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CHRYSALIS–CHAPTER 9

Chryssie was back in the tiny room—her prison.

At least she wasn’t tied up any longer. Instead, she was eating a sandwich the goon gave her. He’d left her in the room alone, but told her the door was locked and he would be right on the other side.

If she dared to even rattle the door knob, she’d be tied back up.

So, instead she was eating her sandwich and trying to figure out her next move. The only window in the tiny cubicle was above her head. From what she could see through the window, she was in a basement.

Apparently, still in town since she could see a few buildings as well.

After she’d eaten, she got up and moved the chair to the window as quietly as she could. No use warning the goon she was trying to escape.

She climbed on top of the chair. Reaching as far as she could, she was able to touch the window. Even if she could unlock it, how would she get through the window?

She sighed.

The tiny room had the chair and the sofa. Nothing else. She might be able to move the sofa over and then put the chair on top of the sofa. But if the goon was actually outside the room, he’d hear her.

Should she take the chance that he’d lied to her? That he was actually gone doing other goon business at the moment. It was possible.

She stared at the door.

Possible but not probable.

She was sure he was out there just waiting for an excuse to come in and hurt her again. She reached back to the window and curled her fingers around the ledge. Using all her strength, she tried to lift herself up.

Nothing happened.

Just as she suspected, even if she managed to get the window unlocked, she wouldn’t be able to lift herself up so she could squeeze through it. Standing on her tip toes, she could see the sidewalk.

Maybe, she could stand here and wait for someone to go by. Then yell at them to go get help. Other than that, she didn’t see a way to get out of this situation.

          God, I really need you. I know I don’t deserve it, but I could use a little help here—well a lot, actually.

She heard a sound at the door. Before she could jump off the chair, it opened.

The goon stood there, shaking his head. “See, this is what I mean. I do something nice for you and this is how you act. Good thing I decided to check on you.”

Thanks a lot. God. So much for prayer working.  “It doesn’t matter. I couldn’t get out anyway.” She demonstrated her inability to lift herself up.

“But you tried. And that doesn’t make me happy. Good thing, the boss said not to hurt you. You really get on my nerves.”

She jumped off the chair and smiled at him. “Well, if I’m so annoying why don’t you just let me go? That way I can get out of your hair and you can get on with your day.”

“Yeah, you wish.”

Her heart was racing and her palms were sweaty. But there was no way she would let him know how terrified she was. After all the boss had told him not to hurt her.

But she wasn’t quite sure if he always listened to the boss or not.

****

Chryssie opened her eyes, groggy and confused.

But it all came back in the next second. Having given up on the idea of escaping, she’d finally decided to sleep since she hadn’t done so in more than twenty-four hours.

The goon had been in the room staring at her when she’d laid down, but he was gone now. But she was sure he wasn’t far away. He’d left the door open a crack, probably so he could hear her if she tried anything else.

She had no idea what time it was.  A glance out the window told her day had given way to night. Chryssi  sat up and stared around her at the four walls. The room was empty except for the sofa.

The goon had even taken the chair out. No weapons. Nothing to help her.

How could this have happened to her? One moment things were finally going her way, the next her life was falling apart. She might not even survive until morning.

She heard voices.

Chryssie moved to the door to listen.

“How’s my girl been?” Chuck’s voice. How dare he call her his girl? He was the reason she was being held in this prison. Her face warmed as her anger increased.

“She’s a pain. That’s what she is. Next time, have someone else be the babysitter. I hate sitting around all day. It drives me crazy.”

Yeah, I’ll remember that. So, are you ready to prove that you have what it takes to be a part of this wonderful business organization?”

A mumbled yes followed. The voice was different than the goon’s. Now there was another bad guy. Three of them. There was no way she was getting out of the mess.

Her eyes filled with tears. “Sorry, Misty.” Her words were whispered.

“Let’s get this over with.” Chuck said.

This was it. She wasn’t about to give up and let them kill her. Chryssie moved to the side of the door.

As the door opened, she threw herself at the first person through it.

“What the—”

She screamed and slapped at him, but a moment later arms grabbed her and pulled her away from Chuck. The goon pulled her arms away from Chuck and held them behind her back.

“See, I told you she was a pain.”

Chuck’s eyes flashed black with anger. “So I see. Well, she’s a spitfire so I wouldn’t expect anything less. I didn’t think she’d go easy into the good night.” He walked towards her.

She cowered.

The goon laughed. “Not so brave now, are you?”

Chuck stood in front of her and then very deliberately raised his arm and slapped her.

She moaned as stars swam in front of her eyes. Warm blood trickled from her mouth and down her chin. She glared at him and did the only thing she could, she kicked at him, but he moved away before her foot could connect.

“Calm down, Chryssie. You’re making this so much more difficult than it needs to be. I don’t want to hurt you. If you listen to me, then life can get back to normal—for you and for me.”

Still glaring but not having a choice, she said, “Fine.”

The goon squeezed her arms together.

Chryssie winced at the pain. “Stop hurting me.”

“That’s enough, Stan. No reason to be a brute.”

His grasp loosened.

“I’m sorry you saw what you saw. It wasn’t part of the plan.”

Did that mean Chuck wasn’t just helping out his cousin? He did seem more like the boss than an accomplice. “I didn’t see anything.” Her chin jutted in the air in defiance.

Chuck shrugged. “Maybe not, but you saw more than you should have. Now we have to do something about it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

His hand jerked up and slapped her again. “The time for lying is over. We aren’t going to be able to work this out if you don’t stop lying.”

Work this out? Did he really mean that? Was there a chance she could get out of here alive? She nodded.

“Chryssie, I like you. You haven’t had it easy and yet you’ve worked your way through college. I don’t want to hurt you, but I can’t have you telling people about last night.”

“I won’t. I promise. If you let me go, I’ll find a job far away and leave. You never have to see me again.”

He sighed. “Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Thanks to my idiot cousin, the police now know you’re involved so you can’t just run away. You’re going to have to turn yourself in and face the consequences.”

She stared at him. What was he thinking? Why would she confess to something she didn’t do? “But I didn’t do anything.”

“See, this is what I mean. Stop thinking about you and look at the bigger picture. All you have to do is tell them that the man attacked you when you left the bar and you had no choice but to shoot him.”

“Then I’ll go to jail.”

“Chances are good that won’t happen. He was a thug and it’s quite believable that it happened just that way. It was justifiable. And even if you have to do some jail time, it won’t be much. Besides, you need to think about your sister.

“If I go to jail, they’ll never let me have custody of Misty.”

“If you don’t do this, something bad could happen to her.”

Her stomach flip-flopped.

“But if you do this, I’ll make sure you get her after this is all over. That’s a promise.”

She stared at him. Did he really have the power to make that happen?

“And there will be some money in it for you as well. So you and your sister can make a fresh start.”

How could she trust him and where was the other man he’d been talking to? Chuck’s words hadn’t sound as if he was in a bargaining mood. What difference did it make? She didn’t have any power here.

Her chances of a butterfly life were gone. No matter what happened from here on out, her life would be filled with lies. But at least she would be alive. At least, she’d be able to help Misty have a better life.

She looked at Chuck and nodded. “Fine, I’ll do it.”

Chuck stared into her eyes.

She looked away.

Slowly, he shook his head. “Chryssie, Chryssie, Chryssie. Your words say yes, but your eyes say no. I don’t think I can trust you.”

“You can trust me. I promise.”

“In spite of all you’ve been through, you’re still an idealist. You believe in right and wrong and that’s dangerous. Too dangerous for me to take a chance.” He turned towards the door.  “OK, you’re up.”

A man walked in.

Chryssie stared. It was the last person she’d expected to see.

Marv stood there with a gun in his hand.

Marv—the good Samaritan from the bar who was always driving the drunks home. Apparently, he wasn’t all that good. How stupid could she be? She’d really thought he was sincere all those times he’d tried to talk with her about God and Jesus and all that love junk.

Junk! That’s all it was.

His eyes met hers.

“Liar.” She spat out the word.

Chuck ignored her outburst and gave instructions. “OK, Marv. You take care of this problem and then you’re in. I’m leaving.”

“What do you want me to do with her?”

“Kill her.”

“Yeah, I know that but what should I do after that.”

“ Stan will help you get rid of the body. Make sure they never find the body.”

“It’s not the body.” Chryssie screamed. “It’s my body. How can you do this, Marv? I thought you were a Christian. It’s a sin to kill.”

Marv smiled—actually it was more like a lion’s snarl just before pouncing.

Stan squeezed her arms once again. Pain shot through her arms and shoulders. “Let’s get this over with. I’m tired of her. And I’ve got things to do. ”

Marv stepped forward. “I think that’s a good idea.”

He lifted the gun.

 

 

 

Uh-oh!  Things are looking grim for our hero. Almost done–one more chapter to go. Tune in tomorrow for THE END!

UNTIL NEXT TIME…God Bless and Good Reading! 

CHRYSALIS–CHAPTER 8

Even in the dimness of the bar, Chryssie recognized the men. They’d been chasing her all day. Her mind froze. But only for a moment. She turned back towards Chuck. “I can’t believe this.”

Then, her arms flew out in front of her as she shoved him.

Unfortunately, Chuck was ready for her. His arms surrounded her and in the next moment the two men were beside her. One on each side of her. They each grabbed an arm. She tried to fight them off, but they were stronger and bigger.

“Just calm down, Chryssie.” Chuck’s voice penetrated her panic. “I don’t want to hurt you. We just need to have a talk.”  Instead of talking, he went over to the bar’s front door and latched it.

No one would be coming in to rescue her.

All the fight went out of Chryssie. She slumped against one of her captors.

Chuck walked back. “Unfortunately, we can’t talk here. So, you need to go with these men. I have to stay here until Bobby’s shift.” He nodded at the two men.

They dragged her towards the back of the bar.

She dragged her feet. “No. I don’t want to go with them. Look, he hit me.”

Poor Chryssie. Is she ever going to get out of this mess?

UNTIL NEXT TIME…God Bless and Good Reading!

“Well, stop fighting and struggling with them, and they won’t have to do that again. Now, be a good girl.” He turned his back to her. “I’ll talk to you later.”

She couldn’t believe he’d said that to her as some goons were dragging her out of the bar. Not just any goons—his goons.

****

Chryssie sat on a folding chair. Tears streamed down her cheeks, but she couldn’t wipe them away. Thanks to her hands being taped behind her back, there was nothing she could do.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the goons had taped her feet to the bottom rungs of the chairs. They obviously weren’t going to let her get away from them again.

Her head drooped down on her shoulder.

Chuck? How could he have done this to her? She’d thought he was the one to help her. Instead, he was the reason she was in this prison. But she’d thought he was a good guy.

This had to be because of his cousin, obviously. He must have recognized her from the bar and went to Chuck for help. Chuck wouldn’t be involved in illegal activities, would he?

If she hadn’t been so exhausted and frantic, she would have remembered him. He must have asked Chuck to take care of her. But what did that mean?

She couldn’t believe Chuck would kill her.

But blood was thicker than water. After all, look at all she’d done so that she could rescue Misty from the foster care system.

A loud sob escaped.

Now that would never happen.

Poor Misty. She probably would never know what happened or why her big sister abandoned her after she’d promised to get her and make a new life for them. Just like their mother had abandoned them.

No! She took a deep breath.

That was not going to happen. She would do whatever she had to. To get out of this mess. Chryssie shook her head. Why hadn’t she just gone to the police as soon as it happened? It had been so stupid not to.

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid and selfish!

Her mother had told her so time and time again. No wonder, she really was stupid and selfish. If she hadn’t been so focused on taking that exam, she would have known the right thing was to go to the police.

But no—she’d thought she knew better. Take the exam and then go to the police. Now look at her. What a mess!

The door opened.

One of the goons walked in. “Still crying and feeling sorry for yourself, I see.” He smiled at her.

Chryssie glared at him, but said nothing. It didn’t seem like a smart thing to antagonize him. After all, he was in control.

He walked over until he stood directly in front her. “I was told to make sure you were comfortable so is there anything you’d like from me?” He leered down at her.

She still didn’t speak.

He rolled his eyes. “Like go to the bathroom or eat?”

“Yes, I’d like to do both actually.”

He laughed. “Actually, I figured as much.” He knelt down in front of her.

A knife was in his hand. Was he just messing with her? Pretending he was going to be nice, but kill her instead?

Her muscles tensed as she readied herself to be stabbed. A thought jumped in her mind. I should have gone to church with Marv when I had the chance. Please, God, I’m sorry.

He waved the knife in front of her face. A big smile on his own face.

Chryssie steeled herself.

He reached behind her and felt the knife cutting through the tape binding her hands. A moment later he did the same to her leg and then the other.

She was free!

Tempted to take the opportunity to try to escape, Chryssie quickly decided against it. No doubt, the goon would be expecting that. And he would enjoy stopping her way too much. She’d do what Chuck had told her to do—be a good girl.

And wait for a better opportunity.

 

OK, folks–only two more chapters to go. I hope you’re enjoying Chryssie’s story.

UNTIL NEXT TIME…God Bless & Good Reading

CHRYSALIS–CHAPTER 7

Like an old Polaroid picture, the darkness in Chryssie’s mind slowly turned from black to gray and then back to reality. Instead of fully opening her eyes, she squinted not wanting to alert them that she was awake.

The man who’d hit her was leaning on the driver’s seat. “I had to do that. It wasn’t my fault.” The big man’s voice whined.

The driver said, “Tell it to the boss, not me. He told you not to hurt her.”

Who was the boss? And why didn’t he want her hurt? Not that it mattered, she had no intention of going quietly with them so they could kill her like the man had done to that guy in the alley.

Her eyes moved from the man to the back door of the van. It was crazy, but she had to do it. The rule was never to let them take you to another place. She’d heard police, self-defense experts, and even Dr. Phil say those words of advice.

She planned to take it.

Before she could change her mind, she jumped up and grabbed the back door handles…

“Hey…”

She didn’t hear the rest of his sentence. She managed to jump and curl up in a ball as she landed on the pavement. Her shoulder banged on the road, but not her head.

A woman on the street stopped and her mouth fell open as she stared at Chryssie laying on the pavement. Moving to her knees, Chryssie yelled, “help me.”

Chryssie’s yell motivated the woman into action. She moved toward her.

The van had stopped and the man with the fist marched towards her. His face was an angry mask of rage. He’d obviously forgotten he wasn’t supposed to hurt her.

The woman looked at the man and then back at Chryssie. She charged towards Chryssie reaching her before the man. She bypassed her and ran to the attacker. Her hand moved towards his face.

The man bent over and moaned as the woman ran back to her.

“Come on.” The woman grabbed Chryssie helping her to her feet. “That mace won’t stop him for long.”

Chryssie looked back at the van and her would-be kidnappers.

The two other men were out of the van now and running towards them.

The woman pulled her away from the road. Still stunned from the fall, she allowed herself to be led away. As her senses came back to her, she ran faster.  Chryssie looked at her rescuer. “You need to go. I don’t want you to get involved in this mess.”

“I can’t leave you.”

“Yes, you can. I’ll be OK. I work at this bar.” Police or not, Chryssie had to go inside.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, and thanks so much. Keep running. Don’t let them find you.”

The woman let go of her hand. “God bless you.” The words floated back to Chryssie as the distance between them grew.

Turning the corner, she noted the police car was gone. At least one thing was going her way. Footsteps banged behind her. Well, it didn’t matter. Chuck would keep her safe.

She sprinted the last few steps and opened the door.

Chuck stood behind the bar. Looking more like a lawyer than a bartender, he wore a business suit and his brown hair was trimmed and neat. Must have a meeting somewhere.

He looked up and smiled when he saw her. “Hey.”

She launched herself into his arms. “Help me, Chuck. I’m in a lot of trouble.”

His arms stayed around her. She’d be OK now. Chuck wouldn’t let anything happen to her. “What are you talking about? What kind of trouble?”

“Two guys are chasing me.”

“Chasing you? Why would they do that?”

“It’s a long story.”

“Where are they now?”

She was wondering the same thing. Surely, they’d seen her come in here. They weren’t that far behind her. “I don’t know. They grabbed me and put me in their van. I jumped out, but they started chasing me.”

Chuck’s moved his arms away from her, his face a mask of incredulity. “Are you kidding me?”

She pointed at her face, now sore from the fist, and the scrapes from falling. “Does this look like I’m kidding?”

“No, it doesn’t. Stay here. I’ll go outside and look around.”

“You might need your Billy club.” It was behind the bar at all times just in case the customers got rowdy. She’d never had to use it, but she would now if those men tried to kidnap her again.

He shook his head. “I won’t need that. It’ll be fine.” He put an arm around her shoulder and led her to a table. “Sit here while I go check.”

Chuck walked out the door. Her heart still raced and she fought the urge to go back and get the Billy club. In spite of what Chuck said, they might need it. He didn’t understand what was going on. He had no idea what she’d been through since last night.

Needing a drink of water, she stood and walked behind the bar. Chryssie stared at the shelf for a moment and then turned to get a drink of water instead. As she held a glass under the running water, her gaze moved to the picture-filled wall.

The glass fell from her hand and shattered in the sink.

Her gaze was glued to one of the pictures hanging on the wall. It was Chuck with a man. The man who’d shot that poor kid. Chuck had once told her the man in the picture was his cousin.

Her mind went blank for a moment. She didn’t know if Chuck knew what kind of man his cousin was, but she couldn’t take the chance.

As she ran towards the door it opened.

Chuck walked in. “Nobody out there that I saw. Now, sit down and tell me what’s going on?” He looked at her. He must have seen something in her expression. His face hardened. His eyes moved past her to the back of the bar, and then he nodded.

She turned towards the back.

Two men stepped out of the shadows.

ON WITH THE STORY…..

And so our story moves forward. Hope you’re enjoying it. Remember, if you need to read any of the previous chapters, they are available through the archives.

 

CHRYSALIS–CHAPTER 6

 

As she walked toward the bar, Chryssie could barely stay awake. There was no way she could think about this mess. The police couldn’t really believe she had anything to do with the murder, could they?

Of course, they did. Her picture had been flashed all across the TV screen. Not only did the police think that, but probably every person she knew would believe it.

She turned the corner. The bar was across the street.

Her feet stopped. She couldn’t believe what she was looking at.

A police car was parked in front of the bar.

Maybe, it was a coincidence. She sighed. Or maybe not.  She couldn’t take the chance. So, she’d get her car, find a place to sleep, and then figure out what to do next.

Quickening her pace, she walked across the street and into the alley. The memories of last night in the alley flooded in as she walked the same steps. She shook them away. This was not the time think about it. Right now, she had to get her car and then talk with Chuck.

Once she was in the alley, her heart rate slowed. She walked towards the parking lot and her car. As she came to the bar’s back door, she stopped.

Maybe, she could slip into the back and wait for the police to leave. That way, she could talk to Chuck afterwards. Was that really the best thing to do? If she talked to Chuck, she would be involving him in her mess.

That didn’t seem fair.

In her current state of exhaustion, that seemed to be the only solution she could come up with–talking to Chuck.

She rubbed her head in an attempt to clear her thinking. It didn’t help. OK, she’d hide in the bar until Chuck was alone. As her hand touched the doorknob, she remembered it was always kept locked unless someone was out here smoking.

There went that plan out the window.

On to her car.

Taking a deep breath, she moved down the alley. When she’d reached the end of it, she stopped. Looking around, she assessed the situation. Not much to see. A few people were walking to their own cars, some with shopping bags.

It was a bit of a walk from The Maze but parking was free. The lots nearer charged up to fifteen dollars. Some of the hardier shoppers chose to walk the distance to save the money.

She rubbed her sweaty palms together and took a deep breath. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. All she had to do was step out of the shadow of the alley, walk to her car, then leave.

A piece of cake.

And yet, there she stood. Not moving .  Just staring. She couldn’t shake the bad feeling she had. It was just paranoia on her part. And with good reason after all that had happened to her in the past twelve hours.

She couldn’t just stand here in the alley forever.

Taking a deep breath, she stepped out moving quickly towards her car. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a van door open. Her heart skipped a beat.

Her feet slowed on their own accord, but nothing happened.

Another tentative step towards her car. Only a few more to go.

The van door was open but no one stepped out. Maybe, it was just a coincidence. Pulling her key out of her jean’s pocket, she jogged towards the car. She heard a noise behind her.

Her head swung towards the noise.

Two men were rushing at her. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw another man jump out of the van. Not good, but she was at the car. Sticking the key in the lock, she twisted.

At the same time, the two men grabbed her arms.

She screamed, but no one was around to hear her. As she kicked at them and struggled, they dragged her to the van. Lifting her up, the two men heaved her inside and tossed her on the floor.

Before she could sit up, one of the men was on top of her.

“Keep her quiet.” A voice said.

His hand clamped down on her mouth.

Chryssie bit it.

The man called her a name and in the next instant, his fist connected to her mouth.  Pain exploded and then the stars and then darkness.

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME…God Bless and Good Reading!

CHRYSALIS–CHAPTER 5

I hope you’re enjoying the story so far. Poor Chryssie–things just keep getting worse.

CHRYSALIS–CHAPTER 5

Chryssie jerked as the pencil dropped out of her hand. She shook her head in an effort to stay awake. The words on the test blurred. It had been more than twenty-four hours since she’d slept.

Her body was rebelling.

Her mind couldn’t focus.

She looked around. All the other students’ heads were down concentrating on the test. It had been a bad idea to come. It would have been better to go to the police. The university would have understood and let her take the test later after she’d slept, even though they’d said no make-ups.

She would have known that if she hadn’t been so panicked and so tired. Now, it was too late.  If she failed, it would be her own fault.

Looking down at the paper, she squinted. The words came into focus.

After triple-checking her answers, Chryssie walked up and laid the paper on her professor’s desk. Dr. Lasky looked up with a smile. “I’m sure I’ll be seeing you at graduation. You’ve been one of the best students I’ve had in years.”

“Thanks.” Chryssie smiled not bothering to explain that she wouldn’t be marching in the graduation. That took money—money that could be better spent to get her sister out of foster care.

As she made her way towards the door, a man and woman walked in. The woman held a piece of paper in her hand. As Chryssie passed them, her gaze dropped to the paper.

Her heart skipped a beat.

Her face decorated the paper—her driver’s license picture.

Lucky for her she had two different ID’s. Her college ID showed her as she looked right that moment. Her driver’s license picture showed the bartender Chryissie in full makeup and wig.

They didn’t give her a second glance. They weren’t looking for a mouse. Instead they walked up to the professor. “We’re from the police department….”

Chryssie wanted to hear what the next words were, but she knew that wasn’t a good idea. She had to get out of there. The police were looking for her—that wasn’t good. The police certainly had better things to do than hunt her down to return her purse or ID so why were they looking for her?

Once out of the classroom, she walked as fast as she could out of the building, not wanting to cause attention to herself. When she was out of the building, she didn’t dare look behind her.

She was sure the police were right behind her.

She had to get away from them. Not quite sure why since her plan was to go to the police station and tell them what she witnessed. But the fact they were looking for her scared Chryssie.

Too exhausted to think, she had to get some rest. Then she’d figure out what was going on. Her new plan was simple. To get her car and then find a quiet place to take a nap. After that, she’d come up with a strategy.

She hiked across the campus towards the Student Union. Not able to remember the last time she’d eaten, she was starving. After she got a bite to eat, then she’d find a cab.

After buying a hot and a soda, she walked out into the lounge. She plopped down on a sofa as she looked up at the big screen TV in the room. Chryssie the bartender’s picture was on the screen.

She almost dropped the soda, but managed not to. Nobody seemed to notice her picture was on the screen. She listened as the newswoman told the world that Chryssie was wanted for questioning in the murder of Marque Davis who was found dead in an alley last night.

Panic coursed through her veins. How did the police know she’d been there? Why did they want to talk to her about it? Her mind flashed to the man grabbing her hand and forcing it on the gun. In a moment of clarity she understood.

The police thought she’d shot that poor guy.

She had no idea what to do, but her boss would. Chuck was rich and smart. He wasn’t a simple bar owner. That was only one of many of his businesses. He would know what to do.

Keeping her head down, Chryssie walked out of the Student Union to the area where cabs waited for fares. She walked over to the first one and opened the door. “I need to go downtown.”

“Sure thing. Where downtown?”

“Down by the Maze.”

“Sounds good. Celebrating the end of the semester with a shopping trip, huh?”

Celebrating was the last thing on Chryssie’s mind. “Something like that.”

“Well, be careful. There was another murder not far from the Maze last night. Third one in less than two weeks. It’s a pity. I don’t know what this world’s coming to.”

“Yeah.” The last thing Chryssie wanted to do was to discuss the murder, but she didn’t want to be rude.

“Of course, I have a buddy that’s a cop. He says they have a good lead on this one.”

Her ears perked up. “Oh, really. What are they saying?”

“They’re looking for some woman bartender. According to my buddy, they’re pretty sure it’s her. Stupid woman left her purse at the scene.”

How could they think she’d killed that man? She hadn’t dropped her purse anywhere near the man at all. No wonder the guy had stopped chasing her. He had a better way to deal with the mess. Make them think she’d killed that poor guy. “Oh…well that’s good. I guess.”

He pulled up to the curb. “Here you go.”

After she paid him, she walked towards the Maze until she heard the cab pull away. Then she turned and retraced her steps from last night. Each step brought back the terror she’d felt when she was running for her life last night.

Breathing deeply, she fought back tears.

How was she going to get out of this mess? Chuck would know what to do. After she got her car, she’d go to the bar. She didn’t care if he got mad that she took a customer’s parking place or not.

She was pretty sure this counted as an emergency.

Until next time….GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

CHRYSALIS–CHAPTER 4

OK, so on with our story. In case you’ve forgotten, Chryssie our bartender/student witnessed a murder. All she wants to do is get home, then take her final exam to be a nurse. The shooter has other plans for her. If you want you can go to the archives to read the first three chapters.

 

CHRYSALIS–CHAPTER 4

 

Chryssie was sure the man could hear her heart thumping. The gravel bit into her cheek as she stared at his shoes from her vantage point under the car. She had no idea what she should  or would do if he bent down and found her.

Why didn’t he leave? What was he waiting for? Could he hear her heart slamming into her chest? Was he waiting for the other man to come help him?

The shoes moved—finally.

Very quietly, she took a breath.

She counted to five hundred before she found the courage to crawl out from under the car. After several surreptitious peeks, she decided the man had left the parking lot. At least for now. Maybe he’d given up the search for good, but she doubted it.

She stood up and brushed off the dirt from her clothes. It didn’t help much. She was quite the mess. Her wig had fallen off again and her own hair was half-pinned up and half-falling down. Now she was filthy, thanks to laying in the gravel.

Oh, well. It couldn’t be helped.

Looking towards the complex’s door, someone was coming out.

This was her chance.

Taking a deep breath, she straightened up and half-walked, half-jogged, smiling at the man as she passed him. She could only hope she wouldn’t notice what a mess she was.

She caught the door just before it closed.

More tears threatened, she was so glad to be home. She took a deep breath. Get hold of yourself. Don’t fall apart yet. Afraid to go to the lobby because the men might still be waiting for her, she took the fire stairs up to the third floor where Mr. Roberts’ apartment was located.

****

Chryssie closed the door of her apartment behind her.

She’d made it. As always, her gaze fell on Misty’s photo. Tears fell as she picked it up. Her little sister needed her. She wasn’t go to let this mess stop her from helping Misty.

Unlike their mother, Chryssie wouldn’t fail her.

She would get to that exam so she could graduate from nursing school. She already had a nursing job lined up—if she managed to graduate. Then she could get Misty out of foster care.

No more worm life for them. They would soar like the butterflies.

Chryssie wiped away the tears. This was not the time to cry for her or her sister right now. She had just enough time to shower and get to class. Her apartment was only a few blocks from school so she could walk there.

The shower revived her. Hopefully enough to take the exam. Gone was the flashy bartender, she’d morphed back into a college student. Her long brown hair hung past her shoulders. Wearing blue jeans and a loose T-shirt, she no longer resembled Chryssie the bartender in any way.

She might even be able to walk past the two men stalking her without them recognizing her. She smiled grimly at the thought. Not that she wanted to. She planned to take the back way out of the apartment building.

Chryssie went to her hidden money stash and pulled out two twenty dollar bills. It was part of her rent money, but she’d need it to take a taxi to her car. There was no way she could walk there as exhausted as she was.

She only hoped she had enough energy to get through the exam.

Her lips quivered at the thought of the tips she’d lost last night when she’d dropped her purse. Oh, well, the money was gone now. There was nothing that could be done about it.

Lucky for her, she had a spare key to her car. After the exam, she’d take a taxi to her car. Then, she’d drive to the police station and tell them what she’d seen. She took the last sip of her coffee and then headed for the door.

The door bell rang.

She stopped.

A moment later a voice said, “Police Department.”

Chryssie stared at the door. Why were the police at her door? They couldn’t know what she witnessed last night. They had no reason to be there—unless… She didn’t like the place her thoughts were taking her.

She hadn’t had time to think about it, but how had those men found her in the first place? It had to have been when she dropped her purse the first time. Something might have fallen out of it.

Something that identified her.

That had to be what happened.

The door bell rang again.

But how could the police have her ID—if the shooter had found it? He wouldn’t have given it to the police, would he? Maybe someone else had found it and turned it in along with her tip money.

That was hopeful thinking on her part. She was sure he’d found it. That’s how he knew where she lived. Maybe it wasn’t really the police at the door. Maybe it was the men who’d chased her.

Police or chasers?

She had no way to know, but she was sure of one thing. There was no way she was opening that door to find out. Had they talked with Mr. Roberts? Did they know she was here?

Stop panicking. That wouldn’t help anything. She took a deep breath. Think. Think. She had to get out of here. Of course, the fire escape. The apartment was an old building with old-fashioned fire escapes on the outside.

The door bell rang again. “Look, we know you’re in there. Open up so we can talk with you. We’re the police, we need to talk with you. We ain’t gonna hurt you.”

Yeah, right. They didn’t want to talk to her. If that was a policeman, he sure had bad grammar.

Chryssie checked her pockets to make sure she had the key and the money. Money—she might need more. Going back to the tip jar, she pulled out all the cash. Stuffing it into her jeans as she ran quietly to her bedroom.

As she opened the bedroom window, she heard a loud thump. They were going to break down her door. She crawled through the window, but took the time to close it. She didn’t want them to know how she’d escaped.

Her footsteps echoed as she ran down the iron fire escape. She could only hope they wouldn’t look out the window and see where she was going.

 

Poor Chryssie…will she ever get to the exam? Will she get her car so she can go tell the police what she saw? And the bigger question, will the police believe her?

UNTL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

CHRYSALIS–CHAPTER 3

So, here we are again. I know you can’t see me, but I’m smiling…. When I start writing a story, I never know exactly what’s going to happen or if the story will have enough momentum to make it the end. This one does! I’m almost regretting my decision to post it for free–almost. Don’t worry. I’m going to see this story to the end. I hope you’re enjoying it.  FEEL FREE TO POST ANY COMMENTS OR IDEAS THAT YOU THINK MIGHT HAPPEN…you never know I might use them.

If you need to read the first 2 chapters, go to Chrysalis in the archives. Thanks!

CHRYSALIS–CHAPTER 3

In that split second, Chryssie knew she’d make a mistake—possibly a deadly mistake. Forgetting about her exhaustion and throbbing feet, she fled into the darkness.

By the sound of the footsteps behind her, these men were much faster than the man who’d chased her earlier—maybe faster than her.

Her only advantage was that it was her neighborhood.

And she planned on taking full advantage of that.

Still running, she turned into the Dunner’s yard. “Sparky. Sparky.”

Sparky started barking, just the way she’d known he would. Sparky was a hundred pound Rottweiler that loved her and the walks she took him on. Another way she made extra money.

Sparky bounded out of his huge dog house and ran straight towards her, probably thinking it was time for his walk. His feet landed on her shoulders as he lapped her face. “Watch’em, Sparky.”

The dog went to immediate attention. Chryssie ran to the dog house.

Sparky barked. It wasn’t the happy-to-see you bark.  She peeked out from her spot beside the dog house. The men stood at the edge of the yard staring at Sparky. Sparky strained to get to them.

“Where is she? I can’t see her.”

“She’s gotta be here. I saw her run this way.”

Chryssie shoved the dog house away from the fence—the fence that Sparky had dug a hole under earlier in the summer.

Good thing the Dunners hadn’t fixed it yet.

As quietly as she could, she slid under the fence and into the Miller’s back yard. The fence post scraped her back, but other than that she’d survived another chase.

This was insane.

As she ran through the yard, Sparky still barked. Those men weren’t getting in his yard any time soon.

How had they found her? Her heart still racing, she slowed to a walk as she left their yard.  What should she do now?

Looking down at her empty hands, her heart sank. Somewhere in the chase she’d lost her purse. Now, she had no money, no keys, nothing.

She needed to get to a phone to call the police. The sooner she did that, the safer it would be for her. Unfortunately, the phone was in her apartment. The apartment she was afraid to go to. The apartment she didn’t have keys for.

Of course, she could go to the manager. She looked at her watch. Almost six o’clock. Mr. Roberts probably wasn’t even up yet. On the other hand, he told her never slept late.

But those men might have gone back to wait for her, thinking that she had no other choice but to go there as well.

She shook her head.

They were right.

In another three hours, she’d need to be in class to take that final exam. If she called the police, they’d want to question her for hours. The school would probably let her take the exam later, but she wasn’t going to take that chance.

As much as she hated the thought, she had to find another way into her apartment. After that she could get Mr. Roberts to open her door, change clothes, take the exam and then go to the police. It might not make them all that happy that she’d waited so long to contact them, but she had to take that exam.

That’s all there was to it.

She wanted to be a butterfly—for herself and for her mother. But most of all for Misty. Sweet, beautiful Misty.

As she neared her apartment building from the back entrance, her feet slowed. Chryssie had to make sure the men weren’t there—looking for her.  She slipped behind a tree and waited.

No one around.

Quickly, she moved from the tree and ducked behind a car in the parking lot. Her senses were on high alert. When the time felt right, she moved up to the next row of cars and then the next.

Only one row of cars stood between her and the door.

Now, she had to wait for someone to come out so she could get inside. Shuffling noises caught her attention. Peeking out from the car, she saw one of the men who chased her.

He walked casually around the parking lot, his hand in his pocket.

Her heart rate soared.

Did he have a gun in his pocket? Of course he did. She closed her eyes wondering how she’d gotten herself in such a mess. Tears flooded her eyes. She tried so hard to do the right thing.

And she was so close, but it was all falling apart.

The gap between her and the man was getting smaller. Chryssie couldn’t run. If she did, then he’d be sure to see her. Instead she flattened herself on the gravel and rolled under the car, hoping the owner wasn’t an early-to-work person.

Footsteps.

His footsteps, no doubt. Why didn’t they go away? Did they think she was so desperate that she’d come back to the apartment after they’d chased her away?  She rolled her eyes. Obviously, she was that desperate.

Shoes came into view.

They stopped.  The shoes were so close she could touch them if she wanted to.

Don’t look under the car. Chryssie held her breath, afraid the man would hear her. Don’t look under the car. She needed air, but didn’t dare breathe.

CHRYSALIS–Chapter 2

Well, experiment #1 appears to be a success. I’ve received great feedback with comments here and on my Facebook page as well. So, as promised here’s chapter 2. If you didn’t read chapter 1,  you can find it in the archives under CHRYSALIS. Thanks for all the positive comments, keep them coming.

CHRYSALIS-CHAPTER 2

Chryssie stared at the gun aimed at her chest, then up at the man holding it. He seemed familiar, but not sure why. Maybe, from the bar? She wasn’t sure—it was hard to think with a gun pointed at her.

A thousand thoughts zoomed around her mind. He was bigger and stronger than her. Not to mention he was the one with the gun. The picture of the little girl flashed in her mind. She couldn’t die before she had a chance to make it up to her.

Throwing her hands in front of her face, she cried, “Please. Please, don’t hurt me. I didn’t see anything.”

“Whatever.” The man grabbed her hands and dragged her down the alley. Towards the man lying on the dirty cement. She stared down at him. He didn’t need her help now. A halo of blood surrounded him.

His hands loosened around her wrist.

This was her chance.

She pushed the man as hard as she could. Her feet unfroze and she ran.

Pop. Pop.

Faster.

She zigzagged down the alley. The
way people did in the movies.

Pop.

Her feet pounded on the uneven pavement. She turned right into another alley. No more pops. Did that mean he was out of bullets? Or just that he couldn’t see her? Who knew? It didn’t matter.  The man looked strong enough to kill her with his bare hands.

She ran faster.

Her wig slipped, dropping down into her eyes. As Chryssie pushed at the wig, it fell off. She leaned down to pick it up and dropped her purse in the process. Scrambling, she picked them both up and kept running.

She glanced behind her. The man turned the corner. She was furthering the distance between them. Forcing her legs to move faster, she sprinted down the alley and into another one. All her morning runs were paying off.

He might be bigger and stronger, but Chryssie could run faster.

Pumping her legs as fast as she could, she headed to the shopping area known as The Maze. It was late and not many people would be around, but she could find a place to hide.

His footsteps echoed behind her. But the further she ran, the quieter they became and then there was silence except for her own ragged breathing. She made a turn and then leaned against the building. Sucking in deep breaths, she peeked around the corner.

The alley was empty.

She’d lost him or he’d given up.  Chryssie sighed in relief as she looked around trying to figure out where she was. One thing was for sure, she’d have to walk home.

There was no way she was going back to get her car tonight.

As her breathing slowed, she became aware of her throbbing feet. Oh well, nothing she could do about that. There was no way she could spend her rent money for a cab. Even if her feet were killing her.

As she stumbled home, she debated what to do next.

Should she call the police and report what she’d seen and what happened? After all, she’d gotten a very good look at the man. She would be able to identify him. Of course, it was the right thing to do.

But she was exhausted. Maybe, it could wait until morning. Until she’d had a few hours of sleep. No one could blame her for that. Well, she’d blame herself. Exhausted or not, she’d call the police as soon as she got home. If she had a cell phone she could call now, but she refused to spend that much money on a luxury item.

No one ever said doing the right thing was easy. But if she ever hoped to transform from a worm to a butterfly, she had to keep making the right choices every time, not just when she felt like it.

The black sky turned a hazy gray. She looked at her watch. Almost 5 AM. There’d be no sleep for her that night. She turned the corner and headed down her street.

She stopped.

Two men were standing at the door of her apartment complex. Actually, more like blocking the entrance way. Were they waiting for someone? It was pretty late or pretty early depending how you looked at it.

She didn’t like the way they were looking down the street. As if searching for someone.

Someone like her.

Chryssie stepped behind the big oak tree, staring at the two men as if that might explain why they were there.

She was being paranoid.

There was no way that the man who chased her who could possibly know where she lived. And neither of the men looked like that man anyway. Of course , he might have recognized her from the bar, but even if he did, he’d have to wait until morning to find out her name and address.

And Chuck wouldn’t just give out that information to anyone.

He was protective of his employees.

She stood there trying to make her feet move, but they were rooted to the ground. No matter how much she told herself those men weren’t looking for her, she didn’t believe it.

So tired, she could barely stand, she leaned against the tree. How was she going to be able to take her final that day? Her last final before graduation—before becoming a nurse. One final–that was all that stood between staying a worm or transforming to a butterfly.

This was ridiculous. She wouldn’t let her paranoia get in the way of graduating. Taking a deep breath, she moved out from behind the tree and walked toward her apartment building.

The two men turned as they heard her footsteps.

They looked at each other for a moment then back at her. As if a single unit, both men moved down the steps and then began to run.

Towards her.

ANY COMMENTS?

Until next time….God Bless & Good Reading!

Experiment # 1!

OK-so I’m trying to make my blog more fun and interesting for people who love to read–especially those who love to read mystery and suspense novels. LIke my tagline says, I write…stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem. So, here’s my first experiment. Just as in the golden days of radio, I’m going to share a story with my readers for FREE!.  One chapter at a time! How many chapters will it be? I have no idea.

It’s a new story and it’s not finished yet.  I’m what other writers call a seat of the pants writer. That means I don’t plot my story ahead of time. So, you’ll be reading the story as I write it.

Only one catch–if I don’t know people want to read the next installment, then there won’t be a next installment. So, if you want to read more of the story, be sure to leave a comment. What sort of comments? Whatever you want as long as it’s about the story! Let me know what you think of the characters, the story plot, or whatever you want.

 

CHRYSALIS

chrysalisa pupa of a butterfly or a moth; a protecting covering; a sheltered state or stage of being or growth; usually enclosed in a cocoon or protective covering as it undergoes internal changes to become an adult—also known as metamorphosis.

That was a lot of pressure for one person to bear. She supposed her mother meant good when she’d named her Chrysalis. She’d meant it to be symbolic, of course. Her mother had never grown out of the infancy stage, but she wanted her daughter to undergo the transformation from worm to butterfly.

Sorry, Momma. Not happening—at least not yet.

Chryssie closed the dictionary.

Time to go to work.

Time for a metamorphosis of another type.

She slipped on the low-cut T-shirt. It made for better tips. Then came her jeans, tight but comfortable. She moved to the bathroom mirror, took off her glasses, and put in her contacts. First came the outrageous eyeshadow, complete with glitter. Then the bright red lipstick.

And finally to make the change complete, she tied her soft brown hair in a ponytail and pinned it up. She slipped on the jet black Elvira wig.

She supposed a good friend might recognize her but since she had none, it wasn’t a worry.

She walked through her one room apartment.

Apartment. An exaggeration, but it was affordable. That’s what counted. As always, she picked up the picture of the adorable four-year-old girl, kissed it, and whispered, “Good-night, my love. Pleasant dreams tonight and always.”

***

The music blared while a few patrons still gyrated on the dance floor. It had been a busy night, just the way she liked it. Time went faster and more money. She glanced toward her tip jar. Almost full and she’d emptied it earlier.

She smiled in spite of the ache in her feet. At least, she’d be able to pay the rent on time this month. With any luck, it would be the last month in the dump.

A tall tough looking guy walked into the bar.

She smiled and waved. “Hey Marv, is it that time already?” She glanced up at the clock.

Marv walked over to the bar. The man was a walking canvas for his tattoo art. A snake crawled up his left arm to his neck and around the back of his head. An American flag adorned the top of his right arm with a military tattoo of some sort below it. Then came the obligatory MOM. His forearm had a beautiful rendition of a cross. Not in sight at the moment, she knew his back and chest were covered as well. He’d shown her them once when it was a slow night at the bar.

“Last call.” Chryssie yelled over the blaring of the music. No one reacted. Her feet throbbed as she walked over to the sound system. Moans all around when the explosive music turned to silence.

She turned toward the customers with a tired smile. “Last call. Ten minutes and I’m locking y’all up in here.”

More moans.

“Oh, come on. Give us a break, sweetheart. I’ll make it worth your while.”

“It’s Saturday night.”

“Now it’s eight minutes and counting down.”

“You’re a tough one,” Marv laughed as he sat down on the bar stool. “Got any customers for me tonight, Chryssie?”

“Still at it, huh? Don’t you ever get tired of dealing with these drunks?”

“What about you? You’r e here more often than me.”

“Yeah, but I get paid for it. You don’t.”

“Just my little way of paying it forward.”

She pointed at one man sitting at the end of the bar. “He’s the only one tonight.” Reaching under the bar, she fished around and held up a set of keys.

Marv exchanged the keys for a business card. “Come to church on Sunday if you want. And don’t forget we have a free meal every day at noon, even Sunday.”

She pushed the card back toward him. “We’ve had this discussion before. I don’t do church.”

He patted her arm. “Used to be the same way until Jesus saved my life.”

“Yeah, yeah. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve heard all that before. Jesus saves you and then you go to heaven.”

“That’s true, but that’s not what I mean. Jesus literally saved my life.”

“Do tell.”

Marv shrugged and the snake appeared to be slithering around his neck. “I promise to tell you the whole story when you come to church or the meal.”

She put a hand on her hip. “Is that a blackmail attempt, Marv?”

“Me?” He touched his burly chest with his finger. “I would never do such a thing. Hope to see you Sunday.” He walked over to the man at the end of the bar. “How about a free ride home, buddy?”

After Chryssie locked up, she walked down the dark alley.  She shivered—not from the cold. It was close to seventy degrees out. Why couldn’t her boss let the closers park in their lot? It wasn’t safe.

She quickened her pace.

“I’m not happy about this meeting?”

“Yea, man. I got it. But you want a favor from me so you got to pay me.”

Her feet slowed down. The two men hadn’t seen her yet—and she wanted it to stay that way.  She pressed against the wall. She’d have to wait until the men finished their business.

“I already paid you.”

“Yeah, man, but that was before.”

“Before what?”

“Before I knowed who wanted the favor, man.”

Her pulse raced and she was afraid to breathe. Whatever was happening, it wasn’t something she wanted to be part of. She pressed against the old brick wall, trying not to breathe in the fumes from the nearby dumpster.

“Knew. Knowed isn’t a word. You won’t get very far in this world if you don’t have a basic knowledge of English.”

“Whatever. It was just a mistake. I knew the right word.”

“Well, that makes two mistakes you’ve made today.”

“Two?”

“Yeah, the other mistake was trying to cheat me. We had a deal.”

A pause.

“Hey, man. You don’t need the gun. You don’t want to pay me anymore, fine by me. Not a problem. I’ll still do the…job. ”

Gun. A chill traveled the length of her spine. Every nerve screamed at her to run back to the bar, but her feet were frozen.

“Sorry, I don’t believe in second chances.”

Pop.

A moan.

He’d shot the guy. She just knew it. Be quiet. Let him leave and then she’d help him.

Pop. Pop.

Or not.

Footsteps.

A moment later, a shadow loomed large, and then he was in front of her. His eyes grew wide as their gazes locked. His arm moved upwards.

The gun.

Well that’s part one–what did you think of it? Want to read more? And yes, i admit it. I hope the story piques your interest enough to check out my other books.  You can visit my website at www.lillianduncan.net or checkout the online bookstores, such as www.amazon.com or www.BN.com

Thanks, let me know if you want to read the next part of the story. Remember no comments–no second part of the story!

Until next time….God Bless & Good Reading!