Dead on the Fourth of July (David Dean Mysteries) (Chapter I, page 1 of 8)


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It had been a perfect day at Bird Song-until the phone call came and tanked any semblance of tranquility into a mire of despair. The bed and breakfast had a full complement of guests for the first time in this, their second season, the domestic help opening seemed about to be filled, the weather was beautiful, the flowers were blooming and David Dean's campaign for sheriff looked promising. The Fourth of July, with its old-fashioned local celebrations and guaranteed full house was but a week away. They'd made it through the blahs of winter and the doldrums of spring, managing to satisfy most, if not all, of the bill collectors. Enough advance-booked summer guests allowed cautious optimism that Bird Song the business had a chance of making it-barely. A rosy-red calendar day, for sure. But then the damn phone rang, and like a late afternoon shower on a summer picnic, turned the day to crap.

Martha Boyd would be leaving, so the telephone informed them. The ten-year-old girl had resided at Bird Song with David Dean, his wife Cynthia, and Dean's seventy-seven-year-old stepfather, Fred O'Connor, for the past six months. Her residence was compliments of Janet O'Brien, one of a long line of Bird Song's temporary domestics. Janet had foster-housed Martha for a short time last year as a favor to the child's jailed mother, but in January she imposed on the Deans' good nature to look after the young girl after being arrested and sentenced to sixty days in lock up after a check writing "misunderstanding." The sixty days came and went but Janet never returned, leaving jail, a few more bad checks, and Colorado for parts unknown. Now, half a year later, came the feared phone call informing them that Martha too was leaving. Martha, whose stay with them was at first a simple good deed, then a delight and now so very much more.

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