A free read from my collection of mystery shorts: Revenge With A Twist
Carolann Gravelle flew to Bermuda two days after Alex and his new bride…
Had it been any other Tuesday, she would have been at her desk in suburban Toronto, processing death claims for Parkwood Life and Casualty. but not today. Today, she was flying first class on Air Canada’s Flight 942 to Bermuda, drinking champagne and dreaming of death and dismemberment amidst the bougainvillea.
Carolann had fantasized more than a few people to death over the years. Her favourite method, used countless times by the great Agatha Christie, was poison. Especially the obvious ones. They made one feel so decidedly superior.
She chatted with her seat companion as the plane flew over Manhattan and headed out over the Atlantic. He seemed pleasant, and she enjoyed his company until he began flirting with the flight attendant. If that was the way he was, Carolann decided, she’d rather read her book.
Allowing herself an anticipatory shiver at the thought of being with Alex again she settled back in her chair.
The first time she’d met Alexander Wright, she’d been hovering around the mystery section in Mirvish Books, disappointed that there was nothing new from her usual authors, when a rather handsome man had asked her a question.
At first, she’d thought he’d mistaken her for one of the clerks. But when he’d engaged her in a spirited conversation about the state of mystery writing in Canada, she realized he’d wanted her opinion. Next thing she knew, they were moving towards the cash together and talking about structure.
“It’s all in the plot. Don’t you agree/”
“Oh, absolutely,” Carolann had said. He had such beautiful blue eyes. “As long as there are strong character driving it along.” She’d hesitated, groping for the right answer to keep his interest and the conversation going. “But I do think it’s just as hard to kill someone as it is to figure out who did it.”
Alex had given her an appraising look. “You seem to be well versed in the subject.”
Clutching her book bag hopefully against her chest, Carolann had told him all about her book club as they walked out of the store together. They’d had coffee in a little Hungarian restaurant on Bloor Street and afterwards, he’d walked her to her car.
The next six months were the most glorious in Carolann’s life.
They’d gone bicycling on the island, checked out the specialty books shops around town and spent Sundays exploring the surrounding countryside in Alex’s leased Mercedes.
Much to her surprise, and secret pleasure, Carolann found herself haunting lingerie departments on her lunch hour. She even read Cosmo in the grocery line.
At thirty-two, Carolann had all but given up on the reality of a long-term relationship. It wasn’t that she couldn’t attract men. She was simply too possessive. After two or three dates they invariably backed away. Her social activities of late had been restricted to odd evenings out with other lonely, single women.
Never again.. read more…
When Susan Brown and I were working on Outbid by the Boss, our first co-authored romance, we had no idea our heroine would suddenly invoke the Goddess of Single Women. In fact, we didn’t even know there was one until Samantha Redfern found herself in dire straits…although to be fair to the Goddess, it was Sam who made the decision to blow off her trip to New York.
But to get caught by one’s boss at an estate sale north of London…now that’s just asking for trouble!
Two books and one boxed set later, we’re still amazed by the Goddess’s serendipitous appearance on the page…
From Chapter One, Scene Three, Outbid by the Boss:
Clutching the candlestick to her chest, Sam hurried for the exit. She had a plane to catch. And now, she realized with a frisson of panic, she not only had to nip back to her flat, she also had to stop at the bank. It would take all her savings and half her rent money to replace the firm’s cash, but her purchase was worth every penny.
As she dashed through the open doorway, Sam remembered thinking how nice it was that the morning rain had given way to a sun-filled afternoon and then…
She ran smack into a wall of solid masculinity, gasping as the base of the candlestick dug into her rib cage.
She staggered backwards. A pair of strong hands grabbed her upper arms to steady her, holding her fast as she regained her balance.
And then he spoke.
The “thank-you” Sam was about to utter caught in her throat.
“In a hurry, are we?” The voice was well-bred, well-schooled and awfully familiar.
She squeezed her eyes shut.
And began to mentally chant.
Please, please, please…anybody but Chas bloody Porter. Please, please, please…
“Anytime…” the voice said, rudely interrupting her pleas to the goddess of single women caught in compromising positions.
Stupid woman must be on a lunch break, thought Sam.
Her lids fluttered open and she followed the buttons of the beautifully-stitched, pale-blue oxford-cloth shirt he wore beneath his soft leather jacket to the button at the base of his neck. It was open. Revealing enough of the man to make one feel that every inch of him would be just as enticing as the dark stubble on his chin, the slightly battered but still patrician nose and…the steel-blue eyes washing over her like an icy Arctic wind.
“Miss Redfern, isn’t it?” Chas Porter said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “I could have sworn you were representing us in New York this week. You do remember the two-day sale at Sotheby’s? Previews in….what?” He removed his left hand and checked his watch. “Twenty-four hours?”
“Which, allowing for the time change,” replied Sam choking back an urge to flee “gives me twenty-nine hours…
“Now, if you don’t mind…” She pointedly eyed the hand grasping her left bicep, an amazing feat given the fact that her knees had turned to water and her brain was sending high-pitched alarm signals to every nerve in her body.
Chas dropped his hand and stepped back, his eyes resting on the candlestick nestled protectively between her breasts. “Very nice workmanship. Get it for a good price, did you?”
Sam flushed and like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar, whipped the candlestick behind her back. Which of course thrust her chest forward.
She raised her chin defiantly.
Chas Porter gazed down at her, his eyes slightly hooded, impossible to read.
She stared back at him. The candlestick was hers. Or was it? She felt an unexpected stab of fear. Had he seen her use her expense money to pay for it?
A young couple coming up the steps dropped hands and gave them a wide berth. “We are blocking the entrance,” hissed Sam. “And, as you so rightly pointed out, I have a plane to catch.”
“Not today, you don’t,” Chas shot back. He crooked his finger and abruptly turned away leaving her little choice but to follow him down the steps and around the side of the building.
For an instant, Sam rebelled. Who did Chas Porter think he was, calling her to task as though she were a lowly serf. He was her boss, she reassured herself as she hurried to catch up, not some feudal lord who expected her to do his bidding. Perhaps she should just tug her forelock and be done with it…
As expected, Chas and Sam had their happily-ever-after, and as The Goddess of Single Women has yet to reappear, we like to think she’s found hers too.
The first time I saw Susan was at Camp Etobicokee. We would have been about eleven that summer, gawky in shorts and t-shirts and sticking fast to the kids we already knew. The morning activities were over and Susan was at a picnic table on the far side of the clearing eating lunch with her gang while I, and my group of hormone-ridden preteens, sat opposite eating ours.
The lines had been drawn. Nostrils flared, and for some inexplicable reason, Susan’s eyes locked on mine, and war was declared. And every day at noon from then on, we took up our positions and glared at each other with great hostility as we sipped on our chocolate milk.
I blame Hayley Mills.
The Parent Trap, the movie that had every girl desperately wanting to be an identical twin, had opened in Toronto two weeks earlier. With British actor Hayley Mills playing both parts, the “sisters” show up at Miss Inch’s Camp for Girls totally unaware of each other’s existence. Naturally, they become arch enemies, then best friends and one big happy family by the end of the film.
It took us a lot longer.
My family had moved to London; Susan’s had stayed in Toronto and then, all of a sudden, eight years had passed and it was time to go to university. I packed my bags and headed for Ottawa, picked up the keys to my dorm room and, with great excitement, opened the door and came face-to-face with my new roommate!
I honestly can’t remember what happened next. I suppose Susan and I were simply too stunned to do anything but declare a truce and divvy up the closet space. By the end of the day, we were fast friends, both studying journalism and sharing our “camp story” with anyone who would listen.
A dozen years later we started writing mysteries together, like the ones we read as kids. And even though we haven’t lived in the same city, or even the same country since university, and still don’t, we co-authored two highly-successful children’s mysteries — The Mad Hacker and Something’s Fishy at Ash Lake — and went on to adapt them for television.
Ironically, while checking the release date for the original version of The Parent Trap, I discovered that it, too, is an adaptation. The original book, Lottie and Lisa by German author Erich Kästner, was published in 1949. Kästner, who is known the world over for Emil and the Detectives, died in 1974, but his beloved tale of the resourceful Emil, lives on.
As does The Parent Trap, which was remade in 1998 staring Lindsay Lohan, allowing us to retell our “camp story” over and over again!
With, Love Me Now, Love Me Forever, now on sale, Susan Brown and I are thrilled to be sharing our co-authored romances with a wider audience.
So while we work on our next book, we hope you’ll enjoy our first three titles, Outbid by the Boss, Making Up is Hard to Do, and Undone by the Star, featuring alpha males with all the necessary qualities — like well-toned abs and killer smiles — and the strong-willed, independent women who refuse to settle for anything less than the real deal.
OUTBID BY THE BOSS
When Chas Porter catches Samantha Redfern bidding on an antique candlestick that rightfully belongs to him, he’s furious! But this is no ordinary candlestick; it’s the perfect mate to the only possession of worth Sam’s grandparents took when they fled England. One that Chas is desperate to recover.
MAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
If she’d known Jack Rutherford would walk back into her life, more ruggedly handsome than the day he left, Nicki Hamilton would have stayed in Toronto and left the past where it belonged. But he owes her. Big time. For fifteen years of silence, a dozen unanswered letters, and one broken teenaged heart.
UNDONE BY THE STAR
As heir-apparent to London’s most exclusive hotel, Alexis Kirkwood has spent her life preparing for the top job. But when she mistakes American film star Marc Daniels for a plumber, the sparks fly. An intense intimacy develops…until Marc’s celebrity gets in the way and hijacks Alex’s carefully-laid plans.