SHORTS FROM THE SHELF features short serialized fiction by author Shannon Muir, administrator of SHANNON MUIR’S THE PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF, that may be later released as part of e-book or print collections. The story line featured currently is “Blacke and Nu Beginnings,”  that will appear on Saturdays and Sundays over the next several weekends, and then a special daily run from March 21st to March 27th, 2020. This is Part Fourteen.

Saundra went home to her husband Del and family but could not relax. She anxiously waited to hear from Cait and Marcel.

“Quit pacing,” Del told Saundra. “It’s not going to solve anything. Just sit with me and we can wait this out together.”

“I just feel like I should have been there for them!”

“You, I mean we, are there for them. We’re taking care of Cait and Vallie’s kids who think they’re just having a sleepover.”

Saundra plopped down on the couch next to Del.

“I hope they just all come back safe,” she told her husband.

Just then, Saundra heard the door open and she leapt up again.

“Is everyone back safe?” she called out.

An exhausted Cait stepped in, Marcel by her side. Saundra ran up to them.

“Vallie. Where’s Vallie?”

“In a jail cell,” Cait growled. “And I plan to leave her there.”

“What?” Saundra and her husband Del said in unison.

“She wasn’t being used by the contact. They were in league together. He knew her brother – my half-brother – from a long time back and so tracked her down. He offered her a cut of the profits if she worked for him to reel in people, and she willingly accepted.”

“For what?” Del asked, whom Saundra hadn’t quite gotten up to speed on everything.

“Human trafficking,” Marcel responded. “They lured people there, then drugged their drinks to cart them off.When I began to realize what we were up against, I made sure the cops were alerted. I may not have become a police officer, but I know how to get their attention. We weren’t able to get out before the illegal night cub was raided, though. We saw the police take Vallie away and had to be interviewed ourselves.”

“We just played it cool as a romantic couple looking for a good time, consistent with our cover,” Cait said. “And we did give our real names, but we didn’t mention knowing Vallie at all.”

“She fortunately never came up or saw us to blow our cover,” Marcel added.

“A cover you may have to keep as this goes to trial,” Saundra pointed out. “Marcel, I hope you weren’t planning on leaving town for a while. Need a job? Looks like I have a bakery that’s a bit short handed now.”

“Never saw myself in a bakery, especially with the celiac disease. But given it’s a gluten free one, I’m willing to give it a try.”

“I guess it’s welcome to the family, then.”

Saundra couldn’t help but note the sadness in Cait’s eyes. Here she was finding a sibling as Cait lost one, possibly forever.


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