Chapter 7

It was a miracle Greta hadn’t taken notice of us already. One move, and she’d spot us crouching next to the house. Thankfully, she didn’t climb over the neighboring wall, nor try to approach to get a closer look or listen.

Dan and Cassidy’s voices grew muted as they moved from the kitchen, deeper into the mechanic’s house, though the distress in Cassidy’s tone hadn’t waned.

Bee and I stared at the top of Greta’s head. It remained in place a couple of seconds longer, then dropped out of sight.

I let out the breath I’d been holding.

“Wow,” Bee said. “That wasn’t suspicious at all.”

“Why was she listening in on their conversation?” I asked.

“Maybe she knows that Dan was the one who brought the suitcase full of money to her backyard. Greta’s neighbor didn’t specify whether Dan the Man was meeting with her or not.” Bee tapped me on the arm. “Let’s get back to the truck before we get caught.”

We waited until Cassidy had left and the coast was clear before skedaddling back to the food truck, getting in, and driving off.

I kept my eyes on the road, but my thoughts ran wild regarding the case. “A skeleton buried in the back yard, a suitcase full of money, and all the suspects know each other.”

“Intimately in the case of Dan and Cassidy,” Bee said. “Let’s park next to the park and try to riddle this one out while we prep cakes.”

A good idea if ever I’d heard one. This wasn’t going to be easy to solve. We had no idea who the victim had been or how long they’d been dead, for Pete’s sake.

Once we’d parked the truck and entered the back, Bee made us each a chocolate milkshake. I slurped mine down greedily, still puzzling over the facts so far.

“Easy, Rubes, you’ll give yourself frown lines.”

“I’m afraid that ship has sailed,” I said, grazing my palm over my forehead. “What do you think about it all, Bee?”

“I think,” she said, and tapped her chin, “I think that Cassidy, the dogwalker, wanted someone to find the bones in Greta’s backyard. That’s the only reason she behaved the way she did on the night the doggy, Frankie, ran down the street carrying the bone in his mouth.” Another chin-tap. “In fact, I’m almost certain she made sure Frankie got hold of the bone.”

“What did she mean, back there, about running away with Dan? They’re clearly afraid of Greta, right?”

“Or afraid that they’ll get found out about something,” Bee said. “The murder, for instance. Dan and Cassidy are dating. Cassidy is working for Greta as a dog walker. And Dan is afraid of Greta, though we don’t know why, and brought her a case full of money.”

“What does that tell us?” I mused.

“The center of it all seems to be Greta. Everything’s happening around her place. I think,” Bee said, “we need to find out more about her. And I know just the woman to ask.”

New Part Starts Here

“Lucy?”

“Correct. Let’s hit it, Ruby.”

Lucy was one of our first and closest friends in Muffin. She owned the local nail salon and was well-liked by everybody except Mrs. Rickelston, the owner of the Runaway Inn. Not that that would stop us now.

We had to find the truth. Fast.

Ten minutes later, we parked in our usual spot near the duck pond in Muffin, left the food truck locked up tight, and started off down the sidewalk. A brisk walk and fresh air would do us good after our jaunt in the mechanic’s back yard. Some much-needed time to think.

“What could the connection be?” I mused.

“Lucy will know something,” Bee said, patting me on the arm. “Don’t you worry. She’ll tell us how Dan is involved with Greta, and what the deal is with Cassidy. To me, it seems like they’re both scared of her.” Bee tapped her chin then gestured to a newspaper stand nearby. “I want to get a copy before we go into the salon. There might be something of use in there.”

Bee purchased a copy of the daily news then came over, scanning the front page. She let out a noise like a hissing kettle.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I don’t believe it.”

“What?”

“They’ve revealed the identity of the skeleton that was found in Greta’s back yard.” Bee scanned the front page of the newspaper, her frown deepening.

“And? Who is it? Come on, Bee, don’t leave me hanging.”

“His name was Wallace Brown,” she said. “He was a local… criminal.”

“Criminal?” I sucked in a breath. “What type of criminal?”

“They don’t say.”

Bee continued reading while I stood, lost in thought. A criminal’s corpse found in Greta’s back yard, a dog with a bone, a case full of money, and two young lovers plotting to escape. What did it all mean?

“Lucy will know who this guy is,” Bee said. “Once we have some background information on who he is and which of the suspects he’s connected to, we can figure this one out.”

I hoped it would be as easy as that, but I had my doubts.

Rosie A. Point

Cozy mystery author