Moon signs, p.34
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       Moon Signs, p.34

           Helen Haught Fanick


  It was dark when we reached the Canaan Lodge, and the moon was still up—a perfect halfmoon. We were going to experience an evening of turmoil, and I hoped Ivy was right about it not being a bad sort of turmoil, since it was the waxing moon.

  We asked for a window table in the Hickory Room. It was pleasant looking out and seeing twinkling lights in the valley spread out before us, and we wanted Ivy to see it. She seemed to be thrilled with the opportunity to have supper at the lodge, and it was fun having her with us.

  We had stopped to take a look at the buffet on our way to the table, so when we placed our order and went back to fill our plates, Andrea and Ivy chose the prime rib. I decided the ham with Bing cherry sauce looked tempting. We had barely sat down with our food when, predictably, Willard Hill was standing beside our table. He was in jeans again, and the good-looking leather jacket we’d seen him wearing on his day off.

  “Three lovely ladies, out on the town…or should I say, out on the country, since we’re not really a town here?”

  Andrea looked up. “Hello, Willard. Would you like to sit down?”

  “This place is too rich for my blood, except for a couple of biscuits in the morning. Besides, I already ate. I saw you driving in from the highway, and thought I’d follow and say hello. I’m on my way over to the Alpenhof.”

  We’d given Asbury Andrea’s cell phone number with specific instructions for reaching us, so we knew there was no emergency at the hotel—unless something had happened to Asbury. “What’s going on there?” I asked.

  Willard gave us his confidential look. “Just a little plain-clothes operation. I’m assigned to work the lobby, stay in touch with the sheriff on the phone. Give him any info he requires.”

  Thank goodness Willard wouldn’t be running loose in the woods with a gun. “Asbury’s in charge of the desk this evening,” I said. “We’re going to the ski area later for the torchlight procession.”

  “I hope you enjoy the evening. I’ve seen many of those processions, while on duty of course. But for tonight, duty calls at another place. We’re all out there, keeping the county safe so you ladies can enjoy these events.”

  “Thanks, Willard,” Andrea said. “We appreciate what you do to keep us safe.”

  He nodded, gave us a little salute, and walked on out.

  I shook my head. “He’s really playing it to the hilt tonight, isn’t he?”

  “Plain-clothes!” Ivy sputtered. “You’d think we were in Chicago or somewhere. Why would the sheriff’s department need someone in plain clothes at the Alpenhof?”

  “It must have something to do with Olga’s murder,” I said.

  Andrea merely shook her head as if she didn’t know. As always, it was impossible to imagine what she was thinking, so I didn’t try. Instead, I continued eating the ham that I had only taken a few bites of before our conversation with Willard. When we finished, we got up to get dessert and coffee.

  We were on our way back to our table when Ivy said, “That gentleman over there—he came to the Alpenhof a while back to check out our rooms. I guess he decided to stay here instead.”

  I looked where she was looking and there, among the crowd of diners, was Alex Dubek. “You mean the tall, good-looking man in the blue sweater? The one who’s alone at that table?”

  “That’s the one. I thought sure he was going to rent a room, he asked so many questions.”

  After we sat down, Andrea asked, “How long ago was this?”

  “It must have been a couple of weeks. It was just after I started working there.”

  I was mulling over the complications of Alex Dubek showing up at the Alpenhof if he really were Olga’s husband when Ivy said, “He wanted me to show him a room, but I wasn’t supposed to leave the desk. I hadn’t been working there that long, and I’d never worked the desk before, but Olga wanted to take off shopping, so she asked me to fill in. He asked me about a weekly rate, but I didn’t know, so he asked how long till the owner got back. She had left a few minutes before to go to Davis. I told him at least a couple of hours. Asbury finally came in the back door. He’d been stacking firewood out back. He showed the man one of our rooms. I guess he wasn’t that crazy about it, because he never came back.”

  If Alex Dubek was Olga’s husband, I thought, he must have been spying on her and watched her leave. Otherwise, if he was her husband and was planning to murder her or have her murdered, he surely wouldn’t have wanted her to see him. My head was going round and round with these thoughts.

  Andrea hadn’t touched her apple pie. She had simply been listening to Ivy. “How soon after that did Maria Borodin check in?”

  “I thought it was strange. She called about an hour after he left and made a reservation. She asked specifically for the room that the man had taken a look at. That’s why I remember it was that same day, because she asked for the same room. It seemed strange—you know what I mean? But the reservation was for later. A week later, I think, or maybe it was more. She showed up right on time and checked in and been there ever since.”

  I was virtually sure that Andrea was thinking what I was thinking—that Maria’s room was the only one in the hotel where, from the doorway, the registration desk could be seen. Maria had told us that this was her first visit to the Canaan Valley. Why would she have asked for that particular room? It must have been that Alex Dubek suggested it. I tried to imagine the fashionable, mink-collared Ms. Borodin, the expert skier, as a murderess. It was beyond my imagination.

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