Hello! I hope you enjoy this excerpt of A Dreadful Meow-Ment! Bellamy Bloom and I had so much fun penning this one. If you love humor with a side of homicide, you're going to love all the sass that Bowie Binx delivers!
Each book in the Meow for Murder Mysteries series can be read individually! So if you haven't read book one, feel free to dive right in! And have fun in Starry Falls! Enjoy the preview below!
It’s turning out to be a long, hot summer. But when Shep takes me to his high school reunion as his date, things heat up more than ever. Suffice it to say, his old female classmates aren’t too thrilled to see he’s taken. And even though Shep is insistent on keeping up our couple’s ruse, one of his rusty, dusty, old girlfriends isn’t buying it. And when one of his good friends ends up biting the big one, all suspicion is cast upon the interloper among them. That would be me.
A laugh out loud cozy mystery by New York Times Bestseller Addison Moore and her partner in cozy crime, USA TODAY Bestseller Bellamy Bloom.
Meow for Murder #2
Addison Moore & Bellamy Bloom
“Shep’s back!” someone shouts from the entry of the Manor Café and the words send a chill up my spine, terrifying me far more than should ever be allowed.
My name is Stella Santini, or at least it was. I go by Bowie Binx now, and I’ve got long black hair, light brown eyes, stand at an average height of five-foot-five, and I can see the future.
Confession: I’m no psychic. Nor have I ever come close to predicting what the future might hold, not with any accuracy anyway.
You see, ever since I was a little girl, I had what my Nana Rose called the shakes. Technically, it’s more of a shiver, and when you get down to it, there’s a warm, fuzzy feeling involved that makes me want to forget about the world around me for a moment and retreat to the dark recesses of my mind where a thought plays out like a movie and I see things. And trust me when I say I have been wrong about interpreting the things I see on more than one occasion.
Take now for instance. No sooner did I arrive at the Manor Café this morning, where I’ve somehow stumbled into managing the place, than one of those otherworldly visions hits me. I see Shep himself—handsome, tall, built like a god, mind of Einstein, best-selling author, ex-homicide detective, and did I mention ridiculously handsome? He’s currently dominating the theater of my mind, talking to a man about his height and age—early thirties. The man peels back his suit jacket and exposes the butt of a gun and says, “This is what I’m going to kill you with.”
It was ominous, dark, and darn right foreboding.
“Table three needs more coffee,” Tilly Teasdale says as she whizzes by, leaving a scarf of thick sugary perfume in her wake. She’s shorter than me by three inches, older than me by three years, has brown hair with blonde chunky highlights, and loves to dress to impress the opposite sex.
Tilly has been my new best friend ever since I ended up here in Starry Falls, Vermont—at the Mortimer Manor to be exact.
The Mortimer Manor has the girth and appeal of a haunted mansion, sits crooked on a hill, and is crawling with a legion of cats, all adopted by the eccentric woman who owns this place.
My visit here last month was more or less supposed to be a pit stop. It was sort of an accidental pit stop once my beat-up Honda, Wanda, up and died on me.
I was actually on my way to Canada while on the run from both the feds and the mob. Let’s just say my lavish spending sprees may have accidentally tipped off the FBI to the money laundering scheme I was taking part in, and now both organizations want me dead or alive. I’ve already turned in my louse of an ex, the originator of that siphoning disaster. I can safely pin most of the blame for the things that went wrong for me in the last year square on Johnny Rizzo’s shoulders. Hopefully, his incarceration will be enough to keep the feds and the mob off my back for a while.
The kicker? My Uncle Vinnie set up a new identity for me, complete with all the proper paperwork to make my incarnation as Bowie Binx both viable and believable. He’s the one who gifted me Wanda, too. And just a fun side note: Bowie Binx is a partial concoction of my Uncle Vinnie’s favorite singer coupled with a surname his three-year-old granddaughter came up with on the fly to gift her imaginary kitten. It truly is special to be me.
But regarding those visions—I should probably highlight the fact I have a penchant to misconstrue those peepholes into the future more often than not. Just last month there was a body that I all but predicted with my hit-and-miss psychic abilities, and because of the tiny detail I was found holding the murder weapon, I landed myself the top spot in a homicide investigation as a suspect. Thankfully, I was able to plow through the real list of suspects and winnow out the killer. Suffice it to say, whether I understand what they’re trying to tell me or not, I take my visions quite seriously.
Opal Mortimer, the owner of the ritzy manor, strides into the café with an orange frilly dress and a thick black feathered boa strung over her shoulders. It looks more like something you might wear in October as opposed to May, but in the short time I’ve been here I’ve learned that nobody tells Opal a thing about anything. Opal is somewhere in her mid-eighties, gorgeous, and as my Nana Rose used to say, “the woman has got hutzpah.”
“Bowie.” She fans herself with her fingers. Her sliver hair is smooth and neatly coiled around her neck. Her makeup is a bit on the dramatic side each and every day, with lots of black kohl rimming her eyes, dark red lipstick, and a dot of blush on each cheek. “Do see about turning up the AC in this place. It’s a bit of a warm day and the cats don’t care for the heat.” She drawls out each word like only a true socialite can.
“Will do,” I say just as she bends over and picks up King, a tan striped and spotted Bengal cat who seems to be more or less in charge of the menagerie of felines that linger in and out of the manor itself. Opal is your quintessential crazy cat lady and both her passion for crazy and for cats is what I like best about her.
“Oh”—she lifts a well-polished fingernail my way—“and when you put in an order for more supplies for the café, do add cat food to the list. I’ll need kibble for the strays, and both wet and dry for the boys and girls right here at the manor.”
I wrinkle my nose at her. “Opal, the restaurant supply store only has people food.”
“Put in a request to change that, would you?” She gives a wink and takes off to greet the guests enjoying their lunches.
I’m pretty sure if rumor got around that the Manor Café is stocking up on cat food, it won’t exactly earn us a Michelin star. Not that we’re gunning for one either.
I’ve made a few small menu changes since I’ve been managing the café, but both the menu and the décor could use a major overhaul. The tables are chipping, the red Naugahyde booths and chairs are splitting despite the fact the stuffing is being held together with duct tape, and the black and white checkered wallpaper border looks as if it’s fainting off the walls.
Tilly bounces back my way.
“I took care of table three for you.” She sets the coffee pot back where it belongs and pops up next to me. “Mother’s Day is coming up. Are you going back to Chicago, Connecticut to see your mama?”
I bite down on my lip. I’m not from Chicago, Connecticut like I told everyone when I arrived. I’m pretty sure Chicago, Connecticut doesn’t even exist. I’m from Hastings, New Jersey, and seeing that my mama is probably too embroiled with the young men she likes to run around with to notice I’m gone—not to mention the small detail of landing myself on every wanted list in the country—no, I’m afraid I won’t be going back.
“I don’t think so.” A thought comes to me. “Hey? We should have a mother-daughter brunch right here in the garden. We can sell tickets and shake down the local businesses to donate prizes and everything.” And I’m pretty sure I can siphon a nifty little profit off the event myself.
Since Opal’s cheating ex left her with nothing to her name but this manor—and she’s pretty hard up for cash—I told her I’d find creative ways to increase her bottom line if she cut me in on the take. So far it’s working swimmingly. The cat therapy program we have is a winner, and the program where kids come into the library and read to the felines among us is killing it, too. But the real bread and butter is coming from a little crafts group called Stitch Witchery.
Stitch Witchery has been going on a lot longer than I’ve been around. It’s basically a bitch and stitch with tea and crumpets. But as soon as I caught Opal spiking her tea with whiskey, I had the brainstorm to add a spot of what Opal likes to call comfort to any and everyone’s teacup who needed it—for a small fee, of course, and viola. Winner winner, whiskey dinner. We’ve been riding high financially ever since.
“Mother-daughter brunch?” Tilly shrugs. “Sounds like fun. Get the okay from Opal, and I’ll spread the word.”
Opal nods as she walks by. “Whatever it is, consider it done. Bowie here is my new financial advisor.”
I’m about to thank her when in walks that tall, arrestingly handsome ex-homicide detective turned best-selling thriller author I just had that dark vision about.
Shepherd J. Wexler strides in and stands before me just the way he did a little over a week ago when he called me by my given name, Stella Santini, and shocked the living heck out of me.
I feigned a stomachache and retched all the way to the cabin I’m renting, which happens to be right behind his—and seeing that he owns the place, that makes him my landlord. He sent me a text and let me know he would be on a book tour for the next solid week—and thankfully, he assured me he wouldn’t mention a thing about my other life.
And now here we are.
Face to face once again—him armed with the knowledge of who I am, and considering the fact he’s a mob buff, he’s armed with the knowledge of what I’ve done, too.
Well, I’m armed with the potential to reach a spatula in less than three seconds flat.
Shep and I bonded loosely a few weeks back when we discovered both of our fathers are in prison. Mine for a RICO charge and his for murdering his wife—Shep’s stepmother.
“Bowie Binx.” His brows lift a notch. His dark wavy hair is slicked back, he has just the right amount of stubble peppering his cheeks, and those clear baby blue eyes are ringed in navy, giving him that Alaskan husky appeal that has always had the ability to make my heart go pitter-patter.
Shep is caustically handsome, the type of good-looking that gets the attention of all the girls in the vicinity, both the young and old alike. And at the moment, about three tables of women have all craned their necks in his direction. He’s the serious type—tall, dark, and brooding, and all that seriousness only seems to make the masses swoon all that much more.
“Shepherd.” I swallow hard. “Um”—my body spikes with heat and I have the sudden urge to dig my keys out and pray that Wanda has enough gas in her to get me to Canada after all—“you know, I think Tilly can help you. I’m due for a break.”
I move over a step, and he moves along with me.
“No.” It comes out curt as he pins his gaze to mine. “Tilly can’t help me. I need you.”
I’ll admit, a warm quiver just ran through me as he said those last three words. I can’t help it. Shep isn’t just drop-dead gorgeous, he’s drop-dead ornery, too. And for the last twenty-seven years I’ve been alive, I’ve been more than mildly attracted to handsome jerks—believe you me, Shep Wexler more than fits the mold.
“Ooh.” Tilly hops over and wiggles her chest at him. “Do tell, what can Bowie help you with that I can’t?”
“I need to go somewhere.” Shep dips his chin and glowers my way a moment. “It’s my high school reunion. And seeing that everyone I went to high school with knows that Tilly and I are just friends, I thought you could help me. I need a date.”
“A date?” both Tilly and I squawk in unison.
Tilly takes in a sharp breath. “Shepherd Wexler. Are you trying to stop all the single ladies from harassing you?”
Shep gives a slow blink. “Something like that.”
“Aw,” Tilly coos with just enough of a sarcastic edge to let you know the zinger is coming. “Poor little Sheppy doesn’t want to look like a loser. When’s the big event?”
“Tonight.” He nods my way. “What do you say?”
A group of customers heads on in and Tilly picks up a stack of menus before leaning my way.
“Say yes,” she says. “But only if he promises to take you home and have his way with you.” She gives him a little wink before taking off. “You’re welcome.”
I make a face at him.
“High school reunion?” I meant to whisper it to him, but it came out more of a hiss. “Is that code for the Woodley Sheriff’s Department?”
“I’m not turning you in.” His cheek flinches. “I promise. As far as I’m concerned, you’re Bowie Binx. A pink-haired hurricane of a woman who blew into town and turned this café on its ear.”
I roll my eyes. “Technically, I have black hair with Cherry Coke highlights. I happen to have a big personality, and I like food, so yes, this café and I are a good fit. As for the date, I—”
I’m about to turn him down when that vision I had earlier flits through my mind once again.
Both Opal and Tilly know about the fact I can see the future.
I’m what my Nana Rose referred to as transmundane, further classified as sibylline. There are other supernatural powers that fall under the transmundane umbrella, but I’m only familiar with the one. And it just so happens that my Nana—God rest her soul—and sister share my quasi-sinister gift as well. I can’t control what I see or when.
God knows if I could, I would never be standing here contemplating a date with the ornery writer before me. I’m still not sure I should trust him.
“A date, huh?” I scowl over at him.
“Yes, a date.” His brows dip a notch, showing off his own frustration with the situation. “Don’t look so enthused, Sweet Cheeks.” He digs his hand into his pocket before tossing a couple hundred dollar bills onto the counter. “Buy yourself something nice. I’ll pick you up at seven.” He takes off, and I swipe the money off the counter.
“Seven,” I say to myself.
According to my vision, someone is going to try to kill Shepherd, perhaps as soon as tonight.
The do-gooder in me says I should go along and try to stave off the inevitable.
The Santini in me says stay home and let the bodies fall where they may. The man does know a little too much.
But the woman in me says no one in their right mind turns down a date with a hot man like that.
Guess which voice I listen to?
Hot men have always been my downfall.
Let’s hope I don’t end up taking a bullet for this one.