Sunnyvale is located on the southern shores of the fresh waters of Georgian Bay, Ontario, three hours north of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Originally named Stuart Mills after its first resident, it changed when the community was informed that they could not use that name for its post office. Over time, shipbuilding, one of its principle industries, fell to the wayside along with other industries. A destination for winter and summer recreational activities, it became a four seasons playground for tourism and recreation.
Zoe Rovedatti was a Bay Street lawyer who did not suffer fools gladly. She arrived in Sunnyvale ten years ago from the megalopolis of Toronto. Outsiders, especially the likes of her, were not easily received with open arms by the local gentry. But she did have a link, dubious though it may have been. Her great granddaddy was the last person hanged in the region. “Why,” many asked “didn’t she stay put in Toronto where she was accepted. Did she not have a successful practice? Better that she pursued her goals there.” Zoe, at least in part, made no bones about why she had come to this town. She intended to be the first non-local and female to become its mayor.
The boundary of the Greater Toronto Area pushed outwards during the ten years. What once was believed set in stone in Sunnyvale began to crack and break away. Zoe pushed for change; progress entangled with expansion that threatened a way of life. Once she became mayor, a different type of individual began to arrive, motivated by the cha-ching of money. The old guard that remained at City Hall wanted status quo and plotted her demise as mayor. While others did not find it beneath their dignity to take advantage of this new-found progress. An occasional bribe soon transformed to the daily routine of doing business. Those who plied corruption saw Zoe Rovedatti as a roadblock to their goals. Change to them was altogether different. Greed pushed their boundary. Either she got in step or she had to be removed.
Two weeks had passed since Zoe had taken office. Over the years she had put together a coterie of people whom she could trust to keep her informed about the comings and goings within the community. Two recent murders had the region on edge. Today, her focus was on the memorial service for Gerald Stuart Mills, a thirty-year veteran on the Sunnyvale police force.
She drove into the underground garage and parked her vehicle in the space reserved for the mayor. It was 6 a.m. From the rear-view mirror, her reflection stared back at her and she made some last-minute adjustments to her hair before she exited her car. A stickler for detail, she had arrived two hours earlier than usual to oversee last minute preparations for the day’s ceremony. The echoed clatter of her heels slamming against the concrete emphasized the emptiness of the space. She picked up her pace to the elevator where she anxiously awaited its arrival. A hand touched her shoulder. Reflexively, she kicked out and pivoted, swinging her briefcase hard against the head of the intruder. Within that split-second she regretted her action. “Julia?” What the hell.” Immediately, she thrust out her hand to assist her to her feet. “You shouldn’t sneak up on me like that!”
“Jesus, Zoe! That was quite a wallop you gave me.” Julia Gibbs massaged the side of her head. “What gives? It’s not like you,” she said, rising to her feet and brushing herself off. She retrieved a crumbled paper bag from the concrete floor and handed it to her.
“Part of the reason I’m here so early in the morning.”
Zoe peeked into the bag....