"How was the trip?"
Brad Philips was younger than Jaye had expected, although his brown hair was streaked with silver. He had a friendly, forthright manner and a slight squint to his left eye, which she found oddly attractive. He was the solicitor handling her Great Aunt Adelaide's estate, and they had been corresponding for several weeks.
Brad met her train in Vancouver, and was now driving her to the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay. This would be the last lap of a journey that had began in Toronto, and would see her in Pendle Harbor before nightfall.
"Interesting," she replied with a chuckle. Hot memories of the night before were still uppermost in her mind.
"The ferry ride takes about two hours," he explained, offering her a peppermint, and taking one himself. "And I've arranged to have someone meet you at the other end."
Jaye's final destination was Bell Island, to settle up her great aunt's affairs. Although Adelaide's body had not been found, it was assumed she had fallen into the choppy waters surrounding her Island home and drowned.
"Your great aunt was out in all weathers," Brad said, rehashing Adelaide's disappearance while maneuvering through rush hour traffic. "She most likely slipped and lost her balance while up on the cliffs. And she must have been close to ninety, although she refused to tell anyone how old she was."
"Eighty-seven," Jaye responded, "but by all accounts she was very fit."
Adelaide had been the adventuresome one in a family that was decidedly conservative. In her youth she had been an avid mountaineer, constantly on the prowl for new peaks to climb. And when that had lost its appeal, she set out to circumnavigate the globe on a bicycle. Although, a particularly nasty fall while freewheeling down a narrow street in Nepal, had cut short that particular scheme.
In later years, she had shown a keen interest in treasure hunting. Jaye pictured the old woman happily foraging around all sorts of inhospitable terrain for the legendary horde. Inca gold in Peru; Cathar treasure in the south of France; and even a foray or two at sea, searching for sunken Spanish galleons.
It wasn't surprising, then, that she should end up on Bell Island, eagerly digging for a treasure which had eluded all who sought it for over two hundred years.
"It's all a load of rubbish if you ask me," Brad declared as they inched their way forward through a snarl of impatient motorists. "I mean, if there was anything buried on the island, someone would surely have found it by now."
Jaye stretched her legs, making an attempt to tug the short skirt over her knees for modesty's sake. She sensed at once the maneuver was not lost on Brad, who had been fiddling with the air-conditioner controls.
"It's getting warm in here," he remarked, sweat beading on his upper lip. Jaye smile inwardly, wondering whether his discomfort was due solely to the eighty-degree plus weather outside the vehicle.
She appraised him discreetly. The stream of frosty air blasting from the vents raised goosebumps on her arms and legs. She noted the strong jawline and high-bridged nose, and thought how distinguished he must look in his legal gown and wig.