Jo hates the unrealistic way most of the horror films roll out. I mean okay, the first few instances yeah, you might still think nothing’s going on, but after the third person dies, you’d hope someone would be intelligent enough not to run around calling for people. Or stumbling around knocking crap over while running away from the killer and never picking up any kind of weapon.”
She pointed to her partner. “Exactly.”
“I enjoy all genres of horror. My grandfather became interested in the horror genre and met my grandmother on a set. She was the daughter of the director of maybe the fifth film my grandfather apprenticed on. Horror in all its form has become our blood and butter.”
“Oh, God, Dad, not the blood and butter speech,” a kid a few years younger than Rian sauntered into the kitchen. He had the goth look down to a fine art form with black, skinny jeans, black undershirt, a black unbuttoned long-sleeved shirt over it and black sneakers. Even the chain that attached at his belt loop and disappeared around the side was black. Heavy liner coated his eyes and lined his lips.
“You must be Kyle,” Jo said her gaze narrowing on the brat.
All eyes jumped to her with that statement. Franklin’s held a protective gleam, a parent protecting their child. “I never did hear how you two ended up seeing me.”
“We never said,” Jo replied with a huff, her eyes never left her target.
“It was me. I took a call from my mom and saw you leaving the house. I would’ve let it go except I saw a hand drop out of the rug and something dripping onto the driveway. You have good floodlights back there. I decided to take a closer look.” Sullivan hooked a thumb at Jo. “And since I never go into any situation that has the potential to be life-threatening without my partner I called her.”
Jo grinned. It wasn’t the nice one she’d worn earlier. It was the scary one she reserved for perps and assholes. “I was planning on coming to the house and talking to Kyle.”
“Kyle? What’d you do?” Franklin turned to face his son.
“Nothing. I don’t think. Nothing to get the cops on me, anyway.”
“He told a little girl his dad was killing someone, practicing his blade work. And that he preferred to do it during October since no one pays attention to the screams.”
“Jesus, Kyle. You’re lucky we’ve not had the police raiding our house. Is this what you tell people?” Franklin jammed both hands in his hair and tugged. The brown strands stood up in clumps with the blood-splattered clothes the man looked like a killer on a rampage.
“Shit. Yeah, I told the little girl that but she was with her dad and another couple.” Kyle took a step back his hands held up defensively in front of him. “I mean, anyone who braves the front yard I figure should get rewarded.”
Jo frowned as she pointed to Sullivan. “That’s her dad. Now, how the hell can you say scaring the crap out of a kid is a reward?” Before Sullivan could move toward the kid, Jo laid a hand on his arm.
“Man, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to freak her out. It’s just she must have like titanium balls to have crossed the yard with all the special effects on and not flinch.”
“Really?” Franklin asked.
“Yeah. I mean she didn’t seem scared at all. I watched her from the security cameras.” Kyle faced Jo again. “My friends won’t even come up the path she took, they take the side entrance.” He pointed to the door that led out to the area they’d found Franklin. “So, I wanted to give her something cool in return like a story. That’s us. We’re the scariest house on the block, the scariest place for stories, and we love Halloween. October is our holiday month.”
“It’s true, few of Kyle’s friends are willing to walk up the path to the door,” Franklin added. “If your daughter took the path she’d be someone I’d love to meet.”
Sullivan grinned, pride bursting from him. “She’s nine, and if you can talk frogs with her, she’ll be your friend for life.” He smoothed a hand over his long-sleeved shirt that was decorated in small frolicking frogs.
“Nine?” Kyle’s eyes popped wide. “Damn. I’d love to meet her for real then. Maybe give her one of my dad’s apples that makes it look like your mouth is covered in blood.”
“No,” Sullivan grunted when Jo hit him in the stomach with the back of her hand.
“She’d love the apple.” Jo turned her gaze on Franklin. “I still want to know why you were transporting a bag of blood and a mannequin.”
“Oh, that’s easy. Tomorrow’s Murder Day.” Kyle headed for the fridge and rummaged around. “He and Mom are practicing for tomorrow’s event.”
“See, it’s those comments that are going to have our house searched, Kyle.” Franklin jabbed a finger at his son. “Take those apples to the sidewalk and if you see the little girl you scared, give her one and apologize.”
“I’ll go with him and make sure that happens,” Linda said from the archway, her fierce frown letting Jo know the woman meant business.
Franklin turned back to Jo. “My wife and I work in the horror film industry which you already know. By the time October rolls around all the films are usually completed. We’re off the next three months, and then in January, we’re supposed to travel to New Zealand for a new film.”
“And that has what to do with murder day?” Sullivan asked, calm now that he knew his daughter would receive an apology and make a new friend.
“We started hosting murder events at the house a few years ago. People come from all over to solve a murder mystery my wife and I set up. They’re given a dress code and the rules before they arrive then some of our acting friends come over to help us with the show.” Franklin’s eyes danced with joy. “It’s so much fun. We can practice our blood work in terms of arterial spray versus slow drips and make sure to get the color and consistency right, and we can have fun doing it.”
Jo pinched the bridge of her nose. “Please tell me your script is at least believable.”
“We’re not amateurs.” He sounded affronted.
“Of course not. Well, as long as your kid apolog–”
“Would you and your partner want to come to tomorrow night’s show? I’m sure it’ll be a challenge figuring out who the killer is,” Franklin padded over to a counter littered with paper. “As I’ve said we’ve been doing it for going on ten years now.”
“That’s probably not a good idea,” Sullivan snorted.
“Why not?” Frank grunted as he lifted a large jar to an empty section of counter.
“Jo would figure it out probably before the first body dropped. Hell, she could probably point to which one would die and how.”
Franklin rolled his eyes. “I doubt that. Again, we’re professionals.”
“I’ll bet you,” Sullivan smirked, and Jo groaned.
She hated when her partner put her on display. “I’m not a freaking show horse, Sully.”
“Screw you, Jo. He’s got to be a master at makeup too, and I think Arabelle would look cool as hell dressed up like a zombie, ninja, frog princess.”
“You’re pulling it out of your ass again but,” Jo pointed at Franklin. “If you include Rian in the makeup thing I’m in.”
“And what do I get?” he asked.
Jo tipped her head to the side, her feral grin coming to the forefront. “If you win. Sullivan and I will do one of your skits.”
“Oh, cool. I could do so much with your facial structure and eyes.” Franklin took a step toward her and Jo held a hand up.
“Ya’ gotta win first there, bucko.” It took everything she had not to shudder at the caked blood under Franklin’s nails. If he won, he’d need to scrub that off before she let him anywhere near her face.
“Deal.” Franklin stepped back. “I’m not giving you the script. I will tell you the dummy you caught me with is the first body that dropped with all the wounds exactly the same.”
Jo smiled. “Fair enough. Do you have a list of people in the skit? Maybe their stats or a summary of events?”
“I’ll give you what I give the guests, these include the actors.” Franklin passed over a hand full of papers.
Jo read the list of guests fifteen in all. Her mind cataloged the names, flipping the page she saw the costumes each were asked to dress up in and grinned. Handing the pages back, Jo filtered the information and nodded. “Veronica is your victim. Tabitha is your killer and used this…” she trailed off as she swung around and found the knife she was looking for. “Knife.” She touched the handle of the Bird’s Beak Paring Knife. Almost a match for the one her little brother used when prepping garnishes. “And Chris is the one who will move the body.” Jo eyed the carpet again. “From I’d say the library or parlor. I’m not familiar with your house, but the rug is too extravagant to be an everyday rug. It’s got too much gold in it to be in an office that you would frequent. So, library or parlor.”
Franklin’s mouth dropped open. He frantically flipped through the pages he’d given Jo. Smirking, she leaned against the cabinet and waited. She knew what he’d find. A few lines of script, a suggested costume list with each of the players’ names next to it, and the last page held the actors’ names with a brief description. Nothing else. Not the weapon used, not the stats of anyone attending. “How?”
“It’s what we do,” Sullivan stated a smug smile on his face. “And she’s been studying scenes since she was a kid.”
Jo shook her head. “There were only three people connected to anyone based on the last name two were either sisters or close cousins. Expensive since in the costume area you suggested they wear nice jewelry and dress their best. Besides one of those you suggested a certain heel be worn which tells me she’s shorter than the others and you wanted her to appear the same height.” Jo pointed to the mannequin. “Your dummy is short too. Almost my height if I had to guess, maybe to fit in the rug you were using. The knife was easy. A Bird’s Beak Paring knife is curved in such a way that allows the blade to come into contact with more flesh. If it’s sharp, like chef standard sharp.” Jo lifted the blade in question. “Which yours is, Veronica wouldn’t have felt it slice into her. She’d have felt a slight pinch. Nothing else until she felt dizzy from blood loss. And the wound was on her leg, inside left thigh. Means the killer had to be close. No way would a female let anyone that close they didn’t arrive with or didn’t know.” Jo pointed to the list again. “And she only came with two other people. Chris helped. Either he was having an affair with Veronica and wanted it covered up, or he wants the money as badly as Tabitha. I don’t know which. Tabitha, though, did it for the money. It’s always money or jealousy in these situations. With all the high-end stuff they’re dressing in, I’d say money.”
“Told you she was the best.” Sullivan patted Franklin’s upper arm.
“And before you ask. I think the second body that would drop would be Chris. Tabitha won’t want loose ends. And for a twist… I can see a whole Agatha Christie theme going on, you’d have Tabitha almost die to throw your guests off.” Jo shrugged. “But then again, that’s just a guess and not one you asked me for. So, did I win?”
Franklin clapped. “You did. That’s impressive.”
“Nah, you should’ve seen her when she was working the Gravedigger case. Now, that had all of us stumped.” Sullivan tipped his chin. “Her figuring out the clues would only have worked if you had a solid story and not just a jumble of characters with half of a story.”
Franklin puffed up with pride. “As I’ve said we’ve been at this for a few years and have several awards for our murder mysteries. We’re ranked in the top five of must-see murder mysteries in the southeast.”
“Impressive,” Sullivan said.
“I agree. I wouldn’t mind coming to see one play out, but I’d have to refrain from playing.” Jo teased.
Shaking his head, Sullivan pointed toward the front of the house. “On that note, how about we head out to the sidewalk? I want to check on my girls and Jo, no way will I bring you to one of these things. You wouldn’t be able to help but identify the killer.”
“True.” Jo hummed. It was what she did, and she loved her job.
They stepped onto the front porch.
“Dad!” Arabelle raced down the path and jumped into Sullivan’s arms before wiggling down again after a hug.
All the decorations had been turned off, and the front looked like any other house now. Even the porch and wood looked new, not old and rickety.
“Special effects,” Franklin said at her arched brow.
“Jo,” Arabelle greeted.
“Did Kyle apologize?” she asked.
Arabelle nodded heading back to where their friends and families stood on the sidewalk. “He said they do killing mysteries like you solve on your job. Can we come to the next one?”
“Maybe a different one seeing how Jo solved tomorrow’s murder.” Sullivan tugged one of Arabelle’s braids.
“She solved it? How? She didn’t see any of the actors.” Arabelle danced over to Rian.
“Wait. The detectives solved the murder mystery? Did you give them the script?” Linda asked turning in their direction.
Franklin laughed. “No, she not only solved it but gave me the knife used, the room and the person who did it.”
Kyle and Linda’s gazes jumped to Jo, and she shrugged.
Rhys took her hand and tugged her to his side. “She’s got an edge similar to Kyle knowing special effects. Jo grew up in a family of cops, and she knows her crime scenes at a glance.”
“Well, it was amazing to see her work. And we had a bet which I intend to honor,” Franklin stated wrapping around an arm around Linda. “But as I’m not as good with makeup, you’ll need to help me, hon.”
Linda’s eyes sparked with interest. “What’d she ask for?”
“Arabelle and Rian to have a cool look for Halloween.”
Rian raced over and yanked Jo off her feet into a bear hug. “Put me down you big lug.”
“We can be anything?” Arabelle asked.
“Within reason. I don’t have a lot of robotic parts, so that’s out.” Franklin faced the girl.
“I want to be something cool but still a frog ninja.”
“Your dad suggested a zombie.”
“Maybe, but no freaky face falling off one. It needs to be a cool one.”
Franklin tapped his chin. “We’ll see what we can do. Rian?”
“I have everything for the costume, but me and Rhys stink at getting it right.” Rian all but vibrated with excitement.
“And what is it?”
Rhys released a soft breath. “Dad’s costume?”
“Yeah, I can almost fit into it. It’s only a little big around the center but not much.” Rian motioned at his chest and stomach.
“He’d have loved that.” Rhys turned to Jo. “It’s how our parents met.”
Jo wrapped her arms around his waist and snuggled. “I remember.” Clearing her throat, she met Franklin’s gaze. “Can you do it on Friday? We’re taking them to a few parties that afternoon and night so that would be the best time.”
He looked to his wife who nodded her head with a smile. “We’ll be here.”
“Great.” Jo held a hand out to the man. “I have to say it was interesting meeting you. And if I get a case dealing with blood and odd weaponry, I might just be stopping by.”
“Oh, that could be fun. Maybe another wager?” Franklin rubbed his hands together.
The others laughed while Jo smirked. “Maybe. But now we should see what else the street has to offer because Rian’s supposed to be at Ethan’s by eight. We don’t want to be late.”
Rian’s eyes widened as they darted to his new wristwatch Rhys had given him for his birthday. “We need to go, Jo.”
“I’m going to tag along with them, Dad. I want to hear how she solved the mystery,” Kyle said.
Franklin nodded. “Go have fun. We’ll see you later. Linda and I can hand out the candy for a while.”
The group headed up the street with Sullivan telling them about the small mystery Jo solved with a few pages and a doll.
Jo trade business cards with Franklin before shaking Linda and Franklin’s hands. “Until the next game, Franklin.”
To see how Detective Josephine Rayburn and Rhysian Harrison met click HERE to grab a copy of Gravedigger on Amazon.