Café Chocolaté

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Chapter XXXVI

Chapter XXXVI – Ginger Thomas

Ginger jumped as Mary hit the ground and Timothy bolted across the room. Eddie tugged on her arm.

“What happened?”

Ginger shook her head. “I don’t know.”

Timothy bent over the woman, looking for something. Probably the reason she collapsed. His frown deepened.

“I don’t see anything wrong with her, though her heart rate is elevated.” He looked up at Xavier. “If she’s been given insulin, she doesn’t have the same symptoms as Fabian and we have no way to reverse it, if that’s the case.”

Ginger swallowed so hard it hurt her. We might have less noise if she stays like that for awhile. I don’t think I’m quite cruel enough to hope that she will though.

With the sound of a shriek that could only have come from Mary Dill’s vocal chords, Ginger let any such thoughts die a swift death. She saw Fabian sag back against the table leg, while Anna closed her eyes in relief.

Mary sat up against Timothy’s protest, holding her head in her hand. He tried to speak to her, but Mary pointed a shaking finger in Renee’s direction.

“What… What did you do to me?”

Renee blinked in apparent shock or confusion.

“I couldn’t breathe.” Mary spoke with a shaking voice and held a hand to her throat. Her wide eyes locked onto Timothy. “My throat closed, I couldn’t breathe, and everything went black!” She dropped the hand from her head, grabbing onto Timothy’s shirt, prompting him to pull back. She didn’t release him. “What did she do to me?”

“We don’t know that she did anything to you.” Timothy looked vastly uncomfortable. “Even if someone did something to you, we don’t know that someone was Renee.”

“She admitted to having insulin with her! She knew I was onto her!”

Ginger saw Timothy openly roll his eyes and she almost laughed.

“Mary. Can you breathe now? With ease?”

She stared at him as if he had lost his mind. “What?” One hand still clung to her throat, the other held onto his shirt for dear life.

“Are you having any trouble breathing now?” He enunciated his words as if she might be hard of hearing.

“Wh-yes. Yes, my throat opened and I can breathe now. I’d be dead if it hadn’t!”

Ginger rolled her eyes this time.

Timothy pried the woman’s fingers from his shirt. “If you’ll excuse me then…”

Where are you going? She just tried to kill me!”

“And, if that’s true, she didn’t nearly succeed.” Timothy stood. “You, on the other hand, came much closer when you attempted to kill Eddie, so I’ll be returning to him, in case he needs me.”

He didn’t let her say whether she minded or not. He left her, staring after him in consternation. He sat next to Eddie again with a sigh.

“What do you think happened to her?” Ginger intentionally pulled her attention away from the now babbling woman.

Timothy shook his head, already frowning in Eddie’s direction. “I don’t know. I’m not an actual doctor. And she barely knows what happened apparently, much less how Renee could have caused it.”

“Renee hasn’t moved from her chair in a long time.” Ginger started to say more, but Timothy’s deepening frown distracted her. “What’s wrong.”

He didn’t answer. He barely even gave her a glance of acknowledgement.

Eddie lay with his eyes closed again. Perspiration stood out on his face, a face so devoid of color that he hardly could have looked whiter. Ginger’s heart pounded harder.

“You found the dead man’s picture in her purse! What more could you need?” Mary seemed to have recovered quite well in a short space of time.

Ginger looked up and Xavier visibly sighed.

“We don’t even know why she had the photograph.” Anna sounded more annoyed than she had yet. “She hasn’t even had a chance to explain. You just grab onto whatever circumstantial evidence occurs to you and run with it!”

Mary stared at her.

Seems to be the woman’s second most defining trait. Her first is screaming.

Xavier shook his head, picking up the photograph again from a table. “I would appreciate an explanation for this, Mrs. Allen. If you would be willing.”

Renee had said nothing since she gave permission for her purse to be searched. She seemed incapable of speech as she looked from one person to the other, but swallowing visibly, she finally shook her head.

“I can’t say. That is – I don’t know! I didn’t put it there.”

“Because that’s believable.” Mary answered first.

“Unless whoever took her insulin, put the picture in the purse at the same time.” Kimberly quirked an eyebrow.

“Would make sense, I suppose.” Anna nodded. “If the killer wanted to implicate Renee, it would be a good way to throw suspicion on her.”

“Or she could be lying.” Mary pulled herself to a standing position with difficulty, refusing Xavier’s offered help. “She could have used the insulin to try to kill Fabian and myself, then forgotten she had the picture in her purse.”

“No one gave you insulin, Miss Dill.” Xavier watched her. Even Ginger could see the slight amusement around his eyes.

“How do you know?” The woman planted both hands on her hips. “That’s what happened to Fabian!”

“We don’t know that either. It’s still conjecture at this point.” Xavier sighed again. “It’s a conjecture that seems to fit the facts, but we don’t know. You, on the other hand, show no signs of life-threatening low blood sugar. And you woke up on your own; we did nothing. As you know, Fabian wasn’t so easy.”

Mary didn’t look convinced.

“I have never seen that picture before in my life.” Renee bit her lip, then shook her head. She rubbed her rounded stomach. “I don’t even have a printer.”

“Libraries do.” Kimberly raised both eyebrows at the looks sent her way. “I didn’t say that she did print it. But you really don’t have to own a printer.”

“I didn’t print it at a library either. I’ve never seen it before!”

Ginger looked at Timothy again. The man seemed to care little about what transpired in the café, focusing entirely on Eddie. The look on his face switched Ginger’s attention fully. As he pulled back the bloody bandage from her brother’s side, Ginger winced.

“What are you doing?”

He only spared her a half a second glance. “The wound started bleeding again at some point. I don’t know when; he must have moved more than I thought.”

Ginger felt her heart drop. “You can stop it again, right?”

“I’ll try.” He shook his head. “I need more towels. These are covered.”

Ginger looked at her brother’s drawn face again, squeezed his hand, then hurried on a search for towels. They didn’t keep that many around the café; paper towels generally seemed better. Paper towels did a lousy job at drying dishes though.

When she brought what she could find to Timothy, Ginger caught her breath at the sight of the wound in Eddie’s side. Without realizing it, she sank onto her knees. Timothy turned in alarm.

“Are you all right?”

She nodded, but couldn’t speak or move. She kept staring at what she could still see of the wound.

How can he survive that? I’m going to lose him altogether.

“Are you sure?” She barely registered Timothy’s question. “Ginger, look at me.”

She made herself obey, blinking to bring her eyesight into focus.

“Are you all right? Actually, all right?”

It took her several seconds and a deep breath to answer. “Yes. Of course, I’m fine. Yes.”

He watched her for another second, but had to turn back to Eddie. “Let’s hope you are.”

She caught the unspoken implication. He didn’t believe she would tell him even if she wasn’t all right.

Which might be true. I don’t need pity.

Eddie groaned, prompting Ginger to return to her former place beside him. Either her imagination caused her to see things or he’d gone even paler than before. She took his hand, but he didn’t respond in any way. The lump that she had banished from her throat earlier, came back now.

Timothy bandaged him up as well as he could, the frown still on his face. Ginger could read nothing though in his face, beyond his concern.

Eddie’s eyes finally opened, and Ginger struggled to appear unworried. His eyes, bright with fever and clouded by pain, startled her. They showed an agony that she hadn’t been prepared to face.

He didn’t try to say anything; he seemed to be in too much pain. He tried to breathe deeply, but Ginger could see that it hurt him.

“We have to get him out of here.” She didn’t recognize her own voice when she spoke to Timothy. He didn’t respond.

She hadn’t been paying attention to the conversation in the rest of the café until Mary insisted on drawing attention again. Ginger would have glared at the mere sound of her voice, if she had the energy to spare.

“If Gary Bradshaw isn’t your husband, Renee, then who is?”  

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