A shadow emerged from the water, looked around and stepped into the woods. The white egret watched for a moment and then turned its head away.
The egret watched a young lady rowing a canoe down the bayou. Her long sleek black hair was tousled. A red hairband was loosely wrapped around a ponytail that was coming apart. Mascara left lines down her cheeks.
When the sun hit her hand just right, sparkles glistened from the diamond rock on her finger. Slowly the canoe glided across the water.
The man found the large cypress tree, right where he was told it would be. If he hadn’t been looking for it he wouldn’t have noticed the gold tassel hanging from a branch. He started to dig.
Loralei watched the beautiful bird staring at her as she rowed. She hoped that she was headed the right direction. Soon she came to the spot where she needed to get out. Stepping out her shoe sank into the mud. She pulled her foot up and watched in frustration as her shoe was swallowed by the mud.
Sighing, she started walking, trying to ignore the feel of the mud squishing between her toes.
He was sweating, from the heat and from nerves. What was taking so long, how far down would he have to dig?
Loralei watched him. How long would it be until he noticed her? He was so focused on digging that he never looked to the side, at the tree diagonally across from him.
After a little while longer, when the perspiration was soaking through his shirt, she yelled his name.
“Hey Carter! Looking for something?”
Carter spun around. His face a mixture of shock and confusion when he saw her.
“Did you ever think that perhaps you were digging at the wrong tree?”
Loralei was smiling and holding a small box in her hands.
“Its quite easy to hang tassels on the branches of any tree you know, ” Loralei said , with a smug look upon ber face.
Starla rounded the corner and saw the cat. Its fur was a mottle of grays and a little black. Its eyes were very dark and they were fixated on her. It was crouched, poised, as if ready to pounce.
She never had been afraid of cats, but this one reminded her of a tiger in the jungle watching for its prey. It for sure didn’t look like it wanted stroked, so she quickly walked by, wondering at the strange feeling she had.
Reaching her apartment she flashed her key card, but the light flashed red and the door wouldn’t open. Starla tried again and finally after a couple more tries it opened. She was going to have to ask for a new card tomorrow. This card must be wearing out.
Kicking off her shoes at the door she walked down the hall to her bedroom. Changed into more comfortable clothes and heated up the oven.
Pulling a frozen pepperoni pizza out she grabbed some shredded cheese from the fridge and sprinkled it on the pizza. One could not have too much cheese.
After 15 minutes the pizza was ready and her teapot was whistling. She poured herself a cup of Green tea, and sat down at the table with a couple of hot slices of pizza.
The apartment was quiet, usually she had some TV show on like Law and Order or a medical drama, but for now the silence was relaxing. It had been one crazy, hectic day at the office.
Her boss was breathing down her neck wanting her project done a week before it was due! He was a man of little patience, but Starla had learned that his bark was worse than his bite.
She was well aware of his confidence in her, so he didn’t intimidate her as much. He may grunt and growl about her taking too long, but she knew he would wait. This was a big architectural project that she had taken on, she needed all the time she could have.
Heading up the renovation of a mall wasn’t easy. It was sad how malls all over the place were becoming like ghost towns. The Red Canyon Mall had been sitting empty for a year, it was time to do something. Starla did feel excitement stirring in her over the new plans.
Hearing a sound she put down her cup of tea and walked towards the door. It sounded like something was scratching at it. Should she open it?
Keeping the chain across she opened it a little bit. Something brushed against her leg and she jumped back, closing the door!
“We need to talk.” the deep bass voice said.
Starla looked down and was speechless, finding herself looking into the dark eyes of the cat that she had seen earlier.
Marisella would never grow tired of swimming in the deep aquamarine waters. Her soul felt free as she swam and dived, exploring the sea.
Ollie, her jellyfish friend, watched her swim by. He wondered where she was headed to this time. He had heard her mention to Shelly the seahorse that she wanted to explore a cave that she had found out about.
He didn’t know what would be so exciting about a cave. All thoughts of Marisella and the cave disappeared as he started glowing. Gloria, the new jellyfish in the sea, was floating towards him. Ollie started to feel a tingling sensation all over.
Meanwhile Marisella kept swimming. She was set on finding the cave today. Shelly told her that it was a heart shaped cave. How unique and pretty, thought Marisella.
Passing schools of fish and sea turtles, she kept going. Just keep swimming she told herself, you will make it!
Was that it? Marisella wondered a little later. She saw the back of a cave up ahead. Swimming around it, delight filled her when she saw the opening. It was indeed shaped like a heart.
There was some long seagrass that she swam through as she entered the cave. Once she entered she rested a bit against the side of the cave. There was no need to rush, so she let herself relax.
She was enjoying thinking back to when she was little and playing hide and seek with her friends among the reefs and other hiding places they managed to find in the deep sea.
Swoosh! Something huge swam by Marisella making her catch her breath! Was it a shark? She trembled as she watched it swimming to the entrance. Well she could tell that it definitely wasn’t a shark, but she was clueless as to what it could be!
Living in the sea she knew all sorts of sea creatures but she was absolutely sure that this one she had never seen before!
Feeling more curious now than afraid she swam after it to get a better look.
It was black and white , with 4 legs and a tail. Its body was huge. Nothing small and delicate about this new sea creature.
She didn’t follow it long until it swam up and out of the deep waters. Would she ever learn what it was? Would it come back again, and why was it in the cave?
Exploring the cave now took a backseat in her mind. She decided to to visit Clarence the sea turtle. Everyone knew how smart Clarence was, he had been around for almost 100 years! If anyone knew what that strange sea creature was, Clarence would.
Marisella was looking at Clarence’s book in shock. “I see it, but I don’t believe it!” she said.
“A cow! The book says cows live in pastures, not in the sea! But yet it looks just like what I saw.” She shook her head in amazement. “Wow! I saw the first ever sea cow!”
Clarence was quiet for awhile while looking in another book called “Legends of the Emerald Sea”
“Did you say that you saw this cow in the heart shaped cave?” asked Clarence.
“Yes, she swam right by me.”
“It then appears that you may have seen one of the biggest legends of the sea! Betsy the WonderCow! She is known for stealing gold out of the heart shaped cave!” said Clarence.
Marisella was stunned. A cow was the one who had stolen the famous gold? She remembered hearing about a cave full of gold, but she hadn’t known it was that specific cave. Had Betsy come back for more? She didn’t see any gold with her when Betsy quickly swam by.
Perhaps Marisella had spooked Betsy and made her swim away before she got more gold. Was there more gold to be had?
Thanking Clarence Marisella knew where she had to go. She needed to return to the cave and see if there was more gold there. While swimming she couldn’t get one big question out of her mind. What good was gold to a cow?
Word was getting around, they were becoming well known, though the truth of who they really were remained a mystery.
No one knew their true names but everyone wished they did. Couples dreamed of them showing up at their wedding!
These were not your typical Wedding Crashers, they did not cause a ruckus, they brought happiness.
This trio would crash wedding receptions all over the Southern states. There were rumors that they were moving up the East Coast and people were excited.
Why did they create such a stir? It was because they gave out grand amounts of money to the Newlyweds!
Not counterfeit money, not Monopoly money, real money that you could take to the bank.
No one knew their story, how did they have such vast sums of money to give away? Where were they from? How did they pick which weddings to go too?
It had been noted that they did not appear at the real fancy, rich weddings.
They were like Santa Claus, only there were three of them. Giving out large sums of money was not the only thing they did. They also put on a song and dance routine during the reception. They all tapped dance amazingly well.
The guests were always pleased to watch them sing and dance. Plus all the guests would put their names in a hat and the Wedding Crashers would draw out 10 names. 10 lucky guests would win fabulous new cars!
Plenty rumors went around at how they came by so much money. Bank robberies or were they just billionaires that didn’t know what to do with their money?
Jacob tried his best to track them down, but so far had been unsuccessful! This was turning out to be one extremely hard case to crack. They hid very well!
He shut off his computer and called it a day, ready to relax at home. Jacob found himself smiling at the warm thought of who he had to go home too.
His beautiful wife, Kimberly and their adopted daughter Molly. She was adorable, and she was coming out of her shell more each day.
She still didn’t talk a lot but she had started using some real words and those words brought tears to his eyes.
He was so glad to be able to have her at one of the finest school’s and with a with an amazing speech therapist.
Yes, he may not know the Wedding Crashers, but someday he really did hope he could track them down. Jacob longed to find them, he had been raised to be a proper Southern gentleman and he wanted to say a personal thanks! The trio had made his wedding extra special 3 years ago and he would never forget it.
It was because of them that Molly could get the help she needed and he would forever be grateful to the Mysterious Trio!
The following story is the 2nd part to my story from last Saturday’s post, The Inheritance!
Jacob had been burning the midnight oil in trying to find Lady Tatiana’s daughter and granddaughter. Everytime he thought he had a lead, it only led to a dead end.
Time would tell if this new lead that he had found a few weeks ago would turn out to be anything
He thought back to the details about the lead. Who knew that stopping at Mcdonalds would have turned out to be such a great decision.
That Wednesday morning he had been upset when he realized his coffeemaker was broken. He decided he would stop at McDonald’s on the way to the office.
Usually he would go through drive thru but he decided to go inside and sit for a bit before his busy day started.
He went inside and within a few minutes had a black coffee and a Egg McMuffin with a yogurt parfait. It was hard for him to stomach the black coffee but he knew it was healthier without the cream. He took a few gulps and then asked for cream to try to get the after taste out of his mouth, perhaps another day he would try.
There was a newspaper on the table and a headline caught his eye. A smuggling ring had been busted. He was intrigued that the smugglers had used a popular toy, Mr. Potato Head, to smuggle the jewels. Who would have thought? That wasn’t the most intriguing thing though.
Jacob had blinked his eyes upon seeing the name Amanda in the article. Then gasped with surprise when he read her last name. She had the same last name as the Amanda he was looking for. Was it her? Hope surged through him as it appeared that he might have turned over the right stone without even trying!
Relief spread through him when reading that she had been cleared of any charges. That she really hadn’t known what was in the packages her employer was having her deliver.
Jacob would have hated to have to inform her grandparents that the sweet granddaughter they remembered was part of a smuggling ring. Amanda had witnessed against her employer in court and all was behind her now. She was wanting to start anew the article had said. That was one problem, Jacob had no idea where she was headed to start over.
Amanda was relaxing with a book in the sitting room at the Inn. She loved the big picture windows that were in there. The sunlight poured through them brightening up the room.
She felt more contentment then she had felt in a long time. It wasn’t that she really had any answers yet about her future, but her worry about it had faded.
Lisette had become a great friend and had assured her that she was welcome to stay for as long as she needed too.
Putting her bookmark in her book she closed it and looked out the window, thinking.
Her mind went back in time. Back to when her Mom was still alive. There had been so many questions that she had for her Mom, questions still left unanswered.
Her Mom had never answered her questions about her Dad. At first Amanda had let it go. She was happy with it just being her Mom and her, but as time went by she grew more curious. What had he been like? Had he and her Mom really loved each other? Why had her Mom refused to talk about him?
Amanda wished that somehow she could find information on him. Then she remembered the many journals her Mom had.
After her Mom died she had put the journals in her cedar chest. She had been tempted to read them, but felt uneasy. They held her Mom’s private thoughts. Perhaps now though was the time. Maybe they held the answers to the questions that plaqued her.
“Amanda!” Lisette’s voice broke into Amanda’s thoughts.
Amanda walked out of the room and met Lisette coming towards her. She had mail in her hand.
“This letter is for you.” Lisette said, handing her a long white business envelope.
Amanda had the post office forwarding her mail to the Inn, not knowing how long she would be here. She wondered who the letter was from, as she took the envelope from Lisette.
Her face registered shock when looking at the return address. Jacob Klasko, Private Detective.
Jacob stood awestruck in front of the castle. He was mesmerized by the reflection in the water and the glow on the castle.
While he was standing there the doors to the castle opened and Lady Tatiana invited him in.
“Welcome! Thank you so much for coming.”
“I am very glad to offer my services. This is the first time I have ever been to a castle, its stunning!” Jacob said.
“Thank you, it has been in our family for generations. At one time this castle was full of activity and people. Now it is only Sir Nicholas and I, along with our faithful cook and chauffeur.”
Jacob followed her through the long hallway and the twists and turns that it took. She was pointing out the portraits on the wall, explaining who they were. Sharing the family history as she walked.
She was talking a mile a minute as Jacob tried his hardest to catch everything that she was saying. What was it about woman that made them talk so fast?
They made another turn and Jacob saw a portrait of a lovely lady with a little girl. Lady Tatiana stopped in front of it and she was quiet, not saying a word. She just stared at the portrait with a wistful expression on her face.
Jacob wasn’t sure what to do, so he said nothing. The silence now was deafening, such a contrast to the happy chatter only moments before.
“This is my daughter Gwen with her darling daughter. They look so happy here, but within a few weeks they were gone.” Lady Tatiana said.
“I never saw them again. I knew Gwen was mad after an argument we had, but I never dreamed she would leave. I have tried over the years to find them but haven’t been able too. You are my last hope!” she said, looking at Jacob with pleading in her hazel eyes.
Jacob felt like there was a rock in the pit of his stomach. He had great success stories as a private investigator but he had unsolved ones too. Looking into Lady Tatiana’s eyes he hoped that the odds would be in her favor. That he would be able to reunite her with her daughter and granddaughter again.
He took her hand and said, “i promise I will try my best to find them! You have my word!”
Lady Tatiana’s eyes shined with gratitude, as she squeezed his hand.
“One question. What is your granddaughter’s name?” he asked.
“Amanda. She was the apple of my eye! Her laughter was music to my ears.” Once again there was silence as Lady Tatiana was lost in the memories of yesterday.
Katy had been in her safe-house for a week now and was trying to get used to this new way of life.
It was quite different from her busy life as an attorney! She was almost finished reading her 3rd novel, sbe was going to have to send Patrick or John out for more books.
One of them was always with her. It was strange never being alone! They were good at giving her privacy, but they were always in the cottage. It did make her feel safe. Right now she didn’t really want to be alone.
Pstrick had been right about the food, it was really good. Depending on how long she had to hide out she may gain a lot of weight! He brought her seafood from a Cafe. Anything she wanted she could have and they had rich, chocolaty desserts.
Putting her book down she stepped out of her cottage to look at the ocean. She couldn’t go into town but Patrick did say that she could step out of her cottage to enjoy the sea. It helped her keep her sanity. Watching the waves roll and hearing them crash against the shore.
She saw Patrick’s boat coming. He had supper with him.
He was smiling when he stepped out of the boat. “Getting a little fresh air, I see.”
“Yes, i thought I should probably do some exercises to burn off all this good food that I have been eating!”
“You are welcome to join me on my morning jog tomorrow.” Patrick said.
Katy used to jog before she got so busy. It would be good to get back into it.
“Thanks! I think I will, now lets go eat, the smell is tantilizing.”
After a supper of clam strips and shrimp with lava cake, Katy knew that she had to go jogging tomorrow.
Her alarm went off and she groggily tried to turn it off but kept hitting the wrong button. UGH! Who went jogging at 5am! She should have asked Patrick the time before agreeing to go.
She still remembered his smirk as he said Good Night last night and then added. “See you at 5am!” Her face must have shown her shock as he chuckled. He probably didn’t expect her to actually come but she would show him.
Pulling her hair up into a messy bun, she threw on her favorite sweats and went downstairs to meet him.
“Well look who made it up!” Patrick and John smiled at her as they said Good Morning.
“Are you coming jogging too?” Katy said too John. He was an older man, very nice guy. He had trained Patrick.
“Nope, I will keep an eye on the cottage and enjoy the exercise of lifting my coffee cup.” he joked, as he took a drink of coffee.
Patrick and Katy left the cottage and started jogging. Katy noticed the gun in Patrick’s pocket. She hoped he wouldn’t have to use it! There were moments when she could forget that someone actually wanted her dead, but then the harsh reality made her blood run cold.
Patrick noticed the change in her demeanor when she saw his gun.
“I promise, John and I will keep you safe, and you won’t be hiding forever. Now are you ready to jog 6 miles?”
“6 miles! Are you insane?” Katy replied.
“C’mon! Keep up slowpoke.” and Patrick took off running.
“Hey, I thought we were jogging, not running!” Katy yelled, running to catch up.
The fog was so thick this morning. Katy was really glad that she didn’t have far to go to work. Driving in fog in NYC traffic had her stressed out by the time she arrived at work.
She had worked at the law firm for 6 months now and still couldn’t stop smiling at the sight of her brass name plate on the door.
Stress from the traffic started to melt away as she sat down at her desk, ready to start the day.
“Good Morning Katy!” Matt said, as he waltzed into her office and sat a hot cup of Peppermint Mocha on her desk.
“Thanks Matt! Appreciate it.”
“You are welcome. I thought you might need it to prepare you for whats coming today.” He replied.
“Prepare me? What do you mean?”giving him a quizzical look.
“Meeting at 2pm, you will find out everything then.” he said, and turned away.
He turned back around and gave Katy a reassuring smile. “It will be OK, I believe in you. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have asked you to be my partner. He gave her a wink and walked out the door, leaving Katy to wonder.
Well, the stress had been melting away. She took a sip of her peppermint mocha and tried to tell herself not to worry. She trusted Matt, he had been great to work with. A month ago they had celebrated their victory over a murder case that they had worked on together.
Katy’s heart broke for the victim’s family, but she was glad that she helped in bringing the family justice. Nothing could take away the pain of their loss, but at least one less murderer was walking the street.
It was a busy morning with phone calls and meeting with 2 clients. Before she knew it the time had come for the meeting with Matt. She walked to Matt’s office feeling confident, as she knocked on his door.
“Come in.” Katy turned the knob and walked in, surprised to see another gentleman in the room.
Matt walked over to Katy and said, “i would like you to meet Mr. Patrick Duvette. He is a FBI agent.
Katy’s heart started beating a little fast and her hand shook some as she put it out to shake Patrick’s hand. What was he doing here, she wondered.
“Lets all take a seat and we will explain everything, Katy.” Matt said. “Patrick is here to take you away for your own protection for a little while.”
Katy’s eyes grew bjg. “What! What are you talking about? I have only been working here for 6 months!”
Matt sighed. “I know, but that case we won last month seems to have left you some dangerous enemies. We received a death threat and they specifically mentioned you. I am sorry, I know this comes as a shock to you. I will do all I can to get to the bottom of things, I promise. For now you need to work with me in making sure you are safe. Patrick has a safe place to take you too.
Katy’s mind was swimming with questions and fear! Someone had made a death threat against her! She started feeling a little sick.
Patrick noticed her looking pale. He walked over to her and took her hand. “I understand this is frightening but let me reassure you that you will be very safe at this place. You won’t be alone!”
Matt offered her a bottle of water which she drank, while Patrick filled her in on more details.
Katy shoved her journal into her bulging suitcase and took one more look around her apartment. She didn’t know when she would be back. At least she had been able to go see her first Broadway show last week. The Lion King had been amazing!
Patrick was waiting for her right outside her door. She gave him a brave smile and said, “I’m ready.” She said the words but her stomach was in knots. Patrick couldn’t tell her exactly where she was going. He did say that she would have deliciois food there though. She laughed, well food was important.
Katy watched out the window as they drove out of the city. She felt exhausted from the stress of her day. Her eyes grew heavy and sleep overtook her, as she headed into another new beginning.
Long, long ago there was a young woman who lived by the sea. In a quaint chalet she lived by herself, The waves kept her company. Sometimes they would roar quite loud, but other times they were gentle when kissing the shore.
She never grew tired of walking along the shore and watching the dazzling display of colors as the sun would set over the sea.
In the morning the sea would glisten like sapphires when the rising sun shined down upon it.
She had learned to enjoy her solitary life. Each day was usually the same but she liked it that way. She kept a journal, recording all her thoughts and writing down memories of the life she had left behind. Sometimes the memories would tug at her heart, but for the most part she had learned to be content. Then one day, what the tide brougbt in changed all that!
She was taking her usual evening stroll by the sea when something washed up on the shore, lying right at her feet.
It was a bottle witb a message inside. She didn’t know what to think. She sat down, sinking into the sand, and opened the bottle.
Pulling out the message she began to read.”Dear Annalise, I have no idea if you will ever receive this but I want you to know its safe to come home now., she died. Come home sweet Anna, to where you belong.” Your loving Aunt.
Annalise re-read the short note 3x, letting it sink in. She could go home. No more fear needed, it was safe to return home. She pondered the news as she gazed out on the turquoise blue sea.
What happened and where was she? Sarah was feeling like her grandmother, ferhoodled. Very confused! One minute she was walking home and the next …. she was on 5th Avenue in NYC, holding onto a bag of chicken legs and donuts.
The honking of horns was going to give her a headache. “Excuse me Miss.” said one man as he eushed past her. She had stepped out of his way only to step into someone else’s path.
Whoa! She got shoved out of the way, almost losing her balance. She did manage to lose her bag of chicken legs. They were scattered all over the road now!
“Katie! Kate!” Quick come, lunch break is over. We have to be back in court. The jury has reached a verdict.
Sarah was studying the cowbell in her hand, which she had forgotten about. Suddenly she felt her arm being grabbed. “Didn’t you hear me, you look like you are daydreaming Kate.
“But wait, I am not Kate.” Sarah said as she felt herself being pulled along.
The other lady looked at her and laughed. “You were just on lunch break, Kate, it wasn’t Happy Hour! Were you drinking?”
Sarah didn’t know what to say. She let herself be pulled along as the other lady prattled on about the court case. A case that she had no clue about what was going on! Right now she had no clue about anything that was going on.
“Do you think the jury will rule in the plaintiff’s favor? Do you really think that Miss. Scarlet murdered the Professor?
Soon they were in front of the courthouse and Sarah found herself in line to go through security. BUZZ! Sarah had set off the alarm! Why had…then she remembered the cowbell in her pocket.
“Miss, we need you to empty your pockets and go through again please.” Sarah felt her face grow hot as she pulled her cowbell out. The security officer gave her a curious stare.
Tbe lady who had mistaken her for Kate, looked at the Security officer and said “It is her good luck charm.” The man picked it up, handing it back to Sarah and said, “Good luck Miss!” Sarah mumbled a Thank You, still feeling embarrassed.
“Kate, I have to ask, what are you doing with a cowbell?”
“Its my good luck charm.” she said, and she rang it 3x! Pink and purple smoke filled the hallway and when it cleared Sarah breathed a sigh of relief, she was back in town!
She was so glad to be back, but her mind was swirling. What had happened? She couldn’t stop looking at the cowbell while walking back to the Inn.
Opening the door she called out, “Miss. Lisette, I am so sorry I took so long! You will never believe what happened!”
Lisette came around the corner. “So glad you are back, I was beginning to wonder how many games you were playing at the Fluffer Nutter Shop!”
“Games? What? Oh yeah! Well actually, I didn’t play any games. I….”
Lisette couldn’t believe her eyes! “Where did you find that cowbell?”
“In the grass and let me tell you, this is one very magical cowbell!”
“I know!” said Lisette, “How do you think I ended up here.”
Now Sarah’s eyes were wide! “What! This cowbell brought you here?”
“Let me make us some Creme Brulee coffee, this is going to be a long story.” Lisette replied, while walking into the kitchen, leaving Sarah staring after her in wonder.