Late Lattes – Part VI – A Julie Smithland Story

I wish I could catch Bill’s eye, but he doesn’t look my direction. Just as well, I suppose. The gun-wielder isn’t aware of my presence either.

“Drop your weapon.” I hear the racking sound of a bullet being chambered by Tobias, the officer guarding the inside of the coffee shop.

“Or what?” Carl’s sneering voice meets my ear. “You’ll shoot through Bill to get me?”

Carl. I should have realized it sooner. Everything makes sense now. The timing, the undisturbed receipts, the note.

But why did he bring Bill back here? His apartment exit isn’t being watched. He could have gone out that way without attracting any extra attention.

Quickly, I glance around for something, anything, that could be used as a weapon. A spare filter holder for the espresso machine is within reach. I wrap my fingers around it. It’s small, but heavy. Perfect.

“You don’t want to go this route, Carl.” Bill’s voice is soothing, calm, but I hear a note of warning in his tone.

“You left me no choice.” Carl grinds the words out as he prods Bill forward. Now I can see him. I freeze, hoping he won’t catch sight of me. Just a few more steps.

But he stops. Without taking his eyes off the officers in front of him, Carl reaches his free hand to lift a set of keys dangling from a hook just inside the counter area. His car keys, I’ll bet.

“Now, we’re going out the back. And if we’re followed, Bill will be as dead as that teenager.” Two steps takes them past the counter and out of my vision.

I rise silently, hoping Tobias doesn’t give away my position. I’ll have only one chance to get a blow in. Just as I raise my hand, Carl turns his gun toward Tobias.

“Hey!”

At the sound of my voice, Carl swings toward me, as I’d hoped. With a speed powered by five cups of black coffee, I bring the filter holder down to connect with his wrist. A satisfying crack testifies to my aim, and he drops the weapon. In an instant, Bill and Tobias are on him.

Carl doesn’t struggle long. Not with what is probably a broken wrist. Handcuffs are going to hurt.

He glares at me as the officers pull him to his feet and read him his rights.

As they head toward the door, I move in front of them. “Why did you kill Josh, Carl?” I ask, knowing my part of the investigation is nearly over.

He doesn’t respond, just glares.

All right then. “Your buyer was late, and Josh was early, wasn’t he? You couldn’t let him tell what he saw.”

A flash of surprise is all the confirmation I need. Disgusted, I stand aside and let them go.

Bill glances toward me as he passes. “Thanks, Julie.”

“No problem.”

He takes a few more steps, then stops and turns just inside the door. “Julie?”

I raise my eyebrows at his serious expression.

“Next time, investigate your own hunches.”

The End

Tea Review:

Orange Blossom Oolong from the English Tea Store

If you’re craving that signature oolong flavor, this is a great option for you. Oolong is one of the most diverse classifications of the true teas, and when considering the full range of oolongs, Orange Blossom is middle-of-the-road (neither too dark, nor too green). The floral flavor is deliciously muted, just enough to give you that sense of lightness without the impression that you’re swallowing a petunia. Five stars!

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