Read Murder Checks Inn (Book 3 in the Lighthouse Inn Mysteries) Online

Authors: Tim Myers

Tags: #blue ridge mountains, #cozy, #fiction, #inn, #lighthouse, #mystery, #north carolina, #tim myers, #traditional

Murder Checks Inn (Book 3 in the Lighthouse Inn Mysteries)

BOOK: Murder Checks Inn (Book 3 in the Lighthouse Inn Mysteries)

Murder Checks Inn

By Tim Myers

Book 3 in the Lighthouse Inn

Praise for the Lighthouse Mystery series by Tim


Entertaining ... authentic
... fun ... a wonderful regional mystery that will have readers
rebooking for future stays at the Hatteras West Inn and



Myers cultivates the North
Carolina scenery with aplomb and shows a flair for

Fort Lauderdale


Tim Myers proves that he is
no one-book wonder... A shrewdly crafted puzzle.”

Midwest Book


Colorful... picturesque ...
light and entertaining.”

The Best Reviews

Praise for the Candlemaking Mystery series by
Tim Myers


Excellent storytelling that
makes for a good reading experience…(Myers) is a talented writer
who deserves to hit the bestseller lists.”

---The Best


A sure winner.”

---Carolyn Hart, author of the Death on
Demand series


An interesting mystery, a
large cast of characters, and an engaging amateur sleuth make this
series a winner.”

---The Romance Reader’s Connection (four


The Lighthouse Inn Mysteries by Tim Myers

Innkeeping With Murder

Reservations For Murder

Murder Checks Inn

Room For Murder

Booked For Murder


The Candlemaking Mysteries by Tim Myers

At Wick’s End

Snuffed Out

Death Waxed Over

A Flicker Of Doubt


The Soapmaking Mysteries by Tim Myers

Dead Men Don’t Lye

A Pour Way To Dye

A Mold For Murder


The Cardmaking Mysteries by Tim Myers written
as Elizabeth Bright

Invitation To Murder

Deadly Greetings

Murder And Salutations


Murder Checks Inn

by Tim Myers.

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2003 Tim Myers

All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or
locales is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced,
scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without
permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of
copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. This is
a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either
are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely


For my mother, Ruby Hall, and my father, Bob

For my daughter, Emily, who believes with
all her heart that she’s the real reason I became a writer (and in
a way, it’s true, Emma).

And, most of all, for my wife, Patty, who
never lost the faith, even when she had every reason in the world

This one’s for you all.

Chapter 1

I still don’t know why we
had to come all the way out to the middle of nowhere to read
Father’s will,” Ashley Trask-Cooper said impatiently, smoothing the
invisible wrinkles from her pantsuit with abbreviated flicks of her
hand as she spoke. It was readily apparent that Ashley wasn’t used
to waiting for anyone. She had asked her mother and brother the
same question a dozen times since they’d recently arrived. It was
obvious the Hatteras West Inn was the last place in the world
Ashley wanted to be.

Alex Winston looked up from his position
behind the check-in desk at the people who had been fidgeting in
the lobby of Hatteras West for the last forty minutes. Though they
hadn’t introduced themselves upon their arrival, it hadn’t been all
that difficult for Alex to match names with faces.

When no one deigned to answer, Ashley
continued, speaking loud enough for everyone in Elkton Falls to
hear. “Only Father would book us into a lighthouse motel in the
North Carolina mountains!”

As the owner and innkeeper of the
“lighthouse motel,”

Alex had to fight to hide his smile. He knew
how unusual most people found it to see a lighthouse in the
foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but to him, the original
structure on the North Carolina Outer Banks was the one that looked
oddly out of place without the lush green hardwood forest and the
mountain’s foothills surrounding it.

Cynthia Shays-Trask, the matriarch of the
clan, was a slim older woman stylishly dressed in a designer outfit
and sporting a graying closely cropped haircut. She said curtly,
“Ashley, we are here because your father demanded it. That obese
nightmare of a man has found a way to continue to spoil my life
even beyond the grave.”

Steven Trask, a young man in his
mid-twenties with neatly trimmed hair and a runner’s physique said,
“Mother, I won’t have you speak of him that way, do you understand?
It’s time to put the past behind us.” Unlike his sister and her
outfit, Steven looked at home in a nicely tailored suit.

Oh please, Steven,” Ashley
said. “It didn’t do you the slightest bit of good being his
favorite while he was alive, and it matters even less now. He can’t
hear you.” All three shared the same hooked nose and prominent
chin; the family resemblance was undeniable. Alex would have known
they were related even without having the reservation book open in
front of him. Though they were booked at the inn for the entire
week, the group had refused to check in until Jase Winston, Alex’s
uncle and an attorney in town, arrived on the scene.

Jase had just recently moved back to Elkton
Falls after retiring from a big law firm in Charlotte, and Alex had
been glad for the chance to get reacquainted with his father’s
brother. Since Alex and his brother Tony had lost their parents,
Jase had done his best to serve in their stead. Alex was glad his
uncle had grown bored with retirement and had hung out his shingle
in town. The man was coming alive again with cases to keep him
occupied. He’d confided to Alex that the two of them were a lot
alike; they both dealt with the public and tried their best to
serve them. Alex wondered if that was what his uncle had in mind
when he’d gotten himself involved with this family.

Ashley rubbed her hand hesitantly across the
top of an ornately carved black urn sitting on the table between
them. “This is just like Father, popping up like this. It smacks of
his annual Christmas postcards to the family. The only way he comes
back to us from South America is in a jar full of ashes. He had
some kind of nerve, leaving us all behind and sending a card once a
year just to gloat about his new life.”

Steven’s face turned red as he snapped, “He
just wanted us to know he was okay!” It was obvious his sister knew
just what buttons to push to get a reaction from him.

Cynthia said sadly, “Steven, you always were
such an innocent.”

Ashley said, “He’s not all that innocent. I
could tell you stories about your precious little boy that would
curl your toes, Mother.”

Alex could tell that Steven was trying his
best to ignore his sister’s jab. “Can’t we all just get along until
Jase Winston gets here and reads the will?”

Ashley said, “Don’t hold your breath hoping
for family harmony, Steven. I for one refuse to honor a man who
deserted me.” Ashley frowned, then added, “I still don’t understand
why Donald and the children couldn’t come with us this week.
They’re my family; they have every right to be here, too.”

Cynthia said, “We’ve been over this a
hundred times. The instructions stated clearly that no spouses or
children were to attend. Your father wanted this to be just the
three of us.”

Alex had dusted the same spot on the front
desk for the seventh time when Elise Danton came up behind him.

Alex, I need you

Elise served as the head of housekeeping at
Hatteras West. It was a glorified title, since there were just the
two of them on staff, but Alex knew he couldn’t run Hatteras West
without her. He’d discovered that quickly enough when Elise’s
father had suffered a major heart attack, and Elise had been called
back to his side. He hoped her parents enjoyed good health for a
long, long time. Alex was not at all certain he could go through
running the inn by himself again.

Is it important?” he
asked. Alex would never have admitted to her that he’d been
eavesdropping, but he couldn’t | help himself. It was one of the
fascinations of running the inn, meeting such a vast variety of

I don’t think it can
wait,” Elise said as she motioned him to the rear of the

When they got to the back hallway, Alex
said, “Elise, you aren’t going to believe our newest guests. I was
under the impression that this was just going to be a normal family
reunion when Jase booked their rooms, but they’re here for the
reading of their father’s will. And from the sound of it, nobody
but the man’s son is all that upset he’s gone.”

Elise said, “Alex, I honestly don’t care if
they’re here to hold a séance to bring him back; they’re paying
guests, and we need all of those we can get right now.”

Alex knew too well how true that was. They’d
nearly finished rebuilding the Main Keeper’s Quarters a few months
before when they’d run out of the money raised from the sale of
emeralds found on the property. Unfortunately, Emma Sturbridge,
their staff gem hunter, still hadn’t been able to locate the source
of the main vein of stones, if in fact one even existed. The
original discoverer had taken that secret with her to the grave.
Because of that, Hatteras West, so named because of the exact
replica of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse built beside the two
keepers’ quarters that served as the inn, was heading dangerously
close to being in the red again.

Alex asked, “What’s so important?”

It’s Vernum. I can’t get
the man to hold still long enough for me to have one word of
conversation with him. You’re the only one he’ll talk

Is there a problem with
him?” Alex asked. Vernum, an older, rail-thin man with a heavy,
flowing shock of white hair and a beard that bushed all around his
face, had shown up at Hatteras West the week before, offering to do
yard work and landscaping in exchange for one meal a day and a
place to sleep. Alex had seen Vernum around Elkton Falls for the
past few months, one day sweeping the parking lot at Buck’s Grill
and the next unloading trucks at Shantara’s General Store. Sheriff
Armstrong had talked to Vernum extensively upon showing up in
Elkton Falls and had pronounced him harmless.

Alex had turned down the offer of
landscaping, though he gave the stranger a good meal before he
left. Instead of leaving, though, Vernum grabbed a pruning saw from
the storage shed near the lighthouse and transformed some gnarled
old oak trees Alex had been meaning to convert into firewood into
beautifully sculpted showpieces.

Alex was convinced, and Vernum moved into
the shed after refusing to sleep in any of the inn’s empty

There’s no problem with
Vernum,” Elise explained. “I just hate the thought of him sleeping
on a cot out in the shed.”

It’s his choice, Elise. He
seems happy out there. I can’t make him come inside.”

Would you at least talk to
him about it again? He listens to you.”

I will if I can find him,”
Alex said. He knew there was no point arguing with her. Once Elise
made up her mind about something, it was nearly impossible to get
her to change it. He had to admit she’d come up with many
improvements since she’d arrived at the inn, none more popular than
the continental breakfasts they now served every

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