“You sure you’re not coming to the funeral?”
“No,” Ransom said with a shake of his head. “I, uh, don’t think I can handle it. They won’t miss me anyway.”
“Okay,” you agreed, your hands smoothing down the black dress you wore. You were well aware of your husband’s tumultuous relationship with his grandfather; how they liked to challenge one another; both literally with games of Go and mentally with constant back-and-forth bickering, how Ransom (and by default, you) had just recently been cut from the novelist’s will, and how, despite it all, you knew that Harlan really had loved his grandson. “I’ll be back in a few hours.”
After giving Ransom a kiss goodbye, you turned to leave, only stopping when he called after you.
“Text me when you’re coming home?”
Despite the request being a little unusual — while Ransom did like to know that you got to your destination safely, he was fine with you spending as much time away as you liked, what with you being a grown woman that was perfectly capable of handling herself and all — you decided to give him a break. His grandfather had just committed suicide, for god’s sake.
“You got it, babe.” With a smile thrown over your shoulder, you quickly left your home, funeral bound.
As soon as the door had closed shut behind you, Ransom’s own smile fell.
Making his way to the window, he peeled back the curtains just enough to peek through, and watched while you got into your car, paused briefly to check your hair and make-up in the mirror, and then finally drove off. An exhale left the man’s lips and he checked his watch, waiting for another minute or two (just in case you had forgotten anything and decided to come back) before he, too, grabbed his car keys and left the house.
But Ransom hadn’t had a change of heart about attending the funeral.
His mind was set on covering his tracks.
The funeral was the quintessential burial you had been expecting. There was an undeniable tension in the air (there always was with the Thrombeys), tears were shed, snide remarks were made.
As soon as you had arrived, noticeably without Ransom, your in-laws had jumped at the chance to criticise your husband for his lack of respect.
“Spoiled brat,” Walt had muttered under his breath.
“You really expected anything different?” Richard, your father-in-law replied.
“How he got her to marry him, I’ll never know,” Joni commented with a gesture towards you.
“I’m right here,” you jumped into the conversation smoothly, startling the trio. “If you have anything to say about me, at least have the balls to say it to my face.”
The conversation changed gears quickly after that, with Joni insisting she didn’t mean it like that to which you simply smiled and nodded, deciding to let it go this time, considering the whole ‘dead relative’ situation. Not only that, but Joni was probably the one you were closest to in the family (other than Ransom, of course). She may have been a little eccentric, perhaps even a little crafty, but she was also smart, innovative, and one of the few who understood the pain that could come with marrying into this particular family.
You turned to find Linda, your mother-in-law, standing next to you with red-rimmed eyes and a tissue in hand.
“It’s like one minute we’re celebrating his life at a birthday party and the next…” Linda paused to take a deep breath. “How did we end up here?”
You couldn’t help but agree with her. Harlan’s 85th birthday party was still fresh in your mind; the event having been only last week, and much like every other Thrombey gathering, it hadn’t all been smooth sailing.
“I know you don’t always get along with your family but it’s your grandfather, Ran,” you said as the two of you approached the large house, your hand tucked into the crook of his arm.
“Yeah, I know,” Ransom replied, not bothering to knock or ring the doorbell. Instead, he walked inside like he lived there himself, ignoring the looks of disgust from Meg and Fran. “Doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it.”
“A few hours won’t kill anyone,” you said with a twitch of your lips, a feeble attempt at optimism.
Ransom chuckled as he shed his coat. “Fine. But if I look like I’m in distress, you better come save me.”
The two of you then departed with a kiss on the cheek, wandering around the house to make the usual rounds of greetings and small talk. Well, you did. Ransom had chosen to go straight for the alcohol instead, and after attempting a conversation with Jacob, Walt’s internet troll of a son, you soon wished you had followed in your husband’s footsteps.
Repressing a shiver that always came after talking to the annoying teenager, you felt a flood of relief when you finally spotted a friendly face.
“Hi,” Marta smiled politely as she leaned against the wall, “how are you?”
“I’m good! Well, as good as you can be at one of these things,” you joked which seemed to help ease her nerves. When Fran passed by and offered a glass of champagne, you gratefully accepted and took a long sip. “Are you doing okay?”
“Yeah, just… technically still working.”
Marta, Harlan’s nurse and caregiver, was a sweet soul. Always looking out for others, always working diligently. It was no wonder Harlan was so fond of her.
“You’re too good, Marta,” you smiled, making the woman blush before your attention was drawn elsewhere.
A heated debate was occurring in the living room, seemingly Joni and Linda versus Richard. You caught certain words — “immigrants”, “cages”, “America” — so it wasn’t difficult to figure out the topic of conversation and it’s safe to say, it wasn’t a pleasant one.
“Marta! Get over here!”
You glanced nervously at Marta, resisting the strong urge that overcame you to punch Richard straight in the nose. Despite it being his father, you were fairly certain Ransom wouldn’t mind. In fact, he’d probably encourage it.
“You don’t have to—“ you began.
“Richard, leave the girl alone,” Linda chided her husband.
Marta spared you a glance, swallowing hard before she began to shuffle towards the group, albeit reluctantly. What followed was more bigoted ignorance from Richard, anxiety from Marta, and solid arguments from Joni. You had just opened your mouth to put your own two cents in when a separate, somehow louder argument was heard.
“You’ve gotta be shitting me!”
You knew that voice. Oh, Ransom, what happened this time?
Just as suspected, Ransom stormed out of his grandfather’s office, snatching up his previously discarded coat and walking out the door. Harlan appeared from the office a moment later with a sigh and you suddenly felt everyone’s eyes on you.
“I’ll just… go deal with that, then.” You placed your now empty glass on a table as you walked by, the cool night air hitting your skin when you threw the front door open to find Ransom. But instead, all you saw was the taillights of his car driving off in the distance.
You gaped at the sight, willing him to turn around, but nothing came. With a huff, you re-entered the house and grabbed your phone to call him. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t answer. Now fuming, you chose to send off multiple angry text messages — “What the fuck was that?”, “You better answer me” and “You just left me here?!?” to name a few — but it seemed he wasn’t interested.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out that you’d just been abandoned by your husband, and the family shared pitying looks behind your back while you stared at your phone dejectedly.
“Hey,” Joni said, placing her hands on your shoulders. “It’s okay. You can just stay in Meg and I’s room tonight.”
You hesitated, looking over at Harlan for confirmation.
“You are always welcome here,” the older man agreed. He may have had some problems with Ransom, but never with you— you had your own job, you made your own money, and you seemed to make his grandson happy. That was more than enough in his eyes.
You thanked the man profusely, and when you woke up the next morning, after sleeping in the room’s extra bed, to Meg commenting about how loud the dogs had been during the night, the first thing you did was check your phone. Thankfully, you had gotten a few texts from Ransom, apologising and saying he would pick you up soon and explain everything.
Once you found out that he’d been taken out of Harlan’s will, his overreaction suddenly made a lot more sense… But that hadn’t stopped you from letting him grovel for forgiveness.
Not long after the funeral, the detectives arrived. Despite Harlan’s death being accepted by most as a suicide, Detective Blanc disagreed, making the whole family go through extensive questioning and constantly hovering around the home like a gnat. He was there for the memorial and for the reading of the will, which had turned the entire family (except yourself and Ransom) against poor Marta, who had been left all of Harlan’s assets.
On the way out, Ransom had quickly urged Marta, who had been surrounded by angry Thrombeys, to get in the car, and the three of you helped her escape to a cosy restaurant, away from prying eyes.
It was there that you discovered Marta was the murderer. Although unintentionally, she had given Harlan an overdose of morphine the night of his birthday party, and her employer had devised what he saw as a foolproof plan to ensure she would never be caught.
By the time you and Ransom had gotten home later that day, after dropping a shaken Marta off at her apartment, your mind was reeling.
“I can’t believe this,” you said as the two of you clambered out of the car. “Poor Harlan… Poor Marta.”
“She’ll figure it out,” Ransom replied calmly. “If my grandfather wanted her to have the money then that’s the way it’s gotta be.”
“Yeah,” you nodded absently, unlocking the door and picking up the mail that had been shoved through the letterbox onto the floor. “God, it feels like our lives have turned into a huge game of Clue.”
Ransom chuckled. “You’re not wrong.”
Deft fingers flipped through the pile of mail in your hands, brows furrowing at the sight of an unmarked envelope. Intrigued, you dropped the rest of the mail on the table and pulled the envelope’s contents free. The sheet of paper in your hands was from the medical examiner’s office— a photocopy of a toxicology report that seemed to be missing vital information about the actual blood work. A quick look at the patient’s name told you this was a part of Harlan’s autopsy.
At the bottom of the page, written in black marker, was one simple phrase: I KNOW WHAT YOU DID. Below that was an address and a time of day; presumably to schedule some kind of meet-up.
Was this… blackmail?
“What’s up?” Ransom asked, having returned from the kitchen with a drink in hand. When you didn’t answer, instead choosing to stare at the information in front of you, he took the page from your hand and read it for himself. In an instant, his demeanour changed.
“What is this?” you asked quietly, finally looking at your husband who tried to appear more casual than he felt. His weak attempts only made him look more guilty.
“I don’t know—”
“Don’t lie to me,” you snapped with a sinking feeling in your stomach.
Ransom shifted uncomfortably, hand moving to scratch awkwardly at the back of his neck. Your throat felt like it was closing up. Tears had already begun to prick at the back of your eyes.
“Ransom… What did you do?”