Eight years ago, a nasty fall forced Mattie Samuelson to live in an assisted living facility called Silver Pines. She’s always maintained that someone pushed her, though her daughter, Heather, chalks it up to a simple slip in the rain.
One fateful day, Heather makes her mother promise to stay in the house and out of Oregon’s miserable weather. When Mattie breaks her promise and turns up dead in a suspicious accident, Heather can’t forget her mother’s ominous belief that someone tried to kill her. Her grief nearly overwhelms her, but she can’t let Mattie’s death go unresolved. She plunges into her own investigation. Instead of answers, however, she discovers more questions—and more dead bodies.
Heather has always loved puzzles, but this one may be her toughest yet. A missing fortune and a discarded teddy bear are somehow entwined in Mattie’s murder, but how? Heather must figure it out and bring order to an assisted living center where assisted dying has become the norm …
The dark figure tiptoed toward the door standing between him and escape. His satisfied smile pushed at puffy lips hidden by an over-sized mustache. He paused, one hand on the doorknob, the other stuffing rubber gloves into a coat pocket as he surveyed the room. The antique bed that had claimed his attention for the last half hour rested against one wall, at a distance from a scruffy toy which lay well out of her reach. But of course everything was now out of her reach. With that thought reassuring him, he slipped from the room, ready to pretend dismay when someone else discovered the dead body. ###
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
Using the above letters only once, add one to each word below, forming a new word. The addition may be at the beginning, end, or within the word. Place the applicable letter on the line below the boxes to form one 6-letter answer to the title question.
ORE COLD BEAD EVIL HER THEE MORE
The young woman with too many bundles sighed as the old elevator quivered to a stop on the second floor of Silver Pines. She waited for a muffled groan signaling the doors were opening, and when she heard it, she bolted through the opening and sprinted down the deserted hall. At her mother’s door Heather Samuelson shifted her heavy load and with a free hand rapped loudly. She needed to hurry home and attack the work piled on her desk. Her new company needed a responsible president and that was her role. She raised her hand, ready to knock a second time. “She’s dead, you know!” The heavy packages nearly leaped from Heather’s grasp. Glancing over one shoulder she saw a frail old woman with short white hair and graying skin. Tucked in a pocket over the woman’s left breast was a pair of stained dentures. “I beg your pardon?” Heather faced the woman, aware of an uneasy feeling inching up her back. As often as she had visited her mother over the eight years Mattie had lived here, this woman had never before materialized. Where had she come from today? “Could I help you?” With eyes nearly hidden by a collection of wrinkles, the old woman stared into space. Giving way to the curiosity that often got her into trouble, Heather asked, “Who’s dead?” Pointy elbows began bobbing at the woman’s side as she turned, shuffling toward the antique elevator. For a moment Heather watched the retreat, puzzling over the woman’s strange behavior. Finally Heather turned back to her mother’s door. “Come on, Mom,” she whispered, knocking again, willing the locked door to spring open. When nothing changed, she lowered the heavy bags to the floor and searched for her own key. “Hi, Mom,” she called as she entered the apartment, kicking the door shut behind her. She paused. “Mom? I’ve got your supplies. Where do you want them?” The silence was eerie. Only an hour earlier Mattie had promised to stay indoors. Had she gone? Where could she be? Mattie Samuelson never broke promises. Heather moved the sofa and lowered the heavy bags. Rubbing her tired arms she searched for a note explaining Mattie’s absence. When none was found, Heather slumped in a chair to wait. Through the dusty window beside her, she watched February’s fat raindrops puddle at the edge of the highway below. The downpour currently flooding Lewisburg and Oregon’s entire Willamette Valley was following five days of sub-freezing temperatures that had frozen the ground. Today’s wet torrent had no place to go, except to cause the Valley to become a mess of flooding rivers and standing water. Northbound sections of the Interstate connecting Portland to points south had already closed. Traffic heading north, now diverted to Highway 99 West, filled that narrow two-lane road like too much cholesterol in a small artery. When the telephone beside Heather rang, she grabbed it. Thank goodness, she thought. “Hi, Mom. Nice timing. I just got here.” “Mrs. Samuelson?” The raspy voice was a man who sounded tired. “This is Sergeant Miller of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. I’m sorry to be slow returning your call, but today’s weather has really kept us hopping.” Heather drew in a sharp breath. “Mrs. Samuelson?” Heather cleared her throat. “Sergeant Miller, I’m Mrs. Samuelson’s daughter, Heather. Mom seems to have stepped out for a few minutes.” “I’m sorry to hear that. I hoped she could change her appointment and come in now.” Heather remembered times when her mother had been involved in what she thought of as helping the police solve crimes. Was this another such occasion? Heather inched forward in her chair. “Mom made an appointment with you? For today?” The sergeant sighed. “When Mrs. Samuelson returns, have her give me a call. We’re anxious to learn more about the murder she mentioned.” The room suddenly felt cold. “Someone’s been murdered?” That didn’t make any sense to Heather, but neither did the buzzing receiver that told her Sergeant Miller had hung up.