Never Say Dye (A Sibyl Potts Cozy Mystery, Book 3) (9 page)

BOOK: Never Say Dye (A Sibyl Potts Cozy Mystery, Book 3)
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A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song
.

(Maya Angelou)

Chapter Seventeen
.

 

I sat on my couch next to Mr. Buttons. He had a saucer and a cup of tea resting on his knee, and I had my laptop on my knees. It was mid morning, and I yawned and rubbed my eyes.

“So what are you doing exactly?” Mr. Buttons asked me.

“I uploaded the old picture I found of Dorothy yesterday to my computer. I’m going to do an image search and see if anything comes up,” I said.

“Right, that’s what I thought,” Mr. Buttons said with a grin.

I pulled up the picture of the email I had sent myself after scanning the photo down at the library. The photo was of the cook, although it was decades old. The picture was in black and white, and looked for all the world like a clipping from a newspaper. I was fairly confident I would be able to find it online.

I clicked on the picture and copied it the search engine. When I released it, a small wheel appeared on the screen, spinning around as it searched. Jackpot. There was one link -
Local Woman Wins Bake Off
. The link took me to a site called
Newspaper Uploads
. I clicked on the link and waited.

It appeared as though the website simply took old newspapers and scanned them. There were hundreds of newspapers from across Australia, including the
Benalla Ensign
, which is where the picture of a young Dorothy was from.

“That’s it!” Mr. Buttons said, leaning over and taking a sip of his tea. I angled the screen so he could see better. Indeed, there was the black and white photo of Dorothy, accompanied by the article. The article said that the young Dorothy had won a national bake off, and this was the write-up in her hometown paper. The interesting thing, however, was that Dorothy’s name wasn’t Dorothy.

“They’re calling her Samantha Ridley,” Mr. Buttons said, reaching out to tap the end of one of his long index fingers on the screen.

I murmured my agreement and leaned closer to the screen. The picture certainly looked like Dorothy.

I googled
Samantha Ridley
. Pages of links came up, and I went through the tedious procedure of scrolling through them all.

“Why did she change her name?” Mr. Buttons asked.

“This is why,” I said. I had discovered Dorothy’s blog. I was shocked that Dorothy even had a blog – who knew the woman even knew how to turn on a computer?

I jabbed my finger at the screen. “Look, there’s an old blog post:
Samantha Dorothy Hicks – why I changed my name
.”

Mr. Buttons rubbed his hands together. “Quick, see what it says.”

It was a blog that Dorothy had written just three years ago. The blog said that she had changed her name as her husband had run off with another woman. Dorothy had then taken her middle name, and gone back to her maiden name. The rest of the lengthy post was about the ways in which her husband would burn in hell eternally.

My Buttons and I looked at each other. “Crikey,” I said. “There’s a lot of anger there.”

Mr. Buttons went to my kitchen to make another pot of tea, and I looked through more posts.

Most of the posts were about cooking, various recipes she liked, various cook jobs she’d had and lost. She seemed to lose a lot of jobs. I wasn’t surprised, given the woman’s temper.

The interesting posts had less to do with cooking or food, and more to do with Dorothy’s family. There were several posts about her nephew and the falling out he was having with his parents. He had finished his pharmacy degree, but he wasn’t going to pursue a career as a pharmacist. A woman was pushing him into something else, but Dorothy did not mention what the something else was.

Mr. Buttons and I read in silence, the older man leaning nearer after setting his tea on the coffee table before him. I was about to take a break and get something to eat, when I scrolled down to the next blog post, and my mouth fell open in shock.

This post had a picture. It was Dorothy, looking much more like her present self, and her nephew beside her. It was James.

I looked at Mr. Buttons, and his face was one of shock as well. I couldn’t believe it. I would never have guessed that they were related.

“You’re kidding me,” Mr. Buttons said. “Why didn’t they say anything?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “It looks like they had a falling out at the same time that James and his parents did.”

“Over a girl?”

I nodded. “It looks that way.”

“I wonder what she wanted him to do?” he asked.

I had been wondering the same thing.

Mr. Buttons tapped his chin. “The whole ghost business, perhaps? James is totally consumed by it now.”

I leaned forward and typed on the keyboard. I searched for James, and in no time, found his personal Facebook page. It appeared he had not used it in some time. I clicked on
Photos
, and the first photos to appear were those of Sue.

Mr. Buttons and I turned to each other, but before we could speak, there was a knock on the door. I stood up, handed the laptop to Mr. Buttons, and went to the door. Cressida stood on the porch, wearing a bright red sarong, and plenty of makeup on her face.

“I have information on James,” she said, and threw her arms skyward in a dramatic gesture.

I had forgotten that Max was perched on the back of a chair. He had been uncharacteristically quiet. Now, however, Cressida’s sudden appearance spurred him into action, or rather, speech. “You failed your IQ test!” he squawked.

I hurried over to him, but he flew away. I opened the back door, hoping he would fly straight out, but he landed, and slowly waddled toward the door.

As he walked, he squawked something that sounded like, “Did you have a bad hair day, or do always look like that?”

I shut the door on him and turned back to Cressida. “What did you find out about James?” I asked.

“He has a pharmacy degree.”

Mr. Buttons and I exchanged glances. “Yes, we ourselves just found that,” Mr. Buttons said from the couch. Cressida moved to sit next to him, leaving the last cushion for me.

Mr. Buttons reached over Cressida to hand the laptop back to me. “And listen to this,” I said, turning the laptop a bit on my legs so that Cressida could see the screen too. I scrolled back through Dorothy’s blog as I filled in Cressida on what we had found out. When I got to the part about Dorothy and James being related, Cressida gasped loudly and threw her hands to her mouth.

“You’re kidding me,” she said.

I shook my head. “It’s for real. And get this, James’s girlfriend, the one who caused all of these problems, and made James’s parents, as well as Dorothy, mad at him? That was Sue.”

“No way,” Cressida said, rearing back and waving her hands, accidentally slapping me on my arm.

“Ouch!” I rubbed my arm with my fingertips.

“So it’s James,” Cressida said. “He has pharmacy degree so would surely know about nicotine. Or it’s Dorothy, or Samantha, whatever she’s called.”

“I’m afraid I have to agree with you,” Mr. Buttons said. “I believe we can safely discount Alex, Michael, and Ken. That leaves either James or Dorothy, or perhaps both of them, working together.”

“I can understand that they had motive for Sue’s murder,” Cressida said slowly. “But what about me – what could they possibly have against me? I pay Dorothy well, and I’ve never once complained about her cooking.”

I rubbed my temples in an attempt to alleviate the headache that was rapidly forming. “You know, Cressida, they likely didn’t intend to murder you. You used the same bottle of hair dye that Sue had used. Plus, you weren’t in your own bathroom. The murderer or murderers probably had no idea you were going to use it.”

Cressida nodded. “That makes sense. It was an unopened bottle – and I only decided to use it on the spur of the moment. I looked in the mirror and saw I had a horrible amount of regrowth, and Sue and I had similar hair coloring. The package was sitting there.”

“So what do we do now?” I asked. “Apart from giving all this information to Blake, of course.”

No one spoke for a moment. “We need more,” Mr. Buttons said after a few moments.

“It’s Dorothy,” Cressida said, nodding her head. “I know it. I just know it. Why else would she change her name?”

“We know why she changed her name,” I pointed out. “It says so on the blog.”

“I just feel it in my bones,” Cressida said. “I think this could be the first time that Lord Farringdon has it wrong. He insists it’s not her, but cats don’t know everything.”

Mr. Buttons and I exchanged glances, and Cressida saw us.

“You people are no help,” Cressida said. “It looks like I’m going to have to solve this one on my own, like usual.”

The three of us laughed.

I realized I felt happy. It was strange, to feel so happy in this situation. Here we were, once again trying to solve a horrible crime - murder no less. Cressida herself had almost been killed this time. Yet I was happy, sitting with my two friends, two friends I never thought I would have, and as we talked about suspects and dug dirt up on people, I felt good. There was a time, just after my divorce, when I didn’t think I would ever feel good. I had been proven wrong. It had just taken a little murder and mayhem.

Cressida’s words brought me from my daydream. “Why don’t we just confront her?” she asked. “Let’s just tell her what we found out.”

I shook my head, but Mr. Buttons nodded. “What do we have to lose?” he asked, and then he looked directly at me. “Right?”

“I don’t know. What if she escapes? Or worse still, pulls out a long knife?”

“She’d only do that if she was the killer,” Cressida said.

“But isn’t that the whole point of confronting her?” I asked. “Confronting her on the basis that we suspect that she’s the killer?”

“We need to let her know that we know, without letting her know that we know, you know?” Cressida said.

I sat there, rubbing vigorously at my temples and trying to understand what Cressida just said.

“Okay, I’ll speak to her,” I said. I stood up. “Let’s go back to the boarding house.”

When we arrived at the boarding house, Cressida and Mr. Buttons went to make tea in the kitchen, and I went to Dorothy’s room.

I suppressed a shudder, and knocked on her door.

“Who is it?” was the gruff reply.

“It’s just me, Sibyl,” I said, my voice shaking.

“Come in!”

I walked through the door, taking deep breaths to calm myself. The cook was sitting on her bed, with a book in front of her.

“Can I speak with you?” I asked.

“Isn’t that what you’re doing?” she snapped.

Oh great
. I figured that I might as well just blurt it all out. “James was talking, and, err, he called you his aunt.”

Dorothy frowned deeply, and looked away from me. “That idiot,” she said, finally. “I knew he would do something like this.”

“Why didn’t you two tell anyone?” I asked.

Dorothy looked back at me. “Well, it’s no one’s business, is it? James is my nephew, but his parents have disowned him and so have I. It was a shock to see him again, and I didn’t feel the need to tell anyone.”

I took courage in the fact that Dorothy had not pulled out a long knife from under her pillow. Even so, I stayed close to the door, in case I had to beat a hasty retreat. “But when Sue died, and then Cressida was poisoned too, didn’t you think it was relevant?”

Dorothy glared at me. “Why? I didn’t have anything to do with Sue or Mrs. Upthorpe. Small towns are full of gossip. I told James to stay quiet about us being related.”

“Why?” I asked.

Dorothy didn’t answer right away; she kept her eyes averted, and then she took a deep breath and spoke. “Sue was his girlfriend - she was the reason that James’s parents disowned him. When she died, I didn’t want anyone to know I was his aunt, and that I hadn’t cared for Sue much. James was a good kid, you know? He had so much promise, more promise than my dunce of a son ever showed. But then that girl came along, and she filled his head with ghosts this, and ghosts that, and all of this other devilish nonsense. He threw away his promising career.”

I was surprised how easily Dorothy was confessing, yet the fact remained that she wasn’t trying to hide anything, which made me wonder whether she was the killer, after all.

“Is there anything else you want to tell me?” I asked.

Dorothy looked at me with narrowed eyes, her brows dipping low on her forehead. Then she sighed, and got out of bed. “I have to go start cooking,” she said.

As she headed toward me, I said, “Okay, thanks,” and hurried out the door first, just in case she was the killer, after all.

I reached the dining room in double quick time, and found Cressida and Mr. Buttons in the dining room, sipping tea. I sat next to Mr. Buttons, who poured tea into a delicate, bone china cup and set it in front of me. I dropped some sugar into it and stirred it with a small spoon, leaving Cressida and Mr. Buttons on the edge of their seats.

BOOK: Never Say Dye (A Sibyl Potts Cozy Mystery, Book 3)
8.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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