Would you like some?”
“No, thanks.” Jed opened the door connecting the house with the garage, and a mound of fur propelled itself into his chest. “Oooph! Down, Clue! Down!”
Susan grabbed Clue’s collar and yanked her back onto four paws. “Come with me, Clue. I’ll get you a cookie after I’ve had my tea. Jed, you go on upstairs. That racket Rock and Roll are making must have woken up the kids. Tell them to plan on fixing their own breakfast and, for heaven’s sake, to let us sleep as long as possible.”
Jed padded up the wide carpeted stairs to the second floor of their colonial home, and Susan walked into her country kitchen, filled a teakettle, and put it on the stove. She turned on a burner and sat down at the large pine table in the middle of the room. Clue flopped at her feet, sighing loudly. “I think I know how you feel,” Susan said to the dog. She didn’t have a whole lot of energy; on the other hand she wasn’t particularly sleepy. She sat there until the kettle began to boil, and then she got up and made herself a cup of tea, got a dog biscuit for Clue and . . . and sat back down and stared at the table.
She was nervous, keyed up. Usually she’d just take a nice warm bubble bath, but her last bubble bath hadn’t turned out to be terribly soothing. And if she started thinking about that, she’d never get any sleep. She looked down at the dog. “How about an early-morning walk, Clue? Just let me find some flip-flops or some Keds and we’ll get going,” she added, knowing she could assume an enthusiastic response from the dog.
It was a gorgeous morning. The sun was already warm. The automatic sprinkler system had drenched the sidewalk, and Susan’s rubber soles squished in the puddles. She turned right at the street, noticing that the Markses’ new green Jaguar was parked at the top of their drive as though nothing untoward had happened—as though Ashley and Doug had partied until late and were sleeping in. For a moment, Susan wondered if she should walk up to the house and knock on the door. If Doug was home, she could offer her condolences. And then she realized that she was being stupid. The police would have called Doug hours ago. More than likely, he was at the Hancock Municipal Center answering their questions right now. Or making arrangements for his wife’s funeral—although that wouldn’t happen until the autopsy was completed. She shook her head. She had to stop thinking about Ashley . . . or Ashley’s body. She looked down. Clue was enormously interested in something at the curb. “Oh, no! Come on, Clue! Heel! Now!”
After years of reluctant attendance at obedience classes, Clue understood the words and knew what to do—even though it was obvious that she found the squashed squirrel immensely more compelling. The dog sighed, got into position, and accompanied Susan down the road.
Anyone walking by would assume this was usual for the pair—anyone who didn’t know them. But Kathleen Gordon wasn’t fooled. She jogged around the corner, long hair flying out behind her.
“Hey, isn’t it a bit early to be working on dog training? Besides, I thought you and Jed were spending the night at the inn. What are you doing here?” Her words came out between deep gasps for air.
“We were, but something happened,” Susan explained as Kathleen reached her.
“Susan, you can tell me all about it. But first, do you have any juice in your refrigerator? I’m ready to pass out.”
“Of course. Let’s go back to the house. Did you run all the way here from your home?” Susan asked as they turned around.
“Yes. I ate so much at your party last night that I thought I’d at least get a start on burning some of it off.” Kathleen was breathing much easier now. “So what are you doing home so early? Is Jed with you?”
“You left him sleeping at the inn and came home to walk Clue? Oh, Susan, you should have given me a call. I’d have been happy to
Morgan St James and Phyllice Bradner