Today I have an excerpt from A Lethal Arrogance.
A Lethal Arrogance
After returning home from her service as a United States Army Signal Corps operator in the Great War, Arabella Stewart’s goal, to save her family’s resort, seems within reach as the summer season progresses. She and her business partner, Mac MacLendon, look forward to re-establishing a successful championship golf tournament, once the signature event of the resort’s year. Problems arise when one of the contestants, an overbearing snob who has created problems at other competitions, clashes with more than one person. When he is found dead, the victim of a suspicious automobile crash, Bella once again helps Jax Hastings, the town constable and her childhood friend, investigate. As they pursue answers, Bella and Jax find several suspects who might have wanted to make the victim suffer for his lethal arrogance.
In A Lethal Arrogance, the third book in my Arabella Stewart Historical Mystery series, Bella again partners with Jax Hastings, the local constable and her childhood friend, to solve a crime. Since the Great War, when Bella served as a United States Army Signal Corps operator and Jax was an officer with the American Expeditionary Force, they have an uneasy relationship. Even so, they join forces to investigate a suspicious vehicle accident in their hometown, where one driver died and another left the scene. Bella’s best friend, Ida Byington, has been stepping out with the victim, Cecil Lahey. The pair argued shortly before the accident, which makes her a suspect. Bella, upset with Jax for doubting Ida, goes along to interview her friend.
Some of the tension drained from Ida as she slumped back in the loveseat. “I told Cecil at the hotel that I didn’t want to see or hear from him again.”
“What did he say?” Jax asked.
Ida swallowed convulsively. “He said I owed him all the money that he’d paid for various entry fees, as well as my lodging at tournaments. He said my father needs to repay him, too. I told him that it would take time, but we would. I’ve modelled a little again, so I have some pin money, and I’m going to look for a teaching position for the coming school year. I told Cecil, and he said I better do it quickly or he’d tell everyone about my family’s dire straits.”
Bella focused on her friend. “Oh, Ida. I’m so very sorry. I wish you had told me about your family’s financial situation.”
Ida shrugged. “I’m embarrassed, Bella. My parents are embarrassed, especially my father. He feels like he’s let Mother and me down. He never really liked Cecil, despite Cecil trying to be pleasant to him and Mother. It’s been hard for Father to see us courting.”
“There are other eligible men,” Jax pointed out.
Ida’s hazel gaze went from Bella to Jax. “Yes, but Cecil said he’d pay off Father’s debts, which are substantial, and he’d started to do that. Not many other men have that kind of money,” she replied with sad certainty.
“I can’t argue with that,” Jax said. Few families were as wealthy as the Laheys. Unfortunately, Ida’s revelations put her under even more scrutiny.
“Do you have other questions, Jax?” Bella asked.
“No, I don’t.” Jax turned his attention to the other woman. “I may need to speak with you again, and I’d like to talk with your aunt, just to verify that you got here when you said.”
Ida’s eyes, still wet with tears, widened in anxiety. “You don’t believe me?”
“It’s my job to get the facts, all of them. I can’t skip that because you’re a friend, Ida. I hope you understand.” When she nodded, Jax continued. “When do you think your aunt will be home?”
“Around supper time,” Ida responded.
“I’ll call then, but please don’t tell her. It’s important that she not feel pressured to be less than honest.”
Bella scowled at him. “Jax, is that really necessary?”
Her dismay came as no surprise. Didn’t she understand that he didn’t like playing the bad guy, especially with her best friend? “I’m afraid so. I want to completely clear Ida.” That was true, but Jax didn’t know if he could. Not yet at least. He glanced back at the redhead. “I shouldn’t say this, but we’ve known one another a long time, and I don’t think you ran Lahey off the road. Even so, I can’t go on what I think or feel. I have to have solid proof.”
“I understand,” Ida murmured. “Do I need to stay in the area?”
Jax shifted in the chair. “I think that would be best.”
“Why” Bella couldn’t keep the dismay out of her voice. “Ida hasn’t done anything wrong.”
Color surged into Jax’s face when he met Bella’s gaze. “I already said I have to do my job.”
The single sentence hung heavily in the now-quiet room until Ida broke the silence. “I suppose I can stay although I was planning to pack tonight and leave first thing in the morning. My cousin Arnold is coming with his family, and there are only three bedrooms. Aunt Florence insists that the two children can sleep on the floor on blankets, but I don’t want to put anyone out.”
After a last glare at Jax, Bella turned back to her friend. “You don’t have to go home. Why don’t you pack and come to Ballantyne? You could stay as long as you like.”
“That is kind of you, Bella, but I can’t pay, and I won’t be a burden.” Ida offered a wobbly smile.
“You don’t have to pay, and you couldn’t be a burden,” Bella assured her friend. “In fact, you could help. The resort is closed for the next three days, but the weekend will be busy.”
Ida chewed her lower lip as if in thought. Finally, she spoke again. “If I can really be useful, I’d love to come.”
“You really can be useful, and I’d love to have your company for as long as you want to stay,” Bella said with a smile. “If you don’t want to follow us back now, come later today.”
“I’d like to wait until after my aunt returns. She’s been very kind to open her home to me, but I feel like a burden here, too. My uncle didn’t leave her very well off. She has the house, but not a lot more.” She bit her trembling lower lip. “In the meantime, I can pack and be ready to leave right after she gets back.”
“Wonderful,” Bella replied with a smile. “I just need to take Jax back to Moreley, get the Ford, and head to Ballantyne. I’ll be there long before you arrive, so your room will be ready. As fun as it was to share my suite, you’ll have your own space since we won’t be as crowded for the rest of the season.”
The friends hugged. “Thank you, Bella. Thank you so much.”
D.S. Lang, a native Ohioan, has been making up stories since she was a little girl, and she still is! Along the way, she studied English and social studies as an undergrad. After graduate school, she went on to teach government and American history in high school. She also taught English at the junior high, high school, and college levels. In addition, she has worked as a program coordinator, golf shop manager, and online tutor.
Now, she spends much of her time reading, researching, and writing. Most recently, she has delved into the Great War era and the years immediately after it. Her Arabella Stewart Historical Mystery Series was inspired by her Great Uncle Brice who served in the American Expeditionary Force during World War One, and by her love of historical mysteries. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with family and friends, including her dog Izzy.