Something Read Something Dead | Chapter 9 of 35

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

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Chapter Six

George Grimshaw was a grizzly man in his sixties, all unkempt beard, wild gray hair, bulging eyes, and sheer size. He stood about six foot five and probably weighted three hundred pounds. He came with his son, Zack, a short, skinny, clean-shaven guy who blinked myopically at me through thick glasses. I might have thought Zack was adopted except for the same intelligent hazel eyes and small cleft in the chin as his father.

I called Bertie to say they were here, and she came out of the office. Ronald and Charlene clattered down the stairs, and we, along with every one of our current patrons, stood in a circle watching as George poked the old stone with his fingers and muttered grimly. Zack made notes on an iPad while muttering equally grimly.

Charles had leapt onto the nearest shelf to watch.

Eventually George pushed himself to his feet with a massive grunt. “Outside,” he said.

He marched off, followed by Zack, then Bertie, Ronald, Charlene, and all of our patrons. I came last, after firmly shutting the door on Charles. We formed another circle on the lawn next to the wall on the opposite side of the alcove. We could see a large crack running through the stone and disappearing into the earth. George pointed, and Zack handed his father his iPad before dropping to his knees. He pulled a trowel out of his pocket and scraped at the dirt. He dug down about a foot and then leaned back against his heels. As one, the onlookers leaned forward. I had no idea what I was looking at, but it looked okay to me: blocks of stone disappearing into the good North Carolina earth.

Zack stood up. He looked at his father. They shook their heads in unison, the movements identical.

“What!” Bertie said.

“Probably been like this for a while,” George said. “Rain came from the northeast last night, which it don’t usually do, and got deep enough into the walls so’s you noticed it.”

“What does that mean?” Bertie asked.

Another jerk of the head and the little expedition trooped back inside.

“Let’s go through to my office,” Bertie said. “And you can tell me what needs to be done. I’d like to get it fixed before the start of tourist season, if it’s going to be a big job.”

She led the way down the hallway, followed by George scratching his head, Zack making notes on his iPad, and Charles, determined not to be shut out this time.

The patrons drifted back to what they’d been doing.

“Big job,” Ronald said. “I don’t like the sound of that.”

“Don’t worry,” Charlene said. “We have money in the contingency fund. Almost five thousand dollars.”

Ronald and I nodded. “That’ll cover it,” I said. “Whatever it is.”

My colleagues went back upstairs—Ronald to the children’s library on the second floor to prepare for the afternoon preschool story time, Charlene to the research room on the third floor. I sat behind the circulation desk and checked out a stack of books for Mrs. Bradshaw. “I’m so looking forward to the shower on Sunday, Lucy,” she said. “Your invitation didn’t say anything about gifts. Does Josie have a wedding registry?”

“They don’t need much,” I said. “If people are so inclined, they can give money toward their businesses.”

“I never like giving money. Seems crass somehow.”

“I’m sure they’ll appreciate anything you’d like to bring to the shower. But remember, it’s just a simple party for Ellen’s friends.”

Her eyes twinkled. “Then I’d better get my thinking cap on.” She picked up her books. “See you on Sunday, Lucy.”

George and Zack walked past. George gave me a nod, but Zack continued typing. Bertie stood in the hallway, her face frighteningly pale.

“What’s the matter?” I said. “Is it going to be expensive?”

Bertie blinked. “George won’t know the final sum until he’s done a thorough inspection, but he said that crack goes right into the foundation and spreads out from there. Five thousand.”

I let out a breath. “Five thousand dollars. We have that much in the contingency fund, right?”

“Five thousand is the cost for the initial estimate, Lucy. He says the job, if it’s what he thinks it is, might run in the hundred thousand range.”

“Oh my gosh! We don’t have that kind of money. Does it have to be done? Maybe we can put it off for a few years.”

“George says if the work isn’t done immediately, the entire building will be in danger of collapsing. Taking us, your apartment, our library, and everything in it with it.”

Charles hissed.

*   *   *

Bertie went back to her office, saying she had to call an emergency meeting of the library board.

Charles jumped onto the circulation desk. His amber eyes studied my face.

“No library,” I said.

Charles shook his head.

“It won’t come to that. George is exaggerating for effect, I’m sure. Besides, we’re valuable to the town. We attract a lot of tourists. The town will give us what we need.”

Charles nodded. I scratched the top of his head, and he rubbed his face against my arm.

No sense in worrying about things I could do nothing about, so I went back to work. Charles headed for the break room to see if food had magically appeared in his bowl.

A few minutes before noon, the door flew open and Mirabelle came in. She wore ankle-length skinny jeans, high heels, a T-shirt with a plunging neckline and a picture of the Eiffel Tower under a denim jacket. Her hair was sprayed within an inch of its life and her makeup freshly plastered on. Uninvited, she bent over the desk and gave me an air kiss, enveloping me in the overpowering scent of hair spray and perfume.

“Good morning,” I said, trying not to breathe too deeply. “What brings you here today?” I checked behind her. No sign of anyone else.

She dropped a pile of magazines onto the desk. “I’ve been thinking over your idea, Lucy, and I love, love, love it. I thought we’d have a little chat on your lunch hour and go over some of my ideas. I brought a few magazines and found some good web pages to get us started.”

The magazine on the top was called Weddings on Water. The cover picture was of an enormous yacht draped with pink roses and white tulle. Rows of chairs covered in white cloth were laid out on the deck. I flicked through the pile. All wedding magazines, and the cover stories all had something to do with ceremonies and receptions on boats or beaches.

“Isn’t this absolutely darling.” Mirabelle shoved her iPad under my nose. The screen showed a wooden boat deck strewn with rose petals. Candles mounted on the gunwales threw a soft light, and the background was an empty beach lined with palm trees at dusk.

“That looks expensive,” I said.

“Amos is a lawyer, right?” Mirabelle said. “With his own law firm. He’s sure to have pots of money. With enough planning, not to mention cash, we can do something that’ll be the talk of the east coast for months.”

I was about to argue that Amos, never mind Ellen, didn’t appear to be involved in this discussion, but remembered that the wedding at sea had been my idea. My idea for getting Mirabelle out of Josie’s plans. As Lord Peter Wimsey would do. “I’d love to go over the ideas with you, Mirabelle, and toss around some suggestions, but I’m working now.”

“Don’t you get a lunch break?”

“Uh, no. I …”

Ronald clattered down the stairs. “You can go now, Lucy, I’ll take the desk.”

I smiled weakly at Mirabelle.

She picked up her magazines. “Where shall we go?”

“Might as well use my apartment. I can make us a sandwich.”

“Do you have gluten-free bread?”

“’fraid not.”

“Then I can’t eat it. I have to be very careful, Lucy. I feel so much healthier since I started eating gluten-free.”

“When was that?” Ronald said. “Nan’s been thinking of trying it. She’s heard good things.”

“One week.” Mirabelle put her hand on her hip and threw him a pout. “I’ve already lost three pounds. Don’t you think it looks good on me?”

Ronald blushed to the roots of his hair.

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

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