Thanks so much to everyone who joined my livestream over on Facebook this morning! It was so much fun chatting cozy mysteries with you as always. For those that weren’t able to make it for the live, don’t worry! Watch the video to hear the latest pages in our collaborative cozy mystery spin-off to my Bakeshop Mystery Series, A Brunch with Death. ☠️🥐
I also chat about upcoming books, like the fourth book in the Sloan Krause Mysteries — my cozy mystery series set in the charming Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth, WA 🍻 — and the soon-to-be-released next book in my cozy mystery Bakeshop Mystery Series, Nothing Bundt Trouble! Both books are available for pre-order now (links below)!
Finally, we discussed classes. I’ve been hearing from many of you that you’re interested in a writing class and I’m happy to announce that I have one releasing soon! 😁 We have finished filming all the videos and are working through editing and worksheet design now. The first class will be an all-encompassing walkthrough of writing a mystery and will cover everything from developing the initial seed of an idea to character and plot development to how to write a killer query letter (see what I did there 😉) and book proposal to landing your dream agent. I’m so excited to be able to offer this class to you and will have more details very soon…shortly after the release of Nothing Bundt Trouble at the end of this month.
In the meantime, we have one week left in our collaborative cozy mystery project, so watch the video for your final question and news on next week’s livestream.
The Professor came into the kitchen and offered us a file folder. “Go ahead and open it.”
I looked to Juliet. Her hands were loaded down with a tray of chocolate malted cupcakes. I took the file from the Professor. Inside was a marriage certificate. I nearly dropped the papers on the floor when I read the names on the document. “Toni was married to Peter?” I couldn’t contain my shock.
“Indeed.” The Professor nodded. “Much has come to light. I’m absolutely confident that after your performance this morning, we will have Peter’s killer in custody.”
Juliet set the tray of cupcakes on the counter and looked over my shoulder at the marriage certificate. “Why did Toni kill Peter? Was she actually planning on going through with her engagement to Richard?”
I snapped my fingers and interrupted her. “That’s it! Peter wouldn’t grant her a divorce, so she had to get him out of the way?”
The Professor chuckled. “It’s no wonder you two are such fast friends.” He took the folder back from me. “That’s not quite it, but as I said all will be made clear soon.”
What did that mean? My theory couldn’t possibly be wrong. Could it?
“Can I get you a coffee? A pastry?” Juliet asked.
The Professor declined. “Alas, there’s much to be done. I was hoping that you might be ready to accompany me to the Merry Windsor and set up for our morning escapades?”
“Count me in.” I raised one hand. “I’m ready and eager.”
Juliet brushed flour from her hands. “Me too. I just need to box up the cheddar and bacon scones and then Brady can bring the cinnamon roll casserole over when it’s done baking.” She turned to Brady. “It shouldn’t take more than about twenty minutes. You might want to check it after fifteen and make sure it’s not browning too quickly.”
“No problem.” Brady gave her a thumbs up.
Juliet went over a few more instructions with her staff before joining us.
“You’re going to want a coat. It’s nasty out there,” I suggested, pointing to a black raincoat hanging on the rack near the basement door.
“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!” The Professor quoted Shakespeare as we stepped out into the monsoon.
“A fitting backdrop for what’s to come, wouldn’t you say?” I noted, fighting to shut the door against the gusting wind.
Juliet tucked her head under her raincoat as we hurried across the plaza to the Merry Windsor. Once inside, we shrugged off our wet outer layers and the Professor directed us to the ballroom. “I need to gather a few things together. Here are your scripts. Please review them, and I shall return shortly.”
He gave us a bow and left us in the empty, cavernous room.
“Well, my leading lady, what do you say? Ready to get into character?”
Juliet grimaced. “I guess. I still don’t understand why he wants us to do this, but I know the Professor always has a good reason.”
“That and no one can resist those cheekbones, darling.” I tapped the side of her jaw.
She rolled her eyes. “Come on. Let’s do this.”
We proceeded to the stage where a single cot and folding chair had been placed. I took a first pass at the script. “I believe the cot is for you.”
Juliet assumed the role of invalid, while I sat next her. We spent a good thirty minutes running lines and making sure we understood where the most emphasis needed to go. After reading through the script, I was no clearer on who the killer could be.
The Professor returned as promised, followed by Richard, Toni, Hank, and Brady, who came bearing beautiful and aromatic pastries from Torte.
“Everyone, please have a seat,” the Professor said, pointing to a row of chairs in front of the stage. “Richard, I believe you mentioned that your staff would be providing coffee and tea to accompany Brady’s brunch fare?”
“Yeah.” Richard’s face was red and puffy.
I wondered if he’d spent the evening crying in his pillow.
He walked to the other side of the stage to place a call.
“While we wait for coffee, I wanted to let you know that I asked you here for a special performance. Juliet and Lance have agreed to offer us an enlightening two-person show that I believe will be equally moving and informative.”
Richard returned to his seat, followed shortly by a waiter in the classic Merry Windsor uniform of pantaloons and a puffy white shirt. The waiter set up carafes of coffee, tea, cream and sugar next to platters of cheddar and bacon scones, cinnamon roll French toast casserole, and a colorful fruit salad.
“Please, help yourselves to brunch and then we’ll start the performance.” The Professor encouraged everyone to fill up plates.
Once our small audience had reconvened with steaming mugs of coffee and breakfast nibbles, the Professor dimmed the lights, our cue to begin.
Juliet coughed and clutched her chest. She tried to sit up but fell back onto the cot.
“Don’t try to move. I’ll bring the paperwork to you.” I reached beneath my chair and picked up a piece of paper and pen.
“Are you sure I’m supposed to sign this?” Juliet’s voice was weak, as if it was a struggle to breathe.
I was impressed with her talent.
“This will ensure that your estate is settled exactly as you wanted.” I placed the pen in her hand.
“But I already signed my last will and testament.”
“Remember, we discussed this. I know you’re confused. That document wasn’t valid, this is what you wanted. I will make sure your final wishes for the estate will be directed exactly as this reads.”
Her fingers shook. I clasped my hand over hers and helped her sign the will.
“There it’s done.” I set the paperwork on the floor and picked up a small paper cup. “You look weary. Drink this, it will help you sleep.”
I propped her head up. She sipped the liquid. Within seconds, she began gasping for air, coughing violently, and pounding her chest.
I gave her an evil smile, took the paperwork, and exited the stage.
Juliet collapsed on the cot and took her final breath.
Brady clapped twice. Richard scowled, and Toni looked confused.
Hank leapt from his chair and screamed. “He did it! I knew he did. He killed my mother!”
The Professor stood. “Yes, son, I’m afraid he did.”
Hank crumpled. He sobbed. “Peter killed her! He killed my mother. He had to die—he had to. He didn’t deserve to live. Not another day. Not another breath.”
The Professor walked over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “It’s over now.”
I returned from stage left. Juliet caught my eye as the Professor helped Hank to his feet and escorted him out of the ballroom.
“Well, I didn’t see that coming.” I offered Juliet my hand.
Hank? Who knew?
“What next?” I addressed our gaping audience. “I myself could use a Bloody Mary.” I stopped. “Actually, make that a Bloody Merry. You’re welcome, Richard. Feel free to use that.”