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(continued)

Anacortes, WA

December 5th, 2018

It was her day off so she was making waffles, Linus’ favorite, and sausage mixed in with hashbrowns, another simple delicacy that her brother absolutely loved. She’d be leaving the gravy to the side to avoid an argument with Clinton, who’d decided to make his way to her door just last night and mumble out what amounted to half an apology. He hadn’t bothered to ask why she’d left him on the sidewalk where Todd had dropped him, but he had decided to rant and rave about what a weakling Todd was and how he was lucky that he’d caught him like he had.

It was all she could do not to roll her eyes at him. She’d seen it all, even if she had gotten mad at Todd for it. The other man had handled Clinton with ease, and she could imagine that the outcome would be the same whether Clinton was drunk or sober. But she wouldn’t say as much since Clinton, being wounded in body and pride at the moment, would attempt to intimidate her and upset Linus.

“Hey buddy?” she asked her brother, looking over to him as she continued to turn the hashbrowns, “What were you doing outside the other day? We never did go over that.”

Linus didn’t answer at first, staring at the table in front of him as though it held some profound mystery that only he was privy to.

“Linus?”

“I was looking for it, because it was lost,” Linus said quietly. He wouldn’t look up, but she did manage to catch the sudden look of apprehension and then silent warning that Clinton gave her brother, who barely raised his eyes to the other man from across the modest table that sat in their modest dining area. Her apartment wasn’t the biggest, but it was still workable for two of them, even three when it had to be.

“Looking for what bud?” she asked, setting the spatula down for a moment as she turned to face him. The waffle-maker had yet to go off so she wasn’t too worried about it yet. Linus didn’t answer though. Rubbing her ring finger on her right hand she looked to Clinton, but he was too absorbed in his phone at the moment it would seem, not bothering to look at her. At that moment Maple decided to push the envelope just a little bit.

“Linus, were you looking for my ring? The one that Aunt Dierdra gave me when we were little?”

Linus and Clinton both looked up as she kept her eyes on Clinton. She noticed out of the corner of her eye as her brother gave Clinton a furtive look, then cast his eyes back down. Yeah, that was unfortunately the answer she was thinking she was going to get.

“Linus?” she asked quietly, purposefully.

“Yes,” he said quietly.

“And who took the ring out of my jewelry box, where it’s easy to get to?”

“I didn’t,” Linus said, almost mewling as he squirmed in his seat, “I followed the one that did.”

Clinton’s hand suddenly slammed down on the table as he then pointed a finger at Linus, “Don’t you dare lay this on me you feeb. I know where this is going and-”

“You should be more worried about where you’re going,” Maple said, crossing her arms as she looked at Clinton. “Unless I get my ring back you’re off to jail, again, and possibly for the last time.”

“I didn’t take it!” Clinton said, rising from his seat as he shrugged his shoulders. His voice sounded anything but innocent, but Maple was more than ready to grab something to defend herself with if it came to that. She was hoping it didn’t, but she’d had enough.

“Linus, tell me the truth please.”

“He took it,” Linus said as he rocked back and forth in his seat, “I saw him open your jewelry box and take it.”

“Babe,” Clinton scoffed, “Who knows what he saw? Are you really going to take his word over mine?”

The look she gave Clinton next was one of sheer incredulity. Oh yes, it was definitely time for a change.

(to be continued)

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