How to Catch a Cat

How to Catch a Cat by Rebecca M. Hale Read Free Book Online

Book: How to Catch a Cat by Rebecca M. Hale Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rebecca M. Hale
Tags: detective, Mystery, women sleuth
traipsing in and out of the curtained confession box for the last couple of days.
    While the niece conceded that this was a legitimate part of Monty’s job, she found his eagerness to listen to the deepest secrets of his new acquaintances off-putting, if not downright suspicious.
    She had refused to participate, but Father Monty wasn’t one to accept no for an answer.
    “I have an opening this afternoon at two,” he said, pumping his thin eyebrows. “In case there’s anything you—or Rupert—need to confess.” He wagged a finger at Rupert’s wobbly blue eyes. “Gluttony is a deadly sin, my furry friend.”
    The niece frowned, puzzling on who would have shared Rupert’s love of fried chicken with the priest during a confession session. She couldn’t imagine her uncle volunteering any information to this nosy man. And as far as she knew, Rupert was incapable of human speech.
    With difficulty, she stepped around Monty and headed toward the stairwell at the end of the corridor. “We’re headed up to the deck. Nice to see you, Father . . .”
    “What a wonderful idea. I think I’ll join you. You know, I’ve never seen this part of the Pacific coast before.”
    His flat-soled shoes slapped against the floorboards as he trotted after her.
    “I hear we’re on a special mission to find the opening to an undiscovered bay. What do you think about that?”
    •   •   •
     
    AS THE WOMAN carried her cat down the hallway, chased by the persistent priest, a knot in the wood paneling to one of the chapel walls opened up, revealing a small hole.
    There was a shuffling sound.
    Then a yellowed eye peered out into the room, blinked, and disappeared.

Chapter 10
    THE BARON
     
    THE NIECE REACHED the top of the stairs and scurried across the deck. Rupert rode in her arms, startled by his person’s fast pace.
    Father Monty followed closely behind, chattering about the benefits of confession.
    “I’ve had many parishioners tell me that it brightens their day. The mere act of sharing one’s sins helps heal a person’s soul. It lifts the spirit, warms the heart . . .”
    But about five steps across the deck, Monty cut off the sales pitch and gave up his pursuit of the niece—at least temporarily. He’d just caught sight of another sought-after confession target.
    “Baron, how nice to see you.” He sidled up to the nobleman standing near the ship’s helm. “Enjoying the view?”
    A silver-haired man with a closely cropped beard and mustache turned to look at the priest.
    “Father Monty. What a surprise,” he said in a tone that conveyed just the opposite.
    —
    THE BARON WAS a special guest on the
San Carlos
. His passage and VIP status had been directly arranged by the head of the Spanish fleet.
    The Baron was a self-made man. With nothing more than his natural talents for industry and finance—along with a little luck—he’d built a powerful business empire. His vast personal fortune had enabled him to purchase his nobility status, a move that had rankled many who had inherited their titles.
    As crafty as he was competitive, the Baron had read the reports from the earlier land expedition that first sighted the protected bay. He had personally interviewed Governor Portola and several of his men, in an attempt to extract all available details.
    Unlike Captain Ayala, the Baron had no doubt of the bay’s existence.
    He had contributed a hefty sum to the Spanish crown in order to ensure his seat on the
San Carlos
.
    Now, he was positioned to get his own firsthand look at the rumored harbor—and to assess its potential in person.
    He’d been warned that the ship wouldn’t be able to provide the many luxuries to which he was accustomed. This did not deter him in the least. He had packed extra gear and supplies. He was prepared for whatever challenges he might face.
    So far, it turned out the greatest onboard hardship had been enduring obligatory conversations with the vessel’s priest.
    But today, even

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