The prompt this week really made me think. Kudos to my daughter! But when an idea popped into my head, I got really excited. Hope you enjoy this new storyline that’ll probably last a few weeks!
Prompt: I never paint.
The shadows danced around, flickering in and out, up and down. But the nice thing about every dark silhouette that loomed near her, it might’ve wrapped her in sadness, but just as quickly, passed her by as if she were insignificant, worthless.
Now, that’s a word she heard too much in the past. Wasn’t it fitting she’d still think that? Didn’t it make it true?
Another shadow hovered. She blinked once, taking a sip of coffee, then looked up from the book she had been mercifully trying to concentrate on and failing miserably at, to see why the latest shadow didn’t disappear.
The man before her looked foreboding, mysterious, and calculating, all traits she despised. No smile punctured his lips. His brows hung low, little lines wrinkling his forehead as his scowl seemed to deepen. Sharply contoured jaw. Neat, combed black hair. Rigid posture, his hands tightly by his side, a folder tucked in one hand. And his eyes, almost as black as death. Yep. Nothing about his features made her think she was going to enjoy whatever conversation he had in mind.
She turned her head down, deciding that she wouldn’t even indulge him with a simple, “Go away.” He should get the drift.
“Can I sit down?”
Refusing to glance his way, she shook her head no. She wouldn’t even engage him with words back.
A chair scraped against the café’s floor, then the table shook, causing the words to blur before her. Who was she kidding? She hadn’t been concentrating on the words long before he showed up.
Steeling her strength for the interaction she assumed would test her patience, she looked up. The man still glared at her, his hands resting over the folder on top of the table.
Her curiosity got the better of her. She wanted to know what was in the folder. Of course not badly enough that she would ask.
“I said no.”
“You did.” His eyes glossed over her, assessing, weighing, judging.
She hated that feeling. Did he know that? Is that why he looked at her that way?
“I’d like to read in peace. Please leave me alone.”
“Are you Jezabelle Cotton?”
She managed to hide her surprise. Barely. No one called her that anymore. Actually, no one ever called her that. When she first started to paint, she knew she would never be able to use her real name if she ever decided to share her art with the world. That’s the thing. She didn’t find the nerve. How did he know her pseudonym?
“Who are you?”
His hand slid under the table, just as quickly popped up. A bright shiny piece of gold shimmered as he laid it on the table.
“Detective Brands.” A tiny corner of his lip curled up. “Let’s skip the games. I know you’re Jezabelle Cotton, the artist. Your real name is Ginny Appleby.”
She closed her book, wrapping her hands together on top of it. “And how can I help you, Detective?”
He picked up the folder, leaving his badge on the table and placed a photo before her.
Bright flashes of color. Red shouting from corner to corner, almost seeping from the paper into the table and right into her hands. Her painting. She named each painting, as if they were her babies. A part of her soul. This particular painting she named “Drenched in Blood”. Oh, yeah. She didn’t paint the pretty pictures with flowers or nature or color splashed over the canvas with happiness.
No. She painted brutality, death, the pain hidden inside of yourself.
This particular painting was of a young woman, draped over the side of a bed, blood dripping to the floor and graced all over her body. Stab wounds from head to toe, sprinkled around like one would dot holes in a rum cake for the rum glaze to enhance the flavor by making sure it hit every corner of the cake.
“This one is quite vivid. The details you managed to capture…” His eyes pierced her with heavy unease. “Do you always paint murders?”
“I never paint…” She tapped the photo, showing not only him, but herself, the picture didn’t affect her. “This isn’t murder. If you can’t look at my paintings and see the real meaning behind it then you’re an idiot.”
She leaned back in her chair, too tired, too strung out from her harrowing emotions to care that she insulted him.
He opened the folder once again and placed another photo over the first one.
She scrambled away from the table so fast, her chair toppled over. Her legs barely kept her standing, but she dug deep for strength she knew would shatter any second.
He tapped the photo. “This looks like murder to me. Nothing but a crime. A crime I will solve.”
Staring at the exact replica of her painting she created six months ago, a tear slid out.
Someone stole her work.
Someone made her painting come alive more than she ever could.
Someone actually killed a real woman and copied her painting to the T, right down to the blood trailing down the side of the bed, her arm hanging loosely to the floor, her fingers dipping into her own blood.
“Tell me, Ms. Appleby. Did you do this yourself, or do you have a partner?”