The call from Marji had unsettled me all day, but I couldn’t figure out why. She’d wanted to ask something. I knew it. What it was, however, she never said. I was just about to ask if I’d offended her or something when the dogs started barking like crazy. The mail guy had already been here, so it wasn’t his fault. So, I’d said goodbye and went to calm them down.
It took bonz… two of ‘em each. Spoiled drats. That’s what I’ve taken to calling them at times like this. Dog brats = “drats.” Cute, eh? Yeah… they are.
After that, I’d forget about the call for a bit, but something would bring it to mind. Putting away books I’d just finished reading. Roses for Regret by Audrey Stallsmith. Marji had mentioned getting a lovely rose earlier—probably a congratulatory gift from our publisher, but if Sandy didn’t send a note with it, I wasn’t giving it away. Or maybe Marji knew and didn’t want to say so in case I hadn’t gotten one for A Ransomed Grete. Probably that.
The temptation to rub rosemary over our pork tenderloin brought it back to mind, but I got distracted again. Yes, I put the herb back in the cupboard. No, I did not sully my husband’s dinner with herbs he’d die before eating. Let’s face it. After knowing the guy for over thirty-five years, I know what he will and won’t eat.
Look, references to the War of the Roses in my current read pretty much pushed me over the top. I tossed aside my book and went to take my nap. Trust me. Sometimes sleep is the only thing that’ll give you peace!
As always, when I awoke, it was Shed-i-ffice time.
For those who don’t know, I have a shed in my backyard. Actually, I have two, but one is a real shed that holds miscellany like Christmas ornaments, the shop vac, and all of #2son’s um… stuff. TONS of art canvases, if anyone wants to come steal a few and get painty.
The other shed was #2son’s shed-room. When my mom came to live with us, #2son moved out of his room so Mom could have a room in the house near the bathroom. #becausegreatkid. We bought him a shed, finished it inside with drywall, insulation, flooring, and dark blue and gray paint. It was like a cave. Then he moved out. So his shed-room became my shed-i-ffice. It’s a shed. It’s an office. And if you’ll allow the stretch, it’s an edifice of sorts, so… Shed-i-ffice.
Well, I painted the walls a lovely, pale sea-glass blue, put up curtains, brought in bookshelves and books and… well, let’s just say I have a little retreat out in the backyard. Some people like to call it a “she-shed.” I do not. It’s my office. It’s a shed-i-ffice!
After my evening naps, I make myself a cup of tea and head out there. It’s about oh.. twentyish feet from the back door. Thirty in a pinch. As always, I went inside, turned on a light, gave the boys their bonz, plugged in my fairy lights, set up my reading chair with tea nearby, my book at the ready, and turned on the heater (it’s the desert, there’s snow on the mountains, so it’s still cold!).
I’d just taken my first sip of tea when I saw it. A rose lying on the bookshelf by the door—right beneath my “Read your bookshelf challenge” sign. Ever get that sick, foreboding feeling that something is all wrong? Yeah. Got that.
Something told me I was about to find out what Marji had really called about. It sure wasn’t to ask what I was going to do with “The Elves and the Shoemaker” for my next Ever After Mystery.
That was for sure.
My dogs jumped up when I did, certain it was time to go back inside. They like that because it means more bonz when we get back. So, they were all for it… and were all confused when I went straight to the bookcase that houses the bonz. Right above… you guessed it. The rose.
I shuddered. Seriously, I actually did the whole bookish thing and shuddered. Pierced with the stem of the rose was a note. “You’re next.” The creepiest thing wasn’t the message (although that’s pretty creepy, don’t you think?). No, the creepiest part is that the handwriting looked JUST like mine. What on earth?
After shaking myself free of all the ridiculousness that tried to take over my mind, I picked it up and promptly dropped it on the floor. Blood pooled on my thumb—right where I’d impaled it on a thorn. Bet Marji’s had thorns, too. Bet she got jabbed. For that matter, I bet she was trying to work up the courage to find out if I’d gotten one. Maybe I should call her back. I glanced at the clock. It would have to be tomorrow—nearly midnight in Texas. She was probably asleep. If she could sleep. Don’t ask me how I knew, but I just did. She’d gotten that message, too.
But who sent it?
A shudder ran through me again. This was getting old. Fast. What if Marji sent it! What if she just passed her creepy rose onto me? After all, her new mystery was about “Snow White and Rose Red.” My rose was white, so… I mean, come on. Snow White and Rose Red? Coincidence? I think not!
Or… Maybe… no… or could it be? Liz? I’d have to call Liz in the morning and try to draw her out… get a feeling for what’s going on. She’s writing about Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Maybe they started stealing roses! Gold ones on that train in Poland or something.
“Come on, boys!” I called to Neville and Toothless. “The game is afoot! …or something.
Murder. Even the word sounds ugly. Almost as ugly as the corpse on the shore.
Dallas, Texas 1948
Opal Stedman enjoys caring for old Mrs. Farnesworth. But keeping her sister Ruby out of trouble, well that is another issue entirely. Especially now that Ruby has stepped into high society with her new beau. A dubious man. Maybe even duplicitous.
Even the handsome security guard warns her sister about him.
When a body is dragged onto the shore of the lake that borders their home, rumors and worries over the new man become assurances. But why has he involved her household in these gruesome shenanigans?
And why are Opal’s loved ones suddenly having “accidents”?
Loosely based on the little-known fairy tale of “Snow White and Rose Red” this mystery twists its way all along the banks of White Rock Lake during its heyday.
PSST… Head over to Liz Tolsma’s website tomorrow and see what she knows!
Also, when you ORDER A Troll Falls, send your receipt and US shipping address to ATROLLFALLS@gmail.com for a special gift with purchase while supplies last!
Finally, don’t forget to enter the A Troll Falls release giveaway!