If you missed the first chapter, start here!
A knock on the back door of the rectory roused Penelope from her spot on the floor next to CJ’s Dalmatian. The dog lifted his grey muzzle to glance at the door, then flopped back down. Penelope went over and opened the door to find Jake waiting. She backed up a little to let him by. “Hey handsome stranger.”
That earned her a smile. “CJ’s not back yet?” Jake wiped his feet on the doormat on the way in.
Penelope got a coffee cup out and poured from the nearly empty pot. After being there nearly every day for years, she was as familiar with the rectory kitchen as she was with Jake’s. “He had a meeting with the bake sale committee. Or maybe it was the used clothing roundup committee. Something anyhow. He should be done in ten minutes or so.” She snagged the carton of milk out of the refrigerator on her way to the table and added it to the mug before handing it to him. “Have a seat.”
“I still can’t believe he pays you to come over almost every day.”
Penelope put the milk away and sat at the table, tangling her legs with his under the table. “I cut him a deal. He keeps me in coffee and the occasional pastry and I keep his dog company. It’s not as if it’s a real hardship.” She took a sip of his coffee. “Besides, don’t you remember what happened the last time I wasn’t here?”
A slow smile spread across Jake’s face. “As a matter of fact, I do. Quite well.”
Penelope laughed. “Not that. I mean here. Poor Spotty barked and howled the entire time and distracted everyone at the service.” One of parishioners happened to be a filing clerk at the station and put two and two together when Jake had walked into his office whistling. It had taken weeks for the jokes to stop.
“I was fairly distracted myself.”
Heavy steps outside the door kept Penelope from responding.
“Jake, how are you?” CJ went straight to the coffee. “Bless you, my child, for leaving me a cup. I thought we’d never get everyone to agree on how to cater the next movie night.” He sank down into a chair at the table. “And then of course we finally decided on a potluck because we always make it potluck.” He took a long drink from my mug. “Now is this a personal or professional visit?”
“Professional, my profession.” Jake put a hand over Penelope’s to keep her from getting up. “Nothing private, just a quick followup. Brian said that Spotty woke you up at five thirty as usual on the day Jezza was killed.”
“On the dot, same as every morning.” CJ explained how his dog could see when Brutus was let out. “Is it important?”
“Well, we arrested two men for drunk and disorderly out at the motel last night, and one of them was once arrested with Jezza back when she was still Daisy. I’m fairly certain they’re the ones who broke into the mayor’s house last week.”
Penelope prodded him. “But?”
“But we have them on a security tape at a convenience store at five forty-five twenty miles away. They had time to kill Jezza after four thirty, but I can’t see that they had time to kill her and clean up like they did if she was still alive at five thirty.”
The priest put his mug down. “Couldn’t they have let the dog out after she was dead? Brutus barked at people coming up to the house, but I think once someone was inside he would have gone into the backyard for them without a problem.” CJ winced. “He’s not really a very good guard dog.”
“Yes, but then they would have to have known Jezza’s early morning routine. And they would have had to know it was important.” Jake shook his head. “We’ll keep looking at them, but I think the killer is still out there.”
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