Maggie Sefton
Maggie Sefton
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knitting mysteries Cast On, Kill Off
       Cast On, Kill Off


EXCERPT

Kelly lifted the heavy suitcase into the trunk of her sporty car. She had to wedge it in. The trunk wasn't that large. Her back seat was already filled with shoe boxes and a garment bag with Zoe's clothes.

"Okay, I got the other suitcase in my trunk, and the back seat is full, too," Lisa said as she hurried up to Kelly. "We need to take these things to Zoe's shop now, we can't carry any more."

Noticing Zoe rush down the front porch steps, arms full of boxes, Kelly checked her watch. "Mimi said she'd be waiting at Lambspun, maybe we should take Zoe over there first. My antennae is starting to buzz."

"You're right. Let's get Zoe away from here before that guy shows up."

Kelly glanced around the suburban neighborhood. Neat two-stories and ranch houses lined both sides of the street. Yards and flower beds, children playing in the yards. Clearly a family neighborhood.

Kelly hurried up to Zoe and took a box. "I think we need to leave now, Zoe. Let's shove these in your passenger seat and get you away from here." Kelly opened the passenger door of Zoe's sedan and held it wide.

Zoe glanced apprehensively over both shoulders then dumped the boxes into the front seat. "Okay, I guess I've got most everything," she said, hurrying around the car. Zoe opened the driver's door as she dug into her jacket pocket. "Where are my keys?" Her voice rose, clearly agitated.

"Here, they are," Kelly said, withdrawing the keys from her own pocket. "I kept them for safekeeping when we got here. Don't worry, Zoe, we'll be away from here in a minute. Now, start your car and follow after Lisa. She'll head straight for Lambspun."

"Follow me, Zoe," Lisa said over her shoulder as she headed toward her own car.

"I'll be right behind you, Zoe," Kelly said and slammed Zoe's car door shut.

Zoe nodded, then glanced over her shoulder and started her car.

Kelly hurried to her own car, Zoe's nervousness starting to make her jumpy. Revving the engine, she watched Zoe pull away from the curb and follow after Lisa, who'd already reached the corner. Kelly pulled into the street, but not before seeing a grey truck speeding around the corner behind them.

Something told Kelly it was Oscar, and she quickly sped up to close the distance between Zoe's car and hers. Sure enough, the grey truck pulled up right behind her. The driver started to blow his horn. Kelly closed all her windows and flipped the door locks closed. Then she grabbed her phone from the center pocket between the seats and pressed Lisa's number.

"Hey, Lisa, this has gotta be Oscar behind me, leaning on his horn. It's a good thing we're going straight to Lambspun. There are more people there. I don't know what this idiot is going to do."

"Good Lord, I can hear him all the way up here with my windows closed. I'm speeding up now. Better call Zoe. I'll call the shop and see who's there."

"Got it," Kelly said, then clicked off.

Fortunately, an intersection was straight ahead with a red light, so Kelly could search her call log for Zoe's number. Finding it, she was about to punch it in, when she felt a bump. Her car jerked forward a bit.

"Son of a. . .sailor!" Kelly said out loud. One of her dad's old Navy curses in cleaned up form. She checked her rear view mirror and saw the scowling visage of a dark haired man, clearly mouthing curses of his own. "Bastard, you better not scratch my car."

Kelly turned around and glared at him. Then pressed Zoe's number. Zoe's frightened voice came on quickly.

"Kelly! That's Oscar! He's following us! What-what are we gonna do?"

"We're going to Lambspun, Zoe. There are more people there. Oscar won't be able to hurt you. We won't let him get near you. And if he tries something, we'll call the cops," Kelly promised as the light turned green again.

"Oh, my God! Oscar will jump out of his car as soon as we get to Lambspun! He'll grab me."

Kelly let Zoe's car move ahead then nosed in behind her. Once again, Oscar started blaring his horn as they drove along the busy street, faster now, Kelly noticed. Lisa had picked up the pace, just above the speed limit.

"I promise we won't let Oscar get to you, Zoe," Kelly said, not exactly sure how she would guarantee that. From what she could see in the rear view mirror, Oscar looked kind of beefy. Beefy and mad as hell. "Listen, we'd better hang up and drive. We'll be at Lambspun in a few minutes. Just be ready to run inside. Grab your purse and that's all, okay?"

"O-okay," Zoe said, clearly frightened by her husband's angry threatening behavior.

Oscar's horn blared, and Kelly punched the buttons on the car's radio. Switching to a rock and roll station, she turned the volume up. This way she could drown out Oscar's belligerent tactics.

Finally, the little caravan neared the intersection with the Big Box discount store that dominated the shopping center across the street from the pie-shaped corner that held the Lambspun knit shop. Lisa merged into the left turn lane as she neared the corner. Zoe followed suit, and so did Kelly. Oscar brought up the rear.

At least he didn't blow his horn at intersections, Kelly thought, watching the left turn light change to green. Lisa sped around the corner, with Zoe right behind her. Kelly, however, stayed put at the intersection, deliberately letting the left turn arrow disappear while she stayed parked in front of Oscar's car.

True to form, Oscar leaned on his horn again, letting it blare even longer. Kelly glimpsed him in the rear view mirror, and the sight was chilling. Oscar's face was bright red and he was clearly shouting his curses this time.

"Sorry, Oscar, but this is the only way I can make sure Zoe gets inside the shop to safety before you get there," Kelly said out loud as the left turn light finally switched to green again. A good three minutes had passed, and Kelly had seen both Lisa's and Zoe's cars turn into the driveway behind Lambspun. Safe, she hoped.

Speeding around the corner, Kelly headed for the familiar driveway and quickly turned into it. She'd gotten ahead of Oscar who probably was expecting her to delay again. Kelly nosed her car into a space between two other cars and switched off her engine. Oscar's truck rumbled into the driveway and pulled to a stop.

Thankful for her daily running and athlete's speed, Kelly sprinted down the sidewalk bordering the shop and up the front steps. Oscar jumped out of the truck but moved considerably slower, due to what Kelly surmised was at least fifty extra pounds around his belly.

Kelly stood in front of Lambspun's door, her cell phone in her hand, bracing herself for the confrontation.

"Who the hell do you think you are!" Oscar yelled as he came up the steps. "Where's Zoe? Is she in there?" He moved toward Kelly.

"Back up, Oscar," Kelly ordered. "This isn't your house. You can't—"

"I'll do what the hell I want, bitch!" Oscar swore, giving Kelly a push.

She swayed but held her ground. "Oscar, I'm gonna call the cops if you don't back off—"

Lambspun's front door opened then, and Lisa stepped beside Kelly. "Cops are on their way, Oscar. I just called them. I saw you push Kelly. That's assault."

"What the hell? I barely touched her." Oscar scowled at the two of them, the red fading from his face, Kelly noticed.

"That's not the way it looked to me," Lisa said. "We're not Zoe, so you don't scare us."

Kelly couldn't have put it better herself, and she watched Oscar struggle with his anger, sputtering obscenities.

"Better get out of here, Oscar, unless you want me to press charges when the cop comes. They'll find you at your work." Kelly stared right into his angry, bloodshot eyes.

Oscar's expression turned ugly. "Bitch! You can't keep a man from his wife!"

"We can if she wants to leave you," Lisa added. "Now, you'd better stay away from Zoe, or we'll go to the police. We're all watching over her. She's not alone."

Oscar muttered more curses, looking from Kelly to Lisa. Then, he started to back up.

At last, Kelly thought, feeling a glimmer of relief.

"Zoe! I know you're in there! You can't just walk away from me, you hear!" Oscar bellowed at the top of his voice. "You're my wife, dammit! You can't leave unless I say so!"

Kelly took a deep breath. "You can leave, Oscar. And you'd better before the police get here."

Oscar scowled at Kelly again and muttered another curse, then backed down the steps.

Kelly waited for him to climb into his truck and actually drive away before she turned to Lisa. They both exchanged a worried look.

"I'm afraid we haven't seen the last of Oscar," Lisa said.

"I'm afraid you're right."



©Maggie Sefton


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Maggie Sefton: Knitting Mysteries