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Authors: Karen Anne Golden

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Karen Anne Golden - The Cats That 03 - The Cats That Told a Fortune

BOOK: Karen Anne Golden - The Cats That 03 - The Cats That Told a Fortune
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Karen Anne Golden - The Cats That 03 - The Cats That Told a Fortune
Number III of
The Cats That Mysteries
Karen Anne Golden
Karen Anne Golden (2014)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Cats - Indiana
Mystery: Cozy - Cats - Indianattt
Autumn in Erie, Indiana, means crisp, cool days of intrigue and subterfuge. Katherine “Katz” Kendall settles into her late great aunt’s Victorian mansion with her high-spirited feline companions. What better time to host a Halloween party? Katz sets the stage with scary decorations, a fortune teller, and even a magician. Jake and Colleen join in the adventure.
Scout—a Siamese with extraordinary abilities—fang marks a “Wheel of Fortune” Tarot card. Is it because her person will soon receive millions, or does that card have a more ominous meaning? Although Iris is smitten with the magic man, it’s unclear whether he’s a lovable rogue or an opportunistic thief. Along the way, Katz and her cats uncover important clues to the identity of a serial killer, and find out about Erie’s crime family—the hard way.

 

 

 

The Cats That Told a Fortune

 

 

Karen Anne Golden

 

 

Copyright

This book or eBook is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales, persons or cats, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Edited by Vicki Braun.

Cover design by Christy Carlyle of Gilded Heart Design.

 

Copyright © 2014 Karen Anne Golden

All rights reserved.

 

ISBN-13: 978-1500268305

ISBN-10:
1500268305

 

 

Dedication

To my mom, Mildred
Maffett Golden

&

My grandmothers:

Eulah
Orvenia Sowers Maffett

&

Pearl Elizabeth Golden

 

 

 

Prologue

Mid-October

It was a crisp fall evening in the small town of Erie, Indiana. The full moon bathed the eastern side of the pink
mansion – a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1897 – in a cool, bluish light.  On Lincoln Street, the remaining maple trees that survived the tornado clung to the last of their brilliantly colored leaves.  The sidewalks and street were littered with them, and the front drainage ditch was full.  The surrounding neighbors’ front porches were seasonally decorated with bales of hay, scarecrows and Halloween carved pumpkins.  Katherine Kendall, the young heiress to the Colfax fortune, joined the fun and moved her late great aunt Orvenia’s cast-stone gargoyles from the attic to either side of the front porch landing.  She’d tied orange and black bows around the ornate, winged beasts, which now graced the mansion with a Halloween spirit. 

During the day, tourists walked up and down the street, snapping pictures of the historical homes and autumn leaves, but mostly of the pink painted lady that had become known as the “pink murder house.”  Because of the Colfax mansion’s history, and the crimes committed in the house, Erie was attracting more sightseers than usual – mostly out-of-towners heading south on U.S. 41 to attend the Covered Bridge Festival in Brook County.

After the tornado severely damaged the mansion, Katherine rented a restored bungalow.  She and her cats clung to living there as long as they could, but were forced by the terms of her great aunt’s will – a relative she had never met – to return to the pink mansion in late July.  It had been repaired and restored to its former glory.  The reconstruction of the porte cochere or carport was nearly complete.  Margie, the wife of the estate’s handyman, Cokey Cokenberger, was finishing the detailed painting of the balusters to match the four-color paint scheme. 

But life inside went
on as usual.  Katherine and her cats had finally settled in.  Abra, the tall, svelte seal-point littermate of Scout, had been performing with a famous magician in the Catskills when she was stolen years earlier and later abandoned at an animal shelter.  Now she was miraculously reunited with her sister.  Abra was adjusting well to the other felines, but still had an occasional spat with Abby, the Abyssinian, who hadn’t quite gotten used to the hyperactive newcomer.  Scout and Abra were joined at the hip like Siamese twins and didn’t leave each other’s side.  Katherine tried to change Abra’s name, but the stubborn former Hocus Pocus performer didn’t want any part of it.  So, Katz nicknamed her Shadow, but mostly called her Abra.  Lilac was happy as long as her bear was within reach.  The lilac-point Siamese was Abby’s best friend.  Visitors could usually find Lilac and Abby basking together in a sunny spot on one of the mansion’s many windowsills, or up high on one of the carved-wood window valances.  However, Iris, affectionately known as Miss Siam – a dark blue-eyed seal-point from a swanky cattery in Manhattan – was a different story.  When Abra arrived, she became depressed.  Katherine took her to the vet, Dr. Sonny.  He suspected Iris resented Abra because of her connection to Scout, who rarely made time for her old buddy.  As a result, Miss Siam became clingy to her human, and followed her everywhere. 

After great uncle William’s bones were interred in the Colfax mausoleum, the mansion seemed to be at peace with itself.  There were no ghostly intrusions in the middle of the night.  No wafts of cold, icy air when certain rooms were entered.  The cats were no longer startled by unseen forces. 

But Katherine was still troubled by a sense of foreboding that something bad was going to happen.  In four months, she would inherit millions from the Colfax estate.  She was well on her way to meeting the requirement of caring for her great aunt’s cat, Abby.  She should be on top of the world.  Close friends were okay.  The cats were fine.  She was dating a wonderful man.  Yet she was overcome with apprehension.

*
              *              *

Earlier that
evening, somewhere south of the pink mansion, Brook County sheriff’s deputies found the lifeless body of a young woman.  She was the first victim of a serial killer.  More would follow in what became known as the Festival Murders.

Chapter One

On this cold fall evening, in the pink mansion’s living room, Katherine and Jake sat in matching wingback chairs.  It was their weekend movie night.  Katherine had picked the last movie, so it was Jake’s turn.  He chose a recent release zombie movie.  Katherine wasn’t too keen on watching it, but cradling Iris in her arms made it easier.  Jake sat holding two cats, one in the crook of each arm.  Every time the volume got louder and the action grew more violent, Abby and Lilac would bury their heads in his arms.  Scout and Abra were elsewhere in the mansion, doing their routine reconnaissance to explore every nook and cranny of the old house.  They had already made one sweep, but began all over again, trotting shoulder-to-shoulder and looking like mirror images.  A nearby kitchen timer went off, which announced intermission and snack time. 

When Jake started to get up, Lilac and Abby jumped to the floor.  They both stretched, then launched from the floor to the fireplace mantel to the window valance, where they watched their persons below. 

“Do you want pizza or chips?” Jake asked.  “I brought one of those mini-pizzas I can nuke.”

“Chips would be nice.  I’d help you,” Katherine said, then added innocently, “but I’m very busy right now with Iris.”

“Oh, I can see that,” Jake said with an amused glint in his eye.  He walked to the kitchen and returned with potato chips, French onion dip, nachos and melted cheese.  “Here’s a pop,” he said, handing her a Diet Coke.  When he put the nachos on the side table, Iris bolted off Katherine’s lap, snatched a chip, and ran out of the room.

“Hey, you rascal, come back here,” Jake called to the feline thief.

Katherine giggled.  “She doesn’t eat it.  She just licks the salt off.  I’ll get it tomorrow with the Hoover,” she said, then asked, “Before we go back to the movie, can we talk about the Halloween party?”

“Oh, good idea,” Jake said, sitting down.  “What day is it?”

“October 25th – it’s a Saturday.”

“Well, that’s good, because I may have to proctor an exam on the 24th.”

Katherine smiled, happy that Jake was back doing what he loved – after taking a sabbatical from the university to deal with his late wife’s fatal cancer – and was now getting back on track with his life.

“I hope Colleen and Mario are coming, so I can finally meet them,” Jake said.

Katherine took a sip of her drink.  “Colleen is coming, but not Mario.  They broke up.  She’s bringing her brother, Jacky.”

“When did that happen?” Jake asked curiously.

“Just a few days ago.  I didn’t mention it because I thought they were just having a lovers’ quarrel.”

“Sounds like
drama.  What happened?”

“Without warning, Mario announced he was moving back to Italy.  He asked Colleen to go with him, but when he didn’t propose, she said ‘no.’
Without a wedding ring on her finger, Colleen told him she didn’t want to leave the States.  She’s devastated.”

“The fool should have asked her to marry him,” Jake commented.  “Who else is on the invitation list?”

“Cokey and Margie.  Professor Watson.”

“Oh, Wayne asked if he could bring his new girlfriend.”

“Is she into metal detecting, too?” Katherine asked, remembering the tall professor who was a dead ringer for Buddy Holly, and how he found a million dollars in gold coins.

“I haven’t met her, but he talks about her all the time.  Her name is Leslie.  I’ll get her address for the invitation.”

“Perfect!  I also have Michelle Pike, from the library, on the list.  Since Beatrice is behind bars, we’ve become good friends.”

“It’s just my opinion, but should it be boy-girl, boy-girl
?  How old is Colleen’s brother?” Jake asked.

“Boy-girl?
  I’ve never heard of that before,” Katherine said, slightly amused.  “Jacky’s in his early thirties.”

“Well, that leaves Michelle out, because she’s too young.”

“What are we running here – a dating service?  Michelle is older than she looks.  She’s twenty-four.  Sometimes women like older men,” Katherine said, tongue-in-cheek.

“Oh, that’s a good one,” Jake teased.  He pointed at William Colfax’s portrait hanging next to the fireplace.  “Wasn’t he eighty-something when he married your great aunt Orvenia?  And wasn’t she seventeen?”

Katherine smirked, “Yes, Professor.”

“It’s not like we’re pairing them off, but my cousin from Shaleville would love to come.  You’ll meet him next week wh
en we go to the Covered Bridge Festival in Brook County.”

“What’s his name?”

“Daryl.  One of the many Cokenbergers in this neck of the woods.”

“Does he look like you?” Katherine inquired with a sly smile. 

Jake reached over and pinched her arm.  “Daryl’s twenty-five.  He’s got blond hair and blue eyes.”

“He sounds handsome.”

“The women love him,” Jake said enticingly.

“Oh, really?” she asked, “and why is that?”

“Because he’s a Cokenberger,” Jake announced, having fun.

“Too funny.
  I know Colleen is beside herself in boyfriend drama, but keeping with your boy-girl equation, maybe they’ll hit it off, or just be friends.”

“Matchmaker,” he teased.  “Speaking of friends, are you inviting Mark?” Jake asked.

“I’m not sure yet. Last time I talked to him, he said he was super busy with his law practice.  I haven’t seen him since the last distribution from the estate,” she said, then hesitated.  “He’ll probably want to see Colleen while she’s in town.”

“How long is she going to stay?”

“This I don’t know.  I hope a couple of weeks.”

A loud crash came from the adjoining room. 

Katherine flung herself out of the chair and hurried to investigate.  Jake followed her.  Scout or Abra – probably both – had knocked off a box of Halloween party decorations that was on the marble-top curio cabinet.  Abra had tugged out a cat-size purple cape and was racing around the room with it clutched in her V-shaped jaw.  Scout chased after her, but wasn’t fast enough to catch the fleeing feline.

Jake was too busy laughing to catch Abra, who flew up the stairs lickety-split. 

Katherine said, “This would be a great picture for the cover of the invitation!”  She grabbed her smartphone and began snapping photos. 

Jake said, “I’ll grab her and put the cape on her.” 

“Good luck,” Katherine said, under her breath.

The incredibly fast Siamese ran from room-to-room with Jake at her heels.  Finally he caught her and held her for a minute, talking to her in a soft voice.  “Raw,” Abra replied sweetly. 

Abra was used to being dressed up in costume, so she didn’t resist when Jake put the cape on her.  Instead of fleeing the scene like the other cats would have, she stood tall, with her triangular, wedge-shaped face pointing up in a regal manner. 

Katherine hurriedly snapped several more photos. 

Scout became jealous of Abra getting attention, so she muttered something in ‘Siamese’ and snatched the cape off Abra. 

Katherine took a picture of that as well, and then picked up Scout and gave her a kiss on th
e back of her neck.  “Magic cat,” she said affectionately.

Scout wriggled out of her arms and hopped back into the Halloween party box.

“Scout, I really need to put the box away,” Katherine mildly scolded.

“Waugh,” Scout
complained.  Pawing through the box, the inquisitive Siamese found a deck of Tarot cards.  She clenched the deck in her teeth and leapt out.  As Scout shook the box, the cards spilled out.  With lightning speed, Abra started scattering them on the floor.  The glossy cards slid easily on the carpet, so Scout and Abra launched into a game of card hockey.  Lilac and Abby heard the commotion, launched from their valance perch, and joined in the fun.

Jake stifled a laugh, “I guess this means you need to hire a fortune teller.”

“Where am I going to find a fortune teller in Erie?”  Katherine wrinkled her nose and smiled.

Jake shrugged.
“Angie’s list?   Google search?”

Scout dropped a
fang-punctured card on Katherine’s shoe.

Reaching down, Katherine picked it up and observed, “It’s the Wheel of Fortune card.”

“Does that mean you’re going to be on TV?” Jake asked facetiously.

“It looks like it has a sphinx on it,” she said to Jake, and then to Scout, “Is that why you picked it, sweetie, because of the sphinx?”

“Ma-waugh,” Scout said indifferently.

“I’ll have to go online and look up what it means,” Katherine said.  “Okay, let’s get back to the movie.”

When Jake and Katherine walked into the living room, they gasped.  Iris had dumped the bowl of nacho chips and spread them throughout the large room. 

Iris sat innocently on Katherine’s chair. 

Jake joked, “I guess she had her own game of hockey.” 

Katherine said, “I’ll get the Hoover!”

“I’ll get more chips,” Jake answered.

BOOK: Karen Anne Golden - The Cats That 03 - The Cats That Told a Fortune
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