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Skeletons Without Halos 15

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.

Nicky, A Skeleton's Best Friend

Welcome back! Chester had has his say, but what does Vicky think of things? We return the point of view back to Nicky in this chapter to find out. Nicky is taking over on the same day Chester left off, right after her nap. But she takes us on an interesting detour first.

As always all writing and photography are my original work. If borrowing for Internet use, a link back and credit where credit is due are appreciated. The video below is to enhance your reading pleasure only. If you own the copyright and want additional credit and links or wish to have the video removed, please contact me.

Your Music For Tonight's Tale Of Mayhem and Mystery

The Great Beyond

Chester had been wonderful the last couple of days and as I drowsed in his arms that lazy afternoon I was looking forward to our wedding. What I hadn’t told Chester was that he wasn’t the only one who’d gone out looking for the perfect wedding gift. As soon as I’d hit that button I’d hit the deck as he put it and went to the great beyond. And I’d lost no time tracking down a special someone.

I’d searched the great beyond until I’d found her and explained how things were. She’d already knew, of course. If you think the dead watch the living, it’s nothing compared to how those in the great beyond watch over the dead. I’d found her living in a snug cottage in the countryside, and sat down to tea with her in her lushly romantic rose garden. “So my boy has found the right one after all.” She said as she poured my tea.

“I hope so. And I was wondering, if it were possible, would you do me the honor of attending the wedding? You could even stay on a while if you like.” I offered and her smile softened.

“Don’t you want your own mother with you, my dear?” She asked.

“My mother won’t be attending. She doesn’t approve of my current lifestyle.” I said and Chester’s mom tsked in empathy.

“Well, her loss. I was always proud of our Chessie. And by our I mean yours and mine. His father won’t be attending either, naturally. So I suppose I can come.” She teased gently. “Provided you start calling me Mom and not Mrs. Norton. It would be Miss anyhow, dear. Chester took my maiden name.”

“Really? That’s wonderful.” I said and I meant it. I know every woman who has ever had a daughter has warned her to watch out for mama’s boys, but it was clear it wasn’t like that. Mom had retired to the great beyond and enjoyed the little cottage Chester had seen to and she relished her independence, but by the time I’d left, pulled back to my unlife by the doctors and Chester’s grief, she’d agreed to come give us her blessing and give away the bride.

Wedding Cake Murder (A Hannah Swensen Mystery)

Skeletons Without Halos

Things are looking up for the upcoming wedding!
Things are looking up for the upcoming wedding!

A Quiet Moment, Then Capture?

I awoke to find Chester fast asleep. He looked angelic and I didn’t have the heart to wake him. Chessie was the finest man I’d ever met and I loved him even more now than I had when we’d been alive. I understood now how lonely he’d been for me. How badly he’d needed me to be with him. Sure, he’d built up an empire in the land of the dead, but only so he’d have enough power to reach out for me.

I got up, covering him with a warm blanket and left the sofa to him while I stretched and padded into the kitchen. Chester was a stand up guy and I never stayed over night in his apartment so I enjoyed the chance to make tea and get all domestic. All too soon our jobs as bosses would have us back at the grindstone and I wanted to be just like every other gal for once.

I really didn’t mind being a boss. Chester did his best to make sure I still could be a detective if I wanted to, but I was warming to my new line of work, which wasn’t that different from the old one. The city run by the bosses was not one gripped by fear. Most looked after their own and if they didn’t Chester had them replaced. The city was actually more peaceful than any law and order town I’d seen while alive. I supposed there was a moral lesson there, but as the tea brewed I felt arms go around me from behind and forgot about much of anything else.


Apparently, he's very good at sneak attacks.
Apparently, he's very good at sneak attacks.

Some Romantic Afternoon

“Help, I’m being abducted.” I said, giggling slightly and Chester turned me around to face him and gave me a quick kiss.

“Not in the least. Go back to the sofa, I’ll see to the tea.” And he was as good as his word, smiling when we’d both taken our first sip. “Jasmine and honey. Interesting.”

“I would have made Earl Grey, but I thought we’d both had enough caffeine for one day.”

“Indeed we did, my sweet. Now if a case were involved, or being up all night with the little ones, that would be different.” Chester said reassuringly and I liked that about him. My father had been a complex man, capable of great love and equal hatred and it had taken a long time for Chester to win my trust, to reassure me there wasn’t a monster lurking beneath the man.

“You know, we should be getting a guest soon.” I said.


“Yeah, I went to the great beyond when I was out and found your other best girl. She’s a keeper, Chessie. I hope you don’t mind sharing her.”

Chester’s bony face lit up with a smile. “You mean it? You really mean it?”

“Of course I do, Chessie. And I arranged for your mother to come over. Later tonight, in fact, and stay with us until after the wedding. She knows she can move in if she likes, but she sure loves her cottage.”

“Gee, that’s swell. No fooling?”

“No fooling. I wondered why we hadn’t had her over before to be honest, and she can’t miss our wedding. Best of all, Chessie, she’s giving us her blessing.”

“Well, if that don’t beat all. And here I was wondering if I could sneak her on in. I was worried you two wouldn’t hit it off, you see.”

“She had me to tea, Chessie. And she’s welcome in our home any time, she knows that.”

“You know, if she did, it would mean a built-in babysitter, not that we won’t be great parents, but although we love our men they aren’t exactly babysitting material. I’m afraid they’d diaper the wrong end.”

We both laughed. We didn’t hire or employ thugs. We had men who were more or less lovable mugs with a skill set needed to thrive in the crime world. They knew to leave work at work and many were like family, though they kept a respectful distance. That many were family men themselves let me know they were looking forward to the wedding as well.

The Groom-To-Be

Chester is clearly looking forward to his upcoming nuptials.
Chester is clearly looking forward to his upcoming nuptials.

Wedding Bells and Doorbells

The whole town was gripped with wedding fever. With the good news of Sugar’s recovery we were to be married at last and the mayor had announced our wedding date, declaring it an official holiday for the entire city, and a paid one at that. The whole town was going nuts and people had been stopping me on the streets to wish me well.

The doorbell rang and Chessie motioned for me to stay seated. I expected our mom or a package from a well-wisher, but we knew it could be danger too. Not everyone wished us well and packages were now opened first by those who knew how to do so safely, then sent on. Still, mistakes could be made, men could be paid off, so I held my breath as Chester opened the door.

And when I saw the sweet-faced skeleton on the other side, I was as happy as Chester was. “Mom! You’re early!” I said as Chessie hugged her to him.

“Well, I thought you two could use a good home cooked meal.” She said, releasing Chessie after kissing his cheek them coming to hug and kiss me. “What would you two kids like?” She asked as I took her shawl and bag.

“Pot roast?” We both said in unison, then laughed. Sure, we had a chef, but nothing beats mom’s cooking, does it? And Chessie had often told me of the sacrifices his mother had made as he grew up. Doing extra work just so she could treat her son and no-account husband to wonderful meals. And her pot roast was the rarest of meals and the best loved.

His mother’s loving nature had made Chester the gentleman that he was, and it was only natural that we both wanted to help, but she shooed us out of the kitchen, though she did accept some tea. So, Chester and I cuddled on the couch and watched Mom cook. As we did I heard a slight sniff from Chester and caught the happy tears in his eye sockets. “It’s just swell, having my two best girls here.” He said as he dabbed them away.

“And it’s swell having my best fellah and favorite girl here.” I said and heard Mom giggle in response. There was another knock at the door and I set down my tea and rose to get it, something telling me to be wary. As I approached the door I heard a scuffle, then one of our men shouting. I flung the door open, gun drawn to see two of our men, Clarence and Bitsy, wrestling a skeleton to the ground.

“Don’t open that package, Boss! He slipped by us!” Clarence, the bigger man, and my personal driver, warned. “We were having a shift change and I noticed there was a package missing from the room where they all get checked. I’ve been making rounds, special-like to protect the family.” I nodded my thanks as Chester joined us.

“Have him taken downtown, but first, have him open the package in the testing room.” He said, a feral grin crossing his face. And in moments we were watching the skeleton, who swore up and down he’d been paid to deliver it to us as a special gift, lift off the beribboned top, he looked inside and promptly fainted. And when the room had been cleared and I found the grinning skull inside I could see why. Clenched in the jaws was a note that read: “See you soon. Kisses.”

Who Is The Mysterious Gift Giver?

Any ideas?

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But kisses for whom? Is Nicky the target of a besotted skeleton or does Chester have skeletons in his past if not his closet?

Is It Nicky Or Chester Being Romanced?

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