Read Hope Callaghan - Garden Girls 06 - Magnolia Mansion Mysteries Online

Authors: Hope Callaghan

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Senior Sleuths - Michigan

Hope Callaghan - Garden Girls 06 - Magnolia Mansion Mysteries

BOOK: Hope Callaghan - Garden Girls 06 - Magnolia Mansion Mysteries
10.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Hope Callaghan - Garden Girls 06 - Magnolia Mansion Mysteries
Number VI of
Garden Girls Mysteries
Hope Callaghan
Hope Callaghan (2015)
Mystery: Cozy - Senior Sleuths - Michigan
Mystery: Cozy - Senior Sleuths - Michiganttt
There's no place like home! But what if "home" happens to be the town's mysterious, rundown mansion? At least that's what young Andrea Malone keeps asking herself ever since she bought the vacant, dilapidated house months ago.
Determined to put down roots in the cozy little town of Belhaven, Michigan, she gets busy managing the much-needed renovations in order to revive the old house and restore it to the grandiose mansion it once was. With the renovations nearly complete, the mysterious house begins to reveal secrets from its troubled past.
On the same day that her quirky parents arrive in town for a visit, Andrea makes a shocking discovery that has her questioning if she should spend another night in the house. She calls on her friend and amateur sleuth, Gloria Rutherford, to help her get to the bottom of the mysteries that surround the mansion.
The more clues Gloria uncovers, the deeper the mysteries get. She discovers that some of the local town folk would prefer that the secrets remain buried in the past.

Magnolia Mansion Mysteries
Garden Girls
Cozy Mystery Series Book 6

Hope Callaghan
Copyright © 2015
All rights reserved.


This book is a work of fiction.  Although places mentioned may be real, the characters, names and incidents and all other details are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events or actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced in any format, by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior consent from the copyright owner and publisher of this book.  The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.




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A special
thank you
Wanda Downs
for taking the time to read and review
Magnolia Mansion Mysteries
and offering all of the helpful advice!

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Exodus 20: 12 NIV


Chapter 1


The long, sleek limousine coasted through the front gate of 122 Magnolia Lane and turned onto the gravel drive leading to the front entrance.  When the car rolled to a stop, a tall, thin man dressed in a crisp, navy blue uniform climbed out of the driver’s side of the car.  He strode around the back of the limo and over to the rear passenger door in a few short steps.

He leaned forward and pulled open the rear door. A white-gloved hand appeared. The driver grasped the tips of the glove and out emerged a meticulously dressed, perfectly-coiffed woman with long blonde hair. 

She stepped onto the gravel drive and made her way to the edge of the manicured lawn as she waited for the vehicle’s final occupant to emerge.  The driver jerked upright and stood at attention while a barrel-chested man with a short, thick neck and clump of dark brown hair stepped out of the vehicle. 

A mischievous grin tugged at the corner of the driver’s mouth as he watched the man adjust the cheap swath of carpet atop his head and then yank on the bottom of his worn, polyester jacket.  With the flick of his wrist, he adjusted the black bowtie around his neck, cleared his throat and nodded at the driver. 

The gentleman and his female companion strolled under the covered porch as they made their way to the front door.  The woman’s mouth dropped open as she stared at the lion’s head knocker that covered a good portion of Andrea Malone’s front door.  The man paused for just a fraction of a second before grasping the round, metal ring and giving it two sharp raps.

Moments later, the door swung open and Andrea popped her head through the open door. 

The stiff expression on the man’s face melted and turned into a gentle smile.  David Thornton opened his arms and his daughter, Andrea, stepped inside.  “Daddy!”

Libby Thornton watched the exchange for a moment, waiting for her turn.  Andrea released her grip on her father and reached for her mother.  “Mom!  I’ve missed you both so much!”

Pierce, the limo driver, removed his black cap and wiped the perspiration from his brow as he watched the exchange. He closed the passenger side door. 

Andrea peeked around the side of her mother.  “Pierce, is that you?”

Pierce swung the door shut, turned to face Andrea and grinned.  With long strides, he covered the distance between them, focusing his attention on one of his favorite people in the entire world.  Pierce hadn’t seen Andrea for over a year now.  The last time he’d seen her was when she made a quick trip to New York.  Right after her snake-of-a-husband, Daniel Malone, was murdered.

Andrea didn’t wait for a reply.  She sidestepped her parents and met Pierce on edge of the porch.  She wrapped her arms around his muscular frame and laid her head on his chest.  He closed his eyes and leaned his cheek on the top of the familiar blonde head.  “His” Andrea’s head.  He blinked back the tears as he hugged the woman who had always been like a daughter to him.  “It’s nice to see you again, Miss Andrea.”

Andrea tilted her head back.  Her eyes widened as she studied Pierce.  “I’ve missed you, Pierce. You’re staying here with us.” It wasn’t a question.  She wanted Pierce to stay.  He was family.  Her family.

Pierce turned to his employers, Mr. and Mrs. Thornton. David Thornton shrugged.  “I’ll leave that up to Andrea.”

Andrea nodded firmly and marched over to the trunk of the limo.  “Great!  Pop the top!” Her hand smacked the top of the trunk. “Let’s get this luggage in the house.”

Pierce stuck a hand out.  “Miss Andrea. You know I can’t let you do that.”

Andrea swatted at his hand.  “Now, you know, Pierce,” she mimicked his voice, “you can’t stop me.”

Pierce knew when he’d been beat.  If Andrea wanted to do something, Pierce would not stop her. Even now, the girl had him wrapped around her little finger.  Just like she had when she’d been just a bit of a thing running around the cold, sterile Manhattan apartment.

The Thorntons made no attempt to stop Andrea, either.  She was headstrong. Always had been.  Probably always would be.  They watched as Pierce and Andrea lifted the luggage from the trunk of the limo and dragged it toward the house. 

Andrea stopped at the front door and waved her parents inside.  “After you!”

Libby Thornton crossed the threshold first as she stepped into the front foyer. Her husband was right behind her.  They took a few quick steps inside and stopped to survey the large, magnificent entryway. 

Andrea’s mother spun around in a circle. She nodded her approval.  “The pictures you sent us didn’t do this place justice,” she decided.

Her father shoved his hands in his pocket, his gaze focusing on the large living room and massive fireplace. “You live here all alone?”

“Well - not all alone,” Andrea said.  Brutus, her black lab, made an appearance as he rounded the corner of the butler’s pantry and padded over to the group.  She leaned down and patted his head.  “This is Brutus.”

Pierce leaned forward to pet the dog while Andrea’s parents took a step back.  Animals were not their cup of tea.  They had lived in high-rise Manhattan apartments their entire lives. Pets took up too much time and energy in their opinion.

Libby’s eyes narrowed. She waved her hands.  “This creature - he lives here?  Inside the house?”

Andrea stifled a giggle.  She knew exactly what her mother was thinking; that dogs carried all kinds of diseases and were unsanitary. No. Her mother was definitely not a pet lover.  When she was young, she had begged for a pet.  Anything – a cat, a dog. Even fish.  All to no avail. 

But now her parents were in her house.  Maybe being around Brutus would change their minds and they would realize that animals could be wonderful companions.  Sometimes better companions than humans.

“Here, let me show you to your rooms.” Andrea grabbed the handle of the nearest bag and began tugging it up the massive staircase.  Pierce followed behind, while Andrea’s parents brought up the rear. 

The home had plenty of space for guests.  The guest wing boasted five bedrooms and three of them had private baths, while the other two had an adjoining or “jack-and-jill” bath. 

Andrea had decided to give both her parents and Pierce the rooms with private baths.  At the center landing, halfway up, Andrea turned right and headed up the remainder of the steps. 

Andrea stopped at the first door on the right.  She turned the knob and opened the door.  “This room is for Pierce,” she told them. 

Pierce pushed his luggage through the doorway and stepped inside.  The room had masculine touches. There was a smoky gray bedspread and matching gray curtains.  A deep, cherry wood dresser faced the large, king-size bed and a small armoire sat in the corner.  On the other side of the armoire was a six-panel wooden door that led to the bath. 

Pierce wandered over to the door and glanced inside. To the right of the door was a white pedestal sink. To the left - the toilet.  Across from the toilet, tucked away in the corner, was a large, stand-up shower. 

Andrea followed him into the bedroom.  She ran her hand down the corner bedpost. “I hope this room is okay,” she fretted. 

Pierce put an arm around Andrea’s shoulder.  He grinned, flashing a set of pearly-white teeth.  “This is perfect, Miss Andrea,” he assured her.

Andrea left Pierce to unpack and led her parents down the hallway to the double doors at the end of the hall.  She didn’t miss the limp in her father’s step.  “Is your foot still bothering you?” The three of them glanced down at his feet.  His pants, a good three inches too short, revealed a pair of mismatched socks.  One was black, the other dark green. 

Andrea’s eyes traveled upwards as she studied his suit – a suit that looked very familiar. It was a suit that her father had had for as long as she could remember.  She reached out and flicked the tip of the tattered lapel.  “How old is this thing?”

Andrea’s father was the biggest penny pincher on the planet.  Not that he needed to be.  David Thornton was a successful stockbroker on Wall Street and her mother, a neurosurgeon. Her mother was a bit of a spendthrift so his thriftiness evened them out. 

Libby crossed her arms and shook her head.  “You know your father.”

Andrea didn’t answer.  Instead, she rolled her eyes and started walking again. 
Quirky.  Her parents were just a bit quirky
, she reminded herself.

At the end of the hall, Andrea opened the doors leading to the room her parents would occupy.  She had secretly nicknamed the room, “The Queen’s Quarters.” It was the nicest bedroom in the house.  Other than her own, of course.  The room was spacious.  A large, king-size bed filled an entire wall.   An ornate canopy covered the top.  Tucked in the corner was a small writing desk and padded high-back chair.  The antique wooden desk overlooked the garden and side yard. 

Inside the bedroom was a matching set of armoires.  Both were a great deal larger than the one in Pierce’s room.  Her mother slowly nodded as she studied the room.  Andrea let out a sigh, relieved that the bedroom met her exacting standards.

On the other side of the room was the entrance to the bath.  A large, granite countertop and double sinks covered one wall.  A brand new glass shower with a deep soaking tub sat next to it.  Off in the corner was a small walk-in closet, the perfect size for her parents.

Her mother squeezed past Andrea and stepped inside the bathroom. She reached inside her purse and pulled out a travel packet of Lysol wipes.  She peeled the sticky cover off and plucked one out. 

With wet wipe in hand, she walked over to the nearest faucet and began to wipe the handles.

“You don’t need to do that,” Andrea assured her.

Her mother paused, for just a fraction of a second, and then continued wiping.  “One can never be too careful, Andrea.”

David reached around his wife and snatched the wipe from her hand.  He crumpled it up and tossed it in the nearby trash can. “If Andrea said this place is clean, it’s clean.”

Libby Thornton gave her husband a dark look before she plucked a second wipe from the pack.  She stepped over to the other sink and began wiping.

Andrea’s shoulders sagged.  She let out an exaggerated sigh.  “Mother!  These sinks are brand new!  No one has ever used them.” She waved her hand around the room.  “Everything in this room is new, right down to the handle on the toilet.”

Her mother shook her head and continued to wipe. “Well, you can never be too careful.  After all, day laborers installed these sinks.”  She sniffed. “Heaven only knows what kinds of germs were on their hands.”

Andrea groaned inwardly.  Arguing with her mother was futile.  Andrea was convinced her mother had some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder when it came to cleanliness.  There was no sense in trying to talk her out of it.  She had no idea how her mother had made it through medical school, let alone treated her patients!

She gave her father a quick hug, reaching up to adjust the toupee on his head that had shifted and was now just a tad off-kilter.  “I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.”

Andrea looked at her mother one last time.  She and her wet wipes had moved on to the cabinet drawer pulls.

Andrea and Brutus stopped by Pierce’s room on their way downstairs.  She peeked in through the open door.  He was inside, hanging his shirts in the armoire.  “Everything up to snuff?” she teased.

Pierce paused.  “I feel like I’m on vacation,” he admitted. He hooked the hanger on the rod and turned around.  “This is a big house for just you, Andrea.”

Andrea nodded.  She’d been thinking about that.  That the house was big for just her.  She glanced down the hall in the direction of her parent’s room before she stepped inside Pierce’s room and closed the door behind her.

Pierce had always been one of Andrea’s closest confidantes.  She could tell him things she wouldn’t dream of telling her parents.  “I’ve been thinking about that.” She lowered her voice.  “What do you think if I were to open a bed and breakfast? You know, with paying guests.”

Pierce shoved his hands in his front pockets and rocked back on his heels.  The house would be perfect for that type of business – but for her to take it on all by herself?  He wasn’t so sure about that.

He opened his mouth to speak.  Andrea answered the question she knew was coming.    “Of course, I’d have to hire someone to help me run it.”

He grinned and nodded.  “Then it might work.”

She reached for the doorknob and paused.  “How’s Alice?”  Alice was her parent’s full-time housekeeper and part-time cook.  She’d been a part of the family for almost as long as Pierce.  Alice, like Pierce, held a special place in Andrea’s heart.

Pierce grabbed a shirt and slipped it over the hangar.  “That woman is as feisty as ever!”

Andrea grinned. Alice
feisty. Her parents had hired the ball of fire (as Pierce liked to call her) when Andrea was just a baby.  She was tough on the outside but like melted chocolate on the inside.  Especially when it came to Andrea.

Andrea and Brutus headed down the steps.  She glanced out the window above the front doors, her eyes resting on the large metal dumpster off to the side.  The sight of the dumpster reminded her that she needed to retrieve one of the old gaslights from the dumpster before the trash company picked it up the next morning.  One of the workers had accidentally tossed the light in the bin and later admitted to Andrea that he had mistakenly thrown it out. 

BOOK: Hope Callaghan - Garden Girls 06 - Magnolia Mansion Mysteries
10.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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