In the summer of 1954, on the first morning of Kristie’s vacation she jogs along the beach with her German shepherd, Lilah. At the base of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, Lilah finds a human bone below the sand dune. Kristie’s plans for a quiet week are forgotten as she joins in the investigation. Ocean breezes blow across the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Kristie uncovers a personal connection to the murder victim and her locket.
She meets a handsome government worker named Nathan who is working to complete the National Seashore project. Do his co-workers know something about the crime? Will Kristie and the Deputy find the guilty party? Join Kristie on the rugged shores of Hatteras in the search for a murderer.
(August 31, 1954 – Early Morning)
Sunshine glimmered across the top of the powerful waves that pounded the coastline. Storm clouds scattered across the rough sky. Lilah, my German shepherd and constant companion, accompanied me down my creaking steps which led to the beach. Patches of sea foam mingled with seaweed and crushed shells, collected along the surf line. Some broken branches littered the beach to the north and the south. Lilah raced along the ocean’s edge and splashed in the churning water.
I jogged beside her, salt water soaking my legs. The stiff morning breeze was a contrast to the gale force winds from the night before. Hurricane Carol moved without hurry toward the North Carolina coast, then blasted past Cape Hatteras overnight. News reports earlier that morning stated the winds could top 100 miles per hour at the height of the storm when it reached New England.
Lilah stopped ahead of me and batted a sand crab with her paw. They danced along the water’s edge and I lowered myself beside a piece of driftwood to watch them play. Lilah’s tail whipped back and forth as she pranced in one direction and then the other. Her bark blended with the roar of the waves crashing onto the shore. The crab raced past her and disappeared into the sand. Terns and gulls performed their own dance overhead. The caw of the birds mixed with the pounding waves.
“Come on girl.” I called to her, before I stood and resumed my jog.
Soon she splashed beside me and we journeyed closer to the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. A man stood in the distance, but I couldn’t see who it was. As we got closer, he bent over and poked around the base of a sand dune.
Lilah barked and ran toward him. He straightened and turned away. When we got closer, I recognized Ben Mallory from the Park Service project. He was probably checking the sheet pile groins and the dunes behind the lighthouse. The area was prone to erosion even though his crews worked to get it under control.
“Mr. Mallory.” I called out, but his stocky body moved further away.
Lilah ran toward him and reached his side. She nudged his hand with her nose, but he ignored her. Lilah barked and continued her attempts to play.
“Leave me alone.” His voice was impatient.
“Lilah, come.” Patting my leg, I called to her. “Come.” She returned to me and rubbed her cool nose on my hand. I turned my attention to Ben. “Mr. Mallory, how are you this morning?”
His shoulders sank and he stood still. “Morning, Miss Connelly.”
“Did you have any damage at your camp?”
He looked toward the work camp and shook his head. “Our main concern was flooding.”
“Was that what brought you to the dunes?” I reached for the branch Lilah carried in her mouth and tossed it toward the water.
“You’re mistaken.” His tone was gruff.
Maybe I’d been too far away to see what he was doing. “I’m sorry. I thought you were checking the dunes.”
“We all make mistakes.” He started to walk away.
”Mr. Mallory, it was good to see you.”
He lowered his head and mumbled. “Good-bye, Miss Connelly.”
Sunshine shone through the remaining gray storm clouds. An early morning news report said the storm was moving toward New England at forty miles an hour and would make landfall that evening. Damage around Hatteras was minimal, but the report predicted New England would have more damage.
Lilah dug furiously in the sand. “Lilah, what are you after?”
I didn’t see anything at first, but then something caught my eye and a scream escaped from my throat. I regained my composure and shooed Lilah away with my hand.
I tugged at her collar. “Lilah, sit.” She usually obeyed me, but not that time.
It would be accurate to say she was like a dog with a bone, but that was too literal for me. She held a long bone between her teeth.
Lilah lay in the sand and played with it. It would be good to mark the spot where she found the bone and run home to call the deputy. I tried to get the bone from her, but she held fast to it and ran down the beach. Her tail wagged from side to side and she ran back toward me. Lilah dropped the bone at my feet and started to run along the water’s edge.
I latched a finger under Lilah’s collar. “We need to go home.” She tilted her head at me and I patted her head. “We’ll come back, but you will have to stay out of the deputy’s way.” She hung her head and her big brown eyes drooped. Did everyone talk to their dogs like they were human?