Thirty and a Half Excuses Page 29

I couldn’t think of anything useful I could draw from our talk or my vision. It was too abstract to take to the police or even Mason. I needed to keep it to myself for now.

But I could do something with the information that Dorothy had left her house to someone other than her niece. And I knew someone who could help me find out more.

I grabbed my cell phone and pressed Neely Kate’s speed dial button.

“Say, Neely Kate, can you look up something official for me?”

“Sure.”

I loved that about her. She didn’t even think to ask what it was before agreeing. “Can you look up the beneficiary of a will? Since you run the personal property department, I figured you might keep track of that sort of thing.”

“We only keep records on the actual owners, not the beneficiaries, and the courthouse wouldn’t have a record of that until the family files probate.”

“Oh.” So much for that idea.

“Why’re you asking?”

“You know my neighbor who died yesterday and someone tried to break into her house? Well, it turns out there’s more to the story. Her niece showed up today, and Miss Mildred went over to confront her. She told Christy that she needed to wait for the reading of the will before she could start packing up the house.”

“That doesn’t mean anything. You know how cranky she is. She’s probably stirrin’ up trouble like usual.”

“I wondered that too, but then she told me that Miss Dorothy changed the beneficiary of her will. Miss Mildred drove her to the attorney’s office last week so she could sign the papers. In fact, she said the house had already been turned over.”

“Who’d she leave it to?”

“Mildred told me it was none of my business, but she said that whoever Miss Dorothy ended up picking wasn’t much better.”

“Why do you care who she left her house to?”

“Because it’s just too weird. Two old women have died from supposed natural causes, but their air conditioners were turned off and their windows were shut. And then Miss Laura’s jewelry went missing and someone tried to break into Miss Dorothy’s house last night, probably to steal her jewelry. What if a serial killer is on the loose?”

“A serial killer in Henryetta, Arkansas?” Neely Kate sounded incredulous.

“Stranger things have happened.”

“And you’re wondering if the new beneficiary has something to do with it.”

“It is quite a coincidence.”

“Why don’t you just tell Mason?”

“I don’t want him to think I’m any more of a fruitcake then he already does. I wanted proof.”

“First of all, Mason Deveraux does not think you are a fruitcake, and second, the fact that Mildred said the house was already taken care of made me think of something. Dorothy might have added the new beneficiary to the deed of her house to avoid probate issues. That way the new beneficiary would already own the house. But she would have needed to file a quit claim deed. My grandma added my mother and my aunt to hers last month. I can check to see if one was filed for Dorothy.”

“There’d be a record of that in your department?”

“No, but I have connections.”

“I don’t want to get you into trouble.”

“Please.” Neely Kate scoffed. “Have we met? You know I can find out anything. Besides, I’d love it if they fired me.”

Chapter Nine

The next morning, I checked on Bruce Wayne and David on my way to the nursery. I hadn’t expected to find them there at 8:45 in the morning, I just wanted to see how far they’d gotten the night before. I was also hoping to avoid Jonah, which was silly. I was gonna have to see him at some point, if only to get our final check. But I wanted to put that off as long as I possibly could.

To my amazement, both men were digging up dirt and pulling weeds. They’d finished the east side of the building, and it looked amazing.

“You guys are doing great!” I said, walking around the side of the church to greet them.

Bruce Wayne leaned his arm on the top of his shovel. “Thanks, Miss Rose.”

“I might not be around much today. I’m hoping to buy a truck.”

“Oh yeah?” David’s head popped up. “My uncle Ernie has a used car lot outside of town on Highway 82. You should check it out and tell him I sent you.”

I knew which lot he was talking about, and I wasn’t sure if mentioning that David had sent me would get me a better deal or a worse one. “Thanks, David.” I smiled. “If you have any questions or need anything, call me on my cell phone.”

When I arrived at the nursery, Violet was already there, humming as she watered the flowers on the sidewalk.

I cast a sly glance at her. “Your date must have gone well.”

Her grin was mischievous. “Mhmm.”

“What did you guys do?”

“Brody took me to Jaspers for dinner, and then we drove over to Magnolia to see a movie.”

“Sounds fun.”

She smiled. “We’re going out again tonight.”

“What about Ashley and Mikey?”

Cocking her head, she lifted her eyebrows. “Well…now that you mention it…”

“Oh.” She wanted me to watch them.

“With Joe being gone, I figured you wouldn’t have anything else to do.”

She was right, and I loved my niece and nephew. They’d help fill the empty evening ahead of me. “Sure, why not? But I don’t know when I’ll be back from truck shopping.”

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