I’d barely gotten the words out when a door in the slatted fence crashed open.
Frankie, the adorable Labrador from the other night, bounded toward us, tail wagging. He barked loudly, several times, and both Bee and I cringed and glanced back at the house. That amount of noise was sure to draw attention.
“Hello, boy,” I said, and dropped down to give Frankie a few strokes and cuddles. “How are you? Happy?” He dropped onto his furry butt and wagged his tail, whining and grinning as only a doggy could.
Bee pressed her fists to her hips and narrowed an eye at the slatted door he’d just come through. “Weird. Why would Greta have a perimeter fence with a back gate. Where does it lead?”
“Yeah, and why was Frankie back there?” I gave him a final pat then straightened. “Do we dare?”
“I don’t see that we have a choice. We’ve come this far. We’re already trespassing.” Bee led the way, and we exited through the fence’s strange back door, leaving it open behind us—just in case.
“This doesn’t feel normal,” I said.
Bee stopped abruptly and pointed to a small shed in one corner of what was a sectioned part of Greta’s back yard. “And neither is that. Why do you think she made this place?”
“And did the police find it when they came to her house?”
“They might not have been here yet,” Bee said. “Think about the circumstances under which the bone was discovered. It was in Greta’s dog’s mouth not discovered on her property, so they’ll have to get a warrant to investigate her house. And they’re probably waiting for confirmation from a medical examiner that it’s a human bone. They have to check that type of thing.”
I headed for the shack, my pulse picking up. It was made of wood, without any windows and just one door, and my skin prickled.
What if there was a body in here?
“Bee, I don’t know if we should do this.”
“If that bone comes back as human, which it will, you can bet your last donut that the police will be all over this.” Bee took her handbag off her shoulder and fished around inside it. She extracted a box of latex gloves and held it out.
I took a pair and snapped them on.
It had become our new practice to wear them when we were snooping around trying to figure things out. It was better this way—we wouldn’t compromise anything we touched, and it covered our butts too. No fingerprints, no problem.
I waited for Bee to slip on her pair.
“Ready?” I asked. “We don’t know what might behind that door.”
“I was born ready. And hungry for baked treats.” Bee strode forward, placed her hand on the rusted doorknob, turned it and opened it. “Oh my heavens,” she whispered and looked back at me.
“What?” I peered over her shoulder.
“It’s a dig site. Cassidy was right.”
“Then let’s take a look,” I said. “If this is where Frankie found the bone, there might still be—”
A cacophony of yipping barks sounded from the yard, and Bee and I froze. That didn’t sound like Frankie’s playful barking from before. Someone had arrived at the house, and we were about to get caught with our hands right in the cookie jar.
Or our gloved fingers in the… bone jar? Eugh. What was a bone jar, anyway, and urn?
“Ruby!” Bee hissed. “Move!”
I hadn’t noticed it, but Bee had already started running for the back fence—it was lower here than the slats that ringed the rest of the yard. We trudged through a bed of flowers and scrambled over the wall—Bee with the ease of a cat, and me like a, well, a fish. I flopped over onto the other side of the fence, into Greta’s neighbor’s back yard.
“Urgh,” I groaned. “I’m not cut out for this type of thing.”
“Shush.” Bee was in a crouch, both hands on the wooden fence, her eye level with one of the gaps. “Oh wow. It’s the police. They’ve come back. It looks like… yeah, they have a warrant. They’ve just spotted the dig site.”
I got up and joined her, shuffling around in the dirt. I caught sight of the officers swarming the yard, and my heart climbed into my throat. “We got out just in time. If they found us back there, we were toast.”
“Burnt toast,” Bee agreed, and removed her gloves. She gestured for me to do the same, and we dropped them into the side pouch of her handbag.
“So, what do you make of it?” I asked.
“It’s a murder investigation,” Bee said, with certainty. “They wouldn’t be here with a warrant and this many police officers if it wasn’t. And Greta’s got to be involved, hiding something.” She tapped her chin. “Now, we have to figure out what to do next. Neither of these women is going to tell us much. But if we follow them… maybe we can find out who they’ve been talking to. What they’ve been doing. We might even case out the place to see what Greta gets up to in her spare time.”
“You mean when she’s not excavating graves?”
“I don’t think it was a grave. Maybe it was something she just… stumbled upon.”
“While digging in her shed?”
A quiet fell between us, and I frowned, wriggling my nose from side to side. “I have two questions.” I raised the corresponding number of fingers. “How did Cassidy find out about this little dig site if she’s ‘just the dog walker?’ And… how on earth did Frankie get in there to get his paws and teeth on the bone in the first place?”
“Both great questions,” Bee said, facing me. “But I think we should save them for another time.”
“Because it looks like Greta’s neighbor is home.” She pointed at the back of the house, where a young man had just stepped out onto his porch with a cup sandwiched between his palms.
His eyes grew wide and he trembled, lips parting.