(Sequel to When God Came Running to Peachtree Street) Fifty-two year old Makkie Yeats is horrified when her dear elderly friend and mentor, Ernie Kellogg dies after being threatened by someone who wants his 100 acres on the Blackwater River, and will go to any lengths, including murder, to get it. As Ernie's heir and the new target of a killer, Makkie must now try to hold onto his land or die trying.
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Ernie lives in a cozy cottage near the river, where he subsists on a small pension, and he and his nondescript, yellow dog, Fred, go fishing for channel cat nearly every day.
I assumed he’d be sitting on his metal and canvas chair, fishing, since he claims the fish bite best at dusk. I angled my way down the steep gravel incline, with a still-warm blackberry pie tucked under my arm.
The final shafts of sunlight glinted dimly through the trees, fading by the minute. I searched for his gray head in the dusk to no avail; his haunt at the water’s edge was abandoned. Years of habit suggested he should be there.
I resituated the pie, retraced my steps and knocked on the cottage door. It opened with a creaky groan, before I’d finished knocking. In the silent, deepening twilight, it was an eerie sound and made the hairs on my neck prickle. Unnerved, I flipped on a light to look around.
I glanced around the living room. No fire blazed in the wide stone hearth. That, in itself, was strange, since he usually kept a fire going; diabetes and age simply aren’t compatible with the damp Missouri chill.
The white bead-board walls of his place always remind me of a boathouse, with its clean simple lines. His fishing pole hung over the hearth and his hip waders and tackle box sat on the floor nearby, looking somehow lost and abandoned. Just the way I felt right now.
A dread alarm sounded in my brain, seeing his glasses, neatly folded on the trunk, next to his favorite gray-blue overstuffed chair, with his newspaper lying on its seat. Ernie never went anywhere without his glasses tucked in his pocket. He could see well enough without them to get around his rustic cottage, but for everything else he needed his glasses. And where was Fred?
I felt panic rise inside me. Help Lord. I nervously checked the bedroom, and bathroom, where everything was neatly in order. I don’t know what I expected to find, but felt my shoulders sag in relief, not to have found him hurt or worse.
He had owned his hundred acres of riverfront property for over fifty years. He loved the place, refusing countless offers to buy, no matter how high the price.
In its usual spot sat the Rust Bucket, his sun-bleached, rust colored 1967 Nova, the color of which particularly amused him, because any new rust would just go unnoticed. I pulled out my penlight and checked the area, relieved to see nothing unusual.
I jumped a foot in the air when I heard a soft whine and turned to see Fred, cowering in the lengthening afternoon shadows. “Fred, what’s going on? Why didn’t you come when I called?”
When I reached out to pat him, he cringed away and disappeared around a corner. What on earth was going on?