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Archive for July, 2011

Hello and welcome to my blog. Below you will find the first chapter of my mystery, Murder By Mistake, which is also the first in the series. Anyone who comments on this chapter will have a chance to win an electronic copy of the book. This contest will go on through Tuesday. Happy reading, and I’ll be looking forward to your comments.

Chapter One

If my husband weren’t already dead, I’d strangle him.

It had happened again. I’d experienced another psychic vision.

This was the fourth, the first right after my husband’s funeral — and I

hated every single one of them.

By now, you realize I’m a widow. My name is Mollie Fenwick, I’m a

thirty-two year old widow. My late departed husband, Gordon, was a

handsome, urbane attorney who believed he’d been blessed with a

double dose of brains at birth and I’d been awarded none. He’d also

been very controlling, always telling me what to do. Believe me, I do

not miss that at all. Since I never had a vision while he was alive, I

figured he was getting even with me for outliving him. Somehow or

another, I was going to have to get back at him, even if it meant going

where he was to do it.

Uh-oh, what in the hell was I thinking?

In the first vision, a dog attacked a child I’d never seen before, and

I only learned about it because it was written up in the newspaper. The

second and third had to do with auto accidents, and they, too, were of

strangers and written about in the daily paper. I’d been horrified to

learn I’d witnessed something before it really happened.

But this fourth one was much worse. This time I’d seen a murder

taking place in somebody’s living room. Please, God, I don’t want to

read about this tomorrow.

Now, sitting in my car in the church parking lot, I shivered, and it

felt like tiny creatures were pulling at the hairs on my arms.

I choked back a sob. I didn’t have time to fall apart. Choir practice

had already begun. From inside the church, the swell of the organ

momentarily drowned out the singers and then softened. I could even

hear Gladys’s high-pitched soprano.

These crazy psychic things had me scared. Sweat trickled down

my forehead into my eyes, and yet I felt cold. I grabbed a tissue from

the glove compartment to wipe my brow. I couldn’t go to choir

practice looking like I’d run a marathon in this ninety-degree heat.

I walked to the church, wanting to run so fast I’d leave the image

of the knife-wielding killer far behind. Stress robbed me of strength,

and I had to struggle to get the heavy wooden door open. Once in, I

hurried into the sanctuary, tripped over my own feet and banged into

one of the pews. Out of the corner of my eye I saw heads turn in my

direction. This, I vowed, would be the last time I’d be late for choir.

Five minutes was usual for me. Today, the vision had stretched it to

fifteen.

Darrell Stuart, the choir director, put a hand up for the choir to

stop singing. He didn’t say anything, but his brown, cocker spaniel

eyes signaled both disappointment and disgust.

“Sorry Mr. Stuart.” I tried not to look at him. Ever since I’d turned

him down when he’d asked for a date, I’d felt uncomfortable around

him. I knew his sad, why don’t you like me look would be replaced with

the you’re late again expression. The solution: keep my eyes on his hands,

not his face.

“Excuse me,” I said, and squeezed past three women to get to my

seat. The fact there was little space between the pew and the barrier in

front of the choir loft made it impossible to maneuver without

incident. I stepped on Gladys’s foot, and she let out a tiny squeak and

jerked her foot back.

“Sorry, Gladys.” I sank onto the hard seat.

She gently pressed my hand. “Hang in there, Mollie.” Gladys, who

is getting on toward sixty, is a thin, silver-haired woman with a

penchant for hot colors and way-out-there clothing she never wears in

church. She’s a multi-faceted person and at times can be intimidating.

But despite her many talents, singing isn’t one of them.

Darrell had his arms folded across his chest, his brow creased in

concern. “You okay, Ms. Fenwick?”

“Yes,” I said, trying to will away my red face. If only a UFO would

appear and take me away. But since such a rescue was unlikely, I’d

have to stay. Maybe singing would get my mind off what I’d seen. I

sneaked a look at Gladys’s music, got out my copy and joined in with

the others.

As I sang, my thoughts drifted where I hoped they wouldn’t go.

Horror coursed through my body and my hand shook as if I were doing

a juggling act. Concentrate on Darrell. Watch his hands.

Abruptly, his right hand changed. It now held a knife, a long,

silver-bladed, deadly looking weapon.

I gasped, let go of my music folder, and the pages went flying. One

of them sailed right over the barrier to Darrell.

He jumped back, nearly falling off the podium, picked up the page

and handed it to me. “Ms. Fenwick, what’s with you tonight?”

Cringing, I apologized again and rearranged my music. Forget the

UFO. I’d settle for disappearing into one of the darkened pews on the

other side of the church. I heard a few snickers behind me and let out

an involuntary laugh of my own. Even Darrell put on a half-smile.

Well, the incident did one good thing. The scary images were gone.

“Ms. Fenwick, you singing or not?”

“Of course,” I said. I’m sure I heard him say “somehow I doubt it”

under his breath. Determined to prove him wrong, I gave the music my

all, and have to say the rest of the rehearsal went fairly well.

“Okay.” Darrell peered down at me over his glasses as he put his

music away. “That’ll do it for tonight. I trust, Ms. Fenwick, you’ll have

at least some of your wits about you on Sunday.”

Not likely. The way things had been going lately, I didn’t have

much confidence I could make, or keep, such a promise. “Of course.” I

got up to leave. How could he say that to me?

“Ms. Fenwick, wait up. I’d like to speak with you for a moment.”

Darn, I thought, but I couldn’t be rude. I skidded to a stop and

swung around. “Yes, sir,” I said, almost apologizing again, but that was

getting old.

He leaned toward me until his face almost touched mine. “Mollie,

you look like you’re about to explode.”

When he grabbed my hand, I tried to pull it back, but he only

tightened his grip.

“I believe you need some TLC. Why don’t you leave your car here

and come with me for a little while?”

Yeah, I thought, not missing the gleam in his eyes, and relax me

right into your bed.

“I can’t, Mr. Stuart, really.” I wrenched my hand away and got out

of the sanctuary so fast, it’s a wonder I didn’t pass myself up. Maybe I

wasn’t being fair, but it bothered me the way he stared at me with

those bugged-out eyes. He was quite tall with dark hair that fell to his

shoulders and legs that seemed too long. Maybe because they were so

skinny. I had the impression of a whooping crane.

I will say one thing for him. He’d given me something to think

about besides the vision. As I walked to my little red Honda, I made up

my mind to convince him I wasn’t interested in him romantically.

I had just started my car when I saw a copper-colored station

wagon pulling into the lot. Weird, I thought, having seen the same car

or one exactly like it almost every day for the past week or so.

Coincidence?

Not important, I thought, and turned onto Ninth.

I slammed on the brakes. Darn. I’d almost gone through a red

light. I took a couple deep breaths. Time to concentrate on my driving.

One near accident for the day was enough. Thankfully, I didn’t have far

to go. Perkins, where we usually ate after rehearsal, was four blocks

straight ahead on Ninth and one block left onMadison.

Gladys was already in the restaurant, seated and sipping iced tea,

so I looked longingly at the display case of goodies, passed it up and

went directly to the table.

“Hi,” I said, “you order already?”

“No, Mollie,” she said, and picked up the menu.

It was good to be here with my aunt, and it struck me

Wednesday night had become thehigh pointof my week. Which isn’t

saying much for the excitement in my life. My late husband had treated

me well at first, but it hadn’t taken long for him to curtail my activities,

resulting in limited contacts with friends.Thinking about him now, I

realized there had been a few clues as to his character, but then

hindsight is twenty-twenty.

“What happened to you tonight?” Gladys asked, lining up sugar

packets in front of her cup. “You’re not usually so late.”

I didn’t want to tell anybody about the vision — even Gladys,

who would be completely accepting. I struggled to keep from crying

and tried to smile. “It was a bad day all around. You know the

appointment I had with the gallery owner?”

“Yes. How did it go?”

“It didn’t. When I got there the place was closed.”

“Okay.” Gladys frowned and shook her head. “That was this

morning. It wouldn’t account for tonight. Did you get lost again?”

I couldn’t help grinning. “No. I’ve got a compass, remember?” I

sighed. “Too bad it can’t tell me right or left.”

Gladys giggled, then put on her serious look again. “What did you

do?”

“My last pick-up sold her house and moved to an apartment.

Unfortunately, I just glanced at the manifest and didn’t notice the new

address and went to the old one.” I nodded to the waitress as she set a

water glass in front of me.

“To make matters worse, her current address is on a brand new

street and not yet on the map. When I finally got my bearings, I was

really late. When I got home, I barreled into my underground garage

and darn near ran over a man who’d just gotten out of his SUV.”

“Uh oh, not good. But at least you didn’t hit anything.” She

paused, her brows creased. “You didn’t, did you?”

“No, but he said I should get a ticket. Lucky he wasn’t a cop. Then

I discovered he lives in my building, right next door to me.”

I couldn’t help grinning at the memory of the hunk. He’d stood

there, glaring at me, his arms folded across a broad chest, his legs

slightly apart. Despite my agitation, I’d been unable to resist looking

him over, my eyes going from the top of his head to his feet. His hair

was a sort of russet brown with an errant lock tumbling over his

forehead. He wore jeans molded to powerful looking thighs.

“Good looking, was he? Hmm.” Gladys’s brows went up and the

corner of her mouth quirked up.

“Yeah, but he was the one who kept me up all night by moving

stuff around. I think he moved in the day after I did. And would you

believe he played a recording of operatic arias, and oh boy, was that

tenor voice wonderful. As soon as I get over being mad at him, I’m

going to ask him the name of the singer.”

“Seems like your almost hitting him would even the score.” She

winked. “Sounds like a possibility.”

“I’m not looking for another man to tell me what to do.”

She leaned forward and shook a finger at me. “You’ve got to get

over it. Not every man is like Gordon, and that reminds me.”

“What?” I braced myself for what was coming.

“You’re too hard on Darrell. Maybe you don’t want to go out with

him, and that’s okay. But you’re overreacting. Just tell him you’re not

interested. You need to be firm.” She grinned. “You could keep your

eyes closed and listen to him sing.”

I laughed. “I told him no, but he won’t give up.”

“Perseverance is not necessarily a bad trait, unless of course he

goes too far with it.” She drained the rest of her glass and sat back. “I

can understand why you were upset tonight. Maybe you should talk to

your boss, tell him you don’t want any rides pastfour o’clockon

Wednesday. I’m surprised those old ladies stay out so late. I thought

they all had to get home by five for supper.”

I laughed. Working for a bus company dedicated to transporting

seniors had taught me a few things about them. “I already did that, but

my last one tonight was an add-on and I was the only driver available.”

The waitress returned to our table and suggested dessert. “We’ve

got a great double-chocolate cake, ladies. Just the thing for a hot night

if you add a scoop of ice cream.”

I would have said no, but Gladys said, “Good idea. I think we

need it.”

When we finished, Gladys insisted on paying, but she made no

move to get up. “Mollie, I have a feeling there’s something else

bothering you. Why don’t you come home with me tonight, take a

break?”

I shook my head. “Thanks, but you have to work tomorrow, and

I’ve still got a lot of unpacking to do. I’ll be okay. I’ll turn on my air, get

out a good book, and put my feet up.” But in my mind, I only saw

myself looking at the knife, the dripping blood.

She laughed. “That’ll get a lot of unpacking taken care of.”

We walked out to the parking lot into the moist August air. Good

oldMinnesotahumidity. Being by the river didn’t help. The

mosquitoes were out and the air was oppressive, adding to the feeling

of impending doom, and I nearly changed my mind and accepted

Gladys’s offer to stay the night.

Gladys waited in her car until I got going, and I reminded myself

how lucky I was to have her.

The bad feeling stayed with me all the way home and didn’t

lessen when I drove into the garage. It was a cavernous space, dimly lit,

and the shadows from cars had me spooked. I’d always felt safe in my

building, but because of the vision, I couldn’t shake the fear. I almost

picked up my phone and called Gladys to tell her I’d changed my mind.

“Nonsense,” I said aloud as I ran to the elevator, got in, and

punched the button for the twenty-first floor.

I was almost to my door when I heard footsteps behind me,

uneven, like an out-of-sync metronome, stopping when I stopped. I

sped up, my heart slamming against my chest wall. When I could stand

it no longer, I turned to look behind me. The hall was empty.

I stood there, breathing hard, the hairs standing up on the back of

my neck. I remembered the vision I’d had in the church parking lot. It

began with a kaleidoscope of lights undulating from a beige or gray

carpet, I couldn’t quite tell. It was fuzzy, indistinct. When the lights

faded, a man and woman appeared. She shrank back against a big

television set, her eyes wide, and a hand up in defense. I shuddered as I

remembered the way the man had walked slowly toward the woman, a

long, shiny knife in his right hand.

Would I ever be able to erase the sight of the man stabbing that

woman? Her blood pulsing out of her body as she fell to the floor?

The multi-colored lights had reappeared, and when they were

gone, everything had returned to normal, with me sitting in my car in

the church parking lot, surrounded by vehicles of every kind.

I had to get inside before whatever was out there got to me.

I hurried, but neither my legs nor my lungs wanted to cooperate.

Then I dropped my keys, twice. I ran inside, slammed the door behind

me and froze.

There was a body sprawled in front of my TV.

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Enter the wacky world of Mollie Fenwick, an unintentional psychic forced to use her artistic-and other-abilities to ferret out the bad guys. She’s not a cop, nor a private eye. She’s just a normal human who sees things before they happen. She doesn’t like it at all. Nor does she like having to dance around hunky homicide cop, Bartholomew. He doesn’t want her to mix in police business, but when she continues to have visions and the killer(s) get too darn close, what else is she supposed to do?

The cast of characters include a feisty aunt who is fully capable of hacking into almost anything, a neighbor who believes her cat, Othello, should obey her orders to stay in the apartment, even when she leaves the door open, and another hot guy, Wolf, a Native American artist/ex-special forces man who scares Mollie in more ways than one.

Here’s the blurb for the first book in the series, Murder By Mistake:

A dead artist is stalking Mollie Fenwick.  How inconvenient.

 

Mollie’s new life as a widow is turned upside down when she has a psychic vision of a murder being committed in her new apartment – and it comes true.  She knows she should put her trust in Detective Bartholomew, but she’d not only have to admit to being psychic, she’d be under another man’s control as she was with her husband.  Using her artistic ability, and with the help of her aunt and a former special forces Native American, she tracks down the killer, which puts her in danger, and at odds with the hunky detective. 

 When they finally work together, they search for the killer among a gang of thieves and also try to learn the secret of the dead artist.  During their investigation, Mollie learns that keeping secrets can be deadly, and there’s a big difference between caring and controlling.

 Stop by tomorrow for an excerpt of her first meetings with Bartholomew Wolf.  Leave a comment to let me know which one you’d want to sleuth with.

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