And Then You Dye

And Then You Dye by Monica Ferris

Book: And Then You Dye by Monica Ferris Read Free Book Online
Authors: Monica Ferris
entries, but there’s a limited amount of wall space, and if what we’ve got already is any indication, there are going to be a
lot
of entries.”
    “I’ve got the solution all thought out. I bought two bags of toy clothespins at the dollar store and a ball of twine at Menard’s. The ceiling’s nice and high in here, and we can string the entries up so everyone can see them. Oh, but first we have to retag them with numbers so our judges won’t know who did them. Let’s not forget to put a corresponding number on the name tags we take off.”
    Sorting quickly through the rest of the mail, Betsy found a first-class letter addressed to her in careful printing, with the word PERSONAL printed in red letters in the lower left corner and a Forever stamp in the upper right-hand corner.
    Betsy opened it to find a single sheet of lined paper covered on both sides with more printing, this a lot more carelessly done, though obviously by the same hand.
    Dear Ms. Devonshire
, it began.
    I did not want to send you an e-mail message because anyone might see it. My mother, who is Marge Schultz, told me she is being harassed by a police detective named Michael Malloy. He wants to prove she murdered a woman named Hailey Brent. I never even heard of Hailey Brent, and I am sure my mother never murdered anyone. She is a good person, and hardworking, intelligent, and honest.
    Mother says you are trying to help her. I hope with all my heart you are successful.
    Mother is the hardest worker I have ever known. She worked two jobs putting my father through medical school. My father was a good man, but he got cancer one year after he finished being an intern. He fought it for three years before he finally died. My mother was the rock that got us through.
    I am so proud of how she has made Green Gaia a success. She always loved to garden. When we lived with Grandmama, we had a big backyard garden for mostly vegetables but flowers, too. She worked for a landscape company and then a garden center, which she bought from the owner when he retired.
    I have told my mother that she should find a boyfriend and maybe get married. She always says she can’t because she is already married to Green Gaia. I think Green Gaia is the most important thing in the world to her, more important even than me or her granddaughter.
    She proudly walked me down the aisle herself when I got married. I hoped we would stay in Excelsior so she could be a loving grandmother to my daughter, but my husband got this amazing job offer in Southern California and that’s where we live to this day. We only get to Minnesota every third Christmas, because we spend one with his parents in Las Vegas, then one just us, then one with Mother. But we stay in touch by e-mail at least once a month. We plan to come to Excelsior this Christmas. I hope our plans come true.
    I can’t think what else to tell you about how good and wonderful Mother is. I thank you over and over for coming to her
aid.
    Sincerely, Louise French
    Betsy, deeply touched, read the letter again. She, too, hoped this coming Christmas would see the family happily celebrating in Excelsior.
    *   *   *
    L ATER, Betsy was high on a ladder stringing twine—Godwin was afraid of heights, especially when seen from a stepladder—when the door sang out its two-note alarm.
    “Oh, hi, Irene!” called Betsy, causing Irene to jump and look around as she entered the store.
    “Hi, Irene,” said Godwin, coming from the back of the shop.
    “H’lo, Goddy, I thought at first you were Betsy,” she said.
    “I
am
Betsy,” said Betsy, and this time Irene saw the ladder, ran her eyes up it, and spotted Betsy near the top of the wall behind the checkout desk.
    Irene smiled broadly. “I
thought
that was you! What are you doing up there?”
    “Stringing up rope so that we can hang the template contest entries.”
    “Oh, what a good idea! Mine isn’t ready yet. You said you had something for me?” Irene looked around but didn’t

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