Wow, things are really starting to heat up in our collaborative cozy mystery spin-off, A Brunch with Death! 🔥 Can you believe we’re already on week 9 of new pages? 😮
I have some great assignments for you this week, because our cozy mystery is really getting to the good stuff. One thing I want you to all start thinking about — and this isn’t one of the official assignments, so no answers needed just yet — is which one of our four suspects (Toni, Richard, Hank, and Brady) the killer might be. As with all cozy mysteries, we’re getting to the point where we need to unmask the actual villain.
I also have some news regarding an end date for this collaborative cozy mystery project. Don’t worry, though! I have some wonderful plans I’m putting together for those of you who have totally gotten into writing cozy mysteries together. More on that soon! 😁
In the meantime, we have some new pages and two very important assignments this week to keep our cozy mystery moving forward toward the climax. So watch the video, enjoy the new pages, and get those cozy mystery creative juices flowing! 🤔📝 If you need a refresher as to where we’re at in our cozy mystery, you can find Part 8 of A Brunch with Death here.
“What is it?” I leaned closer to the Professor.
“See for yourself.” He offered me the box.
Inside the dusty safe deposit box was an old deed.
Juliet inched toward me.
I carefully lifted the faded papers from the box. This wasn’t any deed. It was the deed to the Merry Windsor. And, Richard Lord’s name was not listed as the sole owner. Instead the deed proclaimed that Peter Wingate was the owner of the kitschy hotel.
“Is that what I think it is?” Juliet asked. She stared at the name on the deed.
The Professor ran his fingers through his reddish beard flecked with silver. “It is. Well, at least it appears be, but as we know appearances aren’t always what they seem. As the Bard penned in Othello, ‘Men should be what they seem. Or, those that be not, would they might seem none!’”
“What does this mean for Richard? Does he not own the hotel?” Juliet sounded as stunned as I felt.
The Professor took the deed from me and placed it in an evidence bag. “Time will tell. The truth will out.”
“Now what?” I asked, brushing dust from my fingers.
“I have a few tasks, one of which involves you. That’s the reason I wanted you both here for this unveiling. I can’t expand at the moment. I have some work to do, but I will need to enlist your help. Shall we meet at Torte?” He paused and glanced at his watch. “Say in about an hour?”
“Of course,” I replied.
“Excellent.” The Professor returned the safe deposit box to its spot and led us back upstairs and through the flower shop. Outside, he gave us a small bow. “I’ll see you both soon.”
“What do you think that was about?” Juliet asked.
A gust of wind caused the maroon and gold Shakespearean banners hanging from the antique lampposts to flutter. Juliet wrapped her arms around her shoulders. “It’s chilly and it looks like it might rain. You want to come have a coffee?”
“Would this coffee be spiked, perhaps?” I teased.
The bakeshop was closed for the evening. Juliet unlocked the front door and flipped on the lights. “Have a seat at one of the booths, I’ll make us coffees and see if there’s anything left in the kitchen.”
“Darling, you can do better than that. Why don’t we make dinner while we wait for the Professor to arrive? I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely famished. That sad spread at the Merry Windsor did not satisfy my appetite.”
“Okay.” Juliet grinned. “I’d love to see you in the kitchen, Lance. Come to think of it, have you ever been in a kitchen?”
I pierced my heart with my index finger. “That stings, darling. That really stings. I’ll have you know that I can make a world class bowl of cereal.”
We went downstairs to Torte’s state-of-the-art kitchen. Juliet tossed me an apron. “All right, Rousseau, time to put those cooking skills to the test. I’m thinking we can make something simple. How do bacon cheddar scones and a green salad sound?”
“Divine, absolutely divine.”
She directed me to the stove to cook thick slabs of bacon, while she cut butter, flour, and heavy cream together.
“Let’s review what we know,” I said, watching the bacon sizzle. “We have four potential suspects, Richard, Toni, Hank, and Brady. I won’t discount the possibility that my new leading man could be a killer, but I maintain that I don’t think he had it in him. My money is on Toni or Hank, but the deed changes everything doesn’t it? Could it be that your nemesis and archrival Richard Lord, killed Peter over the deed?”
Juliet’s hands were coated in flour. “Maybe. I guess it depends on what the Professor finds. It sounded like he was hinting that there could be more to the deed. But, yeah, you’re right. If Richard doesn’t own the Merry Windsor, and Peter did, that would give him a clear motive for murder.”
“Small point, I’m always right.” I winked.
She rolled her eyes. “Flip that bacon before it burns.”
I did as I was told. “How do you suppose Peter came to be in possession of the deed and the hotel for that matter?”
Juliet shrugged. “I have no idea. It doesn’t make sense. He shows up in town and claims to be a French chef. All the while he had stored a copy of the deed in the old vault under A Rose By Any Other Name. I don’t get it.”
“Nor do I. I have to admit that this case is puzzling to say the least. What do you think the Professor wants us to help him with?”
“Your guess is as good as mine.” She grated cheddar cheese into the scone batter. “Can you pat the bacon with a paper towel and give it a good chop?”
“Are you trusting me with these?” I pointed to a magnetic strip next to the stove with an assortment of large kitchen knives. One of them was long with a jagged edge. I yanked it off the strip and wielded it like a weapon. “This bacon will never see it coming.”
“Lance, that’s a bread knife.”
“Details, darling. Details.”
She removed me from chopping duty. “Why don’t you open a bottle of wine?”
“Now you’re speaking my language.” I picked a bottle of Merlot from Torte’s selection and poured us two glasses.
Juliet finished the scones, slid them in the oven, and began assembling a green salad. While we waited for the scones to bake, we talked through possibilities.
“Maybe Peter was blackmailing Richard?” I suggested.
“Yeah, but why now? Why appear out of the blue, and pretend to be a chef?” Juliet paused for a moment and swirled the burgundy colored wine in her glass. “Do you think Richard knew? Could he have known for all these years that he wasn’t the real owner? Maybe, you’re on to something. Maybe Peter hid the deed away and came back to take what was rightfully his.”
“Exactly.” I raised my glass to her. “He could have threatened to reveal the truth. If Richard knew that his about to lose his beloved hotel, perhaps he snapped.”
A knock sounded on the basement door as the oven dinged to alter us that the scones were ready.
“Can you get that?” Juliet asked. “It’s probably the Professor.”
I went to answer the door. Sure enough, the Professor had returned within the hour.
“Something smells quite wonderful,” he noted.
“There’s plenty,” Juliet called. “I’ll make another plate. You two can have a seat by the fireplace.”
The Professor sat on the couch. I took one of the comfy chairs next to the atomic fireplace. “Can I get you a glass of wine?” I asked.
“Alas, no I’m on duty.”
Juliet balanced three plates. She set them on the low coffee table. Her buttery scones had baked to perfection with crispy golden edges and big chunks of bacon and herbs. Along with the scones she had whipped up a gorgeous fall salad with candied walnuts, apples, pears, and field greens.
“Ah, this is more like it,” I said, biting into the soft scone.
“I was telling your mother the other morning, that I never liked scones prior to marrying her. I don’t know how you Capshaw women do it, but your scones are the stuff of dreams.” The Professor’s eyes twinkled.
“You mentioned that you need our help?” I prompted.
He savored a bite of scone and nodded. “I do. This is quite unconventional, but I have a favor to ask you. I need you both to perform a little skit for me.”
“Skit?” Juliet’s brows arched downward. “What kind of a skit?”