It was such a great time talking all things cozy mysteries with you on my live chat this morning! Here’s the replay for those who missed it. Thank you so much to all those who joined our cozy mystery chat! It’s so wonderful to be able to connect and interact with everyone this way. I hope you’re enjoying it too. Watch the video to listen to the new pages and then see your assignments below. I also talk some more about the next collaborative cozy mystery project we’re going to be doing in the video, so check it out. 😁
🚨Warning🚨: there are spoilers below if you keep reading before hearing the new pages!
What do you think of where our cozy mystery is headed? I can’t wait for the next couple of weeks. We’ll have the unmasking of the killer and then, as with all cozy mysteries, we’ll have our wrap-up and, of course, our delicious brunch! Your assignments this week include:
1) What does the Professor explain to them about why Toni broke into the safe and took the deed?
2) What is Hank’s motive?
It’s time to put on your cozy mystery thinking caps and get me your wonderful ideas on where we go from here. Please submit your ideas by end of day Sunday and I’ll put things out for vote early next week. 🤔📝
P.S. – Sorry things got choppy in a few areas in the replay. Hopefully, that will be sorted out for next week.
Richard reached into his pocket and yanked the ring out again. “I thought she was the one Lance, the girl of my dreams.”
Girl? Toni had a few years on me. I wouldn’t classify her as a girl, but I let Richard speak.
“Do you know what she did?”
I wanted to scream—NO! But instead, I plastered on a look of concern and said, “No, Richard. Do tell.”
“She broke into my personal safe at the Merry Windsor.”
I gasped. “The horror.”
He nodded. “It’s worse. She stole the deed to the hotel.”
“Why?” My thoughts immediately went to the document we’d discovered in the safe deposit box with Peter’s name listed as the rightful owner to the Merry Windsor.
Richard shrugged. “I have no idea. I’m clueless. It doesn’t make any sense. I promised Toni the world. Ashland was going to become her stage. I was going to make her famous—a household name.”
Well, I couldn’t fault Richard for having lofty goals.
“She betrayed me,” he continued, staring at the ring.
“How did you find out?”
“Hank informed me. He caught her in the act and said that he had been going back and forth on whether to say anything to me. He decided I needed to know, and I thanked him for that. In fact, I’m going to have to give the kid a raise. That’s a loyal employee right there.”
“Absolutely,” I agreed.
Richard sighed. “I should get back to the hotel.”
I clapped him on the shoulder. “Be well, my friend. There’s a reason that Shakespeare penned so many sonnets. Love, it can be a heartbreaker.”
“Yeah. Yeah.” He shuffled away, his voice cracking. “See you tomorrow.”
Who would have thought that I would have ended up feeling sorry for Richard Lord? I couldn’t help it as I watched him lumber toward the hotel. Good for Hank. It must have taken some serious nerve to work up the courage to tell Richard that his fiancée had stolen valuable documents.
I was exhausted from the dizzying events of the day, but I knew one thing for sure Toni had to be the killer. It made perfect sense. She had stolen the deed and handed it over to Peter to forge. The only question was who had been the intended victim? Peter or Richard? My money was on Richard. Something must have gone wrong. Peter accidentally drank the poison instead of Richard.
On my way home I congratulated myself on a job well done. I had sleuthed out the real killer before the Professor. Ha! I couldn’t wait to tell Juliet all about it in the morning.
The morning dawned sooner than I expected. I must have fallen asleep the moment my head hit the pillow, because the next thing I knew a pounding rain lashed at my bedroom window. I glanced at the clock. It was after seven. How did Juliet stand these ungodly hours?
I shuddered at the thought and dragged myself to the shower. Today was our big performance, so I dressed for the occasion in a well-cut navy blue suit, crisp white shirt, and an iridescent silver tie.
Not bad, Lance, I said, taking note of my appearance in the mirror.
Yesterday’s fall breeze had turned into a full blown wind and rainstorm. I grabbed my overcoat before heading out into the weather. The howl of the wind and the flying debris made an ominous and fitting backdrop for the day. A murderer was about to be revealed. Justice would soon be served.
I hurried to Torte. Juliet had to be looped in on what I had learned from Richard last night. The bakeshop was already buzzing. A line of regulars waited at the espresso bar for maple lattes and spiced chai mochas. I stopped long enough to get a steaming cup of Joe and a slice of pumpkin bread before heading downstairs.
Juliet looked resplendent in her cherry red Torte apron and a soft caramel turtleneck. She directed her staff as tray after tray of buttery almond croissants and mini quiches came out of the oven.
“Good morning, darling,” I called from the doorframe.
Juliet caught my eye and waved. “Come on in.”
I stepped into the busy kitchen and did a double take, Brady stood next to Juliet. He wore a matching apron and was whisking a large bowl of eggs with a flourish.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
He stopped stirring for a moment. “Juliet’s giving me lessons, remember?”
“Oh, that’s right. It totally slipped my mind.” I set my coffee on the counter. “What smells so divine?”
Brady retuned to the whisking. “We’re making cinnamon roll French toast casserole and bacon cheddar scones. The scones are already in the oven. This goes in next. We’re going to bring both over to the Merry Windsor for brunch. I guess there’s some kind of special brunch happening this morning?”
“Yes, yes, there is.” I rubbed my hands together. “On that note, I think you’ll both be interested in what I learned last night.” I proceeded to tell them about my conversation with Richard and my theory that Toni must be the killer and the poor Mr. Lord her intended victim.
“That could be.” Juliet sounded thoughtful. “Although, why kill Richard? They were already engaged. It seems like if she went through with the wedding she’d be guaranteed ownership in the Merry Windsor.”
I sighed. “Darling, obviously you need more coffee.” I took a sip of mine to prove my point. “Think about it. Toni and Peter must have been in cahoots. They planned this entire charade. She had no intention of marrying him. She simply needed to cozy up to him in order to gain access to the safe. Once the deed had been forged there was no need for Richard. They kill him off and suddenly have total control of the Merry Windsor.”
Brady poured the fluffy egg mixture over a pan of cinnamon rolls. “That makes sense.”
“Thank you.” I gave him a bow.
Juliet rolled her eyes. “I’m not ruling it out. I think it’s a good theory. I’m still confused about Toni, though. Why go through faking an engagement? It’s hardly as if the Merry Windsor is a fortress. Couldn’t one of them have broken into the safe without the whole ‘charade’, as you say, of an engagement?”
Before I could respond, a voice sounded behind us.
“I believe I can answer that.”
I turned to see the Professor walking toward us.
This should be good. I wondered what he had to say.