Something Read Something Dead | Chapter 30 of 35

Author: Eva Gates | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1475 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter Twenty-Seven

“Something must be happening up ahead,” Connor said. “A traffic accident, maybe. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious.”

It was seven thirty on Tuesday morning. A light dusting of snow had fallen overnight, giving everything a fresh, clean feel. Connor and I were on our way to Josie’s Cozy Bakery to get coffee and muffins for breakfast. We planned on having a walk through the marsh before going to work, and rather than me making the coffee, we’d decided to pick it up at Josie’s as a show of support on her reopening day.

Traffic heading into Nags Head was almost at a halt on the other side of Whalebone Junction. We inched forward, one in a long line of slow-moving cars.

“I hope this isn’t going to last too long,” I said. “If it does, we might miss our walk. I have to be at work at nine.”

“Do you want me to turn around?” Connor said.

“No,” I yawned. “Being at Josie’s this morning is important.”

He smiled at me. “Tired? You had quite the night last night.”

I hadn’t gotten home and into bed until late. Watson had arrested Florence and charged her with the murder of Mirabelle Henkel. The family had been in shock, Gloria most of all. Aunt Ellen had hustled her weeping mother-in-law off to bed while Stephanie got on the phone to find a lawyer to represent Florence. Mary Anna went for a long walk, and Amos and I followed the police and Florence to the station.

I’d been there for hours, making my statement, repeating all my observations and conclusions.

The only thing I didn’t mention was that I’d been thrown off the scent by Charles’s actions at the bridal shower. Charles, I’d always believed, was a good judge of people. Except for the attack on Connor the other day (which might be excused on the grounds that he knew Connor was not helping save the library), he’d never steered me wrong. But at the shower, the big cat had been affectionate toward Florence. He had, I decided, felt sorry for her.

The town offices are next door to the police station, and Connor had arrived at a run as we drove up. Once he’d seen I was fine and not under arrest, he’d gone back to the meeting he’d dashed out of without excusing himself. Amos had been permitted to stay with me while I was interviewed and gave my statement.

At last I’d been allowed to leave. Watson walked us to the door. I hadn’t seen Detective Yarmouth since we left the beach house.

Watson thrust out his hand. “Good job, Lucy.”

Startled, I took it in mine.

“You put everything together well.”

“What would Lord Peter Wimsey do, I asked myself.”

“Ah, yes, him. CeeCee brought that book home to read for your book club. I thought I’d give it a try, but I soon gave up. I couldn’t stand it. Couldn’t stand Wimsey either. Hope you’re not going to start wearing a monocle, of all things.”

“I don’t think it would suit me.”

“It wouldn’t. And neither does detecting. You were an enormous help to us, Lucy. This time. Please don’t interfere in any of my cases again. You are not Lord Peter, or even V. I. Warshawski. You put yourself in unnecessary danger sometimes.”

“Strangely enough, an attempt was made on my life, which turned out to have had absolutely nothing to do with the death of Mirabelle or my so-called detecting. Danger happens.”

“So it does,” he admitted.

While Watson had been charging Florence, and Amos and I were cooling our heels in an interview room, officers had been sent to Toni Ambrose’s apartment. They’d found her throwing her things into suitcases. She’d been arrested for the attempted murder of me.

“Unlikely that charge will stick,” Uncle Amos said. “She’s claiming it was a prank and no harm was done. Which clearly is the case.”

“We’ll get her on something,” Watson said. “Mischievous endangerment or some such.”

“I don’t care,” I said. “As long as she leaves the Outer Banks and never comes back.”

“We can attempt to make that a condition,” Watson had said.

Slowly and painfully, Connor’s car approached the strip mall where Josie’s Cozy Bakery was located. He leaned out the window to get a better view of what was going on. “The accident must be right around here. Traffic coming toward us is clogged up ahead. I don’t see any flashing lights, though.”

“Traffic patterns have a life all their own,” I said. “No one can ever figure them out.”

“This time, I think I can. The tie-up’s at Josie’s.”

Every space near the bakery was taken, and vehicles were half parked on the sidewalk. Cars had illegally parked on the other side of the road, and traffic was backed up in all directions as people searched for parking or tried to get out of the lot. At Josie’s, a line of patrons stretched out the door, along the row of shops, and curled onto the edge of the road.

“Oh my gosh,” I said. “Look at all those people. This is incredible.”

“I checked Twitter first thing this morning,” Connor said, “like I usually do, looking for anything that’s happening around here I need to know. Your friend Roger …”

“Roguejourno222 himself.”

“That one. He put up a post saying Josie’s would be open today. He called it ‘Nags Head’s famous bakery’ and attached a publicity picture of a pile of croissants.”

“I’m surprised he could be so gracious. I bet Judy Jensen or her mother was standing over him slapping a rolling pin into her palm while he typed.”

“That red car’s backing out. I can grab their spot if I cut off the van that’s trying to edge through the oncoming traffic. Better not do that; they might be a voter. One of the disadvantages of being the mayor. Do you still want to go in?”

“Oh yes.”

“Jump out here. I’ll park across the road and join you.”

I opened the door and leapt out of the car. I fell in at the back of the line. “Good morning, Lucy,” a man said to me as I wrapped my scarf tightly around my neck. Good thing I was dressed for our hike if I had to stand out here in the cold.

I didn’t know him, but I said, “Morning, sir,” anyway.

The line moved slowly but steadily forward. Everyone was wrapped up against the winter weather and in a good mood. I was halfway to the door when Connor trotted up.

“Hope you’ve left some for us, Frank!” a woman called to a group of people leaving.

Frank rubbed a generous stomach. “Not a crumb remains. Sure was good, though.”

We took another few baby steps. Some people recognized Connor and greeted him warmly.

A woman, bearing a takeout latte, saw me and hurried over. “Lucy, I’m so glad I ran into you. Do you have information on where I should send my donation to the library restoration fund?”

I reached into my bag and pulled out the sheet of paper Bertie had prepared for just such an emergency.

“Thanks.” She stuffed it into her pocket and turned to Connor. “What’s this I hear about the town being unwilling to save the Lighthouse Library?”

“A council budget decision, ma’am,” Connor said.

“You ought to be horsewhipped. The lot of you.” She stormed away.

My stomach hurt from trying not to laugh.

“Speaking of which.” Connor lowered his voice. “How’s the fund-raising going?”

“Slowly. People care about the library and they’re giving what they can. Charlene’s organizing a bake sale for next weekend, and Ronald’s making plans for a silent auction. Bertie’s trying to get a big-name mystery author to make an appearance that we can sell tickets for. But all of that won’t make up anywhere near enough.”

He put his arm around my shoulders. “I’m so sorry.”

I smiled up at him. “I’ll be okay. Whatever happens. If you’re here.”

“And I will be.”

“Hurry it up, Mr. Mayor,” an old man said. “Haven’t got all day here.”

“You leave him alone, Karl Sugarman. The man’s gotta do his courtin’ sometime,” his companion said.

We reached the door and stepped over the threshold to be enveloped by a warm blast of freshly risen dough–, sugar-, and coffee-scented air.

When we’d almost made it to the front, I noticed a woman accept her change and drop it into a clear plastic box on the counter. The box was stuffed full of coins and bills, many of them twenties. A sign had been taped to it, which read LIGHTHOUSE LIBRARY RESTORATION FUND.

I struggled to swallow the lump in my throat. Beside me Connor opened his wallet, pulled out two twenties, and put them in the box.

“Attention, everyone!” Alison called from behind the cash register. “We’re out of muffins. Josie and her crew are working as hard as they can to make more. We still have a few other delicious treats prepared for you until they’re ready.”

“What on earth is happening here?” I said when it was our turn to be served.

Alison wiped a lock of hair out of her face. “Never seen anything like it. You’d think the end of the world was nigh and everyone needed one last coffee or muffin before going to their reward. What can I get you?”

I ordered a latte and Connor asked for a black coffee. The display case was almost completely empty. One lone slice of banana bread remained on the shelf next to two almond croissants.

“Everyone wants to show their support for Josie and let her know they’re happy we’re open again.” Alison beamed. “Isn’t it great?”

“And you’re collecting for the library too. Thanks so much.”

“Thank Josie,” Alison said. “It was her idea.”

“Coming through.” Blair emerged from the back, bearing a tray loaded with fresh cherry Danishes. Behind us, the crowd cheered. “Hey, Lucy,” he said.

“Hi. This is amazing,” I said.

He arranged the pastries on the shelf. “I’ll tell Josie you’re here.”

“That’s not …” I said, but he was gone.

My cousin came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. Her face was flushed and dotted with flour, and more flour and a piece of what looked like butter was stuck to a section of hair that had escaped its net.

I gave her a hug. “This is unbelievable.”

“Hey!” Someone shouted. “Josie’s here!”

Everyone cheered.

Josie broke away from me. Her eyes were wet. “I … I …”

“Speech!”

“Speech!”

I gave her a nudge. “Say a few words.”

Connor stepped surreptitiously back, taking himself away from the center of attention.

“I …” Josie cleared her throat. “I can’t thank you good folks enough for coming. The people of the Outer Banks truly are the best.”

Cheers.

“Please be patient. My staff are working as hard as they can. Muffins are almost ready.”

More cheers.

“Oh, and please do what you can to support the Lighthouse Library restoration fund.” She disappeared into the mysterious depths of her kitchen.

Connor and I took our drinks and left. I would have loved one of those Danishes, but I thought I’d better leave them for the ravenous hordes behind me.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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