A late-night call from a local busybody sends Kimberley West racing to Osprey Beach’s gloomy new pirate museum. But when Kim, her grandfather and standard poodle Rorschach arrive, the caller is nowhere in sight.
The entryway was lit by a single bulb. Apparently, the oh-so-economical Dorothy Tyson hadn’t turned on the overhead lights. The safety lights barely illuminated the area.
“Dorothy?” Grandpa peered into the shadows.
Kim stepped around the ticket counter and started toward the pirate ship replica. Rory slammed to a stop. Planting his feet, he sniffed the air. The hair on his back bristled and his throat rumbled.
Grabbing Grandpa’s hand, Kim hissed, “Something’s wrong.”
“Rory’s just never been in a museum,” Grandpa said.
She started to point at Rory’s raised hackles when he suddenly charged forward, pulling the leash from her hand.
Kim ran after him. “Rory, no!”
Rory barked and seemed to increase speed. She followed him around the pirate ship, but slipped as they rounded the corner into the dark hallway of pirate photos.
Somewhere ahead, a door alarm clanged.
She skidded around the last narrow turn in time to see Rory disappear through the far doorway into the gem exhibit.
She raced after him. Through the door, careening left, her mind barely registering something wrong with the exhibit on the right, no time, gotta catch Rory, through the entry into the final exhibit.
There, just ahead. The big poodle stood at the back door, barking and scratching. She snagged his leash, her heart racing, her mind trying to make sense of what just happened.
Someone had been in the museum, had run from Rory.
No. His hackles wouldn’t have risen if Dorothy was the only one in the museum.
So who just ran through the door?
She turned to look for Grandpa. But the large room was empty. Hadn’t he been right behind her?
“In here.” His voice sounded strange, like his throat muscles were too tight. . .
Kim and Rory retraced their steps to the entrance of the gemstone exhibits. Rory braked to a halt and refused to enter the room.
Kim told him to lay down, then gave him the stay command. Turning, she entered the gem exhibit. Something crunched under foot. Glass.
More than half of the display cases had been broken. Glass and scattered artifacts littered the floor. The case that once held the pirate’s ruby amulet was empty. Bare spots dotted the display of pirate weapons.
Grandpa knelt in front of the empty jewelry display, his back to her. She could see a woman’s stocking-covered foot; her shoe lay a few inches away.
He slowly rose, revealing the woman’s face. Dorothy Tyson.
Grandpa nodded. “She’s dead.”