Café Chocolaté

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Chapter XXXII

Chapter XXXII – Adrian Terrence

Adrian watched the group in silence. He heard the end of the conversation regarding Renee, but didn’t intervene. He felt weary. So weary.

It’s akin to being cooped up with a bunch of children. He glanced toward Monique. Except, the actual child among us is better behaved.

He ran a hand over his face, wishing that he could escape to his violin. Or, at the least, the outdoors. A gust of rain rushed against the windows. Xavier kicked him and Adrian turned.

“Lost in your own world, by the looks of it. Are you all right over there?”

Adrian shrugged. “What should we do next, do you think?”

Xavier’s eyes narrowed in his direction at the unanswered question, but he didn’t address it. “Continue investigating before Mary Dill fancies herself judge, jury, and executioner again, I imagine.”

Adrian nodded a bit vaguely. His thoughts seemed nearly as vague. He heard Xavier say something, but only comprehended the second try. He straightened in his seat with a sigh. “I’m here.”

“I know that you’re technically here, but mentally, you’re somewhere else.”

“Mentally, I am trying to escape far away.” He muttered the words mostly to himself. He had no idea if Xavier heard them.

“What do you think we should do next?”

Adrian sighed again. “I don’t know, Cousin. I don’t think that we have enough information to do anything.”

“So, we keep gathering information. We can continue interviews. It might not help us figure out if the explosions are connected, but then again, it might.”

Adrian nodded, trying not to sigh again. “Who should we do next?” He glanced over the room. “We have Anna Carpentier, Renee Allen, Kimberly Liath, and Timothy Teller remaining. I don’t think that Timothy should leave Eddie though.”

“Agreed.” Xavier glanced around the room likewise. “That just leaves the three women.”

“Miss Renee looks too sad to talk right now.” Monique hadn’t spoken in awhile, but even Adrian could hear her this time.

Xavier gave her a small smile. “You’re right, sweetheart. She may have to talk to us at some point, but she doesn’t have to right now.” He looked back at Adrian with a questioning look.

“I don’t think I can…” Adrian let the sentence hang. I could, of course, I simply do not want to.

Xavier’s eyes narrowed once more and Adrian tried again.

“I’d rather not interview Kimberly Liath at the moment.” He glanced toward the woman who sat glaring in her chair. “She is rather hostile, right now.”

Something, I don’t really want to fight with.

Xavier nodded. “That leaves Anna Carpentier.”

Adrian stood. “I’ll ask her over here.”

Anna came willingly enough. She folded her hands into her lap and waited for questions in complete silence. She didn’t seem nervous or angry, she simply seemed to care very little whether they asked her questions or not.

Adrian wrote her name in his notebook, but his motivation to keep asking questions had dropped very low. He wanted to wash his hands of the entire operation.

Xavier cleared his throat. “Miss Carpentier, you stated that you neither knew nor had seen the deceased at any point before today.”

“That’s right. At least, not to my knowledge.”

“How about today? When did you first notice him?”

The woman swallowed visibly, seeming to watch Xavier’s face while she steadied herself for a reply.

“When Mary pointed toward him.”

Adrian frowned, noting what he could see of Anna’s face. He shook his head, moving his pencil around in his hand. “Are you sure you want to stick to that story?”

She turned her bright green eyes on him, concern splashed across her face. “I… I’d rather not be detained for questioning later. I didn’t see anything.”

“Except… that you did?”

Anna dropped her eyes to her hands.

“If you don’t tell the truth, Miss Carpentier, then the police will be likely to find out. And it could thwart the course of justice, regardless.”

Anna didn’t look up as Xavier spoke. Adrian thought it best not to add anything. After a moment or two, Anna finally raised her head.

“I… I didn’t really see anything.”

Really see anything?” Adrian raised an eyebrow.

“Well… I mean…” Anna put her hands on the table. “I just saw him. Before the explosion. He was waiting for his food, I guess, standing by the counter.”

“That’s all? He was waiting?” Xavier clearly knew there had to be more.

“Well… and talking to… someone.”

Adrian put his pencil down altogether. “Talking to whom?”

Anna’s brow creased and she grimaced. “I… I don’t know.”

“Male? Female?” Xavier tapped the table.

“Male. Dark hair. Average height, I suppose. Wearing a t-shirt and jeans. He had a jagged scar on his left arm. No one here.”

Adrian started to respond, but happened to see Monique’s face instead. A look of pure horror had taken over her face. Mr. Pickles slipped, but she grabbed him with a sudden jump.

Xavier noticed just in time to see the child follow up with a shudder. He seemed to consider speaking to her, but put an arm around her instead and turned back to Anna. “Have you ever seen the man before? Do you have any clue whatsoever as to his identity?”

Anna shook her head. “Neither. I didn’t even see his face.”

“Did neither employee behind the counter seem to notice the two men? You said that they stood beside the counter, didn’t you?” Adrian wrote in his notebook while Xavier spoke.

No one. Literally no one else seems to have noticed Gary Bradshaw talking to anyone up until this point. Why did no one else notice?

Anna had actually laughed, though quietly. “Eddie, notice? Eddie was running back and forth, yanking on his hair, trying to keep up with everything on his own. Ginger hadn’t come in yet, because I saw her come in a few minutes later. Eddie was too distracted to notice anything that he didn’t have to notice.”

“You seem to recognize Eddie’s habits well.” Xavier glanced in the direction of the injured man.

“I’m in here every week. I see Ginger and Eddie every week. It’s easy to become familiar with something that’s repeated so frequently. Eddie always gets like that if he’s on his own. Like a chicken with its head cut off – just more productive. Surely you might have noticed that.” Anna looked at Adrian. “You’re in here, at least, once a week as well.”

Adrian shrugged. “Ginger is usually here, by the time I get to the café. And, admittedly, I’m often distracted when I come in here, so I’m not always paying that much attention.”

“If you see so much of them, I might ask, Miss Carpentier…” Xavier paused a few seconds, making sure that no one else – probably Mary – could be in hearing range. “Were you surprised to hear that Ginger and Eddie are related?”

Anna cocked her head. “I don’t know. I suppose, yes. I’d never considered it before. But, it makes sense in the end. Once you know it, you can see it – Eddie just behaved like her younger brother, deferring to her, even though, I know he was employed at the café first and should have had seniority. Ginger was obviously the one in charge, regardless, and he acted like it was her right or something.”

Xavier watched her while she spoke, but looked off toward the group again for a long moment after she fell silent. Adrian flipped through his pages of notes for Ginger and Eddie.

“Do you always come with Mrs. Liath?” Xavier turned back to Anna.

Adrian tried to recall if he always saw them together, and couldn’t decide.

Anna cocked her head again. “Yes and… no.”

Neither cousin had to voice their next question. Anna hurried to answer it.

“She asked me to come every Tuesday, but we don’t always sit together. It’s a memorial of sorts, and sometimes she just wants to be left alone.”

“A memorial?” Adrian looked from Xavier to Anna.

Anna fidgeted a bit. “A memorial for my best friend, Kimberly’s daughter. The café was Eden’s favorite. She came every Tuesday, because that was the only day she was free. She’d come and work on her drawings, because she said it relaxed her. I came with her every now and then. Since she died…” She faltered, but continued. “Since then, Kimberly wants us to come every Tuesday morning in remembrance.” Anna’s voice had dropped very low. All of them grew still when she finished.

When Xavier spoke again, he spoke very gently. “I’m sorry, Miss Carpentier. I assume that your friend is recently deceased?”

Anna nodded, a tear splashing onto her lap. “She’s not been gone a year. And it was in the worst way possible. Which is why, it’s just so difficult for either Kimberly or myself to get over her death. Murder, premeditated or not, is ugly and evil. And it leaves a scar on those left behind, that I think no one will every properly be able to explain.” 

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