“They would hardly attach a clue to a snake,” Suzy pointed out. “So it’s a metaphor of some type.”
“Let’s walk and talk,” Rory said.
Anita pondered this and spotted a gardener dressed in a green uniform. He was deadheading flowers. “How do they water the plants here? An underground irrigation system, or do they go old school with a hose?”
“There’s a garden shed over there near that gardener,” Suzie said. “Perhaps we can ask him.”
Before they could act on the suggestion, another gardener appeared. They hada quick discussion before downing tools and retreating.
“It must be their break,” Rory said. “Let’s check around the shed, anyway.”
“The other teams have disappeared,” Anita said.
Rory shrugged. “Doesn’t mean we’re wrong. They might have received a different clue.”
They jogged around a corner, their pace increasing on spotting a neatly coiled hose.
“We were right,” Suzie said, her excitement contagious. She tugged at a bright yellow slip of paper. “If I were nasty, I’d take all the clues, but we want to win fair and square.”
Heads together, they scanned the new clue.
“That’s easy,” Anita said. “I passed a memorial stone on the loch track. It’s a memorial to a laird’s favorite hunting dog.”
“Let’s go,” Rory said. “I know the spot you mean. You lead the way, Anita.”
“He wants to watch your butt,” Suzie said.
“True,” Rory replied without hesitation. “But it’s better for one of you to set the pace since we have to finish the hunt together.”
Anita grinned as she moved off in the lead. She felt the weight of a gaze, and her smile widened. The knowledge Rory wanted to watch her had her pulse racing and her thoughts sliding toward lovemaking. She led Rory and her friends past a rose garden, the bushes bearing pale pink flowers. The sweet floral scent filled the air until they were clear and entering the coolness of the trees. Sharp, refreshing pine tinged each breath, and dried needles and leaves crackled underfoot.
Anita turned right to follow the path snaking through the trees. The track was a gentle incline, and she leaned forward, propelling herself up the hill. Without warning, something punched into her shoulder. She tripped and vaguely heard a crack of sound as she struck the ground.