44 Cranberry Point
Cedar Cove, Washington
I love living in Cedar Cove, but things haven't been the same since a man died at our bed-and-breakfast. Turns out his name was Max Russell, and my husband, Bob, had known him briefly in Vietnam. We still don't have any idea why he came here or-most important of all-who killed him. Because it now appears that he was poisoned. I sure hope somebody figures it out soon!
Not that we're providing the only news in Cedar Cove these days. I heard that Jon Bowman and Maryellen Sherman are getting married. And Maryellen's mom, Grace, has more than her share of interested men! The question is: Which one is she going to choose? Olivia-I guess it's Olivia Griffin now-is back from her honeymoon, and her mother, Charlotte, seems to have a man in her life, too. I'm not sure Olivia's pleased....
There's lots of other gossip I could tell you. Come by for a cup of tea and one of my blueberry muffins and we'll talk.
About the Author
Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and a leading voice in women’s fiction worldwide. Her work has appeared on every major bestseller list, with more than 170 million copies in print, and she is a multiple award winner. The Hallmark Channel based a television series on Debbie’s popular Cedar Cove books. For more information, visit her website, www.debbiemacomber.com.
Hometown:Port Orchard, Washington
Date of Birth:October 22, 1948
Place of Birth:Yakima, Washington
Education:Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college
Read an Excerpt
44 Cranberry Point
By Debbie Macomber
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePeggy Beldon walked into her newly planted garden, taking real pleasure in the sights and smells that surrounded her. This was her private place, her one true source of serenity. The fresh briny scent of the water off Puget Sound drifted toward her as she watched the Washington State ferry glide from Bremerton toward Seattle on its sixty-minute journey. This was a typical May afternoon in Cedar Cove - comfortably warm with just a hint of a breeze.
Peggy uncoiled the garden hose and moved carefully between the rows of leaf lettuce, sweet peas and pole beans. She had a strong practical streak, expressed in her vegetable and herb gardens; she satisfied her craving for beauty with the flower gardens in front. Looking back at the house that always had been her dream, Peggy smiled. She'd grown up in Cedar Cove, graduated from the local high school and married Bob Beldon on his return from Vietnam. The early years had been difficult because of Bob's reliance on alcohol. But then, to her eternal gratitude, he'd discovered Alcoholics Anonymous; it had saved their marriage and quite possibly Bob's life. Until AA, Bob had spent most nights drinking, by himself or with friends. When he drank, he became a different person, no longer the man she'd married. She didn't like to think about that time. Thankfully, her husband had remained sober for twenty-one years.
Walking between the rows, Peggy gently watered the seedlings. Several years earlier, Bob had accepted early retirement and with the severance package, they'd purchased the house on Cranberry Point. Peggy had loved it for as long as she could remember. Situated on a point of land overlooking Sinclair Inlet, the two-story structure, built in the late 1930s, had seemed like a mansion to her. Over the years, it had changed owners a number of times and had started to deteriorate, since no one had cared enough to provide the maintenance it needed. By straining their finances, Bob and Peggy had managed to buy it for a price far below its current market value.
Her husband was a talented handyman and within a few months they were able to hang out a sign for their Bed and Breakfast. Peggy hadn't known how much business to expect, how many guests would be attracted to the Thyme and Tide B and B, as they'd called it. She'd hoped, of course, that they'd make enough to supplement their retirement income - and they had. She was proud of the success they'd achieved. Their traditional home, warm hospitality and her cooking had brought them steady customers and a growing reputation. They'd even been reviewed in a national magazine, which had reserved its highest praise for the food, especially her baking. The reviewer had spent two whole sentences describing her blueberry muffins and homemade fruit cobbler. She had twenty blueberry bushes and eight raspberry canes, and she pampered them lovingly. Each summer she was rewarded with an ample supply for her guests and her family. Life had seemed about as perfect as it could get.
Then the unimaginable happened.
More than a year ago, a stranger had knocked on their door in the middle of a dark, stormy night. If it hadn't been so cliched she might've been amused, but this was no laughing matter. The man had rented a room and then promptly locked himself inside.
A hundred times since, Peggy had regretted not insisting he complete the usual paperwork. It was late, and he'd seemed so tired that they'd simply shown him to his room. They could deal with the necessities in the morning, over breakfast.
But by morning, the stranger was dead.
Ever since, Peggy had felt as if they were caught in some kind of whirlwind, tossed about by forces beyond their control. Bad enough that the man had died in their home, but then they'd learned that he'd carried false identification. Nothing was as it seemed. By the end of that day, after hours with the sheriff and the coroner, there'd been more questions than answers.
She saw Bob pull the riding lawn mower out of the garage. At the sound of the engine, Peggy paused in watering her seedlings, one hand shading her eyes. Even after all these years of marriage, she never grew tired of their life together. They'd survived the bad times with their love intact. And their attraction, too. Bob was tall and had kept his shape, his sandy brown hair neatly trimmed. His arms were already tanned from exposure to the sun. He loved his workshop and she was genuinely impressed by what he could do with a few pieces of oak or pine. She'd fallen in love with Bob Beldon as a teenager and she loved him still.
Now, however, she was worried. She didn't want to think about the dead man, but it was unavoidable, especially after what they'd recently found out. Sheriff Davis had identified their mystery guest as Maxwell Russell. To say Bob was shocked would be putting it mildly. He'd been with Max in Vietnam. Dan Sherman, who was also dead, Bob, Max and another man named Stewart Samuels had belonged to that squadron. They'd gotten lost in a Southeast Asian jungle with tragic results.
Once the identity of the dead man was established, another shocking revelation had come to light. The sheriff, with the help of local private investigator Roy McAfee, had discovered that Max Russell's death was no accident.
He'd been poisoned.
The water bottle he'd carried with him had been laced with odorless, tasteless Rohypnol, commonly known as the "date rape" drug. The dose had been large enough to stop his heart. Maxwell Russell had gone to bed, tired from a long day of travel, and he never woke up.
Bob rode past her on the lawn mower with a quick wave, and Peggy continued to water her garden, but a pang went through her. At this very moment Bob could be in danger, but he seemed content to ignore any risk rather than admit her concerns were legitimate.
As she set aside the hose, Peggy caught sight of Sheriff Davis's patrol car coming down Cranberry Point. She immediately felt the tension between her shoulder blades. She hoped he planned to talk some sense into Bob.
Her husband must have seen the patrol car at the same time Peggy did because he cut the engine and climbed off the lawn mower. Sheriff Troy Davis turned into the driveway, then stepped out of his vehicle. In the beginning, when it looked like Bob might be a suspect in the murder case, Davis wasn't nearly as welcome here as he was now.
The sheriff, who was probably a little heavier than he should be, took a moment to hike up his pants and adjust his gun before heading across the lawn to meet Bob. Unwilling to be left out of the conversation, Peggy shut off the water and hurried across the half-mown grass.
"Peggy." Davis touched the brim of his hat and nodded in her direction. "I was just telling Bob it might be a good idea if the three of us sat down and talked."
Peggy nodded in return, appreciating the fact that he wanted to include her.
Bob led the way to the patio, and Peggy was grateful she'd taken time that morning to sweep it off. The three of them sat at the round pine table Bob had built several years earlier. He'd painted it a deep gray-blue, a color that complemented the white siding. The striped umbrella was up and the patio was awash in sunshine.
"I thought I'd update you on my conversation with Hannah Russell."
Excerpted from 44 Cranberry Point by Debbie Macomber Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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