Slumbered to Death

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Authors: Vanessa Gray Bartal
Tags: cozy mystery
    “Some men, either,” Luke said.
    “Now, Luke, you’re plenty sensible. Except for those t-shirts you wear. And that haircut. You should do something about that. Also your girlfriend doesn’t speak a whit of English.”
    “I wasn’t referring to myself, Abby, but thanks for your input,” Luke said.
    Sadie giggled. Luke squeezed her hand. “Quiet, you,” he said.
    “Your girlfriend really doesn’t speak English,” she said. “’Her de he de goody, bork, bork, bork.’”
    “She does not sound like that,” Luke said.
    “Abby?” Sadie said.
    “She sounds like that, only the accent is more terrifying, more like she’s screaming ‘run for your life!’ all the time in Russian,” Abby said.
    “You guys are being mean. Vaslilssa only has nice things to say about you,” he said.
    “How can you tell?” Abby asked, and Sadie laughed again.
    “So mean,” Luke said.
    “Now, Luke, don’t be sensitive,” Abby admonished. “And don’t tell the Mata Hari on us.”
    Sadie went into gales of laughter. She laughed harder when Luke let go her hand and poked her ribs. “So what if Vaslilssa doesn’t speak much English? We communicate just fine in the lab.” She was a couple of years ahead of him in her doctoral program. Watching her in the lab was what had first attracted him to her; that and her astounding Amazonian good looks.
    “I know she makes your beaker boil, but I’m not sure that’s enough for a substantive relationship,” Abby said. “However, you’re young, and young men need to get these things out of their systems.”
    “You know you’re saying all this out loud and I’m right here, don’t you, Abby?” Luke said.
    “When you’ve put in eight decades on this earth, you earn the right to say whatever you feel whenever you want, Luke,” Abby said.
    “Yes, but why do I have the feeling you were like this when you were our age?” Luke said.
    “Because you’re a smart, smart boy,” Abby said. “Now, why don’t you put that brain toward working on how to get me off this floor? I think my bones are starting to meld to the wood.”
    Sadie and Luke stood to help Abby off the floor. It took a lot of pushing and pulling to get her up. “I’m going to go check on Dad,” Sadie announced.
    “Do you want me to come?” Abby asked.
    “I think you should probably stay here and give him a while to simmer down,” Sadie said.
    “What’s the cooling off period for shooting someone?” Abby asked.
    “Definitely more than a few hours,” Luke said. They began to debate how long Abby would need to avoid Gideon as Sadie set off to see her father. She knocked and used her key to open the door when there was no answer. Gideon always locked the door, no matter what. Sadie always felt a little uncertain of her welcome, so she always included the knock.
    She found him lying face down on the couch, looking grumpy. “How are you feeling, Dad?” Before he could blast her, she held up her hand to cut him off. “Let me guess: like someone who has been shot in the butt.”
    “That woman should be in a home,” Gideon said.
    “She is, she’s in our home, right next door,” Sadie said. She let it go and gave her father a pass since he was probably in a fair amount of pain. “Did you eat this morning? Did you take your pills?”
    “I’m not a baby or an invalid, Sadie.”
    “Did you eat? Did you take your pills?” Sadie pressed.
    “No,” Gideon said. “Not hungry, and it doesn’t hurt that bad.”
    Sadie ignored him, went to the kitchen, and prepared scrambled eggs, toast, juice, and coffee so black it could stand on its own—just the way he liked it. Before carrying it to him in the kitchen, she crushed some pain reliever and sprinkled it in the orange juice, stirring to make it dissolve. She set the tray in front of him and watched as he devoured it.

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