Skeletons Without Halos 16
Who Has Been Giving Skulls and Roses?
Welcome back! We last left off with a chilling surprise. We will learn who has been behind the mysterious gifts, or will an obsessed admirer get too close for comfort? You’ll have to read on to find out!
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Your Music For Tonight's Tale Of Mystery And Mayhem
Women in Film Noir
Dinner And A Skull
Mom was not impressed with the idea of us missing dinner and said so in the most loving way possible. “Either a skeleton’s walking around with no head, which is unlikely, or we’ll find the rest. Eat. It will wait and you’ll give the police a chance to do their work.” And bosses or not, we ate.
We’d gone back to reassure her we’d be all right and she’d not only made us eat, she’d kept the police at bay with a serving spoon until dinner was over. It was clear dinner was a sacred hour with her and I didn’t mind. Once we’d eaten our fill and even Mom looked contentedly full, she was happy to shoo us off to work.
We found the waiting policeman outside. “Your mother is a fierce woman, Boss.” He said and Chester looked pleased at the compliment.
“She is at that. I don’t want it to be obvious, but have an eye kept on her.” Chester said and the officer nodded and led the way back down to the room where the packages were opened.
“We didn’t have much of a crime scene, and of course so many people had monkeyed about with the box there are no usable prints. The man your men caught checks out. He was paid in cash to slip in when the guards changed and deliver the package. He said he couldn’t make out if a man or woman paid him but they said the package was to be delivered to the missus.”
“Tell me we caught the right guy for attacking me in the garage.” I said and the officer got quiet. “What?” I asked.
“There was a breakout last night, he escaped. We have men canvassing the city looking for him. It’s why no one was keeping an eye on the complex.” I sighed.
Chester stood stiffly beside me. “What’s the matter?” I asked as the officer left and we took the skull out with gloved hands. “Chessie, what is it?”
“This guy that’s after you. It’s got me rattled.”
“He’s no one from my past, if that’s what’s worrying you.” I said and Chester gave me an odd look. He was withdrawn as we examined the skull and package. There was nothing remarkable about the packaging. It was roughly the size of a hat box, but square and wrapped in floral printed paper that was a shade of pink that made my stomach want to run away. As for the skull I didn‘t remember the face. It almost looked like Cynthia, but with the unlife drained out of it, it was impossible to tell. Which just puzzled me more.
“Why did he escalate?” I asked and Chester snapped out of it.
“First roses and the metal weapon we never found. Then a head and grave robbing? He’s jumped too far, too fast. I don’t think he’s the one we are after. And how do we know the first time around he wasn’t Cynthia’s goon?” I asked and Chester seemed to brighten. I realized then he’d been worried I’d go for the homicidal type and I seriously wondered about my future husband’s sanity.
Film Noir Reader 4
Skeletons Without Halos
Mom To The Rescue
Chester had escorted me to my door, having two of our men to stand at guard, though he seemed reluctant to leave me alone. “How about Mom stays with you?” He offered.
“And leave you all alone? No, I want to you have someone with you. I don’t think our man can scale walls, OK?”
Chester nodded and went across the way to his apartment. I watched him go, then bid Clarence and Bitsy goodnight. I was too keyed up to sleep and yet I was ready to drop. I started to pace, wondering if I should make some tea to calm my nerves when there was a knock at the door. I answered it to find Mom. “Mom, is everything OK?” I asked as I let her in.
“Chessie can’t sleep a wink without you over there. He’s sure something’s going to happen to you. With me as a chaperone I think it’s proper if you two stay close together.” That said, she led the way back over and Chessie practically ran to embrace me. He hugged me to him tightly and Mom saw to making a lovely bed on the sofa for me, but Chessie insisted his best girls have the bedroom and he’d take the sofa.
Mom shrugged, then agreed.
We ended up staying up most of the night, going over what clues we had, then we all had to drop from lack of sleep.
A Protective Fiancée
The Stalker Revealed
I awoke in the early morning, groggy, to the smell of frying bacon. Chessie was up and seemed like a changed skeleton. He made a tongue clicking sound at me when I entered the kitchen which took me by surprise. “Well, you’re full of surprises this morning.” I said and he smiled at me.
“That I am. Sorry about being off last night, Nicky. I just didn’t like the idea of someone getting so close to you. I was worried all last night about protecting you. But the police made progress. If it is the same guy he’s back in jail. Never thought I’d be thankful for the police.” He said with a chuckle.
I was getting a cup of coffee for both of us when it all clicked. “Oh God. Chessie. I know who it is.” I said as he plated up breakfast. “It all fits. How didn’t I see it before?” I was so upset I was ready to cry, and I don’t like to cry. “I’ve known the maniac all along. Oh God. Chessie, the person behind it all, don’t you see?” I asked.
He looked at me, then nodded. “Had it figured out some time last night.” He said quietly. “I wanted to be wrong for your sake. It ain’t any of my business, we weren’t back together, but did you make any promises, Nicky?”
“No. We had our fun, but that was it. I never told her I loved her. Sure, she got me back to being a detective, and maybe that’s why I fell for her. But not in the way I love you, Chessie. I wanted someone to rescue me because I thought you were gone forever. It’s been her all along, hasn’t it?” I asked and he nodded sadly.
“She had us all thinking Cynthia was the one after you. That her obsessed lover wanted you gone. And all this time she was cuddling up to the boss to get her out of the way. I had my men do some digging. Victoria was bad cop when she was alive. She got a job here easily enough with false credentials and because her old lover vetted for her. And there’s more. She had things of yours in a sort of shrine. And the skull? It was Cynthia’s. I guess she didn’t like that I’d had her buried. Out of respect for another boss, naturally.”
“Naturally.” I laughed softly. “If that don’t beat all. That explains the attack on Sugar too. She must have been stalking me and saw the one day I stopped off alone. Sugar hugged me in thanks for trusting her as our baker. It was her first huge job. She meant nothing by it but it must have sent Vicky over the edge.” I whistled. “Still think I go for the crazy type?”
“Nah, I knew better.” Chester said and I was charmed by his lie. “Mom is out on the town, my treat. I wanted her to have the works for the wedding. A new dress, hat and the like. She’s been swell. And Victoria’s locked safely away. I thought I’d leave it up to you what to do with her.”
“I want to see her first. See if the maniac has a good excuse for stalking me. This explains the violets.” I realized then lack of sleep had made me a little loopy. “Wait, she was with us when Sugar was attacked and we caught the chef, right?”
“We thought Victoria was with us. Found out it was an actress posing as her. And the chef had been framed. The cops moved too fast and pinned it all on him. But now we have our real killer behind bars. You sure you want to go see her?”
A Detective After All
An Unhappy Meeting
I was, until I found out she was locked away in an institution for the criminally insane. Vicky was locked away in the depths, her cell the farthest from the rest and I could see why. She was seated on her cot, tied up in a straight jacket and I’ll never forget the look of madness on her face when she tilted up her skull to look at me.
A horrible grin spread across her features and suddenly she’d rushed forward, slamming herself into the iron bars separating us repeatedly. “You never noticed me!" She screamed, hurling herself forward again. “After all I did for you, and how clear I made my love, you never noticed me." She wailed. “So I did what I had to do. I hired an actress to play me and got rid of Sugar. Then I got Cynthia’s skull, I knew you’d get the message and come see me." She slammed into the bars again, clearly exhausted. “If I can’t have you, no one can!” She’d half snarled, half wept and I’d felt horror and pity for her as she slumped to the stone floor of her cell, weeping in frustration.
“Vicky.” I’d managed and she’d looked up at me from the floor in utter adoration. “Oh, Vicky. I always loved you, just not in that way.” I wanted to reach out, to cradle my old partner in my arms and never let her go, but I knew she was lost to me forever when she snarled as I attempted to touch her skull. She whipped herself towards the bars at my gesture and I barely pulled my hand away in time to avoid her removing my fingers with the force of her snapped teeth. Weeping for my lost partner, I stood and left without another word.
Did You Know Who Was Behind Everything?
She took me by surprise, but did you suspect Vicky?
A Love Gone Terribly Wrong
Wow, just wow. I never in a million years would have suspected Vicky as our ultimate bad girl. But you have to feel sorry for her. She’d obviously fallen for our Nicky and although Nicky was smitten, she just didn’t love her the same way.
Skeletons Without Halos Chapter List
- Skeletons Without Halos
You'd think if you ended up in the land of the dead life would be all sunshine and roses. Ha! Just because they are dead don't mean the skeleton residents are saints and Nicky's number may just be up.
- Skeletons Without Halos 2
Can our lady detectives survive their latest predicament? Or will lead showers be in the forecast? Read on to find out!
- Skeletons Without Halos 3
As things heat up for the detectives they find themselves in a bit of a bind. Help comes from an unlikely place, but is it a set up to get our beautiful Nicky alone? Read on to find out!
- Skeletons Without Halos 4
Well, well. Looks like our Nicky can't decide between an old flame and a new one. And you know what they say about playing with fire. Looks like our lady detective is about to get burned.
- Skeletons Without Halos 5
Our lady detectives are back! What? You thought it was curtains for Nicky? That dame's got more lives than the proverbial cat. Of course there is always more than one way to skin a cat.
- Skeletons Without Halos 6
There are certain things that don't mix with being a detective. Working for a crime boss is one of them. Have our detectives reached the end of the line, or will they be good dames in a bad town?
- Skeletons Without Halos 7
Seven chapters in and we still don't know who wants Nicky dead. They say follow the money, but that isn't all there is in this world some people find worth killing for.
- Skeletons Without Halos 8
Every story much reach its end. We are born, we die, and with some like our Nicky, we may very well die again. Has our lucky lady finally lived out all nine lives? You'll have to read on to find out.
- Skeletons Without Halos 9
Sometimes things happen in this life we don't understand because there are players behind the scenes we are unaware of. Nicky knew one of those players, but was that enough to save our fair detective?
- Skeletons Without Halos 10
For ten chapters Nicky has grown on us. First as a detective and now as Chester's partner in crime. But just as seasons change and the leaves fall, so do good men. Especially in the land of the dead.
- Skeletons Without Halos 11
Even in the land of the dead a body can pass into the great beyond. With Chester gone will his empire crumble or will Nicky get a miracle?
- Skeletons Without Halos 12
In the land of the dead, even skeletons can go to the great beyond. And sometimes, just sometimes, they come back. Does that mean trouble ahead for our Nicky?
- Skeletons Without Halos 13
Sometimes bad things happen to good people. When Nicky sees something wrong, she tends to fix it, but what about the types of things some folks ignore? Will our girl have the wits to combat abuse?
- Skeletons Without Halos 14
We all have a past, and it isn't always a happy one. As Chester takes the lead one more time he reveals his past and his hopes for the future. But is Nicky the gal to make them all come true?
- Skeletons Without Halos 15
Weddings can be a highlight of anyone's unlife. And as the date draws ever closer, the couple become the recipients of early gifts from well-wishers. But will one of those early gifts prove deadly?
- Skeletons Without Halos 16
Love comes into all of our lives. And in many cases it is a blessing. But when an obsessive love is unrequited the results can be deadly. Is Nicky about to take her final bow?
- Skeletons Without Halos 17
You are cordially invited to the wedding of Chester and Nicky, sure to be the social event of the season and the biggest wedding the land of the dead has ever seen.