A myriad of unanswered questions plagued Isabel. Staring at the newspaper clipping in hand, a photo of her beloved grandmother along with an amazing article recounting her life, she whispered, “What were you doing at the old farm? Why alone?”
Her grandmother, Isabella Amato, whom she’d loved dearly, was a feisty sixty-five-year-old whose physical abilities and looks belied her age, and if you’d just met her, would swear she wasn’t much older than fifty. Isabel always thought it was due to her spirited spunky attitude. Nothing got her down for long and she could be found riding the ranch, mending fences or taking care of her horses. She typically started her day with a few stretches and her yoga routine followed by a good strong cup of coffee and a light breakfast after which she’d shower, dress and begin her day, no matter the season. It was true, she wasn’t as active outside when winter hit, but the rest of the year, you knew what to expect.
What Isabel couldn’t understand was why her grandmother had gone out to the old barn situated a mile from the edge of her property on land she’d recently sold. Not to mention she didn’t see eye to eye with the new owner, Justin Morris, who according to her grandmother was an upstart with no idea how to run a ranch much less take care of livestock. Only a week ago Isabel had received a scathing update recounting his activities and could clearly picture her grandmother standing in the middle of the kitchen gesturing wildly, arms flailing as she described him as a wannabe rancher with Hollywood good looks and no common sense.
The local sheriff knew Isabell Amato well, had adored her, loving her from afar, for as long as Isabel could remember. After her grandfather’s passing, Isabell was determinedly single and was either oblivious or quietly uninterested in his attentions. To do him justice, the sheriff may have wanted more, but settled for a constant friendship and regular evenings out together letting go of the possibility of a romance.
When he’d contacted Isabel with the tragic news, he’d been stoic assuring her a full investigation was underway and they wouldn’t stop until they found out the cause of her death. It was his suggestion they hadn’t ruled out foul play that had her on the next plane. When asked, he’d said that it appeared as accidental, but the situation had struck him as odd and since she seemed in perfect health, he was concerned enough to bring in the experts. Since he wasn’t given to flights of fancy and was a dedicated cop, she was considerably concerned, the hair on the back of her neck standing at attention. Therefore, she was heading to the ranch herself, in part to settle the estate, and because she needed to determine for herself what was fact and what was fiction.
Isabel made a very good living as an artist, her paintings and sculptures sold quickly, seemed very much in demand with her edgy fresh approach as her agent described them. Her last showing had gone well, and she was prepared to stay as long as necessary in order to find out what had transpired leading up to her grandmother’s demise.
Her mother said they were two peas in a pod, both headstrong, gutsy, determined and more than a little bit stubborn. Since both her mother and father had passed a number of years back in a freak accident, it fell to her to watch over her grandmother, a duty she lovingly performed. They went at it on occasion, being of a similar nature, but the love and respect between the two was obvious to anyone who witnessed them together.
Isabel attempted to school her mind, not jump to undue conclusions, consider the situation rationally. After all, her grandmother could have met with an untimely accident and the situation seemed but it was curious she was on someone else’s property. As she pondered the situation, she began writing down questions requiring answers.