It’s been such a great distraction for me to write a collaborative mystery short with you! We have ourselves a body and now need to figure out details about the suspects. I’m loving all the creativity going into this collaborative spin-off. It’s clear that cozy mysteries are passion for this group and I couldn’t be happier.
Be sure to watch the video, because I have three, yes THREE, writing prompts for you this week…one of which I think you’ll be very excited about. 😁
You have until the end of the weekend to submit your answers in the comments either here or on my blog.
Ok, on to part 6 of A BRUNCH WITH DEATH! 🥐☠️
Juliet tried to revive Peter while I dialed the Professor’s number. As Ashland’s resident detective and Shakespeare aficionado, I knew he would be here within minutes with EMS in tow. I would have preferred to call my lawyer—or the press—first, but I did my civic duty, informing the Professor of Peter’s demise.
As expected, he arrived before the ambulance and quickly took charge of the scene. Juliet came to my side as the Professor examined Peter’s body.
“He’s dead, isn’t he?” She asked with a quiver to her voice.
I wrapped my arm around her shoulder. “It appears that way.”
We all waited in stunned silence for the paramedics to perform a variety of futile tasks. I had no sense of how much time had passed between them wheeling Peter’s body away and the Professor calling us all to attention. He held Peter’s drink glass with a gloved hand. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to have to ask you to sit tight for a bit. I’ll be taking each of your statements before I can allow you to go.”
“Why!” Toni wailed “He did it! He killed Peter!” She thrust her fake nail in Brady’s direction. “He brought out the champagne. He must have spiked it. You killed Peter!”
Brady recoiled. “No,” he shook his head. “I opened the bottle of champagne and poured it straight into the glasses.”
“He’s lying!” Toni waved her arms frantically. “Arrest him. He killed Peter!”
Juliet nudged me.
Richard’s smirk had vanished. He stared at Toni with a dazed look. “Why do you keep saying Peter? His name is—was—Pierre.”
A brief flash of terror crossed Toni’s face before she clutched Richard’s hand. “What did I say? What did I call him? I’m so flustered. I can’t think, dearest.”
Ha! I begged to differ.
The Professor removed a moleskin notebook from his tweed jacket and motioned for Brady to step away from the table.
“Poor kid. He looks like I feel,” Juliet commented, showing me her trembling hands.
“He didn’t do it. There’s no way.” I filled her in on what he’d told me earlier about Peter’s lack of kitchen prowess.
“Who sent him to to get the champagne?” Juliet asked. A touch of color had returned to her cheeks. My ever-astute partner in crime was back. Most excellent.
“Peter, right?” I searched my memory. “He and Brady had a word and Brady went off to the kitchen. My money is on Toni.”
Juliet was thoughtful for a moment. She surveyed the table. The meatballs, cheese and crackers, and fruit were basically untouched. Dip had splattered everywhere. “Okay, Peter was sitting next to Toni. Richard was sitting next to her and you and I were seated across the table. Brady hadn’t sat down yet. He was right there.” She pointed to the head of the table. “I think you’re right. Toni had the best opportunity. She could have slipped something into Peter’s glass when everyone stood for the toast, but it doesn’t look good for Brady. Are you sure he wasn’t fed up with covering for the fake chef? Maybe he had enough.”
“Never.” I was aghast. “I’ve been around plenty of starlets in my day to be able to discern a fake. Brady is the real deal. He’s like some sort of throwback to the 50s, earnest and sincere, yet with baby blues and those wavy dark locks that make you go weak in the knees. Trust me, darling, he’s not our killer.”
“So, Toni?” Juliet asked. “What do you know about her?”
“Only everything I’ve already shared, but I will say that I don’t believe a word that comes out of her garish mouth. She’s acting. Albeit atrociously. But she’s not telling the truth. That’s obvious in her choice of Richard Lord as a future husband.”
Juliet managed to chuckle. “I can’t argue with that, but poor taste in men doesn’t make her a killer.”
“Or does it?” I raised my brow. “Listen, I have an idea before the Professor comes to take our statements. Let’s divide and conquer. I’ll see what I can twist out of Toni. After all, I am her artistic director.” I tried not to gag at the thought. “You can take Brady under you wing. Invite him to Torte. Give him some basic lessons. I can tell that he’ll be a quick study with you as his pastry muse.”
Juliet rolled her eyes. “Flattery is going to get you nowhere.”
“Pretty please.” I folded my hands together. “With Peter dead we can’t let him flounder. He told me that he needs the extra income. Imagine having Richard Lord as your boss.”
That got her.
She sighed. “No thanks. That’s my worst nightmare.”
“My point, exactly. Cut the kid some slack. Surely, you can teach him a couple simple recipes and while you work your magic with butter you can butter him up for details. What do you say?”
Before I could nail her down for an answer, Brady returned with the Professor who then took Toni for questioning next.
“Brady, have you met my dear friend Juliet Capshaw? She owns Torte and she and I were just chatting about having you pop over to the bakeshop to learn a few of Torte’s secret recipes. Are you interested?” I didn’t dare catch Juliet’s eye. I could feel her shooting daggers my way.
“Oh yeah. That would be great. Thanks. I don’t know what’s going to happen now that Peter is dead, but I guess I’m going to be in charge of the kitchen in the short term, and I have no idea what I’m doing.”
Juliet smiled. “I’d be happy to help. Why don’t you stop by tomorrow morning?”
“Okay. Yeah.” Brady’s gaze was focused on the Professor.
I seized the opportunity. “What happened? What did the Professor ask you?”
“He asked me a bunch of questions about Peter and the rest of the staff. I didn’t kill him. You have to believe me.”
“We do. Of course, we do. It’s unfortunate that you happened to pour the champagne. I’m sure this a case of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“I don’t get it. I opened the bottle, Hank handed me the tray of glasses, and I came back out here to pour for everyone.”
Hank? This was an interesting development.
“Are you referring to Hank, the front desk clerk?” I asked. “Was he in the kitchen?”
“Yeah. The Professor asked that too, like three times. He made me go over exactly what happened. Peter told me there was going to be a big announcement that he didn’t want to miss, and could I go get the champagne. It was chilling in the fridge. I got it, opened the bottle, and the next thing I knew Hank was standing there with a tray of glasses. He gave them to me. I came back and poured the champagne and then Peter collapsed.”