Happy Birthday, Rona Shively!

Today is a special day! Not only is it the birthday of my favorite character in the world, it is the day I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and publish the first chapter of the eleventh book in the series on Kindle Vella, The Harder They Fall! I struggled with the idea for a while, but then realized that there was no better way to get myself in gear than to just jump right in and start sharing. I realize that for those who’ve never read Rona, there will be some big spoilers in book 11, but I’m hoping it won’t deter them from going back to read the earlier books. Consider them a prequel to a new era for Rona. She’s 55 today, so why not throw caution to the wind?

It will be good to have her back! I’ll have the link for you soon. It’s being processed as we speak, so in the meantime, if you haven’t caught up on books one through ten, now would be a great time. All are available in the HGBM Shop, on Amazon, and on Audible! http://www.highergroundbooksandmedia.com/shop

P.S. – Wishing a very happy birthday to my aunts Betty & Bonnie today! Hope they have a wonderful day! Ladies like these inspire me to keep writing empowering stories like the Rona Shively Stories. Love you ladies!

And the Grand Prize goes to…

Karen Docter! She submitted a guess for one of the earlier mini-mysteries and although she didn’t win a weekly contest, she is now the winner of a great prize package including a $20 gift card for Barnes & Noble, autographed copies of my books, In the Wash, Under Lock and Key and the collection of short mysteries featured in this contest, A Little Bit of Murder! Congratulations to Karen!

To order a copy of A Little Bit of Murder: Short mysteries to confuse and amuse, you can check out my storefront at Lulu.com! It’s only $10.95 and makes the perfect gift for the mystery lover in your life! Order your copy today!

As for this week’s mini-mystery winner, well…no one guessed it! So, here’s what happened:

In the meantime, it was discovered that Marguerite had left the kids at her mother’s and came back to town to check up on things. She had arrived at the condo to find a strange woman sitting in her living room reading over contracts. Before the woman could explain what she was doing there, Marguerite had screamed at her telling her to get out of her house. The woman, flustered at the attack, tried to tell Marguerite that Ted had gone across the street to check on something. She was finally able to tell her that the police had asked him to identify a body or something. Marguerite had turned white as a sheet and headed over to the apartment to see what was going on. The coroner’s wagon was parked in front of the apartment building where the attendants were loading a body into the back. She asked them who it was and they told her that they couldn’t give details. She started to go into the apartment building, but was stopped by an officer at the door.

“What happened here?” she asked, “My husband was brought over here to identify a body, I think?”

“Who are you, ma’am?” the officer asked her.

“I’m Marguerite Halford, I live across the street,” she said, pointing to her condo.

The officer radioed someone and then told her that she could go on up. When she got to the apartment, she saw the blood on the kitchen floor. She saw Ted standing there talking with the police officers and she ran toward him. He hugged her and then asked her what she was doing there. “Where are the kids?” he asked. He hadn’t wanted them to know what had happened to Grace. She told him that she had gotten all the way to her mother’s and that Sam had been crying for his blanket. She told her mother that she would get the blanket and come back so that they could spend the rest of the weekend with her. Ted thought this was strange, but he let it pass.

“Did Grace know Tess?” he asked Marguerite.

“I don’t know, I don’t think so,” she said, trying to conceal her nervousness.

“The victim had one of your credit cards on her when we found her,” an officer told Marguerite.

“One of my credit cards?” Marguerite asked, feigning surprise, “What was she doing with that?”

“Good question,” the officer said. “How long had she worked for you?”

“Oh, she’s been with us about three years,” she answered.

“Did you ever have a problem with anything coming up missing before?” he asked.

Marguerite was silent for a moment and then said, “No, not that I’m aware of. You don’t think she stole the card. Surely there’s an explanation.”

“If there is, we’ll probably never know it now,” the officer said, shaking his head.

The police officer gave Ted and Marguerite permission to leave the scene and the two of them headed back across the street to their condo. Marguerite called her mother to let her know what had happened and that she would be back as soon as she could. Ted called his client, who had left the minute Marguerite had gone across the street. He needed to smooth things over with her so that the boat sale wouldn’t fall through. They had sat there, looking at each other for several moments when Ted said, “What the hell was she doing over there?”

Marguerite just shook her head. She said, “She was such a sweet girl, who could have done this to her?”

The two of them decided that Marguerite should go back to stay with the kids and that Ted would join them tomorrow afternoon once he had finished working on the boat deal from earlier this evening. They spent the next few days trying to figure out how to tell the kids that Grace wouldn’t be coming back. After that, Marguerite started looking for a new sitter. She and Ted had been getting along very well and she had since given up on the notion that he had been cheating on her. It was still nagging at her a little, but she wasn’t as worried about proving it now.

Weeks later, the investigation revealed that the killer had been female. The fingerprints on the blood-soaked package had belonged to none other than Marguerite Halford. When she was interrogated, she revealed to the police that she had found evidence that Grace had been sleeping with her husband, Ted. The evidence she was referring to was the pair of lacy underwear that she had shown Grace just weeks before. She had talked the girl into taking the pictures knowing that there would be no visitors because she thought Grace had been having an affair with him while she was working at their home. Knowing that Tess’s ex-boyfriend James was still a known threat and that people would most likely think that he had broken in and killed Grace by mistake she had taken the kids to her mother’s at noon that day and then came back to Tess’s apartment. She figured that once she was alone in the apartment with her, she would confront Grace about her relationship with Ted. The gift had contained the pair of underwear that she assumed Grace had left at her house. A small card had been tucked inside and it had read, “I know it was you, bitch.” She had planned this big elaborate confrontation where Grace would open the package and then she would attack her, but when it came down to it, she had lost her nerve and acted out of rage. She had planned to take the camera and the gift with her when she left the apartment, but she had been so flustered that she ran out of the apartment without the camera or the gift. She was further enraged when she realized that there was a strange car outside her condo and that it appeared that Ted had a different woman in her home that night. She had been wrong on all counts.

Grace hadn’t been having an affair with Ted. The underwear had in fact, been a gift for Marguerite. Ted had wanted to spice up their love life by buying her some fancy lingerie. He hadn’t wrapped them because he had wanted to slip them into her dresser drawer along with a rose on Valentine’s Day. He had tucked them under the mattress on his side of their bed thinking that she’d never look there. It just so happened that she was flipping the mattress when she discovered them. Poor Grace had been killed for no reason. Her instincts about Ted had been right; he wasn’t having an affair at all.

Marguerite was sentenced to life in prison and Ted, well; he started dating his neighbor, Tess just six months after Marguerite went to jail.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s mini-mystery and the last few weeks of the contest. I’ll be doing this again in a few months, but for now, keep checking back for news and contests! Thanks for playing!