When Franny arrived at Marilyn’s house, she paused at the front door. Something did not feel right. She leant in to knock, and at her light touch the door swung open.
Precious came to meet her, looking sad and confused, it seemed to Franny, as the dog sidled up to her, tail drooping. “Hello?” Franny called, stepping inside. “Douglas?”
The living room looked much like it had when she’d left the night before. Remnants of the party, a few cups and plates, lingered. The dishwasher hadn’t been run – Franny tiptoed into the kitchen, and opened it, finding it still crammed with dirty dishes. “Marilyn?”
Precious followed Franny through the house to the back garden. It was the same as when she’d left the night before, too, mostly cleaned up, but not quite. Not the usual for Douglas, who was meticulous with Marilyn’s home and possessions.
Panic started a slow crawl through Franny’s guts, still unsettled from her combination crying/drinking hangover. Instead of giving in to fear, she pushed her thoughts toward anger. Leo. He was supposed to be helping, before he’d been enchanted by Allison on the sidewalk. Before she interrupted them. Before Leo kissed her.
Didn’t Leo go back to help? Was he too distracted from what happened between them to care for his friends?
“Marilyn?” she called again, the pitch of her voice rising. She stepped back inside, knelt to scratch Precious behind her ears. “What’s going on, Precious? Where’s Douglas?” The little dog whined and leaned into Franny’s touch. Then she turned and padded a few steps toward the bedroom, paused, looked back at Franny, and whined again.
That toxic mix of fear and anger pushed at Franny’s chest. She walked down the hall, suddenly certain she’d find something dreadful in Marilyn’s bedroom. She tried to call her friend’s name again but it came out in a whisper.
The bedroom door stood ajar. Precious sat in front of it. Franny tiptoed to the door, reached out, and quietly pushed it fully open.
An unmade bed greeted her, a few pillows on the floor. Wedding night? Flashed through her mind before she saw the reddish-brown stain on one of the pillows.
The buzz of her cell phone sounded a million decibels loud.
“Marilyn,” read the caller ID.