Bow wow big house, p.1
Bow Wow Big House, page 1part #4 of Country Cottage Mystery Series
Bow Wow Big House
Country Cottage Mysteries 4
Hollis Thatcher Press, LTD.
Preview: Murder Bites
Preview: Cutie Pies and Deadly Lies
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Hollis Thatcher Press, LTD.
Copyright © 2019 by Addison Moore, Bellamy Bloom
This novel is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to peoples either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, places, and characters are figments of the author’s imagination. The author holds all rights to this work. It is illegal to reproduce this novel without written expressed consent from the author herself.
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Copyright © 2019 by Addison Moore, Bellamy Bloom
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My name is Bizzy Baker, and I can read minds. Not every mind, not every time, but most of the time, and believe me when I say, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
A doggie fashion show is afoot at the local shelter and hopefully each cute pooch will find a home to call their own. I’ve been enlisted to help out with the endeavor and I’m more than happy to do it. But trouble seems to follow me wherever I go and that body I stumbled upon quickly complicates everything. Not to mention a certain someone is determined to out my ability to read minds, and this time, they just might succeed.
Bizzy Baker runs the Country Cottage Inn, has the ability to pry into the darkest recesses of both the human and animal mind, and has just stumbled upon a body. With the help of her kitten, Fish, a mutt named Sherlock Bones, and an ornery yet dangerously good-looking homicide detective, Bizzy is determined to find the killer.
Cider Cove, Maine is the premier destination for fun and relaxation. But when a body turns up, it’s the premier destination for murder.
The Country Cottage Inn is known for its hospitality. Leaving can be murder.
My name is Bizzy Baker, and I can read minds. Not every mind, not every time, but it happens, and believe me when I say, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Like say now for instance.
If there’s one thing I detest more than whimpering canines, it’s that concoction the caterers are threatening me with. My God, did they bake roaches into those treats?
I gasp as I inadvertently listen in on the thoughts of the woman before me. Not only did she request that the Country Cottage Café cater platters of brownies to the fundraiser tonight, but Siena Thompson, the woman whose mind I’m currently prying into, owns and operates the Bow Wow Rescue House right here in Cider Cove. And it’s one of the premier rescue houses in all of Maine.
Emmie Crosby, my lifelong best friend, and I are currently standing in the ballroom of a stately mansion filled with swarms of elegant people dressed to impress one another’s expensive socks off. It’s the night of the big fundraiser set to bring in a nice haul for the rescue shelter, and by the looks of it, every deep pocket in the state has shown up for the event.
Siena Thompson is a tall redhead with a heavy cleft in her chin and beady dark eyes that seem to be scrutinizing just about everyone at the event, and I have no doubt she’s doing exactly that.
I clear my throat. “Hello, Siena, my name is Bizzy Baker, from the Country Cottage Inn, and this is my good friend, Emmie. We’ve got the rocky road brownies you requested for the event. Where would you like us to put them?” I ask, holding up the platter in my hand, laden down with chocolate and marshmallow goodness. They are to die for. I should know, I gobbled down about a half a dozen on the way over.
Siena scowls at the brownies as if they had offended her, before manufacturing a tight-lipped smile.
“Yes, well”—she takes a breath as she straightens—“my assistant, Winnie, must have requested those rather interesting treats. The refreshment table is right over there. Put them wherever you like.”
She waves at a couple who just walked through the door holding an adorable Chihuahua before disappearing into the crowd. And as cute as that Chihuahua is, just about everyone here has a furry little purse puppy with them. A few bigger dogs roam the vicinity as well and every last one of them is better behaved than some of the humans here.
I would have loved to have brought my boyfriend’s dog, Sherlock Bones. He’s a sweet and mild-mannered mutt who would have really got a kick—and a bellyache—from the doggie biscuit bar. Rumor has it, each bone-shaped treat is infused with bacon. Of course, my sweet cat, Fish, would have appreciated it as well, but there are only a small handful of pooches she can tolerate and this venue would have well exceeded her limit.
It’s the night of the big biannual fundraiser to help raise both awareness and finances for the Bow Wow Rescue House. Tickets were listed at fifty dollars a plate and every last one of them sold out almost immediately.
Emmie and I each gladly bought a ticket to support the cause, but we ended up missing dinner because we had to redo a batch of rocky road brownies.
You see, in an effort to lend a helping hand, I decided to make up a batch myself and ended up burning them beyond recognition. They were so thoroughly toasted, you could have swept the ashes up and put them in an urn.
Once again, my lack of culinary acumen showed as bright as that momentary kitchen fire. Come to find out, turning up the temperature isn’t the best way to speed up the baking process. I should have known better than to set foot in the kitchen. Even though my surname is Baker, it’s sort of an irony at this point. As far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to create tasty treats like my cookie-slinging bestie, and all of my life I’ve had to defer to her baking brawn.
Emmie and I share the same long, dark, wavy hair and icy blue eyes. People have mistaken us for sisters for as long as I can remember. We’re both in our late twenties and the similarities don’t end there. We even share the same formal moniker, seeing that Elizabeth is her first name and mine. But in order to evade and avoid confusion, we’ve each happily stuck with our nicknames. And a little Emmie-Bizzy trivia—I was once married to her brother, Jordy, for less than a day. That lapse in judgment involved a drive-thru chapel in Vegas, an Elvis impersonator, and my own brother’s very first case that involved a rush annulment. My brother, Huxley, is a family practice attorney who has garnered a lot of practice from our family alone.
No sooner do we set our platters down on an elegant table covered in white linen than Emmie pulls me close by the arm.
“Would you get a load of this place? It’s so elegant and ritzy and—”
“Haunted.” I nod over at her.
The Chadwick mansion is notorious for two things: the sheer girth and opulence of the residence and the fact a murder took place here over fifty years ago.
“Apparently, Mr. Chadwick, a psychiatrist for the criminally insane, lost his own sanity one night and ended up pushing his wife over the railing fro
Emmie and I glance over at the wrought iron staircase and shiver.
“Geez, Bizzy,” she whispers. “Why did you have to bring that up?”
The Chadwick mansion is expansive inside, pale stone floors, marble entry, and it even boasts of a cavernous ballroom that’s currently ground zero for the charity event this evening. Smooth jazz billows from the speakers as formally dressed waitstaff wander the premises, offering free champagne. There are a bevy of volunteers practically accosting anyone they see in an effort to sell as many raffle tickets as they can in hopes to increase proceeds from tonight’s event. And you really can’t blame them. After all, that is the point of the evening.
“I brought it up because we both know we were thinking it.”
“Not true.” She irons out her navy gown with her hands. “I’m actually making an effort not to think of it. You know I hate the idea of a haunted house. I’m the girl that hides under a pillow on Halloween night. This is all too freaky for me.”
I roll my eyes at that one. “You do not hide under a pillow on Halloween night. You wear the skimpiest costume you can get your hands on and you scour the neighborhood for the sexiest vampire you can—well, get your hands on.”
She belts out a laugh. “There’s no shame in my vampire game.”
“That’s what I like about you, Em. You own up to your neck-sucking ways.”
“I’m not the vampire in the equation, Biz.”
“It’s never stopped you before.”
But it’s not Halloween, and it’s definitely not October. It’s January and we’re smack in the middle of a cold snap. We’ve been breaking snowfall records all across Maine, and it’s even managed to snow on and off right here on the coast—a rarity in and of itself, some might say a miracle.
Tonight, we’ve traded our snow boots for high heels and glorified prom dresses. Both Emmie and I went to the local vintage store and picked up long satin gowns. Hers is a stunning navy with spaghetti straps that crisscross in the back and mine is light pink with a giant black bow seated over my rear end.
“Never mind about the haunted house,” I say, pulling at the neckline on my ill-fitting gown. “I feel ridiculous in this dress. Next time I’m calling tails.”
Emmie and I couldn’t decide who got which dress in the thrift shop since we’re both the same size, and I was on the losing end of a game of rock, paper, scissors, best out of three.
That pretty much sums up how we’ve gone through our decision-making process in life, big or small. Emmie’s paper always covers my rock.
“Ooh, look.” She jabs me in the ribs. “It’s your mom and big sis.”
No sooner do I turn around than my mother and sister, Macy, pop up next to us.
My mother, Ree Baker, is impeccably dressed at all times, and this ritzy venue demands nothing different. Her strawberry blonde hair is feathered and highlighted, her denim blue eyes have a youthful sparkle to them, but it’s that dress with its arrestingly dramatic collar that fans up over her shoulders that steals the show. She practically raised my sister, brother, and me on her own, despite the fact our father was very much still in the picture. Recently, she adopted two sweet kittens, Mistletoe and Holly, which amused my siblings to no end since our mother was never one to own a pet. Macy said they were the perfect crazy cat lady starter set.
“Mom, you look”—an entire dictionary of adjectives swills through my mind, and yet not a one holds water to what I’m actually seeing—“specific.”
Macy, my older and questionably wiser sister, leans in. “I know, right? I tried to tell her Dynasty called and the witches that ruled the wardrobe department want their costume back.”
Emmie and I share a quick cackle at my mother’s expense.
“Ignore her,” I say, pulling my mother in for a hug while giving Macy a quick thumbs-up for the accurate description.
Macy has dark hair—at the roots—and a dark disposition on life in general. And tonight she has on a little black dress to match her sooted soul. Macy owns and operates a soap and candle shop called Lather and Light just down the street from the inn I manage. And tonight she’s donated a large basket of goodies from her shop to be used as one of the many raffle prizes they have here.
“So”—Macy leans in with her eyes wide and wild—“did you hear the big news?”
Emmie looks suspicious as to what my sister might classify as big news. It’s safe to say Macy sees the world through a different set of lenses—and those lenses are usually smudged with a raunchy patina.
“What big news?” Em asks with trepidation.
It’s no news to Emmie or me that Macy is the town gossip. But that’s one of the reasons we love and rely on her. She keeps us in the know.
“Spill it, girl,” I say, and just as we’re about to form a holy huddle, a tornado in a bright red kaftan bursts onto the scene.
The tornado in the red kaftan would be Georgie Conner, an older woman that I seemed to have acquired in one of my father’s many divorces. Georgie was the mother of one of my father’s wives way back when, and even though her daughter did a spontaneous disappearing act, Georgie decided to stick around and I’m glad about it, too. She wears her gray hair long and wild, and tonight she’s donned a thick line of kohl underneath her eyes and a swath of bright red lipstick that matches her gown. There’s a chunky necklace made of rose-colored sea glass that adorns her neck that Georgie herself handcrafted. Georgie is an artist who specializes in mosaics—sea glass just so happens to be her all-time favorite medium. And she just so happens to be one of the few people who knows that I can pry into other people’s minds.
“Not without me!” Georgie spikes a crooked finger in the air. “You girls should know better than to let a secret fly without me here to catch it.” She pulls something out of her multicolored tote bag, and whatever it is she’s wielding looks like a macramé tennis racket. She holds it precariously in the air as if she were about to swat Macy over the face. “It’s a dream catcher, and it’s pretty darn good at catching a secret or two as well. Go ahead.”
Macy closes her eyes a moment. “Touch me with that crooked wand and you’ll be flying right into the atmosphere without your broomstick.”
“Ooh.” Georgie wiggles her fingers. “A murderous threat right in the very house a murderous threat was made good on. Go on. Let’s hear what else your lying lips have to say.”
Macy brushes her off as she leans my way. “Word on the restaurant-lined streets is that la madre here dumped that hot to trot boyfriend of hers.”
“What?” both Emmie and I squawk in unison.
My mother has been dating my own boyfriend’s brother for a few months now—twisted, I know. His name is Maximus, and he’s the owner of a very trendy restaurant out in Seaview that bears the same moniker.
Georgie lets out an egregious groan. “Say it ain’t so, Ree!” She claps her hand over her chest as if she had just been shot.
Mom is quick to wave us off. “It’s true. I just couldn’t take all the late night loving, the early morning affection, the middle of the afternoon—”
I hold up a hand. “We get it.”
Georgie scowls my way. “Bizzy is just jealous because she hasn’t rounded out the bases with her own Wilder yet.”
Macy ticks her head to the side. “I rounded out the bases with two of them.”
She’s not kidding. Macy quickly had her way with Jasper’s other brothers, Dalton and Jamison. That might sound shocking, but Macy has been known to cycle through men like a crop rotation.
She looks to Emmie. “Have you taken Jamison out for a test run yet?”
“I have the right to remain silent.” Emmie makes a zipping motion across her lips.
“Oh no.” I glance to the ceiling and moan. “Et tu, Emmie?” I knew they were dating. I just didn’t know they were mating. And I’m still hoping I’ve read this entire conversation wrong.
“Not me. Jasper is working late, but he’s coming straight here once he’s through.”
“Working late?” Macy offers an amused blink. “Bizzy, it’s Saturday. I think it’s time you put a tracking device on that man.”
I shake my head at the thought. “There’s a huge crime ring the sheriff’s department is looking to break up. Apparently, they’re close. It’s all hands on deck.”
The lights dim before going on and off, much to the delight of the crowd. And soon a spotlight is focused near the front where a familiar brunette stands holding a microphone.
“Hello, everyone. My name is Mayor Woods and I’d like to welcome you to the semiannual fundraiser for the Bow Wow Rescue House.”
A rousing round of applause goes off.
I give a half-hearted clap, but it’s not because I lack any enthusiasm for the cause. It’s more of a lack of enthusiasm for the mayor. As far back as I can remember, Mackenzie Woods was actually one of my best friends, along with Emmie, despite her evident wicked streak. Then somewhere in middle school she pushed me into a whiskey barrel full of water and a few wayward apples ready to be bobbed, and shockingly, she did it just for the heck of it. Four things came from that near drowning.
First, I quickly acquired an unnatural fear of being submerged into both large and small bodies of water—which leads to the second thing, my fear of confined spaces. The third thing that developed was a very real distrust of Mack Woods. And the fourth and final gift she inadvertently gave me that day was the ability to read minds. It’s true. No sooner did I emerge gasping from that whiskey barrel than I started picking up on roving thoughts of those that were around me. But I’ve kept that last part to myself for the most part.
by Addison Moore / Mystery / Romance have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes