The Hawk Run Chronicles: Welcome Home

by Skippy


The usual...

Feedback: Skippy


LAWRENCE WAS enjoying a leisurely breakfast at the Kasa de Kaffeine when Patrice joined him. She ordered toast and coffee, and glanced at the newspaper while she waited for her order to arrive.

"I'm surprised you're here," Lawrence commented. "I thought you didn't like this place."

"I don't like Nona's cooking, dear. I have nothing against the restaurant. And since she isn't here this morning, I'm guaranteed edible toast and drinkable coffee."

The waitress returned with Patrice's order. She refilled the coffee cups before departing.

"Our associate has met with the state police on three separate occasions to date," Patrice declared. "Were you aware of that?"

Lawrence frowned, dabbing at his lips with a napkin. "I knew they were here looking into the vandalism at Masterson Realty. They've talked to Bert three times about that?"

"No, this is different. These people are from the attorney general's office. I'm not talking about those insurance investigators."

"I thought the state police were investigating the vandalism."

"Look…" Patrice sighed. "The vandalism at the real estate office is being investigated by the insurance company. The insurance company spoke to the state police, who in response sent in a couple of their own investigators. But Bert has met on three separate occasions with police representing the state attorney general's office. That's what I'm concerned about."

"Why do you suppose they're poking around here?"

"I assume that the attorney general is still investigating corruption here in Hawk Run."

"Perhaps the former mayor has been shooting off his mouth."

"I'd be more inclined to think it was the three police officers Bert hired. The three now serving time in prison. Mayor Franklin is a degenerate. He enjoys the company of the perverts so common in prison. I doubt he's in any hurry to leave. The other three, however, are normal heterosexual males. They certainly won't want to spend 5 years without female companionship."

"We should have paid them off to keep them quiet," he sighed.

"I suggested that but you voted me down. Now we'll have to do a bit of damage control."

"And we'd better keep an eye on Bert."

"Get Nona to do that. She spends the most time with him. That's where she is this morning, by the way."

"With Bert?"


"They spent the night together?"


"I'm glad to hear that, even if it is Bert she's with. She's been alone too long."

"Maybe she should have thought about loneliness before she shot her last boyfriend," Patrice snorted.

"She's impetuous. It's part of her charm."

"She's a psychopath. It's part of her affliction."

"Now, Patrice," he laughed, shaking a finger at her. "Let's not be unkind."

She finished her toast and glanced at her watch. "I'm going over to the office. Where are you headed?"

"To the Zippy Mart. I'm interviewing three people for the assistant manager job."

"Can you hang around here long enough to talk to Nona?"

"About Bert, you mean?"


"Why don't I just come back here for lunch?"

"And risk having her cook something for you? You're braver than I am, dear."

"Not at all. Just more adventurous. I'll come back for lunch."

MAGGIE BUCKLED a gun belt around her waist and closed her locker. She picked up her leather jacket and helmet from the bench in front of the locker and started toward the door. She reached for the handle just as Helen pushed inward. They both laughed in surprise.

"I'm glad I caught you," Helen smiled. "The state people are back, and one of them is using the computer at your desk. It was the only one available. If you have anything to file, any wants or warrants to check, just use the computer at the front desk."

"Yes, ma'am. No problem."

Helen handed her a folder. "When you get a chance, enter that. It's a security system registration from Rae Curran."

"Yes, ma'am. She mentioned to me last night that she had a new system installed. I suggested it to her."

"Good," she nodded. "Very good. Maybe that will convince our local burglars to pass the Rose by."

"Yes, ma'am. That was my motivation in suggesting the system. I found signs that someone had been checking the service entrance and the windows at the rear of the building. I told Chief Yancey about it, but he said to ignore it. He also said for me to stay away from the Irish Rose, the boardwalk concessions, and Cracker Hill Books."

"You do your job, Maggie," Helen frowned. "I don't care what that idiot tells you, you have a duty to the citizens of this town to protect…"

"Captain," Maggie interrupted. "I have no intention of doing anything Chief Yancey tells me to do."

"Good. Okay." She sighed, rubbing the back of her neck. "I just wish the state police would finish whatever it is they're doing. It's the kind of tension I don't care for."

"Well, you aren't alone in your wishes."

"You go ahead on patrol, Maggie. I'll catch you later."

Maggie heard Bert before she saw him. He came stomping up behind her as she worked at the complaint desk to file Rae Curran's security system registration. He grabbed the folder out of her hand.

"What are you doing at this desk?" he demanded. "You're supposed to be out on patrol."

"Yes, Chief, but I always do paperwork before I go out. Lieutenant Ross is using my computer, and Captain Burke suggested I use this one."

"Who the fuck is Lieutenant Ross? We don't have anyone by that name on the duty roster."

"No, sir. He's with the Ohio State Police."

"Shit. Are those assholes here again?"


He opened the folder to examine its contents. "What is this?"

"A security system registration form."

"Who had a security system installed?"

"Ms. Curran at the Irish Rose Tavern."

"I told you to stay away from there."

"Yessir, you did. Ms. Curran brought the registration in early this morning."

Bert tore the folder in half and threw it into a wastebasket. "You get to work," he grumbled. "And if I find out you've been fucking around at that dyke bar, I'll make you wish you had stayed in Columbus."

MAGGIE EXITED the building and headed for the garage to retrieve her motorcycle. Driving through the lot, she noticed the dispatcher running toward her. She guided the big bike slowly in that direction.

"Is there a problem, Gracie?" she asked.

"No, sweetie," Gracie smiled. She handed her a piece of paper with an address on it. "Now, that isn't in your assigned district, but see if you can head on over to the west side of the lake this mornin'. That address belongs to Miss Vonnie. That'd be Yvonne Grant, Marguerite. She called me to report seein' a bear roaming around on her property. I gotta tell you that we ain't had bears come close to town for a number of years, but that don't mean they won't some day take a notion to visit. So, if you can, please go see what Miss Vonnie wants."

Maggie nodded. "I'll go now."

"Thanks, darlin'. Much appreciated."

The house on West Lake Road was an enormous three-story brick Colonial of the sort generally classified as 'mansion'. It sat about a quarter mile back off the road, with ancient buckeye trees and thick, lush grass separating it from passers-by. A brick driveway curved gracefully in front of the house; a flagstone terrace across the rear of the dwelling looked out on Little Hawk Lake only 100 yards away.

The property belonged to Ms. Yvonne Emmaline Grant, known to the residents of Hawk Run as Miss Vonnie. Her ancestors founded Grant College and Vonnie's mother had served as the president of the college for several years. To say that the Grant family wielded influence in town would be understatement.

Maggie parked the motorcycle in front of the Grant estate and stood gawking at it as she removed her helmet and sunglasses. She was not embarrassed to be caught awestruck when the front door swung open and a young woman stepped out to greet her.

"I'm MarDean Guitry," she declared. "I'm Ms. Grant's housekeeper. She asks that you come inside to the parlor."

"I should check the property first, Ms. Guitry," Maggie replied.

MarDean crooked her finger to summon Maggie closer. "There's no bear," she whispered. "She made that up. Ms. Vonnie has been wanting to meet you since the Billy Curran Memorial Random Golf Tournament."

"The dispatcher sorta hinted that the bear might be a figment of someone's imagination," she shrugged. "But I'll see what Ms. Grant has to say about it. Lead the way."

Into a cool, marble floored foyer, then through mahogany pocket doors and into a parlor straight out of a museum, MarDean escorted Maggie. Vonnie was seated in a red leather wing chair. A tall, lithe, woman who wore her salt-and-pepper hair in a buzz cut, she was dressed in cotton drawstring trousers and a matching blouse with beautiful embroidery on the bodice and sleeves. There was a noticeable abrasion on her chin and her right foot, which was in a cast, was resting on a hassock.

"Please come in and sit down, Officer Conover," Vonnie Grant smiled.

"Well, ma'am, much as I would enjoy doing that, I'd better go find that bear. We can't have it prowling around making a nuisance of itself."

"The bear ran away. I chased it."


"Yes. I poked at it with a rake, and it went running off toward Harker State Forest."

"Poked it with a rake, did you?"

"Yes, mm-hm."

"You're mighty lucky that bear didn't poke you right back."

"Nonsense. I own half the town. No bear in his right mind would attempt such a thing. Please sit down."

"Well, okay, but just this once. Keep in mind that I am obligated to protect and serve the folks who own the other half of Hawk Run, too."

A snort of laughter came from the doorway.

"MarDean!" Vonnie bellowed. "Go dust something." She looked at Maggie and blushed. "There was no bear," she confessed. "You probably know that."

"Yes, ma'am."

"I apologize for doing that, but I wanted to meet you. We didn't have time for introductions during the golf tournament on Saturday, and perhaps the cast on my foot will further explain why I didn't simply drive into town and wait til you rode by on your motorcycle."

"How did you hurt yourself?"

"I fell while playing golf."

"You fell? The game of golf moves mostly at a leisurely pace, and I've never noticed a lot of opportunity for injury. Did you trip over something?"

"Actually, it was during a game of Random Golf that I was injured, not the ordinary kind. I was hitting a five iron off the roof of Darnell Adkins' garage when I fell. Has Random Golf been explained to you?"

"Well, no, ma'am, but I have witnessed the game. An explanation is not required."

"Even so, I should tell you that the game was invented…or would it be 'developed'?"


"Thank you," she nodded. "The game was developed by Mr. Billy Curran to provide a suitable pastime for the young people of the town. You tee up in the middle of your front yard. You decide upon the direction in which you intend to proceed. You hit the ball as you would drive the tee shot in ordinary golf. Wherever the fourth stroke lands is the green. A player may take no more than seven strokes per hole, and you must play the lie. Unless, of course, the lie is Little Hawk Lake. That, basically, is Random Golf."

"I have to say that it seems to be a lot more entertaining than ordinary golf."

"My sentiments exactly."

"Can anyone play, or must one belong to some type of league?"

"Anyone can play. Do you own a set of clubs, Officer Conover?"

"Yes, I do."

"It isn't essential, of course, but it is an advantage. Ms. Guitry, my housekeeper, for example, used a croquet mallet, a baseball bat, and a ping-pong paddle up until she received a set of actual golf clubs for Christmas two years ago. Shall I invite you to join us in the near future?"

"Yes, ma'am. Please. I'd enjoy it very much."

"You aren't concerned that Chief Yancey will object?"

"No, ma'am. What I do on my free time is none of his business."

"Bert Yancey believes that everything that happens in Hawk Run is his personal business. He can make things very unpleasant for you. If you doubt me, talk to Helen Burke about the man."

"I don't doubt you. Is there a particular reason you're warning me, though?"

"News travels fast in Hawk Run, Ms. Conover. You've had dinner with Lynne Curran twice. That news will soon reach Bert Yancey's ears, and he will use it to make things unpleasant for you. He will move you to one of the outlying districts and schedule you for late-night hours, just so you won't be able to date Lynne or anyone. He'll harass you."

"Well, Ms. Grant, I can handle that kind of thing. If he bothers Ms. Curran, though, I might be inclined toward retaliation. Is that something I should be worried about?"

"No. He knows that Lynne has a number of influential friends in this town. Any action taken against her would meet with very unpleasant consequences for him."

"What sort of consequences are we talking about?" Maggie frowned.

"Loss of income, for one, loss of employment for another. Nothing violent. Were you thinking we might take a notion to shoot the son-of-a-bitch?"

"Yes, ma'am, the thought did cross my mind."

"There are so many other ways to make Bert miserable. It is far more entertaining to annoy the hell out of him than to shoot him."

"Well, just be advised that I would not take murder lightly. I'd have to issue a few citations if you or your compatriots should happen to kill the chief of police." She glanced at her watch and stood up. "Was there anything else you wanted to tell me, Ms. Grant?"

"Yes. Just one other thing. Pay no attention to Honoria Masterson."


"The romance between Honoria and Lynne ended years ago, but Honoria has been known to exhibit jealous lover behavior whenever Lynnie shows interest in a woman."

"I see," Maggie nodded. "Thank you for the helpful hints." she bowed, taking Vonnie's hand to kiss it. "It was a pleasure meeting you."

"Why, Officer Conover," Vonnie grinned. "Thank you. And welcome to Hawk Run."

In the dining room of the country club, Patrice sat reading the newspaper and waiting for her luncheon guest to arrive. When she looked up to see Bert advancing on her, she sighed in exasperation. "What are you doing here? I'm waiting for Reverend Markham. I don't mean to be rude, Bert, but you'll have to leave."

"We've got a problem," he declared, sliding into the booth. "I don't give a shit who you're having lunch with. This is more important."

She checked her watch. "Make it quick, then. My guest will be here soon."

"That dyke went and had a security system installed at the Rose."

"Who told you that?"

"Conners was getting ready to file the system registration. I tore it up and threw it away. Still, the system is installed."

"We'll just have to go for the alternate target, then," she shrugged. "It might be best anyhow. We stand to clear more from a coin collection than we'd get robbing a bar."

"I was looking forward to trashing the place, though," he pouted.

"What's more important to you? A five-figure profit or sticking it to a few perverts?"

He smirked as he considered these choices. "That's a toss up."

"Okay, then, you go ahead and have your fun. Just remember that you've got the state cops very interested in the fun you had over at Masterson Realty."

Bert's smile vanished. "I guess you're right. I'll go along with the change in plans."

"I am always right, dear. Now, please leave. Reverend Markham doesn't like you. He thinks you're a womanizer."

"Nothing' wrong with that," Bert winked. "I'll see you later, Treece. I'm going over to the Plaza Court for lunch."

"You aren't going to Nona's?"

"Have you ever eaten there?"

She wrinkled her nose in reply.

"Then you know why I'm going to the Plaza Court."

At lunchtime, Maggie headed for Dukie's. She was not surprised to find Galen there, eating chili and chatting with the owner. She took a seat beside him at the counter and reached for the menu Dukie held out to her.

"This chili." She indicated the bowl in front of Galen. "Is it from a can or is it homemade?"

"I made that chili," Dukie frowned. "I make all the soups, stews, and sauces served here."

"You don't put odd things in it, do you?"

"Whaddya mean, 'odd'?"

"Things like possum or squirrel meat."

"Lord, no," she grimaced. "I put ground chuck in that chili. Where on earth would I get squirrel meat?"

"Folks hunt the little critters," Maggie shrugged. "I had an uncle who was all the time cookin' up nasty food he made from animals he murdered. I've been surprised on more than one occasion, so I thought I'd better check to be sure you aren't inclined in a similar direction."

"Well, you can relax. There are no squirrels in my chili."

"Okay, then, I'll have that plus a ham sandwich. Just a plain ham sandwich on white bread and that means no lettuce, no tomato, no accessories of no kind. Just the bread and the meat. And a large glass of milk. Got any Ritz Crackers, Miz Dukie ma'am?"

"Some like that. A different brand name."

"That should be okay. Just don't give me saltines. I don't care for them with chili."

"Anything else?" she asked scribbling the order.

"No, thanks. That'll be it."

"Fussy about your food, are you?" Galen smiled as Dukie hastened toward the kitchen.

"I suppose I am."

"I know what you mean about the chili. I have an aunt who does things like that. She once made chili using road kill. I get queasy just thinking about it," he shuddered.

"Anyone with a brain would."

"Got a question for you."


"What were you doing over on West Lake this morning? That isn't your district."

"I was summoned."

"By who?" he frowned.

"Ms. Yvonne Grant."

"Oh. Well, what did she want?"

"She wanted to meet me."

Galen looked at her. He shook his head and sighed. "I gotta say this. The women in this town are about as crazy as any women I've ever met. I just do not understand the things they do."

"What's to understand? She wanted to meet me, she couldn't drive into town because of her broken foot, so she invited me to her home."

"She never drove a damn car before she broke her foot," he snorted. "She never got a driver's license. MarDean Guitry drives her wherever she needs to go. All she had to do was get MarDean to take her to the Irish Rose some night. As I hear tell, you've been spending your evenings there."

"I was there last night as a customer for the first time, Lieutenant Miller," she replied. She glanced up as Dukie set a bowl of chili and a sandwich in front of her. "Thank you," she smiled at her.

"You're welcome," was Dukie's reply. "Galen…explain yourself to the woman. She'll think you've joined forces with Bert and his trolls, or something."

Galen blushed and gave Maggie a sheepish smile. "I am sorry, Marguerite. That was uncalled for. Bert bitched at me this morning about you bein' at the Rose last night. He claims he told you to stay away from the place."

"He did," Maggie nodded. "He told me not to bother with patrols around there, around the boardwalk, around Cracker Hill Books. I spoke to Captain Burke about his orders, and she told me to ignore him. I intend to do as Captain Burke suggests."

"Bert Yancey is one mean bastard."

"Yes, so I've been told. I'm inclined to believe, however, that he's got other things to occupy his mind right now, so I don't think I need to worry about him for awhile. Those state police folks are back again today."

"Yeah, I know. I talked to them about an hour ago, and that's another reason I'm in a grumpy type of mood. They're with Helen now. I think you're probably right about Bert having more important things to worry about. I'm sorry about what I said."

"It's okay, Lieutenant. I understand."

"I hear you're dating Lynne Curran."

"We had dinner together twice. So?"

"So, be advised that there is only one true love in her life."

"You refer to Honoria Masterson, I assume."

"Yes. Lynnie has been in love with her since they were teenagers. The problem is, Honoria is not a lesbian. That's why Lynnie has been harassing Carlisle and Honoria all these years."

"I've heard a different version of that story, Lieutenant. And if Honoria Masterson is straight, I'm a nun."

Dukie returned to serve Galen apple pie. "Who's a nun?" she asked.

"Officer Conover here is questioning Norrie June's allegiances," Galen smiled.

"She's been married to Carl for 15 years. That's all I know about it. She swears that she's straight, so I have to take her word for it." She eyed Maggie. "What makes you think she's not?"

"She's got the twinkle and the swagger," Maggie replied, checking the ham sandwich for signs of 'accessories'."

"Excuse me?"

"The twinkle and the swagger. Twinkle in the eye, swagger in the walk. All lesbians have it."

Dukie crossed her arms over her chest. "Oh, really."

"Yes. Some straight women swagger, and some even get a twinkle in the eye; but they never have both together. Lesbians have both. It's a fact. You could look it up."

"And in which reference book might I find this fact?"

"The Lesbian Handbook. I'd loan you my copy, but then you'd know all our secrets. Can't have that. I'd be excommunicated."

"Officer Conover?"

"Yes, ma'am?"

"You are full of squirrel meat."

THERE WAS A PATH leading from the cottages at Cohasset Cove to Masterson Auditorium. The garden club maintained it, and it traversed a wooded section along the shore of the lake. The path also crossed the rear of the property where Cracker Hill Books was located. Along that particular stretch was a low, stone wall, and Lynne often sat there in the evening when the weather was nice, sometimes to read, more often just to watch Life go strolling by. She happened to be sitting there early one evening not too long after the Battle in the Bookstore, and was quite happy to see Maggie come walking along the path.

"Hello there," she greeted her, hoping she would sit and chat awhile.

Maggie did not disappoint her. She sat down beside her on the wall. "You seem to have recovered nicely from your wrasslin' match with Mrs. Huckle."

Lynne cocked her head to one side, studying her. "Now, isn't that interesting?" she smiled. "That corruption of the Huckabee name. We seem to have that in common."

"I have one or two odd little ways of amusing myself."

"And ways of needling pompous fools."

"That, too," she laughed.

Lynne fidgeted a little on the pretext of finding a more comfortable spot. In fact, she was trying to scoot closer to Maggie. "So. What brings you to the Vergelia Wainwright Memorial Footpath this evening, Officer Conover?"

"It has a name?" Maggie grinned.

"Yes. The residents of Hawk Run are quite fond of slapping names onto the many and varied scenic wonders here. Shall I tell you who Vergelia was?"

"Please do."

"Vergelia Wainwright lived in Hawk Run for 92 years. For all of her life, in other words. Her family owned the boat rental on the fishing pier, and that's where she worked for about 85 of those years. She was president of the Ladies' Garden Forum and was instrumental in planting the gardens over at Masterson Auditorium. This footpath was another of her projects. She made provisions in her will so that the path would always be kept in good repair. That's why it bears her name."

"I expected another Velveeta Rune kind of story," Maggie laughed.

"And what does that mean, exactly?"

"Lieutenant Miller told me a long, involved story about how the McGuinn family named the children with unusual names…names like Nabisco and Hudacol and Deuteronomy. He said to be careful never to address Mrs. Lamont Guitry by her given name, which is Velveeta Rune. He said that she had her name legally changed to Fern because she disliked Velveeta Rune so much. He said that Chief Yancey once made the mistake of calling her by that name and Mrs. Guitry pitched a 20-pound turkey bird at him. Broke his jaw and blacked both of his eyes."

"That isn't true."

"She didn't hit him with a turkey?"

"The turkey part is true but not the part about Fern Guitry's name. Someone made that up to annoy Bert Yancey. The results were so much better than I had hoped for."

. Maggie grinned at her. "I believe I mentioned to you the other day that you're a very naughty person, didn't I?"

"You did," she nodded.

"There seem to be several naughty folks here in Hawk Run. I guess maybe I should say several scalawags instead of several naughty folks."

"That is a wonderful word," she laughed. "Scalawag. You don't hear it often enough."

"So is there more to the Vergelia story?"

"Yes, but I don't want you to think I'm silly all the time."

"There's nothing wrong with silliness."

"No, but a constant barrage of it would get rather boring, and I don't want to bore you at this stage in our friendship. Maybe later on I'll bore you."

"I doubt people are ever bored in your company."

A brief period of rather tender silence ensued, accompanied by several very gentle kisses.

"What were we talking about?" Lynne murmured.

"A lady named Vergelia."

"Oh, yes. Shall I continue with the anecdote?"

"Is it a long and convoluted kind of anecdote?"

"No. Brief and to the point."

"Then please continue. I'll just sit here and hold your hand for you."

"Vergelia was a rather large person, and I don't mean to imply that she was fat. She was six feet, six inches tall and she weighed close to 300 pounds. She was a person you could easily spot in a crowd."

"I can imagine."

"Even if she had not been that tall, she would have been noticeable. She enjoyed dying her hair different colors…pink or purple at Easter; red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July. She also favored western-style clothing and did not limit such outfits to simple skirt and blouse. She accessorized. Extensively. A typical outfit would include boots, Stetson, six-shooters, and lariat."

"Real six-shooters?"

"No. Cap gun type."

"A lariat?"

"Yes. Vergelia also enjoyed sitting out at the end of Municipal Pier singing country-western tunes. Ragtime Cowboy Joe, Tumblin' Tumbleweeds…that kind of thing."

"Sounds like an interesting person."

"She was nothing if not interesting."

"It seems that there are lots of interesting people living here."

"Yes. Interesting is one way to describe them."

"Tell me something: Did you target that bake sale or was it just serendipitous that the bake sale and the golf tournament coincided?"

"Of course it was serendipitous."


"The Billy Curran Memorial is always held on April 13. Anyone who has lived in Hawk Run longer than a year knows this. The Baptists certainly knew this when they scheduled their bake sale. You don't honestly believe that an ordinary bake sale would draw several hundred customers, do you?"

"Probably not."

"Of course not. Those people came to see what would happen when bake sale and tournament collided. As they were bound to do."

"You could have chosen a different direction in which to proceed."

"Maybe so. I personally had nothing to do with that decision. You'd have to discuss the matter with Miss Vonnie. She's the resident lesbian decision maker."

"Sort of a trend setter, is she?"

"More of a mother hen. Vonnie looks after the lesbians, and her sister Demmie looks after the straight girls. Have you met the Grant twins?"

"I met Ms. Yvonne Grant at the Flying Cake Festival. I have not yet had the honor of meeting Mrs. Demetria Grant Masterson."

"Flying Cake Festival?" Lynne laughed. "That's a good one."

"Why, thanks, Miss Lynnie." She grinned at her as she touched a finger gently to Lynne's nose.

"Have you had dinner yet?"

"Nope, and those sounds you're hearing are from my empty stomach, not from any lions or bears that might be roaming' loose in the neighborhood."

"Shall we dine together?"

"Sounds like a wonderful idea. Where do we want to go?"

"I'd offer to cook, but I don't have much in the fridge. We could just go across the street to the tavern."

"They serve food there?"

"Yes. My sister is a chef, and a very good one."

"Then let's go."

Comfortably fed and quite content in one another's company, Lynne and Maggie debated whether or not they wanted after-dinner coffee. They had pretty much decided against evening caffeine when Rae came out of the kitchen to sit with them for a few minutes.

"So, Officer Conover," she smiled. "Was the food to your liking?"

"The food was wonderful," Maggie replied. "Between Dukie's Diner and the Irish Rose, I'll never have to cook again."

"Rae taught Dukie how to cook," Lynne commented.

"I taught her one or two things about restaurant cooking, that's all," Rae added as the waitress delivered the tab to the table. She snatched it from her fingers. "My treat," she said to Maggie. "And please don't tell me that cops can't accept such things as free meals. This is a one-time-only freebie. It's my way of letting you know that I don't object to you dating my sister."

"Then this one time only, I will accept your generosity," Maggie smiled.

Rae gave Lynne a nudge. "Are you going to Vonnie's tomorrow night?"

"Yes, I am," Lynne nodded. In explanation, she told Maggie, "We have a club meeting tomorrow evening. It's a community service organization. We raise funds for the hospital, we make up food baskets during the holidays…that kind of thing. It's called the Kazoo Band."

"Any particular reason?" Maggie laughed.

"Oh, just for fun."

"That's sometimes the best reason of all."

Continued in Part 7.

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