Silver Hills Cozy Mysteries Book 6
Come to Silver Hills. Where age is relative and relatives can be deadly.
A skeleton under the floorboards…a long-hidden crime…and a nonagenarian WWII veteran who claims to have no knowledge of how the body got buried under her living room floor…
When their new friend, Scarlett, moves to Silver Hills, Flo and Agnes soon realize the crotchety veteran isn’t exactly a people person. Unfortunately, her acerbic personality isn’t helping her convince Detective Peters that she had nothing to do with murdering the dead guy beneath her floorboards. So the two sleuths, with a colorful array of the usual sidekicks, dive into the decades old murder and quickly learn it has a grip in the present. Can Flo and Agnes keep themselves above the fray? Or will they soon find themselves over their heads and swimming against the tide? If you've been to Silver Hills before you already know the answer to that. There's really only one question left: backstroke or breaststroke?
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Flo stopped dead in her tracks, a cry of horror on her lips. She looked around for Agnes but didn’t see her in the crowded lobby. Her knees buckled beneath her and she covered her mouth with one hand, her eyes widening at the sight before her.
The floor of the lobby was covered in boxes and furniture. It looked as if a moving truck had exploded, spewing all of its contents in a jumble on the marble floor. A man and woman were standing near the door, arguing about something. The man held a box and his arms were jerking as he argued with the woman, jabbing the box between them like a shield.
The woman kept brushing hair off her face and tucking it behind her ear. She looked to be in her sixties and Flo wondered if she was the one moving into Silver Hills or if it was the tiny, ancient woman who was laid out on one of the disgorged couches like a corpse, her gnarled hands twisted into the fur of Agnes’s fat, orange cat.
Tolstoy, a.k.a. the grim reaper.
Flo took a step forward, knowing she had to capture the attention of the quarreling couple. If the frail, elderly corpse on the couch belonged to them, she needed to make them aware that their loved one had been extinguished by the reaper while they battled.
Her gaze swung from the couple to the couch, where Tolstoy happily perched upon the woman’s belly, diligently cleaning his paws. His work was done. He’d clearly killed another resident of Silver Hills. This one even before she’d had a chance to move in.
“What are you gaping at, Flo?”
Agnes pulled up beside Flo, her jaw working over whatever she’d just shoved into her mouth. She took in the chaotic state of the lobby and grinned. “Looks like somebody’s moving in.”
“I wouldn’t bet on it.” Flo pointed to the prone almost-resident on the ugly gilded settee and Agnes frowned. “Your cat’s already killed her.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Flo. Tolstoy doesn’t kill people. How many times do we need to have this conversation?”
Flo glared up at her friend. “At least once per soul he reaps.”
Rolling her eyes, Agnes moved past Flo and approached the dueling duet, her meaty paw extended. “Hello. I’m Agnes Willard. This is my friend, Flo.”
Flo waggled her fingers and gave them a smile that felt more like a grimace.
Agnes didn’t seem to notice Flo’s lack of enthusiasm. “Are you moving into Silver Hills?”
The woman holstered her verbal gun and turned her glare on Agnes. “Hello. Yes…I mean no. My mother is.” She flung a negligent hand toward the corpse on the couch. “It’s nice to meet you,” she said to Agnes by way of pleasantries and then stopped, turning back to the settee and frowning. “Whose cat is that?”
Totally clueless, Agnes grinned. “He’s mine. That’s Tolstoy. Would you like to meet him?”
“I’d like him to get off my mother.”
“Oh,” Agnes said, finally realizing she’d ambled into enemy territory. “He’s fine. See, she’s petting him.”
Everyone turned to look at the woman on the couch. The dueling twosome frowned. Flo grimaced. It was hard to tell if the old woman had been trying to fight off the reaper when she’d died, or if she had, in fact, been petting the fat feline. The hand clutching Tolstoy’s fur looked a bit rigid. Was it possible rigor mortis had already set in?
The corpse didn’t respond.
The woman at the door spun around and started toward the couch. “Mother! Are you all right?” She rolled up on the settee like a tornado ripping across a field in Kansas and Tolstoy’s head came up, his freshly cleansed paw still hanging in the air. His eyes went wide as he realized he was under fire.
Despite his soccer-ball-like shape, the cat could move fast when he needed to. He was off his victim’s belly and halfway up the stairs to the second floor before the embattled daughter could shriek, “He’s killed her!”
Agnes rolled her eyes. Flo nodded before she caught herself. Thankfully nobody noticed.
“She’s fine,” Agnes said. Reaching for the gnarled hand that had fallen to the settee when Tolstoy unceremoniously decamped the couch, Agnes pumped the rigid body part once and let go. “See?”
The hand smacked down hard on the ugly, mustard yellow fabric of her death bed.
“Mother!” The daughter grabbed a bony shoulder and shook it so hard the tiny dead woman flopped around the surface of the settee like a fish on a hook.
Flo covered her eyes, unable to watch for another moment.
A raspy voice sent a swear word into the air and Flo flinched.
“What the H-E-double hockey sticks is wrong with you, Thelma? You just about dislocated my shoulder.”
Flo’s eyes flew open. The woman wasn’t dead?
And aside from that, she’d heard the voice before. Recognition kicking in, she hurried over to smile down at the crotchety ninety something year old. “Scarlett? I can’t believe it. Are you moving into Silver Hills?”
“No,” the old woman said, touching her flat chest under a flower cotton shirt. “I just thought it would be fun to move all my furniture into the lobby here and hang out.”