Chilled in Chattanooga (A Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Book 4) (8 page)

BOOK: Chilled in Chattanooga (A Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Book 4)
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CHAPTER NINETEEN

W
e high-tailed it to the car. “Wow, she has a burr under her saddle,” Dee Dee said. “Do you think she did it?”

“Yeah, I sensed she knew Annie, but had no idea she harbored such hate.” I swerved to miss a car drifting into my lane. “Sheds light on Annie’s attitude.”

“You’d never kill over jealousy would you?” Dee Dee said. “I’ve heard of being bitter, but to lash out at someone for their talent, that’s harsh.”

I swerved to avoid a car speed-changing lanes.

“You’d think this was the Indie 500 the way people are driving. I don’t know why everyone is in such a hurry,” Dee Dee said.

“Holiday shopping traffic. It’s only a couple more weeks until Christmas.” I thought of how quickly the year had flown by; a year of being Mrs. Beau Beaumont. I wanted, no needed, to hurry home to him. I applied a little more pressure on the gas pedal.

“And here we are smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation. How did we get so lucky, Trix?”

“Don’t know, but we have to find a way out of the middle. I can’t wait to get back to work on the Ghoston article and home to Beau. I miss him.” I could at least call and hear his voice, but I dreaded telling him about the murder.

“I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes when you tell him about Annie. I wish he wasn’t halfway across the country so he could help us.” Dee Dee rooted around in her bag.

“What ya’ looking for, Dee?”

She pulled out something, raised it in the air and yelled, “ta da! It was a pack of crackers. “My chicken salad has flown the coop.” She held the package in front of my face. “Want some?”

My vision obscured, I slammed on the brakes. Thank goodness we were on a side street. I glanced in the rear view and let out a breath of relief since there were no cars behind us. “What in the world were you doing, Dee Dee. You almost got us killed.”

“Sorry, I was just being nice. If you don’t want any just say so.”

“Uh, I didn’t say that. Hand me over a couple, I could sure use some sustenance.” She pulled two out of the pack and handed them over. “Yummy, cheese on wheat. Thanks, Dee.” I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I started eating. The crackers just whetted my appetite.

“What do you want to do for supper?” The thought of food was never far from Dee Dee’s mind.

“I don’t know right now. Give me a little time to think about it. Maybe we can look at the Chattanooga directory in our room and pick out a good restaurant.” I’d thumbed through the directory earlier and noticed it listed dining choices, tourist attractions and accommodations.

“Sounds like a plan. I think I’ll take a little snooze before we go out. I wonder how Nana’s doing. She’s something else isn’t she? I hope I have the energy she does when I reach her age. Oh shoot, I don’t even have her energy now.” We both laughed at Dee Dee’s observation. She was right though, on a good day Nana could run circles around both of us.

When we entered our room, Nana was talking on the phone. Now the proud owner of a cell phone for seniors and she loves to talk on it. I mouthed “who are you talking to?”

“Your mama. Want to talk to her?” My mother came straight from the lineage of Job. That woman had more patience than anyone I knew. But even Mama needed a break from Nana now and then. That’s why I didn’t mind taking her with me when I could.

“Sure, I’d love to.” Mama came to my rescue more than once. Watching Nana for a while was the least I could do for her. I laid my purse and coat on the bed and took the phone.

“Hi Mama. How are things in Vans Valley?”

“The question is how are things with you, Trixie? I’ve been so worried about you and Nana. Do you want me to come pick her up and bring her home?”

“To tell you the truth, I’ve thought about it Mama, but I think we’re fine for now. Nana’s resting most of the time.” Well, some of the time anyway.

“Okay, you just let me know if you want me to come.” I knew Mama would come faster than a snowman melting on a sunny day, but I’d wait until I was sure I needed her.

“How’s Bouncer?” Mama took care of my border collie when I was out of town.

“He’s fine. He misses you though and I have to encourage him to eat. I find myself clapping every time he takes a bite.” The familiar sound of Mama’s laughter made me homesick.

We talked a few more minutes before I gave the phone back to Nana. By the time I said goodbye, Dee Dee was already snoring. I didn’t blame her. I’d love to take a nap, too, but I needed to get busy studying my research.

Nana wound up her talk and flipped the phone closed. “When’s supper?” I couldn’t help but laugh.

“We’re going out later, Nana. Let Dee Dee sleep for a while and I’m going to work on an article. You know how Harv can be.”

“I sure do. He’s too hard on you. I don’t know why he yells all the time.”

“That’s just his way. He’s not really as mean as he sounds. I’ll admit he’s hard-nosed. He expects the best from his writers. He gets under my skin sometimes, but I’ll never forget the chance he gave this rookie.” I don’t know what I’d have done without Harv. I owed him for taking me on when no one else would.

“Why don’t you look through the Chattanooga directory and see if you can find us a good place to eat? Maybe somewhere we haven’t been before.”

“Sure, I can do that, but if we were at home and I didn’t have a broken arm I’d be cooking up some fried chicken, mashed potatoes and homemade biscuits.”

“Oh, that sounds good, Nana. I wish we were home right now feasting on one of your meals. In the meantime we’ll just have to make do. I’m going to go through these pictures Tilly gave me. It’s amazing all the information she’d accumulated. She kept newspaper articles from Bobby Lee Ghoston’s murder and collected lots of pictures. Did I tell you she’s the official historian for Lookout Mountain?”

“I believe you did. I think I’ll walk around the lobby while you work.”

“Do you think you feel well enough? You’re not dizzy are you?” I was worried the effects of the pain medicine hadn’t worn off.

“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”

Yeah, famous last words.

“Did you say something dear?”

I swanny, could she read my mind now? “No, Nana, you go ahead. I’ll be through in an hour or so and then we’ll go out for supper.”

Nana donned her coat and scarf, grabbed the Chattanooga directory and headed to the lobby. There was a short walk outside before entering the main section of the hotel. I propped my pillow against the headboard and spread newspaper articles and photographs in front of me. How was I going to make heads or tails of all this?

CHAPTER TWENTY

I
reviewed the information Tilly had given me on the Ghoston Murder. Bobby Lee and Tad had been friends since high school, and together they owned a furniture store in Rossville named Furniture Warehouse. Both of them were married, and while Tad and his wife had one child, Bobby Lee didn’t have any.

Tad’s wife left him alone to raise their daughter, Tabitha. It was a surprise to everyone when he suddenly died from a heart attack. Bobby Lee and his wife took in Tabitha and raised her like their own. Bobby Lee was found murdered in his warehouse. And Tilly said there were rumors and accusations that Bobby Lee was a member of the Dixie Mafia.

Next I read the newspaper articles on Bobby Lee’s murder. They never found a suspect and they blamed the murder on a botched robbery since the body was found with his wallet contents strewed around him. I studied the pictures of both men. I thought Bobby Lee looked familiar, but the picture wasn’t of the best quality, so I wasn’t sure of what I was seeing.

I made a quick call to the furniture store, and found out it was still in operation. Rossville wouldn’t be that far. Maybe we could take a trip and check it out. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to work on two murders at once, but I didn’t have a choice. I needed to prove to Harv I could handle whatever he threw my way.

I heard Dee Dee moving around. “Hey, girl, you awake?”

She opened one eye. “Barely.”

I stretched my arms above my head and released a big yawn. I was ready to get off this bed and go out for a while. “Want to go find Nana and head out to eat? She’s supposed to be in the lobby.”

“Sure, give me a few minutes to freshen up.”

“I’ll go get Nana.” I stretched out my knee, rubbed it and waited for the tendons to relax.

We chose the Southern Belle Riverboat cruise, and while they finished getting ready I managed to get us last minute reservations.

We drove through town, enjoying the light display, and parked close to the pier. A fishy smell permeated the air. After walking down to the dock, our coats pulled tight against the chill, we stood in front of the three story riverboat and stared in awe. Inside, we were greeted with the eloquence of a five star restaurant.

The hostess seated us, along with other guests, at a long table. Several of these tables lined the room with the buffet in between them. A wooden dance floor made from walnut covered the rest of the room. A four piece ensemble sat in the corner.

“Wow, can you believe this place? I’ve never seen anything like it, but then I’ve never eaten on a riverboat before. I can’t wait to get at that buffet.” Nana eagle-eyed the feast laid out before us. Fried fish, baked fish and broiled fish dotted the buffet accompanied by sides such as slaw, hush puppies, greens, and cornbread to name a few. Cakes and banana pudding were offered for desserts.

“You’re right, Nana. This was a wonderful idea. I’m so glad you found it. I wish we had dates so we could dance, too.” Dee Dee looked at the dance floor. I expected her to break out in full swing any minute.

I knew as soon as the words left her mouth it was too late. Nana wasn’t going to let a little thing like a date keep her from a night of dancing.

She looked around the room. “I see a lot of men we can borrow for a dance or two.”

Oh, my goodness. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. I had to admit I would have loved to have Beau’s arms embracing me. A moonlight ride on a boat, with the one you loved, would be so romantic. I’d call Beau tonight barring any catastrophe.

“Nana, we can’t do that.”

“Why not Trixi? It might be fun.” I could see I wasn’t going to get any help from my friend. Nana had found an ally in Dee Dee.

We filed up to the buffet with the other guests. As people piled their plates full I couldn’t help but picture pigs at a feed trough. I helped Nana with her plate since she only had one good hand. In between bites we talked with our neighbors as well as the couple from Cincinnati seated across from us. Nana kept everybody entertained while we ate. She held her arm up and invited everyone to sign her cast.

The band struck up a chord of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” as couples made their way to the dance floor. Nana sang the words to the song and I could tell she itched to get on the floor. We enjoyed strawberry shortcake while listening to the band. Then it happened in the blink of an eye. Nana eyed her target. Before I could intercede she’d tapped the unsuspected dancer on the shoulder and cut in. I looked heavenward and asked for help.
Lord save me from dying of embarrassment, please.

God must have been busy taking care of something much more important than my embarrassment. During the second song Nana decided to do the Charleston. Her partner slowly backed away as Nana danced the rag while the band played a lively tune. Quicker than a coon treeing a squirrel, the crowd formed a circle around her.

My breathing quickened and sweat popped out on my forehead. My vision blurred as I tried to focus on my great-aunt vying for the center of attention. I gasped for breaths expecting to pass out any moment. Dee Dee noticed my anxiety and grabbed my hand. “It’s all right, Trix. She’s having a good time and the crowd is enjoying her show.” I didn’t know whether to believe her when I heard a loud ring of applause. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The crowd was clapping wildly for Nana.

Her partner, who’d acquiesced the floor to Nana, escorted her back to her chair. He gave her a little peck on the cheek. “Night ladies,” he said, and returned to his previous dance partner. “Whew, I’m exhausted. Did you see me Trixie?”

“Yes, I saw you Nana.”

“I told you we didn’t need dates to dance.” Nana waved at her fans as they passed by. “I’m so glad we decided to come here for supper. What an evening. Trixie I have to admit, you know how to show a girl a good time. There’s never a dull moment when you’re around.”

Dee Dee guffawed at Nana’s observation. I didn’t think it was so funny. I looked around the room for an escape. I was ready to return to our cozy hotel room. While I surveyed the room I spotted a familiar face. My heart leapt into my throat.

BOOK: Chilled in Chattanooga (A Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Book 4)
9.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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