Dying for a Change

Free Dying for a Change by Kathleen Delaney

Book: Dying for a Change by Kathleen Delaney Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kathleen Delaney
Tags: Mystery
of them was a murderer.
    I shuddered, thought of Benjamin, rejected the idea, and decided the murderer was either Vera or some stranger.
    Tom was in the conference room with clients, Dottie was engrossed in doing something on her computer, and the rest of the office was empty.
    “ Ellen, you have a message.” Dottie didn’t look up.
    “ Me? A message?” I headed for my desk. Maybe Bernice had changed her mind, and she and Harvey wanted to buy the house after all.
    Call Alive Ives, the message said. Who was Alice Ives? The name sounded familiar but--. Of course. Alice. One of my mother’s bridge friends. We’d called them the ‘faithful four’ because they never missed a Tuesday afternoon. Did women do that anymore? I wondered as I dialed her number.
    “ Ellen, dear, how lovely to hear your voice, and how is your dear mother and all your lovely family?”
    I sighed and made all the appropriate noises. I had forgotten how Alice prattled on, filling conversation with hurried, breathless little phrases that meant nothing. Unfortunately, you had to pay attention or you’d miss the important bits. I almost did.
    “ And that’s why I want you to list my house, because I really think Florida would be closer to the children and...”
    List her house? I couldn’t believe it.
    “ Alice,” I interrupted. ‘I’d love to. When would you like me to come over?”
    “ Well, dear, I always say, if you are going to do something, don’t put it off. Just get right in and do it, and I’ve made up my mind, so I think we should get started, but not today. This week though. Let’s see, tomorrow is my hair appointment, Wednesday is poor Hank’s funeral--I must call Vera--and Thursday is something, I just can’t remember, but I know there is something--maybe Friday? Why don’t you call me on Thursday. We’ll set up a time them. Is that all right?”
    I hung up with mixed feelings. My first listing! That was exciting. But Alice Ives, how was I going to handle Alice? She meant well, but it was almost impossible to keep her on track. And her house! How did you go about pricing a house like her lovely, large, well kept, but aging giant? It was on a double lot, with lots of trees, but I’d be willing to bet the plumbing hadn’t been upgraded since the thirties. I was going to need some help on this one.
    Dottie came over to my desk and handed me the message book. “I’m going home to lunch. I’ll be back in about an hour. Nicole is out showing property, so is Ray, and Sharon is still working on the Planning Commission emergency.”
    I looked up, studying her, wondering if her face would give some sign of how she felt. Remorse? Grief? Luckily, Dottie took my silence for nervousness at being left alone.
    “ If you get a question you can’t handle, buzz Tom in the conference room. You’ll be fine, Ellen. Really.”
    I watched her carefully cover her computer, replace her pencils in a red, white, and blue striped mug, square up all the files she had been working on, then work herself into a heavy dark brown sweater and leave. She gave me her usual timid smile as she went out the door.
    I spent the rest of the afternoon answering the phone, which got easier, and trying to figure out what to do about Alice’s house, which didn’t. Tom finished with his clients, then paused by my desk and made a few noncommittal comments while waiting for Nicole. She came in, said something to him in a low tone, and they both left. Ray breezed in, gave Dottie, who was back from lunch, a raft of instructions, then made a point of talking loudly on the phone. I wasn’t impressed.
    It was five thirty when Sharon finally came back. Dottie had once more tidied her desk and had gone. I was putting the phones on answering service and was also ready to leave.
    “ You look exhausted.” I paused, curious. “What happened?”
    “ We fought. All afternoon. But Benjamin isn’t going to get Hank’s seat. Evan Hopkins is. He owns an antique store, so

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