I am so excited to announce that Kensington's Lyrical Press has just published A FATAL ROMANCE, the first book in my new Twin Sisters Mysteries!
This series is set in a place I live in and love--South Louisiana's bayou country. The second book, DEAD ON THE BAYOU, is scheduled to come out in August--and I'm writing like crazy on the third, SAVING MOM. (The twins' mother lives in a retirement home.)
Writing these books is fun and difficult and so rewarding once they're done. Here's the opening of A FATAL ROMANCE:
I stood in a rear pew as a petite woman in red stepped into the church carrying an urn and stumbled. She fell forward. Her urn bounced. Its top popped open, and ashes flew. A man’s remains were escaping.
“Oh no!” people cried.
“Jingle bells,” I hummed and tried to control my disorder but could not. Words from the song spewed from my mouth.
“Not now,” my twin Eve said at my ear while ashes sprinkled around us like falling gray snow. She pointed to my jacket’s sleeve and open pocket. “Uh-oh. Parts of him fell in there.”
I saw a few drops like dust on the sleeve and jerked my pocket wider open. Powdery bits lay across the tissue I’d blotted my beige lipstick with right before coming inside St. Gertrude’s. “I think that’s tissue residue,” I said, wanting to convince myself. I grabbed the pocket to turn it inside out.
“Don’t dump that.” Eve shoved on my pocket. “It might be his leg. Or bits of his private parts.”
“Here Comes Santa Claus,” I sang.
She slapped a hand over my mouth. “Hush, Sunny.”
The dead man’s wife shoved up from her stomach to her knees, head spinning toward me like whiplash.
“Sorry,” Eve told her. “My sister can’t help it.”
Beyond the wife, a sixtyish priest and younger one and other people appeared squeamish scooping coarse ashes off seats of the rough-hewn pews. An older version of the wife used a broom and dustpan to sweep ash from the floor. People dumped their findings back into the urn. Other mourners scooted from the church through side doors. A boiled crayfish scent teased my nostrils. Someone must have peeled a few crustaceans for a breakfast omelet and didn’t soap her hands well enough.
Ashes scattered along the worn green carpet like a seed trail to entice birds.
“Look, there’s more of him. I’ll go find a vacuum,” I said.
The widow faced me. “No! Get out.”
“But she’s my sister,” my twin said.
“As if I can’t tell. You leave with her. Go away.” The petite woman wobbled on shiny stilettos, aiming a finger toward the front door.
I sympathized with her before this minute. Now she was ticking me off. I’d been kicked out of places before but never a funeral. “I didn’t really know your husband, but Eve did. I stopped to see if she wanted to go out for lunch, and she asked me to come here first. She said y’all were nice people.”
“We are!” The roots of the wife’s pecan-brown hair were black, I saw, standing toe to toe with her, although my toes were much bigger inside my size ten pumps. I was five eight and a half. She was barely five feet. Five feisty feet. “But you’re not going to suck up parts of my husband’s body in a vacuum bag.” She whipped her pointed finger toward me like a weapon. “And you need to stop singing.”
I wanted to stop but imagined parts of the man that might be sucked into a vacuum cleaner and ripped out a loud chorus, my face burning. Nearby mourners appeared shocked. Mouths dropped open.
“You don’t know my sister,” Eve told the little woman who’d just lost a spouse. Actually, lost him twice. “Sunny can’t help singing when she’s afraid. And that includes anything dealing with sex, courtesy of her ex-husband.”
“What does sex have to do with Zane?” The wife’s cheeks flamed.
Should I tell her about his privates possibly being in my pocket? Second thoughts said not to. “Who knows? But you don’t need to worry. I certainly wasn’t having an affair with your husband,” I said, quieting my song to a hum.
“Just the thought of sex makes her sing,” my sister explained. “Maybe it’s a good thing she doesn’t think of it often.”.
The widow shook her finger. “Zane was always faithful to me.”
“I’m sure he was,” I said, working to get my singing instincts under control. Nodding toward the carpet, I spoke without a hint of a tune. “I’d really like to help you get those pieces of him out of the rug. If we can just find an empty vacuum bag, I’ll—”.
“Go! Get away!”