Stay-at-home-mom-turned-amateur-sleuth Maggie Phillips tackles all the dirty jobs.
One of these days the world will be invaded by aliens, and I’ll miss it. Since I average at least an hour to get dressed, the mother ship will enslave the human race while I’m struggling with pantyhose. Do other women have these problems?
I don’t know about the rest of my gender, but I average an hour, not due to my technique for applying makeup or picking out the perfect outfit. My hour consists of stupid hold-ups. For instance, one evening not so long ago, I climbed from my shower, did the eyeliner and mascara bit, and turned my attention to my hair. I’d pulled my semi-dry tresses into a bun while doing makeup, but one scraggly gray stood straight up in the air, a traitorous rebel surrendering to the onslaught of age. I didn’t want to pull the bugger because I’ve heard that three more will take its place. Who knows if this is actually true, but why take the risk? So I combed the gray, and that’s when I saw it.
Why didn’t I use the Head-n-Shoulders? So now the crisis: should I ignore the dry, flakey scalp and forgo the awesome black dress for something else or rewash my hair?
Neil pounded on the bathroom door. “Are you almost ready?”
I gazed in the mirror. The gray hair and dandruff had joined forces and were on a full-fledged campaign to ruin my appearance.
“I’ll be done when I’m done,” I announced through the door.
“Come on, Maggie, we’re gonna be late.”
I rolled my eyes. Big shocker. Neil and I were always late. As the parents of two young boys, we blamed our tardiness on the kids, but in truth, I’m usually at fault.
I poked my head around the corner. “Go check on the boys.”
“Yikes,” Neil said as he scanned the horror of his wife. “Take your time.”
Neil is a retired Navy SEAL. It takes some effort to scare him.
I turned back to the mirror.
“What I need is a game plan,” I told my reflection. I grabbed a pair of cuticle scissors from my vanity table and attempted to cut the gray. This was not as simple as it may sound. Trying to sever just the gray required both a steady hand and compensation for the backward motion in the mirror. A few of the dark brown strands were sacrificed for the greater good. Next up, the dandruff.
The pipes groaned as the ancient water heater worked overtime, and I tapped my foot for a few beats before climbing under the spray. I lathered my hair with the Head-n-Shoulders, rinsed and repeated. Next, I used the fruity shampoo and conditioner, because a woman can never smell too fruity. The hot water went AWOL during the final rinse, and I stepped shivering from the glassed-in shower. I used the towel to swipe the steam from the mirror and stifled the urge to scream. My waterproof mascara streamed down my face, giving me that Bride o’ Frankenstein effect.
I washed my face with cold water and scrubbed like crazy to remove the black streaks. After five minutes, my face had turned bright pink from scrubbing and exertion, but the hideous black lines appeared significantly lighter. I broke out the foundation and covered the mess as best I could, re-did my eyes, and blew my hair dry. One final check, to assure myself the gray hair and dandruff had been subdued, and I donned my bathrobe.
I marched out of the bathroom and found Neil spread-eagled on our queen-size bed while my sons, Josh and Kenny, bounced on the mattress around him. Neil’s eyes remained closed.
“It’s safe,” I informed him.
“Mommy, Josh didn’t brush his teeth,” Kenny told me mid-bounce.
“Kenny didn’t either,” Josh re-tattled on his brother.
Hands-on hips, I squared off like a drill sergeant. “What am I going to say?”
“Go brush our teeth,” Kenny and Josh chorused in a flat tone. They gave one final bounce and scurried off to their bathroom. Neil rolled to his side and looked up at me.
“Better?” I asked him.
“Except for the RuPaul make-up.”
“I had some issues.”
“Maggie, you always have issues.”
“But you love me?” I flashed him my hundred-watt smile.
“I love you, but I think I need a beer.”
* * * *
After a decade of service to his country, Neil left the navy and uprooted our family from Virginia Beach to the wilds of Massachusetts. Neil has New England imprinted on his DNA, and when he’d begged me to move to Hudson, I didn’t have the heart to refuse. We bought a three-bedroom, two-bath ranch built in the early nineteen sixties and now inhabit a small suburban neighborhood which we can barely afford. I’ve become adept at dime stretching.
Our house is furnished in classic hand-me-down style. The sofa and loveseat—new once upon a time, but after ten years of constant kiddie torment, not to mention a six-foot, almost two-hundred-pound man flopping down on them on a regular basis—fall into the category of “seen better days”. The end tables were rejects from Neil’s parents—the corporate attorneys—and I stumbled across the entertainment center during a garage sale hop. Literally tripped over the darn thing.
I love garage sales. Where else can one find almost new stuff at an unbelievable bargain? Neil and the boys hate garage sales, or more accurately, they hate going to garage sales with me, since I pick through everything until I find a bargain. The need for frugality runs in my Scottish blood. Neil calls me Uncle Scrooge, but he usually doesn’t complain since my thriftiness afforded him the big screen TV and DVR.
Neil, already on his second beer, kept his gaze glued to a football game when I sashayed down the hall in my black dress. I stood in front of the TV and twirled in a circle, always a sure-fire way of getting a man’s attention.
“Whatcha think?” I asked.
“Nice.” Neil craned his neck around me to see the score.
“Aren’t you recording this game?”
“Yeah, but I thought I could catch a few plays while you finished getting ready.”
“Well, I’m ready.”
Neil stood and stretched before clicking off the set. He actually looked at me this time and smiled. “You know we’re already late….”
I glared at him as I recognized his let’s fool around tone. Honestly, I love that Neil always wants to fool around with me, but I’d spent way too much time in dress-up mode to forgo the public appearance.
He shrugged and gave me a quick kiss. “Worth a shot.”
Neil corralled the boys down the hall and into their jackets while I retrieved the bottle of wine from the refrigerator and my purse from the half-moon table in the hall. We’d been invited to a soirée (seriously, the invitation actually said soirée) at the home of our new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Douglass J. Kline. The Kline’s house—one of the larger ones in our development—stood sentinel at the top of the cul-de-sac on almost half an acre. It was also one of the newest homes in the area, and I was dying to get a look at the place up close. We’d been on nodding terms with the previous owners, but we’d never been invited inside the vast estate.
The November night was cool, especially for my thin Southern blood, and the crisp air stung my nostrils with the smell of fallen leaves. Kenny and Josh ran ahead of us along the sidewalk, heralding our impending arrival with the thunder only little boy feet can produce and shouts of “Eat dirt, Scumbag!”
Precious, aren’t they?
“Boys, simmer down!” I called out while Neil wore his proud papa expression. Neil never worried about making a good impression. Why should he? With his perpetual tan, intelligent hazel eyes, not to mention a physique to rival Michelangelo’s David, Neil defines classically handsome. As a Navy SEAL, he’d served his country for over a decade and was currently well respected in the community as an employee of Intel.
I always fret about making a good impression. I’m five-six in heels and have a build that Neil calls statuesque and I call fat. I’m a domestic engineer, also known as a stay-at-home mom. My family and my house is my career. I’m sure in some areas of the country this is still perfectly acceptable, but in Tax-a-chusetts, dual-income is the norm.
Every light blazed in the downstairs portion of the house, and soft music filtered through the din of voices. Cars lined the circular drive, and a few distinguished-looking men staked out the front porch, seated comfortably in Hampton Bay wicker. I waved as I recognized Sam Cavanaugh from next door and got a nod of acknowledgment in return. A podiatrist in his early fifties, Sam drove a metallic blue BMW from the golf course to the office. I think he liked to pretend to be James Bond when in truth he was more like Lyle Lovett with love handles. Whatever gets him through another day of looking at people’s feet.
The boys waited at the bottom of the stairs for us, eyes wide and mouths agog. I hoped I didn’t look quite as star-struck by the finery. Nothing says ‘bumpkin’ like a little drool on the chin.
Neil extended his hand to Sam and the other two men. Introductions, brief and to the point. The tall, lanky man in his late thirties introduced himself as Jason Macgregor, attorney at law and a friend of Doug’s. The shorter, heavyset man with the bald spot appeared roughly the same age and vaguely familiar, but when he introduced himself as Kevin Bartley, I drew a blank. I guess he just had one of those faces.
“I was wondering when you’d get here.”
I turned around to see my friend and next-door neighbor, Sylvia Wright, had joined the congregation on the front porch. A tall, strawberry blonde in her early forties, Sylvia looked ten years younger. Her hair was done up in an elegant twist, and her sea-green dress clung like a second skin. It made me wish I’d bypassed seconds on the lasagna at dinner. A perpetual flower child, Sylvia taught yoga at the local gym, but I liked her anyway.
“Hey, Sylvie, what’s shaking?”
“Not much. Did you just get here?”
I waved my hand in a vague gesture. “You know, the kids.”
“Have you met our hosts yet?”
I shook my head, and Sylvia linked her arm through mine and led me into the house. I shot a look over my shoulder at Neil, who remained in a deep discussion with the porch squatters over the game they were missing. I suspected Neil wasn’t the only one with the DVR running.
Kenny and Josh abandoned the Chatty Cathys on the porch and bee-lined for the refreshment table. I called out one last warning for them to behave before focusing on the crowd, picking up on several snippets of football-related banter.
“Someone should tell our hosts that they should have elected another night for their soirée. Haven’t they received the memo on Monday night football?” I whispered to Sylvia.
“They’ll learn soon enough, especially with New England in a top position this season,” she whispered back. “The only reason for such a good turn out this time is because everyone was curious.”
I took in the swarming foyer and agreed with Sylvia’s assessment. The place was packed, more than half of the faces new to me. We entered the drawing-room on the right. Tasteful furniture, high-end bric-a-brac, and a quality Oriental rug on the floor. I felt fairly certain I wouldn’t be running into Mrs. Kline during my garage sale scavenger hunts.
Sylvia stopped to get her bearings and looked around. Since she had a good two inches on me, even with heels, I was hopelessly lost.
A mountain of a blond man approached us. “What brings two fine women like you to a shindig like this?”
Sylvia swatted him playfully on the arm. “Knock it off, Eric. Do you see our hosts?”
Eric grinned down at his wife. The two of them together reminded me of a bride and groom on a Norwegian wedding cake. Tall, fair, and perfectly sculpted.
“I haven’t seen them recently, but I thought they were giving a tour to a group of newcomers.”
“Oh, perfect! We can snoop with the excuse that we’re trying to catch up with the tour.”
I shook my head at Sylvia’s enthusiasm, but inside I was just as excited at the prospect. It wasn’t every day I had the chance to explore a mansion.
* * * *
Sylvia and I peeped into three of the upstairs rooms and found an unoccupied guest room, a room filled with boxes, and the master suite. Tastefully done in earth tones, the room’s color scheme matched the adjoining bathroom perfectly. My heels clicked on the heated marble floor, and I enviously eyeballed the warming towel racks. The jetted tub was larger than my kitchen.
“Would you look at this?” Sylvia exclaimed as she scanned the bathroom. “There’s a chandelier in the bathroom, for crying out loud!”
I gazed at the fixture in question and silently admitted it seemed a bit excessive. What else could be expected from people who hosted a Monday night soirée?
We peered in the medicine cabinets (hey, if you’re going to snoop, you might as well go the whole hog), but found nothing of interest. The typical hodgepodge of makeup, cough syrup, Band-aids, and antibacterial ointment as well as antidepressants prescribed to Alessandra Kline. She probably shot them back with a vodka martini while lying on a chaise ogling the shirtless pool man. No wait, that’s my fantasy. We shut the bathroom door and exited the master suite. Still no sign of the tour group, thank goodness.
“Well, what do you think?” I asked Sylvia.
“I’m glad I don’t have to clean this place,” Sylvia said. She walked to the next door and jiggled the knob. “It’s locked. I bet all the good stuff is in here.”
“Just what is the good stuff, Sylvie?”
“You know, whips, chains, dismembered body parts. Haven’t you ever read a mystery novel?”
I had, but I didn’t think we’d find any of that in the Kline residence. More accurately, I hoped we wouldn’t because I had no idea what I would do in case of such a discovery. There are certain things you really don’t want to know about the people in your neighborhood, Mr. Rogers aside.
“What are they like, Sylvie?” I asked, hoping for something to refute the American Psycho images flip booking in my head.
“Old money, definitely old money.”
“What makes you say that?”
Sylvia tapped her finger against her cheek. “Just a vibe I get. The wife seems pleasant enough, even if her nose is perpetually up in the air. But the husband, well, I only had a glimpse of him. They have that ‘I’m above all this’ aura, you know?”
I really didn’t. Sylvia was an expert when it came to things like aura and cosmic vibrations, but I remained too firmly planted in reality, worrying about making credit card payments and such.
Sylvia gave the door handle one last jiggle and grunted in frustration. “I guess we aren’t destined to discover what’s behind door number four.”
“You might ask me to unlock it,” a deep male tenor broke in.
We both jumped.
“Oh, Mr. Kline!” Sylvia smiled and composed herself, while I wondered if I could force my heart to start up again.
Our host was average height with thick salt-and-pepper hair and a push-broom gray mustache. Amusement lit his extremely pale blue eyes set in a deeply tanned face that would put George Hamilton to shame. “We had heard mention of a tour and we were looking for you and your wife—”
Mr. Kline raised a hand and smirked at Sylvia. “No need for explanations, my dear. Curiosity is very natural. Speaking of which….” He gave a pointed glance my way.
“Oh, forgive me, Mr. Kline,” Sylvia said, waving a hand in my general direction. “This is my friend and neighbor, Maggie Phillips. Maggie, this is Mr. Douglass Kline.”
Mr. Kline extended a hand to me, and I shook it. “Please, I insist you call me Doug. Maggie Phillips, you say? Any relation to Ralph and Laura Phillips?”
“They’re my in-laws,” I told him.
“Ah, well, you have my sympathies, my dear.” He smiled at what must have been a bemused expression on my face. “I had the misfortune of crossing your father-in-law in court a few years back, and well, let’s just say his reputation is well deserved.”
Ralph Phillips was reputed to be a barracuda in piranha’s clothing. He’d put several large companies out of business in the years I’d been married to Neil and he loved to regale us with stories of what a large chunk he took out of each adversary. I figured Mr. Kline had been fortunate he hadn’t met up with my mother-in-law instead. At least this way he still had both his testes.
“I guess we should make an effort to find the rest of the tour,” Sylvia said.
Mr. Kline—Doug as he insisted we call him—smiled and extracted a ring of keys from his pocket. “You ladies wouldn’t want to run off before you satisfy your curiosity.” The twist of his lips appeared more dark and frightening than amused, and I gulped as I remembered the old adage about curiosity killing the cat.
“Really, it’s fine,” I said, but he held open the door, and my feet propelled me forward, Sylvia a beat behind me. Apparently, the cats were too dumb to live.
Sylvia stepped through the doorway first, her blonde hair shimmering in the artificial light from a few bright wall sconces. A large oak desk stood sentinel in front of an enormous bay window. Moonlight poured in and cast eerie shadows over the stone flooring. That’s where normality ended.
The room would have been perfectly set in a feudal castle, complete with a giant stone fireplace and a bearskin rug draped on the stone hearth. Sylvia gulped. She’d noted the head was still attached. Sylvia is a vegan as well as an animal rights activist, and I understood it took a great deal of self-restraint to hold back the tirade on cruelty to animals. My attention remained fixed on cruelty of another sort.
“Is that an Iron Maiden?” I wasn’t referring to a member of the notorious British metal band.
Doug stepped toward the object in question and opened one of the wardrobe-like doors, allowing us to see the lethal metal spikes on the inside.
“Beautiful, isn’t she?” He reached out and lovingly stroked the lifeless face.
The closest I had ever come to seeing one of these things was at Bruce Wayne’s house as a secret entrance to his bat cave. I’d studied some medieval history and found it disturbingly ironic that a hero like Batman hid his lair beneath a trap door originally designed to efficiently dispose of torture victims.
“What is an Iron Maiden?” Sylvia’s gaze stayed fixed on the snarling bear head.
I looked to our host, hoping he would field that one. My throat was completely dry, and I began sweating like an old Chris Farley skit.
Doug snapped his fingers, and Sylvia’s gaze darted from the rug to him. “That is an Iron Maiden. To be precise, that is a replica of the Iron Maiden from Nuremberg castle which was destroyed in WWII during the air raids.”
Doug locked stare for stare with me. “It is said that the condemned criminals in Nuremberg would pass through seven rooms with seven doors before confronting this anthropomorphic death chamber.” He giggled. “It’s actually quite brilliant as far as psychological maneuvering. You confront the face of serenity before entering the wardrobe and having the knives skewer your eyes, shoulders, arms, chest, belly, bladder, buttocks, and legs. No wonder more than a few prisoners confessed when faced with her form.”
My hand roamed subconsciously over all of the body parts he had described.
“Would you like to go inside?” Vincent Price’s long lost brother asked me.
“Um, I’ll pass on that. Thanks.” I took a step back out of self-preservation, cravenly putting Sylvia between myself and the madman.
Doug Kline’s full-throated chortle wrapped around me like a python, and I winced as a shaft of moonlight caught the serene expression on the face of the Madonna.
“It’s only a mock-up, my dear.” Kline reached forward and flicked one of the spikes. To my surprise, it wobbled. “You see, the ‘spikes’ are actually made of rubber. The only affliction one would suffer in here would be a severe case of claustrophobia.” He laughed again like it was perfectly normal to enjoy something which induced so much terror and pain.
I looked around, hoping to see something, anything, which would take my mind off of the disturbing fascination our host showed with horrific death. No such luck, since the alcoves in the wall held an assortment of other metal, wood, and leather objects that I’d previously only seen in textbook sketches of the Inquisition.
Doug closed the wardrobe door and bypassed Sylvia to stand next to me. “You must think me strange, surrounding myself with implements of torture.”
Oddly enough, strange hadn’t even entered my head. Psychotic, unbalanced, on a holiday from Bedlam on the other hand….
“The purpose of this room is to constantly remind me of the duality of human nature. Think of the pure genius it took to create all this. The hours spent designing each item until it could inflict the ultimate amount of pain. Now, think of what might have been achieved centuries earlier if these minds had been put to more constructive use. Man may have had automobiles in the eighteenth century, and today we could possess molecular transporters like on Star Trek. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?”
Well, I was boggled, sure as shootin’. Doug Kline stared at me; the deep charcoal ring around his pale blue irises held me hypnotized. He’s a vampire! My mind screamed. Run before he has you in his power!
“There you are!”
My hero to the rescue! I turned. Neil and a painfully slim woman swathed in a crimson wrap dress stood in the doorway. A gold turban adorned her head, so I couldn’t be sure of her hair color. She might be bald, for all I knew. Her face was wrinkle-free, but her eyes held a pinched look. I estimated her age somewhere between thirty-five and ninety. She reminded me of a constipated version of Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s Island.
Doug cleared his throat. “Ladies, allow me to present Alessandra Kline, my wife.”
“We’ve met.” Sylvia stepped forward. “Mrs. Kline, this is my friend, Maggie Phillips.”
Mrs. Kline quirked an eyebrow at Neil. “Your wife?” she asked in a disbelieving tone.
I sighed. Her surprise was a very common reaction, and I’d ceased being offended years ago. Really, I had.
Neil smiled and placed a protective arm around my shoulder. “My better half.”
I resisted the urge to elbow him in the side, even though he laid it on a bit thick. “I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Mrs. Kline. You have a lovely home.”
Alessandra Kline waved off the compliment. “You should have seen our house on Martha’s Vineyard. It was truly something to behold.” She sighed wistfully. “This place will be passable as soon as I find a reliable cleaning service.”
My eyebrows headed north at the odd comment. The house appeared immaculate, and I have very high standards. I’d been raised in a home where cleanliness meant godliness, and the state of the Kline’s house was piety incarnate.
“Shall we head back to the gathering?” Doug asked, crowding his wife, Neil, and me at the doorway. His jubilation at his little den o’ horrors had evaporated as soon as Neil and Mrs. Kline had joined the scene and he quickly ushered us all out before relocking the seventh circle of hell. Mrs. Kline had yet to remark on her husband’s odd collection, but then again, she might’ve had a shed full of Dalmatian puppies and a new fur coat design out back.
What a pair.
“Who does your cleaning now, Mrs. Kline?” Sylvia asked.
“Oh, some dreadful woman from an agency was sent in. She overlooked the grout in the bathroom tiles, and I swear I can see bacteria forming in the kitchen sink.”
I guess Mrs. Kline had never heard of Lysol.
“You know, Maggie is fastidious about cleaning. Her house puts me to shame every time I visit, and she has two growing boys living there,” Sylvia chirped.
I shot her a death glare behind our host's backs as we descended to the first floor. What was she insinuating?
“Is that right?” Mrs. Kline couldn’t have been less interested if Sylvia had announced that NASCAR was coming to town.
“You’ve been talking about going back to work, haven’t you, Maggie?” Sylvia sent me a pointed glance.
“Yes, but I really haven’t had time for—”
“How about we kill two birds with one stone here?” Sylvia interrupted.
“I’m going to get us some drinks.” Neil retreated to safer ground. I’d never accuse him of running away, but my husband is no fool. He probably didn’t want to get Sylvia’s blood spatter on his new suit.
I opened my mouth to respond, but my boys chose that moment to tear through a crowd of people, who cursed and spilled their drinks.
“Mom!” Josh squealed as he rushed forward. “She’s chasing us!”
“Who?” I asked. Kenny collided with Josh. I caught them both and actually managed to keep my balance.
“Her!” The boys pointed through the crowd. A beautiful, barefoot redhead in a chic, turquoise silk pants suit raced through the drawing-room after my monsters. She carried sling back shoes in one perfectly manicured hand, slowed as she approached us, and seemed oblivious to the stares of the entire gathering. The men’s eyes widened with appreciation, while the women’s narrowed, murderous with disgust and envy.
“Francesca!” Mrs. Kline snapped at the newcomer. “Your behavior is completely inappropriate. What on Earth do you think you are doing?”
Francesca flipped a scarlet tress off her glistening forehead. “Having fun, Sandra. You should try it sometime.” She turned her back on a seething Mrs. Kline and smiled at me.
“Francesca Carmichael, but please call me Frannie.” She extended the hand that wasn’t clutching her shoes.
“Maggie Phillips. I’m pleased to meet you, Frannie.”
“Phillips?” Are you related to the beefcake with the stellar glutes?
That would be Neil and his butt. I nodded. “He’s my husband.”
Frannie didn’t look surprised in the slightest, which soothed my battered pride.
“Your boys are adorable. I could eat them up.” She eyed me more closely. “They seem to take after your husband.”
How right she was. “They’re his children from his first marriage.” Don’t ask me why I felt the need to clarify this. I’d raised Kenny from infancy and Josh from diapers, and in every way that counted, the boys belonged to me.
Her smile appeared genuine and made her even more strikingly beautiful.
Here’s the thing about gorgeous people. You can easily separate them into two categories. First, there are the nice ones, who will mingle with us mere mortals without condescension. They’re the types who are beautiful inside and out like a double-layer chocolate cake. Then, there are attractive people who believe their looks set them apart from the rest of us. I call them the cow pies because the golden-brown exterior doesn’t make up for the fact that they’re filled with their own….
“Francesca is my sister,” Mrs. Kline’s disapproving tone cut across my inner monologue.
Sylvia didn’t miss a beat. “Well then, Francesca, you can talk your sister into hiring Maggie here to be her new cleaning service.”
“What!” Conversation dimmed around us, and my outrage took on a banshee-like quality.
“Actually, I think that is a terrific idea,” Francesca said as if she hadn’t heard me. For all I knew, my outrage had hit that pitch reserved for dog whistles so perhaps she hadn’t.
Mrs. Kline eyeballed me with that same expression Neil had when picking out major appliances: concern for efficiency overridden by boredom.
“Sylvie, could I speak to you for a moment, over there?” I jerked my head toward an unoccupied corner. Good thing she hadn’t started this when we stood in Mr. Kline’s office because I felt the need for a torture device or two.
“Come on, Maggie, this place needs a little livening up.” Frannie tossed back her head and gave Mrs. Kline a knowing look. “Sandra, you know you will never be satisfied with that cleaning service because they can’t get here until after ten and they won’t work weekends. Maggie here is perfect. She could be, like, on call for you.”
I sputtered at the indignity. An on-call cleaning lady? What the hell was that? A maid? A freaking business degree in hand and these people wanted me to scrub their toilets?
“You know, Francesca, you should really settle your own affairs before nosing into mine,” Mrs. Kline said a little too sweetly.
“Truly, Sandra, I have no interest in your affairs.” The double entendre hung in the air, punctuated by Frannie’s arched eyebrow. We were in a seriously hot passive-aggressive kill zone, and I looked frantically around for Neil and the kids, hoping to make my excuses and leave this mental institution before someone showed up with the straightjackets and decided I fit right in.
Mrs. Kline had taken over my irate sputtering, and I wondered if a vein throbbed between my eyes when I did that. Her anger overruled her Botox treatments, and I thought I saw some fine lines.
“My dear, is something wrong?” Doug Kline put a hand on his wife’s shoulder, and she snapped her mouth closed. Her gaze shot Scud missiles at Frannie before turning to me.
“Be here Thursday at nine sharp.”
Maggie Phillips is beyond ready to have her new baby so life can get back to normal. Unfortunately, “normal” for the laundry hag is a relative term. When a neighbor goes missing, Neil begs his wife to stay out of it and focus on the upcoming labor and delivery. Maggie can’t help but poke around into the man’s life out of habit and curiosity. But when the neighbor’s body is discovered stuffed into his own freezer and his wife and new baby also go missing, it’s up to the very pregnant laundry hag to clean house and get to the bottom of yet another misadventure, even if the killer is closer to home than she ever imagined.
Murder, scandal and industrial strength juicers. What more could a pregnant sleuth need to catch a killer?
Bun in the Oven is the fifth entry in the Misadventures of the Laundry Hag mystery series. If you like relatable characters, family dysfunction, and laugh-out-loud humor, then you’ll love Jennifer L. Hart’s latest installment.
Includes Skeletons in the Closet, Swept Under the Rug, All Washed Up and Hung out to Dry!