Authors: Ann Mullen
“Give me a few minutes to get myself together,” she said. “I
have a few loose ends to tie up around here.”
“Okay,” I said as
walked back into the room. I looked at her and asked, “You look pale. Are you
“I will be as soon as I get out of here.”
Vera went to touch her arm, but
jumped back. She didn’t say a word,
but instead, turned and walked out the door. I followed.
Vera watched us from the doorway.
“You think she’ll turn herself in?”
asked as we got into the car. “I wouldn’t.
If I were her, I’d run.”
“Where’s she going to go?” I said. “She has no place to hide.
Oh, she’ll turn herself in. She knows there’s no way out of this one. You need
to call Sheriff Hudson and tell him she confessed to giving McCoy the drugs,
and that Billy and I heard her. He’ll have his men at her doorstep in no time.
She won’t get a chance to run.”
pulled out her cell phone, called the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, and then
told Sheriff Hudson about Vera’s part in McCoy’s death. I didn’t hear what the
sheriff had to say, but I knew he would jump right on it. We’d probably pass
him on the road.
On the way back to
house, I told her how sorry I was about everything that had happened. “I lost a
lot of trust in you,” I said. “It might take me awhile to get it back. I’ve
been told that I’m not a forgiving person, and there might be some truth to it.
“I understand,” she replied. “Trust has to be earned. No more
I smiled. “No more lies.”
By the time we got to
house, we were almost back to being the friends we had been before everything
had spiraled out of control. It felt good to know that
wasn’t the evil demon seed I thought
she was. Things were going to work out, and I was going to get my friend back.
When we left
and Kaleb, she was the happiest I’d
seen in awhile. I was glad.
But things don’t always end the way you expect them to. When
Sheriff Hudson and his men arrived at Vera’s apartment, she was gone. In a
matter of thirty minutes, she had packed up and fled. An APB was put out on
her, but after several hours, she still hadn’t been caught. We had done our
part, and now it was up to the cops to catch her. However, Vera was a cunning
woman. She was going to be the one that got away.
A week later, the day of the big wedding shindig arrived. All
the details had been meticulously planned out. They had to be. With three
couples getting hitched at the same time there was a chance that a lot of
things could go wrong. But nothing did go wrong that couldn’t be fixed. It
turned out to be a lovely ceremony for Mom and Eddie, Jonathan and Lu Ann, and
my sister Claire and her man, Randy.
Family and friends gathered at Chief Sam and Sarah’s house to
celebrate the unions. Faces that I hadn’t seen in awhile were present,
including ones that were once our cases. Lila Grayce and her two teenagers
showed up in their new red Nissan. That put a smile on my face. It was
refreshing to see so many people come together for such a happy celebration.
Bridesmaids and groomsmen were aplenty. When my brother Jack gave Mom away, I
After the wedding vows, we gathered outside for a lavish lawn
reception. It was a beautiful day and there was so much food. Everyone had a
“Your mother looked beautiful,”
said, standing next to Cole. “I
cried when Jack gave her away.”
“I did, too,” I said, looking at her and Cole. “Where’s
“He’s with a sitter. I thought it was a little early to be
dragging him to a wedding. We’re still getting to know each other, and I
thought that being around so many people he didn’t know might be a little
“You’re probably right.” I looked at Cole. “I see your mom’s
here. Elsie looks good. How’s she doing?”
“Same as always,” he replied. “She’s a real handful.”
“Is there any news on Vera? I guess she still hasn’t been
caught, or I would’ve heard something.”
“She’s long gone,” he said. “Sheriff Hudson’s beside himself
for letting her get away.”
“It wasn’t his fault.”
“Yeah, but he blames himself. He always does when something
like this happens.”
“He’s a good man and a great sheriff. He’ll find her. I know
he will. He’s like a hound dog. He never gives up.”
“What’s really weird is that he had asked Vera to accompany
him to this wedding celebration,”
added. “He had a crush on her until she turned out to be a criminal.”
“I bet that was a downer,” I joked. “Nothing like finding out
that the person you like is one of the bad guys… or gals… in this case.”
“Who’s a bad guy?” a familiar voice asked.
I turned to see Detective Frank Trainum and his wife,
Alexandra. Frank, a former detective for the D.C. Police Department, was now
working for the Charlottesville Police Department, and at one time he was
determined to throw me in jail. Fortunately, I turned out to be one of the good
guys and his admiration for me grew.
“Well… at one time I thought you were,” I said. “I know
“I thought for sure you were a psycho,” he joked.
“She is,” Mom interrupted, dressed in her simple, soft blue
wedding dress. “So you’d better watch out. There’s no telling what she’ll do
next.” She looked at me. “Your sister would like a minute of your time if you
I excused myself, grabbed Mom’s hand, and the two of us
walked away. In passing, I saw Flo and Mick Garner talking to Billy. I waved,
but didn’t stop. I was sure that Billy would tell me what they had to say
later, but for right now, I was in the mood to celebrate, not discuss work. I
like Flo and Mick, but I hope they don’t have another job for us anytime soon.
I barely survived the last one.
Claire wore a beige, frilly designer wedding gown, and looked
so beautiful. I had always been a little jealous of her, but not anymore. I’ve
“You look so pretty,” I said, hugging her. I leaned close
and said, “I haven’t talked to you much about the new baby. How’s that working
for you?” I smiled.
She rubbed her belly and said, “Very well, thank you. Seven
more months to go.”
We both glanced at Mom.
“After Carl, nothing bothers her anymore,” Claire added. “A
pregnant bride is nothing new nowadays.”
“Yuck! Carl! Think of something good. Where’s that wonderful
new husband of yours?”
“He’s somewhere in the crowd,” she answered, looking around.
“The last time I saw him he had Benny and Carrie with him, and they were
looking for his folks.” She leaned over and whispered, “They have a big
surprise for us. Well… it’s not really a surprise. You know how his mother,
Abigail and his aunt, Isabel are. They can’t keep a secret.”
“What’s the surprise?”
“They bought us a boat for a wedding present.”
“A boat! That’s so cool. Tell me about it. How big is it?”
“It’s big… really big!”
“What’s big?” Abby asked, walking over to us.
“The boat!” I exclaimed. “I can’t wait to go sailing in it.”
“It’s not a sailboat, my dear,” Izzy said, slipping out from
behind her sister. “And it’s big enough to take out the whole family. You’re
going to love it.”
“I’m sure I will. We have a helicopter.”
“I heard,” Pete said as he showed his face.
Pete was Randy’s father. He’d had some health issues in the
past, but he looked fit as a fiddle today. He was thrilled that his son finally
got the woman of his dreams. Randy had been in love with Claire since the day
he first laid eyes on her. Unfortunately, Claire had married Carl the Jerk, a
man I never liked. Fortunately, she wised up and had dumped him.
I used to have visions of Carl being eaten by a bear, so when
thoughts of him came to mind, so did Mama Bear and her two cubs. If they were
going to eat anybody, it should be Carl. I laughed at myself and my wild
thoughts. There ought to be a law...
“What’s so funny, `ge ya?” Billy asked, walking up. “Are you
getting into trouble?”
“Never,” I replied. “I was just having a moment of good
He looked so handsome in his tuxedo. He had been Jonathan’s
best man, and I thought to myself that he truly was. Billy was the cream of the
crop. There just aren’t many like him out there.
“Helene’s going to take the kids home. They’re tuckered out.
You want to give them a kiss before they leave?”
I excused myself and followed Billy to see my children. On
the way, we met up with Sheriff Hudson, who was talking with Russell Shank. The
sheriff looked a little rough, and Russell looked a lot heartbroken. The
sheriff had probably lost a lot of sleep in his search for Vera, and Russell had
just plain lost his heart.
“You guys look as if you’ve seen better days,” I said. “Both
of you have been working too hard. Vacation is the word. That’s what you need.”
“I’m sure we do,” Sheriff Hudson replied. “I know I could
sure use one, what with chasing down the criminal queen and trying to keep my
eyes on you two at the same time, I’m exhausted.” He looked at Russell. “How
Russell just shook his head.
I stepped closer to Russell and asked, “Are you going to make
it? You look so forlorn. Love will come back into your life again.”
“I’m just about ready to give up on the dating scene,” he
replied. “It’s too much work. I’m worn out just looking.”
“I felt the same way you do for a long time, but one day the
right girl will come along and you’ll change your mind.”
“I sure hope so. I’m tired of being single. I want a woman!”
“You’ll see. Look at me. I’m living proof. I gave up, and
then I found Billy.” I smiled. “See how happy I am?”
Sheriff Hudson patted Russell on the back and said,
“Sometimes, women are more trouble than they’re worth, pal. You’re better off
being single. They just break your heart anyway.”
“Jesse, why do women treat men like they’re playthings?”
Russell asked. “They use us, and then they toss us aside. It’s become a game
with them, and they tire of us so easily.”
“They learned it from the men in their life. If men didn’t
treat us that way, we wouldn’t be like that to them. It’s a learned condition.”
Russell’s mood changed when he looked over at a pretty blond
standing with a group of women. “Excuse me, but I see a toy I want to meet.” He
“He sure recovers quickly,” I said. “I’m glad to see he
hasn’t really lost faith in love.”
“Speaking of losing faith,” Sheriff Hudson said. “I’m
concerned that you and Billy aren’t taking your promise seriously.”
“You can stop worrying about us,” Billy said. “We will live
up to our end of the deal.”
The sheriff looked at us with those skeptical eyes and said,
“Sure. That’ll be the day. The ink’s barely dry on the paper, and you’re already
doing sneaky stuff.”
“If you’re talking about Vera,” I said, interjecting, “we
stumbled on that one by accident.”
“I’m talking about hiring your mother and her new husband to
do your dirty work. You’re not fooling anybody.”
“His name is Edward Wilson, but we call him Eddie.” I smiled.
“Hey, I just thought of something. Their last name starts with the same
initial. They won’t have to buy new monogram towels.”
“Only you would think of that,” Lu Ann said, jokingly,
dressed in a beautiful, curve-hugging white wedding gown. It was her first
marriage. She hugged me. “I want you to know that I wanted to ask you to be a
bridesmaid, but I didn’t, because I thought you were already taken. I’m
surprised your mother or your sister didn’t ask you. I thought for sure...”
“Yeah, I lucked out on that one,” I replied. “My family knows
they can’t take me anywhere. I’m socially inept and don’t function well when
people are looking at me. With my luck, I’d probably trip on my gown and fall
flat on my face. The family would never recover from their embarrassment.” I
The celebration continued late into the day until the dark
clouds started rolling in. By then, everyone had partied about as much as they
were going to. The newly married couples set out on their honeymoons, and the
rest of us were left to either go home, or help clean up. Billy and I opted to
stay. I figured it was the least I could do. I had been let out of being a
bridesmaid, everyone knowing my problems with social graces, so I had to
contribute in some way. Manual labor was something I could do.
Mom and Eddie flew to
for their honeymoon. I was surprised she would agree to go to the gambling
mecca of the world, since she was so against betting, but she said it didn’t
matter where they went, as long as they were together. Eddie really wanted to
go to Vegas, so she was going to go where he wanted. She could overlook the
heathens who threw their hard earned money away on such an evil game if it
meant making him happy. She has such a good heart.
Claire and Randy spent their honeymoon on their new boat. The
kids, Benny and Carrie, went with them… along with Pete, Abby, and Izzy. What a
cruise that was going to be!
Jonathan and Lu Ann took the helicopter to
. Both of them have traveled extensively
due to their jobs, so they wanted to stay close to home. Keep it personal…
cozy. At least, that’s what they said.
I think Jonathan was worried about his mom. Sarah hadn’t been
looking too well lately, and I was afraid there might be something going on
that I didn’t know about. When I mentioned it to Billy all he said was that she
That night, Billy and I sat in the swing on the front porch
and reminisced about recent events. There was a light, steady rain coming down,
and the air smelled so clean.
“Sheriff Hudson said Donald Rhodes found a diary that Wynona
had kept,” Billy said. “It was very explicit. She didn’t hold back one bit.”
“What was in it?”
“Everything she did, she wrote about it in that book. And she
did a lot of bad things. She described her deeds in vivid detail.”
“She wrote about all the people she killed?”
“In graphic language. She talked about how good it made her
feel, and how she couldn’t wait until the next time someone tried to stand in
her way. She would stop them in their tracks.”
“That’s sick. Why would she incriminate herself like that? I
can’t believe she put it all down on paper! That’s just plain nuts. The woman
wasn’t right in the head.”
“She never expected anyone to read her diary, but then again,
she never expected to die either. It just goes to show that keeping a journal
isn’t a very wise thing to do.”
“I used to keep a journal. That was before I actually had a
life to write about. I’m way too busy to waste my time on writing about what I
do. I want to live it.”
“There’s more news.”
“I don’t think I want to hear it, unless it’s happy news.”
“Sheriff Hudson said that Bruno Michaels is going to plead
diminished capacity, and most likely he’ll get off. He did lose his head when
he found out about his sister.”
“Good! I’m glad to hear it. He doesn’t deserve to go to