Saturday September 19 11:00 AM / 10:00c

This Old Homicide: A Fixer Upper Mystery Book Excerpt - Chapter 1

But no, the other women recognized that Whitney and Jennifer were there to make our lives miserable. The two newcomers questioned every decision and ridiculed every new idea. What made it worse was that the twosome had joined right before Christmas, which really put a damper on our holiday spirits. More recently they drove one of the women to tears after she suggested a Valentine fashion show for dogs and cats with prizes for each category. I thought it was a super idea and the perfect way to entertain the kids in attendance and many of the adults, too. Especially the ones with pets, like me. But Jennifer’s groans and Whitney’s eye rolls gave a clear indication of their opinion.

Once those two left the meeting, though, Jane assured the rest of us that the pet fashion show was a brilliant idea and would definitely go forward. Right then and there, we began brainstorming some funny categories and prizes for the show.

Jane ran into another problem when she was handing out assignments for the Valentine’s Day Festival. She’d asked Whitney and Jennifer to take charge of lining up vendors for the food booths. They had simply refused, claiming they were too busy shopping for Christmas presents. They weren’t too busy to complain, of course. Finally Jane was left with no choice but to insist that they resign from the committee, but they refused that, too! They just kept showing up week after week, annoying everyone with their negative vibe.

It didn’t make sense to any normal person. But then, their animosity toward me and the town in general had never made sense.

Jane had recently resorted to scheduling secret meetings with everyone on the committee attending except Whitney and Jennifer. We were finally able to get some work done and recapture the camaraderie and fun we’d had before the other two joined the group. Of course, we were forced to keep the meetings hush-hush for fear of reprisals. Nobody wanted to suffer the wrath of Whitney.

Naturally the entire town had heard about the committee’s discord, but so far, nobody had found out about the secret meetings. And they never would, if I could help it.

I pasted an innocent smile on my face and looked up at Cindy. “Yes, Whitney and Jennifer have joined the group and we’re all getting along great. This year’s Valentine’s Festival is going to be the best one ever.”

“So the bickering I’ve heard about is just an ugly rumor?” she persisted. “I’m not sure I believe that.”

“It’s true,” I said jovially, waving the idea away. “It was a little shaky at first, but now we’re all buddies.”

“Huh. Wonder where that rumor came from,” she muttered as she walked back to the kitchen.

Oh, I knew exactly where it came from, I thought, my teeth clenched in frustration. The mean girls themselves. But I continued to smile at everyone who was listening and they all smiled back with great relief. Nobody wanted the festival to be a disaster.

I finally gazed down at my breakfast of fluffy French toast drenched in syrup and butter, and bacon. Oh, and fruit. Pineapple chunks, blueberries, and strawberries, all made even better by the presence of syrup.

I should’ve been blissfully stuffing myself by now, dredging each thick, luscious bite through the melted goodness of syrup and butter. But I’d lost my appetite. I couldn’t even down my second cup of coffee. And for that alone, I would never forgive Whitney Gallagher and Jennifer Bailey.

An hour later, after assuring Dad and Uncle Pete that I wasn’t sick with some horrible stomach ailment that had caused me to lose interest in food, I headed home to get ready for work. I had a meeting with the Planning Commission at ten o’clock, so I would have to dress a little nicer today than usual. Not that I didn’t dress nicely all the time, but let’s face it. I worked on construction sites. Most of the time, my wardrobe choices weren’t complicated.