As I’m nearing the end of the 31-day challenge, this will be the last chapter I post here. My goal is to eventually work it up to a publishable book. If I don’t get that far or those I ask to evaluate it for me don’t think it has potential, then I’ll finish it here and let it stand as is.
Thanks for commenting and for following this far. I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read. I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether or not you think it can be beefed up and turned into a book. Meanwhile, don’t forget this is unedited! You can start chapter 1 here.
As they cleared the table and put away leftovers to have for dinner, Erin started filling in the family on what she and Scott had uncovered that morning. There were many “Whats?” and “No ways!” and other assorted exclamations as she unveiled the curiosities of Hazel’s home and what appeared to be her hidden life. They made their way back out to the deck to continue the discussion in the sunshine.
Finally, Gordy couldn’t hold it in any longer and exclaimed, “I’ve known Hazel for 30 years! I mean, after the accident, things really changed with her, but how could I have missed this?”
Tyler sat on the wicker love seat on the far side of the deck with his arm around Liz. “If someone doesn’t want to let you in, you can’t force your way in, Dad,” he replied. “Breaking and entering isn’t just for criminals, you know.”
Gordon put his head in his hands as he sat next to Ellen opposite Ty and Liz. “I really considered Bernie and Hazel friends, but I actually can’t think of one time when we were invited to their house. They were a pretty normal couple, and ecstatic after they had Bryan.”
Erin said, “Hopefully Scott will uncover some things as he investigates. I’m anxious to do more searching in that house myself, but I don’t think he’s going to give me that chance.”
Cory took her hand. “It’s probably best you let the pros do the work anyway, babe. If somehow organized crime is involved, it’s best to stay out of the way.”
“Anybody want to spend a nice day at Green Glass Winery?” Erin joked.
Everyone laughed to ease the tension a little, and conversation went on to other topics. Sarah being one of them.
Ellen said, “I saw Sarah on campus the other day. I waved and called her name, but she didn’t hear me, or at least didn’t acknowledge that she heard me.”
Gordon grimaced, well aware that his youngest daughter wasn’t making the best of choices these days. “She’s being pretty distant with me these days. I’m worried about her.”
Erin loved her little sister to pieces, but she knew there had been a string of boyfriends in the last several months and Erin wasn’t at all comfortable with the sorority involvement she was having. She knew she was stereotyping again, but parties were just too much a part of that life. And she knew that her dad didn’t know the half of it.
Suddenly Erin jumped as her phone vibrated in the back pocket of her jeans. She pulled it out and saw a message from Scott, pulling her right back into the saga that was never far from her mind.
“Interesting stuff turning up. Want to talk?”
Erin quickly thumbed her reply: “Can you head up to my dad’s? We’re all here.”
“Yep. Be there in 15.”
She turned off her phone and told the group, “Scott’s got some information. He’s going to come over and fill us in.”
Just then Liz heard baby TJ babbling in the guest room, so she got up to get him while Ty said, “So, Scott and Pepper? Any progress in that arena?”
Cory laughed heartily at that comment and Erin groaned. “No, dang it! She’s so stubborn. That man is a gem. I’m gonna have to give her a long talking to.”
“Oh no you don’t” Cory added. “They’ve got to work this out on their own. Scott’s no pushover. He’ll wait her out. He can be pretty persuasive.”
Scott and Cory had been best friends for years, ever since playing basketball together in high school, though Scott was a senior when Cory was a freshman. Although they had gone to different colleges, they had stayed in touch, and after graduating from the Police Academy, Scott had settled in Clairmont. He had just recently become the youngest detective in the history of the Clairmont police force.
His family life had been rough when his police officer father had been killed in the line of duty, and his teacher mother had to raise him and his three brothers on her own. His mom lived in nearby Alameda while his brothers were all married and living in other cities, and one in the Seattle area. They were very close and he was proud of all of them.
A few minutes later, they heard the sound of Scott’s weekend ride, his bright red Honda Shadow Sabre motorcycle, pull up in the driveway. Erin opened the front door to let him in before he knocked, and there were hugs and handshakes all around.
“Congrats on making detective,” Ty said as they sat down on the deck with everyone else. “We haven’t seen you since that happened.”
“Thanks,” Scott replied. “I’m really excited for the opportunity to do some good out there.” He laughed. “That didn’t sound cliché at all, did it.”
Settling in to his seat, Scott said, “Well, I won’t beat around the bushes. In just a short time, I learned a lot about our friend Hazel Hodges.”
Out of the blue, Ellen gasped. “Wait, you guys have talking about Hazel Hodges this whole time? Hazel Garzetti Hodges?”
Gordy took Ellen’s hand with concern, “I actually never knew her maiden name, but maybe it’s the same person. How many Hazel Hodges can there be out there?”
“Oh, my dears,” Ellen said, “Hazel Garzetti is the heiress of the Garzetti news empire. And her husband, Ruben Bernard Hodges, didn’t just work for the government, he was an agent for the DEA.”