Carrie’s Cup- Chapter 5

Carrie poured herself a glass of Merlot that night and sat down on the couch with her laptop, Waffle, and her favorite fuzzy blanket. Carrie attempted to keep her mind occupied with online shopping, but her brain eventually shifted her back to Connor Dalton’s Facebook. She opened up his messenger to see if she could see how long it had been since he logged on; Connor had not been on Facebook for five days.

Carrie called Donovan. She hadn’t seen him in a couple of days, and she missed him. When Donovan didn’t answer, she left him a voicemail telling him about her suspicions about Connor, finding the mug handle, and what Noel had told her at the funeral.

She must have fallen asleep, because when she woke up, it was 2:44 a.m. and Waffle wasn’t on the couch with her anymore. She called out to him, but he didn’t come. She walked to the dining area, where Waffle’s bed was and saw that the porch door was open. Shivering, Carrie pulled the blanket around her shoulders, and hurriedly ran to the door.

“WAFFLE!” yelled Carrie. “Are you there boy?”


Carrie ran back into the house screaming for Waffle, but he never came out. She threw on her coat and her boots. She grabbed her keys and ran out the front door forgetting to lock it behind her.

Carrie drove around for hours looking for Waffle, and in tears she pulled into her driveway as the sun was rising. She dragged herself back in the front door, and when she opened it, there was Waffle stretched out on the sofa.

“Waffle!” squealed Carrie. “Where in the world have you been?”

As soon as Carrie got over the shock of Waffle being home, she looked around the living room. Someone had been in her living room… drawers were flung open, things were thrown across the floor. The wooden box was open. Carrie ran over to it, and horrified she saw that the handle was gone.

Waffle had been let out; she was sure of it. She just didn’t know how.

Carrie didn’t call the police. They’d think she had just dreamed all of it. What could she say “Someone stole a piece of evidence that I didn’t hand over to you”?

So, she made a pot of coffee and got ready to go into work.

Carrie’s Cup- Chapter 4

Carrie pulled into her driveway and turned off her lights. There wasn’t anything special about her two-bedroom bungalow, but with the snow on the rooftop it did look charming. She got out and braced herself for the inevitable attack of Waffle as soon as she walked in the door.

Sure enough, as she turned the key to the front door, there was Waffle to greet her. Waffle was a shaggy haired, ninety-pound mutt that she had rescued from a shelter two years earlier. He barreled down the hall to her as she opened the door, white-grey hair flying as he ran. Carrie scratched his head as she walked into the kitchen and poured his dinner, and then she went and sat on the couch.

She pulled out the mug handle and ran her fingers over it, wondering if the mug had been the murder weapon, and if it was, how the murderer had not noticed this piece missing when he cleaned up. Carrie put it in the small wooden box on her coffee table.

She opened her laptop and googled Mary-Anne’s name. Her Facebook popped up, and Carrie clicked on her page. She saw a lot of posts expressing sympathy for Mary-Anne’s family, but Carrie ignored those and clicked on the relationship status section. She saw that Mary-Anne had been in a relationship with a boy named Connor Dalton. She clicked on his page, and was surprised that she didn’t see any mention of Mary-Anne’s death. All she saw were selfies of Connor, and that he had about fifty friends. She thought it was strange, but he was only seventeen. There wasn’t a reason for him to have a lot of friends on Facebook being from such a small town, and just because he wasn’t mourning on Facebook didn’t mean he didn’t care about Mary-Anne’s death.

Carrie shut her laptop and got ready to go to bed.

She laid awake that night for what seemed like hours, and when she finally did get some sleep, it was fitful and full of dreams about the previous day’s occurrences.

The next day was uneventful. Carrie cleaned up the backroom after she was given the go-ahead by the police department.

Mary-Anne’s funeral was to be the next day, and she had resolved to go for several reasons. The first reason being that she had been Mary-Anne’s employer and she was a sweet girl and Carrie wanted to pay her respects; the second reason being, that she wanted to see if Connor would be there. She wanted to see him for herself.

At 3:00 p.m. the following day, Carrie stood at Mary-Anne’s graveside. Mary-Anne’s mom, two brothers, and grandmother were on the front row, along with who Carrie assumed to be Mary-Anne’s best friend, a young girl looking to be sixteen or seventeen. While Carrie saw a lot of teenagers around, there were no teenage boys with white blonde hair that looked like the Connor she saw on Facebook.

After the service, Carrie gave her condolences to the family, and when the girl friend of Mary-Anne’s was alone for a brief moment, Carrie approached her.

“Hi, I’m Carrie. Mary-Anne worked for me at my shop,” Carrie introduced herself.

“Hi, I’m Noel. Mary-Anne talked about you a lot. She thought you were nice” said Noel.

“That’s so sweet, she was a good girl, and I feel awful about what happened,” expressed Carrie. “Do the police have any idea who could have done such an awful thing?”

“I don’t think so,” said Noel. “She was my best friend; I just want this monster in jail.”

“I do too,” said Carrie. “I know she had a boyfriend; is he here today?”

“No, he’s not,” Noel said kind of surprised, “He lives in California. I’ve never met him.”

Carrie once again expressed her sympathies, and she excused herself. Walking back to her car, she wondered if anyone else in Mary-Anne’s life had ever met Connor either.

Carrie’s Cup- Chapter 3

Carrie looked around to see if anyone was watching her, and when she felt comfortable that no one was looking she hurried over and picked up the handle of her coffee mug and slipped it into her cardigan pocket.

She didn’t know if it was important, but she did know that Detective Johnson would just shrug it off, just like he shrugged her concerns off before. She didn’t want to risk it being thrown away.

Two hours later, the officers were gone and she was left with an empty store. Donovan had gone home before the officers were finished; he needed to decompress.

Carrie sat down with a warm cup of coffee and pulled the mug handle out and gently placed it on the table. She stared at it, willing it to give her answers about what happened.

She didn’t have long to sit and wonder though, as several people began to trickle in. She shoved the handle back in her pocket, and got to work pouring coffee and handing out cookies.

The rest of the day went by without any issues, other than a few nosey people coming in to ask her questions about what happened that morning. Before she knew it, she was getting ready to lock up and head to the elementary school. Donovan had signed her up to help with the Thanksgiving play, forcing her to get more involved with the town. He was under the impression that her staying home every night with her dog, Waffle, was a problem. Carrie didn’t see the issue with it, but she agreed to help with the play anyway.

Carrie pulled up to the school and got out of her truck, pulling her parka tight around her. She rushed through the door of the school auditorium, where she found the students and the other volunteers getting into costume. The play was only three days away, and everyone was starting to panic over final dress rehearsals.

Carrie shook off her coat, placed it on the court rack by the door, and then reported to the costume design section of the auditorium. Her job had been to make the Pilgrim outfits, and she thought she had done a pretty decent job. She had not sewed since high school, but she made it work. Carrie smiled warmly at the volunteer named Beatrice who was staring in her direction.

“I’m sorry Carrie, I didn’t mean to stare,” said Beatrice. “It’s just that no one thought you would be here after the um…incident…in your store this morning.”

“It was certainly awful Beatrice, but to be honest I needed the distraction” confessed Carrie. “I’ve been inside my head all day trying to figure it out and understand what could have happened, but I’m getting nowhere.”

“Perhaps you should just leave it to the police then,” Beatrice mused.

Perhaps, thought Carrie, but maybe I should ask around and see if anyone saw anything the night before.

Play practice was over in about two hours, and Carrie wrapped up to go back outside and home to Waffle. She walked over to her truck, and as she did she got a sudden chill that someone was watching her. She shifted around looking over her shoulder, but no one was there.

If she had looked a couple of seconds sooner, she would have seen the hooded figure disappear into the trees behind the parking lot.

Carrie’s Cup- Chapter 2

Carrie was sitting at a table with her right leg pulled up under her chin, when after what seemed like hours, the paramedics finally arrived. Frantically, she showed them where to go, but she knew it was useless.

When Carrie realized what she smelled was blood, she had cried out to Donovan to come help her. He pushed open the door, and behind it they found the body of her seventeen- year-old employee: Mary-Anne Wilson.

Mary-Anne’s body had been there for hours cold and alone; Carrie couldn’t help but wonder if she knew what was happening to her, or if it was all over very quickly. Carrie couldn’t help but wonder why she was there at all. Mary-Anne had not worked the day before.

Almost immediately after the paramedics arrived, the police and the coroner swarmed her once calm store. This type of thing did not happen in Ristretto, so the minute the news of a dead body went out over the radio, every officer in town showed up to help.

Carrie watched as the officers examined the body that the Coroner pronounced dead at 7:41 a.m. The officers took pictures of Mary-Anne, the room where her body was, the backdoor, the door they had to force open to get to Mary-Anne, and even the doorknob. One officer pulled out little clear baggies and put several of Mary-Anne’s personal things into separate ones. Mary-Anne’s body was placed into a bag and zipped up. They took her out through the back door, so that the small crowd that had gathered outside of the store would not be able to see.

As they started dusting for fingerprints, the detective who looked to be calling the shots walked over to her.

Carrie stood up.

“Good Morning Miss Uh..French, is it?” asked the Detective.

“Yes, Carrie French. And you are…,” Carrie glanced quickly at his badge, “Detective Johnson?”

“That’s correct. Okay, I’m going to have a series of questions for you, and this shouldn’t take long, but you should know, your store is going to be closed for most of the day,” warned Detective Johnson.

“It’s not a problem at all. I just want to help. I’ve only known Mary-Anne for about three months, since she began working here. She was so bubbly and I don’t understand this,” said Carrie.

Detective Johnson ushered Carrie to another table so they could sit and speak alone.

“Miss French, what time did you get to your store this morning?” asked Detective Johnson.

“I normally get to the store at 6:45 a.m. every day, but today it was 6:48 a.m. because my dog ran out of the front door as I went to leave and I had to put him back inside, so I was running a little behind,” explained Carrie.

“And around what time did you find Miss Wilson?” inquired Detective Johnson.

“It was right after Donovan got here at his usual 7:15 arrival, so I’d say around 7:20 or so,” figured Carrie.

“Did you notice anything suspicious when you entered the store today?” Detective Johnson asked.

“Not at all,” Carrie said, “unless you count being out of sugar as suspicious.”

The Detective did not glance up from his notepad.

“What did you do when you realized there was something wrong?” asked Detective Johnson.

“Well, first I called Donovan to come help me push the door open so I could get into the room. As soon as I turned the light on when I was able to get the door cracked before he came to help, I smelled what I thought to be blood. Donovan was able to get the door open for me, and as soon as I was able to process what happened I called 9-1-1,” said Carrie.

“How did you know you were smelling blood?” asked Detective Johnson.

“When I was younger, my dad would take me hunting. When I killed my first deer, he spread the blood across my face, and the smell was stuck with me for weeks after,” explained Carrie.

“What is Miss Wilson’s work schedule like?” asked Detective Johnson.

“She comes in every afternoon after school and works until we close at 6:00 p.m. Sometimes she closes the store for me if I have somewhere I have to be,” said Carrie.

“So, she has her own key?” asked Detective Johnson.

“No, I keep a spare one in the potted plant by the back door,” said Carrie.

“How many people know about the spare key?” asked Detective Johnson.

“Donovan, Mary-Anne, the UPS driver- Nathan-, and me,” said Carrie.

“Interesting” mused the Detective. “Okay, Miss French, I don’t think I have any further questions for now, but I do want to speak to Donovan before I leave. Here is my card; call me if you think of anything else,” said Detective Johnson as he handed her a white business card with gold letters on it.

“Thank you so much,” said Carrie as she grabbed her own business card off of the counter to give to him.

Carrie sat down and wondered if Mary-Anne’s mom knew yet. She was a single mother and had two sons also, but Mary-Anne was her baby. She thought about calling her, but she didn’t think it was her place, so she left it to the officers.

To pass the time while she waited on the officers to gather evidence and finish their work, Carrie started unloading the dishwasher full of coffee cups and placing them on the shelves. Most of these cups were from thrift stores and places Carrie had traveled to and gotten as souvenirs. She thought it added more character to have these than a set of matching ones.

Almost immediately Carrie noticed that a mug was missing. It was her favorite one- big, light blue, with a dancing hotdog on it that she got from a minor league baseball game a couple of years ago. Carrie looked at the cup Donovan still had in front of him, and noticed that it was not the Hot Dog cup. The Dishwasher was empty, and the cup was missing from the shelves. She called Detective Johnson back over.”

“Detective Johnson, this may not be important, and I might sound silly but my favorite coffee mug is missing. It wasn’t in the dishwasher like I thought, and it’s not on the shelves. I don’t know if it’s important or not, but I thought it was strange. I don’t misplace things,” stated Carrie.

Detective Johnson furrowed his brow and looked at her and said, “Well I’m sure it will turn up. It isn’t high on my priority list right now.”

Carrie shrunk away embarrassed and was just going to drop it; then, she noticed a light blue handle pushed up under the cabinet in the kitchen.

Carrie’s Cup- Chapter 1

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.