Chapter 49: Nasty Surprise

Nicole out having drinks with friends, when the head of homeowner’s association in her subdivision phoned.  She looked down at her screen and frowned, not understanding why he was calling in the middle of the night. Probably some nonsense about the height of her bushes or something. Nicole decided that whatever it was could wait.  She ignored the call. 

Her phone continued to vibrate intermittently for thirty minutes.  Out of exasperation, she swore under her breath and took the call.  A moment later, Nicole was on her feet and running for the exit with her friends trailing behind, asking what was wrong.  She put them off with a quick apology and promise to explain later.

Nicole’s house was on fire.  She jumped into her car and pealed out of the parking lot, oblivious to the startled looks of people around her.  Panic made her lead-footed.  At the first red light, she took a shaky deep breath and reminded herself to slow down.  It wouldn’t do for a cop to pull her over. 

She had to get home, before all of her curses were undone by the fire.  Nicole uttered a protection spell for the room where her ancestors resided in their urns. Hopefully, it would remain untouched. There was no way of knowing whether or not magic had sparked the fire.

Nicole arrived and was relieved to see that her house was not engulfed in flames.  A firefighter informed her that the fire was localized to the basement, although there was some smoke damage to the upper floor.  Nicole started to move inside and found her way blocked by a police officer. 

“Nicole D’August?”

“Yes, that’s my name.”

“Please come with me.”

Nicole was so stunned that she allowed herself to be led away and placed in a police cruiser.  Halfway to the police station, she regained her senses and asked if she was under arrest.  The officer behaved as though he didn’t hear her.  Nicole felt a stab of fear and concentrated on her breathing, to slow her racing heart. 

They arrived at the precinct. The officer led inside and left her alone in a stark interview room. Nicole sat at the scarred table and tried to collect her scattered thoughts.  By the time the fox-faced police detective entered, Nicole’s nerves were completely frayed.  She testily declined an offer of something to drink. 

“Can we get on with this?  I need to get back to my burning house!”

“That’s what I want to talk to you about Miss D’August.  First responders found the remains of two bodies and several vials of blood in your basement.”

“What can you tell me about that? Miss D’August…Miss D’August?”

“I’m not going to say another word, until I talk to my lawyer.”  The detective allowed her to make the call and her lawyer arrived an hour later.  The detective informed them that unless rational explanations from Nicole, which they could confirm were forthcoming, she would be charged with murder. 

After a brief conference with her lawyer, Nicole confessed to taking the remains from the graveyard and claimed that the burst vials of blood spilling out of the refrigeration unit had come from her body, though she refused explain why had so much saved.  The detective informed her that she would have to remain in custody, while officers confirmed her story.

“How long is it going to take you to that?”

“I really couldn’t say Miss D’August.”

“Well, once you confirm everything will the charges be dropped?  I want to go home.”

“Even if we are able to confirm your…unusual story, there will most likely still be charges.”

“What?  You can’t charge me with murder.  I didn’t kill anyone!”

“At the very least, you’ll be charged with abuse of a corpse and felony theft.”

The detective watched Nicole closely, hoping that she would be frightened into a confession or try to make a deal, so that he could gain enough leverage to squeeze more information out of her. 

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