So this is how it began.
I had turned my foot (twisted, fell, yanked, near-bout broke so it is worse) at the book event in Florida in February. Said foot has not healed some saying because I keep using it, don't stay off of it, go up and down stairs, chase grand baby, and travel. Some may be right. In spite of all that - It was time to travel yet again and this time to the Grand Hotel to speak at the wonderful Winsome women event. Friend Virginia Dixon was traveling with me as companion and she can testify to the fact that what I say is the bona fide true-true. Not fictionalized one bit.
It began in Nashville where we flew to Detroit, jumped in a rental car, drove five hours to the Grand Lakes, boarded a small six-seater Cherokee, survived the wind drafts to land on the Island of Mackinac, where we boarded a horse-drawn carriage to travel to the Grand. I ain't lyin'. And, I must tell you it made my gypsy travelers heart happy, but not my foot and ankle that had grown a little hobbling weary.
After speaking twice the first day of our arrival I was more than a little hobbling. The Grand also has lovely staircases everywhere. Many floors. And the place you need to be is always two floors away from where you are. Virginia has been ever, ever so kind and made left an ice bucket for me by the door after dinner so that I could ice my foot to prepare for the next day's events. My perfect plan - soak in a hot tub with an ice bag on foot.
I ran the bath. Went in the bathroom and locked the door. And, I told myself I was being a little paranoid since I was alone in my lovely room (the J.K. Suite), and the hotel room door was locked. But hey, better safe than sorry. I climb into the tub with a new paperback novel (Light Between the Ruins) and breathe deeply. And in less than five minutes I hear the sound of someone opening my hotel room door.
This is exactly why family members in Tennessee wish I carried a gun when I travel. (Nevermind the logistics of all that flying with bullets.) So here I am soaking in the tub, foot iced, and I hear someone moving around in the room. How Ironic, I'm thinking. Here I am working on a mystery novel and I'm in the middle of one titled, Murder at the Grand Hotel. It's such a great title. But now it's never going to be written because they are going to kill me.
"Hello?" No response. "Is anyone there?" No response. Surely, this is it. The killer in the book usually doesn't answer. I listen, hoping the creaks and sounds are coming from above me or next door. It's an old hotel. Sound travels. But no, they are coming form the other side of the bathroom door. I look around the room. I have a hairdryer and a bar of soap to protect myself. Then there's a knock on the bathroom door. I come out of my skin as someone says very softly, "Did you call us?"
Call us. I'm thinking, who is us? Who are they pretending to be? Did someone call and report they were stuck in a tub and couldn't get out? Have they confused me with someone else?
"No! No! I didn't call you." I wait. Silence. Then movement. Then the sound of the door to the room closing. Which I realize is exactly what they pretend to do when they want to trick you and kill you in the movies. They close the door. Then they wait. I tried to out wait them. The water grew tepid. Then cold.
I got out, wrapped in the robe, (thank you Grand, Thank you , Winsome Women. I need the robe.) And I cracked the door open. No killer waiting. Just a turned down bed. Chocolates on the pillow. And, a prayer. Really. A prayer. On a card. For a peaceful nights sleep.
Book title . . . Killing Her Softly.
I did not eat the chocolate.
(Thank you Winsome Women for an extraordinary event and for your great sense of humor in trying to treat this Southern Writer woman with an overactive imagination, with such kindness.)