Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4) (12 page)

BOOK: Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4)
13.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

George scratched his head, then shook it. "I just don't get you sometimes."

"I know. Sorry."

"But your plan is solid." He gave me his cop look. "I'm going to do this, not because you're my girlfriend but because what you said makes sense."

He went back to the guy and told him nearly exactly what I'd suggested. The guy, whose name turned out to be "Chicken Legs" Sampson, walked out.

I immediately took George by the hand and thanked him.

Then I said, "Please tell Jeremiah I want to be a deputy."

Words can't describe the look George gave me.


George didn't say a word. He left the room, uncharacteristically walking ahead of me. And uncharacteristically I followed without saying a word either.

We walked around the corner to the hallway where we'd left Chip and Jim Bob, and saw Jeremiah and Wilma still talking to them. Both Chip and Jim Bob were sitting on the floor with their backs against the wall. Chip sported a bandage on the right side of his head while Jim Bob didn't have any wrappings,,, but kept rubbing his head and continuing his whining.

Jeremiah said to George, "Not only do we have a murder to investigate, now we have these attacks. Plus what happened to Sam. I'm going to need to get another deputy or two."

A perfect set-up for George to suggest the sheriff deputize me. But it didn't happen. Instead, George looked at Wilma and said, "How are they?"

"Chip has a nasty bump on the side of his head. He," she indicated Jim Bob, "has a red mark, but no swelling. We don't have an MRI machine to check for TBI or concussions."

"What's TBI?" I asked.

"Traumatic Brain Injury. He's complaining of head pain but other than a little redness there's nothing evident. I might send them to Branson for a thorough check. I think I'll watch them for a while and see before I make a decision."

"But there's something else," the sheriff turned to Jim Bob. "Tell 'em."

Jim Bob bowed his head, and hesitated before saying, "I'm not Jim Bob."

"What?" I practically bellowed. "If you're another one of those Bobs, I'm going to be really upset with you."

He scooted further away, closer to the sheriff, as if he needed protection. "Well, I am. I am another one of those Bobs. I'm Bob Bob."

"Bob Bob? I liked you. How are you involved in this?" I was sorely disappointed.

"Once Wilma released me, I just started wandering around. When I got here, Jim Bob had just finished talking to George and had been told to help Chip for a while.
He said he'd rather be with the chickens. I don't have any use for that stuff, so I said I'd help out here. We've been doing that since we were kids. Being identical has its benefits." He ducked his head as if he expected me to punch him. I must admit I felt like it.

I decided to ignore his treachery and concentrate on his health. "Is there a place to keep them under observation?" I asked Wilma.

"Yeah. My office is in my home. I told you it's a former funeral home. I had the old viewing parlor converted into a small clinic with a few beds. I'll put them there. I'll take turns with my brother Johnny watching them. He's a nurse."

Hmm. I'd heard her mention her brother before but hadn't met him. "I'd like to meet him," I said. "Surprised he hasn't come out here to see all the excitement."

"Well," Wilma answered my unasked question, "he's not real social. Has agoraphobia, and he basically takes care of the house, office, and basement coroner space."

I wanted to say something soothing. From my practice I knew how hard it was to live with someone who was extremely fearful of leaving the house. So I just said, "Sorry to hear about his fear. Hope he is able to deal with it at some point."

Wilma nodded but didn't say a word.

Jeremiah then said, "I think, rather than talk to people about this incident, we should wait to hear about the warrant from the judge. When we interview all the chicken people about the murder we can also ask about this attack. George, will you make sure to tell the Assistant Cluck, whoever that is, that no one can leave and that he or she is in charge for a while? Unless of course Jim Bob is there. We'll have the diner continue to cater their meals, so I don't think there should be a problem. Anyone who isn't staying in the hotel is going to have to check in with one of us, so we know their home addresses. Right now, I haven't gotten the list of attendees." His look at Bob Bob contained daggers.

"I can't help it," Bob Bob whined. "First of all, I'm not Jim Bob so am not the Big Cluck. But I know they sign a confidentiality agreement with everyone who attends the convention and he said they can't violate it without a good reason. And I'm sure he's with the other chickens, because that's where he said he'd be."

"Would a charge of obstruction of justice be a good enough reason for us to get the list?" I was bluffing, and didn't really know if the threat applied, but I'd heard it enough on TV that I thought it might be valid.

"Yeah, probably," Bob Bob answered. "Probably." He looked at Jeremiah. "I'm sure Jim Bob will have the list to you this afternoon, after I talk to him. I'll call him when we get to Wilma's. Don't know if he has his phone with him, 'cause he's naked under the suit."

"Eewww," I said, not even trying to censor myself. The thought of a naked Jim Bob, or any of the Bobs for that matter, nauseated me.

Wilma said, "C'mon, you two. I'll get you in my truck and go to my house. Johnny will fix you dinner and I just want you to relax for a while."

They walked out slowly, with Jeremiah helping them into the truck. He returned and said, "I don't know who is going to guard this place. We're running out of people. Sure wish my regular deputy would get back from vacation."

Another perfect time for George to suggest I could be a deputy. And yet another time when he didn't step up. What a passive-aggressive way to let me know he didn't want it to happen. Well, I did want it to happen, so I said, "Sheriff, why not deputize me? I've been helping all along. I'm smart, inquisitive, and steady. You can count on me."

Jeremiah looked at George, which made me mad. My boyfriend didn't need to give permission for me to be a deputy. Or maybe he just looked at George because he was a cop and knew me well.

George finally said, "I've figured out a way that we don't need this hallway guarded. Let's cut up the carpet where the bloodstains are. We were going to have to do that anyway to send it in to the lab. We can do it now. In addition, let's all three of us crawl around looking for anything else. Anything that might have been left from a year ago. I know the odds are small that we'll find anything, but at least we'll know we were thorough."

"Yeah," I said sarcastically. "I probably won't be crawling on my hands and knees. Sounds like a job for a deputy." I did my own version of passive-aggressive quite well.

"All right," George yelled, gazing at me and looking exasperated. "Sheriff, please deputize her." The implication was, "so she'll shut up," although George would never say such a thing.

I decided to swallow my pride and let it pass. I just wanted to be a deputy sheriff, even for a few days.

Jeremiah decided to do it, and swore me in then and there. I felt a sense of pride that I was officially a cop, albeit a temporary one.

"Do I get a badge?" I asked. Their simultaneous eye rolling gave me my answer.

We started our search. In the middle of it, I remarked, "Hey, I wonder what's going on with Luigi. He's attached at the hip to Wilma, but I'd have thought he'd been gone by now."

"You mean you think he should've gone back to Mizzou," said George, his voice sounding muffled coming from the room across the way.

"Nah, I don't think so," said a faint-voiced Jeremiah, in a different room. "He said as long as he was here, he was going to stay to see if we needed any other help."

"He could be a deputy too," I said, my voice the only one sounding loud to me.

No response, but that was okay. It was just an offhand thought. Maybe I'd ask Wilma the next time I saw her.

After about forty-five minutes of searching we hadn't come up with anything. We met in the corridor. I looked at my cell phone for the time. "We missed our lunch date at the diner. I'm starving."

George looked at his watch for confirmation. "Yeah, guess we did."

"Marianne said dinner would be ready about now," Jeremiah said. "Why don't we go to her house?"

I looked down and realized I still had the stupid chicken suit on. George helped me step out of it. I had clothes on underneath, but knew the regular chickens didn't wear anything under the suit. The sudden thought that Chip had worn this without clothes made my skin crawl. But the thought of the vegetable gratin waiting for me soothed me enough. Plus, I was missing my Clancy. I wasn't used to having these kinds of adventures without her.

The short walk passed quickly, even with a deflated chicken suit in my arms. The first thing I did when I saw Marianne was to blurt out, "I'm a deputy." I immediately recognized my impulsivity, so added, "I forgot my meds. Remember?"

"They remember, Sam," said a now much calmer George.
"But why do you feel the need to keep telling everyone?"

"Because I'm embarrassed. And I think it's progress that now I at least am aware when I'm doing it."

Clancy greeted me effusively and I returned her enthusiasm. This time she didn't look terror stricken, so she must have learned to accept Thor's ministrations. At any rate, she stayed by my side, and then lay at my feet when we ate dinner, especially after I told her I'd spend some quality time with her later, and would fill her in on what was going on.

Dinner was delightful, as was the conversation. We told Marianne what we could about the now-plural investigations. Other than that, our topics were more fun and uplifting. I couldn't help but look at Jeremiah and Marianne. There were times it seemed they were the only two in the room, so intent were they on each other. I smiled and touched George's hand. I looked at him and felt such a sense of wellbeing that it was hard to describe. I'd found my knight in shining armor, and it looked like Marianne had too. They touched hands frequently and there seemed to be an air of electricity between them.

After a luscious dessert of strawberries and homemade ice cream, I noticed that Jeremiah was sweating. I was going to ask him if he felt all right, but he spoke first. Moving his chair back to give himself room, he surprised me by getting down on one knee and taking Marianne's hand. George kind of gasped, so I guessed he was surprised too. Marianne's mouth was open, but nothing escaped it.

"Marianne, we've known each other for many years. I've loved you from the moment I met you. There was something about you that captivated me, right from the beginning. I love you, and I want you to do me the honor of being my wife. Will you marry me?" His voice choked as he said the last sentence.

She didn't hesitate in the slightest. "Yes. Oh, yes," she said. Keeping his hand, she helped him stand and rewarded him with a kiss followed by a hug. "Yes," she said again, smiling.

"Oh, I almost forgot." He pulled a ring out of his breast pocket. "This was my mom's. It's nothing like the diamonds you already own, but it's a very special ring to me."

"It's lovely," she said, as he slipped it on her finger. "Lovely."

Marianne proudly pointed the ring in my direction, knowing it was something we females appreciate more than males. The ring was dainty, with a few small diamonds across the top of the band. The band itself was yellow gold, with what looked like platinum or white gold intertwined.

"Lovely," was what I said, echoing Marianne. It was the only word that fit.

"Uh, nice," said George. "Congratulations, Jeremiah," he said, holding out his hand. They did the manly shake, while I went to Marianne and hugged her, my eyes welling with tears.

"I know you haven't had time to discuss this, but when might the wedding be?" I really wanted an invitation, and hoped they'd send us one.

They looked at each other with love eyes--that look I noticed when we first met them.

"Now," Marianne said.

"As soon as possible," said Jeremiah. "At our age, there's no reason to wait."

"I don't want anything fancy. Just a very small wedding. And I agree with Jeremiah; there's no reason to wait."

"Oh, goody. We'll be here then."

Marianne hesitated, then asked, "None of my sisters will be here because they don't live nearby. Will you be my matron of honor, Sam?"

My "Yes" escaped my mouth before she had even finished asking the question.

"And, George," the sheriff said, "will you please stand up with me?"

"Uh, yeah," said George, shaking Jeremiah's hand again. But he didn't look as pleased as I thought he would. I reminded myself to ask him about that later.

"Okay," said Jeremiah. "That's set. We'll need a marriage license, and we can get one in Hollister. It's a little closer than Branson. There's no waiting period in Missouri, so we can do this whenever we want."

"How about tomorrow?" asked Marianne, still beaming and looking younger and younger as we sat there.

"We've got a lot going on here, but I think I can leave for an hour to get the license in the morning. George, will you please cover for me for an hour?"

"Sure," George answered, but he sure didn't look happy. "We're still waiting on the warrant to get all the chickens to let us see them as people. Until that happens, I'll just interview Chip, Bob Bob, and Jim Bob in the morning. And I'll have the Bobs show me IDs so I'll be sure to know who is who. Fool me twice, shame on me, and all that."

I smiled at that. It was just like George to be figuring out his detective approach in advance.

We went to bed soon afterward, and before we drifted off I decided to talk to George about his unhappiness. "You seem to be disappointed or upset about their engagement. That's not like you. What's wrong?"

He didn't answer right away, but finally said, "I really wanted to go to the Grand Canyon with you. That's all."

BOOK: Will You Marry Me? (Sam Darling Mystery Book 4)
13.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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