The Murder Trap - The Audrey Murders
C H A P T E R 1
Checking her cell phone Audrey confirmed what she already knew. It was three thirty. The cottage was in complete darkness. A power cut meant no running water, no hot cup of tea, no heat, no middle of the night TV movie and her laptop computer was low on battery. She turned on the computer to drain the last few breaths of power with Leonard Cohen’s “I’m your Man” and looked out the window into the moonlight. A fishing boat was lit like the fourth of July - its bright colored lights shimmered across the dark waters of the bay. The last couple of days had been stormy, rainy and cold. She presumed the weather had enticed the boats to take shelter inside the bay.
Audrey’s chosen lifestyle of living in rural isolation came with its disadvantages. Fallen trees, hillside slips and storm damage caused regular power outages. She hoped her guests were sleeping through the inconvenience.
The sound of whirring broke the dark silence as electrical devices stirred into life. Audrey was too stimulated to sleep. She made a cup of coffee and checked her email. There it was. He had replied.
Grant Pratt’s life had taken a downward spiral – financially, emotionally and physically. He had a choice to make – to install insulation or take a trip up north. The winter had been cruel to his arthritis but it was almost spring with a promise of warmer days. He couldn’t say the same for his love life.
Her email was encouraging - a possibility even of solving his problematic lifestyle. She owned a rural resort in the far north. He was invited for a visit – a champagne lunch on the front lawn. It sounded rather extravagant and enticing. They had been communicating for a couple of weeks. He had found her on a dating site.
Grant’s appearance was tall, lanky and rugged. His personality was in stark contrast. The man was weak and small-minded. He preyed off others scrounging for unwanted belongings and handouts. Today would be no exception. He rode his timeworn bicycle to the local pub and waited for Bob to take his usual seat by the bar - a lunchtime ritual for the locals who came from neighboring farms for the infamous fish chowder special.
“Could you do me a favor mate?” Grant asked as he accepted the offer of a beer from his good friend.
“What’s that?” Bob guzzled his beer thirstily wiping the froth with the back of his hand.
“I need to borrow a car for a trip up north.”
“Watcha got up north that’s so important?”
“Found myself a lady – a good one. She lives up in Hihi.”
“What would a lady want with you?” Bob said with half-hearted humor. ”Does she know what you look like?”
“Yep. Sent her a picture. She owns a fancy cabin resort. I’ll be back tomorrow night. Just a trip up and down.”
“All that way for a visit? She hasn’t invited you to stay then?”
“Would you mind if she did? Do you need your car for the next couple of days?”
“Nope, can use my truck. My wife has her own car. Stop by my place and I’ll get you the keys. But look after her, eh? She’s got a lot of miles on her but still runs pretty good.”
When Grant picked up the old jeep he dropped off a bag of spuds from his garden. He hoped the jeep was full of petrol. He figured it would cost about three hundred in gas for the round trip. Grant had one hundred and twenty dollars. Maybe he could make it a one-way trip and Audrey would invite him to stay. He could see himself helping the nice looking blonde run her country resort. He certainly wouldn’t miss his run down cabin in the rural outskirts of Thames. He turned on the key and watched as the petrol indicator read almost empty. Bloody Hell! He wished he hadn’t parted with the spuds. Bloody cheap shit! He would need to borrow a couple of hundred dollars now to make the trip. He returned to the pub hopeful.
C H A P T E R 3
Bored. Audrey was bored. When she was bored she had two options; find a new project or a new romance. The latter took less effort and, if it didn’t work out, she could combine the two. Winter was always slow for business. Apart from a few fishermen and a long-term guest, her cabins were mostly vacant. She had a couple of months before the summer holiday traffic – just enough time for a romantic interlude.
Her online search had resulted in two possibilities and one was coming up this weekend. He was a good-looking man. She liked her men tall and lean and Grant fit the profile perfectly. She guessed he was retired, as he never mentioned his work. They shared the same lifestyle interests – living rural and isolated. He grew his own vegetables, cut firewood for his neighbors and sounded like a kind, giving man. She hadn’t suggested he stay overnight. She would wait until they met to confirm any mutual chemistry. Her last romantic affair was with a woman causing a realization she was bi. She had invited the man to lunch on the lawn. She liked the sound of it. Reminded her of the English gentry from British movies and television sagas, which she watched with a morbid fascination.
Audrey was looking wonderful. At least she thought so after years of no sugar and no dairy. Age had smiled on Audrey lately giving her a new vibrancy and energy only a good diet and lots of champagne could explain. Her hair freshly died a pretty tobacco blonde and cut in a long bob accented her green eyes and long lashes. Clothes that used to cause her such a dilemma now seemed easy to find and easy to wear. Her choice for her afternoon date was soft, feminine and sexually enticing.
The day was perfect. Blue skies with a wisp of cloud replaced the gray days of the past with a sparkle equaling her own vivacity. A new umbrella shaded the picnic table set for expectations only the naïve could dream. Perfection and timeliness were two attributes Audrey owned and respected in others. Anything less caused irretrievable damage.
She poured a glass of chilled champagne and looked at the time. If she didn’t hear his car in the next few minutes he would be late. Her fears were unfounded. She watched as an old, dusty Jeep drove up her driveway and parked next to her Rav4. Her heart missed a beat as she watched a wonderful specimen of a man straighten slowly to a standing position holding a bunch of wild white lilies – her favorite.
The Murder Trap
Copyright © 2017 by Leonie Mateer. All rights reserved