Title: MOTTO FOR MURDER
Author: Leslie Langtry
Genre: Cozy Comedy
Publisher: Gemma Halliday Publishing
For ex-CIA Agent turned Girl Scout troop leader, Merry Wrath, planning a wedding is infinitely more terrifying than the time she was a mole in Carlos the Armadillo’s drug cartel. To make matters worse, while plagued by insomnia (brought on by diabolical details that include bizarre things like "boutonnieres") Merry and her cat, Philby, witness a midnight murder next door.
Or do they? With her record of sleeplessness, everyone from her fiancé, Rex, to her Girl Scout troop are questioning her sanity. And when strange incidents of arson start popping up all over Who’s There, Iowa and a mysterious woman vanishes, Merry begins to believe her neighbors are foreign spies.
Throw in meeting her fiancé’s odd twin sisters, late night visits with Mr. Fancy Pants—the King Vulture at the zoo—and a scary sleep study, and Merry wonders if she’s in danger of losing her mind…or her life.
"Is that a dead body?" I asked Philby as I looked out the garage window.
Philby didn't answer because 1) she's rude like that, and 2) she's a cat. Still, she could flick her tail or something to show she agreed with me.
Next door, in the darkness, I saw my neighbors carrying what looked a lot like a body from their detached garage to their back door. It was quite a coincidence, really. I was taking the trash out and found my cat throwing herself at the small window as if a giant mouse made of albacore tuna was dancing just out of reach on the other side.
Philby gave me a long look, implying that I was an idiot for stating the obvious. But then, she looked like Hitler, so she wasn't allowed to judge me. The lights came on inside the neighbors' house, but I only saw two people silhouetted on the shade.
"Well," I said to my cat, "obviously they aren't going to lift the body and use it like a puppet just so we can see it."
Philby looked at me as if to say that normal people would do just that. Kind of like she does when she catches and kills a mouse. Cats think they know everything.
I pulled out my cell and called my fiancé, Detective Rex Ferguson, who lived across the street.
"Merry?" he asked. He sounded sleepy. I could've walked across the street and woken him up in person, but that seemed a little inconvenient to me.
"I think the neighbors killed a guy and carried him into their house!" I kept my voice quiet and my eyes on the window.
"What time is it?" Rex replied as though he heard this kind of thing all the time from me.
"I don't know." I squinted at the phone. "One o'clock. In the morning."
I'm not sure why I added that last bit, because obviously it was in the early morning, and Rex was a detective capable of determining that on his own.
"You're dreaming," he mumbled. "Go back to bed."
"Why would I be dreaming in my garage? Besides, I don't have neighbors on the other side of my house where the bedroom is. I'm wide awake and looking at them right now."
I pictured him rubbing his eyes. "Maybe whoever they were carrying was sick. Or inebriated. Do you have anything else to go on?"
"I think I know a dead body when I see one," I replied.
I regretted those words as soon as I said them. Why? Because I'd been found with a number of dead bodies over the last two years—bodies that had no connection to me. And no, I didn't kill them.
"Is this a formal complaint?" Rex asked.
I could tell he was debating whether it was worth getting out of bed to investigate.
"Yes!" I insisted. "They're probably cutting the dead guy up in the bathtub right now. You can catch them red-handed!"
"You do realize that if I go over there, the Fontanas are going to know it was you who tipped them off."
"You know their name?" How did he know them? I'd lived here longer than he had, and I didn't know them.
"Mark and Pam," he said. "They borrowed an egg from me a month ago. Nice people."
My spy-dy senses went haywire. "Don't you think that's suspicious? Two people borrowing one egg?"
"No, I don't." This conversation was finished as far as he was concerned. "I'll send a squad car over."
"What? No! You're the detective! You should go."
"I'm not going. For one thing, it isn't an investigation. An officer will suffice. And secondly, they're my neighbors. I don't want to freak them out with a full-on investigation of a murder when the only witness is…unreliable."
"Unreliable? I was a spy for the CIA for eight years! I'd say that makes me pretty reliable."
I could almost hear him shaking his head. "And you haven't slept in days. That means you could be hallucinating."
He's right. I haven't slept well for weeks. For some reason, insomnia had set in a month earlier, right before Valentine's Day. I'd been so tired I'd almost left the house in a red dress and combat boots.
"I don't think I'm hallucinating," I muttered. Just to be sure, I pinched Philby, who hissed and ran away. Nope, not asleep.
"Go to bed, Merry," Rex said firmly. "I'll send someone over."
He hung up before I could say anything else.
Leslie Langtry is the USA Today Bestselling Author of three comic mystery series, including the Greatest Hits Series featuring ‘SCUSE ME WHILE I KILL THIS GUY; Merry Wrath Mysteries featuring MERIT BADGE MURDER; and the Ukulele Mysteries featuring UKULELE MURDER. Leslie lives in Illinois with her family and a herd of unruly pets who may or may not be trying to kill her.
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