Taylor Armstrong returns to her hometown to bury her Aunt
Grace and soon finds herself the focus of unwanted attention.
The town seems to have an unhealthy interest in whether she is
staying or leaving. Her house is broken into - twice. Unexpected
visitors begin to arrive, including Taylor’s long-estranged father.
She enlists the help of her neighbor, Edie, and her Jack Russell
Terrier, Tristan, to find answers, but new murders put Taylor
right in the center of the action.
When old shadows part to reveal secrets long buried, Sgt. Scott
of the RCMP does his best to keep Taylor safe. But can he
succeed against a single-minded killer?
Taylor set the journal aside and put the lot of them in a box she'd started to fill with
ornaments. She would try to get back to them tomorrow, but now it was time to take
care of supper. Denver had begun to wrap himself around her ankles, and Tristan
was making snuffling noises as he did when he was getting hungry.
It would be an early bedtime tonight. She was strangely tired, and she hadn't really
done that much. Maybe it was aftershock. It was only the day before yesterday
they had buried Aunt Grace, but it seemed eons ago.
She lay in bed, feeling terribly tired but not able to sleep. She finally gave up and
turned on the light, pulling an old Agatha Christie from the bookshelf—Aunt
Grace's favorite author. She'd read them all, but maybe that's what she needed to
lull herself to sleep, something familiar. It worked. Twenty minutes later, she turned
out the light and drifted off.
She awoke in the dark to a low growling coming from Tristan. Then he gave a
couple of short woofs and grabbed the covers, pulling them from the bed. Taylor
sat up quickly. She heard someone moving in the house. It was coming from the
attic. Tristan was now scratching at the door to get out.
"No way," Taylor whispered. "Whoever's there is probably bigger than me and
certainly bigger than you. Sh. Be quiet."
Her cell phone was charging on the bedside table. Thank heavens she hadn't left it
downstairs. She dialed 9-1-1 and then realized Badger Lake wasn't set up for the
9-1-1 service. She didn't know the police number by heart, and probably no one
would be there in the night anyhow. The only number she knew was Edie's. She
hated to wake her and alarm her, but she wasn't about to leave this room. She
dialed. Edie's voice answered, surprisingly awake.
She whispered as loudly as she dared "Edie, can you call the police? There's
someone in the house. I think they're in the attic."
She did, and it was only minutes later that she saw lights flashing through her
window—car lights. No siren, but whoever was upstairs knew it was time to leave.
She heard a clatter in the hallway from someone half-falling down the ladder and
footsteps racing downstairs. The lights flashed again and disappeared.
About ten minutes later, there was a knock on the door and a loud voice said,
"Taylor? It's Sergeant Scott. I'm coming in. The door's open."
By now, she had managed to climb into some jeans and a sweatshirt. She met him
at the bottom of the stairs.
"You didn't leave your door unlocked?"
"No, of course not. I always lock up."
He looked down at her from his considerable height ad-vantage and said in a
skeptical tone, "There's no sign of a break-in. The door is quite intact."
"That may be, but I locked the door. Someone must have broken in somehow." No
six-foot-plus cop in cowboy boots and jeans was going to intimidate her. Then she
gave a guilty start.
"Yes?” he prompted.
"Aunt Grace used to leave a spare key hidden outside in case she was ever
locked out, and I just left it there."
"Let me guess," he said. "Under a flower pot?" He nudged a container of
desiccated begonia blooms with his toe, and a key on a red ring appeared. "I
imagine there are probably about two people in Badger Lake that don't know
where she hides the key." Then he smiled, and she forgave him for the slights on
her security breach. His smile had the melting power of a warm Calgary Chinook.
Now where did that come from? Taylor was not normally prone to flights of fancy.
She remembered her manners. No matter what time of day or night, Aunt Grace
would never leave someone on the doorstep without an offer of nourishment.
"Would you like a cup of coffee?"
"I'd love one, but I think, right now, we both need sleep. I do need to get some
details from you for my report. If I come by tomorrow morning around ten, will you
still offer me coffee?"
"I might even find a cookie to go with it."
"I'll just take a quick look to be sure everything is all right. I tried to follow the guy
around the back, but, with not much in the way of streetlights, he slipped off into
the dark." The sergeant disappeared up the stairs followed by Tristan, and she
heard him pulling the ladder up again. Back downstairs, he handed her the key,
and said, "Best keep this inside now." And he backed out of the driveway with a
little flutter of gravel.
|Old Shadow, New Murder
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