Did you miss chapter one?
Did you miss part one of chapter two?
From Runaway Murder
Chapter Two Continued…
“I’m considering moving here to start a new winery. I unfortu‐
nately lost my old one, which had been in my family for generations,
in the canyon fires earlier this year.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Mrs. Lyonel, but I have to get to the
“I only have a few questions,” she said, stepping further into the
Not one to be easily accosted, I took a step closer to her, making it
clear I wanted to pass.
“Mrs. Lyonel, the start of any journey is the busiest time. I will
come and find you later on during the trip, and I promise I will
answer all your questions.”
“Oh, but it won’t take long,” she said, pulling a sheet of paper from
“Really, Mrs. Lyonel,” I said, more firmly this time. “I must get on,
but I assure you I will help in any way I can once the barbecue prepa‐
rations are underway.”
I took another step forward, and thankfully, Mrs. Lyonel stepped
aside, but not without a confused look on her face.
“Barbecue?” she asked, her voice high-pitched.
“Yes,” I replied as I passed her with a smile. “Today’s feast . . . The
Annual Summer Barbecue Excursion.”
I could feel her frowning at my back as I carried on down the aisle,
but I forced it out of my mind. Perhaps I had been a little harsh with
her; she’d been friendly enough, and she was only looking for help,
but I hated when people snubbed my friends
“She was a bit of a busybody, wasn’t she?” Vanessa muttered into
my ear, and my lips tightened as I suppressed a smirk.
By the time we got to the kitchen, I’d said hello to several more
passengers and been caught in two more conversations. As I put my
bag down on the counter and pulled my hair into a ponytail, I sighed
with the relief of being in the place I loved best—my kitchen.
“Your stool’s over there,” I said to Vanessa, nodding at the corner
as I slipped my chef’s whites on over my simple jeans and tee combo I
always wore to work.
I tied my apron around my waist and pulled my hat down from the
shelf, though I didn’t put it on yet. The passengers liked to see me in
the traditional garb, so I had one of those big puffy chef hats rather
than the simple, modern caps I was used to. I didn’t mind; it sort of
fed into the fantasy I’d had as a child—I’d always wanted to be a chef.
Before starting on the train, I’d worked in many different restau‐
rants, serving everything from simple fare to fine dining and every‐
thing in between. I’d catered for all the town’s big events for years too
—from Living History Day to the Fourth of July Parade. So when this
job came up, it seemed only natural that I applied for it—and even
Greg had to admit I was the best qualified out of all the candidates.
Vanessa looked around approvingly. “Nice place you’ve got here. I
can see why you like it so much.”
I stopped what I was doing and looked around too, unable to keep
the smile from my face. I sighed in satisfaction. I loved every part of
my job, but my kitchen was my sanctuary. Being on a train, it was a lot
smaller than any other kitchen I’d worked in, and at first, I wasn’t sure
how I’d cope with it. Now, though, I reveled in its compactness—
everything was at hand and in easy reach, and it forced me to be a lot
And most of all, I loved the huge window that made up one wall,
countertops running just below it. As we made our way through the
countryside, it felt like I was cooking right there in the middle of the
forest. If I was having a bad day—which was rare now, admittedly—all
I had to do was look out over the valleys and I’d be in heaven again.
“You just wait and see what it’s like when we get going. You’ll be
itching to sell your cab and get a job here,” I said with a chuckle.
“Maybe it was the mayor,” Vanessa said, ignoring my idea. She
plonked herself down on the stool, hooking the small heel of her
boots on the ring around the bottom.
“The mayor? Why on earth would he want to steal the golden
“Maybe he has money trouble,” Vanessa said conspiratorially.
“Maybe he’s in debt and has managed to keep it a secret. Think about it
—he had access to the spike, he knew the security routines, and no
one would suspect him.”
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“No one would suspect him because there was no way it was him,”
I said as I slid my bag into the locker under the counter. “I mean, come
on. Mayor Foster? No way.”
“Yeah,” she replied, looking down at the floor with her chin all
screwed up. “You’re right. He’s too much of a good guy.”
I pulled the door of the chiller open, then peered inside and
smiled; everything was there, just as planned. “You may be onto some‐
thing with the money troubles thing though. Maybe that would get us
to our thief.”
“Our thief?” Vanessa laughed. “Thought you weren’t interested.
They’ve got the best people on the job, remember?”
I squirmed. She’d got me. I always tried to keep out of these things,
but once I began thinking about them, I couldn’t stop. I loved a good
puzzle as much as Vanessa did, I just didn’t allow myself to indulge so
“Morning,” Penny sang as the door swung open and she sauntered
in, Amy just behind her.
“Morning, both,” I said. “Hope you’re ready for a busy day!”
“Always,” Amy replied.
They were my dream team, my hand-picked staff members who
helped make our little transcontinental restaurant a huge success. At
sixteen years old, Penny was a pot washer and an apprentice of sorts,
learning the tricks of the trade whenever we had a spare five minutes.
She was slim and pretty, with hair so blonde it was almost white and
bright blue eyes that shone with life.
At thirty-six, Amy was older and quite a bit more sensible. Her
hair was the color of chestnuts and her eyes the same shade. She’d
started off as a waitress, but now she was almost like a partner in
crime. She helped me shape the menus and select the best suppliers,
and she felt our wins and losses as keenly as I did. The three of us
worked closely together, as a team not a hierarchy, and that’s just how
I liked it.
“Morning,” Vanessa said brightly from her corner stool, making
“Goodness,” she said with a laughing gasp. “You frightened the life
out of me.”
“I hope not,” I said. “We’ve got far too much to be getting on with
to be dealing with any lifeless bodies today! Anyway, this is my friend,
Vanessa. She’s coming along for the ride today. And I’ll warn you now,
she’ll have you both talking about that museum heist all day.”
“I reckon it was a group,” Penny said as she shrugged off her jacket
and shoved it in her locker. “I mean, no one person could have done it
alone, could they?”
“All these tourists don’t help matters,” Amy said. “I mean, it’s great
that Golden’s on the map and all, but when I was a kid, everyone
knew everyone. We even knew visitors by name! How can they even
hope to find the culprit when there are so many strangers in town?”
“See,” Vanessa said, shaking her head at me. “Everyone wants to
solve this case!”
“Can we at least work while we solve it?” I said, looking around at
my team. “Amy, you go get the dining rooms ready. Penny, there’s a
whole box of corn over there that could do with shucking.”
“Oh joy,” Penny said, rolling her eyes. “I do love shucking corn.”
“Hey, it could be worse,” I said.
I leant down and pulled a big saucepan from the storage cupboard
beneath the counter and put it onto the stove. I’d make a start on the
barbecue sauce, then get the chicken prepped. But as I opened the
chiller door, ready to pull out the ingredients I needed, the door
swung open again.
“What is it, Amy?” I asked, then turned and started. It wasn’t Amy;
it was one of the porters.
“Hey, Jessica. Sorry, but Greg wants to see you in his office right
“But I’m busy,” I replied.
He just shrugged. “He said it was important.”
I sighed but went anyway, and as I walked through the door, I
heard Vanessa mutter, “I told you so.”
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