the family murder case (part thirty-six)

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"And there was another reason," I added, "though much less important."

She nodded. "Yes. I wanted to go home, and so did Marshall. I really like Claudia and Erika, but spending several days with the Forrester family just sounded more and more dismal. We have a country to help run. And a daughter who just started school."

"And she would never say it," I added, "tough little egg that she is, but she really didn't want us to go."

"You two have gotten so domesticated," Christy said with a laugh. "How are you going to go speak at colleges if you can't leave Ron?"

Jan shrugged. "Oh, we can leave her. She's not a baby. But I think it's better when we can tell her in advance when we're coming back. And right now is a particular time, because she's just started school and we want to make sure she continues to go. If we're not there, habit will probably take over and she'll stop going."

"And there's no guarantee that we will have to leave her every time we want to travel," I added. "After all, who's going to say no if we decide to take her out of school for a few days? We couldn't bring her here; Mrs. Forrester would have taken one look at her and locked her in the stables with the horses. But colleges are different. I don't think she'd hurt any of those college kids too badly."

So, we talked pleasantly for a while longer, drank more espressos, considered various rich desserts which we couldn't possibly have consumed, and finally we were again alone in the restaurant.

I was starting to wonder when they closed, and whether they were staying open now just for us, when I saw Mrs. Forrester's car return to the nearly-deserted parking lot, where it again parked next to the car we'd arrived in.

Two men in dark clothes got out of the front and opened the rear doors for Claudia and Erika. I thought for a second that they were plainclothes detectives, but then I realized they were servants. As Claudia and Erika walked to the restaurant entrance, the men opened the trunks of the two cars. I also realized that the car which had brought the (presumed) detectives was no longer in the parking lot. I had seen it while we were eating dinner, but now it was gone.

Claudia was looking somewhat grim and thin-lipped as they walked toward our table. Not unhappy, but I could tell she'd been through an ordeal and was working at keeping herself under control. Whatever the cause of her distress, it clearly wasn't her companion, since she walked with her arm around Erika, who somehow managed to look exhausted and upset and supremely happy all at once.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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