Twenty nutcrackers lay spread out before me. One by one, I grabbed my gold cord and tied it on. Must. Get. This done.
Around me, young people walked through the house–first out to my son’s “shed-room” and then back into the bathroom or to the kitchen for a drink and a piece of Hungarian coffee cake. Those kids can plow through a Hungarian coffee cake, let me tell you!
My chair rolled–maybe it was an earthquake, or perhaps I rocked weirdly without noticing, but out of the blue, it rolled. I grabbed for the table, and in doing so, knocked off one of the nutcrackers. When I bent over to pick it up, my heart sank. “Oh, no! I broke the nutcracker.”
That shock was nothing to the “Aha!” I got when a guy burst into the room, Tommy gun drawn, and pointed right at me. “Aha!”
Somehow, I managed not to blurt out, “You already said that.” Survival from mobsters 101. Don’t antagonize the guy with the gun.
Part of me wanted to ask just what the “aha” was about, but again. Gun. I was willing to wait to be enlightened–preferably not as a prelude to my demise.
What Kind of Fiend Would Break a Poor, Unsuspecting Nutcracker?
Note: links may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you.
“Where is it?”
“What?” Okay, so I kind of squeaked it out. Who knew what a wimp I was? Not me. After all, after nearly shooting out my own eye as a kid, you’d think I’d be hardened to the dangers of guns or something. Apparently not.
Okay, so my prudence went out the window right about then. I pointed to the table with nineteen perfect little nutcracker ornaments. “Right there.”
“No, the nutcracker–the one you broke. We know you broke it. You admitted it. I heard you.”
Okay, this guy was just weird. “Okay…” I held out my hand with the three broken pieces of my little ornament–just a flat, laser-cut piece of wood. Nothing special. “Here. I did it. Sue me.”
“Not that one! The one in Meyer’s office.”
Is it just me, or is it rude for people to ask for something, you give it to them, and then it’s not good enough. As if it’s your fault the idiot–I mean, person–didn’t get specific to begin with? Just asking… for a friend. Okay, fine. For me. It’s for me.
“I broke this…” I shook the pieces at him in my clenched fist (you know, the one I wanted to shove through his face) nutcracker ornament when I obviously got startled. Probably my subconscious hearing you come in, which makes it your fault, by the way. As for Meyer? That was in a book… and happened a hundred years ago almost. Go read it to find out who did it. I’m innocent.”
When the guy raised his gun as if to coldcock me for not being cooperative, I tapped a button on my phone. The contact info for a friend of mine–a local detective. “Hey, Nathan? I’ve got this guy in my house threatening me with a Tommy gun because I don’t have and won’t confess to breaking a fictional nutcracker. Can you do something about this?”
“Fictional nutcracker? Did you write the book?”
I swallowed hard. “Well, yes.”
“Then, I’d say you broke the nutcracker in the book, anyway. Meanwhile, let this guy know that I’m on my way and will arrest him for assault if he’s still there when I get there.”
When I turned away from the phone, the room was empty… save one kid who stared at me holding a fistful of Hungarian coffee cake pieces. “I’ll put them back… I’m sorry…”
Okay, I’ll admit. I was tempted to let the kid squirm, but I couldn’t do it. Clearly, whatever nutcracker he’s all broken up about, I didn’t damage it. I suspect he saw my addressed Christmas cards on the table, though, so watch out, Cathe Swanson. I bet he’s headed your way next.
“Time to dance, sugarplum.”
A painter at the Meyer’s Toys factory, Clarice Stahl, knows something is strange about the way so many men come and go through Mr. Meyer’s office, especially one in particular.
Then murder strikes a little too close to home and uncorks a barrel of secrets.
When mob king, Mario Topo’s, enforcer goes missing the race is on to prove he’s behind the murder. Police and mobsters alike are after Milo Natale, and he who finds Milo first might determine the enforcer’s fate.
A race through the city, a new friend… or more… a new life in the offing. Milo and Clarice must find who killed Topo’s man and why before the police arrest him for murder or Topo’s men bump him and Clarice off, too.
This next book in the Ever After Mysteries combines “The Nutcracker Suite” with a murder mystery set in the heart of 1920s Rockland.
Friday, The Nutcracker’s Suite Released!
Follow all the stories to find out who did it and how or why! (And to get entries in to win one of the fabulous prizes!