Authors: Elaine Macko
Copyright © 2016 Elaine Macko
All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
For my mother
When I started writing this series I never thought I would have eight books written—and hopefully more to come! Thank you to all the people out there, who despite the closing of bookshops and the changing times, manage to find my books giving me the encouragement to continue.
The day I decided to divorce my husband was hot and muggy. Not my favorite weather by any means, and certainly not conducive to making such a life-altering decision. Maybe if there had been a bit of a breeze, I wouldn’t have been so hasty. But I’m an impulsive person, and he, John Van der Burg, lead detective for the Indian Cove Police Department and my husband, deserved it. As a matter of fact, at that very moment I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I married the man in the first place only one short year before.
But I digress.
The day started out like any other except that I was planning a getaway to celebrate our one-year anniversary. The truth was I didn’t care where we went as long as it was on a coast. Despite living in New England all my life I had never been to Martha’s Vineyard, and I was seriously contemplating the island retreat except for the fact that I was prone to horrible seasickness. Maybe we should just stay somewhere on the Cape.
“What are you looking at?” my sister and business partner, Samantha Daniels, Sam to one and all, said from the doorway of my office. Her tone told me that she really had no interest in what I was doing. Her look told me that she needed to talk, sister to sister.
“Come on in and tell me all about it,” I said, giving her a small smile and closing down the Web site for the Vineyard I had been looking at.
Sam took a seat across from me. Her hair was pulled back into a high ponytail, and it made her look much younger than her forty-two years. My sister was a very pretty woman, but today she looked tired, and something else; maybe worried.
“Are the kids okay?” I asked and could hear the panic in my voice. My niece Kendall and nephew Henry were Sam’s two children with her husband Michael, a local dentist. I loved them with all my heart and hoped my sister’s worried look had nothing to do with either of them.
“They’re fine. Well, Kendall’s fine. Henry decided to back the car out of the garage last night and crashed into the mail box. A small dent on the car and he’s on restriction until college.”
Henry is nine.
I almost managed to stifle a laugh, which got a smile from my sister.
“Where was he going?” I asked.
“Kreuger’s. We were out of milk and he said I looked tired. He didn’t want to bother me so he thought he’d go and get it himself. Had my purse and my wallet on the seat next to him. If he wasn’t so darned tall for his age he would have never been able to reach the gas. Can you see him walking into Kreuger’s with my purse hanging off his arm?”
That got a couple of snickers out of both of us.
“Well, I’m glad the kids are okay. So, how about their mother? Henry’s right, you do look tired. What’s going on?”
I told my sister to hold on while I went to get us each a cup of tea. I had a feeling this was going to be a story that needed tea.
“Okay, sorry about that. Here you go,” I said, as I placed a mug of steaming Earl Grey in front of Sam. “Start at the beginning.”
Sam picked up her cup and leaned back in her chair. “Victor Sanjari came by a couple of nights ago to do the inspection on our new sun room.”
“Oh, right. I can’t wait to see it,” I gushed. Sam and Michael had added a new sun room off their kitchen and had used one of the best designers in the area.
“Well, you’re going to have to wait a bit longer. Victor, or Vic as he insists I call him, didn’t pass us. He said our gutter drainage wasn’t up to code. Gutter drainage. He’s gutter drainage. I knew he would pull this crap!” Sam shook her head several times causing the ponytail to swing in rapid motion behind her.
“Can’t you just get it fixed? How hard can that be?” I hadn’t seen my sister this mad since I chopped the hair off the brand new doll she got for her tenth birthday. I should have gone into hairdressing. God, how I loved chopping the hair off of dolls.
“There’s nothing to fix. The man is upset because Kendall got the lead in the school end-of-year play and his daughter wanted it. He’s a widower and ever since his wife died, God rest her soul, he lets Moshi run wild. I understand, I do. The girl lost her mother. But he’s not helping her. Kendall’s teacher said Moshi has a lot of issues and Vic is only making matters worse by letting her have her way and bullying anyone who keeps her from getting what she wants. Plus, he’s, well, he’s made a few advances toward me and I very politely told him to knock it off, but he keeps touching me whenever he’s standing close. We kind of had it out last week in front of the entire drama class. The girls were embarrassed and I felt like a fool. And again yesterday morning.”
“What happened yesterday morning?” I asked.
“I saw him when I dropped the kids off. I tried to talk to him about the inspection. I told him he was acting like a child, refusing to sign off because I turned him away. I’m married! I even got out of my car and followed him into the school. Do you know how long we’ve been living in a construction zone? I’ve had enough, but he refused to listen. Now the entire school knows all my business. Something needs to be done about that man.”
“Can’t you have another inspector come out?” I asked. My sister wasn’t the type to let someone like Vic Sanjari bother her so much. She was fully capable of letting the man have it good if he got out of line, so I had to wonder if there was something else going on.
“There’s more to all of this, isn’t there? What else is bothering you? And can’t you just let Michael handle it?”
At the mention of Michael, my sister turned her head and looked out the window onto a sweltering day.
“Michael’s never around. He’s constantly having
“What does that mean?” I asked. Michael was a great husband and father, and my sister and he were always so well suited to one another.
Sam continued to stare out the window and then I saw a tear escape down her cheek. I got up and went around to her, and knelt on the floor by her chair. I placed my hand on her arm.
“Tell me. What’s going on? Is everything okay between you and Michael?”
Sam looked at me and the tears flooded down her face. She shook her head back and forth and then looked at me again.
“No, it’s not okay and it may never be again. I think Michael is having an affair.”
I’m pretty sure my heart actually stopped when she said that. She had to be wrong. Michael wouldn’t do something like that to Sam and the kids.
“Are you sure? Sam, that doesn’t sound like Michael at all. He wouldn’t.”
“Then where is he? And someone keeps calling and he takes the call in another room.”
“Did you ask him about it?”
“Of course I did. He said it was work. What kind of calls about work can’t he take in front of me? The man is a dentist for goodness sake. He’s not a spy.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up and I let out a little gasp.
My sister rolled her eyes. “Really? That’s where you’re going with this? Alex, he’s a dentist. I know you have a crazy imagination, but he’s a dentist.”
“Maybe he is a spy. You read about this stuff all the time. Wives are the last to know. They think they married some guy working as a delivery truck driver, or dentist, and actually hubby works for the CIA. I’m telling you, it happens all the time.”
My sister patted my hand. “Thanks. I know you’re trying to make light of this, and you’re probably right. Not about the spy thing, but Michael probably is just working. I guess I need to sit him down and find out exactly what he’s up to.”
Sam went back to her office and I returned a few emails before tackling a proposal with our office manager, Millie Chapman, but my mind kept creeping back to Michael. I couldn’t believe he would cheat on my sister, but maybe he was having some sort of midlife crisis thing. Maybe I could get John to speak with him and see if we could figure this out. My poor sister. Problems with Michael, an unusable sun room, and a father from the school making inappropriate advances. No wonder she looked so tired, but things would sort themselves out. I was sure of it. I’d help her get to the bottom of things, and soon we’d all be sitting in her beautiful sunroom sipping mint juleps, whatever the heck they were.
“Alex, are you okay? We could work on this tomorrow if you’d rather.”
“What? Oh, no, I’m fine. Just thinking about some things, Millie.”
“Anything I can help with?”
Millie was one of the kindest people I knew and we were all like family here at the office, including Marla, who worked for us part time, but I didn’t think Sam would want me to share her distress with anyone. At least not now. When things were back to normal we could all laugh about it over lunch.
“No. Everything’s fine. Really. Everything will be just fine,” I said, giving Millie a bright smile. “By the end of the day, all will be right with the world.”
But like so many other things, I was dead wrong. No sooner had the words popped out of my mouth when the front door to our office opened and my husband and his partner walked in and arrested my sister.
“What? Wait. What do you think you’re doing? Leave her alone” I said to John, as I grabbed his arm.
“Alex, please. We need to speak with Sam and it’s better if we do it at the station.”
“But what is it you think she did? John, just hang on a minute. What’s going on? You can’t just come in here and drag my sister out.” I put my hands on my hips trying for an indignant stance. “Do you have a search warrant?”
John took a deep breath and I could tell he was counting to ten slowly, something he’s perfected since marrying me. “Alex, I don’t need a search warrant. I’m not searching for anything. I just want Mrs. Daniels to come with us to the police station, where I’m sure we can get this all straightened out.”
? Jeez, John, she’s your sister-in-law.”