For fun and anticipate the launch of "Privy to Murder" on Sunday, here's an excerpt.
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Drinking champagne, bad choice. Now it was pee, or else. I raced to the outhouses. When I reached the first one in the row, a dark patch of something on its step stopped me from going in. Okay. I may not want to know what that is. I entered the second one, took care of business inside the hot box, prayed the buzzing wasp wouldn’t sting me, and came out with a gasp. It smelled worse than death in there.
I looked up the hill and then hesitated. I’d better take a look at the other outhouse, lest some guest complain. Curiosity and the cat notwithstanding, I opened the door—to my everlasting regret.
Mag was sprawled on the floor, wedged between the door and commode, her body folded, her head facing me. A bloody knife lay next to her. Her blood spread beneath her body and spilled under the door—what had first attracted my attention. I wasn’t the only one. So many flies were droning, they competed with the music. I shivered, and not just from horror. The privy was cold as ice. My stomach lurched, protesting the champagne and death. My heart stopped.
My eyes adjusted, or maybe the light changed because I suddenly saw the body with greater clarity, Mag’s horrified expression, eyes wide open. I looked up to see where the light came from, thinking fireworks, and there, next to Mag’s body, was—Mag? Her form flickered like faulty video, then disappeared. I’d have sworn she shook her fist at me. I reached out to touch the blood, fresh.
No. I can’t be mixed up in something like this. No spirits. No murders.
My heart began to beat again. I breathed in great gasps and fell backwards out of the privy into Frank.
He took in the blood on my hand and the body, opened his mouth and began yelling. "What the hell have you done? My God, she’s dead!"
I leaned close to him and spoke close through clenched teeth. "I haven’t done anything but find your wife. What do you know about this?" I pointed to the outhouse.
In the dusk, Frank’s face seemed to turn even paler. "Nothing. Are you accusing me?"
"I’m calling 911 and the sheriff." My voice shook.
"What about the guests?" Frank stage whispered.
I struggled to keep my voice steady and strong. I shoved the picture of the spirit out of my head. "Your wife’ s dead. I think her party guests are the least of your problems."
I turned away and lost the champagne.
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