Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bad News from Walter's Father...from "Murder in Half Moon Bay"

I'll be posting a chapter from "Murder in Half Moon Bay" every day until the end of the month. Enjoy!




CHAPTER 10



Teddy and I arrived back from a walk and I slipped on the terry slippers provided by the hotel.

Time for some notes. There was no way to remember all of this without an external brain of sorts.

Taking a hotel tablet, pen in hand, I made entries: 



1)   Friday-11:00 a.m. Regina was in Spencer’s room–in bed together?

2)   Paul Youngblood overheard to say, “Everything is ready. Tomorrow then?”

3)   Friday-5:11 p.m. overheard a woman say, “I hate you,” and “I’ll kill you if you do.”

4)   Regina said she didn’t get along with Spencer Hausman–he plagiarized her articles. Spencer has a hold over her–what?

5)   Paul Youngblood said Regina had a man in her life–who?

6)   Celeste Osborne called Spencer Hausman a weasel–why?

7)   Walter Montoya says $8,000 is missing from the nursery business–who took it and why?

8)   Spencer Hausman worked for Thomas and Evelyn Westover.

9)   Saturday-2:15 p.m. someone was in the room with Regina, laughing–a different person than one she was yelling at?



I put the notes in my purse feeling like Jessica Fletcher in a “Murder She Wrote” episode. Could this be real?

 I shivered involuntarily. Someone must have hated Regina a great deal to strangle her like that. Could it have been love? Love turned to hate?  

The chief said the entire hotel staff could account for their whereabouts at the time of the murder. There were no records of calls or room service from Regina’s room at that time of the morning. No one saw or heard anything unusual in the hallway or outside her window. There was no forced entry.

Who would do such a thing? I wondered.

Well, anymore thinking would have to wait. It was time to meet my garden club for lunch. Teddy was still fast asleep, so I brushed my hair, reapplied my lipstick, and walked down the long hallway toward the elevators. The door to one of them opened and Hugh Porter stepped out.

“Hello, Jillian, how are you holding up?” He clasped my arm.

“I’m okay. Thanks for asking, Hugh.” Honestly, I was glad to have him there. Kindness and warmth emanated from him and I simply couldn’t picture him strangling Regina and throwing her body over the balcony.

No, not possible

Besides, Regina never gave Hugh the time of day. I wondered how well they knew each other.

“Hugh.” I played it casually. “Did you know Regina very well?”

Hugh removed his hand from my arm and looked straight into my eyes. “I knew Regina about as well as most of the conferees. The first time I even spoke to her was when I talked to her on the phone when she engaged me for this conference.”

“So before that, you didn’t have any knowledge of her at all?”

“Well, I knew who she was because I knew her parents through their nursery business. But, like I said, I never actually met her.”

“So you knew her father?”

He glanced at his watch. “Jillian, I’m already ten minutes late for a luncheon engagement and I need something from my room. Let’s talk later. Let me know a good time for you. I must be going.”





***



Walter, Jr. brought my Jeep around. He looked distracted. Mr. Ibarra had to speak to him twice in order to get his attention.

“What’s wrong, Walter?” I felt sympathy for the young man’s obvious distress.

“My father was fired, Mrs. Bradley.”

“Listen, Walter. I can’t talk now, but I’ll go see him. Trust me, okay?”

“Okay, Mrs. Bradley, but I think it’s too late for anyone to help.” He opened the car door for me and I got in.  

“Don’t give up on me, Walter, and don’t give up on your father. It’s going to be okay.”

Walter tightened his lips then looked down and nodded his head in agreement.



***



People were standing in line to get in at the Distillery. Fortunately, my garden club already had a table overlooking the ocean. The server had my description and took me over to them, then handed me a menu.

 “Hi, ladies.” I took my seat. “Sorry I’m a little late. I got to chatting with Hugh Porter as I left. Have you ordered yet?”

Ann spoke for the group. “Yes, we did. We knew this wasn’t exactly going to be a relaxing lunch.”

I smiled. “Thanks.”

The server returned and took my order for a Shrimp Louie. I thought that would take the least amount of preparation, and I knew the shrimp would be fresh and delicious.

I took a sip of ice water with a slice of lemon. I was famished! It seemed like eons ago since I’d eaten. Still, I wanted to get the details as soon as possible.

“How did everything go?” 

Nicole smirked. “I talked to Celeste Osborne in the Club Room. She and Spencer Hausman had just finished a conversation when I came in. Spencer looked upset when he left. I reintroduced myself and she stiffly acknowledged having dinner together last night. I asked her how long she’d known Regina.”

“Nothing like getting to the point, Nicole.” I was pleased with her initiative. “And what did she say?”

“Only that she worked with Regina on Society matters, like whom to contact for speaking engagements at their monthly meetings. Celeste is president of the Society, you know.”

I thought for a moment, then nodded. “I do remember reading it in the brochure credits.”

Nicole took a sip of her iced tea, and continued, “Regina was the program chairman.” She shrugged, “That’s it. That’s all she told me. She actually dismissed me, saying ‘Later, darling,’ as she left.”

Dominique cut in. “My turn. Ann said you wanted us to keep an eye on Spencer Hausman too. I saw him in the Fireside Room having a talk with Thomas. I guess Evelyn was in town with Marianne.”

Ann chimed in. “I have some news on those two after you’re finished, Dominique.”

I didn’t have much time before I had to meet with the chief, so I cocked my head, took a bite of shrimp covered with Thousand Island dressing, and motioned for Dominique to continue.  

“I don’t think they noticed me coming in because they didn’t even look up. I sat as unobtrusively as possible, straining to overhear their conversation.”

Nicole prompted, “And….”

“And,” Dominique continued, “Thomas said, ‘You’re going to have to get over it. Regina meant a lot to me too.’”

I thought for a minute. “That’s a funny way to describe a relationship, don’t you think?”

Dominique leaned toward the table and spoke in her quietest voice. “Quite a story. They both loved her. Either one could have killed her in a fit of jealousy. How on earth can we be sure which one?”



Teddy and I arrived back from a walk and I slipped on the terry slippers provided by the hotel.

Time for some notes. There was no way to remember all of this without an external brain of sorts.

Taking a hotel tablet, pen in hand, I made entries: 



1)   Friday-11:00 a.m. Regina was in Spencer’s room–in bed together?

2)   Paul Youngblood overheard to say, “Everything is ready. Tomorrow then?”

3)   Friday-5:11 p.m. overheard a woman say, “I hate you,” and “I’ll kill you if you do.”

4)   Regina said she didn’t get along with Spencer Hausman–he plagiarized her articles. Spencer has a hold over her–what?

5)   Paul Youngblood said Regina had a man in her life–who?

6)   Celeste Osborne called Spencer Hausman a weasel–why?

7)   Walter Montoya says $8,000 is missing from the nursery business–who took it and why?

8)   Spencer Hausman worked for Thomas and Evelyn Westover.

9)   Saturday-2:15 p.m. someone was in the room with Regina, laughing–a different person than one she was yelling at?



I put the notes in my purse feeling like Jessica Fletcher in a “Murder She Wrote” episode. Could this be real?

 I shivered involuntarily. Someone must have hated Regina a great deal to strangle her like that. Could it have been love? Love turned to hate?  

The chief said the entire hotel staff could account for their whereabouts at the time of the murder. There were no records of calls or room service from Regina’s room at that time of the morning. No one saw or heard anything unusual in the hallway or outside her window. There was no forced entry.

Who would do such a thing? I wondered.

Well, anymore thinking would have to wait. It was time to meet my garden club for lunch. Teddy was still fast asleep, so I brushed my hair, reapplied my lipstick, and walked down the long hallway toward the elevators. The door to one of them opened and Hugh Porter stepped out.

“Hello, Jillian, how are you holding up?” He clasped my arm.

“I’m okay. Thanks for asking, Hugh.” Honestly, I was glad to have him there. Kindness and warmth emanated from him and I simply couldn’t picture him strangling Regina and throwing her body over the balcony.

No, not possible

Besides, Regina never gave Hugh the time of day. I wondered how well they knew each other.

“Hugh.” I played it casually. “Did you know Regina very well?”

Hugh removed his hand from my arm and looked straight into my eyes. “I knew Regina about as well as most of the conferees. The first time I even spoke to her was when I talked to her on the phone when she engaged me for this conference.”

“So before that, you didn’t have any knowledge of her at all?”

“Well, I knew who she was because I knew her parents through their nursery business. But, like I said, I never actually met her.”

“So you knew her father?”

He glanced at his watch. “Jillian, I’m already ten minutes late for a luncheon engagement and I need something from my room. Let’s talk later. Let me know a good time for you. I must be going.”





***



Walter, Jr. brought my Jeep around. He looked distracted. Mr. Ibarra had to speak to him twice in order to get his attention.

“What’s wrong, Walter?” I felt sympathy for the young man’s obvious distress.

“My father was fired, Mrs. Bradley.”

“Listen, Walter. I can’t talk now, but I’ll go see him. Trust me, okay?”

“Okay, Mrs. Bradley, but I think it’s too late for anyone to help.” He opened the car door for me and I got in.  

“Don’t give up on me, Walter, and don’t give up on your father. It’s going to be okay.”

Walter tightened his lips then looked down and nodded his head in agreement.



***



People were standing in line to get in at the Distillery. Fortunately, my garden club already had a table overlooking the ocean. The server had my description and took me over to them, then handed me a menu.

 “Hi, ladies.” I took my seat. “Sorry I’m a little late. I got to chatting with Hugh Porter as I left. Have you ordered yet?”

Ann spoke for the group. “Yes, we did. We knew this wasn’t exactly going to be a relaxing lunch.”

I smiled. “Thanks.”

The server returned and took my order for a Shrimp Louie. I thought that would take the least amount of preparation, and I knew the shrimp would be fresh and delicious.

I took a sip of ice water with a slice of lemon. I was famished! It seemed like eons ago since I’d eaten. Still, I wanted to get the details as soon as possible.

“How did everything go?” 

Nicole smirked. “I talked to Celeste Osborne in the Club Room. She and Spencer Hausman had just finished a conversation when I came in. Spencer looked upset when he left. I reintroduced myself and she stiffly acknowledged having dinner together last night. I asked her how long she’d known Regina.”

“Nothing like getting to the point, Nicole.” I was pleased with her initiative. “And what did she say?”

“Only that she worked with Regina on Society matters, like whom to contact for speaking engagements at their monthly meetings. Celeste is president of the Society, you know.”

I thought for a moment, then nodded. “I do remember reading it in the brochure credits.”

Nicole took a sip of her iced tea, and continued, “Regina was the program chairman.” She shrugged, “That’s it. That’s all she told me. She actually dismissed me, saying ‘Later, darling,’ as she left.”

Dominique cut in. “My turn. Ann said you wanted us to keep an eye on Spencer Hausman too. I saw him in the Fireside Room having a talk with Thomas. I guess Evelyn was in town with Marianne.”

Ann chimed in. “I have some news on those two after you’re finished, Dominique.”

I didn’t have much time before I had to meet with the chief, so I cocked my head, took a bite of shrimp covered with Thousand Island dressing, and motioned for Dominique to continue.  

“I don’t think they noticed me coming in because they didn’t even look up. I sat as unobtrusively as possible, straining to overhear their conversation.”

Nicole prompted, “And….”

“And,” Dominique continued, “Thomas said, ‘You’re going to have to get over it. Regina meant a lot to me too.’”

I thought for a minute. “That’s a funny way to describe a relationship, don’t you think?”

Dominique leaned toward the table and spoke in her quietest voice. “Quite a story. They both loved her. Either one could have killed her in a fit of jealousy. How on earth can we be sure which one?”


                                   

  If you like to read about lovely places and fabulous cuisine, enjoy the Jillian Bradley mystery series.

Book 1 MURDER IN HALF MOON BAY 
for your e-reader is free! 
All books are G-rated and contain no profanity.







  See you in my books!

 ~Nancy Jill 
Mystery novelist Nancy Jill Thames has published Christian fiction since 2010. The author of seven books in the Jillian Bradley series, she is an award winning blogger and listed numerous times on the Author Watch Bestseller’s List. In addition, she won first place in her church's 4th of July celebration for her chocolate cream pie.

When she isn’t plotting her next book, she spends time with her six grandchildren, tags along with her husband on business trips, and plays classical piano for her personal enjoyment. She is an active member of the Leander Writers' Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW),  CenTex Chapter-ACFW, and supports the Central Texas SPCA with a portion of her book sales. She resides with her husband in Leander, Texas.
CONTACT INFORMATION jillthames@gmail.com



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