Murder the Tey Way: A Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery (The Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mysteries 2) (20 page)

BOOK: Murder the Tey Way: A Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery (The Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mysteries 2)
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


He let out an exasperated sigh. “Lexie, none of what you just said makes any sense. You’re basing most of it on what Felicity told you, right?”

“Mostly,” I admitted.

“And Corinne could have gone out with Scarvino, whether or not she’s from a crime family.”

“I suppose.”

“Though he may have shot up their house. Ballistics show the bullets found in the house match one of Scarvino’s guns.”

“So I am right!” I said gleefully.

“Only that Scarvino and the Roberts sisters knew one another, not that the girls are Fusco’s daughters.” His voice was suddenly hoarse, a sign he was feeling distressed. “Scarvino’s one bad dude, Lexie. The good news is the cops in New Jersey are holding him on various charges. But he’ll probably be out on bail in a few days.”

“And roaming the streets again,” I said mournfully.

“Looks that way.” He sighed loudly. “Do me a favor—keep out of this. Don’t so much as Google him, much less borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbors.”

“I couldn’t if I wanted to. Corinne and Felicity are staying at a hotel, I’ve no idea where.”

“Glad to hear it. Gotta go.” He hung up.

I stared at the phone, not at all happy the way our conversation had ended. Then I realized what had put Brian in such a foul mood. I’d hit upon the truth about Corinne and Felicity, and he wished I hadn’t.

“Yay!” I shouted, thrusting my arm in the air. I was a pretty damn good detective. Slowly but surely, the pieces were falling into place.

I had no intention of doing anything stupid like driving over to Corinne’s bank and opening up a new account so I could question her about her past. Besides, if I were being honest, I only wanted to know if the girls were Fusco’s daughters for the same reason people read gossip columns. It made no difference to me if they’d grown up in a crime family. They were only a link to Johnny Scarvino, whom I suspected of murdering Len and Tim. Knives and guns were mobsters’ weapons of choice.

I wondered if it was a coincidence that the police had Johnny Scarvino under lock and key. No doubt, they were questioning him about the two murders. I shivered to think he’d broken into my house to hide the knife behind the bookcase in the guest room. When had he managed to do that?

I spent the rest of the week doing ordinary activities that had nothing to do with homicide. I taught my classes, looked after Puss, and spent Saturday morning shopping with Mike for favors for Joy’s birthday party. We wandered through several shops in a nearby town until we settled on mini Godiva chocolate boxes.

“Everyone loves chocolate,” I pointed out.

“I’ll buy a few extra for the kids,” he said.

“How many people are coming?” I asked

“Thirty-five. Forty. I don’t have to call in the final count for two weeks.”

I left him signing his charge card, and drove back to Ryesdale to do my weekly shopping at the supermarket. I was about to enter the store when someone called to me.

“Hi, Lexie!”

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to flee from Felicity or give her a hug. Corinne was with her. I waited for them to approach, telling myself I wouldn’t ask any probing questions.

“Hi,” I greeted them. “What are you doing here?”

“Like you, food shopping. We need to eat, don’t we?” Corinne said, yanking a cart free from the metal lineup.

“Oh.” For a moment I was flustered. “I thought you were staying at a hotel.”

“We were,” Corinne said, “and today we’re moving back home.”

“Because Johnny Scarvino’s in jail?” 

Both sisters gaped at me.

“I-I heard the police are holding him on various charges,” I stammered.

They exchanged glances and came to a conclusion, a conclusion that lowered the level of tension considerably.

Felicity grinned. “Johnny’s locked up in jail, so Barbara said we could get rid of our guards and move back home.”

“Is Barbara your WITSEC handler, or whatever they call them?” I hadn’t meant to say that, but the words flew from my mouth on their own volition. Brian wouldn’t be pleased.

Nor was Corinne. She grabbed my arm none too gently and ordered me to keep my voice down.

“Sorry,” I said softly. “I just figured out who you guys really are. How awful for you. I mean, your parents getting killed that way.”

Corinne’s mouth formed a severe line. “John Scarvino murdered them.”

Felicity placed her hands over her ears. “Don’t talk about it, Corinne. Please don’t talk about it.”

Corinne pulled out a handkerchief and wiped the tears spilling down her sister’s cheeks. “Not another word, sweetie. Let’s pick up a few things for dinner, then go home and forget about everything unpleasant.”

Her expression changed to a glare when she turned to me. “Good-bye, Lexie. I trust you’ll keep your mouth shut about our identities until we’ve moved from Ryesdale.” 

“You’re still planning to sell the house?”

“Of course. Jail won’t stop Johnny from tormenting us. He’ll come after us the minute he’s free.”

Why is he tormenting you?
I wanted to ask, but they were already passing through the automatic doors of the supermarket.

I don’t even know their real names, I mused as I grabbed a wagon and followed them into the store. They were two strange birds, but who could blame them, given their background? I felt sorry for Felicity, but every time I tried to help her I had to deal with Corinne’s smoldering fury. Corinne controlled her sister like a domineering parent. But Felicity was fragile and probably needed her sister’s guidance. I’d no doubt the two were devoted to one another. The only times I’d seen Corinne soften was when she was comforting Felicity.

I had no regrets that they were moving. I hoped the people they sold their house to were nice and normal.

As I tossed a box of oatmeal into my wagon, it dawned to me I needn’t wonder about my future neighbors because I had no idea how much longer I’d be living on Magnolia Lane. Al was due home from England right after Thanksgiving, at which time I planned to tell him I was involved with Brian.

Where would I go? What would I do? Buy a house? Rent somewhere?
I’d be homeless again, which disturbed me no end.

A tremor ran down my spine as I considered another possibility: what if Brian asked me to move in with him?

A thrilling but terrifying thought. I was crazy about Brian, but the idea of getting serious with anyone sent my hyperventilating. Here I was, approaching the half century mark, and I didn’t have one male-female relationship I could point to that had lasted longer than a year. As for Brian and me—we got along fine, but we weren’t spending time together on a regular basis. Once we did that, he’d get to know just how quirky I was. Even worse, I’d discover his flaws and take off like a bat out of hell.

I told myself not to get carried away. Brian and I were just getting to know each other. I’m sure the idea of our moving in together had never crossed his mind. And if it did, he was sure to quash the impulse once he found out I’d questioned Felicity and Corinne about their past after he’d told me not to.

It was obvious Brian knew about the girls’ background and their history with Johnny Scarvino. So why did he pretend what I’d discovered about them was preposterous? And when he could no longer deny the possible relevance to the case,  he sounded downright annoyed.

I felt my smile growing wider as I moved on to pastas and sauces. Brian had acted that way because he cared about me and wanted to keep me safe.  I appreciated the sentiment.

From him, but not from Al.

I called Joy when I got home and told her about my conversation with the Roberts sisters.

“Their real names are Catherine and Francisca Fusco,” she told me.

“Good job! How did you find out? Their names weren’t mentioned in any of the articles.”

“Of course not. WITSEC managed to keep them out of the paper.”

“WITSEC,” I echoed. “Were the sisters put into protective custody because they gave evidence when their parents were murdered?”

“Corinne—Catherine did. She saw Scarvino Senior leaving her parents‘ home. She found them brutally murdered in their bedroom and called the police.”

“A strange thing for a Mafia princess to do,” I commented.

Joy laughed. “You’re so jaded, Lexie.”

“I’m trying to figure out why Johnny Scarvino’s been tormenting them, to borrow Corinne’s expression.”

“Maybe because his father went to prison based on Corinne’s testimony,” Joy said.

“And he hates her for it? But what would he expect her to do?” I asked.

“Logic doesn’t come into the picture,” Joy said.

“What else did you find out about the two sisters?”

“Not much,” Joy admitted. “Their parents kept them out of the spotlight. In fact, they went to boarding school and were away from home most of the time.”

“I bet that was their mother’s doing,” I said. “She probably did her best to keep them far from crime and murder.”

“Francisca—Felicity—had a nervous breakdown and left boarding school when she was fifteen,” Joy said. “She had tutors home schooling her until she was eighteen.”

“Have they been living in the house next to me since their parents were killed?”

“No. They’ve lived in two other locations. Each time Johnny Scarvino found where they were and harassed them. He often tailed Corrine when she was driving, made menacing calls. Stuff like that.”

“It doesn’t sound like he was out to kill them,” I said.

“Not until he shot up their house last month.”

“I wonder what made him angry enough to do that,” I mused.

Joy laughed. “Who knows what lurks in a gorilla's mind.”





Two days later I found myself in Toys R Us, of all places, with Joy at my side. We’d come in search of baby gifts and party supplies. The night before, Marge had phoned the book club members with the most wonderful news. Between tears, sobs, and exclamations she told us
Marisol, the woman who’d been taking care of their three-year-old granddaughter, had arranged for a neighbor to call them. In broken English, the neighbor asked the Billingses to email photos of themselves, their daughter, and to spell out in detail how they planned to raise Eloisa. This would help Marisol decide if it was safe to hand over Eloisa
sus abuelos
en los Estados Unidos

Puzzled but elated by this sudden request, they quickly obliged.
Marisol’s email response came within hours. In Spanish, she wrote that she looked forward to meeting Eloisa’s mother’s parents as soon as possible, and she had the proper papers that enabled her to release the child to her closest blood relatives. A government official assured her that if all papers were in order, the Billingses would be permitted to bring Eloisa home with them.

Marge and Evan ordered baby furniture for their spare room, and Joy and I arranged to host a baby shower at my house tomorrow evening, the night before the Billingses flew to Lima.

“What do you think of this?” I held up a child’s-size plastic shopping cart.

“It’s okay, isn’t it, Brandy Boy?” Joy said. She stuck her grinning face into her son’s carriage and earned herself a toothless grin. I welcomed Brandon’s company today, since almost twenty years had passed since I’d last shopped in Toys R Us. Having him along helped me feel less like a fish out of water.

“What’s wrong with the cart?” I demanded. “I’m also planning to buy a set of toy groceries. They’ve a nice selection to choose from.”

“Actually, the shopping cart’s a great gift,” Joy said. “It allows for creative role playing while using familiar objects. Though we don’t know if the objects in the cart will be familiar to Eloisa, or if she’ll know what to do with the cart. We’ve no idea what her life experiences have been up until now.”

“And she’ll be speaking Spanish, not English,” I muttered as I put the shopping cart back on the shelf.

“Watch and see how quickly she picks up English,” Joy said airily. “It’s the other changes in her life that will take time.”

“What are you getting Eloisa?” I asked to ward off more child psychology observations.

Joy sent me a self-satisfied smile. “An age-appropriate computer. All kids love computers.”

“Smart-ass soccer mom.”

“Sorry,” Joy said, not looking sorry at all.

We turned down another aisle, and suddenly I was surrounded by dolls—large dolls, small dolls; brown dolls, white dolls; some dressed in finery, others in a nightie. I loved dolls and hadn’t bought a single one for Jesse while he was growing up because he didn’t even like to play with action figures.

I reached for a life-sized baby doll smiling at me behind cellophane in a half box.   “Maybe Eloisa would like this.”

Joy scrutinized the doll as if it were a piece of evidence. “I bet every doll she’s had till now was made of cloth or wood. And not one of them had blue eyes
blonde hair like this one.”

I pressed my lips together. “Is that a problem?”

“Maybe not, but to be on the safe side, get the shopping cart. She’s bound to love the shopping cart.”

Reluctantly, I set the doll back on the shelf. “I’ll go back for the cart after you choose a computer.”

Brandon started to fuss, but quieted down when we resumed walking. I grabbed an empty wagon, and we began filling it with our presents and decorations for the shower. Fifteen minutes later, we had everything we’d come for.

“I still can’t get over how quickly their granddaughter’s situation changed, and on such short notice,” I said.

“Me, neither,” Joy agreed. “It isn’t the sort of issue that’s easily resolved. It’s as though someone stepped in and took over from the money-hungry people Tim had found for them.”

“Who could that somebody be?”

Joy shrugged. “Beats me. Marge promised to explain everything tomorrow night.”

“Getting their granddaughter means everything to Marge and Evan. I hope they’re not flying all the way to Peru only to be disappointed.”

“Which is why Evan asked
Marisol for assurance that no one will prevent them from bringing Eloisa home with them. She had him contact an official in the village where she lives.”

BOOK: Murder the Tey Way: A Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery (The Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mysteries 2)
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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