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       Moon Signs, p.22

           Helen Haught Fanick


  At last we were back to tracking down the lost paintings. I woke at seven, thinking Andrea would still be asleep, but she had left the room. I got up slowly, still thinking about Stefan and his relationship with Maggie. I had even dreamed about him last night, and the dream hadn’t been good. He was hiding, keeping something from us, and no matter how hard we all looked, he eluded us.

  By the time we got showers and went to bed last night, I was too sleepy to discuss my thoughts about Stefan. In addition to that, I thought the car might be a better place to talk about him, away from prying ears. After all, the walls of the hotel weren’t all that thick. I dressed and went to the lobby. Andrea was having coffee, and I joined her. Ivy came and sat with us and brought a plate of Danish pastries. I was beginning to hope the Alpenhof was working its way up to a Continental breakfast.

  I had barely taken a bite of my pineapple-cream cheese when the door opened and who should walk in but Willard Hill. Of course, we were expecting him, but just not this early. Willard wasn’t in uniform, but wearing a gray sweatshirt and jeans under a sharp-looking black leather bomber jacket. I swear, I think the man smells food from miles away. “Good morning.” He handed Andrea’s car keys to her. “You’re all set. Two new tires on the front, everything checked out.”

  “Thanks so much. Where do I go to settle the bill?”

  “I left the bill on the front seat. Just send a check when you get back to Pine Summit.”

  Andrea put the keys in her pocket. “I’ll certainly do that. And I appreciate your taking care of the car for me.”

  “No problem.” Then Willard just stood there staring at the Danish like a well-trained puppy who knew looking was acceptable, but waiting till food was offered was a must. I didn’t feel it was my place to ask him if he’d like some Danish and coffee, and Andrea felt the same, I’m sure.

  Ivy didn’t look too happy about it, but she finally said, “Would you like some coffee and a sweet roll? We appreciate you taking care of our guests.”

  “Thanks. I think I will.” He went to the kitchen and returned with a cup of coffee, then helped himself to a pastry.

  The phone rang and Ivy went to answer it. “Have you heard the latest?” Willard murmured between gulps.

  “What’s happening?” Andrea asked.

  “There’s a rumor going around that Franklin Stuart’s wife was involved with some guy from over at Parsons. Mum’s the word, of course. It’s only a rumor. You know how it is in small towns. And we’re not even a town here in the Canaan Valley.”

  “We won’t say anything, of course,” I said. He could count on us to keep our mouths shut, just as we could count on him to blab about everything he knew.

  Ivy returned and Willard helped himself to another pastry. He wolfed it down, excused himself, and left. “That man’s a bottomless pit,” Ivy said. “I’ve never known him to refuse food.”

  “Is he married?” I asked, wondering if he had a wife who cooked for him at home, and if he did, how his obvious infatuation with Olga would have impacted on that relationship.

  “No, Willard’s not married. Who’d have him? You remember I told you how he used to hang around here all the time, mooning over Olga. She snapped at him every time he spoke to her, but he just kept coming. Of course, she snapped at all of us.” Then Ivy stopped talking. She was probably thinking she’d said too much.

  I thought I’d ease her mind by agreeing with her. “She certainly wasn’t very pleasant to us when we checked in. I couldn’t help thinking that she wasn’t the friendliest hotel clerk I’d ever seen. Maybe she had problems that no one knew about.”

  I had been fishing, but my remark brought an inadequate response. Ivy shrugged her shoulders. “None that I ever heard of. She had it made here, with her brother running and doing everything for her. She ordered him around just like she did the rest of us.”
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