Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog. Today we're joining the Book Hooks Blog Hop sponsored by the Marketing For Romance Writers Group. Each participating blogger shares an excerpt from their book. Today, I share an excerpt from my cozy mystery with a touch of the paranormal, Deadly Undertaking.
|Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose |
Lauren Staab knew there would be dead bodies around when she returned home. After all, her family is in the funeral business, Staab and Blood Funeral Home. Still, finding an extra body on the floor of the garage between the hearse and the flower car shocked her. Lauren’s plan to return to her hometown to help care for her mother and keep the books for the funeral home suddenly turns upside down in a struggle to prove she and her family are not guilty of murdering the man. But will the real killer return for her, her dad, her brother? Her mother’s secrets, a killer, a handsome policeman, and a shadow man muddle up her intention to have a simple life. Welcome home, Lauren!
Excerpt: Lauren is just locking up the funeral home after the family leaves after a visitation
After checking with the family about the arrangements for tomorrow’s service, Lauren accompanied them to the door and said good-night. She closed the heavy oak door with inlaid bevel glass and locked it. She turned her back and leaned against it for a minute. Sighing with relief, she pulled off her shoes and wiggled her toes. How delightful.
A knock on the door jump-started her heart. She whirled around to discover a figure distorted by the beveled glass of the door. Could he be the killer? She hesitated to open the door.
“Hey, Lauren. It’s me, Gary.”
Lauren recognized his muffled voice through the door and quickly unlocked it. She smiled when she saw him. Gone were his Harry Potter glasses she remembered from high school and his brown eyes sparkled in the hallway light. Funny she’d never noticed his eyes before. Dressed in his police officer’s uniform, he towered over her by at least six inches.
“Come on in. Oh my goodness, but you scared me,” she exclaimed with her hand over her heart.
“Sorry. I thought you’d seen me walking up on the porch. Of course, there was a crowd of people coming out of the house.” He looked her over from head to toe. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Glad you’re here. Are you on official business?”
“Well, yeah, kind of. I thought I’d check the house inside. With the people attending the wake tonight, anyone could slip in and not be noticed.”
Lauren’s jaw dropped. “Are you serious? Someone could?” She put her hand over her mouth. “I never gave it a thought.”
She shivered as she imagined what could happen. Gary reached for her shoulders and leaned down to face her.
“I’m sorry if I frightened you, but we have to be honest and face the reality here. You and your family could be in danger.” He gently squeezed her shoulders. “You’re alone here now, huh?”
“Oh, sure, but I’m planning to lock up and get out of here. Been a long day.”
“I see.” He looked down at her bare feet. “Seems like the last time I saw you, you weren’t wearing shoes.” He grinned.
“I think it would be a good idea to have someone here with you at all times. Seeing a single car parked out there is a giveaway that you’re alone here. And we still haven’t apprehended…“.
Lauren held up her palm. “Okay, okay. I get the message. But I’m not some shrinking violet.”
Gary’s eyes narrowed, and he stepped away from her. “Of course you’re not, but you have to take care of yourself. You don’t need to prove how brave you are or offer any opportunity for someone to take advantage of a situation. You could be in extreme danger.”
“That’s what I thought we had you guys for, to protect us.” She folded her arms across her chest.
Locking his gaze on her, he said, “We can’t always be in the right place at the right time. So don’t give the bad guys any openings, okay?”
“Duly noted, Officer.” She could hear the concern in his voice, and she liked it.
“Got time for a cup of coffee? I’ll make some fresh while you check out the house.”
“That sounds good. Let me take a look around.”
“Great. I’ll meet you in the family room. That’s where the coffee pot is.” He walked through the living room, checking for some creepy guy hiding behind the curtains she supposed.
Lauren hummed as she made yet another pot of coffee, but this time it was for her and Gary. She was looking forward to chatting with him and catching up.
As she measured the water into the carafe, the temperature in the room dropped, and she sneezed three times, a sure sign Henry was lurking nearby.
“Hi Henry.” She never turned away from the counter. “Nice of you to wait till the family left for the evening. But Gary’s here now. No need for you to stay around, right?” Lauren caught his shadow out of the corner of her eye.
“I guess you’re right. Bad timing on my part. I don’t want to interrupt your rendezvous with your old sweetheart.” Henry bowed low, then stood and leaned on his umbrella.
Lauren chuckled as she faced Henry straight on. “Gary’s not an old sweetheart. He was a good friend in high school though. We were very close especially since he could work out those trig problems for me.”
“Oh, I guess I was mistaken. I thought you two were a couple.”
“Say what?” She wrinkled her nose at the thought. She and Gary, a couple? She put her finger to her chin to think about that. Well, he does look pretty sharp in his uniform, broad shoulders, and those eyes. Somehow the nerdy boy with the big glasses and zitty face had evolved into a muscular cop.
Henry interrupted her thoughts. “How was your mother today?”
“About the same. Still confused. But she remembers me, Henry. I’m hanging on to that. She still remembers me, but she doesn’t remember that Dad goes every day to visit her. I wonder if she doesn’t know him.”
“Oh, sorry, Lauren.” Was that Gary’s voice?
Lauren spun around to see him standing in the doorway. As he walked into the room, he said, “I heard you talking to someone, so I thought I’d better check in.” He looked around and returned her gaze with questions in his eyes.
Her face flushed with embarrassment. “Oh, uh, no. Nobody’s here. Just me talking to myself, I guess.” She searched Gary’s face to see if he bought it. Definitely a better explanation than telling him she was talking to a shadow.
“Come on in. The coffee should be ready in a minute.” Lauren motioned Gary to have a seat on the couch in the family room.
“I’ll be back after I check out the garage.” Gary smiled. “I take it black.”
“Oh, yeah, ok, the coffee.” Her palm smacked her forehead with the knowledge Gary must have heard her talking to Henry. She glanced at the shadow and smiled back at him through clenched teeth.
Gary turned his back and headed down the hallway to the garage. She felt as if Henry could see the steam escaping from her ears. She was so angry at that cocky shadow for staying to watch and see how she was going to explain her talking to him.
“Talking to yourself. That was good.” Henry stood up straight. “You’re pretty quick on your feet.”
“Henry,” she hissed in a hushed whisper. “Go away. I don’t need you around here tonight. I have company,”
“I guess it’s a bad time for us to have a talk now that Lover Boy is here.”
Lauren bit her lip so she couldn’t yell at the annoying Henry. She certainly didn’t want Gary to hear her give that shadow a piece of her mind or he’d be back in a second with more questions.
Squeezing her eyes tightly closed, she said, “You’d better be gone when I open my eyes.” Not that she could do anything if he didn’t leave. Lauren squinted through her right eye. Not seeing the shadow, she opened both eyes wide and swept the room and sighed with relief.
At that moment the basket full of sugar packets flew off the table onto the floor.
“Henry!” She couldn’t stop herself from yelling his name out loud. He didn’t respond. He had slipped through the slice of time into another dimension.
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|Author JQ Rose|
Whether the story is fiction or non-fiction, J.Q. Rose is “focused on story.” She offers readers chills, giggles and quirky characters woven within the pages of her romantic suspense novels. Her published mysteries are Deadly Undertaking, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard and Dangerous Sanctuary and her recently released memoir, Arranging a Dream: A Memoir from Books We Love Publishing. Using her storytelling skills, she provides entertainment and information with articles featured in books, magazines, newspapers, and online magazines.
Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games and travel are the things that keep JQ out of trouble. She and her husband spend winters in Florida and summers up north with their two daughters, two sons-in-law, four grandsons, one granddaughter, two grand dogs, four grand cats, and one great-grand bearded dragon.
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