Murder on Vacation (Molly Sutton Mysteries 6): Audio
Murder on Vacation (Molly Sutton Mysteries 6): Audio
Immerse yourself in French village life
The second week of February, cold and damp. Molly Sutton stood looking out the French doors of La Baraque at the frosty landscape, struggling with the feeling that she should be a lot happier than she was.
After all, her move to France had turned out even better than her wildest dreams: she loved her village, had good friends, and enjoyed a full and satisfying life. On top of that, she had recently solved a difficult case and been rewarded with quite a pile of money, and even though everyone knew the old saw about how money can’t buy happiness, did anyone really believe it? And there was nothing but good news in every direction. Usually a dreary time of year for bookings, her gîte business was booked to overflowing for the following week thanks to a marketing campaign she had sent out playing up what a romantic place La Baraque would be for Valentine’s Day. Benjamin Dufort, the handsome and complicated former chief of gendarmes, was back in town. And yet…
She stood at the window looking out, and moping.
Eventually Molly decided some company might help her out of her funk. So she bundled up, gave Bobo a pat, and hopped into her new Citroën coupe since it was too cold to use the scooter. The car had been a total splurge—and a silly one at that—since she didn’t actually care all that much about what kind of car she drove. There was something about suddenly being rich that had made her lose her head for just a bit, and the car was the least of it.
La Baraque now had three new guest rooms in a formerly dilapidated wing off the main house where she lived. A swimming pool was being put in, with work beginning next month. Her bathroom had been renovated to a level of luxury that sailed right past “lap of” and landed a little over the top. Next month, a part-time gardener was due to start work.
While all these things were delicious in many ways—and to be honest, she didn’t regret a single one of them—she nonetheless woke up every morning and, well, there she was. Same Molly, with the same ungovernable tangle of red hair, the same yearning for motherhood, the same uncertainty in the area of romance, and the same pants that were getting too tight.
She reminded herself on the ride into the village that it’s not exactly charming to complain about how coming into a sudden windfall isn’t as transformative as you thought it would be. After parking, she took a moment to look inside the big window of Chez Papa, the bistro that had become her second home in Castillac. She was friends—as everyone was—with the shaggy-headed owner, Alphonse, and knew she could count on knowing at least one person if she dropped by for a meal or a drink or a quick plate of frites.
That night, to her relief, her pal Lawrence sat on his usual stool, drinking his usual Negroni. He grinned when he saw her looking through the window.
“Trying to catch us up to no good?” he asked with a twinkle in his eye as she came inside.
Molly shrugged. “Oh, you know…I just like observing sometimes instead of jumping right in. So how are you? It’s so strange to be at Chez Papa without Nico, isn’t it?”
“I got a postcard yesterday, which pleased me inordinately. I didn’t expect to get anything but the odd text.”
Nico, the bartender, and his girlfriend Frances—Molly’s best friend from home—had taken off for a month in the Maldives.
“Frances sent me a few photos. I’m so envious. That beach! That crystal-clear blue water!”
“I know. Well, why didn’t you go with them? Something remains of your huge pile of gold, does it not?”
“Eh, who wants to be a third wheel? Plus, I have a big week coming up—I’m fully booked for Valentine’s Day. Not that I’m not grateful. This time last year, I was about to start eating cat food, my income was so low.”
“Well, my dear, no one is more pleased than I that your financial picture has become so rosy. Are you feeling the letdown yet?”
Molly jerked in Lawrence’s direction. “Letdown?”
“Of course. Something big like coming into money, or winning a longed-for prize, finally accomplishing something you’ve worked for after years of effort, those sorts of things—I would imagine close to a hundred percent of the time—people get totally depressed afterwards. Ecstasy, followed by morosity. Because of course, getting the thing is wonderful, but it doesn’t actually change you.”
“Honestly, sometimes I think you live inside my brain.”
Lawrence just smiled and sipped his drink. “I hope at least you’ve continued to spend the money frivolously?”
“I need to invite you over so you can take a gander at my bathroom.”
Lawrence laughed. “Oh, I do love a bathroom makeover. Is it very trashy?”
“Lifestyles of the Rich and Not-at-All Famous allll the way.”
“And, if I may be so nosy…what about Ben? Have you seen him lately?”
Molly shrugged again. “I don’t know. It’s…unsettled. I was so glad to see him when he got back, and I’m pretty sure he felt the same way. But now…we’re being sort of careful around each other, you know? Friendly, interested…but a little…”
“Yes. If something’s going to happen, someone needs to make the first move, but we’re both waiting to see what the other one is going to do.”
“What do you want to happen?”
“If I knew that….”
* * *
Constance leaned against the doorsill, her arms crossed. “If you want my opinion, Molls—and of course I know you’re dying for it, haha!—you should just get over yourself and get back together with Ben. You’ve been moping around ever since he got back. What are you waiting for?”
“Okay, yes, I admit there’s been some moping. But I don’t think that’s why. Really, I don’t.”
“Then why do you get that pained expression on your face whenever I talk about how crazy-good things are going with Thomas now? I think it’s because you feel left out. I’m blissfully in love, your buddy Frances is blissfully in love, and where are you? Staying home to eat almond croissants all night and day?”
“I’ll have you know I’ve moved on from almond croissants. Haven’t eaten one in weeks.”
“Moved on to what, pain au chocolat?”
“I thought it was a nice change of pace.”
Molly heaved a theatrical sigh. “All right, I’ll give him a call if it will stop your nagging. I do want things to work out between us, it’s just that…I don’t know, we’re just taking our time. Which is why I don’t think my grump has anything to do with him.”
“I said I would, jeez. Here’s the mop, Mademoiselle Bossy.”
Molly picked up a bucket and the vacuum cleaner. “Let’s hit the cottage first,” she said. They didn’t bother putting on coats for the short walk over. The heat was only set at fifty degrees since no one was staying there, and they shivered as they came inside.
“Oops, sorry about the heat.” Molly sat down on the sofa and stared into space.
Constance put down the window cleaner and a pile of rags and looked at her friend. “Molly?”
“Is it okay if I turn up the heat?”
Molly looked at her vacantly as though she had lost the ability to understand French.
“Molls, are you feeling all right?”
Molly sighed again. “Actually, now that you mention it, no. I don’t feel sick, exactly. But I’m so tired. Like I could sit here on this sofa pretty much into eternity and never get up.”
Constance felt her forehead. “You don’t have a fever.”
“I don’t feel sick. Just tired.”
“It’s probably your liver. You’ve got to go see Dr. Vernay. The village doctor—you’ve met him? He delivered most of us in Castillac. He’s very good, he’ll fix you right up.”
Molly’s expression didn’t change.
“Want me to take care of it? I’ll make the appointment and drive you over. In the meantime, why don’t you just get in bed and rest? The guests aren’t coming until tomorrow. I can do the cleaning in here by myself no problem.”
“You’re a doll.”
“I can’t believe I’ve got six guests coming tomorrow. I’ve never had more than four at one time. What if they’re all high maintenance?”
“It’s Valentine’s Day. They’ll be busy with each other,” said Constance with a wink.
“Oh please, let that be true,” Molly muttered to herself, after thanking her friend and heading back to her house and bed. For once, she thought, let there be no drama. Just an easygoing crowd that gets along and needs no hand-holding.
She climbed into bed, and lacking the energy or commitment to protest when Bobo curled up next to her, fell fast asleep.
Molly Sutton’s B&B is jam-packed for the holiday, but whatever romance is in the air is quickly snuffed out when somebody turns up dead. In addition to worrying that one of her remaining guests is a killer, Molly’s not feeling tip-top and spends more time napping than sleuthing. That’s no way to catch a murderer!