It was rainy and cold, and as Carrie French looked at her dashboard, she noticed she was three minutes later than normal- 6:48 a.m. Carrie pulled up to her store in town square: C4 (Carrie’s Cupcakes, Coffee, and Candles). Just like every morning before, she picked up the newspaper at the doorstep, unlocked the door, turned the store lights on, and turned on the coffee pot. She had a new Keurig in the back that someone had given her for Christmas one year, but she was old-fashioned and preferred the smell of a pot of coffee brewing.
Still new to town, Carrie found it difficult to make friends. She was from a one stoplight town two hours outside of St. Paul, and had moved to Ristretto a year ago to open her shop. The people in Ristretto were nice enough, but only a few of them had become regular customers that she could expect to see each morning.
Every morning at 7:15 she could count on Donovan Landry to be at the door waiting for his morning coffee and the cookie of the day. Today was no exception, and she grinned as she saw her pale, white-haired friend bundled up in his signature blue trench coat and hat waving at her.
Opening the door, Donovan said with a big smile, “I’ll have a mug of your finest brew and a cookie too!”
And as she did every morning, Carrie rolled her eyes and poured him a cup of coffee in one of her secondhand mugs. “Coming right up Donovan. You keep this up and you’re going to turn into a sugar cookie,” Carrie gushed.
“Do you promise?” Donovan winked.
Carrie dipped her sugar cup down into the canister and was met with an unexpected PING. “Shoot. Could you watch the store while I go to the storage room and grab a bag of sugar please?” Carrie asked.
Donovan nodded, barely looking up from his coffee and phone.
Walking to the back Carrie realized that the door to the storage room was unlocked and slightly ajar. Carrie tried to push open the storage room door further, but it wouldn’t give. She dipped her shoulder into the thick, metal door and pushed until it opened just enough that she could fit the top of her body into it. She turned the storage room light on, and as she did her nose immediately turned up at the familiar smell of iron.
Carrie knew it was blood.