AMAZON | BARNES and NOBLE | KOBO | iBOOKS
Inheriting her aunt’s old Maine cottage has led Avery Baker down a new career path—home renovation. Finding a property’s hidden potential has rewards and challenges—not to mention certain unanticipated dangers. Like murder…
For Avery and her husband Derek, renovating the Craftsman Bungalow was like stepping back in time. The quaint old home was just as its original owners had left it—from the beautiful butler’s pantry to the surprisingly exquisite ribbon tile. But it’s the attic that yields the most heart-stopping surprise.
In a discreetly hidden antique crate, Avery finds a clue to a decades-old missing persons case. As Avery works on the house and delves deeper into the sinister story, it becomes clear that someone very crafty wants the Craftsman home’s secrets to stay that way!
“The Christ Child is gone!” Kate announced dramatically as she flung her coat over the back of a chair.
I looked up from where I was bent over a particularly stubborn piece of interior design software on the laptop. “Excuse me?”
She dropped into the chair on the other side of the table and reverted to her usual voice. “The Baby Jesus from the manger outside the church. It’s gone.”
“That happens every year,” my husband told her over his shoulder, from where he was on his knees in front of the fireplace, building a fire.
I looked from one to the other of them. “Really?”
Kate nodded. “Don’t you remember from last year? You were in Waterfield then.”
I had been, as a matter of fact. It was about a year and a half since I’d moved from New York City to tiny Waterfield, Maine, to renovate my late aunt Inga’s house. It was a year and three or four months since Derek and I had become an item, personally and professionally.
Only about a month since he’d become my husband.
But I had definitely been here last December.
“We were a little bit busy this time last year,” I reminded Kate. “Renovating your carriage house, remember? You didn’t give us much warning, so we were scrambling through half of November and all of December to get it done before you and Wayne got married.”
And in addition to the renovations themselves, and my mother and stepfather coming in from California to visit for the holidays, there had been the dead body that had been dropped into the middle of our renovations to slow things down further. If the Baby Jesus had gone missing from the manger outside the church last year, I didn’t remember hearing about it.
“It’s been happening for as long as I can remember.” Derek left the fire, now crackling merrily, and sat down next to me. He made himself comfortable, with one ankle on the opposite knee, and stretched one arm along the back of the sofa. Right where my back would have been if I hadn’t been leaning forward to place the laptop on the table. “Barry puts out the nativity scene in front of the church the first of December, and a day or two later, someone takes the baby out of the manger and leaves with it.”
“You’re kidding.” I leaned back, and he curled his arm around my shoulders and pulled me a little closer. Between the fire crackling on one side, and the heat of his body on the other, it was like being wrapped in a warm blanket.
“No,” Kate said. “It’s been going on for as long as I’ve been living here. A lot less time than Derek can remember, obviously. But Wayne said the same thing.”
Wayne Rasmussen, Kate’s husband, had grown up in Waterfield, just like Derek. Kate and I were both transplants. She’d come from Boston some seven or eight years ago now, with her daughter, Shannon, and had settled right in, while I still wasn’t sure I considered myself a Waterfielder. Maine was great in the summer, but now, at the beginning of December, with sunset by four in the afternoon and the nights cold enough to freeze my toes off, I had a hard time remembering what it was I liked about it.
Kate was my first friend when I came to town last summer, and it was thanks to her that Derek and I had found each other. He was a handyman, and she’d recommended I hire him to help me renovate Aunt Inga’s house before putting it back on the market and—the plan was—going back to my life in Manhattan with the profits. But instead I’d fallen in love with both Derek and the house, and with life in this little town on the coast of Maine (in the warm weather at least!), and had ended up staying. And now we both lived in what used to be Aunt Inga’s house, since we had plans for a family and since Derek’s loft, above the hardware store in downtown, didn’t have the space we needed, nor for that matter a yard for the kiddies to play in, once they came along.
“Is he going to investigate?” I asked.
In addition to being Kate’s husband and a native Waterfielder, Wayne was also the local chief of police.
“There’s nothing to investigate,” Kate answered. “Usually the baby is returned after a day or two. They’re just waiting.”
“Is someone going to stake out the front of the church? See who returns it?”
“Lot of trouble for a doll,” Derek said, and Kate nodded.
“Besides,” she said, “what are they going to charge the thief with, if they figure out who it is? Borrowing Jesus?”
# # #