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Skeletons Without Halos 14

Updated on February 26, 2016
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Nightcat is a freelance writer who enjoys crafting short stories for her readers in the fantasy, mystery and horror genres.

A Skeleton Mob Boss, With A Heart Of Gold

Welcome back! When we last left off Chester had taken over to give his view of things. And it seems he thinks as highly of Nicky as she does of him even if he makes out like it’s no big deal at times. But every boss has a softer side and so the powers that be decided he needed one more chapter to give his side of the story, and maybe let the readers get to love the mug a little better.

You all know the drill by now. All writing and photography are my original work. If you borrow anything for Internet use I’d sure appreciate a link back and credit where credit is due. The video below is to enhance your reading of tonight’s little tale. If you own the copyright and want additional credit and links or the video removed, please contact me.

Please Note: Tonight's tale carries on with the theme of the last chapter. Reader discretion is advised.

Your Music For Tonight's Tale Of Mayhem and Mystery

The Mike Hammer Collection: Volume One

A Hand To Hold

I turned after watching Suzy Q go to look at Nicky. I felt a million emotions all at once looking at her, but all I could do was stare. “What?” She asked. I went to her without a word and hugged her to me so tight I almost put her in traction. “Chessie, what is it? What’s the matter?” She asked and I knew I had to be scaring her.

“Just watching you in action.” I managed as I caressed her hair. “You knew she needed your help and you just went down there like you always do and gave it to her. I was afraid to go, Nicky. Afraid one more mug would just spook her.”

“I know, and you’re right, you could have. But you were aces when I got her up here, Chessie. You are always kind to people when it matters the most.”

“You think so?”

“I know so.” She said as we at last parted. I gave her an awkward smile. There was so much I wanted to tell her then, about me, about my past. About why I’d never hit a woman in my life and I never would. But I was too choked up about it, though I did my best to look like my usual carefree self.

Nicky knew though, somehow she knew. And she took my hand in hers as the lights went back down and the next film started.

The Best American Mystery Stories 2015

Skeletons Without Halos

Well, maybe Chester has one after all.
Well, maybe Chester has one after all.

Coffee and Confidences

When we got home that night I could see she was tired, and I told myself to be a man and handle my problems on my own, but instead of going to her apartment she suggested as we rode the elevator up that we could have some coffee together and rise late the next morning. I smiled at her, thankful she knew I needed her and for not being the type of dame who’d make a man beg.

So I got us coffee brought up them smiled at her as we settled in. “Enjoy yourself tonight, Nicky?” I asked.

“I did, and did you, Chess?”

“I did.” I put my coffee down nervously. “Nicky, what you did tonight was amazing.” I began and she looked at me, her expression open. “I haven’t told you much about my past. But what you did tonight meant everything to me and I just wanted you to know that.”

She smiled softly. “My old man used to knock us kids around. I vowed if I made it to adulthood I’d never let it happen to anyone ever again.” Her words floored me.

“I never knew.” Was all I could manage.

“I know. And I debated telling you. But it’s how I knew it wasn’t her fault. It never is the victim’s fault, you know?” She asked and I nodded, glad she understood.

A Man of Some Repute (A Very English Mystery)

A Skeleton With A Past?

What happened to make Chester the skeleton he is?
What happened to make Chester the skeleton he is?

A Troubled Past

I’d honestly expected Nicky to leave. I’d thought that sure, she’d understand if a woman or girl was involved, but never thought in a million years she’d understand that sometimes little boys aren’t the tough guys they want to be, and there’s nothing they can do when the man who should worship and adore their mother decidedly does not. That I’d lived to see that same man dropped off the docks one night and had been able to have my mother live out her days in luxury had always comforted me.

Still The Boss

Despite his past, Chester has worked his way up through the ranks to become the boss of bosses. Not bad, Chester, not bad.
Despite his past, Chester has worked his way up through the ranks to become the boss of bosses. Not bad, Chester, not bad.

Her Guardian Angel

Nicky looked radiant the following morning when I escorted her to my room for breakfast. “You look beautiful.” I said as I kissed her chastely at my door. She blushed like she often did and I liked that just fine. Nicky was a modest gal, I’d never seen her act loose, even when she’d worked undercover in some of the more questionable parts of the city, she’d had class.

Which of course had drawn the men to her like honey. I thought about seeing her take down two armed men who’d gotten the drop on her with a with a cue stick once and smiled to myself as I seated her. “What?” She asked

“Just life.” I said, not wanting to admit I’d often shadowed her on cases, even before we’d met. Nicky had fascinated me for a reason I’d never been able to pin down. She seemed to read my mind though.

“Thinking about old times?” She asked and I nodded. “I never thanked you for all the times you were there.” She said and I sat back in surprise as the chef served us then wheeled his cart back out. She’d known? I busied myself pouring coffee for both of us and her smile turned impish.

“From the smile on your face it was one of my better fights.” She said and I nodded. “Let’s see, my favorite was knocking two men out with a pool cue once. They’d gotten the drop on me and I just swung and prayed real hard. Funny how neither man fired. You could almost say someone had been there they were frightened of.”

“Then you knew?” I asked.

“I thought at the time I was just lucky, but a bullet travels faster than I can swing. I knew they’d seen someone who spooked them and had hoped it was you. You took your chances, Chessie, protecting me.” She said and I smiled.

“You were worth it. Besides, even criminals need rules to abide by. You were just doing your job like you always did. You weren’t even after them.”

“No, I wasn’t, that’s the case I was tracking you down on. I seem to remember getting to meet you shortly after.”

“You did.” I said happily. “I was in one of my warehouses. I had a feeling one of my men was less than honest and I was checking something out. You snuck right up behind me.”

“Then you turned around with your heater all ready and we had a stand off.” She said fondly.

“Yeah, but there was something there, even then, wasn’t there?” I asked.

“There was. I knew it was my job to arrest you, but I felt bad for you, being stolen from like that. And I’d done my footwork. I knew you were taking care of your mother at the time.”

“And you offered to let me go. Me, the big boss, and you offered just like that. I liked your moxie.” She blushed and looked away. But I’d fallen in love with her then and there. She’d understood I had problems and given me a free pass. That she’d been brave enough to lower her heater first had made me love her all the more.

We’d started meeting soon after and I guess you know the rest. I’d taken token swipes at her, she’d always just missed me when she was sent after me. We were in heaven whenever we’d been together. Which brings me back to that morning. We took our time over breakfast, and I wondered how to breach a delicate subject to Nicky.


A Hopeful Skeleton

What does Chester want that he thinks Nicky might refuse him?
What does Chester want that he thinks Nicky might refuse him?

The Pitter Patter Of Little Skeleton Feet

It came to me over the paper. We really had no plans for the day, everything for the wedding was set and the city could look after itself from time to time. “You know, Nicky.” I said as we lazed about my apartment. “There are certain subjects we haven’t discussed as of yet.”

She lowered her paper and looked at me in surprise. “Such as?”

“Well, I mentioned having a family, but you’ve never really said yes or no yet.”

“Yes.” She said then smiled at my surprise.

“You are sure? It wouldn’t be just the two of us. It would mean little ones to look after.”

“Even babies grow up, Chessie.” She said wistfully.

“Yeah, they do.” I said gently. “And in the meantime I think I’d make a swell dad. Teach them to take over the family business. Or not. A life of crime is not for everyone.” I said and I meant it. Every father dreams of leaving something behind for his children, but I didn’t mind if our future children became something else. You have to want to be a boss, you have to live, eat and breathe the job twenty four seven if you are going to last.

Nicky came over and nestled into me trustingly. She closed her eyes and settled in and I knew how lucky I was. I was the boss of bosses, yet Nicky trusted me not to hurt her. I wondered if she knew I felt the same way. That I trusted her just as much in my own way. Nicky had always proven loyal, being a detective had never gotten the better of her and made her turn against me. As she drifted off the sleep I put a sheltering arm around her. “Sleep well, Nicky” I said as I kissed her forehead. “Sleep well.”

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That Was Downright Adorable, Wasn't It?

I thought they deserved a little time off. It can’t all be explosions and lead showers.

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