“I cannot believe this,” Fern Parker said as she paced the floor in the ER cubicle. “I just don’t understand how this could happen.”
“It’s nothing serious, Fern,” Violet said, trying to reassure her friend. “I’m pretty sure it’s a clean break. There’s no reason to end our trip early.”
Fern waved her hand dismissively. “I’m not talking about your leg. I can’t believe you got Sven to put his arms around you before me!”
Violet sighed and shook her head.
“Really, Fern, this isn’t about you,” Mary Jo Kimbrough said. “Violet is the one we should be focusing on here, not your imaginary love life.”
“What about poor Sven?” Fern retorted. “That gorgeous man probably has a broken back. Now I’ll never get to have a romantic evening with him before we go home.”
“You weren’t going to have a romantic evening with him in the first place!” Mary Jo replied.
“You don’t know that,” Fern said. “I had it all planned out: a romantic candlelight dinner, a stroll in the snow, the moonlight shining down on us, Sven taking me in his arms and…”
“More than I really need to know,” Violet said, stopping her before she went into more graphic detail.
“I think we should all be grateful that Sven and Violet weren’t killed,” Felicity Vinson pointed out.
Violet studied her friends as they continued to talk. Four people could not be more different: Fern was a rich widow who flirted with every handsome man who crossed her path, regardless of age. She was a natural beauty who wore very little make up, and was always immaculately dressed in the latest style.
Mary Jo was a mom to four sons who played football in the fall and baseball in the spring. She usually had her brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, and wore jeans and t-shirts. Whenever she and Fern got into an argument, Mary Jo resorted to sarcastic remarks, which made Fern defended her position even more fiercely.
Felicity was the peacemaker of the group. She dressed simply in slacks and blouses, but felt just as comfortable in jeans. While she wasn’t a natural beauty like Fern, everyone who knew and loved her said that her inner beauty and generous heart made her the most beautiful person in the room.
Violet was the tomboy of the group. She preferred working with her hands, either in her garden or in her workshop, where she refinished old furniture. Some of her free time was spent volunteering at a local animal shelter, which is where she had adopted her beloved cat, Max. Her daughter Dawn was constantly reminding her not to adopt any of the cats she occasionally fostered. Like Max would really go for that. He was king of the castle, and no one was allow to invade his kingdom without permission.
The curtain was pulled back and a young nurse appeared at the foot of the bed. It’s going to be just a few more minutes before we take you down to x-ray,” she told Violet. “There’s a policeman outside who would like to talk to you.”
“To me?” Violet said, surprised. “Whatever for?”
“About your accident.”
“It was an accident, nothing more than that.”
The nurse shrugged. “I only know what he told me, Mrs. Jansen. Do you want me to send him in now, or wait until after you come back?”
“Now is fine.”
The nurse left and came back a few minutes later with a young man wearing a black police uniform. “Mrs. Jansen?” he asked, looking around at the four women.
Violet raised her hand. “I’m Violet Jansen. What can I do for you, Officer…?”
“Bruce Coleman, ma’am,” he said, shaking her hand. “If you feel up to it, I’d like to ask you a few questions about what happened on the mountain this morning.”
“I’m not sure there is much I can tell you. It all happened so fast. And like I told the nurse, it was just an unfortunate accident.”
“Anything you can tell me me will be just fine, ma’am.”
Violet told him everything she could remember, which didn’t seem like much. The young officer looked disappointed when she finished. “So you don’t know what happened when the person who ran into you caught up with the woman?”
She shook her head. “I’m afraid not.”
“You didn’t see anyone standing off to the side before you and the ski instructor hit the tree?”
“Not really. There was a mother and son who stopped to help us; you might ask them.”
“Another officer has already talked to them. They didn’t see anything, either. They were focused on helping you and Mr. Jorgenson.”
“I’m sorry, Officer Coleman,” Violet said as the nurse came back in with an orderly. “I wish I could be more help.”
“It’s not your fault, Mrs. Jansen.” He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a card. “If you think of anything else, please give me a call.”
“I will. May I ask you a question?”
“The young woman…what happened to her?”
“We don’t know,” Coleman replied.
“I couldn’t help but notice that she was lying on the ground further down the hill from us.”
“That wasn’t her,” Coleman replied. “It was the man who had been chasing her.”
“What happened to him?” Fern asked. “Did he break his leg, too? Doesn’t surprise me. Violet told us he was flying down the mountain like a wild man.”
“No, ma’am, he doesn’t have a broken leg. He was murdered.”