Friday, February 10, 2023

"Broken Hearted Killers" - Chapter Nine

The following blog entry is one chapter in “Broken Hearted Killers,” a serial novella written by 16 Writers Who Kill. To read the complete story, please begin with Chapter One, published on the WWK blog on February 2, 2023.

By Kait Carson

The freight elevator stopped with a jolt that sent Helen’s pounding heart rocketing into her throat. She grabbed the quilted fabric that padded the walls of the cab for support and an object, dislodged by her action, clinked to the floor. A small, red, caboose lay beside her sneakered feet. Helen stared at the toy in disbelief, then snatched it up and stuffed it in her pocket, her only thought to get out of the confined space before the closing doors shut her in.

Fear moved her from the freight alcove to the mouth of the hallway. There were only six luxury condos on this floor and Iris’s was the first one on the left. By clinging to the wall, Helen hoped to be able to skirt the all-seeing eye of the camera. Who dropped the toy? Better yet, who else knows the security cameras don’t fully cover the freight elevators? She clamped her mind down hard on that thought and concentrated instead on getting into Iris’s condo. The keyhole was on the far side of the door from where she stood.

Helen pulled on the gloves, snaked her hand across the front of the door, and hoped she was still out of camera range. A trickle of perspiration tickled the back of her neck while she fumbled to get the key into the lock without exposing herself to camera view. The door stayed resolutely locked. Now what? Her mind whirled through a myriad of possibilities. She tried again, this time jiggling the key up and down a bit. The door clicked and swung open.

The condo had a musty smell. Dark fingerprint dust coated most of the surfaces. The great room featured floor to ceiling windows that highlighted the view outside, and the forensic evidence holes cut into the expensive carpet inside. A shiver ran through her. No time for that now. She cast her eyes around the room. A bright splotch of red caught her eye. Just as Renee described, a red envelope lay next to a fading floral arrangement. Careful not to touch anything, Helen made her way to the marble table. The yellow of her gloves clashed wildly with the red of the envelope. Definitely not big enough for a marriage license. She turned the envelope over with one finger. Sealed with a return address that Helen recognized as Philip’s scrawled over the back.

Encouraged by her find, Helen decided to take a quick look around the condo. The cops must be finished. The lack of crime scene tape festooning the door and the wisdom gained through a million cop shows and crime novels told her that. She wasn’t disturbing evidence. After all, she reasoned, they left the envelope. Who knew what else they missed? A grouping of photos decorated the hallway between the great room and the master bedroom. Helen paused to look at them, hoping for a clue to the gray-haired man. Instead, the photos featured Iris with various local politicians, including one of her accepting the Citizen of the Year award. Helen shivered and moved on to the bedroom.

More fingerprint dust decorated the room. A framed photo lay face down on the floor. Helen picked it up and froze. Two photos slid into her gloved hands from the loosened frame. One of Iris displaying her award, and behind that, one of Charles Fairweather and Iris wrapped in a very friendly embrace before a model train display. Ashley Ahlgren, pushing a dual stroller before her, looked daggers at the pair from the far corner of the display table.

Helen gasped. Iris’s hair color was different. A darker blonde color she hadn’t sported in the last few years and changed certainly before Ashley joined the Page Turners. Charles, toy trains, Ashley, a card from Philip. What did it all mean? I have to get this information to Detective Dishy, but how? Gus will know what to do.

She pulled her cell phone from her pocket. The caboose fell to the floor. Helen stared at the toy. A caboose, the final car of old-time trains. Did this mean another death? Her fingers shook as she pressed speed dial four. “Gus, can you meet me at Iris’s condo? We need to talk.”

# # #

Kait Carson writes two series set in the steamy tropical heat of Florida with a third on the way. The Catherine Swope series is set in greater Miami, and the soon to be released Hayden Kent series is set in the Fabulous Florida Keys. A new series, set in the mountains of Maine, features Sassy Romano, a newly divorced forty-something, trying to put her past behind her while she creates a new future. Now, if only those pesky bodies would stop dropping. Kait, her husband, four rescue cats, and a flock of conures live in the far reaches of the Crown of Maine where long, dark, nights give birth to flights of fictional fantasies.


  1. Great job, Kait. Did she really evade the security cameras when she unlocked the door and entered the apartment?

  2. Humm, so many clues - or are they misdirections!! Bring on the next chapter.

  3. @KM - this was such a fun project
    @Margaret - only time will tell!
    @Monica - Next chapter arrives tomorrow :)
    @Shari - Only time will tell

  4. Can't wait to see where this is going. The authors have done such a fabulous job with cohesiveness and continuity!

  5. Kait, I love your building the suspense while introducing new clues!