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The Ranch House Heist


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Life gets really complicated for Casey when high-dollar art begins to disappear. And people she knows are dying. Casey and Roger are at a pivotal point in their relationship, but will Casey survive to make any decisions?


I debated whether to be a fool and rush in to help Lonnie or sensibly wait for the police; an EMT vehicle saved me the debate. Before I could open the door, they pulled in behind me, siren screaming and directly behind was a sheriff’s car.

The EMTs were already heading towards the door. I stepped out and turned to see Joe Scalini and Andrea Johansen getting out of the unmarked and heading my way. Andrea had a friendly grin but Joe was stone faced. We had met earlier when they had been the local deputies investigating the Tenant from Hell case. At the time Andrea has seemed like she was ready to toss me in jail for the murder and Joe was more reasonable. Since Joe and I had dated a lot until my last murdered tenant, had caused the sheriff to ask Joe to stop seeing me until I was cleared as a suspect. I seem to attract murdered tenants. Anyway, the break caused me to reconsider and during that time Roger had come back into my life. Joe and I were still friends-sort of.

 remained on friendly terms with Andrea and her wife. Andrea was lesbian and married to a ranger at Fort Mose named Mollie.
Joe’s was casual and polite but his smile was professional rather than friendly. “Why am I not surprised to see you here, Casey? Do you manage this house, too?”

“No,” I answered and quickly gave him a rundown on Lonnie’s phone call and what I had heard.

“Please remain here and stay inside your car,” he told me and trotted up the walkway to the house with Andrea. I heard him saying what sounded like telling the crime scene people to get here fast. I got back in my car and called Anne at the office. “I’m here and the police and EMTs are inside checking. Have you heard anything more from Lonnie?”

“No,” she said. “I’m scared something bad has happened. Lonnie is pretty level-headed and would have called back if everything was okay.”
Within what seemed like seconds the crime scene guys arrived and entered the house. Minutes later, one of the EMTs came out and met a man who had just pulled up in the driveway. Since I could see a uniformed officer standing guard at the gate, I assumed this was another police office.
The new arrival was carrying what looked like a doctor’s bag from the days when doctors made house calls. Andrea came out. They exchanged a few words, and she escorted the new arrival inside.

Within minutes, another vehicle arrived. This one was a hearse. The driver got out and pulled a gurney from the vehicle. He went inside, and he and the EMT’s emerged with the gurney. It was occupied.

I was keeping Anne apprised of what was happening. By now Lisa Lee, our broker, had gotten to the office and I could hear her in the background asking Anne what was going on? I got off the call with Anne and stepped closer. The gurney occupant was a large person about Lonnie’s size. He was enclosed in a body bag. “Noooo!” I screamed.

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