Excerpt from: Heavenly Corners (An Annie Ryan Mystery)

A flashing light caught my eye. It was coming from across the lake near Inga’s house. Someone was walking around the yard with a bright flashlight. The light disappeared, and I watched the lights go on upstairs in Inga’s house. Someone was walking from room to room. Hmm, maybe Mags was checking for burglars. I leaned forward in my chair as I watched someone who looked an awful lot like Douglas close one set of drapes after another. It seemed he ran from room to room.

“How odd,” I mumbled and drank another gulp of wine cooler. My nerves felt steadier, but I couldn’t figure out what in the world Douglas was doing closing all the drapes in the house. Light seeped through them, and every room was lit up. The mansion looked like a lighthouse beacon sitting across the lake. Inga had been frugal, and this was more lights than I saw burning during the Christmas holidays.

My phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled it out and saw that it was Georgie.

“Hi, I wanted to call you, but I thought Paul might have had you go back to the grill to help close.”

“He would have, but he knew I went to the meeting with you. He’ll be late. Right after I left they had a tour bus stop by, and thirty-eight people ordered burgers, fries, and malts.”

I giggled at the thought of Paul and his teenage cook rushing around without Georgie. She had a way of handling customers and calming down irritated people.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Walk down to your pier and check out Inga’s house. Something weird is going on there. Every room is lit up like someone is scared of the dark.”

Paul and Georgie lived at the top of Highland Street, the highest point in Heavenly Corners. From her second-floor deck, she can see across the tops of the houses and the lake. My view was better since I was closer, but she has a pretty good view of the mansion.

“I’ve been sitting on the pier since I got home. First, someone was walking around the property with a flashlight and then the lights inside started going on. I could tell it was Douglas who was pulling the drapes closed, but I wish I knew why every light is on.” I tapped my fingers on my knee as I spoke to Georgie. It was a nervous habit I had.

Georgie whispered, “Maybe they’re looking for something.”

“You don’t have to whisper, Georgie, no one can hear you.” I smiled. “What could they be looking for?”

“Jewelry, bearer bonds, cash, or maybe a will. Maybe a newer will naming them as beneficiaries of her life insurance or maybe she changed her mind about the property and left it to them instead of the town.”

“That could be, but then they’re her only living relatives. It would make sense she left them something.”

My overly dramatic best friend and sleuth wannabe whispered again, “Maybe they killed her.”

“You watch too much TV, Georgie. Go to bed. Bring me a burger and fries for lunch tomorrow, and we’ll talk.”

“Yeah, okay. Goodnight.” Georgie said, and I could hear the exasperation in her voice.

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