Moon signs, p.30
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       Moon Signs, p.30

           Helen Haught Fanick


  We stopped and picked up sandwiches on the way to the hotel. I told Andrea about talking with Willard and about seeing Stefan’s conversation with Eva and her conversation with me. We decided not to say anything to Maggie, who was already behind the desk when we got there. She was checking in a young couple who carried their skis with them, and when she was finished, she brought her sandwich and joined us at the fireplace. “I asked Stefan if it was okay for you to check the paintings in Olga’s room, and he said it was. I don’t think anyone has been in there except the police since she died, but I guess he’ll clear it out soon so it can be rented. We can always use more rooms on weekends.”

  “All the empty rooms were unlocked when we were up there, but that room was locked,” Andrea said.

  “He keeps it locked, but I have the key at the desk.”

  “And what did Stefan say about his room?” I asked.

  “He said that would be fine, too. I don’t have a key down here, but we’ll work something out. The three rooms that are occupied permanently—his, mine, and Olga’s—are kept locked all the time, and the spare keys aren’t usually kept at the desk. I brought Olga’s down in case you wanted to check. Stefan isn’t in right now. He went with some Ski Patrol friends to have a beer and discuss the torchlight procession, but I’m sure you can catch him in sometime soon.”

  “Or maybe we can check the paintings while Ivy’s cleaning his room.”

  “That would be fine with him, I’m sure.” She smiled. “He’s a most agreeable person.”

  There’s nothing more wonderful than young love, I thought, as I finished my sandwich. Andrea was through, too, so we took the key to Olga’s room and went upstairs. I was surprised to see such a mess in the room when we opened the door. Had the police turned everything upside down, or had Olga grown up with a personal maid who looked after her possessions? The bed wasn’t made, and clothes, papers, and books were strewn all over the place.

  “Do you suppose the police did this?” I asked.

  Andrea had her Leatherman out and was headed for a picture. “I have a feeling Olga was a spoiled rich woman who wasn’t accustomed to looking after her things.”

  “No wonder her relationship with Stefan fell apart. His room was so neat.”

  “I noticed that, too.” She had the first picture down and was working on the back.

  I realized I was holding my breath as she lifted the cardboard and took out the black bear print. That was it, just the black bears. She tried the other picture, and it was the same.

  “Well, there’s still Stefan’s room, and Maria’s. I just feel sure we’ll find the Monets in Stefan’s room.” I was trying to sound more positive than I felt.

  “You were sure they were going to be in our room.” Occasionally Andrea reminds me that hunches aren’t to be trusted. She looked around the room. “Do you suppose the police missed anything in here?”

  “I doubt it.”

  Andrea got down on one knee, looking through some books that were stacked in the bottom of the night stand.

  “Are those in English?” I asked.

  “Some are, and some are in a foreign language. It doesn’t look like German. I’m not sure what it is. Aha, here’s something!”

  Andrea rarely spoke in exclamation points, so she must have felt she found something significant. “What is it?”

  “I think it’s a photo album.” She maneuvered it from the bottom of the stack and stood up with it. It was a small, leather-bound album, one of those with a place on the cover to display a photo. In that spot was a picture of a couple and a pretty young girl. Olga and her parents? We sat on the edge of the bed, and Andrea opened the volume.

  We leafed through several pages of snapshots, obviously family pictures: The young girl with a giant long-haired dog, the young girl in a swimming pool, more of the girl with parents and others, probably family members. Houses in the background of some of the shots looked as if they belonged to wealthy people. The girl began to look more like Olga as we proceeded through the album. At least, she began to look like what we remembered of Olga from the brief encounter at the registration desk.

  There were pictures that obviously were from school and photos of her with other teenagers. There were no pictures of Stefan, so anyone looking at the album would have wondered why photos of her brother weren’t included. Anyone who still thought Stefan was her brother, that is.

  It wasn’t till we reached the last picture that we found anything that really caught our attention. Olga was standing beside a man, smiling broadly, in front of what looked like a ski lodge. Both were wearing parkas and ski pants, and there was snow on the ground and the roof of the building behind them. Unfortunately, the man in the picture was waving at someone, and his hand covered most of his face.

  “That doesn’t look like Stefan. Do you suppose that could be Alex Dubek? That he is the same person as Bruno Vanacek, her husband?” I asked

  Andrea stood up and carried the album to the window. She studied the photo for a minute. “I can’t tell. His hand is covering too much of his face. But come here and look at this.”

  Through the window of the lodge behind them we could see a man standing, looking out. He appeared to be wearing a trench coat. His face was somewhat obscured by reflections in the glass, but I was almost sure I was looking at the face of Gunter Bosch. “Can that be—“

  “I think it is,” Andrea interrupted.

  “What do you suppose he was doing there, standing at the window and looking out at them?”

  “I definitely would like to know what he was doing there.”

  “Do you suppose he was stalking her? Or maybe he’s a hired killer who’s looking for his chance, but didn’t get it until he found her here in the Canaan Valley. He does have a gun in his room.”

  Andrea closed the album and sat on the bed. “I can’t imagine why anyone would have wanted her dead at the time this photo was taken. If that’s her husband beside her, then obviously he hadn’t discovered her affair with Stefan at that time and would have no reason to hire a killer.”

  “Maybe it had to do with money. An inheritance, possibly. Her family looks prosperous in those photos.”

  “I think this whole puzzle will be solved, and soon, I hope. We can’t stay here forever.”

  I sat down beside Andrea. “Don’t you think you should show the photo to the sheriff?”

  “Oh, dear. I suppose I need to confess again that I’ve been snooping in other people’s rooms.”

  I didn’t say anything. I was simply thinking that Andrea was going to be embarrassed for a second time, and since I’d never known her to be embarrassed before, I was beginning to wonder if this had to do with Sheriff Ward Sterling and what she wanted his opinion of her to be. If so, it was a good sign.

  After thinking this over, I said, “I think he’s grateful for your help, and probably doesn’t give a second thought to your snooping. After all, you’re furnishing clues.”

  “You may be right. I’ll tell him what we found. Maybe he’ll tell me whether he thinks it’s significant or not.”

  We locked the door and went downstairs. Maggie wasn’t behind the reception desk, and I was just as glad. It occurred to me on the way down that she might be wondering why it took us so long, and then we’d have to explain to her, too, that we’d been snooping in Olga’s room. We returned the key and went to our room, where Andrea called the sheriff to explain what we’d found.

  “What did he say?” I asked when she hung up.

  “He wants to see the picture. He’s coming by the lobby in a little while, and I’ll take him upstairs. We’re going to have to explain to Maggie what we found, what with taking the sheriff up there.”

  “I’ll tell her while you take him upstairs.”

  We went to the lobby with our books. Maggie had returned to the desk, and within a half hour the sheriff arrived. Andrea went to the desk. “I need the key to Olga’s room again. There’s something up there I want to
show the sheriff.” They started upstairs, and I went to the desk, took a deep breath, and started explaining.
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