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Falcon's Bend Case Files, Volume II
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Falcon's Bend Case Files, Volume II

Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)

The second collection of Falcon's Bend Detectives Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent's cases, with Patrol Officer Amber Carfi.

Falcon's Bend is a small, sleepy town in Wisconsin that owns more taverns than churches, but fills both on the appropriate days. Teenagers talk of escape from the one-horse town because nothing ever seems to happen. But, even here in the Heartland, police investigators Pete Shasta, Danny Vincent and Amber Carfi fight a never-ending battle to keep their beloved families and hometown safe and sound.

Murder on the Heartstrings: Lieutenant Pete Shasta takes his lovely wife Lisa on a romantic vacation, promising her no mysteries, no crime, and certainly no murder. But, not long after arriving in the middle of a blizzard that has shut down the entire town below the luxurious inn, a body is found stuffed into a janitor's closet. Lisa's only resort is to join her husband in sleuthing so she can get back to her Valentine's Day agenda. 

Flashback: In the midst of planning for the birth of his first child, Lieutenant Danny Vincent is called away because a person missing for seven months has suddenly, and suspiciously, dropped back from out of nowhere. Lucinda Staub was thought to be dead. Now that she's returned, her husband Ryan wants nothing to do with her--even seems afraid of her--insisting she'd bested Old Scratch himself down in the swamp. Lucinda claims to have lost her memory... so how did she know how to get home? And why is she back now? 

Double Take: Victor Brooks, celebrated artist and owner of The Brooks Gallery in Falcon's Bend, contacts local police about a missing painting. The very next day, two more pieces of art are stolen. Patrol Officers Amber Carfi and Warren Jensen stake out the gallery, hoping to catch an insatiable thief. 

Retribution: The subdivision FBPD investigators Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent live in becomes home to a very hot young mama... and their wives Lisa and Melody aren't too happy about all the men in the neighborhood moonlighting as Peeping Toms. But it isn't until the beautiful young woman disappears, leaving her two young children alone, that Lisa realizes crime is firmly afoot. 

Up In Smoke: Lieutenant Pete Shasta is struggling to find the perfect Christmas gift for his perfect wife. His agonizing is interrupted when FBPD Dispatch receives a call from the neighbor of a local Christmas tree farm--which has just burned to the ground. Owner Mitchell Ferrara is officially out of business for the holiday season. But was the fire an accident... or the means to cover up evidence of a crime? 

Ghost of the Past: After an exhausting day, patrol officer Amber Carfi is looking forward to dinner and going home to the love of her life, Warren Jensen, who's been acting strange and secretive lately. When she stops at a local restaurant for take-out, she's surprised when a woman at the counter pushes a note written on a napkin over to her. The hastily scrawled correspondence says that someone has been following her all day and he's now in the restaurant. 

Sixteen years earlier, Ericka Callister gave birth to a baby she didn't want. Young and scared, she wrapped the baby in a pillowcase, then threw him into a dumpster before fleeing. She's about to discover the hard way that mistakes have a way of haunting the guilty no matter how far they run and no matter where they hide. 

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  • Karen Wiesner
    Jan 11, 2018, 21:19
    5 star review from The Romance Studio
    The Romance Studio Sweetheart Award Nominee
    4 1/2 star review overall and 5 star review for “Retribution” from Huntress Reviews
    4 1/2 star review and Top Pick from Night Owl Reviews

    4 1/2 Stars and Reviewer Top Pick! “Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler have done it again. This is the second volume of mini novellas in the Falcon's Bend Series. There are six novellas in this volume and they take place in 2005. Each story was thoroughly engrossing. I found it hard to put it down. I love these mini stories that take place between the major cases that face Pete Shasta and his crew in Falcon's Bend. They are separate stories, but they each tie together in subtle ways. Pay attention and the reader can figure out how they tie together to make a complete story. Great job, once again.” ~Night Owl Reviews
    5 Hearts! "In another wonderful book from Mss. Wiesner and Spindler the officers of my favorite police force work to solve some bizarre crimes while giving us a look into their personal lives at the same time. One of the best things about the Case Files is that the authors are able to delve into so many different types of crimes. Each challenges the officers to step away from their needs as people to focus on the happenings that confront them on the job. They step up to the tasks, sometimes sadly but always professionally. These men and women could police my town any day. They're the type of characters we wish lived in our neighborhood. This is another exceptional example of the collaborative efforts of the two authors. Murder on the Heartstrings has Detective Pete Shasta trying to get away from murder and mayhem to celebrate his wife Lisa's birthday. Seems crime follows the cop everywhere as the hotel masseur is killed the first day of their vacation. Flashback gives us Detective Danny Vincent trying to solve a bizarre case where a woman apparently became the mate of the devil for seven months then returns to go on a killing spree. Double Take pits officers Amber Carfi and Warren Jensen against an art thief. Mix in a little marijuana selling, the possibility that Amber is pregnant and Voila! another great suspense. Retribution sometimes happens in strange ways. Melody Vincent and Lisa Shasta are getting a little tired of the femme fatale enticing all the men in the neighborhood. Lisa stumbles into a crime that threatens her life. Up In Smoke tells the tale of the poor Christmas tree farm owner with the nagging wife. In Ghost of the Past, sixteen year old Ericka Callister has everything until she gets pregnant and makes a life altering decision. Life goes on in Falcon's Bend amidst tragedy the officers see in their work. All this reviewer can wish is the authors don't run out of ideas for unique villains! This book, like all the others in the series, is superbly crafted, full of action and great police work." ~The Romance Studio
    4 stars! "These six short stories, a collection of cases solved by Falcon's Bend detectives Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent and patrol officers Amber Carfi, are all suspenseful and entertaining." ~RT BookReviews
    5 Stars! “The return to Falcon’s Bend for six more cases is a terrific anthology that looks deep into the lives of cops and their significant others as each thrives for normalcy while also conducting investigations into the abnormal behavior of criminals.” ~Follow the Clue
    4.5 stars overall! “4 Stars! Murder on the Heartstrings: I had fond memories of the tales of Sherlock Holmes when everyone within the luxury resort were told to gather in the lobby for questioning. The story fills just under one hundred pages. This means I found myself treated to a short "who-dunnit" mystery with ample enough information to test my wits and try to solve the case before Pete and Lisa did. 3 Stars! Flashback: Detective Danny Vincent had begun to superstitiously associate Pete Shasta's vacations with spooky, unsettling cases. Anytime his partner took time off, Danny seemed to get the most eerie and bizarre calls. This time is no different. Readers...follow Danny as he struggles to make sense of what is going on. I did enjoy the supernatural elements. 4 Stars! Double Take: The officers in this investigation helped Danny during the last story. By showing Carfi and Jensen having their own personal lives, outside of the art theft case, it made them more realistic to me. Well done! 5 Stars! Retribution: Lisa steps into the spotlight for this mystery. Lisa may not have kids of her own, but she is sharp as a tack when it comes to paying attention to kids. The first story of this book seems to have given Lisa a taste of Nancy Drew's life style--and she loves it! 4 Stars! Up in Smoke: This case is short, only about fifteen pages. This is where it finally hit me that the personal lives of the Shasta and Vincent families are continuously running subplots throughout all the stories. 4 Stars! Ghost of the Past: Pete Shasta has a cameo or two in this story, but Amber is the main focus. Ericka's crime is told in a long prologue. Therefore, readers know from the beginning who the teen following Ericka must be. So the question for readers now is, What does he want?” ~Huntress Reviews
    4 Stars! “Murder On The Heartstrings: Fun whodunit read. Flashback: Weird and spooky barely scratch the surface for this story. No easy explanations for this scary, but engrossing, tale. Double Take: The mystery is a good one and we briefly, thank goodness, see Agent Lock again. Retribution: The title of this story couldn’t be more perfect, great read! Up In Smoke: This case is just flat out funny. Ghost of the Past: A truly excellent short on the consequences of our actions. FALCON’S BEND CASE FILES, Volume II takes place after the books. I very much enjoyed catching up with some characters from previous stories. I’m caught up on the whole series now and really looking forward to a new book. I still think it’s amazing that this series is written by two authors in different countries. It all flows so seamlessly and, as I’ve said before, is one of the absolute best procedurals being written. If mysteries/procedurals are your thing, the Falcon’s Bend Series should be considered a must read.” ~Manic Readers
    4 Stars! “A deliciously intriguing place to read about, but I won’t want to live there. Those were my thoughts as I finished reading the six sagas that comprise the latest Falcon’s Bend chronicle, FALCON’S BEND CASE FILES, Volume II. Valiantly, detectives Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent and their families carry the reader through horrors that pass as everyday occurrences in the Falcon’s Bend. Authors Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler do a solid job of stoking and sustaining what I have come to call “the Falcon’s Bend Creepies,” even when the book’s characters are not in Falcon’s Bend. The first story, for example, Murder on the Heart Strings, finds Pete and Lisa Shasta heading for a romantic Valentine’s getaway at an isolated and distant mountain resort. But murder finds them there anyway. Shut in by a blizzard, the spot is so remote that Pete is the only law on the scene, and Lisa finds herself working as her husband’s right hand sleuth. You get the picture: Honeymoon Haven Inn morphs into The Orient Express. Meanwhile, back at The Bend, Danny Vincent attempts to hold his nerves together while managing his wife’s first pregnancy and a case in which a husband claims his wife has come back from the dead. Flashback emits such an unsettling, bizarre atmosphere I didn’t close my shower curtain for two days. On the other hand, Up in Smoke had me laughing throughout all of its wacky fifteen pages. And when the Shastas return to Falcon’s Bend from their “relaxing” vacation, Lisa continues to hone her gumshoe skills in Retribution. Wiesner and Spindler have perfected the fine art of developing characters while not slowing down the plot. For example, in Double Take, the interaction between Patrol Officers Amber Carfi and Warren Jensen gives us deeper knowledge of their personal lives without diverting off into a romance novel. The couple remain cops focused on the main narrative: finding an insatiable art thief. FALCON’S BEND CASE FILES, Volume II is like a box of six small candies. Each story is a tasty morsel, just enough, complete and fulfilling. And the wonderful thing about this batch of goodies? When you finish reading them, you can go back and read them again. They are just that good.” ~Readers Favorite
    “This collection of mystery mini-novels include police procedural, amateur sleuthing, paranormal, and revenge stories. The heroes and heroines who range from detective working for the Falcon’s Bend police department to their significant others/spouses are trying to have a normal family life in spite of the murders and mysteries that keep interrupting their vacations, family plans. My favorite [story] is “Retribution” because the suspense is built nicely. Lisa places herself in danger by going alone to talk to a dangerously suspicious man who has lied about his name and his relationship to the children. Even after she is abducted and placed in a car trunk, she is able to help free herself and the two children and to help solve the missing person case. I admire both her courage and her ability to think quickly.” ~TCM Reviews
    “FALCON’S BEND CASE FILES, Volume II includes 284 pages with six short stories featuring Detectives Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent (along with Officers Carfi and Jenson). The stories are well written, properly mysterious, and give a real life feel for characters we know from previous books. “Murder on the Heartstrings” is an entertaining, plausible story. “Flashback” will send shivers up your back. Do not read it in the dark, alone. It features Danny Vincent, who is sure he gets all the supernatural cases when Pete is out of town. “Double Take” is about a missing painting. “Retribution” finds Lisa Shasta and Melody Vincent (wives of Pete and Danny) rescuing two children, and putting away a kidnapper and a rapist. “Up in Smoke” is about the destruction of a Christmas tree farm at the peak of the season. Was it an accident or was it arson? “Ghost of the Past” features Officer Amber Carfi as she befriends a woman who claims someone is following her. The moral of this story is ‘Be sure your sins will find you out’.” ~Book Loons Reviews
    “Murder on the Heartstrings: I love a good mystery! A man and wife detective team even better. The two planned a nice quiet vacation, and instead are stuck in a winter storm and Pete is coerced into detective duty. Lisa, I feel your pain. I found this story to be enjoyable. I loved how Pete and Lisa's different ideas meshed, and the confusion over who the killer was, was well played. Overall, a good read for a snowy winter afternoon. Flashback: Of all of the stories in the collection, this is my favorite. The very first chapter will reel you in, and you won't want to stop until it's all over. There is suspense and mystery combined with a hint of supernatural, making Flashback reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock. I loved learning the details along with Danny. Double Take: Wow. For a small town, Falcon's Bend sure has a lot of crime. Some weird ones at that. In Double Take, we have stolen art. To Amber and Warren, it sounds like a serial crime, and they just know the thief will be back. I enjoyed the interaction between hero and heroine. The mystery itself was the focus of the story though, and I do like the way the authors kept me invested in the story. Double Take is a sweet story. Retribution: What a year the Falcon's Bend Police Department is having! Who says small towns are boring? In Retribution, Lisa plays a main role in her sleuthing. I liked the fact that she took charge. The ending wasn't what I expected at all. Well-paced and a good length for a quick read. Up In Smoke: A very short case file, a tale of a hen-pecked husband and a psychotic wife. I'd really like to visit Falcon's Bend someday. The citizens are awfully interesting! Up In Smoke is a good story, with a twisty ending that I didn't expect. Ghost of the Past: An eerie tale. Amber stumbles on a strange case of a woman with a guilty conscience and a young man with a vendetta...or is it? We've tied up a loose end with Amber and Warren.” ~Between The Lines Review
    “Murder on the Heartstrings: This is a classic Christie style mystery with a group of strangers stranded at a murder scene. The author does a good job of presenting the mystery and creates some very vivid and unique characters. Flashback: This is an interesting if bizarre tale. Double Take: This is an interesting mystery with a few intriguing side trips. I really enjoyed it and the chemistry between Warren and Amber. I also enjoyed reading about their reactions to the possibility that Amber might be pregnant. Retribution: Lisa Shasta is coming into her own as a sleuth and once again finds vital clues to solve the mystery, nearly costing her her life. Her longing for a child is getting stronger, making her more intuitive in this case. Up in Smoke: In this story, Pete Shasta cleverly solves a tricky case, while working on some personal problems. The mystery is well written with a nice twist at the end. This is a quick and enjoyable mystery. Ghost of the Past: Amber solves another intriguing mystery in her own inimitable style. Her relationship with Warren is still going strong, even if he has been acting a bit strange. I am amazed at their closeness. Being together twenty-four seven is difficult. This is an excellent collection of stories. I would hesitate to move to Falcon's Bend due to the inordinate amount of violent and bizarre crime, but really enjoy reading about the strange things that happen there.” ~Coffee Time Romance & More

Murder on the Heartstrings

A Falcon's Bend Series Novella

Winter 2005

Lieutenant Pete Shasta takes his lovely wife Lisa on a romantic vacation, promising her no mysteries, no crime, and certainly no murder. But, not long after arriving in the middle of a blizzard that has shut down the entire town below the luxurious inn, a body is found stuffed into a janitor's closet. Lisa's only resort is to join her husband in sleuthing so she can get back to her Valentine's Day agenda.  

"The basis of shame is not some personal mistake of ours, but the ignominy, the humiliation we feel that we must be what we are without any choice in the matter, and that this humiliation is seen by everyone."

~Milan Kundera, Immortality

"Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things."

~Robert Louis Stevenson

Chapter One

February 13th 

"Each suite has a private, deluxe bath, two-person Jacuzzi, fireplace, daily maid service and a full breakfast. Guest accommodations include a heated, indoor pool, hot tub and sauna, fitness equipment, spa and massage services..." 

Pete Shasta felt his beloved wife of five years glance at him from the passenger's seat. Lisa read from the brochure for Honeymoon Haven Inn, a romantic hideaway in the woods in upper northwest Wisconsin that attracted skiers and honeymooners. But he didn't take his gaze from the winter-slick roads. 

The blizzard had started slowly that morning until it'd worked itself into a winter squall. By either luck or curse, he'd gotten behind a snowplow a few miles into town. Because Pete was following the plow, the road was in much better condition than those driving before it. That wasn't saying much under the circumstances. The stress of following the vehicle in the blizzard howling around them had him so on-edge, he didn't feel comfortable glancing away from the road ahead for an instant. 

"You want a massage, baby, I'm your man," he murmured. They passed another car that had gone off the road, but a police officer had already arrived to help. 

Lisa chuckled, continuing to read out loud about the full service restaurant, access to ice fishing, seven miles of cross-country skiing on groomed trails and snowmobile trails. Pete didn't intend to take advantage of anything beyond the privacy of their romantic suite. And maybe room service when they needed re-fueling. If we ever get there. 

Just before he passed through a bright orange gate similar to those parks used to close up for the night, the plow turned off the road, leaving him to his own fate. They were almost there now. Slow and steady wins the race.

He was taking Lisa to the luxury resort for her Valentine's Day birthday. He'd timed his annual vacation with the dual holiday. He wasn't fond of travel--especially in a blizzard--so he rarely got far from his home in Falcon's Bend, Wisconsin. He'd worked as a detective on the Falcon's Bend Police Department for almost twelve years. He knew better than to stick around town on vacation days. If he did, one way or another, he'd be called back in. Nope, he was planning on spending the next seven days and nights in the arms of his angel. Crime wouldn't get in the way this time. He'd made certain of that by choosing this secluded spot near the top of the hill, nestled in the trees. Still, he couldn't shake the premonition that he wouldn't escape so easily. He never had before.

The snow coming down in thick, wet clumps was only part of his trepidation. Even the tantalizing memory of the scraps of lace and satin he'd glimpsed in the brown shopping bag before Lisa packed it last night couldn't quell his worries. Grateful as he was that they were nearly there, the road up was steep and treacherous. He could barely see the road leading to it--the snow covered the road and had accumulated several inches. The windshield wipers did a poor job of keeping up with the fierce, blowing snowfall. 

"What a beautiful place," Lisa said on a sigh, turning to put one arm over the back of his seat. 

He could hear how laidback she sounded--a direct contrast to the tension he felt. He knew she thought that merely arriving here signaled nothing could go wrong and she'd soon have her man away from his mistress. At times, his job did feel that treacherous. When he was solving a mystery, little else could break his concentration. Somehow, Lisa--unlike his first wife--put up with it. Accepted it. Still loved him. Thank you, God.

Soon, he could reward her patience. The woman who always held his heart would have his undivided attention. He could hardly wait.

Only when the chained tires on the car cleared the hill and he pulled up under the reception-overhang of the rustic wood-and-stone structure did the tightness in his chest relax. He glanced around, seeing a large building with an oversized garage door set back from the inn. 

When Lisa's fingers slipped into his hair, he looked at her. Her gesture brought back the one thing that had kept him going for the past few weeks. The anticipation of being alone with her, preferably naked, for the next seven days. The state of semi-arousal he'd been in at the mere thought of giving Lisa her birthday gift returned. She leaned close to him, her sienna-colored eyes filled with love and promise. 

"Almost two o'clock. We're here earlier than I expected, but it felt like it took forever," he said, grinning sheepishly because he knew she'd sensed his stress.


Her breath was warm and chocolate-scented. He'd given her a giant, heart-shaped box of her favorite candies that morning. 

"You're not getting away from me for the next week." A boatload of determination laced her words.

"Thought that was my line."

Pete slid his fingers into her long, silken brown hair, cradling her face in his hand as he did so, and closed the inches between their lips. Semi-arousal turned into full-on need when her mouth opened against his and her tongue touched his. Want her, need her, gotta have her now...

Lisa'scar door opened, shocking Pete as the exuberant voice, accompanied with an equally exuberant face, cried, "Welcome, welcome! We are so pleased to have you here at the Honeymoon Haven Inn. I am Felippo Theoclymenus, but you may call me Flip. I will be assisting you during your stay."

The middle-aged bellhop, who might have been Greek or Turkish, put his hand out, his smile reaching megawatt levels. Lisa had no choice but to get out of the car. Pete groaned, but then figured the faster they got checked in, the quicker he could get back to that kiss. 

He stepped out while Flip led Lisa to the double doors. He opened one for her, then turned to Pete, bowing. He had a shock of black hair that was sprinkled liberally with gray. His deeply tanned face had numerous moles and dark spots. "If you will allow me, sir, I will park your car and bring in your luggage while you check in."

Muttering his thanks, Pete handed him the keys. At the least, he had to concede that the resort was living up to its promise of luxury. He joined Lisa inside the cozily warm reception area, and together they went to the front desk. The man there with an extravagant moustache that would have done Hercule Poirot proud inclined his dark head to them. "Good afternoon. I'm Stephen Mendez, manager of the Honeymoon Haven Inn. How may I help you?"

Pete told him his name.

"You'll be happy to know your suite is ready for you, Mr. Shasta. I can check you in early."

Pete had figured they'd take longer getting here, with shopping or lingering over lunch, so the three o'clock check-in wouldn't be a problem. He was relieved now that they wouldn't have to wait in the lobby for over an hour. 

Lisa walked around the expansive lobby filled with fancy furniture and strange artwork. In the opposite corner away from the front desk was a sitting nook bracketing an immense fireplace with a crackling fire that chased away the chill. 

"You have a spa?" Lisa asked while Pete signed the papers Mendez lay before him.

"I must apologize," Mendez said, and Pete noticed then how nervous he looked. His dark eyes darted between the two of them. "Our spa manager called in sick today, so services have been canceled for the day. Additionally, massages must be scheduled in advance." He handed Lisa a form to reserve the masseur. Pete glanced at it to see they offered in-room massages. He didn't like the idea. "Our dining room should open at 3:30. However, our chef and restaurant staff still haven't arrived. I fear the weather is preventing them."

"Aren't blizzards common this time of year up here?" Pete asked. He'd seen something to that effect on the inn's website. There'd been a warning about roads in and out being closed until blizzards were over and the pass could be cleared. At the time, it'd sounded like a benefit to him. Pete remembered the orange gate he'd passed on his way up the steep hill. It was probably what they used to prevent anyone from going up, or down, the hill when conditions were dangerous. 

"Yes. That's true. The weather can turn on a dime. If the local law enforcement decides it's no longer safe to travel this way, they'll close the gate on the road here. They'll also stop plowing the roads until the storm abates."

Maybe seeing Lisa glance at the restaurant next to the front desk, Mendez added, "Food service will be minimal should our staff not arrive, but we have contingencies for this situation."

Flip came in, dusting the snow from his head and coat. 

Pete turned back to the manager. "You think the roads might close soon?" 

"I can't be sure, Mr. Shasta, but we will alert our guests if that happens." Mendez handed him a receipt with two keycards. "Flip will take you to your suite."

With his previous enthusiasm, Flip gathered them and ushered them toward the elevator on the opposite side of the lobby from the front entrance. On the way, he pointed out the observation lounge with huge glass windows that overlooked the forest leading higher up the hill. When they returned to the hall, Pete saw their luggage on a rolling rack next to the elevator, no doubt brought in from the door next to the elevator that led outside the parking shelter.

"You are newlyweds?" he asked, his tone friendly. 

"It's my birthday tomorrow," Lisa told him, wrapping her arms around Pete's at the elbow. "Pete surprised me with this romantic getaway."

Flip nodded, smiling like a lunatic, murmuring, "Very good, very good" before he asked whether Pete was on vacation from his job. 

"Pete's a police detective. He doesn't get vacations. He escapes."

Flip chuckled heartily.

Pete put his arm around his wife, and she raised an eyebrow at him, a smile on her lips. Together, they entered the elevator with the luggage. Flip rattled on about the weather and Mendez's nervousness about schedules and missing employees. He also mentioned that the couple in the suite on their floor, the Stoddards, had intended to check out on the 15th. The weather would, no doubt, prevent that. "That will please Mr. Stoddard to no end. He is a retired photographer, but seems to have an eye for the younger ladies." Flip waggled thick, salt and pepper eyebrows. "He spends a great deal of time in the observation lounge, to see the view. His poor wife though." Flip shook his head, his face falling. "I suspect that his obsession with the younger women is what makes her so self-conscious. Babs she prefers to be called. She is a beautiful woman in her own right. So sad. So sad. But it is not my place to say anything."

A little uncomfortable with the amount of information this man was giving them concerning total strangers, Pete asked Flip about the absent chef and restaurant staff.

Flip nodded. "It happens here. Somehow, we always get by on minimal staff. There is nothing to worry about, I assure you, sir." 

He went on to talk about the guests who'd just arrived today and those they were still expecting. A fashion designer with her New Zealand model boyfriend, a former Olympic skier who'd just married and was coming in for his honeymoon, and a dear old couple celebrating their sixty-third wedding anniversary. 

Pete started to worry they wouldn't get rid of the guy easily. And all he wanted was to be alone with Lisa to see where that kiss would take them.

The elevator arrived on the second floor, revealing a plush, navy blue carpet that went well with the lightly stained, wood walls. More weird modern art adorned them. 

Muttering to herself, a big, sturdy maid wearing latex gloves appeared in the hall in front of the elevator, entering just after they exited. She wore a navy blue uniform that did nothing for her abundant bosom, waist and sausage legs.

"Odelia," Flip told them with a kind of reluctant relish that told Pete their bellhop knew all, saw all and loved to gossip even as he feigned an unwillingness to talk about what wasn't his business. "Her second shift maid staff has not arrived and she let the first shift go early. With the weather, the new shift may not get through. She is not happy about this."

"Mendez didn't seem sure whether the roads would close."

"Oh, they will, sir. Most definitely. I have seen this weather before. Soon, the roads will close. The gate will close and the plows will cease. It is for safety that they must."

"For how long?"

"As long as the blizzard lasts. The weathermen, they are predicting this one will last several days. Possibly three or four."

Much as he'd been looking forward to secluding himself in a luxurious suite with Lisa, the idea of being stranded wasn't an appealing one to Pete. 

Flip opened the door to their suite, one of two on the second floor. The first room in their suite was a huge sitting area with a massive fireplace, plush furniture, stereo, a large television in a closing cabinet, and a full bar. Flip proceeded to bustle around, unloading their luggage, stoking the fire already blazing in the fireplace, talking constantly about lovers and interesting jobs in undiminished enthusiasm. Pete finally tucked a five dollar bill into his pocket and pushed him out the door, all the while he bowed and said, "Very good, Detective. You must call if you need anything."

Pete closed and locked the door. Lisa was grinning when he turned to her. "It'll be cozy," she said while he drew her against him. "Just the two of us. No interruptions."

She was right. His uneasiness was unfounded. When he reached for her and she came without hesitation, he realized that, in his ripe old age of 32, he could think of much worse things than being in an extravagant suite with a huge bed and the most beautiful woman in the world. 

They made love with a swiftness that made him chuckle out loud when it was over...but then the sound of loud, angry voices and a door slamming nearby jolted him from his hedonist focus. 

"You hear that?"

Lisa reached for him, pulling his mouth back to hers. 

Hear what?

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