Café Chocolaté

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Previous: Chapter XXI

Chapter XXII

Chapter XXII – Adrian Terrence

Ginger appeared compliant enough as she took her seat beside him, but Adrian wondered if it was real or put on. Either the woman’s outbursts of anger tended to be short lived or she knew how to stuff them down at times.

He headed his next page and looked up. “You’re Ginger Thomas, correct?”


“How long have you worked at the café, Ginger?”

Ginger seemed to count. She nodded. “A year and a half, at least.”

“Are you and Eddie McIntyre the only employees?” Adrian noticed her flinch at Eddie’s name.

“No. Neither of us work the weekends or the night shift. A couple of kids work those. I only know about the weekend because I come in every now and then for coffee on Saturday.”

“You don’t get food?”

Ginger laughed. “Not unless I’m starving. Have you had a sandwich here? Worst café food on the planet. The coffee is the best though.”

Adrian saw Xavier frown, though he also looked amused. He turned back to Ginger.

“What age would you call the ‘kids’ who work weekends?”

“One of them looks like she’s still in high school. The other is, maybe, twenty? I heard her talking about college classes one day.” She shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“I see.” Adrian wrote down a note. “You mentioned that you had seen Gary Bradshaw in here previously? Was that on a day that you worked?”

Ginger nodded, her ponytail bouncing. “Yes. Last week.”

“Can you recall anything specific about his visit that day?”

The woman frowned in thought, then raised an eyebrow. “I remember that he ordered a coffee and a sandwich, same as he had today.”

“Why do you remember that?” Xavier asked. Monique started to move around and he stopped speaking.

Ginger waited until the child grew still again, and then lowered her voice. “I remember all the orders. They’re like names; easy. And usually typical to the person. I can tell you your cousin’s orders. He has three that he goes through.”

“Three?” Xavier looked from one to the other and then back to Ginger.

“Yes, three. I haven’t figured out what makes him choose which one or why, but he has a mood for each one. I never know which version of your cousin we’ll get on Tuesdays, but it’s obvious once he gives his order. If it’s an iced coffee with cream, he’s very serious. If it’s hot and black, he’s completely distracted. If he orders a chai latte instead, he’s elated over something.”

Adrian cleared his throat, unsure what to say.

“I suppose everyone is that predictable to you?” Adrian could hear the laughter in Xavier’s voice.

“Oh, yes. After I’ve seen them a few times.” Ginger glanced around the café and back again. “Renee, for instance, orders an iced black coffee, unless it’s the last Tuesday of the month. Then, she orders the blended coffee with extra whip cream.”

“That’s very routine of her.” Adrian opened a blank page and wrote down Renee’s name.

I don’t know if it’s important, but I want to remember it.

“Then you have Fabian, he orders the exact same coffee every single time, with two chocolates on the side. Same with Timothy Teller; he always gets the same order. Black coffee with a shot of chocolate.”

“Doesn’t anyone order food?” Xavier asked.

Ginger chuckled. “Not our regulars. I should tell Eddie to make you a sandwich. You’ll understand why not then.”

Adrian tapped the table. “About Gary Bradshaw’s visit to the café last week. Did he speak to anyone? Seem to recognize anyone?”

“Not that I noticed.” Ginger shook her head. “He spoke to me, of course. He nearly had a run-in with Mary Dill, but it stayed peaceful. For a wonder. He spoke to Eddie for a minute when he fixed his order, but that’s all that I recall.”

Adrian looked up. “Eddie fixed his order?”

“He’d forgotten something. The cheese, maybe? On the sandwich. I was busy with Mary, so Eddie talked to him and fixed the sandwich.”

“Eddie didn’t mention an exchange to us. He didn’t mention having direct contact with the man at all,” Xavier said.

Ginger’s chin went up and her eyes hardened. “He probably forgot. We were busy and he doesn’t always remember things like that.”

Xavier nodded. “Do you know Eddie McIntyre pretty well then?”

The woman crossed her arms. “I know that he’s not the murderer, if that’s what you’re implying.”

“I’m not implying anything, Miss Thomas.”

Ginger’s glare started to return and Adrian decide to shift the conversation again. “Can you remember who else, specifically from among our friends here, might have been in the café on that day last week, Ginger?”

Ginger raised an eyebrow at ‘friends’ but uncrossed her arms. “That was Wednesday last week, I think, so myself. Eddie, of course. Mary Dill… Fabian Smith.” She paused and drew her brows together in concentration. “Renee might have been in here. She usually only comes in on Tuesdays, but she came in on an odd day last week. Either Wednesday or Thursday; I can’t recall for sure.”

Adrian glanced across the room to what he could see of the pregnant woman leaning back in her chair. She looked worried as she continually rubbed on her rounded belly. It could have been the story worrying her, though.

She doesn’t look like a killer. None of them do though.

He saw Mary Dill stand, then pass them on her way to the restroom. He glanced back down at his notebook.

“You can think of no one else who might have been in here?”

“Oh, plenty of people!” Ginger almost laughed. “The number of customers ran us ragged that day! I just don’t recall anyone one else who is in here today.”

Adrian tapped his notebook with the pencil. “How about today? Tell us about Gary Bradshaw and exactly what he did.”

Ginger made a face that he couldn’t quite understand. “He sat in the same booth, got the same order that he had gotten last time, though why he would want another sandwich is beyond me.” Her gaze caught on Mary Dill exiting the restroom, but with a frown seemed to deliberately avert her eyes, trying to focus on the question at hand. “He sat by himself, same as last week, working away on his tablet. Well, I assume he worked. I suppose, he could have been playing a game or something.”

“Did you notice anything about him in particular, while he sat there?”

Ginger blinked rapidly. “Besides that it was incredibly boring to watch him? He hardly moved!”

Adrian sighed. “You can vouch that he was alive, if boring, however?”

“What do you mean?” Ginger’s eyes widened as she looked up at him.

“I mean that you just said that he hardly moved. Are you certain that Gary Bradshaw was still alive, while he sat there hardly moving.”

“Most certainly.” Ginger practically rolled her eyes. “He sat bent over his tablet. He didn’t look like a corpse. He wasn’t energetic, but he wasn’t dead.”

Adrian nodded. They remained silent for a moment.

“How about closer to the explosion and when he must have been killed?” Xavier asked. “Did you notice anything then?”

Ginger considered long and hard. She crossed her arms. “I-”

A male scream, filled with pain, cut her off. Monique jerked awake and Ginger’s head spun toward the rest of the group. Eddie’s chair stood empty and most of the others had leapt to their feet.

With a scream or a shout, Adrian couldn’t define which, Ginger threw herself from the booth and bolted across the room.

Adrian followed as swiftly as he could, only reaching Eddie after Ginger had dropped to her knees beside him. Eddie didn’t move, but lay perfectly still on the floor, the wound in his side drenching his shirt and the floor beneath him.

“Eddie?” Ginger’s voice shook, as well as her hands when she touched his arm.

He didn’t respond or make the slightest move.

Adrian’s heart slammed into his chest, but for several seconds, he couldn’t move forward. He could hear Xavier faintly in the background, probably trying to calm Monique.

Ginger shook the injured man’s opposite arm and shoulder. “Eddie!”

He remained pale and unresponsive, almost ghostly next to the growing crimson of his shirt.

Ginger grit her teeth, gripping his arm harder. Clenching one hand, she pounded it against him. When Eddie still didn’t move, Ginger dropped her head against his shoulder and screamed.

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Previous: Chapter XXI


  1. Christianna Hellwig says:

    You are sometimes almost cruel, my friend. After waiting two weeks for the end to this cliffhanger, we still don’t know if Eddie survived the stabbing, and we still don’t know who stabbed him! Goodness, way to draw out the agony…pun intended. ;)

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