Beware Kind Strangers

Dylan Huges’ Prompt:  I’ll provide the first line, you get to write whatever comes afterward. Length, genre, and structure are completely up to you. Feel free to modify the line as you see fit, adding punctuation, quotes, or other bits if so desired. Or for more of a challenge, change nothing. You have a week to write it, enjoy!  Your line for this week is:  Carla Scott wanted nothing more in life than to own a little bookshop in the coastal town she’d grown up in.

“Carla Scott wanted nothing more in life than to own a little bookshop in the coastal town she’d grown up in”—But that’s not exactly what happened.

Her name wasn’t actually Carla Scott, and she hadn’t grown up in Heart’s Point—though she’d visited it several years before and was certain Divine Providence had brought her back.  It was all she’d ever dreamed, and the little bookshop was an added bonus—with less responsibility than ownership would have required.

Carla didn’t meet the owner personally—the Help Wanted sign on the door provided an email address for interested parties to contact.  Her email was answered by a phone call from a low-gravelly male voice, perhaps an older gentleman…who sounded quite handsome, to her.

She was frank in disclosing her information to him; confiding that “Carla Scott” was an alias, and that she was seeking a life under the radar, having escaped her abusive husband.  The man’s response was sympathetic, compassionate.  He told her that the furnished apartment above the bookshop came with the position of manager, if she accepted. 

She did accept, eagerly.  Her duties were straightforward:  order best-sellers and any other books she wished, stock the shelves, sell books—and deposit the money in his First Coastal Bank account.  He would call her a couple times a month, pleasant chats about the book business.

Six months after Carla-who-was-not-Carla arrived, she was looking forward to meeting the owner of the shop at last.  LeBeau Marnier matched his phone voice in every way…mid-60’s, tall and trim of frame, with elegant hands and facial features—piercingly attractive black-olive eyes.  After surveying the store and examining her records, he took her to a posh restaurant in the next village.  Later he returned her to her apartment, bidding her a well-mannered, cordial adieu.

The bookshop remained closed for two days before the constable was alerted to check on “Carla”.  She was good and dead, and not from natural causes.

Desperation can make people hungry, and stupid; a stranger’s kind voice may cause them to let down their guard—trust too quickly, and too much.  She had been a lovely young woman, Mr Marnier thought sadly, somewhat sorry to lose her…

But business was business.

©Jael Sook, 2017 All rights reserved.

Image credit: Pixabay

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