Never Say Dye (A Sibyl Potts Cozy Mystery, Book 3)

BOOK: Never Say Dye (A Sibyl Potts Cozy Mystery, Book 3)
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Never Say Dye

(A Sibyl Potts Cozy Mystery, Book 3)

 

Copyright © 2015 by Morgana Best

All rights reserved

 

License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's work.

 

* * *

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The personal names have been invented by the author, and any likeness to the name of any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

This book may contain references to specific commercial products, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, specific brand-name products and/or trade names of products, which are trademarks or registered trademarks and/or trade names, and these are property of their respective owners. Morgana Best or her associates, have no association with any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, specific brand-name products and / or trade names of products.

 

 

 

 

 

“Home life as we understand it is no more natural to us than a cage is natural to a cockatoo.”
(George Bernard Shaw)

Chapter One
.

 

There were five of them in total. I watched as they got out of their black SUV and walked toward the boarding house. As I stood alongside Mr. Buttons and Cressida, I wondered if these strangers would actually find a ghost.

The one at the front had black hair and an infectious smile, but there was something undeniably slimy about him. Behind him was a taller man, who was bald with a beard. His arms were covered in tattoos; he looked like a biker, only even more intimidating.

The third was a woman, about my height. She had striking red hair and was dressed more casually than the others. Walking behind her was a man in a scarf and a hat. Finally, there was a shorter man with a goatee. He walked with a skip to his step, and I felt he was the only one in the group that seemed outwardly friendly.
Then again
, I said to myself,
do friendly people hunt ghosts for a living? What sort of person does?

Dorothy snorted. She was the new cook here at the estate; since Alison the maid had been thrown in jail, Cressida was having a hard time keeping up with all the orders. As such, a new cook had been hired – Dorothy. And Dorothy was awful.

Dorothy was a middle-aged woman, although her hair was already completely gray, and tied back in a severe knot. She had made it abundantly clear that she did not believe in the paranormal, nor did she approve of ghost hunters coming to investigate, though she had used the term
snoop around
in lieu of
investigate
.

Mr. Buttons shot an angry, sideways glance at Dorothy. As she had made it clear she didn't believe in the paranormal, Mr. Buttons had made it clear he didn't believe in Dorothy. He seemed to despise everything about her, although he hid it behind a passive-aggressive tone. He would say things like, “Ma'am, please refrain from carrying on in such a capacity,” and that was as rude as he ever got. To be honest, while it was a little funny, I felt bad about how frustrated she made him. To top it all off, she couldn't cook as well as Cressida, so I had two reasons to dislike her.

When the ghost hunters made it to the front door, Cressida greeted the man at the front with a handshake and a smile. As they exchanged greetings and names, I caught myself day dreaming about the last few months. There had been three murders since I had arrived in the town of Little Tatterford. There weren’t really such things as ghosts, were there?

“Hello.” The man with the black hair reached his hand out to shake mine.

“Oh,” I stammered. “Hello. Nice to meet you. I'm Sibyl.” I took his hand and shook it. He smiled back at me and continued onto Dorothy without telling me his name. I didn't have time to think much of it, as the others came by and introduced themselves.

In the end, I found out all their names – even the first man, who turned out to be the leader of the group. His name was James, while the bald man was Alex, the red haired woman was Sue, the man with the scarf was Michael, and finally, the man with the goatee was Ken. They all seemed quite friendly, though I felt there was something off about them. I couldn't quite figure it out, though it was probably just because they hunted ghosts for a living.

We were still milling about the entrance talking to one another. The weather was mild and the sky was overcast, though it didn't look as if rain was due any time soon. I got talking to Sue.

“So,” I began, “you hunt ghosts? How?”

She smiled at this question, and I realized it was probably one of the first things anyone asked her. “Well, we have specialized equipment. We have electric thermometers, electromagnetic field readers, thermographic and night vision cameras, geophones, and more. Obviously, we film it all, too.” As she said this, she motioned to several large, black bags, presumably full of equipment, sitting behind her.

“That sounds, well, expensive,” I said. I couldn't understand how they could make a profit, and I asked her how they did it.

“Well,” she replied. “It isn't easy. Some places pay quite a lot for footage, and some of us work other jobs. Some of us have worked as pharmacists, plumbers, lawyers; you name it. We work to make ends meet, and this is sometimes more of a passion project, though we're coming along nicely -”

Before she could finish, James stepped up to us and interrupted her.

“We're the best at what we do, plain and simple. Other ghost hunting teams come up with either circumstantial evidence, or simply nothing. We get results.” At this, James and Sue shared a glance.

There definitely seemed to be some tension between them. Were they former – or current – lovers? I didn't really care. I'd had more than enough drama in my life, and tension between expert ghost hunters wasn't something that drew my interest.

“You mentioned other teams?” I asked, keen to change the subject. 

“Yes,” James replied, smiling that infectious smile I'd seen earlier. “There aren't many, of course. It's not an easy field to make a living in, as you can imagine. I'd say we're one of three, maybe four, teams in the whole country that even have the equipment to do it properly.” As James was speaking, there seemed to be a tone of condescension, as if he were trying to explain a simple concept to a child.

“What sort of things have you found?” I asked the question quite earnestly, despite taking offense at his tone. While he might not be the easiest person to get along with – or so I assumed, from our brief encounter – he did follow an interesting career path.

“Oh, lots of things, all of which have been recorded on either film or tape. I assumed you would have taken the time to look us up, seeing that you knew we were coming.”

I narrowed my eyes at James’s arrogance. He had taken full control of this situation, and Sue was standing awkwardly to the side, as if she were trying to avoid the conversation altogether. I decided she had the right idea.

“Well, sorry, but I'd never even heard of you until this morning. It's not as if Cressida posted a big announcement, warning us all not to be blinded by the light of your glorious radiance when you finally saw fit to grace us with your presence.” I was obviously being sarcastic, but James didn't take offense. Rather, he laughed out loud.

“I didn't mean to offend,” he offered, still smiling. “It's just been a long trip, and as you can imagine, we have this same conversation every time we arrive somewhere new.”

 

“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”
(
David Attenboroug
h
)

Chapter Two
.

 

It had been a few days since the ghost hunters had arrived. They'd settled in comfortably, although I found their presence more than a little unsettling. They weren't exactly quiet when they went about their investigations, and as they did so in the middle of the night, it made sleeping more than a little uncomfortable, even from the distance of my cottage. Knowing they were here specifically to look for ghosts didn't help, either.

They had been nice enough to me since their arrival, yet I still found them to be either generally obnoxious or just untrustworthy. I knew it was rude to think that about them, especially since these people hadn't actually done anything to me. At least, not on purpose. But the lack of sleep combined with their generally holier-than-thou attitude was setting me on edge.

They weren't all so bad, though. James switched between being both charming and courteous to being obnoxious and rude. I suspected he was always the latter, but had practiced his façade. Still, he seemed harmless – at least, harmless compared to some of the people I'd met over the few months or so.

Alex – the bald man – hadn't said a word to me, so it was hard to say how I felt about him. He seemed nice enough, but then he literally hadn't spoken since he got here. I wasn't sure if he was mute or just quiet. Either way, it was more than a little unsettling.

Michael was talkative, and insisted on wearing his scarf, despite the warm weather. I hadn't seen him without it even once – was he hiding something, or did he just have poor fashion sense? He did seem to be genuinely nice, though, which was more than I could say for most of them. He had apologized more than once for the noise they'd been making, although he hadn't taken any efforts to stop it. I suspected that was due to his lack of power in the group, as James clearly had the final say in all matters.

Then there was Ken – the man with the goatee. He had been generally reclusive too, much like Alex, though Ken at least had spoken on occasion. He was friendly enough when he did speak, but sometimes would remain quiet even when asked a direct question, which could be quite unsettling.

Finally, there was Sue. She had been friendly to me on the day they arrived, but that was the last time we'd spoken. I'd heard her arguing a few times, though I couldn't tell with whom she was speaking – whoever it was, they were clearly not as loud as she was. I figured she was probably going through a breakup with James, though I still had no idea if they were even a couple.

I was up earlier than usual, having walked my yellow labrador, Sandy, an hour earlier than our usual time, due to predicted thunderstorms. I was sitting in my living room, enjoying a simple breakfast of peanut butter on toast, and coffee, when I heard a knock at my door. When I opened it, I saw Cressida standing there, hands on hips, and a furious look plastered on her face. “Oh, dear. What's wrong?” I asked.

“It's that woman!” Cressida yelled. I'd never seen her so angry; I was afraid she'd burst a blood vessel. “Come in and sit down,” I offered. “I'll make you some tea.” She graciously accepted and took a seat on my sofa. “Now, tell me what happened,” I asked her as I walked into the kitchen.

“It's
Dorothy
.” Cressida practically spat the name. “She won't stop talking. I'm terribly sorry to speak so rudely of someone, but I can't stand it. How Mr. Buttons handles her is beyond me.” I stepped back into the room with a fresh cup of tea and handed it to Cressida.

“What has she done?” I asked. Normally I wouldn't be interested in these things, but I wanted something to distract me from the ghost hunters. There had been so much drama in my life since I'd moved here, so listening to someone complain about a coworker sounded wonderfully normal.

“We were talking about that strange man, Alec, I think his name is -”

“Alex.”

“Thank you, yes, Alex. Anyway, we were wondering why he never spoke, which is when Dorothy said -” Before Cressida could finish, there was a loud banging on the door. I jumped up immediately, startled, and ran to the door.

When I got there, it swung open. Standing in the doorway was Mr. Buttons, looking flushed and sweating profusely.
Oh, great
, I thought.
Dorothy's done something to upset him as well
. Unfortunately, the truth was much worse.

Before I could ask what had happened, Mr. Buttons told me. “Sue is dead!”

My first thought, strangely, was that at least he was to the point, and my second thought was that I might be becoming desensitized. Unfortunately, my third thought – disbelief - was a lot more normal. “What do you mean, dead?” I asked. Of course, I knew exactly what he meant, but the question had to be asked. It's not as if murder is ever any easier to deal with – assuming, of course, that it was indeed murder.

“I - I don't know what's happened. I’ve called Blake, of course. I think she was
murdered
, Sibyl.” Mr. Buttons’ voice was panic-stricken. This was insane – one murder in your home is more than anybody should have to go through. Two is unbelievable. But four? I was starting to think that maybe the place really was haunted.

“How do you know she was murdered?” I asked.

Mr. Buttons averted his gaze. “Well,” he replied, “I don't, really. But of course it was. Of all people, you would know. As if we ever have accidents here.” He took a seat in the living room opposite Cressida, and I closed the front door behind him.

Cressida's mouth was hanging open in shock, and she raised her hand to cover her mouth. She sat there, silently, all color drained from her face.

I made a fresh batch of tea as we all sat in silence, before I finally asked Mr. Buttons, “Exactly what happened?”

“I was just on my way to the kitchen and was walking past the bathroom on the east wing when I heard a loud thump,” he said. “I knocked on the door and called out, but nobody answered. When I tried the handle, I found it unlocked, and saw her lying on the floor. It was strange, though.”

You found a dead body, and said something about it was strange,
I thought.
Aside from detectives and coroners, we're the only people on earth that wouldn't find the body itself to be strange.
I didn't say anything, and he continued.

“Well, there wasn't any blood. At least, not on the floor. But I think there was some in her hair.”

“What could possibly cause that?” I asked. Mr. Buttons simply shrugged at me and looked at the floor. Another day, another murder. I was seriously starting to consider the idea that this place might be haunted – or, there was something strange going on, at least. Could four murders in a row really be a coincidence? Had Sue even been murdered, or had she simply slipped?

I sighed some more. Of course she hadn’t slipped. At that point, I fell straight into a vision. Cressida appeared before me. Her hair was a brighter red than usual, and she was running around my room, screaming. Suddenly, a different vision of Cressida appeared, with her hair the color it is now. She was smiling, and sipping from a tea cup. The vision stopped as abruptly as it had begun.

 

BOOK: Never Say Dye (A Sibyl Potts Cozy Mystery, Book 3)
7.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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