Copyright 2021 Michele Pariza Wacek“Why are you here again?” Officer Brandon Wyle asked me, his chair squeaking as he shifted his lean, lanky figure into a more comfortable position. His dark hair was longer than he normally wore it, curling around his collar and into curtain bangs that he absentmindedly brushed off his forehead. I found myself wondering if this was a new hairstyle, or if he kept forgetting to make an appointment with a stylist. His expression was carefully blank, but his dark eyes didn’t miss a thing. I hadn’t quite figured it out myself, but was doing my best to sound more confident than I felt. The longer I sat there, the more convinced I was that it was a huge mistake. But at that point, it would have been even worse if I’d left, so I had to brazen my way through it. “She’s my client,” I said, which was true. She had bought some tea from me. Once. “And you’ve seen her condition.” Wyle’s eyebrows went up. “Condition? You mean her pregnancy?” “Exactly. Stress isn’t good for mothers-to-be. Well, stress isn’t good for any of us, but it’s especially not good when you’re pregnant. And she’s already dealing with the stress of losing her husband …” “Who she likely poisoned,” Wyle said. Now it was my turn to raise eyebrows. “Are you saying she’s a suspect?” More squeaking as he moved again. We were sitting by his desk, which was tucked away in the corner of the police station. The room was too hot—Wyle had mentioned there was something wrong with the heater—but the combination of the heat, cigarette smoke, and the burnt-coffee-old-sweat odor made my stomach turn. Even though we weren’t alone, no one appeared to be paying any attention to us. The constant collective noise of the phone ringing, typewriters clacking, and people talking filled the space. “Oh come on, Charlie. You’re smarter than this. Everyone is a suspect in the beginning. Heck, you even made the list.” I was aghast. “Me?” “Yes, you. Don’t you think it’s pretty suspicious you’re even in here?” “I never even met Dennis,” I said. “You don’t need to meet the guy to sell his wife some poison.” “I don’t sell poison,” I said firmly, deciding I would definitely not be mentioning Courtney’s request for something to kill her husband to Wyle. “I sell teas and tinctures.” “Uh huh.” Wyle tapped his pen on his notebook, which was balanced precariously on top of a stack of paperwork. His eyes continued to study me.
About Michele Pariza WacekWhen Michele was 3 years old, she taught herself to read because she wanted to write stories so badly. It took some time (and some detours) but she does spend much of her time writing stories now. Mystery stories to be exact, ranging from psychological thrillers to cozies, with a dash of romance and supernatural thrown into the mix. If that wasn’t enough, she also hosts a virtual book club you can check out and join (for free!) at MPWNovels.com. Michele holds a double major in English and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she lives in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona with her husband Paul and southern squirrel hunter Cassie.