In the last episode: Mark Masters, Celia and Sunni De La Croix after escaping capture but also giving up the key to the assailants decide to try and figure out what the key unlocks. They start with an attic door as their first possible object. They discover another in the attic – a roll top desk. In the desk, they find a journal. At first appearance, the journal is an ordinary financial journal but in the middle is a list of names.
Mark Masters and the two sisters agree to assign Mark to keep the journal in his office at the university where Mark teaches. Then the three of them will meet in his office two days later on Monday evening.
Monday evening arrives. Mark finishes final preparations for his Tuesday classes and decides to pull the journal from a locked desk drawer. He takes some time to study the middle part of the journal until Sunni and Celia arrive.
Like many financial journals, this one is divided into four columns: Date, Amount, Description and Notes. Mark reads the first entry of July 16, 2011. The amount column shows “Ed Barber.” “Sherril Mill” is the description. “Jim Banks” is written under the Notes column. Mark does not recognize these names. He is hoping the De La Croixes will.
Mark is startled a little when Sunni knocks on the door to his office. He starts to close the journal feeling guilty for reading it privately. Then, he decides there is no reason to feel guilt.
“What do you make of the entries?” Sunni enters immediately after rapping on the door three times.
With eyes still fixed on the journal and pointing to the entry, “I just read this first entry here in the middle of it.”
“And?” Sunni leans over the desk across from Mark gripping the edge of desk with both hands shoulder width apart.
Mark lays a palm down across the page and flips back to a page near the front. Sunni watches his eyes travel quickly left to right three times. Then, Mark flips back to the page he was reading when Sunni arrived. His eyes dart across the page twice. He repeats the gesture of flipping to the front, back to the middle and reading a couple of entries three more times.
“I don’t recognize these names and I cannot see a connection with them and the rest. I feel useless and stupid.,” Mark rotates the ledger around and pushes it toward Sunni.
Before Sunni can actually focus on the journal, Celia enters Mark’s office. She stops for a moment to assess what she sees before deciding to settle next to Sunni. Celia also leans against the desk like Sunni except with only one hand on the desk. The other hand plucks the journal off of the desk and into her possession.
Sunni tries to retrieve the journal from Celia who holds it over her own head just out of Sunni’s reach. Sunni refuses to try and get it back.
Celia leafs through the journal making only brief stops to quickly read a few entries. After a minute or two of this rapid page turning exercise, Celia hands the journal back to Sunni.
“I don’t believe this thing holds any clues to Monica’s death or whatever the key unlocks,” Celia folds her arms in front of her, plants one foot out in front of her body and leans back, head cocked to one side.
“I think Mark and I were about to conclude that,” Sunni offers the book to Mark.
“Yet, some of these entries do seem to address something,” Mark holds the closed journal in front of him with both hands as he stares down at it.
“Maybe the middle entries represent some type of code,” Sunni sits in a chair stationed facing the front of Mark’s desk, leans back and crosses her long but muscular legs.
Mark rests the journal on the desk and lowers himself into his office chair. He then invites Celia to sit in a chair identical to the one in which Sunni reclines. They all sit with eyes glazed over in a momentary fog of bewilderment.
Finally, Mark breaks the silence, “What does the key unlock, a room, a building or a box?”
“Maybe we should be asking what did the hooded men think they’d find in the library safe?” Celia edges forward in her chair gripping both arms of the chair so tight her knuckles turn pale.
Sunni shakes her head, “Why kill Monica? What did she have to do with this?”
“Maybe we should go to the police like Celia wants to do.”
“Wanted to do,” Celia leans back slightly and raises an index finger.
Furrows form on Sunni’s brow, “You’ve changed your mind?”
“Yes and no. I don’t think the police are taking this serious enough. If we go to them, we ask the questions.”
Mark leans forward, “They’ll want to know what the burglars stole and why we’re so concerned about a key.”
“We tell them the truth. We don’t know,” Celia stands and strikes a pose indicating she is ready to go.
“Wait, Celia, what if they don’t believe us? Is that what you’re getting at, Mark?”
Mark strokes his beard, “I’m not sure I mean anything by it. I’m just stating facts so we’re prepared with our answer.”
“ ‘Honesty is the best policy.’ ‘The Truth shall set you free.’ And so on and so forth,” Celia is nearly out the door waving for her companions to join her.
Mark leans back in his chair, “But we don’t know the truth. We are just speculating.”
Celia who is now just outside the doorway, “Speak for yourself, Mark. I know the Truth. ‘For God so loved the World….”
Sunni stands and faces Mark, “That is the honest truth, Mark and Celia’s made up our minds.”
“You gals go ahead. I’m out of this for now.”
Celia dashes back into Mark’s office as if she were shot out of a cannon, “Remember, you’re the guy who reminded me that you’re in this deep – something about guns, hoods and threats.”
“Here’s the truth I know: Sunni was guarding the library with a gun when her mother died for reasons she hasn’t fully disclosed.” Mark tosses a glance in Sunni’s direction and then seething at Celia.
“Did I know that, Sunni?” Celia turns to Sunni, hands on her hips.
“We do as you suggest, Celia. We ask the questions. We only tell them the facts,” Sunni emphasizes with both hands outstretched chopping the air in front of her.
“I tell them you were in the library with a gun.”
“If you feel it necessary. I’ll fill you both in on why I anticipated trouble afterwards.”
Mark releases a long sigh of frustration. He reluctantly rises from his comfy chair and shuffles out of his safe familiar surroundings to join the De La Croixes on their way to the police.
Driving separately, Mark arrives at the main precinct of Layette, Kentucky after Sunni. The two wait for Celia.
“Tell me honestly, what do the hoodies want?” Mark leans against a set of handrails that divide steps leading to the entrance of the precinct.
Sunni glances up at Mark over the top of her sunglasses, “I am not sure except it’s not monetary. I think my dad knew something about some people that they don’t want others to know about.”
Sunni looks up to see Celia coming towards them from the parking garage across the street, “I wish I knew.”
When Celia joins them Mark senses a change in Sunni’s demeanor. Sunni’s attention focuses on Celia and speaking to the authorities about last night. She also hopes to hear something that explains why Monica had to die.
Moments after the three enter the building, a plain clothes male officer approaches them.
“Are you Mark Masters?” the officer stands blocking Mark’s path.
Mark nods politely. Sunni stops to listen. The officer glances over at Sunni. Celia walks several steps forward before she stops positioning herself behind the officer. A female plain clothes officer approaches Celia.
The male officer turns perpendicular to Mark between Mark and Celia, “Ironically, my partner and I were just heading to your home, Mr. Masters.” He points to the female officer.
“Would you mind coming with me to my office?” The female officer addresses Mark as she gestures further down the corridor towards her office.
Mark signals with his eyes to Sunni and Celia his intention to follow the female officer. As he follows the officer, the male officer suggests that Sunni and Celia wait for Mark in the waiting room just off of the corridor.
“I’m Detective Madison,” the female officer escorts Mark down the corridor past identical glass front offices.
Detective Madison waves for Mark to enter her office. Inside the 10’X10’ office, Detective Madison politely offers Mark a seat in the lone steel frame and plastic stacking chair. The detective rounds the simple wooden desk to sit across from Mark in her ergonomic office chair.
With fingers interlocked and elbows on the desk, Madison begins the interrogation, “I understand you spent some time with Monica De La Cross not too long before she collapsed. Is that correct?”
“I am not sure of the time frame, but that’s a fair statement.”
“Can you tell me about that encounter?”
“There’s not much to tell. It was very brief and rather uneventful,” Mark feels his body heat rise and his palms begin to moisten.
Madison rests one arm on the armrest of her chair as she crosses her legs under the desk, “Relax and try to recall. It may have been more eventful than you realize.”
While Detective Madison interviews Mark, Sunni and Celia wait in the waiting area. Several of the staff members of the foundation are already seated there. Some of them greet the sisters. All of them appear nervous and uncomfortable.
Sunni and Celia toss a look at the other. Something changes the police’s attitude about Monica’s death. Maybe it is the burglary or maybe the coroner uncovered something. Sunni and Celia both feel they have a right to learn what that is.
I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.