2 On the Nickel

2 On the Nickel by Maggie Toussaint

Book: 2 On the Nickel by Maggie Toussaint Read Free Book Online
Authors: Maggie Toussaint
sprang the trap.
    Besides, Britt wasn’t asking
about Mama for social reasons. This was police business. I inhaled shakily and
squashed five more bulletins. “Mama couldn’t make it today.”
    I knew a thing or two about
difficult topics. Changing the subject was imperative. Time to apply a little
offensive strategy to this situation. “What brings you to church today, Britt?”
    “Conducting interviews for the
Hodges investigation,” Britt said evenly. “I had hoped to talk to Francine,
Muriel, and Delilah today. About the Tuesday evening hospitality committee meeting.”
    So much for my inept attempt to
change the subject. Did Britt see my hands tremble as I inserted another wad of
bulletins into the folding machine?
    Francine didn’t miss a beat in
her folding routine. “What about the meeting?”
    Britt focused on the bulletin
sisters. “I wanted to verify the time of your meeting and when everyone went home.”
    Muriel brushed aside his inquiry.
“No need to trouble Dee for that. The meeting started at seven. We discussed
the hospitality preparations for the bishop’s upcoming visit. At seven-thirty,
Dee drove Francy and me home.”
    “Delilah drove?” Britt flipped
his notebook open and scribbled fast.
    My heart sank. Would he demand to
see Mama’s car, now that he knew it had been at the church that evening?
    “Yes,” Muriel said. “Both Francy
and I are night-blind.”
    “Were there any other cars in the
church parking lot that night?”
    “Erica drove, so her Caddy was
here, but that’s all I remember seeing,” Francine said. “And Erica left before
we did.”
    Britt scribbled some more. “Did either of you think Mrs. Hodges acted out of character?”
    “I didn’t notice anything unusual—did
you, Francy?” Muriel said.
    “Not a thing. It was business as
usual around here,” Francine said smoothly. The last bulletin passed swiftly
between her and Muriel.
    “Do you have anything to add,
Cleo?” Britt asked.
    Color rose to my cheeks. “I
wasn’t here for the hospitality committee meeting.” Praying that he didn’t mention the Monday meeting, I ruthlessly shoved the final clump of bulletins into the folding
press.
    Francine and Muriel were lying
about the time they left the church. Either that or Mama went elsewhere after
the meeting. It was way past seven-thirty when she returned home that evening. I remembered because the girls and I had gone through their backpacks on the
kitchen table to make sure they had everything they needed for the first day of
school on Wednesday.
    Another piece of damning
evidence. Mama’s late arrival at home suggested she had a window opportunity to
kill Erica. My hopes plummeted. How could I keep Mama out of jail if the
evidence pointed to her?
    “I need to talk to Delilah, Cleo,”
Britt said.
    “You know where to find her,” I
said with false lightness. At this rate Mama would be behind bars by nightfall.
    Francine rose. “Will you be needing
us for anything else, Detective?”
    “Not right now. Don’t leave town,
ladies.”
    Francine and Muriel collected the
boxes of neatly pressed bulletins and scurried out of the small workroom. I
tried to make myself appear as inconspicuous as possible, hoping Britt would
follow them out and leave me alone. No such luck. He blocked the doorway again.
    “They’re lying,” Britt said, his
arms barred across his chest. Thick muscles stretched his shirt sleeves to
their maximum endurance. “Why? Do you have any idea why they’d lie to a police
officer?”
    “They lied to me, too,” I admitted.
    Britt leaned heavily in the
doorway. “I’m going to have to arrest every gray-haired lady in town for
obstructing justice. The mayor will flip out.”
    I remembered Darnell’s quote in
the paper. He’d promised a swift but thorough investigation of Erica’s death.
The mayor thought it was bad for tourism to have killers running loose on the
streets of Hogan’s Glen. I agreed with him on that point.
    Britt’s

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