Publication Date: 1 September 2018
Genre: English Cozy Mystery
Just then, Oliver returned with a new stick. Just as
quickly, the man yanked it out of Oliver’s mouth and
pitched it out of sight. The fog hung a tad lower, cloaking
everything in the near distance. Clueless, Oliver took off,
this time heading south toward the far reaches of the
meadow where the ground sloped down again, falling
away to the Village Green.
The point man’s eyes hardened as more droplets ran
down his face. “Look, I appreciate how you’re jerking me
around and how you don’t back down even though we’re
alone up here. So seeing you’re about to go futzing off to
England and we’re both pressed for time, how about
getting off it while I maybe do something for you?”
Oliver returned stick-less as the drizzle picked up.
Tired of this game, Emily said, “Okay, mister, let’s have it.”
“Okay. We’re talking here about ratcheting the grand list—
lower taxes, new fire trucks, snow plows, and all the
infrastructure la-di-da. So talk to me. Give me the skinny
on this Cooper guy before things get outta hand.”
Getting testier by the minute, Emily gave him nothing.
“What do you think, I got nothing better to do? Here, you
want my card? Will that do it for you?” He no sooner
reached for his wallet when a cell phone jangled. He put
the wallet away, pulled his cell out of his outer pocket, and
turned his back.
The man’s raspy voice cut off the protests at the other end.
“Okay, okay, I hear you. Yeah, yeah, I’ll take care of it. I
set it up, didn’t I?”
Muffling his voice, he walked further away. The only
other words Emily could make out were, “All right, already. I
gotcha. Right away.”
“Great reception up here,” he said, returning. “Another plus.
Think about it. A hundred and twenty townhouses that
can’t miss no matter what. Toss in a clubhouse, pools,
recreation facilities, and whatever.” Fumbling inside his
raincoat, he pulled out a brochure. “Twenty-two exterior
looks, and that’s for openers. They got lawyers, experts,
and an eye to grab up enough land to keep ’em going for
the next twenty years.”
“I’m still waiting for an answer. What exactly are you up to?”
His cocky grin slid away. “Well, I ain’t waiting no more.”
With that, he turned on his heels and scurried across the
waist-high grass that could accommodate anything the
GDC could come up with.
“Hold it,” Emily said.
“Look, I’m under the gun, gotta step on it. Besides, I’ve had
it up to here with the wet and the turkeys and the attitude.
“And what’s your name anyway?”
The raspy voice called back as it tailed off in the gauzy
whiteness. “Doc! Okay? Just make it Doc!”
Emily held still. As her old soccer coach used to point out,
one of her failings was confusing motion with action. But
how could she ignore his threatening words in that harsh,
Lower East Side tone? Before I make my move . . . things
get out of hand . . . I’ll take care of it right away . . . I set it
up, didn’t I?
There was something else, come to think of it. A few days ago, when she’d returned from her latest tour, apparently a hot plate had been left on that almost burned down Chris’s greenhouse. Something bothersome about the incident, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. All she knew was that something was wrong.
Emily headed back to the crest of the trail with Oliver in
tow. She worked her way down, dodging the glistening
roots, tightening her hood as the water dripped from the
overarching branches. She reached the bottom just as
Will’s red pickup pulled into the driveway. The second his
lanky form appeared out of the cab, Oliver leaped up and
smeared Will’s Levi’s jacket with his muddy paws, spun
around, and smashed through the hinged flap of the back
As laid-back as ever, even though the rain was pelting his
face, Will said, “What was that all about? On, no, don’t tell
me. Did he take off again?”
Emily ducked under the overhang of the cottage. “Sorry,
I’ve got something I’ve got to look into.”
Will shrugged and ambled over to the B&B. Calling
across the yard, he asked, “Sure you don’t want some hot
coffee and an omelet? I can do it with chili or asparagus.”
At any other time, she would have liked nothing better
than to take a break and find out how his work was going.
She’d only known him for a short while, dropped in for
coffee once or twice, and he couldn’t be that much older,
maybe in his mid-thirties, and you never know. But at this
moment, that was out of the question.