Crimes Past(8)

By: Lauren Carr

After securing the water bottle and tossing the used napkins on the floor in the passenger seat, Mac put the car back in gear. “As mayor, Gnarly, I think you need to propose a law against feral cats running loose in Spencer.”

Gnarly’s ears perked up at that suggestion.

“But first, we have to get you to Spencer Inn for your book launch party.”

The tires of Mac’s red Viper spit gravel as it sped back onto the road.

Mac was still trying to wrap his head around owning a resort that he couldn’t have afforded to visit back when he had been a homicide detective.

Six years earlier, Mac had inherited a vast fortune from Robin Spencer. The worldfamous mystery writer’s sudden death from a brain aneurism had revealed a family secret. As a teenager, she had given birth to a baby who had been put up for adoption. Her son grew up to become a homicide detective named Mac Faraday.

By the time Robin Spencer had returned from college to her ancestral home, the love of her life, Patrick O’Callaghan, had married and had a son.

Upon learning of his inheritance, Mac Faraday moved into the stone and cedar mansion that had been home to his late birth mother. He also became fast friends with his halfbrother David O’Callaghan. It was due to their close relationship that Mac trusted his brother to cover up Mayor Gnarly’s fatal attack on the feral feline after it had attached itself to his head.

The hundredyearold Spencer Inn rested on a mountaintop. The front of the stone and cedar main lodge offered a view of the lake below and the mountains off in the distance. While resting between boating, golf, skiing, mountain biking, hiking, or any of the other host of activities, guests could enjoy the view in cane rocking chairs on the wraparound porch. An outdoor café offered refreshments on a multilevel deck overlooking a floral garden and elaborate living maze. For more formal eating, guests could dine at the Inn’s fivestar restaurant, which had been featured in numerous gourmet magazines around the world.

“I don’t believe it,” Mac Faraday said as he slowed the Viper down to drive past several tourists gathered around an eightfoothigh statue of a German shepherd. Actually, he was sixfoothigh on top of a twofoot pedestal. The statue gave new meaning to “larger than life.”

In the passenger seat, Gnarly uttered a low bark as if to warn the sixfoottall German shepherd that the Spencer Inn was his domain.

“How many times do I have to remind you, Gnarly? That’s you. You’re barking at yourself.” Mac spun the steering wheel to turn the sports car into his reserved parking space.

Since the German shepherd had been elected mayor of Spencer, Maryland, the Inn’s management had changed the sign from “Reserved for Inn’s Owner” to “Reserved for Mayor Gnarly.”

“Where have you been?” Mac’s wife, Archie Monday trotted down the steps to yank open the passenger door and extract Gnarly. She was clad in a magenta dress with matching high heels and jewelry. “We have close to a hundred people in line waiting for Gnarly’s book launch party.”

“You mean your book launch party.” Mac detached his seat belt. “Surely these people don’t believe Gnarly wrote a selfhelp book about life.”

A child screamed.

“Honey, look! It’s Gnarly!” Her cell phone poised, a woman rushed forward to record the canine next to Archie for prosperity. “Isn’t he beautiful?”

The crowd surrounding the statue migrated to where Archie and Gnarly were trying to climb the steps to the main entrance. It always took Gnarly a while to shake paws and pose for pictures with his adoring fans.

Watching his lovely wife, Mac groaned at the sea of change that he had experienced in a short time. Fresh from a bruising divorce, in which his wife of twenty years had left him for another man, he’d lost everything. Six years later, he was married to his birth mother’s stunning assistant and his dog was a popular politician.

At that moment, the kleptomaniac canine was stealing a cell phone from the purse of a woman who was spelling out her name for Archie to sign Gnarly’s debut selfhelp book entitled The World According to Gnarly. Spotting the theft in process, the victim’s son tapped his mother on the arm. She turned around and shouted at her husband. “Doug!”