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How to Host a Murder Without Even Trying---Chapter 2
The police came in the morning. They searched the entire house, but found nothing but the body, gun, and tape.
"Now, Miss Marissa," the chief addressed me, "tell me: what were you doing last night? And please include the time for each event."
"Let's see. I had dinner at 6:15, left for youth group at 6:45, got there at 7, and was there until 10:45. Mom picked me up then, and we got home at 11. I went upstairs to change when I saw the guys. Then it was exactly what I told you before. I knocked the guy's gun out or his hand and ran out with my mom. We got back to the house about 20 minutes later, Mom called you, and we were awake and scared stiff for the entire night."
"However, in theory, you could have given orders to your men to shoot after you left. Since you're their leader, they obeyed you, and you are responsible for the murder."
"WHAT?!? You're accusing ME of murder?!?" I couldn't believe it.
"It's certainly possible," the chief said with a completely straight face.
"Anything is possible, sir, but as is so happens, that is a completely false accusation!"
"You are to hold yourself available for further questioning."
I was about to come back with a retort that definitely would have put me in trouble with the NYPD, but before I could say anything, the doorbell rang. I answered it.
It was Jake.
"Oh, uh, hi!" I managed to say, shocked that he was at my door. "What are you doing here?" Snap. That was so rude. "I mean, uh, what's up?"
"Hey. Sorry to just pop up like this, but you left your bag in the car last night," he said, handing my little black purse over to me.
"Oh, thanks." Darn it, my demented smile was coming out again. Better cut this short. "I'd invite you in, but the cops are here," I said dryly.
"The cops?" Jake's large dark eyes bulged. "Why?"
My smile was now from the hilarity of the situation. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you, Jake." I shrugged. "Come in if you want to."
"Thanks." He did so, staring incredulously at the guys trying to find any other clues: a picked lock, broken window, fingerprints, anything.
"Officer Bentley, this is Jake Rendy. Jake, this is Police Chief Norman Bentley," I introduced.
"Hello, Mr. Rendy," the officer greeted casually, eying Jake suspiciously. Jake is average height, has black hair, dark brown eyes, and a smile that will melt a girl's heart. His smile wasn't showing right now, though. His face was puckered with worry. He sat down next to me on the couch.
"What's this about, officer?" he asked, his voice revealing his concern.
"Why, Mr. Rendy, you don't know? the officer asked, mock surprise in his tone. "The murder of Princess Elgitha of Austentashus! Now, may I ask you a couple of questions?"
Jake's eyes bugged out. "Sure, you can ask me anything, but I don't know how well I can help you."
"Where were you about 11:15 last night?"
"At youth group with a couple of people."
"Who were they?"
"Now let's see...Brooke Benamo, Grace Prose, Joe Hotchkiss, Chris Dalle, and Mitch Figley.
"Mr. Rendy, were you here today just to have a visit with Marissa here?"
"No, I came to drop off her purse. She left it in my car last night."
I drew in a sharp breath. "In your car? What kind of make is it?" Officer Bentley picked the "clue" up quickly.
"Toyota Corolla. It's tan," he added.
"The kind of make the witness Miss Marissa stopped told us," Bentley mused, a gleam in his eye. "Perhaps my theory wasn't so far-fetched after all."
"What theory?" Jake asked, confused.
"There are any number of tan Corollas on Staten Island. Just because he has one doesn't mean he's part of the gang!" I defended. "Besides, why would Jake want a dead princess?"
"A little background check will find the answer." Bentley stared Jake in the eye. "Your gang, led by Marissa here, had a rendezvous before your youth group, and then you drove them all to church for 3 hours. At that point, Marissa had left her purse in your car. You had to get rid of the evidence, so you stopped by, not counting on the police to get here so quickly."
"That's stupid and it's not true! I can even prove it!" I didn't care if I was locked up for years. This man was getting on my nerves. SOMEONE had to stick up for Jake! "He went to Shoprite at 9 to get some snacks for the group. Since there was a limit on some of the items he needed, he needed a second person to go on line. I volunteered. I just forgot about it, and that's why I didn't say anything."
Both men stared at me blankly.
"I still say you're the leader," Bentley maintained.
"Are you serious?!? Marissa would never in anyone's wildest imagination--"
"Thank you, Mr. Rendy. You can go now." It was more an order than a suggestion.
Jake squeezed my hand, said that he'd see me tomorrow at church, and left.
That solitary squeeze left me limp for three hours. The next morning couldn't come soon enough.