The Walleld Flower

The Walleld Flower by Lorraine Bartlett Read Free Book Online

Book: The Walleld Flower by Lorraine Bartlett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lorraine Bartlett
she got behind the wheel.
    “You wouldn’t want to live in the same house with that—that—” Rose paused, buckling her seat belt. “I just don’t have the words.”
    Katie buckled her own belt and started the car.
    “How soon do you have to move?” Rose asked.
    “Ten days.” Katie palmed the wheel, pulling onto the highway. “I’ve been living out of boxes and eating off of paper plates for weeks.”
    “If you don’t find something soon, you could come stay with me,” Rose offered.
    “That’s very kind, but I don’t want to inconvenience you. I’ve got a contingency plan and I can put everything but the cats in storage,” she kind of, sort of lied.
    “Oh, yes. The cats.” Katie was well aware that Rose was not a feline fan. The older woman was quiet for a minute or more. “This isn’t a good time for you to help me find Heather’s killer, is it?”
    “It’s the best time,” Katie said, if only to spare Rose’s feelings. Although there was that little problem of Gilda’s wedding to fit into the schedule, too. “And I have a lot of ideas,” she continued. “First, I want to talk to Toby and Janice.”
    “What for?”
    “When they bought the Webster mansion, they got the property abstract. That chronicles all the past owners. We need to find out who owned the property at the time Heather disappeared, who was renting the apartments, and if Heather knew any of them.”
    Rose’s eyes widened. “That’s a great idea. Can we go there now?”
    “We’re on our way.”
    Rose settled back in the Focus’s bucket seat, looking more relaxed. Meanwhile, Katie clenched the steering wheel. One apartment down—only two more prospects to go.

    “That awful man wanted to
take
the original,” Janice said, pawing through an accordion folder filled with papers.
    “I’m assuming you mean Detective Davenport,” Katie said innocently.
    “He creeps me out,” Janice said.
    “He could at least try to be more personable,” Katie agreed.
    “Do you know how much these things cost? There was no way I was going to just give it to him. I made him follow me to the post office and pay for his own copy.” Janice plucked out a sheaf of papers. “Ah, here it is.” She handed the property abstract to Katie, who paged through it.
    “Would you mind if I take it to Artisans Alley to make a copy? It will only take a few minutes.”
    “Sure. Go right ahead.”
    “I’ll do it, Katie,” Rose said eagerly, taking the document and heading for the door.
    Katie waited until Rose was out of earshot to speak. “I appreciate your helping my friend. We’re pretty sure it was her niece that was found in your wall.”
    “I’m willing to do anything I can to speed up the investigation.” Janice collapsed into a battered, paint-speckled metal folding chair. “Detective Davenport won’t let us continue the demolition until his investigation is complete.”
    “That could take months,” Katie blurted.
    From the woman’s expression, Katie deduced the thought was not new to Janice.
    “Toby went back to his regular day job, but I already quit mine, and we’ve got a deadline to get the preliminary work done before the contractor shows up next week. We reallycan’t reschedule without throwing our whole timeline off. And all I can do is sweep the floor and strip paint.”
    Katie remembered from past inspection visits—when she’d hoped to buy the property herself—that the attic had contained a vast amount of junk, including cartons of papers. If the owner had lived on-site, perhaps something in those boxes, such as old tenant receipt books, might help them in their search for Heather’s killer.
    “If you can’t do demolition, surely there are other chores that need to be done. Scraping paint and puttying the windows. Replacing the newel posts… cleaning the attic.”
    Janice looked thoughtful. “Yes, the attic is in a mess. There’s tons of stuff up there. Davenport didn’t say I couldn’t empty it. The

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