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Authors: Karen Anne Golden

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Cats - Indiana

Karen Anne Golden - The Cats That 05 - The Cats that Watched the Woods

Karen Anne Golden - The Cats That 05 - The Cats that Watched the Woods
Number V of
The Cats That Mysteries
Karen Anne Golden
Karen Anne Golden (2015)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Cats - Indiana
Mystery: Cozy - Cats - Indianattt
It’s July in Erie, Indiana, and steamy weather fuels the tension between Katz and her fiancé, Jake. Katz rents a vacation cabin by a pond stocked with catfish for a private getaway, though Siamese cats, Scout and Abra, demand to go along. How does a peaceful, serene setting go south in such a hurry? Is the terrifying man in the woods real, or is he the legendary ghost of Peace Lake? It’s up to Katz and her cats to piece together the mysterious puzzle.

 

 

 

The Cats That Watched the Woods

 

 

Karen Anne Golden

 

 

 

 

Copyright

This book or eBook is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, persons or cats, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Edited by Vicki Braun

Book cover concept by Karen Anne Golden

Book cover design by Ramona Lockwood (Covers by Ramona)

 

Copyright © 2015 Karen Anne Golden

All rights reserved.

 

ISBN-13: 978-1508859727

ISBN-10: 1508859728

 

 

Dedication

To

My mother, Mildred Lucille Maffett

(May 19, 1932—December 26, 2014)

 

Mom instilled in me a love of animals

Acknowledgements

I’m eternally grateful to my sister, Linda Golden, for her continued support and encouragement.

Thanks to my husband, Jeff, who is always the very first one to read my manuscript.

Thanks to Vicki Braun, my editor, who is so fun to work with. Vicki also edited the first four books of
The Cats That
. . . Cozy Mystery series. Also, special thanks to Ramona Lockwood, my book cover designer
.

Thank you, Ramona Kekstadt, my friend and beta reader.

Prologue

Mid-July

The thunderstorm pushed through a much-needed cold front, so Katherine turned on the cabin’s gas log insert in the fireplace. Scout and Abra—Siamese littermates and one-time stage performers in a magician’s act—trotted into the room, and flopped down on their sides. Scout washed Abra’s ears, then Abra returned the favor. This peaceful interlude lasted about half a minute until Scout bit Abra’s neck, and the two went flying from room-to-room in a fast chase.

Before the young heiress and her cats retired for the evening, she leaned a security bar against the bedroom door. Katherine looked out the back window, surprised at how dark it was. Even with the porch light on, she couldn’t see beyond her SUV.

Once she hit the bed, she fell fast asleep with the cats snuggled against her. In the middle of the night, a loud clap of thunder startled Katherine out of a deep slumber. A flash of lightning revealed two Siamese sitting on the windowsill and looking intently at something outside the window.

“Is it the crow again?” she asked sleepily.

Scout turned and cried a mournful “waugh.” It sounded like a warning.

“What’s out there?” she asked uneasily. Getting out of bed, she dragged herself to the window and pulled the curtain aside. Another lightning stroke briefly illuminated the backyard. A tall, broad-shouldered, heavy-set man was standing at the edge of the woods. On his head he wore something black that covered his face.
Or did he have a face
? She wondered.

Katherine stood back, her heart beating fast. “What the hell? Who is that?” Heavy rain pelted the window glass. The wind picked up and whipped around the cabin.

Abra cried a deep, menacing growl. Scout hissed and hit the window glass with her paw. Katherine said to the cats, “Get down. Let me check again.” She walked back to the window and looked out. At first her eyes focused on the rivulets of rain running down the glass. With the next flash of lightning, the man was now standing right outside. He wore a black motorcycle helmet, and the visor was up, revealing a deformed face with one eye missing. Katherine screamed and fell back. She scrambled to turn the night light off so that the man couldn’t see her.

Scout and Abra—still growling and hissing—ran underneath the bed. Finding her Glock, she cautiously moved to the side of the window and peered out. The man had vanished. She panicked,
Where is he? What if he gets inside?

Chapter One

Early July

As she leaned against the counter in the pink mansion’s kitchen, Katherine watched Jake open the refrigerator and pull out a plastic jug of
Simply Lemonade
. He poured a glass and handed it to her.

“Are these freshly squeezed lemons?” she asked with a playful tone of voice.

Jake gave an amused side glance. “Why, yes, Katz. The cats and I have been squeezing lemons all morning.”

Katherine giggled, then asked, “Do you think there’s something wrong with the central air? I set the thermostat really low, but it’s hot as magma in here.”

“Hot as magma.” He smirked at the comparison. “When the outside temperature is really hot, it’s hard for any air conditioner to keep up—new or old.” He removed his cell phone from his back pocket and tapped the weather app. “Yep, 102 degrees.”

“It seems more like 200 degrees. What’s with the humidity in Indiana? You can cut it with a knife.”

Lilac and Abby slowly crept in and launched to the granite countertop. They collapsed on their sides and stretched out full-length.

“Even the cats are hot,” Katherine observed.

“The counter must be cooler than the rest of the house,” Jake laughed. “Maybe we should hop up there.”

Katherine shot a disapproving look at the cats. “Girls, get down. You’re not supposed to be on the counter.”

“Chirp,” Abby disagreed.

In the next room something heavy fell to the floor. The startled cats shot off the counter to investigate.

“What was that?” Katherine asked, sprinting into the back office. Jake followed with a concerned look on his face. The copy stand next to Katherine’s computer was lying on the floor. Legal documents regarding the new animal rescue center were scattered on the floor, with Iris spread out on top. Looking up with innocent blue eyes, she cried a sweet “yowl.”

“Move over, Rover,” Katherine said to the Siamese. She pushed the cat to the side and collected the documents.

Scout and Abra were stationed on the desk, standing tall and majestic on either side of the keyboard. Scout brushed her face against the monitor and eyed her humans with a cross-eyed squint.

The monitor featured a log cabin set in an idyllic green pasture with wildflowers. Jake joked, “Katz, are you planning a trip to the sticks?”

Katherine walked over to read the screen. “Vacation rental,” she said out loud. “Quaint, rustic log cabin nestled in the woods, next to a pristine pond stocked with catfish.” She laughed, “Try saying that with one breath. The cats would love the pond.”

“Where is it?” Jake asked, picking up Iris and cradling her in his arms.

Katherine moved closer to read the fine details. “It’s located somewhere in Erie County. Wow, go figure.”

“Oh, yeah, in the southern part of the county, there’s a lake with lots of vacation rentals. The town’s called Peace Lake. When I was a kid, my parents used to own a cabin close to the lake.”

“How far is it from Erie?”

“It’s twenty-something miles from here, but it’s not an easy drive. Some of the roads are pretty rugged.”

“What do you mean by rugged? Like an off-road park, or just dirt?”

“Mostly gravel. How much does the cabin rent for?”

“Only a hundred bucks a week,” Katherine said, surprised.

“That’s pretty cheap by Indiana standards,” Jake surmised. “There must be something wrong with it. Let’s see,” he said, scratching his beard stubble. He stayed over the night before and forgot his razor. “‘Quaint’ means it’s small, probably a one-room shack. ‘Rustic’ means it probably has a tree growing inside through the roof. I’m bankin’ ‘nestled in the woods’ means you’d never find it, even with a compass. ‘Pond stocked with catfish . . .’”

Katherine interrupted with a twinkle in her eye, “Enough!” She gestured “stop,” then with her hand still up added, “Oh, you forgot that it was built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground.”

“Like that movie,
Poltergeist
. The cabin probably doesn’t have electricity, so you wouldn’t have to worry about spooky things coming out of the TV.”

“It can’t be all that bad. There’s a web address. At least the owner of the place is computer-literate.”

“I bet you ten bucks there’s an old derelict car jacked up on blocks, and a toilet sittin’ in the front yard,” Jake predicted.

“I’ll raise the ante to twenty bucks. We’re on!”

Jake held Iris like a baby. “Why did you surf up that page, baby doll? Need a vacation?”

Katherine grew very mysterious, “Cats can’t surf the web.”

Jake ignored the statement. “What cat wouldn’t want to stay in a cabin next to a stocked pond?” Setting Iris down, he added, “Besides, I’ve seen your cats do this sort of stuff before. It’s a game they play.”

Katherine became very serious. “What? What did you just say?”

“Which time? Nestled in the woods? Or, pond stocked with catfish?” His handsome face wore an amused expression.

“I think you and the cats are in cahoots together,” Katherine laughed. “I’ve never seen the cats surf the web. Perhaps when you took a break from squeezing the lemons, you conjured up this page.”

Jake answered vaguely, “Perhaps.”

Katherine moved Lilac off the office chair and sat down. “I’ll just print this page for future reference. Maybe we should take the cats there someday. I’ll file it in our future vacation folder.” She chuckled and printed the page.

Jake began picking up the rest of the scattered papers. Iris made a game out of it and pounced on a page, then began kicking it with her back legs.

“Miss Siam, quit it,” Katherine lightly reprimanded. “I’ll need that for my meeting with Scott Wilson in an hour.”

“What do you think of your new attorney?” Jake asked.

“He’s seems to be good at his job. He’s handsome, but not as handsome as you,” she teased.

Jake grabbed her around the waist and pulled her into a kiss. “You’re such a flirty girl!”

*              *              *

Katherine pulled the Subaru into a parking spot in front of the Erie Bank building, where her previous estate attorney, Mark Dunn, once had his office. With Mark in Indianapolis, Katherine hired a new lawyer to represent her interests. Scott Wilson, in his early fifties, was equally as handsome as the movie actor, George Clooney. But most significantly, he was a very good attorney.

Katherine took the stairs to his third-floor office and entered the reception room. She was surprised to see Chief London and his wife, Connie, sitting on the leather sofa.

“Hey, Katz,” the chief said, looking up from his magazine.

“Hello, you two,” she smiled, then sat down.

The receptionist/legal assistant, Jenny, looked up from her document. “Ms. Kendall, I’ll let Mr. Wilson know you’re here.”

“Thanks,” and then to the couple, “I want to thank you again for inviting Jake and me to your home last weekend. We absolutely love your backyard.” Chief London and his wife were avid gardeners, and took pride in hosting barbecues to show off their landscaping.

Connie answered, “You’re quite welcome. I don’t think I’ll be doin’ any gardening this week, though. It’s just too hot.”

“Jake and I want to spruce up the backyard at the mansion. We loved those plants with the gorgeous flowers. What are they called again?”

“Daylilies,” Connie answered proudly. “Every few years, I divide them. I’m getting ready to do that. When I do, would you like me to bring some over?”

“Yes, that would be wonderful. And maybe give me some helpful hints. I’m not much of a green thumb.”

“I’d love to. I’ll give you a call.”

The chief asked, “Did you explain to the cats that I’m coming over tomorrow for the board meeting? Should I bring cat treats?”

Jenny looked curiously up from her document and with a sheepish grin, looked back down again.

Katz said to her, “I have five cats.”

Jenny smiled.

Scott came out of his office. “Hello, everyone. Katz, the chief and his wife are signing documents. It won’t take just a moment, then I’ll be able to meet with you. Is that okay?”

Katherine nodded. She wondered what documents Chief London and Connie were signing, but then pinched herself for being as nosy as everyone else in the small town. The chief and his wife went into Scott’s office, and ten minutes later were finished.

Connie came out first and said to Katherine, “We just signed our wills. I can’t believe we waited this long in life to have them drawn up.”

“Hey, Katz, see you tomorrow,” the chief said, leaving.

“Bye,” Connie said, walking out the door. “Talk to you soon.”

“Your turn,” Scott said to Katherine, smiling.

Katherine followed him into his office. The room was a mess. A mound of paperwork was heaped on his desk; file folders were strewn on top of the credenza and on the floor. He definitely wasn’t a neat freak like her former attorney, Mark Dunn, but Katherine didn’t care. She appreciated the fact that he was also a board-certified financial planner.

Four months previously, Katherine inherited her great aunt’s fortune. Mark Dunn was instrumental in closing the Colfax estate. There were no problems. No last-minute issues. Not even a hiccup. But Katherine needed her new attorney’s advice on how to manage her millions.

Scott directed Katherine to a leather wingback chair. Katherine thought how her cats, Iris and Abby, would love this chair. Not because it was over-stuffed and comfy, but because it probably had an easily clawed-into lining that would be perfect for their stolen loot. Of her five cats, Iris and Abby were the kleptomaniacs, and hid their pilfered treasures in an old chair in the pink mansion’s formal living room.

Katherine took a seat and got right down to business. “Were you able to review my email from yesterday?”

“Yes, I did. I know the board is meeting at your house tomorrow. By the way,” he transgressed. “Why don’t you give the board a name?”

“Sure, how about the
Bootlegging Board, since the philanthropic organization will be taking care of money from my great-uncle, the bootlegger, and his once-thriving Erie business.” She laughed at her own joke. “Just kidding. How about the Kendall Foundation Board?”

“Perfect,” he said, shuffling through a stack of papers. He pulled one out. “The contractor for the animal rescue center said the building should be finished in early October.”

Katherine clapped her hands. “Wonderful. I’ve hired my veterinarian, Dr. Sonny, to interview prospective vets and staff.”

The new attorney smiled. “That’s the good news. The bad news is that he went way over budget.”

“Really?” Katherine asked, with a perplexed look on her face. “How much over budget?”

“$200,000.”

Katherine gasped. “How was that possible? Why didn’t the project manager contact me?”

Scott shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ll look into it. He said there were unforeseen problems in construction.” Scott paused, then raised another issue. “I’m on board with the free spay and neuter clinic, but I think it’s impractical to not charge for other services.”

“But it’s my charity,” Katherine said with a frown.

“Katz, you have other charities, as well. I know your fortune has grown to $48 million, but with all these amazing things you plan to do, your animal rescue center will cost $9 million over twenty years. And that’s just the salaries of the proposed veterinarians and staff members.”

“What?” Katherine asked, surprised. She had done preliminary calculations, but this news surprised her.

Scott put his hands on his keyboard. “I’ve been working on this spreadsheet. It shows the cost of each charity and what it will cost to maintain long-term.” He sent the document to the printer, waited a few seconds, then pulled off the sheet. He handed it to Katherine. “You might want to revise your dream list and either give less money, or cut some out altogether,” he advised. “You’re not the only millionaire on the block,” Scott said frankly. “You need to be looking out for your best interests.”

“What do you mean by I’m not the only millionaire—”

“On the block,” he finished. “Katz, this county is very rich. Some of my clients are farmers; their money is tied up in land, but they are worth more than you. We have old money in Erie County, as well. The Sargent family made their fortune in gold mining. With continued smart investments, their portfolio continues to grow.”

“Am I the only so-called millionaire on the block that’s giving away money to charitable causes?”

“Well, actually you’re not, but I’m not privy to divulge that information. Although I can see by your face, you’re eager for me to do so.”

“Okay, guilty,” Katherine feigned a smile.

Scott sat back in his chair and toyed with his pen. “I know you’ve promised magnificent things for the residents of Erie, but you don’t want to create a town full of moochers.”

“Moochers?” she asked incredulously.

“You know. People who try to get something for free—human sponges.”

“I know what it means,” she said. “But if I give money to deserving charities, or to people in general, I’ll do it anonymously, so how can they mooch off of me?”

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