Wanna sneak peek of my new Charlie Kingsley Mystery series?
Keep reading for a a brand new Halloween short story, A Grave Error, that’s now available for MPW Virtual Book Club members.
What does it take to become a member? Why it’s free! All of you have to do is create an account.
The Charlie Kingsley Mysteries is a fun, twisty spin-off series from my award-winning Secrets of Redemption series featuring “Aunt Charlie.” The first book The Murder Before Christmas is available to preorder and has a release date of Nov 9.)
The phone rang, jerking me out of sound sleep.
I fumbled for the receiver, the blood roaring in my ears, fighting the immediate panic. Was it Annabelle calling with some sort of terrible family news? Did something happen to my niece or nephews?
“Charlie? It’s Dana.”
I blinked in confusion, so sure I was going to hear the voice of my sister on the other end of the line that I didn’t know how to process the new information. “Dana?” I asked cautiously, my voice thick with sleep as I glanced at my clock radio. “It’s two in the morning.”
“I know it’s late, but it’s an emergency.”
“Emergency? What kind of emergency?”
“It’s Cyndi. She was attacked …” Here, Dana paused. “… by a gargoyle.”
“A gargoyle?” I was searching my memories for anything gargoyle-related in Redemption, but the only thing coming to mind were the statues in the graveyard. “How was she ‘attacked’ by a gargoyle? Did it fall on her?”
She breathed hard through her nose. “It’s too complicated to explain. Just come over. And bring your bag.”
“My … what are you talking about?”
“You know, your bag with all your medicines in it.”
“My what? I don’t have medicine. I have teas.”
“Oh, you know what I mean. Just come over. Hurry!”
“Dana, I’m not a doctor,” I said, but I was talking to a dial tone. She had hung up.
I replaced the receiver, trying to get my head around what just happened. I looked over at Midnight, my black cat, curled up next to me in bed. He stared back at me, his green eyes glowing faintly in the dark room.
“I grow herbs and flowers,” I said to Midnight. “I make teas. Sometimes, I make tinctures. Since when do gardeners and tea and tincture makers get emergency middle-of-the-night phone calls?”
Midnight’s tail twitched, disrupting the covers.
“Am I really supposed to show up at my client’s house at two in the morning with a bag full of herbs?”
His gaze didn’t waver.
“This is ridiculous,” I said. “I should call her back and tell her I’m not coming. I can go see her and her daughter in the morning.”
Midnight yawned, showing an impressive array of teeth. I could almost hear his response in my head.
But there are gargoyles, Charlie.
I sighed and flung the covers back.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” I muttered as I headed for the bathroom.
I splashed cold water on my face, more to wake myself up than to wash it, and stared at myself in the mirror. My hair, which was a color somewhere between blonde and brown, was every which way. I sighed again, grabbing a comb to try and straighten it out. It always became unmanageable when it rained, and late October in Wisconsin offered a surprising amount of it. Frustrated, I gave up and pulled it back in a ponytail.
I studied myself, wondering if I should take the time to put on some makeup. Dark circles ringed my hazel eyes, but more concerning were the tiny crow’s feet that were starting to fan out from my temples. I was only thirty-two, way too young to start seeing the marks of age on my face. Yet there they were.
On the other hand, it was the middle of the night, and I was doing a favor for a client. Why I should be concerned about my appearance was beyond me. Disgusted, I snapped off the bathroom light and headed over to my closet.
I pulled on jeans and a University of Wisconsin sweatshirt, then collected my purse, keys, and bag of herbs. Shaking my head, I headed for my car.
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