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Death in Room 7: Pine Lake Inn, #1

Death in Room 7: Pine Lake Inn, #1

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Death in Room 7: Pine Lake Inn, #1

ratings:
4.5/5 (5 ratings)
Length:
220 pages
4 hours
Released:
Aug 4, 2015
ISBN:
9781516386321
Format:
Book

Description

New from the author of the Darcy Sweet Cozy Mystery Series!

Adelle Powers, or Dell as she is known around the town of Lakeshore, is living her dream life. She and her best friend Rosie Ryan are owners of the wonderfully quirky Pine Lake Inn, a very popular Australian tourist destination. Running her own inn is the only thing she has ever wanted to do and it is her pride and joy.

So when Dell's friend Jessica calls to say she's coming for a visit Dell is ecstatic and can't wait to show it off to her friend. Surprisingly, Dell finds that Rosie is less than thrilled about the visit and can't understand why. They were all such good friends, or so she thought.

It would seem that Rosie may know something about Jessica's past that Dell doesn't. Some sort of secret that Rosie is reluctant to share with her. When Jessica is found dead in her room the following day it would appear that her secret past may have finally caught up with her.

Horrified by the death of her good friend in her very own inn, Dell soon gets drawn into the mystery. And things take a turn for the very weird when Jessica's ghost visits her, more than once, directing Dell to clues that have been overlooked by a very incompetent police investigation.

Soon Dell finds her own life in peril as she gets further into the mystery surrounding her friends life, and death. Can she solve the mystery before it's too late?

Released:
Aug 4, 2015
ISBN:
9781516386321
Format:
Book

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Death in Room 7 - K.J. Emrick

kathrineemrick.com.

Chapter 1

I think what I like most about Lakeshore, is how peaceful it is.

A sleepy little community in the southern tip of Tasmania, settled among the pines, nestled at the edge of three lakes that feed into each other and help keep the climate mild and cool. The breeze off those lakes is right nice. I like the way it smells. It reminds me of my childhood, as a little girl growing up in Sydney, with the ocean at my doorstep. These lakes here aren’t the ocean, but they’re great just the same.

We’ve got fine folks who live here, too. Make a living off the tourists who come to spend some time here in the foothills of the Hartz Mountains. Get people in from all over the world. Even as far away as America and Canada. Nice to meet new friends. ‘Course, I run the only Inn here in town. The Pine Lake Inn. Put it right on the water. Open year round. A quiet place, in a quiet town.

Until something happens.

Today started like any other day for me and Rosie. She’d cooked up some amazing Jumbuck stew to serve the guests for lunch. Rosie’s good that way. That’s why she runs the kitchen side of the Inn and I run the business side. Ever since University, it’s been our dream to own our own Inn. Now we do. Doing a good bit of business for ourselves, too. That’s saying something in this economy.

So life was going on as usual, with the lunch made and the reservations set for the next few days, and George the handyman even managing to fix that leaky faucet in room four. The Pine Lake Inn’s got three floors, two for guest rooms and then the bottom floor for the dining room and the commons area. We have rooms for fifteen boarders, then there’s my room at the end of the third floor. One of the perks of being the owner.

Rosie’s got her own place in town. She and that husband of hers need the privacy. Trying to make a family, they are. Been trying for a long time. Not something that happens overnight.

I’m telling you, Rosie was saying to me, it’s not for lack of trying. Poor Josh. I wear the poor man out almost every night.

Rosie! I laugh, hooking a strand of my long hair behind my ear, feeling my cheeks heat up even though we’ve had this talk more than once. That’s how close we are. Best friends forever, is how the kids say it nowadays. ‘Course, I haven’t been a kid for a while now. Can’t hardly see twenty in the rearview, as they say. Forty-three was the birthday I celebrated last.

Been a good life so far. Had my ups and downs, but then doesn’t everyone?

We’re setting tables in the dining room at the moment. Lunch hasn’t started yet. We begin serving guests at eleven o’clock for lunch, and it’s only half past ten now. Rosie is always happy to make something for the guests at any hour, but the brochure says eleven so most people don’t come down from their rooms til close to that time. Gives me and her a little time to ourselves to talk about the state of affairs in Australia in general and our own lives, too.

You think maybe my Mister would be more into it if I lost me a few pounds? Rosie asks me. She stood up straight in her dark slacks and her short white chef’s coat, and runs her hands down her plump form.

I think Rosie looks just fine the way she is. She’s a real woman, not one of those airbrushed models in the mags. She’s the same age I am, with to-die-for brown eyes and hair to match, an oval face with a cute little mouth and a beauty mark on her left cheek. Any man hereabouts would be lucky to have her as a wife. She’s always smiling and happy. I know for a fact that her Josh can’t get enough of her.

Kind of like my ex-husband had been with me.

Clearing my throat to disperse sad memories, I wink at Rosie. You’re great, Rosie. Men have fought wars over women like you. I wouldn’t worry about making Josh more interested in you. Just show up tonight with a bottle of wine. Clothes optional.

Oh, go on with ya. It was Rosie’s turn to twitter with laughter, and I could hear her humming away as we worked after that.

The kitchen is just off the main foyer, where the registration desk stands with the phone and computer and sign-in book. It’s a little old school, but I like to have people actually sign their names when they check in. I could hear the phone out there starting to ring just as we finished setting plates out on the last table. They’re the new ones I bought with the floral pattern to match the wallpaper. They look great, I think, but for now I’m sure Rosie can handle the rest of the setting up. I step out to the desk to answer the phone.

If that’s our ghost, tell him I say hello! Rosie calls after me.

The ghost is our running joke. Sometimes the phone rings and there’s no one there. Things like that happen everywhere, but here more than most places. Had us a guest a few months back who thought maybe it was something more than just phone troubles. Miss Darcy Sweet sure did stir up an interesting time in our sleepy little town, but now things were back to normal, and a phone was just a phone.

I pick up the gray receiver on the sixth ring, just before it would have gone to voicemail. G’day, Pine Lake Inn. How can I help you?

There was a short pause before the person on the other end of the line said anything. Dell? Is that you? It’s me, Jessica.

I remember that voice. Jessica? Jessica Riley? Lord have mercy, I sure wasn’t expecting to hear from you. How are you?

Starving, actually. It’s a bugger of a long drive from Hobart. Am I even on the right road?

Was she even on the right…? Oh! Are you coming here?

Sure am. In fact, I’m only thirty minutes away from ya. I think. GPS is on the fritz. I got off at Geeveston onto Huon but this is a blooming donkey track!

I laugh at her. That’s the road. The only road, as a matter of fact. Follow it in. The streets in town are paved, I promise. Where are you staying?

Her voice turned to static for a moment before it cleared again. …not like the old days. Don’t know as many blokes there in town like I used to.

Are you on your mobile while you’re driving? Pull over, girl! You keep dropping out.

Now, Dell, I’d never do something illegal. This is me.

I could hear the smile in her voice. Back in university with me and Rosie, Jessica was always a bit of a hellraiser. She’d gotten suspended from the dorms at one point. Had every guy chasing after her, too. Nobody’d ever accuse her of being a straight arrow. Don’t give it a thought, Jess. You’ll stay here. We’ve got a few empty rooms. My treat.

Dell, I couldn’t…

The line went static again, and I waited.

In the static I was sure I heard a man’s voice, whispering something, but I couldn’t make out what.

It couldn’t be, of course.

Ya there? Jess asked, suddenly loud and clear.

Er, yeah. Sure am. You have someone with you?

No, just me. Why?

Huh. Sorry, musta been the white noise. Your call dropped for a bit.

I was saying I couldn’t let ya give me a room without paying. Won’t hear of it. I’ve got me enough cash packed away to choke a horse. Book me a room, but I’ll be paying my bill.

I rolled my eyes. There was no arguing with Jess when her mind was made up. Once she set her heart on something, she made a straight line for it and never turned left or right. Okay, Jess. We’ll set you up in a room. Come straight here when you’re in. All right?

Once I gave her the directions, we said our goodbyes and hung up. Excitement mixed with other emotions inside of my brain. It had been years since me and Jess had seen each other, and I knew I’d changed. A lot can happen to people in a lifetime. She sounded like she’d been successful, insisting on paying for the room, talking about how much money she had, and all that. Jess had always landed on her feet no matter how much trouble she got into.

Then there was me, and Rosie, and our Inn. Looking around me now, I see the dark wood paneling and the hardwood floors, the handwoven throw rugs, the little fireplace over in the corner. I see the pictures framed on the walls showing beautiful scenes of the area around Lakeshore, or landmarks from all over Australia like Sydney’s Opera House and the Uluru monolith. Every wall has something to show, except for that one space on the corner leading to the kitchen where nothing will hang. Ever.

I can’t see the commons area from here, but I have it memorized by heart. Tall windows, a warm and inviting space filled with overstuffed chairs and a television and books and games for guests to play. The dining room and kitchens are on the other side of the bottom floor. Above me are the guest rooms, each one unique and tidy and perfect.

This is my Inn. Mine, and Rosie’s. I may not be wildly successful and rich, but I’m proud of the place. We created something special. No reason to be disappointed in what we’ve done here.

Maybe it was myself I was disappointed in, I wondered, not realizing I was feeling that little bit of jealousy until I’d heard my own thoughts. There’s a mirror over on the wall, left of the entrance to the commons area. It’s an ornate thing with a crafted frame. In its reflection, I see my face.

It’s not an old face, no matter how old I feel some days. The freckles across the bridge of my nose and my cheeks will always keep me looking young. So does the deep auburn hair that spills down over my shoulders. The purple top I wear is tight in all the right places, and my wide black belt accentuates slim hips and a stomach I have to work to keep flat, nowadays. I’ve heard my body compared to a twenty-year old’s, and I’ll take that compliment. My husband used to tell me that, and other things too, in the middle of the night…

Ahem. Hubby’s gone now, of course. Gone in a puff of smoke to points unknown. Gone four years last week, as a matter of fact. On my birthday. Never came back. Got one of those uncontested divorces for Christmas last year, and what else could I do? Sad as that makes me, I remember the good times with him, and I move on.

One of my clear green eyes winks back at me. Don’t matter what other people think. You’re beautiful, Adelle Powers. Simply beautiful.

Finally, I smile, knowing that I’m being foolish anyway. Jessica is a friend. No matter how successful she’s become, she wouldn’t hold it against me even if I was broke and ugly. Which I’m not. So.

Whistling a tune, I head back into the kitchen to let Rosie know that Jess is coming. She’ll be happy to hear it, if for no other reason than it means one more meal to prepare in her kitchen.

On the way to the kitchen a shadow passes down the stairs. Shadows don’t usually move. Stopping quick enough that my black sneakers squeak against the floorboards, I turn, and see the shadow standing still, watching me.

Oh, snap.

Mister Brewster smiles at me, but as usual his smile doesn’t touch his eyes. He’s a tall man, and dark, which explains why he looked like a moving shadow from the corner of my eye, I suppose. Dark hair cut short and shaggy around a lean and angularly shaped head. Dark shirt with a high collar. Dark pants and boots. Dark, almost black eyes. As a guest, he’s the dream of everyone who ever owned an Inn. He pays his bill in advance, keeps his room tidy, doesn’t disturb anyone, and hardly ever comes out of his room.

He’s just so damn creepy.

Not that I’d ever hold that against the man. Or anyone for that matter. We live in a town at the edges of civilization here in Tasmania. Tassie, as a lot of the locals call her. Lots of oddballs out here. Good, dear folks like Mrs. Havernathy with her jams or crazy Arthur Loren digging for gold in the dust. Lots of characters in this town.

What’s one more?

Mister Brewster walks by, and I wait for him to seat himself at one of the few empty tables in the dining room before I go through to the kitchen to find Rosie. He always orders the same thing. Figure I can tell Rosie to get it ready for him now. Right after I give her the good news about Jessica’s visit.

The place had filled up in the length of time I was on that phone call. Nice to see the servers rushing back and forth to keep up with the orders.

We redid the kitchen a few months back. The backsplash is now this gorgeous white and pink tile motif behind a brand new double stove that includes a wood burning oven on the side. Cupboards of deep, dark wood. Rosie ran a neat and tidy kitchen, every spice in its place and every pan hung on its proper hook. It was odd, when you considered how accident prone she was. I almost expect everything to be topsy turvy each time I step in here. If there was anyone who could benefit from a universal health care system in Australia, it would be Rosie Ryan.

Right now she’s hard at work getting the menu ready for dinner. Lunch hasn’t even started yet, but there was bread that needed to be put in the oven and meats spiced and prepared and a whole lot of other things that I’m just as happy to leave for my partner to take care of. The cooking part of things was never my strongpoint. I’m great with the finances, but to make a run at it the Inn needs more than ace paperwork. It needs Rosie’s creative flair in the kitchen.

I found her right where I expect her to be, peering into one of the oven doors at whatever was baking there.

Hey, Rosie, I say when she closes the oven. I didn’t want her to spook and catch her hair on fire.

Yes, that’s happened before. Only the one time.

What d’ya say, Dell? she answers me with a big smile, wiping her hands on the apron. Got a few customers in today for lunch, didn’t we?

Do you have enough jumbuck stew to go around?

As servers rushed in and out of the room, bringing the plates and bowls of prepared food out to the guests and locals who came in for a good meal, Rosie lifted the lid of a tall, metal pot, and the aroma of thick gravy simmering with vegetables and tender meat fills the room. Sure do. Everybody likes the stew.

I know someone who doesn’t.

Rosie’s face soured. He’s down for lunch, then, is he?

Yes. Mister Brewster came in just before me. I imagine he’ll want his usual steak sandwich, done rare and tender. Might as well make it now, right?

Hmph, she scoffs, crossing her arms over her full chest. Rare and tender. More like bloody and raw. Ah well. No accounting, I suppose. I’ll do it up for him.

Thanks. I actually came back here to tell you something really awesome. You’ll never guess who that was on the phone.

When I tell her about Jess, about her coming here to Lakeshore, the response I get is a lot less enthusiastic than I had expected.

Oh. With that single word, Rosie busies herself with sprinkling flour over a raw lump of dough and then kneading it with her hands.

That’s all? I ask, knowing that I’m missing something. Just, oh? You don’t have anything else to say about it?

Rosie shrugged. That’s nice, I guess. She hits the lump of dough a little harder than she really needs to. No, actually, I don’t think that’s nice. I know she was your mate back in Uni and all, Dell, but Jessica was always trouble. Getting into something she shouldn’t, and then not caring who she dragged along with her.

I stand there, a little stunned,

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  • (5/5)
    I loved this book!! just as good as the Darcy Sweet series!! I just love books with ghosts!! can't wait for more to come.