Café Chocolaté

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Chapter XX

Chapter XX – Adrian Terrence

When Eddie left the cousins, nearly falling off the edge of his seat in his eagerness to escape, Adrian watched him before shaking his head. “There’s something about him…”

“He’s scared and hiding something.”

Adrian looked at Xavier and nodded. “I caught onto the scared part.”

“What neither of us know is why he’s scared or what he’s hiding. Or if it should matter to us at all.”

“Doesn’t it have to matter to us, until we know that it doesn’t?”

Xavier would have shrugged, but for the sleeping child. “Pretty much.”

Adrian flipped open his notes again, adding a few lines under Eddie’s name. He read and reread his notes for all three interviews. Nothing stood out particularly. He looked up. “Did you see anything significant near the body?”

“No. Though, I wouldn’t mind a look at his tablet, if only we could move it.” Xavier sighed and shifted Monique just a little. The child slept soundly and didn’t seem to mind the hum of their voices at all. “It’s possible that I missed something. You’re the observant one. I have to work at it.”

Adrian scoffed. “Of course, you would say that.” He focused on his notebook again. “What if I go over there and take a look for a moment, before our next interview? I don’t think you should try to move Monique, or I’d suggest we both go.”

“Agreed, on that last.” Xavier watched the rest of the café group, who all seemed to be engrossed with their book. “It’s probably a good idea, just… Be careful, Adrian.” He turned back toward his cousin, his dark eyes serious. “While I don’t think it makes sense for there to be another murderous attempt, that doesn’t mean there won’t be. I think we need to be careful that we don’t get anyone riled up or thinking we’re after them.”

Adrian nodded. “I’ll be careful, don’t worry. God will take care of us, like He always does. Remember that.”

“I remember it.” Still, Xavier’s expression didn’t soften, as Adrian stood to make his way across the café.

He took his notebook along, just in case he needed it, pushing it into his pocket.

The dead man still rested as they had left him, the coat covering his face and upper body. Adrian sighed at the sight.

Murder is so senseless and cruel. I don’t understand it, Lord, I really don’t. I hope that I never will.

The table in front of the dead man showed the remains of his last meal. A plate with a half-eaten sandwich and most of a cup of black coffee, the cup still resting in the dead man’s hand. A tablet lay on the table near his other hand.

He didn’t have time to react. He didn’t expect the blow.

Adrian used his sleeve to try turning on the tablet, but a password screen greeted him, effectively blocking him out. He gave up the idea.

It would probably be tampering with a crime scene to do anything else. If pressing the button didn’t already violate that restriction.

He turned his attention to the dead man, little as he wanted to. From what he could see without removing the coat, the man dressed decently in a gray sweater and tan slacks. His shoes had been scuffed, but not out of the ordinary way. He wore a watch with a dark wristband on his left wrist. Adrian sighed, before wondering just how many times he had done so that morning.

Why would anyone kill someone in so public a way? Obviously, they got away with it for the moment, but why do it? And, obviously, why Gary Bradshaw? What had he done?

He glanced toward the frosted windows, then around the café. From the corner seat, Gary Bradshaw had a view of the entire room, including a side view of the small preparation area and ordering counter. Still, despite this view, he also had the most secluded seat in the café.

The employees would have the easiest access to him without being obvious. So… He looked back at the party reading around the tables. Ginger and Eddie are the only employees.

He turned back to the table, but saw nothing else of consequence. He inspected the floor, the seat, and even the lap of the dead man. Nothing. With a final sweep of the scene, Adrian rejoined his cousin.

“Did you discover anything?” Xavier asked. He didn’t really look any less worried.

Adrian frowned. “No. Not anything of importance, so far as I can tell.” He sighed yet again. “It does seem like there ought to have been something more though.”

“There isn’t always an obvious clue,” Xavier answered. “That’s only in books and television.”

“Well, I am an author.”

“It doesn’t follow that your life will play out like a story though.”

Adrian almost laughed. “Maybe not.” He wrote down a few notes in his book, regarding the table and the dead man, then set both book and pencil aside. “I think we should talk to Ginger Thomas next.”

Xavier nodded. “Sure. Any particular reason?”

“I’m not sure I see how neither she nor Eddie saw anything regarding the murder. They were in full view of Gary Bradshaw’s booth until after the explosion.”

“Eddie clearly said that he was busy and saw nothing.”

“In a room full of eleven people, someone ought to have seen something, and really those two are the most likely from what I saw.”

“Did you see anything relating to the murder of Gary Bradshaw, Adrian?”

“Not that I know of.”

“It’s possible that there is no one in here less honest than you with the same dearth of knowledge.”

“Except the murderer.” Adrian picked up his pencil again. “I had my back to the man as well.”

“There is that.”

The cousins sat in silence for several seconds. Adrian nearly sighed again, but caught himself. “I detest this entire thing.” He nearly didn’t say the words aloud, but once began, he didn’t stop. “There is a reason that even my father didn’t think I should try for a lawyer. Certainly no one would normally suggest that I be a detective.”

“I know.” Xavier paused a moment. “But…” He smiled faintly, then began again. “As you have reminded me on more than one occasion, this is the task that the Lord has apparently put in front of you for the moment, whether you detest it or not, so He will give you the ability to face it. That applies to you as well as it does to me.”

Adrian tapped his pencil lightly on his other hand. “This is true. Even if we’re not any good at the task either. We can face it.”

“Even if.” Xavier put his head to one side. “Except, I’m already a lawyer and have some experience. And you, well, as the resident genius, you’re good at everything and bound to figure things out.”

Adrian shook his head. “Genius does not equal high levels of brilliance in every area of life, Cousin. We’ve covered this before.”

“It does with you.”

“Hardly.” Adrian couldn’t help but relax a bit at the hint of laughter in Xavier’s voice.

His cousin waited a moment, before nodding. “You said that you want to interview Ginger Thomas next?”

“I rather doubt that she wants to be interviewed at all.” Adrian turned a page in his notebook. “However, I think that we ought to.”

“Let’s ask Miss Thomas to join us then.”

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