Blue Moon (Mundy's Landing #2) - Wendy Corsi Staub Page 0,1

actually live beneath that mansard roof, in the shadow of the century-old unsolved crimes that unfolded there.

For the past few days, she and her husband, Trib, have taken turns talking each other into—and out of—coming to see this place. They’re running out of options.

Real estate values have soared in this picturesque village, perched on the eastern bank of the Hudson River midway between New York City and Albany. The Binghams’ income has done quite the opposite. The only homes in their price range are small, undesirable fixer-uppers off the highway. They visited seven such properties yesterday and another this morning, a forlorn little seventies ranch that smelled of must and mothballs. Eau d’old man, according to Trib.

“Magnificent isn’t exactly the word that springs to mind when I look at this house,” he tells Lynda from the backseat.

She smiles at him in the rearview mirror. “Well, I’m not the professional wordsmith you are. I’m sure you can come up with a more creative adjective.”

Annabelle can. She’s been trying to keep it out of her head, but everything—even the tolling steeple bells from nearby Holy Angels Church—is a grim reminder.

“Monolithic,” pronounces the backseat wordsmith. “That’s one way to describe it.”

Murder House, Annabelle thinks. That’s another.

“There’s certainly plenty of room for a large family,” Lynda points out cheerily.

Optimism might be her strong suit, but tact is not. Doesn’t she realize there are plenty of families that don’t care to grow larger? And there are many that, for one heartbreaking reason or another, couldn’t expand even if they wanted to; and still others, like the Binghams, whose numbers are sadly dwindling.

Annabelle was an only child, as is their son, Oliver. Trib lost his older brother in a tragic accident when they were kids. Until a few months ago, Trib’s father, the last of their four parents to pass away, had been a vital part of their lives. He’d left them the small inheritance they plan to use as a down payment on a home of their own—a bittersweet prospect for all of them.

“I just want Grandpa Charlie back,” Oliver said tearfully last night. “I’d rather have him than a new house.”

“We all would, sweetheart. But you know he can’t come back, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice big bedroom and live on a street with sidewalks and other kids?”

“No,” Oliver said, predictably. “I like it here.”

They’re living in what had once been the gardener’s cottage on a grand Hudson River estate out on Battlefield Road. The grounds are lovely but isolated, and they’ve long since outgrown the tiny rental space.

Still . . . are they really prepared to go from dollhouse to mansion?

“There are fourteen rooms,” Lynda waxes on, “including the third-floor ballroom, observatory, and servants’ quarters. Over thirty-five hundred square feet of living space—although I have to check the listing sheet, so don’t quote me on it.”

That, Annabelle has noticed, is one of her favorite catchphrases. Don’t quote me on it.

“Is she saying it because you’re a reporter?” she’d asked Trib after their first outing with Lynda. “Does she think you’re working on an article that’s going to blow the lid off . . . I don’t know, sump pump function?”

He laughed. “That’s headline fodder if I ever heard it.”

Lynda starts to pull the Lexus into the rutted driveway. After a few bumps, she thinks better of it and backs out onto the street. “Let’s start out front so that we can get the full curb appeal, shall we?”

They shall.

“Would you mind handing me that file folder on the floor back there, Charles?” Lynda asks Trib, whose lanky form is folded into the seat behind her.

He’d been born Charles Bingham IV, but as one of several Charlies in kindergarten, was rechristened courtesy of his family’s longtime ownership of the Mundy’s Landing Tribune. The childhood nickname stuck with him and proved prophetic: he took over as editor and publisher after his dad retired a decade ago.

But Lynda wouldn’t know that. She’s relatively new in town, having arrived sometime in the last decade. Nor would she remember the era when the grand homes in The Heights had fallen into shabby disrepair and shuttered nineteenth-century storefronts lined the Common. She’d missed the dawning renaissance as they reopened, one by one, to form the bustling business district that exists today.

“Let’s see . . . I was wrong,” she says, consulting the file Trib passes to the front seat. “The house is only thirty-three hundred square feet.”

Can we quote you on it? Annabelle wants to