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CHAPTER 13

PINK, I NEED TO TALK TO YOU. THIS IS URGENT, Adele said, stopping at the registration table. The lunch bell was ringing, and Dinah and I were just getting ready to leave; we had put up a sign saying to see me in the dining hall. Adele was outdoing herself. In the short time since Id agreed to let her run the crochet workshops, she had let it go completely to her head. She didnt seem to care about the rhinestone clipboard anymore. She was too busy trying to order me around. Now that she was a presenter, her inner diva had kicked in. I had to keep telling myself not to let her get under my skin and to remember that she was crochet family.

I need Izabelles supplies for the first workshop. Adele was glancing around at the people congregated in the administration building with a newfound air of importance. Shed even changed her clothes. Her outfit could best be described as purple haze. The long sweater, the pants, and even her suede boots were shades of the color. Shed topped off the outfit with a crocheted royal purple beanie. Then, just to be sure she had enough color, shed added ropes of large crocheted beads in yellow, orange and fuchsia.

I knew exactly where the supplies were. Id seen the boxes piled in Izabelles room, each marked for a different session. But after my talk with Sergeant French I felt uneasy about going in the room, and even more uneasy about taking anything out of it.

When I hesitated, Adele grew agitated. Whats the holdup? You cant expect me to conduct the classes if I have nothing to work with. Adele let out a sigh of displeasure, and Dinah looked like she was ready to punch Adele.

Hey, Dinah said, who died and made you queen? Then Dinahs eyes opened wide in horror as she realized the truth in what shed said. Oops, bad choice of words.

In the meantime Id come up with a solution. I did as Sergeant French had told me and called Izabelles ex. The sheet with his number was in the file box under the table. I almost wanted to call Barry and tell him what Id done, just to show him I wasnt going to get in trouble this time.

Once I reached Zak Landers, I expressed my condolences and explained the situation; it turned out he was fine with us going in her room. I also found out he was her third husband and she didnt like people to know she was allergic to peanuts because it made her seem less than perfect.

Use whatever you want, he said. And if you wouldnt mind packing the stuff up at the end of the weekend, Ill arrange to pick it up. He sighed. I dont know why she put me down as her emergency contact. She has a sister, you know. I dont even know her name. In the years we were together, they never had any contact. He seemed to be half talking to himself as he mumbled something about how he was trying to get in touch with the sister. Then he hung up.

I might as well get the stuff before lunch, I said, putting away my cell phone and grabbing my purse.

Im coming with you, Dinah said. As long as he gave us carte blanche, Im checking my e-mails.

Hey, wait for me. Adele rushed to keep up with us. Say, Pink, Ive been meaning to ask you. When you were at the hospital with Izabelle, did you happen to notice what they did with the white choker?

I turned back to Adele as we walked up the low hill to Lodge. After you made that ridiculous remark to Sergeant French, I thought back to when we found Izabelle on the beach and remembered she wasnt wearing the choker.

When we got to Izabelles room, all three of us tried to go through the door at once, but Dinah, being the smallest, pushed in ahead.

As long as Izabelles ex said to use anything, Dinah said, going right for the laptop. I headed for the boxes Id noticed before. I turned to show them to Adele, but she was busy sorting through the bag of incidentals Izabelle had set by the sink.

Heres the container she used for the beginning crochet session. She must have brought it back here after the workshop and before she went to the beach. I moved to look through it, but Adele beat me to it and I watched as she pulled out skeins of different kinds of yarn with descriptions attached to them. And a bunch of swatches that showed different stitches. Izabelle had made a stack of handouts, too, with instructions for single, double, half-double, and triple crochet. When Adele got to the hooks and samples of some bigger items, Dinah got my attention.

She got another e-mail from that sponsor person. I went and stood behind Dinah, reading over her shoulder. It said Dont do something youll regret. Lets talk about it. As before it was signed Tom, ITA sponsor.

Do you suppose we should send him an e-mail and tell him what happened to her? Dinah said, and I asked her to go back to the other e-mail wed seen. In a moment she had it on the screen. I read it and reread it. It had warned her not to do anything without talking to him.

I wonder if she did whatever he was warning her not to, I said, staring at the message.

We could e-mail him, tell him what happened, and ask him, Dinah suggested.

Adele had moved on to going through the things on the night table.

What are you doing? I asked. Adele looked up at me with her storm cloud expression.

I thought as long as I was here, Id see if I could find the choker. She stepped back, and her elbow hit an open zippered case on top of the dresser. It hit the floor and the contents fell out. Adele moved on to look through the things on the nightstand while I retrieved everything and put it back. I noticed a small, clear plastic case holding a pair of green contacts. I showed them to Dinah.

Oh, so her eyes werent really green, Adele said as I took the case back and put it with the other stuff. The woman was a fake. I cant believe I thought she was so great.

Dinah pulled a copy of A Subtle Touch of Crochet out of the top box and thumbed through it. She stopped at the photo of Izabelle and examined it.

Adele looked at the picture from a distance. Look at those cheekbones. I bet theyre fake. Maybe her chin as well. For sure the nose-and her lips, oh please. She tossed her head in disgust. I thought it might just be Adeles anger speaking, but when I looked at the photo, I had to agree.

Its as if she totally made herself over. I wonder what she looked like before all the work, I said. I glanced at the photo again, this time checking out the surroundings. It appeared to have been taken in Izabelles craft room.

Thats how I want my crochet room to look, I said, pointing.

Dinah looked and laughed. I bet they just fixed it up for the photo. She probably had grocery bags of yarn all over the place, like the rest of us. And blankets that just need the fringe, along with shawls waiting for the ends to be woven in. The doll and those stuffed bears are just in there for show.

Adele had found the manuscript pages and made a loud squeal when she read the title.

The Needle and the Hook, she said in disbelief. Thats what her fusion craft is. I cant believe what a traitor she was on top of everything else. And not even that original. Other people have mixed knitting and crochet. But then I know she wasnt really original. She stole my work. She probably stole other peoples, too. With that Adele began rummaging anew.

Thats it, ladies, I said closing the book and putting it back in the box. Time to go.

The dining hall was buzzing when we got there. I had stowed Adeles box by the registration materials in the administration building. Dinah and Adele went to different tables and found seats. I had asked the presenters to spread themselves around and more or less host their table. I was too tense to sit and circulated around, making sure everything was going okay.

Adele started talking crochet before she even hit the seat and was polling the people at her table to find out if they were crochet novices or experienced. She was using her hat and beads as examples of crochet embellishment.

Jym and Jeen Wolf, the knitting couple, were holding court at another table. The jeans and tucked-in tee shirts with clever sayings seemed to be their uniform. Jym appeared very animated and friendly. I envied their perfect posture. They passed around a mint green baby sweater as the iced tea circulated the other way. They both nodded a greeting as I passed. Jeen snagged me and whispered that Sergeant French had stopped her on the way to lunch to ask her a few questions about where she was during the smore time and what her relationship with Izabelle was. Hes convinced somebody was on the beach with her. Cant you do something to get whoever it was to come forward, so he leaves the rest of us alone? I told her Id see what I could do.

Mason greeted me as I reached his table. I wondered if his tablemates had any idea of his day job. The kimono-style jacket and loose cotton pants hardly looked like lawyer wear. I heard a snippet of the conversation, which seemed to be about yoga versus tai chi. In yoga, Mason explained, you hold a pose, while in tai chi, which incidentally is a martial art, you flow through poses almost like a slow-motion dance. Breathing is important in both of them. It was obvious that Mason was serious about the tai chi. He really did make an effort to balance his life.

Dinah seemed even more energized as she talked to the group at her table. Her spiky salt-and-pepper hair seemed to exemplify her enthusiasm. She had been so excited about this weekend and working with people who wanted to be there instead of her usual freshmen who had to be present. I doubted she even noticed me go by.

Bennett had everyone at his table laughing. As I got close enough to hear what was going on, he was finishing an anecdote about his show. His group seemed to be hanging on every word. Not a big surprise, really; he was an actor, and being able to tell a good story was a given.

Sheila was at the last table. I felt for her when I saw the way her eyebrows were knit together. Being the host was not her kind of activity. But then this weekend had turned out to be a lot different than shed expected. It was supposed to be a change from her busy life. But rooming with Adele and now helping her with the workshops were all pressure. Hesitantly, she showed off the scarf in shades of blues and lavender she was wearing. I knew right away it was one shed made. The dreamy look similar to an Impressionist painting was as good as a trademark. It was no wonder she sold so many. Each one was different and exquisite. Miss Lavender Pants looked over from Bennetts table and almost drooled over the scarf.

I leaned against the partition that separated the entrance area from the dining room after I passed Commander Blaines table. He was demonstrating how to make a swan out of one of the cloth napkins while talking about his workshop and how much fun it was going to be. He had everyone at the table abandoning their food and following along. I watched as he bustled around the table, coaching the napkin folders.

I was distracted by a ruckus at Adeles table and went over to investigate. I thought Izabelle Landers was supposed to be here, a woman said to me as I approached.

I sighed and tried to explain in a concerned, hushed voice, but Id said the same thing so many times it was impossible not to make it come out like a recording. The womans eyes widened with distress.

What about her world premiere workshop? I love her Subtle Touch of Crochet and I was so looking forward to her new fusion craft. What with the fog delaying everything, this weekend just isnt like the other years.

Trust me, youre not missing a thing, Adele interjected. I gave her a sharp look and took over.

What Adele means is that the workshops she and Sheila are going to put on will be so exceptional you wont feel like you missed anything. The woman accepted the comment and Adele stared at me with her mouth open.

Pink, thanks for the vote of confidence. You really mean it, right?

I muttered a positive answer as I glanced up and looked out the window. I noticed the housekeeping crew pushing their cart down the walkway. I might be only an amateur sleuth, but I wasnt giving up investigating. What was it Sergeant French had said when he was trying to convince me that the shadow in Izabelles room had been a crow? After the alleged bird had knocked the manuscript pages under the bed, he thought the cleaning crew had found them when they were doing the room and put them in an orderly stack on the night table.

Well, now was my chance to check it out. I left the dining hall and caught up with the crew down the walkway.

Excuse me, but which of you did the rooms in Lodge? I said. The group eyed me warily before two women put up their hands in acknowledgment. I suppose they were expecting me to complain or accuse them of something.

I did my best to short-circuit that fear by thanking them for the nice job on my room. The tension left their faces and they smiled.

I wanted to ask you about another room. It had a stack of plastic containers with a lot of yarn.

One of the women nodded. The one with the already made bed. Yes.

I didnt want to tell her it was more accurately not slept in, because the resident was dead, so I just nodded as an answer.

Did you find a lot of papers under the bed and put them on the night table?

One of the women nodded. Papers? You mean like a stack about this big? She held her thumb and forefinger out in a space that would hold maybe one hundred sheets, in the ballpark of what I was asking about.

I attempted to keep the surprise out of my face. Maybe I was going to owe Sergeant French a mental apology. You found them under the bed?

And maybe not.

She shook her head. I didnt find them anywhere. I get it. This is a setup. Youre trying to get me to incriminate myself. I didnt let that man in the room even though he said he just wanted to drop something off. I took the pile of papers from him. Id already picked some off the floor and put them on the night table. I just added the ones he gave me to them.

Some guy brought the papers?

Okay, I know its against the rules. Were not supposed to let anyone in without having them show us their key. And I didnt let him in, the housekeeper said. The rest of her group had started to move on, and she looked like she was planning to join them.

I had to come up with something to get more details. Think fast, I ordered myself, mentally running through the table of contents of the Average Joe book. What it said was that sometimes the basic truth worked best.

Wait, I said as she turned to join the rest of the crew. The room Im talking about. Well, that woman is dead. She died on the beach yesterday.

The girls face fell and she seemed in more of a hurry to leave, so I started to talk faster. Everybody thinks it was an accident, that she was allergic to the peanut butter in the gourmet smores.

Peanut butter in smores? Ive never heard of that. There is a lot of smore business up here. Every group seems to make them in the fire circle, but they just go the usual way. So, she got sick from the campfire treats and- She shrugged.

I think she might have had help eating them and Im investigating. So finding out who the man with the papers is is important.

The girls mouth quivered. You mean like in that old TV show where that woman who lived in Vermont or somewhere always was smarter than the cops?

Sort of like that. As I watched the quiver turn into a giggle, I got annoyed. Ill have you know I have successfully investigated a number of murders.

Okay, sure, she said in a patronizing tone. I got to go. I dont know who the guy was. I dont keep track of guests names.

I took her arm and eased her up the path toward the dining hall. If you could just have a look inside and tell me if you see him.

No way, she said, pulling away from me. It occurred to me that sometimes you had to pay for information, so I offered to give her the tip that Izabelle might have left. The girl snatched the ten-dollar bill.

Im not going in, but Ill look through the window. She leaned toward the windowed wall and I pointed toward our group and asked if she saw the man. She just kept shaking her head, and I suddenly had the feeling that was all she was going to do even if she saw him. There was nothing in it for her to give him up.

I was about to let her go when the door to the dining hall opened and some people walked out. The movement drew her eyes to the group. The Average Joes Guide to Criminal Investigation had a whole section on observing peoples responses. Some were involuntary, like your pupils got bigger when you liked something, whether you wanted to admit it or not. And some were under your control, but still automatic, like the way the housekeeper straightened suddenly as she looked at one of the exiters.

Thats him, isnt it? I said softly.

What was Spenser Futterman doing with Izabelles manuscript?


CHAPTER 12 | A Stitch In Crime | CHAPTER 14