Chapter 7

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Llanview, PA

Nora rolled over and let out an exasperated sigh. She couldn't sleep. She'd been tossing and turning for hours. Twisting the clock on her bedside table she read the time as 3:23 a.m. She glanced at Bo who was sleeping soundly. As frustrated as she was about her own inability, she was glad he was getting some rest. She knew he was exhausted. It had been a long week...returning from the Cove, beginning the murder investigation, today's funeral service…

Nora slipped from beneath the sheets and pulled on her robe. She tiptoed to the kitchen and poured herself a little wine before making her way to the living room and switching on the lamp.

"Brrrr..." she said to herself running her hands along her arms. Looking around, she noticed the balcony door ajar. "No wonder…" she muttered, crossing the room to close and lock it.

Thinking no more of it, she settled on the living room sofa with a book...not just any book, but a journal she had found in the trunk at the old house. She opened it to where she had last read and got lost in the mesmerizing story of her ancestors. The graceful ink curled gracefully across the pages…

April 30, 1857

Ari asked for my hand today!

I must confess, I wasn't sure how to respond. Although he's a fine man...a good man...he is several years older than I, he being 24 and I just barely 17.

But, Ari has many good qualities...many that I haven't found in other suitors. I enjoy our conversations and I find him very funny. He's a gentleman, intelligent, and doing well for himself and...I think he's very handsome! His red hair is quite unruly, and he has the most beautiful dark eyes.

He confessed his love for me and told me that, if I'd move west with him, he'd build me a big, beautiful house beside the lake on the land he owns north of Chicago. After we're married, of course.

Papa gave us his blessing and Mama cried...she thinks Ari is a good match, but hates to see me move so far from New York. She's never been as adventurous as I, but...

Nora heard a rustling behind her. Startled, she turned to find her sleepy husband running a hand over his face.

"Oh scared me," she exclaimed, hand over her heart.

He stood beside the couch in his boxers and t-shirt, eyes glazed and tired. "What are you doing out here? It's the middle of the night."

"Just reading," she answered. "I couldn't sleep."

"It's cold in here," he muttered as he plopped onto the couch beside her.

"That's because the patio door was open...wind must have caught it," she told him.

He glanced at the book in her hand. "What are you reading?"

She showed him the faded cover. "It's a journal I found in that trunk at the old house. I read a little of it there and found it interesting, so I brought it home."

He listened as she excitedly shared what she had read so far.

"According to the dates on these entries, it's older than I thought. It goes back to 1855. It belonged to a Leah Hanen."

"Your great great grandmother, right?" Bo asked, leaning back and stifling a yawn.

"I'm not sure," she answered. "It may be three greats...all I know is that it was several generations back. Anyway," she rambled on, "there's a lot about her life in New York City as a teenage girl; and I was just reading an entry tonight about how my great great...well, however many greats" she said waving her hand, "...grandfather, Ari Hanen...promised to build her a big house on the shores of Lake Michigan if she'd move west with him…"

"Wait," Bo said sleepily, "I'm confused. I thought your grandparents lived in that house…"

"They did! My Saba inherited the house from his father and my Dad inherited it from him, but evidently it was passed down through several generations of Hanens before that."

She paused for a moment caressing the cover of the old journal before adding, "It's kind of sad to see it leave the family, isn't it?"

Bo nodded silently in agreement.

Nora continued on..."Yesterday, I read an entry about Ari taking Leah on a ride in his sleigh. I'm sure it wasn't a big deal to her as people traveled by sleigh all the time back then, but can you even imagine?"

When Bo didn't respond, she turned to find his head laid back against the couch cushion. He was already asleep again.

"Bo?" she said gently, placing a hand on his thigh. "Bo?"

"Hmmm…" Bo mumbled. "What? Sorry, honey. What were you saying?"

Nora laid the book on the coffee table. "Nothing. Nothing at all. Come on, Commissioner," she said, standing and pulling him up by the hand, "you need to be in bed, and so do I. Let's go…" She turned off the lamp and tugged him toward their room.

"Now I probably won't be able to sleep," he grumbled, staggering along behind her.

Nora shook her head. "Oh, I don't think you'll have any problem, Handsome. You were doing a pretty good job on the couch over there. Maybe I'll make us both a shot of whiskey. That'll knock us out."

"And, if the whiskey doesn't work, I know something else that will," Bo hinted.

Nora laughed. "Well, we'll consider that Plan B, Big Guy, but I don't think we'll need it."

When the light was extinguished and the voices inside faded, feet shuffled cautiously across the floor of the balcony. The silent visitor peered through the blinds before trying the door handle. It was locked.

He considered his options, then turned toward the fire escape. Another time, he thought, as he slipped stealthily down the stairs and disappeared silently into the darkness...

Nora's morning started with an early phone call. She put the coffee on to brew as she spoke into her phone.

" whatever you can to save it. That tree has been there for as long as I can remember. I can't even imagine how the front of the house would look without it…"

She listened again before adding, "Oh, here we go. Come on, Royce. It hasn't been that many years! Besides, you're older than I am!" She laughed as she listened to his response.

Bo came into the kitchen already dressed for work, but looking a little bedraggled. He poured half a cup of coffee and swigged it down quickly. Nora noticed his demeanor, and cut the call short.

"Like I said, call that tree expert you told me about and see if he can save it. Let me know what he says...ok...right...thanks, Royce...yes, talk to you soon…"

Bo was pulling on his suit coat when Nora turned off her phone.

"That was Royce Landis. He was telling me that giant oak in front of the house is diseased. He needs to call in a tree specialist…"

She wrapped her arms around his waist. "No breakfast? What's your hurry this morning, Commish? I was going to make you some bacon and..."

He interrupted her. "I don't have time, Red. I need to get to the station."

She straightened his tie and collar. "You look like you're in a hurry," she replied, smoothing his hair into place. "What's going on, Bo?"

"There's been another murder, honey."

Nora looked startled. "Another murder…no..."

"Afraid so," Bo continued, giving her a distracted kiss. "Same MO as the Fitzwater murder. They may be connected. I need to get down there…"

To be continued...