Café Chocolaté

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Chapter XIX

Chapter XIX – Timothy Teller

Timothy had watched the conclusion of Ginger and Mary’s argument with a growing sense of unease.

There’s too much anger on the one side and far too much willingness to react on the other. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Anna had said nothing for awhile, but seemed lost in her own world. Timothy, with the initial effects of the explosions and the discovery of the corpse wearing off, needed something to do. He wandered off toward his laptop, still resting where he left it at one side of the two unoccupied tables.

Fried. That’s not good. At least, I have backups.

He got up to wander again and happened to catch Ginger’s eye in passing. Arms crossed and gaze narrowed, she appeared to be seething. Timothy gave her a wide berth.

Fabian beckoned for him to join Renee and himself, his deep voice very quiet. “I believe that we need some form of entertainment. Renee disagrees.”

Timothy frowned. “Entertainment?”

“Yes. Some people,” he waved in Mary’s direction, “need distraction from their current circumstances.”

Timothy looked at the tall brunette beside Fabian. “You don’t agree?”

“I-I think it will depend on what he means by entertainment.”

“Ideally, we could have a movie to pass the time.” Fabian folded his hands on the table.

“I think that would add unnecessary chaos and would cause us to be less vigilant.” Renee shrugged and brushed a hand across her stomach. “We are in the presence of a murderer after all.”

“Possibly.” Fabian smiled a bit. “As we have no means to play a movie anyhow, I suppose that the question is moot.”

“Do you have other ideas for entertainment?” Timothy asked.

“Do I have any other ideas for entertainment? No.” Fabian shook his head rather sadly. “I hoped that, perhaps, you might.”

“I suppose that something interactive might keep us cognizant of each other and our surroundings, while affording a distraction from our circumstances.”

“If one could come up with something interactive, that isn’t a party game that no one is up for playing.” Fabian steepled his fingertips, watching Timothy over them.

Timothy glanced around the room, hoping for inspiration. A book on the floor near the counter caught his eye. He jumped for it.

“That’s mine.” Kimberly hardly seemed to care, if her tone could be trusted, that she claimed ownership.

“May we use it?”

“Be my guest.”

“What do you have in mind?” Fabian asked.

Timothy turned the book over in his hands. 4:50 From Paddington. He hadn’t read that particular Agatha Christie book, but at least it was an author that he recognized. He’d try it.

“My sisters and I used to read a book by turns.” He resumed his seat, still holding the book. “Everyone sits together, each taking turn to read for, say, ten minutes at a time.”

“Not everyone is going to want to read aloud.” Renee rubbed her stomach, then sighed.

“Possibly not. Or possibly everyone will be so happy for something to do, that they’ll do it anyway.” He smiled to try to soften what might come off as harsh.

Renee only shrugged.

Fabian reached for the book and looked it over. “So, we read a fictional murder mystery – while we live through a real murder mystery?”

Timothy cocked an eyebrow. “I suppose – yes. Do you have a better idea?”

“No, actually. The idea is intriguing. Hearing Mary Dill, for instance, attempt to voice a rational character should be fascinating.”

Timothy paused and tried to picture Mary calmly reading about a murder. He failed. Maybe we’ll be proven wrong. Maybe it will relax her somehow. He heard the woman’s voice rise in excited conversation with Kimberly a few feet away. Maybe.

Fabian took it upon himself to get the four women to join them. Adrian and Xavier, of course, couldn’t join them; they were busy. And, if they interviewed everyone, they would frequently lose a reader for awhile, but they could manage well enough. To Timothy’s surprise, no one balked.

Fabian set to moving two of the round tables close together and then surrounding them with chairs. He gathered everyone, assigning seats that kept Mary between himself and Kimberly. Timothy saw Ginger watching the proceeding with crossed arms.

He hesitated. He didn’t want to engage with Ginger. He usually avoided her as much as possible and with good reason. He watched her glaring, and sighed.

Sometimes, loving your neighbor means talking to the person that you usually do your best to avoid. He sighed again, but went toward her.

“Are you planning to join us?”

She slowly turned her glare toward him, before her face softened just barely. “What?”

“Are you going to join us while we read?”

She shrugged, arms still crossed. “I said that I would.”

“You’re not going to do it from where you’re standing, are you?”

“If it means that I don’t have to sit anywhere near Mary Dill, I will. I’m quite nearly out of all patience with the woman.”

Timothy bit back a laugh and looked toward the seating arrangements. “I think you’re safe. I think Fabian is putting you next to himself and an empty seat. Probably for Eddie. Mary is two seats away.”

Ginger dropped her arms. “I’m coming.”

Timothy nodded and smiled a bit. “That’s the spirit! Let’s see how this goes.”

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