Writing cozy mysteries together is fun! This collaborative project we’ve kicked off has been such a great distraction right now. I’ve been stunned by the your response to the prompts so far and am really excited to see where our cozy mystery spin-off takes us next. If you haven’t already, be sure to check this blog post to see the cover mock-up my husband put together for our cozy mystery story. It’s adorable!
Today, I’m very excited to release the second set of pages of our collaborative cozy mystery writing project: A BRUNCH WITH DEATH. ☠️
When we last left Lance, he was sitting uncomfortably at The Merry Windsor awaiting details of the offer Richard had for him. As with last week, I’ve stopped things with a cliffhanger, so your assignment now is to help come up with the concept for what comes next in our cozy mystery short. What is it I need from you? You’ll just have to watch to find out!
I’m very eager to see where your ideas take us from here, so let’s get the suggestions start rolling in! Also, be sure to share this fun cozy mystery writing activity with friends & family. The more the merrier! 🖊️🖊️🖊️
Happy reading & plotting!
Richard held up a chubby finger. “Hold on. I think we need some nourishment for this conversation.” He punched a button on his desk phone. “Get me the kitchen now.”
Nice way to address your staff, I thought to myself.
“Pierre, it’s Lord. Bring me a platter of those rolls you made and a pot of coffee. Hot. Burning hot.”
He hung up and stared at me. “What’s new at the theater?”
“Where to start? We’re wrapping up productions at the Lizzie. We closed the Green Show last week and I’m deep in the creative process for next season.” I hoped that Richard would pick up on the fact that I didn’t have time to chat.
“Good thing you’ve got going on up there at the theater.” Richard unbuttoned the top of his pants as he sat up in his chair.
What did he want and why wouldn’t he just get to the point?
After a few minutes of awkward small talk, a knock sounded on the door. “Mr. Lord, I have your food order.”
“Come in. Come in,” he bellowed.
A chef in his early 40s entered the room holding a silver tray. He was dressed in a traditional chef’s uniform with a white coat and puffy white hat.
“Pierre, that took a long time.” Richard pointed to the edge of his messy desk. “Set it right there.”
Pierre did as he was told, setting the tray with a silver carafe of coffee and a platter of pastries on the desk.
“Lance, have you met Pierre?”
“I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure.” I rose to shake his hand.
Pierre’s hand was clammy with sweat.
“Pierre is a French chef,” Richard boasted. “He flew in from Paris last week to take the job sight unseen. Pretty impressive, huh?”
“Charming.” I reached for a paper napkin to wipe my palm.
Pierre didn’t speak as he poured us each a cup of coffee. He looked like he wanted out of the stuffy office even more than I did. As he backed toward the door Richard stopped him.
“Send in Toni and don’t forget that I want salmon on the menu tonight.”
Pierre gave him a bow without saying a word and made his escape.
“Roll?” Richard helped himself to three sticky buns.
“No, thank you. I’m watching my figure.” I pointed to my narrow waist.
Richard stuffed half of one of the caramel rolls into his mouth. “So, let’s talk business.”
“Please.” I waited for him to continue.
“I have a proposition that’s going to make you some hard cash, which I know the theater needs,” he said with a mouthful of roll. “I’m tired of everyone in town going gaga for Torte’s Sunday Suppers. I don’t know what the big deal is. A supper sounds like something your grandma would invite you to.”
I took a drink of my coffee, not wanting to have to fake a response. Torte’s Sunday Suppers were the stuff of magic. They weren’t simply a dinner, they were an experience, complete with décor, lighting, and exquisite artisan food.
Richard chomped with his mouth open. “Anyway, I’ve got a much better idea that is going to leave Juliet and Helen quaking. You ready for this?”
“Oh, I was born ready.”
Richard obviously didn’t pick up on the sarcasm in my tone. “Good. I knew you were a smart man.” He gulped down some coffee before continuing. “Here’s my idea. We host a brunch fete here at the Merry Windsor. I’m pulling out all the stops for this one. I want costumes, I want your actors, I want a stage, lighting, music—the works. This is going to be the talk of the town. We’ll host in my ballroom and Pierre will create a brunch so tasty that it might just put Torte out of business.”
I highly doubted that, but I kept my face as passive as possible as Richard continued.
“This will be lucrative for you, Lance. There’s a big fat check involved. I’ll pay top dollar for you to stage the production.”
I shifted in the uncomfortable chair, careful not to spill the coffee on my slacks. “I don’t know, Richard. We have so much going on. I don’t know that I’ll have time to pull off what you’re asking.”
He curled his lip. Then he opened his top desk drawer and took out a yellow legal pad. He wrote something on the pad, tore off the sheet, and handed it to me. “Take a look at that number and then tell me that you don’t have time.”
I glanced at the paper. The number Richard had written down was big. As in six figures big. I couldn’t turn down that kind of cash, but I also couldn’t help but wonder if there was a catch.
Richard gave me a satisfied smile. “So, you interested, Lance?”
I bought myself a moment to respond by take a long sip of the coffee. Shockingly, it was decent. Not Torte quality, mind you, but better than anything I’d ever had at the Merry Windsor. “I need details. For starters when? And did you have a specific production in mind?”
He took a huge bite of roll. “Next weekend. We have a packed house for the closing of the Elizabethan, and I want to leave a lasting impression on our guests.”
“Richard, a week?”
“You can do it. I’m not worried about that, but I do have one special request.”
Ah, there it is, I thought to myself. I knew that Richard’s offer was too good to be true.
“My girlfriend, Toni, needs a starring role.”
Girlfriend? I nearly spit out my coffee. Richard Lord had a girlfriend? “I didn’t know that you were betrothed, Richard.”
“Yeah, we’ve been dating long-distance for a few years. She’s a great actress. She’s been on the stage in Reno. Big shows. Sold out houses. Huge talent.”
Reno? I could only imagine.
“This will be a big break for her. You’re going to be blown away by her talent,” Richard continued.
“Okay, I’m not sure how that will work in terms of the rest of the company, but I can certainly put some thought into that. The most important question is what show are you wanting to put on?”
Richard smiled. “You’re going to love this, Lance.”
Before he could respond, another knock sounded at the door and his girlfriend, Toni, stormed in. Her long, brittle bleached hair flew behind her as she slammed the door. She wore a leopard print low cut shirt that left nothing to the imagination and skin-tight leather pants.
“Richard! You are in so much trouble!” Her piercing scream made me press my index finger into my ear to block the screeching. “I’m so mad at you! I can’t believe you did that!”
This is so much fun! I hope maybe you can make into a book (short story so to speak)
My thoughts on what could happen next:
Toni is upset for not introducing her to Lance sooner. She wants the play done her way (more to use Lance’s prompts and cast than let Lance run the show). Richard plays the innocent card- so sorry blah blah. Lol.
Lance is able to escape- think about Richard’s offer. As Lance leaves, he bumps into the chef. While Pierre tried to warn Lance (a person? Toni? Or the kitchen’s food?), Lance’s cellphone rings again. He takes the call and walks away. Looking over his shoulder, Pierre is gone.
I also like the idea of Toni wanting the show done her way–in a country style, of course, like Dolly Parton! She wanted to be the one to pitch the idea to Lance.
I think Toni is upset because Richard secretly acted as her manager and had her pulled from the production she was currently starring in so she could perform in his show. Richard, of course is able to appease her by laying out his plans. While the two are talking, Lance is trying to make his escape. He needs time to think. He wants to talk this proposal over with Juliet. Would she understand? The money is desperately needed in order for him to continue to create great shows at the theater. He is almost at the door when Richard turns to him and says, “Lance, tell Toni all about our big ideas.”
I also like Toni wanting the show her way, a musical so she can sing, pitchy and brashly of course! I like the country theme suggested, and Toni can insist on down-home country food for the brunch such as biscuits and gravy. This is a lot of fun!
Maybe Toni just wanted to be able to hire Lance’s resources and cast, but she’d direct, star, and use the script she wrote. It’s her comedic modernization of Death of a Salesman, which she had to read in high school and was too depressing.
Maybe Toni is upset because she found out he lied to her about how Lance was brought into the mix. He made it sound like Lance came to him when she could obviously tell Lance was surprised to see her walking in the room.