FM 23


By the time we reached the crime scene, the sun was rising high in the sky. We’d been out all night. “See what happens when you relax?” I mumbled to Tommy as we pushed through the tall grass. It was a young girl…she couldn’t be any older than eighteen. “Poor thing.” I whispered. “Don’t you live only a few miles away from here?” He asked looking around. “Yeah. You can even see the roof of my house through those trees.” I pointed off into the distance. He grunted, then bent to examine the body while I looked around for clues. Footprints, clothing, anything…but I found none. Tommy jerked upright. “She was strangled.” He grimaced. “We’ve seen this before, Shannon. We read about it in the papers. It was plastered all over the news. It ruined our lives.” I blinked at him in response. “Who strangles young women and leaves their bodies near the creek?” It couldn’t be. “No.” I gasped. He nodded his head. “Yes. It’s either him…or a copycat.” I rubbed my temples with my fingers…just thinking of the possibility was giving me a headache. “Why now? After all these years?” He gazed out towards the creek. “Could be because of us. Maybe we have targets on our backs.” I felt a shiver go down my spine. “Luckily, I know someone who can help us out.” He said coldly, pulling out his cell. “Let’s hope he answers.”


SS 10


A month had passed since the initial shock of Hannah’s pregnancy wore off of me. I was still green with envy but it no longer hurt to be in the same room as her. And for good reason. On that day, the dreary fall weather outside had kept us indoors sitting by the fireplace. We were entertained with small talk and warmed by many cups of tea. Then Hannah suddenly blurted out, “Everyone in town says this mansion is haunted. Now I’m beginning to believe them.” We thought she was joking but her expression remained serious. “And why do you believe them?” Sheldon asked. “I think I saw a ghost…at the top of the stairs this morning. It had eyes in it’s hands.” She shivered for effect. He shook his head and sighed. “Ghosts aren’t real, Hannah. Surely you know that.” She grew irritated. “I know what I saw. Elaine believes me. Don’t you?” She turned in my direction. I cleared my throat. “I believe you think you saw a ghost.” Sheldon narrowed his eyes at me. “Don’t encourage this madness.” Hannah sat back and crossed her arms. “I can prove it.” We all looked at her, waiting for her to speak once more. She smiled smugly and said, “Let’s hold a séance.”

FM 22


The next evening Tommy invited me out to a local pub called Patchy’s. He was having a drink and waiting for me at the bar. “We really don’t have time to slack off, Gallagher. We have a case to solve.” I said with a frown. Ginger’s ex was proving to be a hard person to find. “Come on, Shannon…have a little fun! It’ll be alright for us to relax just a tiny bit. As soon as we find this Brad guy, it’s going to be just like you wanted. An open and closed case.” Tommy beamed at me. “You know what…you’re right! Next round is on me!” Time flied over the next few hours. We knocked back several drinks and got all caught up on each other’s lives. I learned that Tommy had recently gotten divorced. But I didn’t get to find out why, because right at that moment, my cell went off. “Casey here.” I answered it and opened my mouth in surprise at what I heard. I hung up and faced Tommy. “That was the Chief. Our night just got a whole lot more interesting. There’s been a murder.”

SS 9


Not long after we got back from dining, Hannah rushed to the bathroom. I knocked on the door. “Are you okay?” When I got no response, I opened the door and peeked in. Hannah was vomiting. “Was it something you ate?” I asked worriedly when she stood. “Oh, I’m fine.” She went to the sink to wash her mouth out. Then she leaned in close and said, “I didn’t get a chance to tell anyone yet…but I’m pregnant! Isn’t that great?” She beamed at me. I struggled to put a smile on my face. “That’s wonderful, Hannah. Congratulations.” She took my hands in hers and gushed. “I always had this daydream that you and I would be pregnant at the same time! And that our kids would grow up and fall in love one day! Isn’t that silly?” I just stood there with that stupid smile frozen on my face. “Tomorrow we’ll celebrate, make sure to dress up!” She kissed me on the cheek as she walked out the bathroom, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
“I know how you feel.” Sheldon whispered in my ear. He twirled me around. “You wish it was us celebrating tonight instead of them.” I didn’t respond but I knew he could see it all over my face. I peered at my friends over Sheldon’s shoulder and sighed. “Wishful thinking will get us nowhere. Our time will come, I’m sure.” Sheldon gave me a devious smile. “Let’s go increase our odds…I think Hannah and Aiden need some privacy.”

FM 21


I went over the evidence we gathered last night and scratched my head. We had a partial print but no matches were found. Was someone just trying to scare the old lady? “Staring at it won’t solve it, ya know.” Tommy teased from behind me. I sighed. “I know. I was just hoping our first case would be an open and closed type thing.” He grinned. “Then we wouldn’t get to spend so much time together on the clock.” I giggled and quickly changed the subject. “I’m going to try to level with the granddaughter again. The way she was acting last night doesn’t sit right with me.” He nodded. “Okay. Want me to tag along?” I patted him on the shoulder. “Nah, I’ve got it. I think she’d like me more than you anyways.” I heard him laughing as I walked out the door.
“Thank you for meeting me today, Ginger.” I smiled at her. She had trouble meeting my eyes. “Is there something you need to get off your chest?” I asked nicely. “It’s all my fault!” She moaned burying her face in her hands. “I was dating this guy, Brad, and he turned out to be a total nutcase. So I dumped him. Then this happened. My poor grandma! What if he’d given her a heart attack?” I handed her a tissue. “Don’t blame yourself, it’s not your fault. And thank you for telling me the truth.” I told her, calming her down. “Now are you sure that Brad was behind the break in?” She nodded. ” Yeah. I’m sure of it. Who else could it be?”

SS 8


“So it begins.” Sheldon muttered under his breath. “Mr. and Mrs. Jones are in the parlor waiting for you. Follow me.” The butler lead the way. As we walked, we looked around. The wallpaper was fading and missing in places. There were small holes in the floor. The stairs were missing a railing. But it looked as if someone were cleaning and making repairs. “Elaine! I’m so happy to see you!” Hannah squealed enveloping me into a tight hug. Aiden shook Sheldon’s hand. “I’m glad you both decided to come about. It’s all Hannah’s been talking about.” Sheldon gave him a curt nod. “Let’s all go put on our dressiest clothes.” Hannah said with a grin. “Tonight we’re going to dine in the finest restaurant…and we’re going to have the whole place to ourselves!” Sheldon rolled his eyes. “What’s the point in even getting dressed then…if no one is going to see us?” Hannah looked confused for a moment. “It’s a joke, Hannah.” I took her by the arm and narrowed my eyes at my husband. “Oh!” She giggled. Without another word, Sheldon went out to the car to get our luggage. After our large and expensive dinner, he seemed to be in a much better mood. He even mustered up the gumption to ask me to dance. As we swayed side to side, I laid my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes. What a wonderful life.

FM 20


“So…what do you think?” I asked as I stared hard at the floor. Tommy grunted. “I think we’re homicide and this is clearly a vandalism case.” I shrugged. We’d been in the small cottage where a sweet old lady and her granddaughter lived for most of the day…it was getting dark outside now and nerves were being tested. “I’ll try talking to the grandma again. You look around and see if you can find anything.” He nodded and turned to the window behind him. The grandmother had been asleep when the sound of breaking glass woke her up. Nothing was missing. But there were weird drawings on the floor. I wasn’t ready to go back to the station unless we had a lead. So I tried talking to the granddaughter, Ginger. Ginger insisted that she didn’t know anything and that she’d arrived only minutes before we did. She looked really nervous. And it felt like she was hiding something from me. No matter how nicely I prodded, she shut down my advances and made an excuse to get away from me. If only people didn’t lie…it would make my job so much easier.

SS 7


“Let’s not put it up for sale.” I told Sheldon while looking up at our home through the gate. “It would be nice to come back to it one day.” He nodded briskly. “Anything you want, darling.” He said softly, kissing my cheek. He put our bags in the trunk of our car and then we set out for the estate. “This is it.” Sheldon mumbled when we came to a stop almost an hour later. I looked up in awe at the looming mansion before our eyes. Sheldon took a deep breath. I knew it was hard for him, being here, but he was willing to do anything for me. I slipped my hand in his and smiled warmly at him, giving him the courage he needed to ring the doorbell. Instantly, the door opened and we were greeted by the staff. “Good day to you, Mr. and Mrs. Crosby! I am Mr. Allen and this lovely lady is the housekeeper, Ms. Graves. We are happy to be of service.” The butler said while giving a little bow. “It’s a pleasure to meet you both.” The housekeeper murmured politely. “Welcome home.”

FM 19


I went straight to my desk Monday morning, in hopes to finish up some paperwork before my new partner arrived. “You must be Casey.” A gruff voice said from nearby. I had a feeling I knew exactly who it was. I looked up into a face that I hadn’t seen in nearly two decades. “Tommy Gallagher…wipe that scowl off your face! It’s me, Shannon! Don’t you remember?” I teased him. A smile took place of the frown instantly. He cleared his throat. “Yeah. Of course I do.” Then he pulled me into an awkward hug. “It’s good to see you, Shannon.” I nodded and grinned. “You too! Isn’t this just the weirdest thing…both of us landed careers in the Willow Creek Police Department and we’re partners at that.” I said. “Well, I think maybe I inherited this job. I even ran off to the city to get away from it all. But here I am. Seemed to follow in my old man’s footsteps after all.” Tommy muttered with a faraway look in his eyes. At that moment, we were both paged. “Looks like we got our first case!” I said happily. Tommy followed me to the lobby. “How is Kolt anyways?” I turned and asked him. He winced at his father’s name. “Still chasing ghosts, I suppose. He never gave up, ya know? And that’s what eventually drove a wedge between us. I filed for emancipation when I turned 15. Needless to say…we don’t talk much anymore.” I frowned. “I’m sorry to hear that, Tommy.” He shrugged. “It is what it is. And ya know what else? You sure did turn out cute, Casey.” He winked at me. I blushed and laughed his compliment off. “Let’s get to work, Gallagher.”

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