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A Vett Brayborn Murder Mystery


Sequestered with the Murderers

Copyright ยฉ 2021 by Dr. Sandra Tanner

Library of Congress Control Number: 2021906472

ISBN: Softcover 9798729732654

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the authorโ€™s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Printed in the United States

Book can be purchased on

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight (NIV, Proverbs 3: 5-6).



Secrets of Salmer Tawgg (So Now They Know)

Sundrenched Water


Six Good Ones

Stolen Four Minutes

Sacks of Murder


Oh, My Dear God!



with the



At 9:01 pm, we huddled alongside the bus, cold, shivering, and damp, waiting for our tour driver to return. Cold, shivering, and dampness should have been the least of our worries. While we huddled in misery, murder raised its ugly head and left us stranded.

After five minutes of huddling, Lemmonee Ames, the tour guide, gave in and unlocked the bus door with her key. She, the other thirty-four passengers, and I swiftly boarded the bus. The responsibility of the bus belonged to Duffton โ€œDuffyโ€ Radley, our driver, and I sensed that Lemmonee was reluctant to put that responsibility on her shoulders. Her duty was to take care of the passengers.

As we settled into the comfort of the bus, another five minutes slipped by. Duffy still had not made an appearance. Joe McClain, a passenger, sitting in a seat in the middle of the bus, spoke up.

โ€œIโ€™ll go look for him.โ€

โ€œIโ€™ll go with you,โ€ Holt Pruitt, Jr. said. Joe, Holt Junior, and their wives were traveling together. I had gathered from their interactions during the trip that Joe and Holt Junior were best friends. They were not motor coach tour bus first-timers. Their bag of snacks, fruits, drinks, and several selections of reading material gave them away. They had all the staples that frequent bus tourists have learned to bring with them.

Now that the bus, in addition to the passengers, were Lemmoneeโ€™s responsibility, she couldnโ€™t leave the bus.

โ€œOkay, thank you both. Please hurry,โ€ Lemmonee said, reluctantly accepting their offer. It was not an ideal situation to have any of the passengers roaming around on a night like tonight looking for the bus driver, but what else could she do. She had a busload of people under her care.

Joe and Holt Junior quickly put on their heavy coat, gloves and just as promptly walked off the bus into the misty, foggy, and cold night. Lemmonee, without haste, closed the bus door behind them. It wasnโ€™t fast enough. The uninvited cold, damp air trickled in, making its way to the middle of the bus where I was seated.

Seven minutes later, Joe and Holt Junior returned. Joe spoke first, โ€œHe isnโ€™t in the restroom.โ€

โ€œWe walked around the rest area building and didnโ€™t see him anywhere,โ€ Holt Junior added.

โ€œThank you both,โ€ Lemmonee responded. The passengers and I could hear her conversation with Joe and Holt Junior, yet she chose to use the microphone to say what she had to say next. As soon as they were seatedโ€”two rows behind me on the opposite sideโ€”Lemmonee began speaking into the microphone.

She stood motionless, and the microphone almost touched her lips. โ€œJoe and Holt Junior couldnโ€™t find Duffy,โ€ she announced hastily. โ€œPlease stay seated in your seats. Iโ€™m going to call the home office.โ€

โ€œHis day of reckoning has arrived,โ€ Marjorie Brown, sitting directly behind me, whispered to her traveling companion, Rebbie Shields.

โ€œShhh, someone will hear you,โ€ Rebbie whispered back.

Too late, I thought while eagerly awaiting Marjorieโ€™s response to Rebbie. She chose to remain quiet. Nevertheless, I had heard her remark about Duffy, and it piqued my interest. Other passengers around me were grumbling about getting home late and their readiness to get back on the road. Duffy had been missing for fifteen to twenty minutes, but none of the other passengers expressed concern about this outwardly.

โ€œSurely Brightness Bus Tours checked out his background thoroughly before hiring him. He wouldnโ€™t leave us stranded?โ€ I whispered to my traveling companion and best friend, Dimma Kirkland.

โ€œIโ€™m sure they followed all Federal regulations, including background checks. This isnโ€™t his first bus tour, Vett,โ€ Dimma whispered back to me.

Earlier in the evening, we had carried our stuffed suitcases, now much fuller than when we first arrived, to the bus for departure home and a stop along the way for dinner. We loaded the bus for an enchanting ride home in anticipation of sharing unforgettable memories of the previous five days in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

On interstate 81, an hour after crossing over the Tennessee line into Virginia, Duffy drove onto the parking lot of the rest area near the Jefferson Springtop exit. The time was 8:16 pm. He parked the bus on the north side of the building in the bus and truck area. All thirty-five passengers and Lemmonee walked off the bus to use the restrooms. Duffy was the last to walk off as he always waited for the last passenger to exit before locking the bus door behind him. The weather was horrible, cold, foggy, and with a rainy mist so thick you could barely see anything in front of you. Approximately forty-five minutes later, all thirty-five passengers and Lemmonee were back beside the bus waiting for Duffy to return.

Though we were now out of the cold and in the comfort of the bus, my blood ran cold.

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