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Mystery and Crime
Evil In Paradise - Part 2 by Begin Again
 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: June 16, 2010      Views: 297

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BEGIN AGAIN 
Begin Again is a resilient "senior citizen". Reinventing and restructuring her life has become almost common place for her.

I love music, books, and sitting by the water. Each of these activities brings a sense of life to me.
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Evil in Paradise - Part 1 in a Capsule

Before leaving on a week-long annual outing with her sorority sisters, Carrie asks her workaholic boyfriend to join her at Paradise Lodge on the weekend for a little one-on-one time. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that he has made his own plans, a golf outing at Myrtle Beach. After hours of feeling devastated, she finally leaves on her trip and soon discovers that the beauty of the Smoky Mountains makes it impossible to remain sad. Stopping to enjoy the surroundings at a roadside rest area, she is startled by a park ranger that leaves her skin crawling. Telling her about a missing hiker in the area, he advises her to be careful as he obviously admires her body. Eager to escape the lewd ranger, Carrie quickly drives away toward her destination.



Evil in Paradise -Part 2

Strolling in the early morning quiet, Carrie fully understood why this place was called Paradise. The cool fresh air was exhilarating, especially after last night's rowdy reunion with her sorority girlfriends. The lush green foliage and vibrant array of flowers added to the serene beauty of the mountain lodge. Always an early riser, she'd taken full advantage of the spectacular sunrise and the peaceful surroundings by jogging along the well-groomed pathways and cooling down with a walk among the gardens.

Aware that her friends would be taking full advantage of the opportunity to sleep in, something their normal busy schedules never afforded any of them, Carrie decided to check out the log cabin cafe. Following the delicious aroma of frying bacon and fresh baked bread, she sauntered into the rustic eatery eager to quiet her grumbling stomach. She was pleasantly surprised by the cheerful faces that greeted her and the warm inviting decor. Tables, carved from huge oak trees and covered with sheer clear coats of lacquer, filled the room. Even at this early hour, numerous tables were occupied and lumberjack-size servings of pancakes and sausage were being eagerly devoured.

She chose a small table for two near the entrance and was quickly served a cup of steaming coffee. After ordering a homemade blueberry muffin and a few strips of bacon, she sat enjoying the moment, sipping her coffee. Thoughts of James and their last night together silently crept into her solitude, but refusing to allow anything or anyone to destroy the moment, she turned her mind to the interior of the cafe, so opposite of her concrete and steel surroundings in the city.

As she looked around the room, her eyes met those of another woman, slightly older than herself. They'd met last night at the bar. An environmentalist, Joy Armstrong was currently staying in one of the nearby cabins while she conducted a study of the vicinity. Carrie and her friends had been eager to learn about the area, especially from someone who was quite knowledgeable of the habitat and surroundings. Thrilled that others were interested in her profession, she eagerly described the many hidden treasures she'd discovered, including a crystal clear, babbling stream surrounded by fields of wild flowers.

Carrie waved at Joy and she approached the table.

"Good morning. I didn't expect to see you or your friends this early after last night's festivities." A warm, inviting smile spread across her face. "Taylor and Beth really know how to party."

A chuckle rolled off Carrie's lips. "You pegged them right. In college, I was always the level headed one trying to keep those two out of trouble. Natasha was the study freak and seldom partied with us unless it was a weekend and no projects were due."

"They were all a delight. I was happy to share some time with all of you last night."

"Would you like to join me for a cup of coffee? The girls won't be stirring for at least another hour or two."

"I'd love to. Thanks." Taking the other chair, she quickly placed an order for coffee and a bagel with vegetable cream cheese. "They make their own spreads here. You really must try some before you leave."

" Appreciate the tip. I'll remember that tomorrow morning."

The two woman continued their friendly chatter for another thirty minutes. Carrie couldn't remember the last time she had felt so relaxed. This vacation was exactly what she needed and she was going to enjoy every second of it.

As they stood at the cash register waiting to settle their bill, a news bulletin flashed across the small television on the counter. Both woman were glued to the newscaster and the photos. Recognizing the location of the filming, a chill settled over Carrie and she swallowed hard. A gasp erupted from Joy. A man's voice behind them startled both of them.

"Tragic, isn't it?" Park Ranger Darryl Snipes stood directly behind the girls. Carrie immediately recognized him as the one she'd met yesterday. "Found the young lady's body right below the spot where you stopped yesterday."

"I recognized it from the newscast." Carrie shuddered and wrapped her arms across her chest. "I can't believe that she was lying there all the time. It's horrifying."

"I know her," Joy offered. "We met about a week ago on one of the trails. She seemed to be a real nice person. What happened, do you know?"

Darryl looked around the area and then lowered his voice, "Well, they haven't released any information yet, but I have it on good source that it might not have been an accident."

"What then, murder?" Carrie gasped.

Both girls stood wide-eyed staring at the Park Ranger, trying to comprehend the possibilities of a murder in this serene location.

"Shhh ... let's just say there's some suspicious circumstances at the moment." Darryl straightened his back and cocked his hat to the side before he continued, "Keep it under your hats, ladies. Don't want to tip our hand until we are sure of the situation, you know."

They nodded in agreement as the cashier approached them. They quickly paid their bills and exited the cafe.

Standing on the veranda, Carrie and Joy shared their thoughts on the recent discovery. Joy was taking a few days to visit a friend in the city and hoped Carrie and her friends would enjoy the rest of their stay. She quickly reminded her new friend to be careful, especially until the whole story was known regarding the hiker. After reassuring Joy not to worry, the two parted. Joy stopped to speak to a man in cover-alls while Carrie went in search of her friends.

Finding her sorority sisters dressed and watching the news, Carrie joined them. None of them could believe that Carrie had been in the exact location yesterday. The thought sent chills down their spines. As they watched the breaking news, they learned that the hiker's boyfriend had reported her missing after she didn't return from a recent hiking trip. Police had questioned him and their neighbors, discovering that the two had a volatile relationship and Jenna, the victim, often left the city to clear her head.

"Bet he killed her in one of his rages and dumped her body out here." Taylor had been in a similar relationship and instantly assumed the boyfriend was guilty.

Natasha, always the level-headed one, immediately counteracted. "Don't be so quick to judge just because Jason was so horrible to you. The police haven't actually said she was murdered yet. They are just asking questions."

"If it was an accident, why would they be investigating everyone? They must think something is suspicious."

"Not necessarily. They are just covering their bases." Beth had taken several courses in private investigation before she decided blood and dead people weren't for her.

The girls continued to debate the situation for a few more minutes before Taylor finally ended the conversation. "Look, I didn't come here to waste my time discussing the unfortunate demise of a girl and her hateful boyfriend. We are in the middle of Paradise so let's enjoy it."

Still remembering how close she had been to the location where the body was found, Carrie was still nervous. "Do you think it's safe for us to go hiking? Maybe there's a murderer out there."

"Don't be ridiculous. The boyfriend did it and the police have him in their sights. Besides, with all the extra beefed up law enforcement in the area, we are probably safer than we have ever been."

"Yeah, Taylor is probably right about that. Between the cops and the park rangers, this place is crawling with hunky men eager to save a damsel in distress. Maybe we might just come across one or two of them, if you get my drift."

Knowing smiles spread across their faces, and amidst bursts of silly giggles, their casual camaraderie returned in full force. Armed with a bar napkin with Joy's scribbled map , the foursome started on their first adventure, hoping to discover the babbling creek and field of wildflowers. They ordered a picnic basket lunch from the Cedar Lodge cafe and spent the next few hours enjoying the beautiful scenery as they hiked through the hills, totally forgetting about the unfortunate demise of the hiker.

Arriving at their destination, sweaty from the long hike, the girls instantly dropped their gear and raced into the refreshing spring water, frolicking like children.

"It's sensational. Too bad Joy isn't here to enjoy it with us."

"She truly understated the beauty of the area."

"If she gets back from the city before we leave, we should buy her dinner. We never would have discovered this remote area without her map. It's simply gorgeous."

"And peaceful."

Those words had only left Carrie's lips when the sound of a blood curdling scream pierced the air. The four girls, standing in the middle of the stream, were wide-eyed and terrified. Thoughts of the dead hiker rushed to the forefront of their minds. Another gut-wrenching scream filled the air as the foursome scrambled up the slippery hill, grabbed their gear and ran frantically back toward the lodge in search of help.

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Author Notes
I finallyhave my eye sight back to normal after my bout with poison ivy..I think that ws scarier than this story. I apologize for the long delay and hope to keep posting it regularly now. Thank you again for undertanding.

Part 3 is also posted. Thanks again...
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