Publisher: 4-D Publishing
Roberta Sedgewick is stuck in a house that is too empty without her beloved Burton—the rat died and left her with his dog and rooms that rattle. She convinces her three golfing buddies, all in their seventies, to sell their homes and buy adjoining condos. The widows intend to spend the rest of their days golfing, gambling at the casino, and having fun. Oh, the heaven of it. But then they all hire the same maid who uncovers long-hidden criminal secrets kept by each woman. Oh, the horror of it. The reputations of their deceased husbands, a banker, a minister, and a respected farmer, will be tarnished forever. Three of the widows could face jail time, and the fourth fears for her life. Whatever will they do with the conniving, blackmailing maid?
I catch my breath. This could be it. To make sure, I draw the newspaper almost to my nose and read the listing again. Right here in the real estate section of the Vista Harbor Chronicle is the answer. The date in the corner reads July 7, only four days ago. A happy dance springs within me, but I control the urge. No customer sitting at a high table in a bistro needs to witness a lady past her prime make a fool of herself. Instead, I jig my fists below the table in a silent yes, yes, yes. I’ve found the condos. Life at age seventy-two is about to change. I slide from the stool and head for the door, hoping no one notices the newspaper tucked under my left arm.
“Thank you, Mrs. Sedgewick,” the coffee gal calls after me. She saw the paper, and that’s her way of letting me know. Without looking back, I waggle my right hand above my shoulder and push open the door.
Outside, I dig through my Gucci for my phone. I love my hobo bag, but don’t like searching for whatever drops to the bottom. I need to figure that out. I also don’t like the dark face of the phone in the bright sunlight. Phone people need to figure that out.
I move under the umbrella of a red maple. In filtered light, I send a text to my three buddies. Meet me at the clubhouse. I have a surprise. I shuffle a little smart-step, unable to hide my joy. I’m still light on my feet even though my hair has turned soft white. I avoid coloring it but fight other signs of aging with a diet pill once in a while and wrinkle cream rubbed in nightly. Like most Pisces, I’m proud, a bit vain, and not afraid to admit it. I hop into my reliable Subaru.
A hand grabs the top part of the car door.
I gasp and brace against the seat.
A careworn woman stands there like a waif. “I did naught mean to startle you. I noticed you did a jig step before getting into your car and wondered if you are from Scotland. I’m so homesick for the heather.” She’s medium height, medium weight—medium all the way around. Her flyaway hair is sandy, and her sad eyes show more burnished gold than green. She removes her hand from the top of the door. “I’m sorry for intruding.”
“No need to be. I’m not from Scotland, but some distant relatives were. They mixed with my English ancestors, so I’m blessed with a good dose of Highland merriment and English good sense that battle each other. I hope you find your way back to the heather.” I close the car door. It thuds softly, not a hard slam to show dismay. So often anymore I’m prone to sharpness and a quick tongue, followed by guilt. Or else I rattle on about nothing and don’t worry about it.
The Scottish woman walks away, spine stiff, head high. An odd, lonely woman, but likable.
A sense of uncertainty chases around my shoulders. I banish it with a glance at my watch. There’s enough time to run by Jones Realty and arrange for a showing of the condos this afternoon. I tilt the rearview mirror and apply a boost of blush, lip gloss, and a dab of liquid concealer by my left eyelid—the dang droopy thing. There. All is repaired well enough to see Ned Jones, the realtor.
Before I swing into the late morning traffic on Harbor Drive, a white-knuckle thought smacks into my gray matter. The newspaper is only a few days old, but what if someone already bought one of the units? What a terrible thought. I press harder on the accelerator and zip through Vista Harbor, the alpine resort community I call home. It’s a small town compared to Aspen or Big Sky, but it’s more than big enough to accommodate tourists and newcomers. I don’t mind sharing the beauty of my valley, my mountains, and my lakes. Sure, there’s room for all, and yes, I claim ownership. This part of Montana belongs to me.
Ten blocks later, after having to slam on the brakes to avoid the rear end of a showoff car, I park next to a chalet-style house with a readerboard announcing homes or acreage for folks to buy. Big black letters read, New on the Market. Four Single-Story Condominiums in the Harbor Hill Area. Perfect. And no more stairs to climb.
I straighten my skinny jeans, smooth my top, and walk inside the office. A clock chimes the half hour . . . plenty of time before lunch.
Behind a glass counter, inlaid with prize listings and a Sold banner across each, a young man thumbs through a stack of listings and thoroughly ignores me. He must be the new assistant, and the talk of the town, like any new buck. No cure for small towns and gossip.
“Is Ned in?”
“No.” The young squirt doesn’t bother to look up and continues to scan a paper, nimble finger flying down the page.
I lean a little onto my right side and place my jewel-covered fingers on the counter, thrumming them on the most expensive listing. “Just tell your boss our mom called from the nursing home and wants more money.”
The kid makes eye contact. “You’re his sista?”
“No, but you should treat me like I am. Do I hear Boston in your accent?”
“Moving to a small town is an adjustment. Attitude counts.”
Satisfied I have his attention, I say, “I would like to see those newly listed condos at 2:00 this afternoon.”
“The ones out on Harbor Hill?”
I nod. “The ones with the same name as the golf course, ski mountain, and every other place that isn’t called Alpine or Vista. What’s the street number?”
“101. Ned is showing a unit now.” The kid tries not to smirk. He doesn’t make it. His brown-flecked eyes shine with mischief. They probably always do. He’s a young devil, I can tell, and figure he’s teasing me.
“Please inform him Roberta Sedgewick will be at the condos at 2:00 this afternoon. If he can’t make it, have him call me. He has the number.” Halfway out the door, I lean back inside. “Oh, by the way, I’m interested in buying all four and may be interested in listing four pieces of prime property. Like the kind you have there under glass on your counter. Tell him not to sell any of the units until we talk. Understood?”
I chuckle to myself as the door closes. I’m bad.
About the Author
Marie F. Martin is the author of an intense vow in MATERAL HARBOR, surprising twists of a family’s past in HARBORED SECRETS, a grizzly attack and lover’s spat in RATHAM CREEK. Together her three thriller, mystery, or suspense novels have over 250,000 Kindle downloads and 613 five star reviews.
She now adds DON’T MESS WITH MRS. SEDGEWICK to her list of books.
Marie lives in a fertile valley at the base of the Rocky Mountains. She enjoys a quiet life where laughter comes easy, love easier. She invites you to join in her rich, rural memories on her website where she has posted a memoir of her early childhood and raising her family of four children.
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