“Sophie's managed to stay on the wagon for quite a while this time,” said Karen
when the door had closed. “I hope she's finally shaken off her demons.”

“We all have demons to shake,” said Sally with uncharacteristic gloom. “Do they
ever totally go away?”

“Well, I'm for another glass of wine,” said Marci. “Any other imbibers ready for
more?”

Everyone except Will held up an empty glass for a refill. He gave Marci a negative
salute with his half full glass. “I'll have to open a new one,” said Marci. “There's
some red left here, but we need a new white.”

“Let's sort out the sleeping arrangements,” said Jennifer. “Then we can get rid of
that pile of luggage.” She motioned to the pile of assorted bags they had all
dumped by the far wall of the living area. “Sally, you and Karen can take the far
room. Marci and Sophie can have the room with the moose head and I'll take the
little one with the single bed. Will, sorry, but you have to settle for the couch.”

While Marci opened and poured the wine, the others moved their cases into their
assigned rooms. No one thought to complain that Jennifer automatically assumed
the single room. After all, it was her cottage. Will helped them move.
“I don't even have a toothbrush,” he grumbled.

“Well, you're not borrowing mine,” said Jennifer. “I have some mouthwash
unopened. You can pour out some for yourself, but that's as far as I go.” She
disappeared into her room to get the bottle and handed it to him.

“I'm going down to check the water pipe where it comes in to the cottage. It had a
bit of a leak earlier, but I think I got it bunged up.” No one was listening to his
statement, so Will set the bottle of mouthwash on the counter, grabbed his jacket,
and headed for the cellar.

Karen went to the bathroom, and the others began to unpack their clothes. In
Sophie's absence, Marci chose the bed closest to the door. There was a good
draft coming in through the window and Marci liked a warm, cozy bed. She also
took the two top drawers of the dresser. Sophie, except for her shoes, always
traveled light when it came to wardrobe, so one drawer and the remaining hangers
would be enough for her.

Sally unpacked on her own. She took one more try at her cell phone to see if she
could get reception. She'd really like to hear Mac's voice even for a moment. Now
was her chance to be alone, with Karen taking her extended smoke break in the
bathroom. She giggled and wondered if Jennifer would be sniffing as she passed
the bathroom door. She flung her phone down in disgust. She wouldn't get a line
out until they left here and made it out as far as the highway. She could try the
land line, but didn't want to talk to Mac with everyone listening.

After they had all unpacked and returned to the living room, Will took the
remaining case, assuming it must be Sophie's, into the moose-head room. “Sophie
must be smoking half the pack to make up for lost time,” he said. “Doesn't she feel
the cold? She's going to be frostbitten if she doesn't come in.”

“Go yell at her out the door. She must be done with her cigarette by now.” All five
of them stopped as though with a common thought. Jennifer repeated, more
seriously now, “Will, go get Sophie.” The others exchanged worried looks.

“She's been gone a long time,” said Karen. “Do you think she could have
wandered off looking for something, maybe out to her car? It's down the drive a
ways. She might get lost in the snow.”

Will was only out for a minute when he gave a sudden shout, muffled against the
wind but still audible. Jennifer ran to the door, followed by the others. Will pushed
the door open part way. “She fell,” he said. “She must have hit her head on
something. She's hurt pretty bad. Help me bring her in. Or at least hold the door. I
can lift her myself.”

They stood in the cold, waiting for Will. He came in, dangling Sophie over his
shoulder in a fireman's lift and, kneeling beside the couch, he laid her out. They
crowded around. “Sophie, Sophie!” Jennifer was closest to her head and slapped
her face lightly, trying to get her to move. They could all see the large gash on her
head and the blood seeping from it.

“She's not moving. I don't think she's breathing.” Jennifer put her face close to
Sophie's and then held her finger at Sophie's neck. “There's no pulse,” she said,
leaning back on her heels and looking at the others, horror-struck. “I think she's
dead.”
Five college friends meet for a reunion in an isolated cottage in
the lake area. Caught off-balance by an unexpected snow-storm,
they settle in to make the best of their time together. Along with
Will, Jennifer's cousin who is also storm bound, they begin to
reminisce about their college life. It becomes apparent that they
all have secrets they would prefer to keep hidden. Then one of
them has a terrible accident—or is it? A second death soon
answers that question. What secret could possibly warrant a
death sentence? And who will be next? The remaining friends can
trust no one.
Ms. McGregor has once again delivered an
incredible mystery suspense novel. I could not
put this book down. The reader is kept
guessing until the end, wondering if even one
of the five friend is the murderer. Excellent.
-Victoria Pitts Caine
Book Reviews
Excerpt
Fiction-Cozy Mystery

Available in Print & e-book
May 2017

$6.95/ $2.99

ISBN-13:
978-1-63495-004-6
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Five Can Keep a Secret
Sharon McGregor