I hope you have all had a good week. I have. Right now it's a little different than usual as my oldest niece and two youngest nephews are staying at our house for 4-5 days while their parents and other siblings run a booth at a homeschool conference. Right now I'm listening to the almost 4 year old read a kitty story to his 2-year-old brother. So sweet! :)
This week the same blog that did the interview about me last week is doing a giveaway. If you've never read the Triple Creek Ranch books and would like to know what an 11-year-old thinks of them, or even if you have read them and still want to know, head over to Kristy's Cottage and watch the video review her daughter did about it. (Sorry, the giveaway is only open to residents of the continental United States.)
All right, here you are. The story you have been waiting for. Well, at least the first part of it. :) This is the start of the new Graham Quartet mystery, and I hope you'll help me out. I need any and all questions, ideas, suggestions, things you want to know, and anything else you can think of. Part 2 should be coming next week.
The air was warm and heavy. Only a faint breeze whispered through the few trees and stirred the brightly colored flowers on the slope.
“Matt, are you sure we should keep going this way?” fourteen-year-old Selena asked, pushing back her brown hair from her hot face and glancing around at the lonely, uninhabited stretch of shoreline.
“This is the way Joe Blow went, Selena,” Matt replied.
“I know, but–”
“We don’t want to lose the trail, Selena,” Tim, who was thirteen, interrupted his older sister quickly, his eyes sparkling.
“But Matt,” Selena stopped where she was and grabbed her brother’s arm. Her voice lowered to a mere whisper, “What if we meet him?”
There was a long pause, even the wind stopped blowing and the waves washing up against the rocky shore seemed to hush their noise. The sun, which hadn’t yet reached the center of the heavens, shone hotly down from the pale sky on the four siblings as they looked at each other.
“Well,” Matt said at last, “I suppose we can just try to act normal. We are exploring the shore, aren’t we?”
Elsa, the oldest of the group, nodded slowly, “But what if he’s seen us following him before?”
A breath of air stirred the grasses, and Selena gave a start as something brushed against her leg. “And no one knows where we went this morning,” she reminded the others, scratching her leg.
With a slight frown, Matt looked from his sisters to the slight hill before them. “Before we go back, I want to see the building that Joe stopped at. I think it’s just over this rise.”
“Yeah,” Tim put in, eager to be off again. “He’s probably not even there since it’s morning. Come on.”
Nodding, Elsa agreed.
“Selena?” Matt turned to his younger sister. He knew she didn’t get scared very easily, but he didn’t want to go forward unless they were all in agreement.
“Just to the building?” she asked.
In moments the old building came into view. It was drab in color, and the weathered sides gave mute evidence of long years of neglect. The front faced the water, greenish-grey near the shore and deepening to a darker shade farther out. An old wooden walkway, almost like a dock, encased the building’s front and part of its sides, seeming to invite a boat to tie up for a visit.
“That place looks old,” Tim remarked as the four young people stopped to survey the land before them.
“Sure does,” agreed Matt. “I don’t see any sign of ‘him’. Let’s go down and take a look at the building.”
“Do you think it’s safe?” Elsa asked.
No one answered. There was no movement about the house or anywhere along the shore that spoke of human life. The entire place felt deserted. Beckoning to the others to follow, Matt led the way down the slope and across the grassy, flower lined shore. Every eye was open, every ear turned to the slightest change in sound, every nerve was tingling with excitement and a sense of unspoken danger.
“You would certainly have a hard time sneaking up on this place,” Tim breathed. “Everything is open except for those few trees.”
“Quite a change from home, huh?” Matt didn’t take his eyes off the weathered building before them.
Reaching the walkway, they paused. Tim hurried over and pressed his face to a window, trying to peer in through the layers of dust and grime it had accumulated. “I don’t think anyone’s been here,” he said. “At least, I can’t see anything.”
“I doubt you could see anything through that window even if there was anything to see. I’m going to try out the walkway.” And Matt started forward onto the rickety looking planking which stretched over the edge of the water.
Looking down at the waves washing around the pilings, Selena gave a quick shiver. “Matt, be careful,” she called. “It might not be safe.”
“Well, if it’s not, we’ll soon find out,” was the calm reply as Matt rounded the corner of the building and disappeared from sight. The sound of heavy steps was heard moments later and then Matt reappeared. “Yep, it seems pretty solid in most places. A few of the planks are loose, but I don’t think anything’s going to give under our weight unless we all jump on it at once. Come on.”
Needing no urging, Tim quickly joined his brother while Elsa followed with slower steps. Selena remained were she was. “Selena, aren’t you coming?” Elsa paused to ask over her shoulder.
“No, thanks. I’m going to stay here on solid ground.” She turned to smell the tall yellow flowers which were growing in profusion.
Out on the walkway, Matt and Tim moved from window to window. “Bother!” Tim sighed. “I was wanting to go inside an look around, but the door is locked and the windows are so dirty we can’t see a thing!”
“I know,” his brother replied. “But I guess that means our mystery man didn’t stay here.” Matt turned to gaze out over the vast expanse of Lake Michigan. “It sure is something out there today, isn’t it, Elsa? Say, where’s Selena?”
Nodding back towards the shore, Elsa replied, “She stayed there. I don’t think she’s too keen about the idea of trusting herself to this walkway. You know she didn’t really like going out on the pier the other day and only went because Lieutenant Ashwood promised her it was safe.”
Matt frowned. “I’d forgotten. Maybe I should go join her. I’m not sure I like–”
His words were interrupted by an exclamation from Tim. “Matt! It opens!”
Whirling around, Matt and Elsa saw the door of the building swinging silently open.
“What did you do?” demanded Matt, rushing over to join his brother.
Tim shook his head. “I don’t know. I thought something about the latch seemed strange–”
Well, what did you think?
Would you like Part 2 next week?
Any ideas, questions or anything for me?