Home > Lake Silence (The Others #6)(7)

Lake Silence (The Others #6)(7)
Author: Anne Bishop

“What if I needed to talk to one of them?”

“Call your landlords. I believe they have the other office above the police station.”

“Crap,” Grimshaw said. “How many buildings do the Sanguinati own in this village?”

“More than the mayor or anyone else realizes. But that’s just a guess.”

Too much to think about, and he needed some time and quiet to think. “Anyplace around here to stay? Didn’t see an inn or motel.”

“Ineke Xavier’s boardinghouse, if you’re looking for short term. It’s clean and the food is good. She can be a bit . . . difficult . . . at times, but it’s your best choice. For longer term, there are some cabins along Mill Creek, which has a water mill that generates the electricity for the cabins. Come to think of it, I think it’s the source of electricity for The Jumble too. The cabins are basic one-bedroom, but furniture can be included. I’m renting one of them and can’t complain.”

“Who owns the cabins?” But Grimshaw had a feeling he already knew.

“The residents of Silence Lodge. Don’t let paved streets and storefronts fool you, Wayne. This is the wild country, and all of us are prey.”

A lot to think about. “I guess I’d better go over to the boardinghouse and see if Ms. Xavier has a room to rent. How much do I owe you for the books?”

“Bring them back in decent shape and I can sell them to Vicki as good used books.” Julian smiled. “She’s building up a library for herself and for her potential guests, but she’s on a budget.”

It was tempting to ask if Julian knew that Victoria DeVine’s lodger was one of the Crowgard, but that could wait for another day.

“See you around, Julian.”

“Your business is just across the street from mine, so that’s likely.”

Following Julian’s directions, Grimshaw got in his car and drove to the boardinghouse.

Yeah. He had a lot to think about, regardless of what the Crime Investigation Unit uncovered.

Like, what was Julian Farrow really doing in a place like Sproing?

CHAPTER 6

Vicki

Sunsday, Juin 13

Ineke Xavier ran the boardinghouse in Sproing. She was a tall woman—at least compared to me—and wore black-framed glasses. What made her stand out was her hair. It was a dark brown that was almost black, streaked with bright burgundy and teal.

There had been a lot of rumors flying around Hubb NE last year about the terra indigene and some of their deadliest forms. One rumor was that there was a form of terra indigene that could kill with just a look and it could be recognized by its multicolored hair. So it was understandable that guests, when first seeing Ineke, might wonder what they were walking into. And, in truth, there were some who looked at Ineke and walked back out, preferring to stay in the camper park at the edge of town, renting a camper that didn’t have its own toilet instead of staying in a clean room at the boardinghouse—an en suite room if you were willing to pay extra for one of the boardinghouse’s deluxe suites.

Ineke was a good cook, but she wasn’t much interested in baking. She left that to Dominique, one of the two young women who were somehow related to her and also worked for her. So when she showed up at The Jumble as soon as she finished serving breakfast at the boardinghouse, set a large bag on my kitchen table, and pulled out tins of chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon muffins, double-fudge brownies, and pecan-caramel rolls, I didn’t need to be a blood prophet to know she wanted something.

“Is this a bribe?” I asked.

“Of course it’s a bribe.” She sounded insulted that I had to ask. “Do you think I would bring this many treats for anything less?”

Not when sugar and flour were still limited items that weren’t always available.

I selected a chocolate chip cookie from the tin and took a bite. Delicious. Wonderful. And I flashed to the memory of Yorick giving me that smile and a little finger shake whenever I wanted to enjoy a sweet. Not gorge, mind you, just have an end-of-the-meal sweet—a family tradition he insisted on, claiming that none of the members of his family had ever gotten fat by having a small sweet after dinner. But I still got that smile and finger shake at the end of every meal—or a mild scold about being wasteful when I turned down the sweet.

I pushed aside memories that still soured my enjoyment of food most of the time while triggering a need to stuff my face. Feeling rebellious, I took another bite of the cookie. “Why the bribe?”

“People need time to get away from routine and relax. Now more than ever. And the Finger Lakes region has always been a popular destination. But the businesses in Sproing need something more than the Sproingers to give people a reason to stay here for a long weekend instead of spending time at one of the other lakes. I’ve been thinking about ways to hook the tourists, and I have a proposal for you.” Ineke helped herself to a brownie. “I have an arrangement with the stable that adjoins the boardinghouse land.”

Horses for hire and boarding for privately owned animals. I used to love to ride when I was younger, but I hadn’t gone over to see about hiring a horse for an hour or two. Too much to do and not enough money for indulgences.

“Okay,” I said, just to show I was listening, because Ineke wasn’t someone you wanted to annoy. I had boarded with her while the repairs and upgrades were being done on The Jumble’s main house. She usually gave her boarders a couple of prunes in the morning “to keep the plumbing clear,” and you didn’t get the rest of your breakfast until you ate them.

Feeding them to Ineke’s dog, Maxwell, who was a border collie with a touch of OCD when it came to locating and herding his people-sheep, was a no-no. Maxwell loved prunes but did not need to have his plumbing cleared, and the result of feeding him prunes was a messy eviction. Ineke was a lovely woman most of the time, but cross her and she wouldn’t hesitate to open a window and chuck your suitcase—and everything else you owned—onto the front lawn. And her aim was so good that at least half of what you owned landed in the dog’s diarrhea.

While I stayed with her, I ate my prunes and never, ever fed Maxwell table scraps of any kind.

“I thought the stable closed,” I said.

“Well, the previous owner was eaten, and the hands ran off to wherever people were running last year, but it was taken over shortly afterward by Horace and Hector Adams. They’re Simple Life folk. Cousins, I think.” She shrugged to indicate their actual relationship was none of her business. “They aren’t as strict about following Simple Life customs as some of their people, so they were willing to take over a business in a village that’s a mix of people and customs.”

“What does that mean? They use electricity for their appliances and lights but don’t own a television?”

“Pretty much. They have a radio, but only listen to the news in the morning and an hour of music at night. They have a telephone because they’re running a business but don’t have mobile phones. And they wear the traditional Simple Life style of clothes.”

Ineke knew more about who was doing what and where than anyone else in the village, including Jane Argyle, the postmistress, which was saying something. But while Jane might pass on gossip or a rumor indiscriminately, Ineke passed on information only if she thought it was something someone needed to know.

“Last fall, we offered guided trail rides around Sproing, visiting a couple of the boutique wineries in the area and giving visitors a chance to see some wildlife that wasn’t looking for lunch. Even after the Great Predation, there were people who wanted to get away from home for a day or two but didn’t want to travel very far.”

“People went to these wineries and sampled wines and then rode horses? Tall horses?”

“Dominique or Paige looked after the riders. Well, the horses mostly looked after the riders and knew enough to ignore the people on their backs and follow the girls. Anyway, I was thinking that, now that we’re into the summer months and the heat is coming on, maybe we could arrange a guided trail ride through The Jumble. There are plenty of bridle paths. We could start out at my place, ride for an hour or so, and end up at your place, where guests could enjoy a swim in the lake or just enjoy the quiet of your private beach. You’ve got that big screened porch across the back of the main house, so we would offer lunch there before my guests were guided back to the boardinghouse, passing the Milfords’ fruit stand on the way. I would supply the lunch—bringing enough for you and your lodgers—and would pay you twenty percent of the fee for the outing.”

   
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