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Authors: Shelley Freydont

Tags: #Detective and mystery stories, #Haggerty; Lindy (Fictitious character), #Mystery & Detective, #Women private investigators, #General, #Women Sleuths, #Fiction

Midsummer Murder

BOOK: Midsummer Murder
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Midsummer Murder

Shelley Freydont

A N [
e
-
r e a d s
] B O O K

N e w Y o r k , N Y

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form
or by any means, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopy,
recording, scanning or any information storage retrieval system, without
explicit permission in writing from the Author.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents
are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual events or locals or persons, living or dead, is
entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2001 by Shelley Freydont
First e-reads publication 2004

www.e-reads.com

ISBN 0-7592-5927-5

In memory of Joyce Flaherty—the best of friends,
the best of agents.

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend
All losses are restored and sorrows end.

—Shakespeare

Table of Contents

Chapter One

1

Chapter Two

17

Chapter Three

30

Chapter Four

45

Chapter Five

54

Chapter Six

63

Chapter Seven

76

Chapter Eight

89

Chapter Nine

101

Chapter Ten

114

Chapter Eleven

128

Chapter Twelve

139

Chapter Thirteen

153

Chapter Fourteen

167

Chapter Fifteen

181

Chapter Sixteen

188

Chapter Seventeen

199

Chapter Eighteen

208

Chapter Nineteen

216

Chapter Twenty

226

Chapter Twenty-One

234

Chapter Twenty-Two

246

Chapter Twenty-Three

252

Chapter Twenty-Four

258

One

Gears screeched as the tour bus rounded another hairpin curve. The driver swore under his breath. Lindy Graham-Haggerty abandoned her paperback and grabbed the arms of her seat. She was glad she was sitting in the front of the bus; a communal groan erupted from the seats behind her as the members of the Jeremy Ash Dance Company lurched to the left in perfect unison.

“But I don’t want to suffer for my art,” whined a voice from the back. Another wild turn, this time in the opposite direction. Lindy’s book slid to the floor and across the aisle. Next to her, Arabida McFee, the company business manager, groaned.

The bus driver mumbled to himself. He was looking a little green.

“I don’t remember the road being this wild,” said Jeremy from across the aisle. “But it’s been a few years.”

The company was on its way to the Easton Arts Retreat, a prestigious colony for visual artists and writers, and a summer camp for the most promising young dancers in the country. This year was the fiftieth anniversary of the retreat, and the Ash company was opening the season. Other former students who now directed their own companies would be participating in the celebrations throughout the summer.

At age fourteen, Jeremy had been the youngest dancer to ever receive a coveted Easton Scholarship. He became a favorite student, spending several summers at the camp and later forming a close friendship with the camp’s owner and director, Marguerite Easton. Now at fortysomething, he had made it clear that it was payback time, and the company had been rehearsed to perfection.

1

Shelley Freydont

Jeremy leaned forward in his seat, his anticipation palpable across the aisle as he scanned the mountains before him.

“Hang on, guys. It won’t be long now. We should see the house any minute.”

On cue, the house appeared in the distance, framed by lush greenery and stone cliffs.

“There.” Jeremy pointed, but the brief image of stone and red slate roof disappeared as the bus took another stomach-churning turn.

Lindy glanced at Biddy, whose face was white beneath her cinnamon-colored curls. Her green eyes widened as the bus hit a pothole, and she rebounded into Lindy.

The bus swerved again and empty air loomed before them. The tires crunched on loose dirt as the bus slid onto the shoulder of the road and perched momentarily at the edge of the mountain before regaining the pavement.

“Dios mio,”
the bus driver muttered and crossed himself.

Beyond them stretched an immense chasm. A thatch of heavily foliaged trees filled the crevice below. It had been a rainy June in New York State and the undergrowth was as thick and wild as any tropical jungle. A ribbon of blue appeared sporadically through the greenery and ended in a mirror-smooth lake that reflected the cliffs of gray granite surrounding it.

The driver maneuvered the bus back onto the pavement and continued more slowly upward through the mountains.

“There,” said Jeremy. All heads turned to peer out the bus windows; the dancers farthest from the windows stood in the aisle to get a better view.

On the other side of the chasm, atop a granite bluff, stood the Easton house. But to call the edifice looming in the distance a house was a gross understatement, thought Lindy. She wasn’t sure that mansion would do it justice. A castle was more like it, and a monstrous one at that. Several architectural styles fought for attention, their juxtaposition creating the appearance of a living, roiling entity.

“Wow,” said Biddy. Her hand reached to push curls from her eyes.

“Jeremy, it’s magnificent,” said Lindy. And the daylight softened its foreboding appearance, she thought, but at night with a full moon—

she shuddered.

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Midsummer Murder

Jeremy turned from the window and flashed her a wide grin.

“Wait until you see it up close. It’s a wonderful place and Marguerite is the best.”

Marguerite Easton, philanthropist and society dame
extraordinaire,
was revered throughout the art world. Beloved by artists and critics alike, she had safely steered the retreat, her pet project, through the vicissitudes of the nineties. While other arts organizations floundered, the Easton Arts Retreat flourished. She didn’t need to beg money from the dwindling number of charitable arts foundations.

She was her own foundation, and the colony ran from the interest of well-placed investments without ever having to dip into the principal. The retreat was the paragon of intelligent arts management.

And even though it seemed to spring up spontaneously in the most inaccessible recesses of New York State, the glitterati flocked to the summer performances, driving the two and a half hours from New York City and staying overnight in the mansion’s annex. Dance schools trampled over each other to get their students into the few choice spots in the summer dance program.

Lindy had never met Marguerite Easton and she felt a flutter of butterflies in anticipation. She had been out of the business for twelve years when Biddy had asked her to return to work only a year ago.

She still felt like she had to prove herself again and again . . . and again. She knew it was ridiculous. Her reputation had been sound when she had retired from dancing, and she had built on it since coming back to work as Jeremy’s rehearsal director. The fact that the company had been involved in more than one murder since her return was certainly not her fault.

“Do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do.” Someone was singing the theme to
The Twilight Zone.
Jeremy and Lindy both turned to look, bumping heads as they leaned into the aisle.

A muscular male dancer staggered toward them. Rebo, no last name, just Rebo. His brown eyes bulged. The whites shone menacingly against his coffee-brown complexion.

“Lindy, I’m home (redrum, redrum),” he intoned. Lindy shook her head. Add Jack Nicholson to his impressions of Vanna White, Bette Midler, and Her Majesty, the Queen.

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Shelley Freydont

“What?” Jeremy looked a little confused and possibly annoyed.

Marguerite was his mentor. Just hearing him speak of her, Lindy knew he would brook no jokes at the lady’s expense.

The bus lurched again and Rebo disappeared. Lindy peered over the back of her seat. Rebo lay sprawled across Juan Esquidera.

Juan’s arms had wrapped around him to break his fall and lay there affectionately.

Rebo leaned back and rested his head in Mieko Jones’s lap, leering at her in an over-the-top performance of dementia.

Mieko’s dark eyes closed beneath black-fringed lids. She leaned forward until strands of straight black hair fell onto Rebo’s face. He sputtered. She straightened up, her face as enigmatic as ever.

Then she pushed his head up and heaved him back to Juan. “Take him, he’s yours, thank God.”

Juan laughed and pecked Rebo on the cheek.

“Could you guys try to act with a little decorum?” asked Lindy shooting a quick glance at Jeremy.

Rebo struggled up and scratched at the red bandanna he always wore around his head. Then he snatched it off and crushed it to his chest. “I’ll just look for my top hat and tails.” He hoisted himself off Juan’s lap. “Hey, Rose,” he called and wobbled to the back of the bus in search of the costume mistress.

“Jeremy seems a little nervous,” said Biddy as Lindy resumed her seat. Lindy looked across the aisle. Jeremy was staring out the window. She contemplated the back of his head. Silky blond hair waved gently down his neck and disappeared beneath his shirt collar. She touched her own hair, short, brown, and coarse to the touch. She spent a lot of time envying other people’s hair. She never allowed hers to grow longer than two inches because it grew straight out in every direction.

As if feeling her gaze, Jeremy turned toward her, a slight question on his face. Blue eyes met blue eyes, his sparkling with excitement —

and just a little apprehension? Tough Chicago street kid makes good, she thought; it must be pretty daunting to go back to your beginnings.

She smiled at him. His mouth turned up in a quick quirk of the lips, and he turned back to the window.

The bus lurched to a stop; Lindy’s stomach catapulted forward, then banged back into place. Ahead of them, a rusty Jeep hugged the 4

Midsummer Murder

outer edge of the road. Four men stared out from the windscreen with expressions of surprise. Then the driver began to inch past the bus.

The bus driver pulled closer to the inside of the road. It was then that Lindy noticed the steel mesh that encased the wall of granite that rose above them. And the sign that read FALLING ROCKS.

Great, she thought. What a hell of a place to send your children to summer camp, though these campers were really young adults, ages sixteen to early twenties. She thought of her own children: Cliff at an East Coast college, and Annie, who had been in Switzerland since her junior year in high school. How many times had they gone off to camp where the dangers of the wilderness had threatened them and Lindy and Glen, her husband of twenty years, had never given it a thought.

But they had survived their camp experience. Cliff was taking summer courses at the university where he would be a junior the following September. Annie was on a European tour with the Swiss Conservatory Orchestra, where she had just graduated from high school and would continue as a university student. Actually, the snares of everyday life were more frightening than any summer camp experience.

The bus continued on its way across the mountain without further incident. Twenty minutes later, it turned off the main road and drove between two stone columns. Spanning the columns was a wrought-iron arch with the name, EASTON ARTS RETREAT, formed in filigree letters across it.

The private drive to the retreat was in much better repair than the road they had just left, and the bus purred along the smooth asphalt.

Shows you what a little care and a lot of money can do,
thought Lindy as she settled back in her seat to enjoy her surroundings.

Stately oaks and maples sheltered the wide drive. Boulders sat among the trees to each side. Wilderness, but somehow refined as if it had been designed by a very competent horticulturist to look like wilderness. The canopy of trees blocked out the sun; only intermittent splotches of sunlight reflected from the ground like glimpses of fool’s gold. The bus moved deeper into the woods, and even these brief respites gave way to an unrelieved half-light, shaded and mysterious. Pockets of mist hung above the forest floor, unmoving.

BOOK: Midsummer Murder
13.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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