Copyright © 2015 by Shirley Quinlan

Copyright © 2015 by Shirley Quinlan

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Copyright © 2015 by Shirley Quinlan No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodiedin critical articles or reviews. Published byhttp://wpkfff.com/ 3UHYLHZ« 7KH GD\ FRXOGQ·W KDYH EHHQ PRUH EHDXWLIXO. The sun was out and there was a gentle breeze blowing.The temperature was going to be in the eighties, but with the breeze it would be perfect for hiking. Anyway, today, the¶KLNLQJ JURXS· JLUOV ZHUH SODQQLQJ WR JR VZLPPLQJ DW Jefferson Pool.Jefferson pool is a beautiful natural pool.One with a cave like grotto surrounding it.It looks like something you might see on the island of Maui where they have those weddings for the tourists. They were all laughing and cutting up when they stepped on and started to cross over the small wooden bridge.Suddenly, a man came running from the direction of the grotto. He nearly knocked them down as he pushed his way past them. Yes, it had been like having a private beach because they had had the pool area to themselves all morning and into the early afternoon. The local paper² 1H[W PRUQLQJ« BODY DISCOVERED IN GROTTO AT JEFFERSON POOL Sarah calls the other girls together to discuss the events at the grotto.

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Published 01 July 2016
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Copyright © 2015 by Shirley Quinlan No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. Published byhttp://wpkfff.com/
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The day couldn’t have been more beautiful. The sun was out and there was a gentle breeze blowing. The temperature was going to be in the eighties, but with the breeze it would be perfect for hiking.
Anyway, today, the‘hiking group’ girls were planning to go swimming at Jefferson Pool. Jefferson pool is a beautiful natural pool. One with a cave like grotto surrounding it. It looks like something you might see on the island of Maui where they have those weddings for the tourists.
They were all laughing and cutting up when they stepped on and started to cross over the small wooden bridge. Suddenly, a man came running from the direction of the grotto. He nearly knocked them down as he pushed his way past them.
Yes, it had been like having a private beach because they had had the pool area to themselves all morning and into the early afternoon.
The local paperNext morning…
BODY DISCOVERED IN GROTTO AT JEFFERSON POOL
Sarah calls the other girls together to discuss the events at the grotto. As they reviewed their day at Jefferson Pool, Olivia and Sarah, almost in unison said, “God, are we stupid or what?”Just how dumb can webe?” It was like a light going off in both of their heads at the same time
Shirley Quinlan…
CHAPTER 1
Monday morning dawned, and Sarah Belarusthought to herself that it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day. The sun was out and there was a gentle breeze blowing. The temperature was going to be in the eighties, but with the breeze it would be perfect for hiking. No one could have asked for it to be more perfect for this last hike with the summer group. At least that’s what Sarah thought that Monday morning before she left her house to meet the rest of the gals. She knew she would miss these Monday mornings. The summer group seemed just a bit different once others joined them for the winter hikes.
She had made her way to the end of the path, enjoying the sun on her face and the quiet surrounding her as she waited for Clair Ann Voss to pick her up on her way to the church parking lot where they were to meet the group. Most of the time Sarah drove, but that morning Clair Ann had called and said she would drive. It felt good not to drive for a change. Not that she really minded.
Clair Ann and her husband Vince were retired military, but after being with them less than five minutes, it would be the last thing a person would guess. Some people are like that. They just don’t look or act anything like what people think they should be. Vince was usually taken for a school teacher. He was one of those guys who, when you saw him, you thought of a school teacher. Picture a professor with thinning hair, a goatee, dressed in khaki pants and a plaid shirt. There you have him,that’s Vince. A retired school teacher. Ireallycan’t put a better tag on him.
I can’t put any tag on Clair Ann. She doesn’t remind you of any special type. It’s a funny thing, too, because she’s from the East, and you would think you could spot that right away, living there in the South, but you don’t. She sounds like she came from somewhere in Texas or maybe Oklahoma, but she doesn’t sound like she’s from anywhere east of Atlanta. She could blend in just about any place in the country if she wanted to.
Maybe the reason she’s mistaken for being southern is because she’squiet, and smiles a lot, and she’s soft spoken. You know, like you imagine most Southern women to be. Believe me, that’s not always true.
Anyway, today the girls were planning to go swimming at Jefferson Pool. At least that’s whatthe plan was when they met at 9:00 that morning at the church parking lot.
Jefferson pool is a beautiful natural pool. One with a cave like grotto surrounding it. There’s soft green moss hanging from the walls and ceiling with
lush featherlike ferns growing along the ground. It looks like something you might see on the island of Maui or Kiwi where they have those weddings for the tourists. It’s always so serene and peaceful in the early morning. The factis, a person could almost believe they were in Hawaii and not in Louisiana. That was probably the magic of the place, the reason they went back there so often each year. It’s a new experience each and every time you’re there.
It had been an extremely hot weekend, and everyone was anxious to be on the road and get to the pool. To go for a swim in the cool, clear water under the falls. They just wanted to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. Just thinking about it on the way was delicious. Well, that was their idea when they headed for the grotto that morning.
How could they possibly imagine that just hours before it had been the scene of a violent murder. How could they? How different their thoughts would have been had they been aware of what had occurred in their serene little haven just hours earlier.
Everyone expected more women from the group would be going than the ones they saw when they arrived. It was surprising that so few were waiting. Jane Smith was already there and had just gotten out of her truck when Olivia Rallie pulled up. She got out of her car and the four of them stood there enjoying the coffee each had brought from home. They hung around long enough until they were sure no one else would show up.
Finally, around ten after nine they began heading for the car preparing to head out and leave for the pool. All of them sure no one else was going to show up and if they did everyone knew the way and they could always drive out and meet them at the pool. Some of them might even just meet them out there if it were more convenient. They were all thinking of the cool water waiting for them. The doors were open and everyone was just about to get in the van when Judy Beckman drove up. Judy could see there was not a lot of room in the small van, so she volunteered, “Why don’t I run home and switch my car for Jim’s SUV? That way we can all ride together. I’m only ten minutes away. I’ll be right back.” She got back in her car and left to get the SUV.
She was right, they did want to get to the pool, but were not in a rush. It would be better to wait for her to pick up the SUV so they could all ride together. It was always more fun that way with all of them in the same vehicle.
So they waited while she went home for the truck. Who knew, if they gave them a few more minutes, maybe some others would show up while they waited.
So far, Ann Alden was babysitting; Becky Dillon said she had a lot to do; Rose Jennings had a ding in her windshield, that had to be fixed; and Liz Roman was off to Australia. No one knew why Peggy Timmons was not there. These were the regulars who usually made it during the summer hikes. Maybe there wouldn’t be anyone at the pool waiting when they got there so time wasn’t important. Your outlook changes when you leave the city and come to a small town. Things like making sure you knew who was where don’t seem so important anymore.
Without their knowing it those with errands that couldn’t make it, would later consider themselves lucky and would not regret missing the hike that day. They would probably be only too happy to have had other priorities. After all, does anyone ever really want to be around the scene of a murder? Even when you’re not aware that you are? I don’t think so.
Ruth Freeman hadn’t shown up either. Everyone would miss her today. Ruth was always fun on the trails. It wasn’t like she tried to be funny, she just was. Funny. Things she said just came out that way, funny. Any one of them could say the same thing and it wouldn’t even turn a head.
Ruth was short like Sarah, but she was blonde and Sarah was a redhead. That is to say, she was a blonde, just like Sarah was a redhead; they both had a little help from Miss Clairol.
Anyway, it took about fifteen minutes and Judy pulled up in the SUV. It was obvious even through the windshield that she was laughing to herself. She explained as she jumped down from the truck, “First I lost my keys to the SUV so I had to get Jim’s. He’s was still PO’d about me losing the keys when I as I walked out the door I called back at him and said that if I wasn’t back by 1:00he would have to take Cookie to the vet. She started laughing even harder. “I don’t remember ever seeing his fact that shade of red.” I guess I don’t have to tell you. That didn’t go over too well. He was still yelling something when I pulled out of thedriveway.”
Jim made it clear, he did not like Cookie. Cookie was definitely Judy’s cat. This is not the first time Jim has made it clear that he does not likethat “f---ingcat and next time he has to take it to the vet it will be to have it put to sleep.”
Since, none of the others had shown up while Judy was gone, everyone got into the truck and Judy pulled out of the church parking lot heading for Jefferson Pool. It was at least a forty five minute or maybe an hour’s ride. During the drive everyone caught up on what had happened in the week since they had last seen one another. They also discussed the group meeting coming up the following week and who would be going.
Before they knew it they had arrived at the Jefferson Pool’s parking lot. They grabbed their towels and hip packs with lunches and headed for the trail to the
beach area. They still had almost a mile to walk before getting to the pool. The walk going down to the pool wasn’t a hard one. The hike took their concentration because of the steps and turns; some of these were carved out of the roots of the trees and could cause you to trip if you were not careful. Part of the way was over a small creek, but it was dry. Even so everyone had to keep their mind on where they were walking and watchthe steps. There wasn’t much thought given to the surrounding area. They were not going to take the long way this time, but go directly to the grotto area and the pool. It would be along the spring but still not all the way to the end of the spring where it meets the river as they did when really wanting a workout. They would be able to see it, but not really be there. It would take a hard climb to get there.
That was what they had planned for the hike for that day. Just a nice short jaunt, nothing too long. Everyone knew it was the last trip for their small summer group. The following week there would be the winter kick off lunch. That meant joining the much larger group of women who were a lot more serious about hiking. Longer and harder trips.
Naturally with such a small group they had become close knit and found a lot of things in common. They spoke of silly sayings and jokes about things they’d done during the summer. All that would be truly missed. It was the same every year. With more people,There just wasn’tit always took on a whole new feel. the same closeness as the small summer group felt.
As they walked along the spring, they watched where they stepped here too, it would be easy to slip and end up in the water. So they took their time as they tread their way towards the pool. Since it was still early they decided to take the scenic trail. It would take them past a hill where they could look down and see the fork in the river where it joined the spring after forming the pool. Then they would return by a different trail.
It had been eighteen months since their last visit here, and they had forgotten just how far it really was. It didn’t take long for Olivia to decide even the short version was TOO far and to plop down on a log. As she did, she said, “I’ll wait here for you to pick me up on the way back.” When they finally did get back to her the round trip had been three miles. They were five smelly, hot, tired females anticipating the cool refreshing water. Standing up, Olivia laughed and said, “I feel just fine, not hot at all.”
They were all laughing and cutting up when they stepped on and started to cross over the small wooden bridge. This bridge is the only entrance to the pool. It’s just wide enough for two people to walk sideSuddenly, aby side. man came running from the direction of the grotto. He nearly knocked them down as he pushed his way past them.
“Well, damn, I’d say he was in a hurry,” Clair Ann said. “Did you see him? I barely turned out of the way before he couldknock me down.”
“Yeah, I thought about tripping him, but couldn’t get my foot out quick enough,” Olivia said. “He was right up on me and gone before I had a chance to do anything but jump out of his way. I’d have liked to do more than trip him. Was thatrude or what?”
Everyone laughed; they knew she wasn’t joking. If she had had the chance that’s just what she would have done. Tripped him. The runner had just been lucky he was too quick for her.
Olivia was always traveling to exotic places and doing interesting things. Her husband was a pilot, and because they owned a plane they were able to come and go easier than most. Her face seemed to have a permanent smile, and her head had a permanent baseball cap. She could ride a horse or drive a tractor. She could shoot a bird or cook it. She finished college after she had raised her kids and was a whiz on the computer. Along with all of this, she was a hell of a golfer. About the only thing she couldn’t do was, “Fly that damn plane” as she would say. She had told the group this many times. We all wondered when she is going to learn to fly it and are sure it’s going to happen. They all have a pool on it.
The three of them were totally different. Had they lived seventy five years earlier Olivia would be a woman who owned a ranch and rode a horse rounding up the cattle. Ruth, well she would be married to a rancher, too, but she would be riding in a carriage with a matched team of horses. Sarah would own the local saloon where the girls were pretty, the drinks were not watered down, and the card games were honest. They were nothing alike, but they still enjoyed one another’s friendship.
None of the women thought anymore about the runner as they made their way down to the pool. After putting their lunches in the shade on one of the big rocks near the beach, they hurriedly stripped out of their damp shirts and shorts. Then, like a bunch of wild six year olds, they ran yelling and splashing into the water, leaving all thoughts of the rude guy on the bridge behind them. There had been one exception. On the path after they had walked off the bridge Judy had made the comment that he “Probably had a hot date waiting in some hotel room up on the highway.” “After all,”she added, “why else would anyone be running from a peaceful place like this?”
“I’ll have to ask Mike how fast he could get to a hotel room if I were waiting for him,” Sarah said laughing.
“I can’t remember Lou ever running that fast after me,” said Olivia. How could they know this area they thought so peaceful now only minutes before had been the scene of a brutal violent murder?
“Maybe it was just too peaceful for him,” Judy added. Everyone laughed and nothing more was mentioned about the incident.
After an hour or so of splashing, trying to dunk each other and acting like kids, they all agreed that they were tired and it was time to get out of the water. Everyone was in the mood to rest so they waded to the sandy beach, grabbed their towels and sat down. It felt like the many, many times they had been there. Nothing seemed any different. It was just another beautiful sunny day in this beautiful piece of paradise.
Since it wasn’t too early toeat, they picked up their lunches from the rock and moved out of the sun to enjoy their lunch. After picking at their individual dishes, they had just sprawled out on their towels lazily and talked. Even in the shade the sun was just warm enough to make a body feel cozy, but not really hot enough to make them want to go back into the water. It was one of those kind of days that make you feel fuzzy and sleepy. Clair Ann and Sarah had almost dozed off lying there. Only the pebbles poking through under the towels, made it just uncomfortable enough to keep them awake. They finally gave up and folded their towels and sat on them to avoid the troublesome pebbles.
There’s always someone who wants to walk up into the grotto and watch as the water flows lazily from the top edge above the cliffs or just look around in the cave like areas. The ferns grow in places to make it look mysterious or the waterfallsso it seems like it’s hiding a treasure just beyond itssheer curtain. It looks like there’s an entrance to a cave in a rock that wasn’t there the last time. Everything always seems to change from one visit to another. You never knew just what it would look like from that vantage point above the pool. But on that day, no one was in the mood for a trip up to the caves, so after another hour or so it was decided they would leave and head back to Lambayeau.
Sometimes things happen for a reason.
On the way back to where the truck was parked the conversation was all about how lucky they had been to arrive early. On the return trek up the steep climb they passed several people headed to the pool. It was going to be very crowded that afternoon with so many people just arriving at the park. They had had the pool almost exclusively to themselves all morning. There wouldn’t be room to move in the pool this afternoon. “I can’t believe how many people are coming here today,” Jane had exclaimed.“I’m so glad we didn’t have to share that wonderful beach with all of these people. It was like having our own private place this morning. But now I wish I hadn’t been too lazy to walk up to the grotto area. I’ve always heard how beautiful and natural it is with all of the ferns and cave like openings. I’ll have to do it when we come back. ”The following day Judy would be extremely happy that she had been so lazy.”
Yes, it had been like having a private beach because they had had the pool area to themselves all morning and into the early afternoon. That was a first and they discussed always coming early on future trips. Even so, everyone was tired, and was perfectly content to be leaving. The next morning they would be so thankful they had.
Well, now, that’s exactly what happened. Yes! The five of them would be extremely happy they had decided to leave when they did and even happier no one had gone exploring the grotto. The site they would have found would definitely not have been something beautiful and natural.
CHAPTER 2 It was Sarah’s habit to walk at least three and sometimes four mornings a week. That was her exercise regimen. She usually called Ruth around eight o’clock when she finished her walk or at seven if she didn’t walk. Neither woman remembers when nor how the routine started, but after years of doing it they just expected it.
Sarah usually took the longway around the roads nearest her house. It’s a good three miles that would really cause her to breathe hard and break a sweat. Sarah felt that hiking the hills was a good way to burn a few extra calories ofAnything that could do that was worth thef this “ole’ body” of hers. work it took.Each year this “olebodytook more work and higher hills.
On her return home, she would head straight for the kitchen, pour herself a cup of coffee and take it into the study where she could sit comfortably at the desk and settle in for a chat with her friend Ruth. After all, one couldn’t have a nice long chat without a hot cup of coffee. At least she didn’t think so. Coffee and the phone just seemed to go together if it was early in the morning. Just like ice tea and the phone went together if it were late afternoon. Everyone knew that. Didn’t they?
At one time Ruth had walked too, but recently she didn’t. Her answer to that was, “I just can’t see where this is takingany of the fat off my butt. Why should I put out all of that energy so early in the morning if my body isn’t getting anything out of it? I’m certainly not going to do it for my mind.” So now her new thing was aerobics. I guess you should say she’s BACK into aerobics.
Sarah had tried aerobics the year before, but it had only lasted one day. She had such a hard time getting to the gym that one day. It took more time to get ready to go to the class than it took to do the aerobics once she got there. Between the special tights, shirt and socks, they all wore and the way they all came with their hair combed and lipstick on. Well, she thought she was getting
ready to go to work again. And that was when she decided she was going to switch to walking.
“I’d rather walk,” she told Ruth. “I get up, put on an old pair of shorts, a tee shirt and sneakers. I grab my tape player and take off. I don’t have to worry about how I look because I don’t see anyone on the road that early and if Idid, theywouldn’tlook any better than I do.”
That morning Ruth called at 6:45 just as Sarah was tying her shoes and getting ready to leave the house. She said, “I couldn’t wait for you to get back from your walk, this is much too important.” Her voice sounded different,almost like a bit of a hush to it. Maybe she didn’t want to wake George up.“What could be so important that you couldn’t wait an hour to tell me?” Sarah wanted to know. “Have you seen the New Standard?” she asked, barely giving Sarah time to put the phone closer to her ear. She was trying to figure out the tone of Ruth’s voice.
“Mike hasn’t even gone out to get the paper yet.” Sarah told Ruth. “I think he’s in the back yard with Lucy.” Lucy is a big bouncing cloud of black fur, and she had those round sad brown eyes, typical of a Labrador Retriever. She would look at you with her head kind of cocked to one side like she knew just what you were saying. Mornings are her time with Sarah’s husband Mike. She would be waiting for him by the back door when he came out of the bedroom. He would take her out in the yard for a romp before getting the morning paper. She seemed to know that was the time she had his full attention. The rest of the day she lay at his feet getting rested for the next morning’s exercise. Her routine never varied. She didn’t look for food orto go into any other room in the morning. Just lay at attention until Mike arrived for her time and her special attention.
Then Mike had his own routine. He would bring in the paper and get his first cup of coffee. After that he was good for the next couple of hours reading the paper and doing the crossword puzzles. Sarah sometimes laughed as she thought to herself what would happen if she one day got up, hid the coffee pot, took the paper and Lucy with her and left the house for a couple of hours before Mike got up. What would he do? Would he panic or just go into town and get a cup of coffee, the morning paper and report her and Lucy missing?
Since Sarah usually just threw the paper up on the deck for Mike when she left for her walk in the morning, and since she hadn’t left for a walk that morning, naturally, he hadn’t gotten the paper yet. But of course she wasn’t going into that with Ruth.
“Why, what has the paper got to do with you calling me before I got back from my walk?” She asked Ruth again. “Now I’ll never go. If I don’t go the minute I get up I don’t go, period.”
That was a fact. Either she walked as soon as she got up or Sarah just never got around to it. She might tell herself that she was going to get her walk in that afternoon, but it just never seemed to work out. Now she wouldn’t walk until the next day. Today she didn’t even try to tell herself she would. If she wasn’t going to walk, shewasn’t going to lie to herself abouThat was dumb.t it.
“Well, you’re not going to believe this Sarah. I can’t believe it myself. I just knewI should have made George take Ginger to the vet yesterday and gone with you,” she started. “I had a feeling about it and I should have listenedto my feelings. You know my feelings are always right.”
Ruth has this thing about her“feelings”.She really Everyone knew about them. believes in them. She’s sure it’s something passed down from somewhere or someone in her family. Some of the time she almost had Sarah convinced there’s really something to her “feelings.”Not oftenThat’s some of the time. and not for long. Just when she gets a weak moment.
“What in God’s name are you talking about, girl? It’s only 6:45 and I haven’t even had my first cup of coffee,” Sarah asked her. “Just let me get one, and then you can start all over and tell me what you’re so worked up over.” She laid down the phone and prepared the coffee maker as quickly as she could, knowing that Ruth was on the other end of the line and waiting for her to pick it up again. As soon as the coffee started brewing she picked up the phone and put it to her ear as she walked to the cabinet and pulled her favorite cup out and placed it in front of the brewing coffee. Before the pot was full she poured a cup and headed for the office and the comfort of her chair.
Yep, once she got that first cup of coffee and sat down with the phone, Sarah knew it was going to be all over as far as that walk was concerned. Oh, what the hell, she told herself, she had walked at least three miles yesterday, but she did take the long way around the box of donuts sitting on the counter when she was on her way out of the kitchen. No need for the extra calories along with not getting her exercise.
Sarahusually didn’t drink her coffee until she got back from her walk, but since she was going to have what had begun to look like a long conversation with Ruth she would have it now She was wondering, what could get Ruth so excited this early in the morning?Not even a shoe sale at Nordstrom’s could do that and Ruth hadn’t mentioned a sale.
“Well, I’m back,” she said, as she picked up the phone. “Now, what is all the excitement about? You sound like you just won the lotto. If you did, I’d like to borrow a million or so.”