Crimes Past(9)

By: Lauren Carr

“I’m getting it.” The husband was recording the crime with his camera.

A group gathered around to watch as the German shepherd trotted toward the gift shop exit with the cell phone in his jaws. At the door, the store manager stepped in front of Gnarly and held out his hand.

Gnarly stopped, sat, and dropped the cell phone into the manager’s hand. The manager handed the phone to the victim and Gnarly returned to take his seat next to Archie, who continued to sign books with her signature and stamp the front page with a paw print.

“Did you get that, Doug?” the victim asked while wiping the dog drool off her phone. “Did you get it all?”

“I’m uploading it to social media now.”

“Wait until Grandma sees that your cell phone actually got stolen by Gnarly!” The little boy was jumping up and down with excitement.

Imagine that. You could go to Scotland and hope to see the Loch Ness monster or Spencer to have your pocket picked by its mayor.

“Uncle Mac!” A young woman with her auburn hair cut into a short crop bound from the reception desk with her arms spread wide.

A wide grin crossed Mac’s face. “Gina! I wasn’t expecting you until later!” He took her into a warm hug.

“I couldn’t wait,” she breathed into his ear. She gestured at the elegance around her. “This is sooo lovely. More beautiful than I ever imagined.” She let out a squeal. “And I’m getting married here. Whoever would have imagined?”

“It’s my wedding present to you and Seth. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask. I’ve left orders for you two to be treated like royalty.”

Kassandra Johansson and her daughter, Morgan, approached them from the reception desk.

Florence, the Inn’s event coordinator, had already greeted the bride, her maid of honor, and her aunt. On Mac’s orders, Florence was personally checking them in to ensure that everything would be perfect for their special guests.

“Where is Seth by the way?” Mac asked.

“He worked the evening shift last night,” Gina said. “He’s catching up on some sleep. The groomsmen will be bringing him out later.”

“He needs to rest up for his bachelor party,” Morgan said with a salacious grin.

“I don’t know how wicked the bachelor party can be with the bride and bridesmaids attending,” Kassandra said.

“It isn’t like they’re planning any strippers,” Gina said.

“I was hoping,” Morgan said.

“No,” Gina said in a firm tone.

“I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather.” Kassandra looked out the windows at the clear blue sky. “They couldn’t have asked for a better weekend for an outdoor wedding.”

“And the leaves are at their height,” Florence said. “The gardens are glorious right now. Our florists are working overtime to ensure that everything will be perfect.” She held up her hand with her fingertips held together in a motion of precision.

“As long as Seth and I are together, celebrating our vows to spend the rest of our lives together, that is all the perfection that will be necessary.” Gina reached up to give Mac a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you so much for this glorious wedding gift. It’s going to make our special day even more memorable than ever.”

With an offer to show them the gardens where the ceremony would take place, Florence led the women through the glass doors to the outdoor café.

“You shouldn’t feel guilty, Mac.”

Recognizing the voice, spoken with a thick Australian accent, Mac didn’t need to turn around. Instead, he focused on the server, carrying a silver tray containing a crystal bowl and saucer, passing by on his way into the gift shop. “Guilty for what?”

“For not solving her mother’s murder. That’s why you’re doing this.” Hector Langford, the Inn’s security manager, gestured at the glamorous hotel around them. “You promised to catch her mother and stepfather’s killer and you failed. So, you’re attempting to make up for it by giving her a huge wedding in your fivestar hotel that other brides can only dream of.”

“You’re wrong, Hector.” Mac watched as the server stepped over to where Gnarly was seated in the chair at the signing table. With a bow, he presented the saucer containing a dog biscuit to Gnarly who inhaled it in one gulp. Next to him, Archie continued signing books and stamping them with the dog paw stamp while smiling brightly at the customers. The server then held the bowl for Gnarly who took a long sloppy drink.