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I ROLLED OFF ADELE AND SAT UP. TEN PAIRS OF eyes were all on me, mostly with a look of concern attached. Only Adeles eyes had the additional flare that implied shed like to do me bodily harm.

Of course, when I looked toward the door, no one was there. Sorry everyone, I said, getting up. I needed to think fast and give an explanation for my actions. Just a little emergency drill. I held up the rhinestone clipboard which had gone down with me. Its one of the duties that go along with having this. Thankfully, nobody questioned what kind of emergency it was a drill for, and they all began to get up.

No problem getting Adele to talk to me now. She didnt resist when I led her to the corner of the room. The rest of the group went back to their seats, and Sheila took a few deep breaths and resumed helping them.

I quickly told Adele what Id overheard and mentioned seeing the woman at the doorway. When Adele rolled her eyes in disbelief, I called Sheila over to back up my story.

Now youre pulling Sheila into your investigations? Adele said, giving us both a hopeless look. You overheard who? As I began the second telling of the story, even though Id been there and heard what Spensers companion had said, it sounded ridiculous. Why would anybody want to shoot Adele unless it was the fashion police? As I tried to explain who everyone was and what I thought they might have done, it got too convoluted and I gave up. Never mind, I said walking away. Youre on your own.

Theres nothing like a little yelling with a few screams thrown in to attract a crowd. As I exited, I walked into a bunch of people who were straining to look in the doorway. Dinah pushed her way through the onlookers with her aquamarine scarf flying in the breeze. The woman with the turquoise earrings rushed past her and stopped next to me.

Was that part of the mystery weekend? She glanced around. Is there another body somewhere were supposed to find?

How many ways could I tell that woman there was no mystery game? I repeated that the weekend activities didnt include a mystery game. She was one of Dinahs writers, and my friend urged her to rejoin the others.

I waved to the onlookers and said everything was fine and they should go back to their workshops. Dinah glanced toward her people clustered on the path and stepped closer to me.

We were on our way to the deck by the social hall for another outdoor writing exercise. What happened? She turned away and called out to her writers to go on ahead and to pick out a tree and describe it. Okay, tell me everything, and dont leave out any details.

I started with what Id found out about Izabelle.

So, Izabelle was a twin, Dinah said, her eyes sparkling with interest. A twin who didnt like being a twin. No doubt that was why she made herself over. That would end her being a mirror image of someone. Izabelle probably isnt her real name, either.

I moved on to what Id overheard, along with possibly saving Adeles life.

Hmm, so Mr. Futtermans charm was as fake as mine, she said. If he thinks hes going to keep me around to pump more information from- She stopped. All I talked about was Adele stepping into Izabelles shoes. Dinah stopped and seemed worried. I hope it isnt something I said that made them want to shoot Adele.

What did you tell him? I asked.

Maybe I did say something about Adele thinking Izabelle had stolen her work.

I shrugged it off. It doesnt matter. Adele wouldnt listen to me when I tried to warn her.

What about calling Sergeant French and telling him about the threat?

I couldnt even explain it to Adele without realizing how ridiculous it sounds. So, no, Im not going to call Sergeant French. He already thinks Im nuts.

Dinah squeezed my hand in support and then went on to catch up with her writers. By then the onlookers had realized there was nothing to see and the path was deserted. The air was silvery with the morning haze and the light was flat. I didnt even have my shadow as company as I walked down the path away from the low building housing the crochet and knitting meeting rooms.

I clutched the rhinestone clipboard to my chest and hung my head. That last little fiasco wasnt helping my image as the person in charge. I thought coming up with the emergency drill excuse was pretty creative, though, and people seemed to buy it. At least the workshops all seemed to be a success. I sighed. But time was running out to figure out who killed Izabelle. There was just lunch, the afternoon sessions, and the last night party. After breakfast the next morning everyone would start to scatter, and Sergeant French would probably give up and say an unknown person may have been on the beach with Izabelle.

I walked up the hill to the Lodge building. Even the smell of pine trees and the air fresh off the ocean didnt cheer me up. Somebody was going to get away with murder if I didnt get going.

The housekeepers had finished their duties and were rolling their cart down the first-floor hall as I came in. The building was quiet as I walked up the stairs and down the hall toward my room. When I got inside, I sat down on the bed and checked my cell phone, which was now fully charged. Id been in a hurry when I dropped it off and hadnt checked my voice mail, but now I had time. Three calls from Barry, starting late last night and ending early this morning. Hed sounded more and more upset with each message. I punched in his number and held my breath.

Greenberg, he answered in his all-business voice. As soon as he heard it was me, his voice softened only as long as it took to say my name, then it went right to agitated.

Where were you? he demanded. Or should I say who were you with?

I was snug in my bed alone, I said, rolling my eyes. My phones battery ran down and I didnt realize it until this morning.

There was silence on his end and I knew he was evaluating what Id said. One of the drawbacks of being involved with a cop is that hes used to dealing with people who dont always tell the truth. By now I knew what he was waiting for. Would I gush forth with too many details? Like saying Id had my phone where I couldnt see it and therefore had missed its flashing screen before it shut down, and talking about what time I went to bed and what time Id gotten up and how quiet the room was, since I was all alone? Too many details spelled cover-up to him.

Two could play that game, so I just said nothing until he finally spoke, apparently accepting my excuse as being true.

Babe, I just want you to know I had nothing to do with your new residents.

Whoa, I said, what are you talking about?

The two cats.

I asked the obvious question. What two cats?

The story unfolded that when Barry had stopped by the first time to let the dogs out and make sure everything was okay, there had been two cats sleeping on a lounge chair in the backyard. But when hed come by late last night, the cats had been inside and there were some cat bowls, cat food, a cat box and even some cat toys on the floor in my crochet room, which, according to Barry, seemed to have become cat central. And as far as he could tell, all my yarn was okay, but then who could tell, since it always seemed to be all over the place?

Cats? What kind of cats? I said as visions of a yarn nightmare danced through my mind.

They look like the regular kind to me. One of them is black and white and the other is kind of gray. Im guessing they have something to do with the stuff accumulating in your front hall. Did I mention there were some chairs along with the cartons?

You mentioned cat bowls and cat food separately. Is there some cat food in the cat bowls and some water? You said a cat box, too, right?

Dont worry. Everybody seems to have lots of whatever they need.

Ill have to deal with everything when I get back. A little weariness crept into my voice and Barry picked up on it immediately.

Not much fun without me, is it? he said in a teasing voice.

No, I said, and meant it.

Barry laughed. So Mason isnt keeping you amused? He sounded all too happy when I mentioned Mason was gone for the day to his family event. I didnt say anything about Izabelles death or my investigation. I should have figured that was the same as giving too many details when you were trying to cover up a lie. It was like a red flag to Barry.

Okay, Molly, lets put all the cards on the table, Barry said at last. Whats going on with your crochet instructors death?

I tried to say nothing, but Barry used his whole arsenal of investigating tricks, from Youll feel better if you tell me the whole story to saying that maybe he could help straighten things out.

The funny thing was, it did feel good to tell him the whole story, at first, anyway. He listened patiently as I gave him all the details. Almost all the details. I left out tackling Adele.

Now what in that makes you so sure someone killed the woman? he asked in an understanding voice, which surprised me. When Id gotten involved in investigating other murders, hed been far more disturbed and irrational. Maybe because those were in his jurisdiction, or maybe because he was trying a new tactic to deal with me-being reasonable.

Molly, it sounds like Sergeant French and his people have it covered. He still sounded calm. You were so worried about being in charge this weekend. Wouldnt it be better if you spent your time on the retreat and trust the cop to do his job?

Not a chance.

CHAPTER 19 | A Stitch In Crime | CHAPTER 21