Aunt Bessie Goes (An Isle of Man Cozy Mystery Book 7)

BOOK: Aunt Bessie Goes (An Isle of Man Cozy Mystery Book 7)
4.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Aunt Bessie Goes

 

An Isle of Man
Cozy Mystery

 
 

Diana
Xarissa

 

Text Copyright
©
2015 Diana
Xarissa

Cover Photo
Copyright
©
2015 Kevin
Moughtin

 

All Rights Reserved

 

For
Stephen.

Author’s
Note

 

Welcome to the
seventh book in the Isle of Man Cozy Mystery series.
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed all of the “Aunt
Bessie” books so far and are looking forward to this one.
 
While the books can be read
individually, reading the series in order allows you to watch the characters
change and grow.

There are a
great many characters that reappear in each book and often references are made
to events in previous books as well, so I suggest you read them all.
 
(The titles run alphabetically, to help
make it easier for you to keep track of the order.)
 
This book in particular ties up a lot of
loose ends from previous titles.
 
I’ve
tried hard to prevent too many spoilers sneaking in for those of you who
haven’t yet read the earlier books, but in some cases things from previous
books had to be mentioned in order for this one to make sense.

This is a work
of fiction and all of the characters are fictional creations.
 
Any resemblance that they may share with
any real person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
 
The island businesses mentioned here are
fictional as well, although they may resemble actual businesses on the island.
 

The photo on
the cover is of the mine washing floors in Laxey, the village where most of the
action in this story takes place.
 
The small water wheel, the Lady Evelyn, seen in the picture was
refurbished and relocated from the
Snaefell
Mine.
 
It was installed and set into
motion in 2006, so it wasn’t actually in
Laxey
when
the story takes place (September 1998).
 
Had I known in 1998 that I was one day going to be writing this series,
I would have taken a lot more pictures!
 
As it is, I have a wonderful photographer on the island
who
takes the photos I need, but obviously he can’t time
travel as well.

As ever, there
is a glossary in the back of the book for readers outside of the British Isles
who might not be familiar with some of the English and Manx terms used.
 
No doubt some Americanisms have slipped
into the text as well, and I do
apologise
for those
to my readers who are in the British Isles!

I’d love to
hear from you.
 
My contact details
are in the back of the book.
 

 

Chapter
One

The telephone
always rang at the worst possible moments, Bessie grumbled to herself.
 
She slid a piece of scrap paper into the
book she had been engrossed in, and set the book on the small table beside her
chair.
 
Crossing to the kitchen,
Bessie answered her phone.
 

“Bessie?
 
I thought you’d probably let the machine
pick up,”
Doona’s
voice came down the line to
her.
 

“I was at a
really good part in my book,” Bessie replied, “and the phone broke my
concentration.
 
I figured I might as
well answer it and get rid of whoever was ringing as quickly as possible.”

Doona
laughed.
 
“Well, I guess I won’t
talk for long, then,” she told her friend.

“Oh, I do hope
not,”
Bessie
answered, laughing to let her friend know
she was mostly teasing.
 
She knew
that Doona totally understood how she felt about books, though.
 
The pair
were
unlikely friends, but they somehow got along very well.

Doona was
somewhere in her early forties, a bubbly brunette with striking blonde
highlights and bright green eyes, thanks to
coloured
contact lenses.
 
She and Bessie had
met at a Manx language class about two years earlier and had immediately become
friends.
 

At that time, Doona
had been struggling to deal with a difficult second divorce and had only just
moved to Laxey to take up a position at the front desk of the Laxey
Constabulary.
 
Bessie, roughly twice
her age, never married and a nearly lifelong resident of the village, had given
Doona just the right mix of a shoulder to cry on and tough love during the very
difficult time.
 
Doona had recently
returned the
favour
by supporting Bessie as she
stumbled through a string of murder investigations.

“I was just
ringing on John’s behalf,” Doona said.
 
“He was hoping he might have dinner with you tonight.”

“I suppose
so,” Bessie replied, thinking quickly.
 
“Just John, or are you coming as well?”

“Just John,”
Doona answered.
 
“He said to tell
you he’ll be there around six and he’ll bring both dinner and pudding.”

“Right, I’d
better get my book finished then,” Bessie said.

Doona laughed
again.
 
“After he’s gone home, I
hope you’ll ring me and tell me what he wanted,” she said.

“Oh, dear,”
Bessie replied.
 
“I don’t like the
sound of that.”

Doona
sighed.
 
“Sorry, I didn’t mean for it
to come out quite like that,” she explained.
 
“But John’s been very, um, quiet I guess
is the right word, since he came back from his summer holidays.
 
I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’d
love to know.”

“It isn’t my
place to tell you, though,” Bessie pointed out.
 
“Even if John does tell me something.”

“I know,”
Doona sighed again.
 
“I suppose I
should let you get back to your book.
 
Have fun tonight.”

Doona hung up
before Bessie could reply.
 
Bessie
couldn’t get back to her book quickly enough, settling in and rapidly finding
her place.
 
Unfortunately, her brain
wouldn’t focus.
 
Bessie sat back in
her chair and sighed as she looked outside.
 
It was overcast, but not actually
raining.
 
A quick walk along the
beach and some fresh sea air were exactly what she needed to clear her head.

Bessie had
lived in the same little cottage on Laxey beach since she was eighteen.
 
That had been many, many years ago.
 
She credited her continued good health,
at least in part, to the daily walks she took along that beach.
 
She tried to take a long walk every
morning, but she often took additional walks during the day as well.
 
Now she headed out her back door and
began a slow stroll towards the holiday cottages nearby.

As it was the
second week of September, school summer holidays were now finished, so the
cottages were mostly occupied by young or elderly couples who could take advantage
of lower prices when schools were in session.
 
The beach felt almost quiet after the
long hot months of summer.
 

Bessie had
stayed in Douglas for much of August, more to get away from upsetting memories
than to escape the holidaying children.
 
The time away had certainly had the desired effect, as she was feeling
much more like her old self and couldn’t imagine ever leaving her beloved
cottage again, except perhaps for short holidays.
 

Now she walked
slowly past a young couple
who
were giggling as they
built a sandcastle together.
 
Just
past them a much older couple sat on matching beach chairs, both lost in their
own books.
 
Bessie smiled and nodded
at anyone who caught her eye, but let her thoughts wander.

The call from
Doona had her wondering what John Rockwell wanted.
 
It wasn’t like the man, the head of the
Laxey Constabulary and a CID detective, to pay Bessie a casual visit.
 
Of course, she’d come to know him well
during the recent murder investigations, and she regarded him as a friend, so he
was more than welcome to visit.

She shook her
head.
 
There was no point in
endlessly speculating.
 
She’d find
out what he wanted at six o’clock.
 
Back at her cottage, she warmed some soup for lunch and then settled
back down with her book again.
 
Within minutes she was lost in the pages.
 
An hour later, she closed the book and
sighed.
 
She loved a happy ending,
even if she knew that it was only temporary.
 
As the book was number seven in a series
that had at least ten books in it, Bessie knew that there was more murder and
mayhem in the main character’s future.

She had the
next book in the series already on her shelf, but she decided to save it for
another day, choosing instead to spend the rest of the afternoon on a few
chores around the house.
 
By six o’clock
she’d cleaned her bathrooms and dusted and vacuumed the ground floor of the
cottage.
 
The first floor could wait
for another day, she decided as she put the vacuum away.
 
Her company was due any minute.

Bessie sat on
the rock on the beach behind her cottage and watched for John’s car.
 
She was a tiny figure on the large rock,
being naturally slender and only a few inches over five feet tall.
 
Her grey hair was short and it almost
perfectly matched her eyes.
 
While
she’d earned her share of wrinkles and laugh lines over the years, they didn’t
bother her in the slightest.

When she saw
John’s car turn into the small parking area in front of her cottage, she headed
towards him.
 

“John, how are
you?” she asked as she gave the man a hug after he’d emerged from his car.

“I’m fine,” he
replied.
 
He leaned back into the
car and pulled out a large pizza box.
 
“I hope pizza is okay?”

“It’s fine,”
Bessie assured him.
 
She led the way
back into her cottage, hoping that the man would be more honest with her as the
evening wore on.
 
He was clearly not
fine.
 

Rockwell was
in his mid-forties, with dark brown hair and gorgeous green eyes that Bessie
was fairly certain were natural, since his two children also had the brightly
coloured
irises.
 
He was somewhere over six feet tall and worked out regularly to keep
himself fit and trim.
 
Today,
however, he looked almost gaunt and his eyes looked tired and strained.

They settled
at Bessie’s kitchen table with the pizza and some cans of fizzy drink.
 

“I feel as if
I haven’t seen you in ages,” Bessie said after she’d finished her first slice
of pizza.
 

“August was a
little bit, um, busy,” Rockwell muttered before taking a big drink from his
can.

“You were
across for much of it,” Bessie said.
 
“And I was in Douglas.
 
It
was certainly a strange month.”

John had spent
three weeks of August in Manchester, having a summer holiday with his wife and
children.
 

“Yes, well,
yes,”
John
replied, looking everywhere but at Bessie.

Bessie sighed
inwardly and then grabbed another piece of pizza.
 

“How are
things down at the station?” she asked, hoping that might be a safer subject.

“Things are
good,” John told her.
 
“Everyone
seemed genuinely happy to have me back after my holiday, anyway.”

Bessie
laughed.
 
“I understood from Doona
that you were very much missed.”

John
nodded.
 
“Inspector Kelly is a good
guy,” he said.
 
“But even though
I’ve only been here for a few months, I feel like the station is mine now.
 
I think the rest of the staff feel the
same.”

“I’m sure they
do,” Bessie agreed.
 
So it didn’t
seem as if the inspector was upset about work matters.
 
That just left his personal life to
cautiously explore.

“I left
pudding in the car,” John said after he’d finished the last slice of
pizza.
 
“I’ll just go and grab it.”

Bessie tidied
up the pizza plates and got them both fresh drinks while she waited.
 
He was back in less than a minute.

“It’s a
strawberry trifle from the new bakery in Ramsey,” he told her as he opened the
large bakery box.
 
“Maybe I
shouldn’t have left it in the warm car, but at least it was in the shade.”

The trifle
seemed to have survived its short stay in the car just fine.
 
Bessie pulled bowls from the cupboard
and the inspector spooned out large servings.

“This is
really good,” Bessie said after a few mouthfuls.

“I wanted
something light and summery, even if it is nearly autumn,” John replied.
 
“And I figured we could use some fruit
after having pizza for dinner.”

Bessie
grinned.
 
“Fruit is always good,
especially when it’s buried in custard and sponge.”

Rockwell insisted
that Bessie tell him all about her stay in Douglas, especially the events that
had led to an arrest.
 
Bessie
started by telling about the odd things that had been happening in the building
where her friend,
Bahey
, had her flat.
 
She told him about the badly beaten-up
man that she’d discovered in an empty flat in the building and all about the
strange building manager, Nigel Green.

“It sounds
like an exciting month,” Rockwell remarked after she’d finished.
 
“I’m glad Pete
Corkill
was there to help you.”

Inspector
Corkill
was a Douglas-based member of the island’s
constabulary.

“He was a
great help,” Bessie said.
 
She and
Inspector
Corkill
had initially disliked one another
when they’d met in May, but over the course of a murder investigation they had
come to appreciate each other.

“That’s good
to know.”

“So how are
the kids?” Bessie asked as she scraped up the last of her trifle, feeling as if
she’d been avoiding the subject for long enough.

“The kids are
great,” John replied, looking down at his bowl.
 
He took a deep breath.
 
“They’re, well, they’ve moved back to
Manchester with Sue.”
 

He kept his
head down until Bessie put her hand on his arm.
 
When he looked up, she patted his arm
gently.

“I’m sorry,”
she said softly.
 
“I know your kids
mean the world to you.”

For a moment
Bessie thought he might begin to cry, but then he drew another deep breath and
managed a shaky smile.
 

“They do
indeed,” he said finally.
 
“And,
after much debate, well, Sue and I decided that they would be better off back
in Manchester.
 
They never felt
settled over here and they both missed their friends and our extended
families.
 
If I had any doubts, they
were squashed when I saw how happy they were in August when we were over there.”

Bessie drew a
deep breath of her own.
 
“Where does
that leave you?” she asked cautiously.

“Feeling
rather lonely, I suppose,” he replied.
 
He took another long breath and then shrugged.
 
“Sue and I have been having problems for
years,” he explained.
 
“The move
over here was our last-ditch effort to save our marriage.
 
If Sue had fallen in love with the
island, we might have made it work, but she hated it here at least as much as
the kids did.”

BOOK: Aunt Bessie Goes (An Isle of Man Cozy Mystery Book 7)
4.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Slow Hand by Edwards, Bonnie
The Catcher's Mask by Matt Christopher, Bert Dodson
Charmed Particles by Chrissy Kolaya
Tantrika by Asra Nomani
Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C. Esslemont
Undead Underway by Brenna Lyons
Bad Company by Virginia Swift