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Authors: Marni Graff

The Green Remains

BOOK: The Green Remains
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The Green Remains

M. K. Graff

Copyright © 2012 by M. K. Graff.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher except in the case of brief quotations for the express purpose of critical articles or reviews. For information or permission contact:

  Bridle Path Press, LLC

  8419 Stevenson Road

  Baltimore, MD 21208

www.bridlepathpress.com

Direct orders to the above address.

Printed in the United States of America.

First edition.

ISBN 978-0-9852331-0-5

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012936162

Illustrations and design by Giordana Segneri.

Cover photographs © Kurt Drubbel/istockphoto.com and © xyno6/istockphoto.com.

for sean

Friday’s child is loving and giving ...

Cast of Characters

in order of appearance

Nora Tierney —
American writer

Agnes —
cook at Ramsey Lodge

Kate Ramsey —
co-owner, Ramsey Lodge

Simon Ramsey —
Kate’s artist brother and co-owner, Ramsey Lodge; illustrator of Nora’s children’s books

Val Rogan —
textile artist; Nora’s best friend in Oxford

Detective Inspector Declan Barnes —
Senior
Investigation Officer in Oxford, Thames Valley Police Criminal Investigation Department

Keith Clarendon —
agent at Worth’s Travel Agency; heir
to the Clarendon estate

Clive Jenkins —
Nora’s former boss at
People and Places
magazine

Daniel Rowley —
handyman at Ramsey Lodge and at
Clarendon Hall

Detective Inspector Ian Travers —
Cumbria
Constabulary Criminal Investigation Department; Kate’s fiancé

Dr. Milo Foreman —
pathologist

Cook —
Elsie Ewart, cook at Clarendon Hall

Sommer Clarendon —
younger Clarendon brother; Keith’s
father

Antonia Clarendon —
Sommer’s wife; Keith’s mother

Detective Chief Inspector William Clarke

Cumbria Constabulary Criminal Investigation Department; Ian’s superior

Anne Reed —
missing eighteen-year-old from Windermere

Gillian Cole —
nurse at Clarendon Hall

Doc Lattimore —
Bowness and Windermere general
practitioner

Edmunde Clarendon —
older Clarendon brother

Maeve Addams —
assistant manager at Ramsey Lodge

Julia Brookes Clarendon —
Edmunde’s deceased wife

Tony Warner —
writer for
People and Places
magazine;
Nora’s former colleague

Glenn Hackney —
Keith’s colleague at Worth’s Travel Agency

Jack Halsey —
Daniel Rowley’s friend and drinking buddy

Edgar Worth —
owner, Worth’s Travel Agency

Robbie Cole —
Gillian’s son

Detective Sergeant Stephen Higgins —
Cumbria
Constabulary Criminal Investigation Department; on Ian’s team

Jodie Halsey —
Jack’s daughter-in-law

Andrew Halsey Jr. — J
ack’s grandson; Jodie’s son

Sally Kincaid —
Agnes’ substitute at Ramsey Lodge

Basil Northrup —
local vicar serving Clarendon Chapel

The Green Remains

“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”


Agatha Christie

Chapter One

“ … The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”

— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Friday, 22nd October

8
AM

The vicar carefully cradled the infant in his left arm over the open baptismal font, the child’s long, ivory dress trailing down the front of the priest’s bright white cassock. He dipped the fingers of his right hand into the holy water, making the sign of the cross on the sleeping child’s head. “I baptize thee Ferdinand … ”

  From her place at the front of the old church, Nora Tierney broke into a cold sweat and opened her mouth to protest: “Not the bull!” she tried to cry, but the words stuck in her throat.

  The snick of the opening door roused Nora from her dream. It was followed by a tiny chink as her tea was set down on the nightstand. She heard the stealthy footsteps of Agnes leaving and a second snick as the door shut behind her. Nora kept her eyes closed, waiting for the scent of the tea to reach her and calm her down from the dream that was not quite a nightmare.

  Bergamot: her favorite today, Earl Grey. Thank goodness Ferdinand was just a dream. She might write children’s books, and she certainly enjoyed the story about the young bull who would rather smell flowers than be in a bullfight, but she’d never choose that name for her son. This business about choosing her baby’s name was really taking its toll.

  Nora sat up in bed and reached for her cup. As her pregnancy advanced, it was Agnes, Ramsey Lodge’s cook, who had taken to bringing her tea each morning.

  “You need a bit of a lie-in whilst you can; when that bairn gets born, you’ll not be sleeping much, trust me on that,” Agnes insisted in her soft Scottish burr. With her own son in Canada, Agnes was happy to fuss over Ramsey Lodge’s American resident.

  Nora stretched luxuriously in her four-poster bed and immediately felt the strong kick of her son as he woke, too. She placed a hand on her bulging side to feel the healthy thrust—surely a rugby player in there. It was a source of constant fascination for her that in mere weeks her child would be lying beside her in a cot, as cribs were called in England, instead of still inside her. She skipped over the part where he actually made his appearance, preferring not to raise her anxiety by dwelling on labor and delivery, or on facing parenting alone. That decision had been made. She’d become an expert at compartmentalizing and would face things as they occurred.

  She planned her day as soft autumn light fell over her quilt. After a quick shower and breakfast, she would take her daily walk, then visit St. Martin’s Church in Bowness-on-Windermere while her energy level was at its highest. She wanted to tour the historic church thoroughly, with an eye to gaining inspiration for the story line in one of her upcoming books. Nora imagined her troupe of fairies visiting the historic church. She could picture Cosmo, her cantankerous elf, falling into one of the organ’s pipes. While she soaked up the atmosphere, she would photograph the ornately carved memorial plaques, set into the church walls that boasted flowery eighteenth- and nineteenth-century language. Her young readers would learn a bit of history while they read about the Belle Isle Fairies’ latest escapade.

  Nora sipped her tea, appreciative of how her adopted family took care of her. Only last night, Kate and Simon Ramsey had completed taking birthing classes with her. The siblings, alike in many ways but with distinct personalities, had gathered her up when Nora decided last March to keep this baby and raise it alone. They’d convinced her to move into Ramsey Lodge for at least a year. It made sense after she and Simon had signed a contract for a three-book deal. He’d charmingly illustrated the first, and they could continue their collaboration on the next two with ease. Besides, after taking a leave from her job to work for a few months with Simon, she’d grown genuinely fond of him and of his sister, Kate. In August, she formally resigned her Oxford job as a magazine editor, packed up her flat and moved to Bowness-on-Windermere, a bustling Cumbrian village on the shore of England’s largest lake.

  The truth was, she’d been glad to leave Oxford. After her decision to move to Cumbria, her last days there packing up had been fraught with anxiety and tension, as she found herself involved in a murder investigation. Her nosiness had caused a close brush with the murderer, but all had turned out well; she’d helped prove her best friend, Val Rogan, innocent of the murder of Val’s lover, Bryn Wallace.

  She’d also met Declan Barnes, the senior investigating officer on the case, who’d grudgingly come to appreciate her inquisitiveness after a rocky start. He remained in Oxford but was still in her thoughts; would he be a larger part of her life if she’d not left that city behind?

  Nora shook off the tangled memories and reached for her glasses and the book of baby names she kept on her pine nightstand. Over the summer, she’d learned the sex of her child, making the female half of the book superfluous. The remaining pages were dog-eared, with notes in the margin. She wanted a name that would allow her son to fit in with their life in the United Kingdom but that wouldn’t ignore his American roots. Her choice would saddle her boy for the rest of his life, as she’d realized when she read Alexander McCall Smith’s series on the inhabitants of 44 Scotland Street. One vegan father had named his son Tofu, and Nora shuddered at the thought.

  She flipped pages. Names from Shakespeare. Now this might do the trick. Casting her eye down the list, Nora discounted the antiquated names she would never choose, like Antigonus or Polonius. She read aloud, trying a few names on for their sound: Aaron, Abraham, Arthur, Bernardo … ” She flipped a few pages: “Malcolm, Oswald, Paris, Snuff—
Snuff
?”

  Maybe not Shakespeare after all.

*

8:30
AM

It was Simon’s turn to staff the front desk, leaving Nora to breakfast with Kate in the lodge’s sunny dining room. Many of the guests ate and left for their activities as the two women finished eating. Nora put her fork down and sat back with a happy sigh.

  “That should hold the two of us until lunch. This eating for two will be tough to stop once he’s born,” Nora said. “I’m so short I feel I’m beginning to waddle like a duck, one of my mother’s favorite sayings.” She ran her hand over her huge belly.

  “Nonsense,” Kate admonished. “You’re carrying very well, no waddles in sight. But I’ve enjoyed watching your waistline expand all the same,” she added with a grin.

  “Says she of the tall, lean body,” Nora said. She leaned over and placed her hand for a moment on top of Kate’s, pleased they’d become close in the past months.

  Kate squeezed Nora’s hand. “We both enjoy having you around, and Agnes is beside herself with a baby on the way. Just think this all started because you won that contest Keith Clarendon drummed up.”

  “And because Simon agreed to take part—taking on an unknown writer can’t have been an easy decision.”

  Kate shrugged. “He loves his landscape and portrait work, but he’s always said he’d enjoy doing watercolor illustrations—so you see, you’re really wish fulfillment for him. Probably in more ways than one, even if the two of you are in different places on a personal level.”

  Nora thought Kate’s phrasing showed she was one of the fairest people Nora had ever known. She saw Kate glance at her brother, talking with a guest in the doorway. With his sandy hair and slight frame, he was a fairer version of his sister. “I just wish I could give him the commitment he wants from me, Kate.” Simon’s affection for her was heartwarming, and she didn’t want to feel she was taking advantage of him. “It’s just with this baby on the way, and after Paul’s death—”

  It was Kate’s turn to pat Nora’s hand. “Hush—I didn’t mean to upset you. Of course you’re in no position to make long-term plans right now. On some level, he knows that. Look, you never did tell me the story of how you found out you’d won the contest.”

  Nora gratefully let her change the subject. “I got a telegram at work from Worth’s Travel Agency telling me to expect an important meeting the next afternoon. I lay awake half the night thinking I’d won the essay contest yet doubting it at the same time.”

  “So you weren’t sure you’d won?”

  “No, and Paul was locked away as usual in his lab. Our relationship was already on the rocks, and it was just a matter of time before one of us broke the engagement. By morning, I’d decided some bloody wanker was coming to give me a consolation prize of free bus passes for a month.”

  Kate laughed. “What happened the next day?”

  “I was in my office when I heard this bustle from the reception area.” Nora recalled the buzz on the intercom calling her to the lobby. She remembered her heels tapping smartly on the wood floor. “I expected to meet a pimply-faced young man who would give me a sheaf of coupons. Instead, I walked into a circle of camera flashes and noisy reporters. It must have been a slow news week. My jaw dropped when my boss, Mr. Jenkins, hurried over to introduce me to this very nice-looking young man with curly, dark hair. Keith was the ultimate marketer. He was wearing a well-cut suit and shiny leather brogues and was talking animatedly to one of the newsmen.” Nora described the scent of Keith’s cologne filling the air and the ensuing scene:

  “ … That’s spelled C-L-A-R-E-N-D-O-N.” Keith turned to shake Nora’s hand with a broad smile, hushing the crowd with his other.

  “Who are all these people?” Nora hissed to Jenkins under her breath.

  “Came in with the Clarendon lad,” he whispered. “Be polite.”

  Keith extracted a glossy envelope from his suit pocket. “Miss Nora Tierney, it gives me great pleasure to present you with this prize package from the Worth Travel Agency. The grand prize for the essay describing an illustrated children’s book includes working with famed Cumbrian artist Simon Ramsey during a three-week stay at Ramsey Lodge in the Lake District, right on the shore of Lake Windermere, the land of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Potter … ”

  Kate laughed out loud. “I can see Keith droning on like that. He and Simon had huge disagreements about Keith’s development scheme at town meetings. Our calm and patient Simon can get quite red in the face and even shout if he’s worked up enough.”

  Nora raised an eyebrow. “I’ve never seen him like that.”

  Kate passed it off with a wave of her hand. “Tell me what happened when it sank in you’d really won.”

  Nora poured more tea into her mug. “Old Jenks presented me with an obnoxiously huge bouquet of flowers he’d had one of our writers, Tony Warner, run and buy when Keith appeared with his entourage. That didn’t endear me to Tony, who abhorred me already for editing him, I might add.” She pushed her plate away and moved her mug closer. “I thought Keith a little full of himself, but he was so earnest, with this idea of making Bowness an even bigger tourist area, if that’s possible. I doubted right away his expensive tailoring had come from his salary at Worth’s—he wore those clothes with the air of someone used to quality. At my congratulatory dinner that night, he explained he is the only child of the wealthy Clarendons. I’d never heard of them before, but I acted appropriately impressed.”

  “Oh, yes,” Kate agreed. “The Clarendons have been a force in the village for centuries. We’ll take a tour of Clarendon Hall one of these days.”

  “I’d like that,” Nora said, picturing another site for her fairies to sully. “Keith seems a bit obsessed with his family name, but there’s no doubt he feels strong ties to this land. He told me he’s researching a book about the history of the family and their contributions to this area. I think he sees his name being added to that list in future books. I might like to use some of that research, and he said he would share, but I haven’t taken him up on that yet.”

  “I had no idea he was writing a book,” Kate said.

  “It’s one of the reasons he engineered the contest at Worth’s. He sees it as the first step in promoting this edge of the lake as a creative hub for visiting artists, writers and photographers.”

  “
That’s
the part Simon objects to,” Kate said. “Keith envisions Bowness enticing wealthy visitors who are drawn to artsy areas. He assumes that with Simon as a center of attention, my brother should embrace the idea.”

  “Simon would hate that,” Nora stated bluntly. “Maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t visited Keith yet. I wouldn’t want to upset Simon. I didn’t realize there was tension between them.”

  “Yes, and it doesn’t help that I think Keith’s idea would be good for lodge business.” Kate looked at her watch. “Goodness, I’ve got to see what’s left in the garden for dinner.”

  Nora pushed her chair back and stood. “And I’ve got a walk to take.”

*

A few minutes later, long auburn hair clipped away from her face, Nora wound her way through the dining room, nodding to the waitresses readying the room for dinner. The lodge served breakfast to its customers daily, dinners to the public Thursday through Saturday and a Sunday brunch. The small staff bustled with efficiency under the watchful eye of Agnes and the Ramseys.

  Nora looked for Darby, the siblings’ Lakeland Terrier, who usually pranced up to join her on her walks. He must be in the kitchen, begging Agnes for scraps. Nora slipped out through the heavy lodge door and strode down the flagstone walk as briskly as her advanced pregnancy would allow. Crossing the road to the path that wound along the eastern shore of Lake Windermere, she rubbed her lower back. The ten-and-a-half mile lake stretched out to the north and south horizons, and the impossibly blue sky was filled with downy, white clouds. Directly across the lake, on the western shore, she could see peaks of stone houses breaking through the trees, often boasting elaborate matching boathouses or gazebos at the end of their docks. The trees lining the fell were lit with autumn colors of gold and reds; higher up, the firs remained green. Clusters of boats swayed at docks along both sides of the shore, accompanied by noisy personal watercrafts and quieter windsurfers. Lines of brightly colored canoes, kayaks and sculls waited to skim over the clear water.

BOOK: The Green Remains
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