My critique partners and I wrote a short six part mystery that I will be posting over the next six weeks on Saturday. Below is the first installment by Therese Stenzel. I hope you have fun figuring out whodunit.
Obsessed with all things British, Therese Stenzel is a stay-at-home mom of three and a writer, when she can fit it in between her children's sports. Her first book, A Bride By Christmas comes out in September and she has also co-authored the book, God's Little Devotional Book for Grandparents. Her writing has also appeared in Women's Day, Family Fun, and Tulsa Kids magazines. In addition to being active in American Christian Fiction Writers, she is also the founder of British Missives, a free e-mail newsletter for those who love to read or write British novels. In love with English history, English tea, and reading historical novels, she is currently working on her fifth historical manuscript. She and her husband Neal keep busy raising their kids and serving in their church. Her website is www.theresestenzel.com
A MURDER ON MAIN STREET
Part One by Therese Stenzel
Tori Bradford’s blonde bangs softly brushed across her forehead as she strode down Main Street. She smiled at several shopkeepers who were busy opening their antique stores. Living in Jenks, with her new tea shop and a new love in her life, made being single at forty-two...promising.
She took in a breath of the crisp fall air and pushed open the front door to Victoria’s Tea Shop. A jingle of bells sounded, and the smell of fresh baked scones filled the air.
“Barry is here.” Mrs. Beavers dusted her hands on her floral apron. “I let him in. I hope you don’t mind.”
Tori’s stomach fluttered with anticipation of seeing him again. Ever since her grandmother had willed her the business in a prime location, banker Barry Sanderson had grown into more than a friend. And now that her shop was threatened by imminent construction next door, he had become her confidant and her rock.
Tori smiled. “He’s probably here to tell me I have to agree to that new building.”
“Shall I make your special tea?” Mrs. Beavers peered over her spectacles.
“Oh, I’m dying for a cup.” Tori motioned toward the back of the store. “Better make it two.”
Tori paced to the kitchen and heard a rustle coming from her office. She stopped dead in her tracks. Barry was poking through her personal stash of tea containers. “Out of tea bags again?”
He pivoted, looking guilty. “Oh, you’re looking gorgeous today.” He wiped his hands on his pants before he gave her a hug. “I just wanted to caution you that Gilford Richards will be here any minute.”
Tori dismissed Barry’s curious behavior. There had been a six month feud going on regarding the modern office structure Mr. Richards wanted to construct adjacent to her quaint business. “I’ve tried to reason—”
Barry kissed her cheek. “Just hear him out, love.”
A jingle of bells in the background suggested Richards had just arrived.
Barry stiffened. “If you don’t mind, I’ve got an auditor to see. I’ll just slip out the back.”
Palm sweaty, dreading another confrontation, Tori rose to meet her nemesis. This developer was new to Jenks and didn’t seem to understand the importance of retaining the town’s unique charm and ambience. “Mr. Richards.”
He took her hand in his. “Gilford, please.”
Something in his smile and murderous grip made her flinch.
Mrs. Beavers entered with two steaming cups and set them on the table. “This is Miss Bradford’s Imperial Republic Oolong Tea, all the way from China.”
Tori indicated a chair for her guest and sat down. “The tea is a high grown Formosan oolong. Renowned for its flavor and distinctive presence. Much like our town, don’t you agree?”
Gilford sipped his beverage. “Interesting.”
“Oh, dear!” Mrs. Beavers gasped. “I forgot. The delivery man is waiting for you out back.”
Tori set down her cup untouched. “I’ll be just a minute.”
After signing the disputed delivery receipt, she returned to face her adversary. Her heart clenched.
A faint aroma of almonds lingered in the air. Mr. Richards was slumped forward, his head resting in a pool of Imperial tea.
Look for the next installment next Saturday.