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Authors: Diana Xarissa

Aunt Bessie's Holiday

BOOK: Aunt Bessie's Holiday
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Aunt Bessie’s Holiday


An Isle of Man Cozy Mystery


Diana Xarissa


2015 Diana

Photo Copyright
2015 Kevin


All Rights Reserved


For Kevin, for everything he does for us.

Author’s Note


It’s hard for me to believe it, but this is
the eighth book in the Isle of Man Cozy Mystery series.
As ever, it can be read on its own, but
I do think the series is best read in order (alphabetically by the last word of
the title).

The first thing to note about this book is
that I’ve used the word holiday in the British rather than the American
(In US terms, this book is
about Aunt Bessie’s Vacation.)

Otherwise, if you’ve read the other books in
the series, you’ll know all about Bessie’s origins (in my romance
Island Inheritance)
and that I use
British spellings and phrases, except where Americanisms sneak in, as I’m
living in the US now and tend to talk and think in American English on a daily
I hope I’ve managed to find the
right balance between the different English languages so that the book is
enjoyable on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as in Canada, Australia, New
Zealand and anywhere else anyone chooses to read it.

This is a work of fiction and all of the
characters are fictional creations.
Any resemblance they may have to any real persons, living or dead, is
entirely coincidental.

The story is primarily set in a fictional
holiday park in the Lake District in England.
When we lived on the island we frequently
visited holiday parks, and the one in this story is a mix of several different
parks with many fictional elements added.
(If you want more information about holiday parks in general, please see
the notes at the end of the book.
As far as I know, there really isn’t anything quite like them in the
Torver Castle is also entirely

Those of you who have read my romances will
have already heard the story of the ghost in Castle Rushen who can help women
identify their true love.
story is fictional.
To the best of
my knowledge, Charlotte de la Tremouille does not haunt the castle.

As ever, I love hearing from readers.
My contact details are at the end of the


Chapter One

“I didn’t even remember entering the
contest,” Doona told Bessie.
winning was a huge surprise.”

“I don’t think I know anyone who’s ever won
anything like this,” Bessie replied.
“A week’s holiday is a wonderful prize.”

The friends were sitting in the kitchen of
Bessie’s small cottage, enjoying tea and biscuits.
Doona had rung less than an hour ago to
tell Bessie that she had exciting news.
At Bessie’s invitation, she’d driven over to the cottage immediately.

“I know.
Now I’m ever so glad I didn’t take any
holiday time in the summer,” Doona said.
“I can take a week off now and no one can complain.”

“I’m sure John wouldn’t complain.”

“He might not, but Anna surely would,” Doona
retorted, frowning.

Bessie nodded, remembering what Doona had
told her about the policewoman who had recently joined the staff at the small
Laxey branch of the Isle of Man Constabulary.
Anna Lambert had been hired from across
to assist with the day-to-day operations of the small station.
Apparently, this was to allow John
Rockwell, who was in charge of policing for Laxey and Lonan, to spend more time
in the field and on investigative work.
From what Doona had said, Anna’s arrival wasn’t going as smoothly as
everyone had hoped.

“So, which week are you going on your
wonderful surprise holiday?” Bessie asked, hoping to distract Doona from
complaining about her new boss and ruining her excitement over her unexpected
good fortune.

“I’m supposed to travel on the 18
Doona replied.

“Well, it all sounds wonderful,”
“I’ve never been to a holiday park like that, but the brochure looks
She picked the glossy
pamphlet up from the table where Doona had left it and flipped through it for a
second time.
“There’s certainly a
lot to do.”

“Yeah, most of it for families and small
children,” Doona said with a sigh.
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to go at all, but on page six there’s a list of activities
for adults.”

Bessie turned to the correct page and read aloud
from the brochure.
“Here we are, ‘Coming
to Lakeview Holiday Park without children?
Try your hand at pottery, watercolour painting, or pencil
Our heated,
water complex is open all day with special evening
hours where selected pools are for adults only.
We have aerobics and yoga classes, crazy
golf, woodland walks and tours of nearby Torver Castle, one of the most haunted
castles in the whole of the British Isles, also available for our adult

“And there are a bunch of restaurants,” Doona
“Look on page eight.”

Bessie turned the page.
“Chinese, Italian, French and American,”
she read down the list.
“With an
Indian takeaway, pizza delivery and a grocery store on-site, you certainly
won’t starve.”

Doona laughed.
“I’m sure I’ll come back at least ten
pounds heavier,” she remarked.
ignoring the exercise classes.
did you see the French-style patisserie?”

Bessie looked at the photograph of éclairs
and profiteroles piled on top of one another and dripping with chocolate sauce.
“Maybe fifteen pounds,” she murmured as
her mouth watered.

“And it’s all included in my prize,” Doona
“Anything and everything
that I want to do and all the food.
It’s the greatest prize ever.
It’s almost too good to be true.”

“It all sounds wonderful,” Bessie said with
genuine enthusiasm.
“And I think
you could really do with a break as well.
I’ll miss you, but I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time.”

Doona nodded.
“But I was thinking,” she said to
“Maybe you’d like to come

Bessie sat back in her chair, feeling
“But this is your
special holiday,” she said after a moment.

“And it will be much more fun with a friend
along,” Doona replied.

The pair
unlikely friends.
Doona, with her
highlighted brown hair and bright green eyes, courtesy of coloured-contact
lenses, was twice divorced and in her forties.
She worked at the front desk of the
Laxey Constabulary.
After having grown
up in the south of the island, she’d only moved to Laxey two years earlier when
she’d been in the middle of a very difficult divorce.
At the time she’d hoped the change of
scenery and the new job would help her get over her broken heart.

Bessie was probably twice her age.
She’d lived in Laxey, in her small
cottage right on the beach, for all of her adult life after a childhood spent
in America.
Over the years, Bessie
had come to love her short grey hair, which matched her eyes.
While Doona was comfortably plump,
Bessie had always been slender and that hadn’t changed with age.
Bessie had never married and never held
down a paying job.
She kept busy
acting as
honourary aunt to just about every child
in Laxey and doing research at the Manx Museum into the history of the island
she called home and loved immensely.

They’d met in
a Manx
language class just days
after Doona had moved into her new home in the
Their friendship was
forged over shared struggles with the difficult Celtic language.
Bessie provided Doona with the support
she needed as she worked her way through the breakup of her marriage.
Now the pair spent as much time together
as their busy schedules allowed, with Doona being the one offering support to
Bessie as the older woman found herself caught up in multiple murder investigations

“As I said, everything is paid for,” Doona
reminded her.
“I’m allowed to bring
up to three guests.
accommodation is in one of their lakeside cabins and we’ll have two bedrooms
and two bathrooms, so we won’t have to share.
I thought you might like a chance to get
away for a week and just relax.
course, you can also do as many of the activities as you like.”

Bessie flipped through the brochure again,
looking at all the glossy photos of families appearing to be having a wonderful
She was very tempted.

“You can try rock climbing and inline
skating if you want,” Doona teased.
“Or you can tour that haunted castle and try some pencil sketching.
We can do things together or just meet
up for the occasional meal and do our own thing, whichever you prefer.”

“It’s your holiday,” Bessie argued.
“You should do what you want to do.”

“I intend to,” Doona replied.
“I’ll make my list of activities and
then you can decide which ones you’d like to do as well, if any.
I don’t plan to try rock climbing, but
if you decide to try it, I want to be there to watch.”

Bessie laughed.
“I think watercolours and sketching are
a bit more my sort of thing,” she told her friend.
“And I wouldn’t mind touring a haunted
castle, either.”

“So you’ll come?” Doona asked.

“If you’re sure you want me to,” Bessie

“Hurrah!” Doona shouted.
She gave Bessie a hug.
“I didn’t want to say this before, but I
really, really don’t want to go on my own,” she confided to her friend.
“I’m sure the whole place will be filled
with happy families.
I’m afraid I’d
be quite lonely.”

Bessie smiled and patted Doona’s hand.
“If you’d told me that in the beginning,
I wouldn’t have hesitated for an instant.
I’m sure we’ll have a good time.”

“We are definitely going to have a good
time,” Doona said emphatically.

The days seemed to fly past, at least for
Bessie, and she soon found herself packing and getting ready for her week
The night before their early
morning departure, John Rockwell insisted on throwing them a small going-away
Bessie suggested they have
the party at her cottage, as that was an easy place for everyone to

“Bessie, are you all packed and ready to
go?” he asked when he arrived a short time before the party was due to start.
Bessie hugged the tall, dark-haired man,
feeling relieved to see that he’d regained at least some of the weight he’d
lost recently.
His stunning green
eyes were bright and his smile seemed genuine.

“I think so,” Bessie told him.
“At least as much as I can be.
Some things will have to be added in the
morning, of course.”

“I’m glad you’re going with Doona,” he said
in a confiding tone.
“I think she’d
get rather bored on her own.”

Bessie shrugged.
“I never get bored on my own,” she said
“But I’ve had a great many
years to get used to being alone.”

John nodded.
“It does take some getting used to,” he
said ruefully.

“How are you coping?” Bessie asked, feeling
as if she’d said the wrong thing.
John and his wife, Sue, had only recently split up.
Sue had returned to Manchester with
their two children, leaving John on the island by himself.

“I’m getting there,” he replied.
“Some days are better than others, but
the kids have a half-term break coming up soon, so they’ll be coming over for a
I’m hoping to be in the new
house by then.”

Bessie had helped John do some house hunting
the previous month.
John had been
delighted when the owners of the property he liked best, a recently renovated
bungalow in the same neighbourhood where he was currently renting, dropped
their price.
His offer had been
accepted almost immediately and Bessie knew he was happy to getting settled
into his new home.

“I’m looking forward to seeing it once
you’ve moved in,” Bessie told him.
The house, when they’d seen it, had been deliberately neutral in
John had shown Bessie
various paint samples for the colours he was planning to use for each
The end result promised to be
quite interesting.

“Yes, well, we’ll see how it all turns out,”
John said, flushing.
“Sue always
handled painting and decorating, so this is all new territory for me.
I have a feeling some of the colours
aren’t going to work as well as I’d hoped.”

Bessie hid a grin.
She had the same feeling, but she wasn’t
going to share that with John.
learn more through trial and error than from having others tell you what to
do,” she said.

Before John could reply, they heard a car
pulling up outside.
Bessie opened
the door to Hugh Watterson and his girlfriend, Grace Christian.

“Hugh, you’ve grown again,” Bessie exclaimed
as she hugged the young policeman.

He blushed and shook his head.
“I think it’s just these boots,” he
muttered, glancing down at his feet.

Bessie looked at the stylish leather boots
he was wearing and pressed her lips together.
Under the circumstances, chuckling would
be inappropriate, but she couldn’t help but smile as she looked at the rest of
Hugh’s outfit.
Bessie had known
Hugh since he was a child, and now, in his mid-twenties, he still looked little
more than fifteen.
The fancy
trousers and collared shirt didn’t really do much to help with that, but it was
something of a surprise, as Bessie was used to seeing Hugh in jeans and
tattered T-shirts when he wasn’t in uniform.

Grace now joined him in the doorway and
Bessie stepped back to let them both inside, giving Grace a hug as the girl
walked past.
There was no doubt in
Bessie’s mind that the pretty young schoolteacher was responsible for the
changes to Hugh’s wardrobe.
seen other changes in the young man as well, as he became increasingly
dedicated to his difficult job.
she could only hope that Hugh would get around to proposing before Grace gave
up on him.

BOOK: Aunt Bessie's Holiday
3.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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