What’s better than cozy mysteries and collaboration right now, am I right? I don’t know about you, but this process brings a smile to my face each time I read a new comment or idea from all of you.
The new pages for our cozy mystery series spin-off are here! Be sure to watch to find out what your next assignment is. Like last week, there are TWO questions for your to come up with great ideas for. Watch the video to find out what they are and also be sure to keep your answers fit for cozy mysteries — no gratuitous language or violence.
I can’t wait to read what you come up with this week for our collaborative cozy mystery writing project. A Brunch With Death is really starting to take shape!
“Toni, Ton, relax, babe!” Richard stood in an attempt to appease her.
It didn’t work. She stormed toward him and without hesitating proceeded to slap him across the face—hard!
I gasped. If only Juliet could be here to see this. It took tapping into my acting reserves not to let a snarky comment slip out.
“You are the worst, Richard! How could you?” Toni thrust a gaudy hot pink nail in his face.
“You hired that idiot French chef, Pierre, even after I told you not to?”
“Hey, hey, relax.” Richard held his hands up in surrender. “It’s no big deal. Pierre is in charge of the kitchen. You’re going to be the star of the show. You won’t even see him.”
Toni huffed. “You should have told me. I would have never taken this job if I knew Pierre was going to be breathing the same air as me.”
I couldn’t stifle a chuckle. This was better than Shakespeare.
Toni whipped her head around, noticing me for the first time. “Who’s he?” She said to Richard.
“Toni, let me introduce you to your new director, Lance.”
Her persona shifted immediately. She tossed her hair with one hand, stuck out her chest, and plastered on a smile so sweet it made my teeth hurt. “Lance, how wonderful. I am absolutely delighted to meet you. Richard has told me so much about your and your little theater here in Ashland. I hear you’re doing great things. Quite innovative for such a tiny town.” She held out her hand palm up. I assumed for me to kiss it.
And, how dare she belittle the festival.
When I didn’t return the gesture, she swept her hand in front of her face, not missing a beat. “We have much to discuss. I have already reviewed the script and made extensive notes. I’m not sure how much Richard has told you yet, but I’ve been in the biz, as we insiders like to say, for a while.” She winked, making the layers of makeup around her eyes crinkle. “You’ll likely want to review my thoughts on blocking and lighting. We can talk through casting. I’ve done this show a number of times and can lend some invaluable insight into who should play Petruchio and Lucentio. You have to cast them correctly, otherwise the entire production goes south.”
“Come again?” I looked to Richard for input.
Toni blew air from her nostrils. “Richard, have you told him nothing?”
Richard gulped and moved back a step. He was probably worried that she would slap him again, and rightfully so. His left cheek was splotched and red. Her fingers had left their mark. “Babe, I was about to, but you burst in.”
She folded her arms across her chest. “I didn’t burst. Are you going to tell him, or should I?”
“Go ahead,” Richard encouraged.
These two deserved each other. Had Richard Lord finally met his match?
Toni regained her composure and offered me a saccharine grin. “Dearest Lance, you and I are going to put on the best show that Ashland has ever seen. Between my acting talent and depth of understanding and, of course, your insight, we’ll be delighting guests here at the world-renowned Merry Windsor to a mind-blowing rendition of the one and only Kiss Me Kate.”
“Really?” I looked to Richard again.
He shifted uncomfortably. “I was getting to that. You know the play, right? I guess it’s a modern take on one of Shakespeare’s plays or something.”
Or something. “You’re referring to Taming of the Shrew,” I said, pressing my finger and thumb together to force myself not to launch into every reason I wanted nothing to do with this farce. Remember, Lance, OSF needs the cash.
“Yeah, yeah. That’s it. Like Toni said, she’s done it in Reno for years, so I’m sure you two will have plenty to talk about.”
“I’m sure.” I plastered on a smile. I had to get out of here. My neck felt hot and if I couldn’t figure out a way to pull this off, I was going to say something I might regret. Well, perhaps not regret, but something that would ensure Richard never donated another dime to the festival. I glanced at my watch. “I’m due back at the Bowmer. Perhaps we should reconvene later and discuss next steps?”
“You bet.” Richard tugged on his pants and sat back down. He picked up a fountain pen and held it above his desk calendar. “How about happy hour? 5:00 pm? Pierre is working on the new menu. You can be one of the first to give it a try.”
“Lovely.” I made a quick escape. As I shut the door behind me I could hear Toni laying into Richard again.
What had I done? Clearly, I was selling my soul to the devil.
I squared my shoulders and headed for the exit. Was the money worth it? There must be another way to raise some cash, but then again it was a lot of cash.
Before I made it to the lobby, I heard the sound of two men arguing. Shocker. The Merry Windsor clearly brought out the best in people.
I stopped when I got closer and spotted Pierre and the front desk clerk nose to nose. “I know what you did, and you’re not going to get away with it,” the clerk yelled. He had risen from his seat behind the reception desk. If it weren’t for the foul green carpet and florescent lighting I might have actually believed I was watching a scene written by the Bard himself. The clerk’s puffy shirt and pantaloons fluttered as he spit out the threat.
Pierre took off his white chef’s hat and tipped it in a bow with flourish. “Ha! What are you going to do? Spike my soup with poison?”
He had no trace of a French accent.
“Yeah! Great idea. Thanks for the suggestion. That’s exactly what I’m going to do if you don’t get out of here and leave town for good,” the clerk bantered back.
Pierre laughed in his face. “I’m not going anywhere.”
I cleared my throat and stepped into the lobby. “Excuse me, gentlemen. I don’t mean to interrupt, just on my way out.” I pointed to the door and practically sprinted outside.
I breathed in the earthy fall air. What was going on at Richard’s hotel? Why was the front desk clerk threatening the chef?
I started toward the Shakespeare stairs but I stopped. Should I return to my office, or should I pop into Torte for a latte and pastry? I hadn’t intended to tell Juliet about my involvement with Richard’s ridiculous production, but I was having second thoughts. This was a train wreck. She would love it, but was it fair to involve her?