Silver Hills Senior and Singles Residence isn’t exactly a boring place. Home to a death predicting cat named Tolstoy, a night manager who may or may not suck blood and float above the floor, a cook with mad voodoo and pie baking powers, and a trio of nosy sleuths who are determined to get to the bottom of the corpse in the library (maybe literally)…some might say things couldn’t get any weirder.
Some would be wrong.
Reader Review: “OMG this book was laugh out loud tears in your eyes funny!!! You will never look at retirement communities or Yoga classes the same!!!! The book is full of humor, mystery, and a bit of romance. Highly recommended and safe for all ages who want to read a murder mystery.”
“You’re being ridiculous, Flo.”
Florence Bee cast her friend Agnes Willard a withering look. “I’m not going anywhere near that cat. I know you love him but he’s the Grim Reaper.”
Agnes snorted. “That’s just superstition. Tolstoy cannot predict death.”
The two women peered around the corner again. The huge orange striped cat sat licking his paws in a ray of sunlight that painted the mauve colored carpet. He stopped suddenly, as if sensing their presence and lifted his round green gaze in their direction.
Florence jerked backward, dragging Agnes with her. “There are ten dead people who might argue with you about that.”
Her friend removed Florence’s bony fingers from her shirt. “He’s my cat. I don’t need to hide from him.”
“Yes you do. If he sees you he’ll come over here.”
“And?” Agnes lifted a heavy brown eyebrow and placed her hands on wide hips.
“And I’m not going to find out what happens next. We don’t know if he kills with a look or if he has to sit on you.”
Agnes blew a raspberry. “Flo, I live with Tolstoy. He looks at me all the time. He sits on my chest when I’m sleeping…”
Flo gasped, grabbing Agnes’s wrist and looking at her watch.
“What are you doing, fool?”
“I’m checking your pulse.”
Agnes yanked her arm away as a door down the hall opened and a familiar voice spoke to Tolstoy.
“Good afternoon, boy.”
Tolstoy yowled a greeting and dove through the stairwell door before it closed.
Florence expelled a breath. “Good. We can go now.”
Shaking her head, Agnes stepped around the corner. She hotfooted it toward Richard Attles, a flirtatious smile on her wide face. “Richard! Hello.”
Flo rolled her eyes and followed, hoping to avert disaster.
Agnes had been nursing a serious crush on the man since the first day she’d arrived at the residence and had made a fool of herself more times than Flo could count over it.
The day manager of Silver Hills looked up as Agnes plowed toward him, her broad flank swinging energetically as she cut the distance between them.
Judging by the widening of the man’s eyes and the way his head swung from side to side looking for an escape route, Richard Attles was about to do something desperate. When his gaze swung toward the second floor window at the end of the hall Flo decided aggressive maneuvers were called for. She pitched sideways with a cry and folded carefully to the ground. As Agnes turned around, Flo grabbed her ankle.
Agnes rushed in her direction and Richard Attles saluted Flo as he dove back into the stairwell.
“Are you all right?” Agnes put her big hands under Flo’s arms and hefted her off the ground. Flo gave a startled chirp as her feet left the carpet. Agnes rarely knew her own strength.
“I’m fine I think. I just twisted my ankle.” She took a step, feigning a limp, and then straightened. “There, good as new. Let’s go or we’ll be late to the reading.”
Agnes narrowed her gaze at Flo and held her ground. “Just like that, your ankle’s better?”
Flo took off toward the elevator. “I’m a quick healer.” She pressed the Up button and the doors slid open with a whir. The two women climbed on board and Agnes stabbed a thick digit at the number three button.
“Hold the elevator!”
Agnes pressed Hold and peered around the open door to the young woman running lightly down the hall toward them, pressing a paperback to her stomach as she ran. The newcomer tugged a strand of mahogany hair off her face and smiled as she slipped into the elevator. “Thanks, ladies. Are you coming to the reading?”
Flo nodded. “We are. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I think I’ve figured out who killed Professor Pelt in the sun room.”
The doors slid shut and Agnes leaned against the wall at her back, eyeing the green-eyed beauty across from her. “I’m waiting for the sex scene. When are we getting to that, TC?”
Trisha Colombo shook her head. “There’s no sex, Agnes. But there is a sweet romance.”
Agnes blew a raspberry. “You need to write something steamier, TC. I’m getting diabetes from all that sweetness.”
The younger woman’s eyes widened as the doors slid open. “Shhhh! I don’t want Richard to know about the writing. It’s against my contract to have a second job.”
Agnes frowned. “It’s not like writing a book is a job, TC.”
TC lifted carefully shaped brows. “Have you ever tried it?”
“Agnes can’t even write a grocery list without breaking every grammar rule in the book,” Flo offered. She peered at her friend. “Besides, if you’re getting diabetes it’s from all those glazed donuts you eat.” Flo punched Agnes on a beefy arm. It was like a tick hitting a rhinoceros, barely even registering.
Agnes glanced at Flo when she rubbed her fist.
“I hope you hurt yourself.” She gave Flo a mean smile. “Good thing you’re a fast healer.”
“You two are incorrigible,” TC told them. “I hope I’m not going to have to separate you again.”
“If you do,” Flo said while glaring at her friend, “don’t put her near the coffee and cookies. The last time she ate everything but the ones with raisins.” Flo bunched her face with distaste. “I hate raisins.”
“Raisins are Satan’s boogers,” Agnes agreed.
TC grimaced. “Good Lord.”
“Don’t bring him into this,” Flo said with a grin.
Agnes laughed with her. “Yeah, he had nothing to do with raisins. He’s chocolate all the way.”
The elevator door opened and they stepped out, heading for the Silver Hills library. It was an open, inviting spot settled into a corner of the third floor. Two of the room’s walls consisted of floor to ceiling shelves made from dark wood, and every inch of the shelving was filled with books. The outside perimeter was open to the hallways and overlooked the large entrance and dining room two floors below.
Flo loved the library. It was her favorite spot at Silver Hills and she spent as much time there as possible. In fact, it had been her idea for TC, who was the resident activities director, to do the weekly readings. She hadn’t even known at the time that TC actually authored the cozy mysteries she read to about a dozen of the residents at Silver Hills. She’d just known they shared a love of reading.
They were a few minutes early to the reading and only one of the comfortable upholstered chairs was occupied when they approached. “Somebody beat us,” Flo observed as she eyed the stooped form with his back to them. She didn’t recognize the man from previous readings. “Who is that?”
TC shrugged. “Maybe it’s somebody new.”
Agnes picked up the pace. “He’s sitting next to the cookies. He’d better not have eaten all the chocolate chip ones.”
Flo rolled her eyes at TC and the younger woman smiled. “If he did I’ll call Cook and order us some more.”
Agnes slowed down from a near sprint and nodded. “Good. I need my daily sugar or I’ll drop into a diabetic coma.”
“You’re no more diabetic than I am,” Flo argued.
They entered the cool, quiet space and a sense of peace slipped over Flo. She headed for her favorite chair just down from the newcomer, stepping over his very large shoes. “Excuse me.” The man in the chair didn’t look up from his magazine. Flo eyed the shaggy fringe of dark hair falling over his brow and frowned. Something about the man was familiar. And he appeared to be asleep.
Voices down the hall spurred Flo into action. She quickly forgot the magazine reading newcomer and hurried to her chair before old Mrs. Peoples stole it out from under her. Their feud over the slightly lumpy armchair had started months earlier, when Flo got up to go to the bathroom and came back to find the nasty old woman sitting like a queen in her chair. Mrs. Peoples had refused to leave, declaring the worn and lumpy chair the finest in the room and since she was the oldest, she proclaimed it should be hers.
Florence hadn’t taken it well and had set out, from that day on, to get to the readings before everyone else and claim the chair. She’d managed to snag the seat away from the crotchety old ninety-year-old woman several times in a row, only missing it the day the woman brought her lunch of prunes and sunflower seeds to the library and stayed until the reading just to rain on Flo’s parade. The cantankerous old woman had to have a bladder the size of her head.