When single mom and mystery buff Vicki Butler pays a visit to her husband’s grave, she stumbles across the body of her twin sister Liz’s estranged husband—the same brother-in-law she argued with just yesterday. Since Vicki is caught standing next to the body and her sister stands to inherit millions in her dead husband’s will, the twins suddenly find themselves “persons of interest.” Will they identify the real murderer in time to avoid the slammer? Or are they about to learn firsthand just how many innocent people one doghouse can hold?
Excerpt of Inn the Doghouse
CHAPTER ONE Friday, September 28 ~ Morning of the Anniversary Party As the dark-haired woman approached me with a pair of sharp scissors, my apprehension grew. I put up my hands as a signal for her to stop advancing. “I think maybe this is a bad idea.” Behind me, my twin sister, Liz Eklund, put her hands on my shoulders and kept me in the chair, staring at me in the black-edged salon mirror. It was like seeing double. “It’ll be fun. Come on, Vicki. You can’t chicken out now.” Marta, whose hair was trimmed into a sharp-edged, geometric, high-fashion style, drew closer. How could she look so menacing with such pretty blue eyes and a friendly smile? Or sound so ominous with her slight French accent? “You’ll both look stunning when I’m done. I promise.” Shaking my head, I said, “I’ll settle for not scaring off the paying customers.” Liz touched my hair. “Come on, Vicki. You already agreed. And it’s not like you’re the only one changing your look. I’m getting mine cut next.” When Marta lifted a large lock of my shoulder-length red hair, I panicked. “Wait, ladies. Let’s rethink this. Why don’t you just trim my hair and shape it instead? I’m not sure I want to be mistaken for you all the time, Liz.” My sister answered, “Shush, and let Marta do her job. It’s just a haircut.” Marta held up the scissors. “Do I have your permission to proceed?” I wanted to protest again, but really, what could it hurt? For the first time in a long time, I’d have a ritzy haircut. After two years as a single mom, I suppose I needed a makeover. That it would be on Liz’s dime was even better. And where better to show off my new ‘do than at my parents’ anniversary shindig tonight? I blew out a nervous breath, shut my eyes, and nodded. “Okay.” The immediate snip of the scissors startled me and I opened my eyes. Marta held out a five-inch lock of my hair. “Your transformation to stunning beauty has begun.” O-kay. With a big chunk of my hair cut, I had officially passed the point of no return. My indecisiveness came to an end and I sat back, actually feeling relieved. “All right. Transform me.” “That’s the spirit,” Liz said, pulling up a stool to watch. “We’re going to have so much fun at the anniversary party. People won’t know who they’re talking to.” I felt certain she was right about people being confused, and could only hope she was right about how fun it would be. I settled back to enjoy the makeover.
* * *
During a quiet moment between the last notes over the loudspeakers of one love song and the first strains of the next, an ear-splitting shriek rent the air. I jumped, fumbling my plastic cup full of lemonade onto the wooden floor. Heart pounding, I spun around to see who was in trouble. Beside me, Liz laughed, raising her hands up in surprise. “Why, Grandma, what a big yell you have!” That was Grandma? Really? Holy crap, Batman! Sure enough, twenty feet behind me, Grandma Ross was crouched in a martial arts pose, a huge grin on her face—a-hundred-and-plenty (her words) pounds of Chuck Norris readiness—but with streaked blonde hair and many more years under her wannabe-black belt. My parents, Frank and Cheryl Ross, were seated at the far end of the large, rectangular room, waiting to greet the many friends and family members who came to help them celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Mom shook her head and Dad smiled at the antics of his mother. My seven-year-old son, Zach, who was standing by my mother, grinned. Surprised by Grandma’s yell, others in the church’s large gym-decorated-as-wedding-reception turned to stare at us. Just twenty minutes into the party, there were already enough well-wishers to form a line hugging a long side wall, all craning their necks to see what was happening while waiting to congratulate our parents. And all were looking our way. For once, could we not be the center of attention? Apparently not, with my grandmother around. I just wanted a nice celebration for my parents; a nice, uneventful evening without karate yells or any high jinks. They didn’t have a big wedding or reception when they got married, so we intended to create a nice reception for them now. I thought we’d succeeded quite nicely so far. Ha! Enter Grandma. This morning’s dramatic haircut didn’t help matters any, either. I was already mistaken for Liz twice—the first time by my own son! Ouch.