It had been three days since Dixie had moved into the cabin. The idea of someone wanting to kill her was giving her insomnia. It was hard for her to understand why someone hated her so much. She always tried to be fair and friendly to everyone. As a Beauty Maven, she was aware of people’s insecurities and always strived to help people put their best face forward. If they were happy with the way they looked, she was happy too. To her knowledge, no one was unhappy with her service.
After she had poured herself another cup of coffee, she went out onto the screened-in porch and found one of the off-duty officers sitting there, reading a newspaper.
“Good morning Officer Thompson,” Dixie said. “Looks like rain today. Sorry that you have to be here.”
The sky was cloudy, and there was the smell of ozone in the air. She took a seat in an old Adirondack chair and joined him.
“Please, call me Jim. I had the day off, and I owed Harlan a favor. I don’t mind. This cabin is a pretty nice place, especially after we evicted the forest residents,” he said, grinning.
“I think there are still a few too many spiders, and a few wasps that need an eviction notice,” Dixie said, smiling back. “I think that I can evict them, though.”
Jim put his paper down, and they sat in silence for a while, sipping coffee. The view over the nearby lake was beautiful, and they watched a few early morning fishermen move around on the calm water.
“The silence before the storm, right?” Dixie said.
“It makes for some good fishing. When Harlan comes, I might get the old boat out and see if it is sea-worthy. Do you like to fish?” Jim asked.
“I used to fish with my dad, but I always felt guilty killing the fish for dinner,” Dixie replied.
“Well, that’s too bad. It is a fun hobby, though. You could always catch and release too,” Jim told her.
“Maybe. I just haven’t done it in a long time. I’d like to see if the old boat is in working order before I get my hopes up. I’m not going out in it unless I know for sure it won’t fill up with water. The lake is pretty deep, and I’m not a big fan of dark water,” Dixie said.
A sound from the kitchen interrupted their conversation, and soon Angie joined them on the porch.
“Good morning you two,” she said, taking a seat. “How are things today?”
“Fine, Angie. We were just talking about fishing. There are several boats out this morning, and Jim was wondering if the old boat was seaworthy,” Dixie replied.
“I’d be careful taking it out too far, just in case it springs a leak,” Angie said.
Dixie got up and offered to make breakfast for the three of them. She made eggs, bacon, and bread, on the small propane stove that Harlan had provided. It wasn’t the same as being at home, though, and Dixie frowned.
Just then, Louie peeked around the corner at the group, and he rubbed his cheek on the doorframe.
“Look who has joined us!” Angie said, gesturing to the cat with her coffee mug.
Dixie turned around, saw her cat, and smiled. “Loulou, I bet you want some bacon.”
Louie rubbed on Dixie’s legs, and she broke off a small piece of bacon for him. While he munched on his snack, Dixie served her aunt and Jim breakfast. After she had found a small bag of cat food, courtesy of Harlan, Dixie fed Louie, got another cup of coffee, and headed back out to the porch.
“I thought most of the people on this lake had left already,” Angie said. “It makes me a little nervous to see boats here, even if the fishing is good.”
“I’ll have Harlan bring a pair of binoculars this afternoon before I leave. You’ll be able to keep tabs on the boats in the area, just in case,” Jim said.
“In case of what?” Angie asked.
“In case the maniac has found me here,” Dixie replied, staring into her coffee mug.
“Hey, don’t worry. The odds of the perp finding you out here is pretty small, almost nonexistent, okay? No one knows you are here, aside from Harlan, myself, and the officers who helped move you here. None of us want to see you hurt,” Jim said. He looked at her earnestly and then motioned for her to drink her coffee as he was doing.
They sat there in silence until they heard a car drive up to the cabin. Jim jumped up and went to see who it was. Dixie sat there, tense, in a fight or flight mode. She was ready to open the screen door, jump over the railing and tumble into the ravine if necessary. She had second thoughts, however, when she thought about leaving Angie and Louie behind.
When she heard footsteps across the cabin living room floor, she turned around to see Chief Beauregard and Jim heading her way.
“Miss Angie, Dixie, glad to see you’re doing well today,” he said, taking off his hat and holding it in his hands nervously.
“What can we do for you, Chief?” Dixie asked.
“I have a problem that I hope you can help me with,” Beauregard said.
“We have a leak about this case, and I’m here to make sure it wasn’t one of the two of you,” he said.
Dixie and Angie looked at each other, confused, and then at the Chief.
“The local newspaper reported a detail about the case that was being kept quiet. The pink lipstick kiss mark on the cheek of the victim was a secret, but a local reporter has already dubbed it the ‘Killer Kisser’ case. The lipstick has been identified as Rosebud Pink, a Beauty Maven lipstick. Dixie, did you tell anyone about the crime scene, other than the officers who were there?” Beauregard asked.
“No, no one that I can think of. Some of my clients asked me about Miss Holly, but I was told not to discuss it with anyone. I can promise you that I didn’t spill the beans to anyone,” Dixie said, crossing her heart with her right hand.
“Not even Angie?” he asked, giving her a stern look.
“Not even Angie,” Dixie replied, and Angie nodded vigorously in agreement.
“I hope it was just an error in judgment from someone in the police department, but I wanted to check with you as well. I would have called, but you’re not answering your cell phone. Seeing the location of this place, I think I can guess why; this is a dead zone, right?” Beauregard asked.
“The reception is a little spotty, Sir,” Jim replied.
“Can I have a word with you, Jim, in private?” Beauregard asked.
Dixie and Angie looked at each other quizzically and watched the men disappear into the cabin interior.
“I wonder what that’s all about,” Dixie said quietly.
“I wouldn’t worry, Dixie. It probably has something to do with the officer staying at your house, or maybe there is a new suspect,” Angie said.
In the living room, Jim and the lieutenant were having a discussion about the stakeout in Dixie’s house. There had been several phone calls, but the caller wouldn’t talk when the phone was picked up. The person did, however, leave several threats on the answering machine. One of the threats had to do with Harlan, and that had upped the ante for the police department.
“We’re putting some extra manpower on this case since a threat was made against an officer. Jim, we need to make sure that Dixie and Angie are never left alone, not even for a short while. I don’t know why there was a leak, but now I have to worry that the killer may know where Dixie is,” Beauregard said.
“I haven’t let either of the women out of my sight, except the ladies room, of course,” Jim said, blushing a little.
“Have you identified any threats since you’ve been here? Any cars, locals dropping by, or anything unusual?” the Chief asked.
“Nothing, really. Just a few fishermen on the lake. It is as boring as it can get around here,” Jim replied.
“I’ll arrange for a satellite phone for you to use while you’re out here. I don’t like you being out here without backup or a way to get in touch in an emergency,” the Chief said.
Jim nodded and followed the Chief out to his unmarked SUV.
“Did you meet anyone on the way up here?” Jim asked.
“No, why?” the Chief asked.
“Just curious. I’ve had this weird feeling all morning like someone is watching us,” Jim said. “I haven’t said anything to the ladies because I didn’t want to scare them.”
“Well, better to be scared than dead. I think you should tell the ladies, and maybe try to keep them away from the windows and doors, just to be on the safe side,” Beauregard said.
“I agree. You’ll send Harlan out with the phone then?” Jim asked.
“I’ll take care of it as soon as I’m back at the office,” the Chief assured him.
After Chief Beauregard had left, Jim headed back into the cabin. He chided himself for being paranoid, but his gut kept telling him something was amiss. And his gut, so far, had never been wrong.