Abby is heading into danger once more. This time the call for
help comes from her daughter, Mandy. Abby wastes no time
flying to Vancouver Island to the rather unusual resort, where
Mandy has been staying for a holiday with Abby's ex-husband
Richard and Kelly, his fiancée.
While trying to stop her ex husband from being framed for
murder, Abby must delve into the past of a long lost mother, a
tyrant patriarch, a flaky medium and an Adonis masseur, not to
mention some uncooperative family members. Abby planned on
spending Christmas Eve on a tropical island with her new love,
Neil. Instead she is fighting for her life in a New Age Spa.
"I was never bored with you, Abby." Richard leaned over and touched her hand.
Abby moved away. "Let’s not go there. I better get back and make my getaway
plans. Ajax isn’t going to like being left with a minder."
"You still have that cat? He must be getting on now."
"He is, but so am I.” She knew Richard was about to make some gallant speech
about her not aging, but she could do without his platitudes and quickly said, “Don’
t say it." She stood up. "I’m off then. I do hope you and Kelly have a great
She felt his eyes on her back as she left. Richard could usually tell what she was
thinking, but she had never quite plumbed the depths of his mind, even after all
these years. In spite of his seemingly open, outgoing and rather charismatic
personality, he kept a part of himself unrevealed, even to his wife of over twenty
Back at home, Abby tackled her wardrobe problems. She could do with a quick
shopping excursion, she thought, but there weren’t too many shops that carried
summer stock in December. So she’d have to make do. She tried on all her last
year’s shorts and tops as well as a couple of dressier outfits. They fit a little more
snugly than they did a year ago, but as she turned in the mirror, it didn’t seem to
show. If she could keep on the straight and narrow diet-wise till she left, these
should work okay.
Neil called her the moment he heard she was able to join him on the trip to Turks
and Caicos. He offered to pick her up at the airport. He was going to get there a
day before she did. The sound of his voice distracted her from Matthew's absence
and thoughts of missing her family during Christmas.
Abby arranged for her next door neighbor to look after Ajax and check her plants
and mail while she was gone. She felt a little lost for the next week and a half,
waiting for her holiday, unable to concentrate on work where she freelanced in the
field of education, writing instruction programs and textbooks. She was between
projects at the moment, so nothing was pressing. The rest of the world was buying
turkeys, making pumpkin pies and mincemeat tarts, and baking shortbread, but,
this year, she could pass on all that.
She put her tree up and decorated it, the old tree she and Richard had used for
years. It stood in the corner of the living room just to the side of the big window.
This would be the third Christmas since their divorce. She had kept the house
when they had split. Mandy had still lived at home then, so Abby had tried to keep
everything the same as it always had been—the same furniture, the same
traditions, the same habits. Now, maybe it was time for a change. When the
holidays were over, she would redecorate. She gave a little shudder at the thought
of parting with a big slice of her life, but they were just furnishings, just objects.
The memories, she would keep.
Not knowing Mandy's plans or timing, she trimmed the tree on her own. When the
kids were little, it had always been Mandy's job to put the angel on the top, lifted by
her brother. Abby had always liked having the tree up early. She loved the
Christmas feeling and wanted it to start as soon as possible. On the other hand,
she always took the decorations down as soon as Christmas was over. When it
was done, it was done. She resolved to do something similar with her life now.
Richard was gone, she had her own relationship, and it was time to move out of
the past. Maybe she would hire a decorator instead of relying on her own ideas.
Heaven knew her style was haphazard at best. Left to her own devices, she'd
probably end up with different furniture, but the same style, and that's not what
she wanted, not what she needed.
She spent some time catching up on her correspondence. There weren’t too many
Christmas cards this year. Not the number she used to get when she and Richard
were married. It seemed they had split their friends just like they had split their
assets, and their divorce had been amicable by most standards. A lot of people
didn’t bother with cards. They sent long e-mail greetings or e-cards nowadays.
Abby hated those. They had no personality. On the other hand, she still got her
yearly cards packed with long letters from her old college friends, and she loved
them. She’d long ago sent hers out.
It was two days before her scheduled flight when she got the call from Mandy.
"Mom?" Her voice was shaky and uncharacteristically soft.
Icy tentacles crept down Abby’s spine, her “mother’s in-tuition” sending off warning
alarms. "What is it, Mandy? What’s wrong?"
"Kelly’s dead, Mom. The police were here, and they think someone killed her. They
have Dad at the station asking him questions. You have to come."
|Murder at the Island Spa
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