Moon signs, p.36
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       Moon Signs, p.36

           Helen Haught Fanick


  I stood at the window, coffee in hand, and watched Andrea and Ward Sterling come down the Lower Timber Trail. They were gliding along easily, chatting and smiling at each other as they descended. He had taken Sunday off so they could spend a day skiing together before we headed back to Pine Summit.

  What if things worked out for them? What if they became a committed couple, married, and she moved to the Canaan Valley? Pine Summit wouldn’t be the same without my sister. I didn’t even want to think about such a possibility. And yet, I was always wondering whether she’s lonely, so now I’m wondering whether Ward Sterling would make her life complete. I hadn’t thought about any of this when I was encouraging her to get to know him, and it wouldn’t do to worry about it now. Time will tell, as Andrea always says. He invited both of us to supper tonight, which I thought was a nice gesture.

  Maria Borodin, or whatever her real name is, is in one cell in the Tucker County Jail, and Bruno Vanacek is in another. The sheriff says they’ll be tried for the murders of Olga and Franklin Stuart and the attempted murder of Stefan, or some combination of those, right here in Tucker County. From what he said, they’re both giving a flood of information and blaming each other. I don’t think a jury made up of these tough mountain people is going to be very sympathetic. Chances are the two of them are going to spend the rest of their lives in a West Virginia prison, since our state doesn’t have the death penalty. I think it’s going to be difficult for Vanacek to hire another killer from the confines of a cell. Stefan told us he believes Eva Weiss’ husband tipped Vanacek off as to where he and Olga could be found. Eva had been chasing Stefan, and her husband left the valley in a jealous huff. I don’t suppose it’s a crime to run into someone and mention that you’ve seen someone, somewhere. But maybe it ought to be.

  Olga’s body was cremated and her ashes shipped to her family, along with her other possessions from her room, including the photo album. Maggie, Andrea, and I helped Stefan pack up her things, and Andrea checked the album and noticed that the photo that included Gunter Bosch had disappeared, probably taken by the sheriff to protect Bosch’s anonymity. The deputies searched Maria’s room and car for the CZ’s, but they haven’t been found. Maybe Wes Nicholson broke into Maria’s room and took them. It would be fitting if he went into Henry’s Pawn Shop and found they’re worth only a few dollars.

  And then there’s Ivy. I explained the entire situation to her on the way back to the Alpenhof last night. It’s interesting how she changed from being an antagonistic, raw-boned country woman to a friend to Andrea and me. We like her a lot, and I think she likes us, too. Maggie and Stefan haven’t told her yet, but they’re going to make her the daytime registration clerk and hire someone else to do the cleaning. She was certainly right about the waxing halfmoon being a time of turbulence, but not necessarily of trouble. After all, two murderers had been caught, which was a good thing.

  Maggie came to our room last night and gave us the news about Ivy being chosen for the registration job. She also talked about the paintings—told us to take them home, have them framed, and put them on our walls. We’re to take the trunks, too. Stefan and Asbury will bring them down from the attic when we’re ready to leave tomorrow. One of them will fit in the trunk of Andrea’s Accord, and the other in the back seat, and our luggage will be stuffed in around them. Maybe we can find a museum that will accept the old clothes. We’ll air the trunks out, and they’ll make wonderful blanket storage.

  Maggie’s biggest news was that she and Stefan are planning to get married in June. They’ll hold the wedding in the shade of the big sugar maple beside the hotel. We simply can’t wait. We’re going to buy new dresses and wear the jewelry we inherited from Aunt Libby. We’ll lend some of that to Maggie, too, for something old and something borrowed. We’ll help Ivy prepare a reception in the kitchen of the hotel. Like I said, we simply can’t wait. Ivy and I noticed that there’s a full moon on the last Saturday in June, and Maggie agreed that the wedding should be held then.

  I got some hot chocolate and sat down where I could see the slope and saw Andrea and the sheriff coming down again. I wondered if she’d ask him to visit in Pine Summit. I’d ask her, but she’d probably give me that Andrea look that tells me, politely, to mind my own business.

  I looked up and saw Willard coming toward me with a tray. I couldn’t help smiling; I was even learning to like Willard. I hoped he’d fill me in on the latest while we shared a table and had hot drinks. Then it occurred to me that with the murders solved and the valley getting back to normal, there probably wouldn’t be any “latest.” Then again, maybe Willard could be enticed to speak of his take on the relationship between the sheriff and my sister. Of course, the last thing I’d want would be to seem nosy, but getting Willard to talk without prying was the easiest thing in the world.

  I didn’t have to do any enticing at all. Willard started right in, “It’s good to see the sheriff looking so cheerful. Two murders solved, and he’s taking a day off for skiing with a nice-looking lady. We’ve all been thinking it’s about time he had more of a social life.”

  “How long since his wife died?”

  “It’s been five years now. He stays so busy with his work, and he’s in the Ski Patrol, too. He hasn’t taken time for a social life, but it looks like that’s about to change.”

  I finished the last of my chocolate. “They both seem to be enjoying getting to know each other.”

  “It’ll probably be a good thing for both of them.”

  We continued chatting while Willard finished his coffee, and then he told me goodbye till our next visit. I sat there for a moment before getting my book from my purse. A bittersweet feeling had come over me—wishing with all my heart for my sister’s happiness, yet already feeling the loss at the possibility of her leaving Pine Summit. But I was thinking too far ahead, as usual. Maybe they’ll always be long-distance friends, I thought, as I opened my book. As Andrea says, only time will tell.

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