“Serial killer on the loose?” read the newspaper’s headline before I left the house.
The air was crisp, the sun was just about to rise, and the clear sky promised a nice day. The park was quiet when I crossed the bridge over the small river. Running before another day of work at the bakery would definitely clear my mind of the murdered woman I found two days ago.
Suddenly, I felt a warm drop on my upper lip. I wiped under my nose and noticed blood on my fingers. Surprised, I stopped running as the first drop was followed by a constant stream of blood trickling down my face. I quickly pulled a tissue out of my jacket and pressed it onto my nose while tilting my head back at the same time.
Blood ran down my throat and I had to cough. I leaned forward to spit it out. Immediately, some blood streamed down beside the tissue and spread over my running clothes.
“Darn it!” I muttered.
Cold winter days sometimes triggered nosebleeds but I couldn’t remember a time when it was this bad.
“Didn’t I tell you?” the little devil on my right shoulder grumbled. “Running before breakfast is a stupid idea.”
The little angel on the other shoulder, who had supported my athletic plan/ intention, looked away in embarrassment.
As I raised my head again, I felt dizzy. Obviously, I wasn’t used to running on an empty stomach anymore. Let alone losing blood while doing so. I slowly sat down and closed my eyes for a second.
“Oh, dear God!” someone screamed suddenly. “Help!”
Dazed, I opened my eyes and saw two women with dogs. I looked around but couldn’t see anything unusual. Then I realized that they were running straight toward me.
One was shouting into her cell phone, “A new brutal murder! A young woman at Victoria Park. She’s still alive. We need an ambulance and the police!“
With wide-opened eyes, the other dog owner bent down to me. “Can you hear me? No worries, everything will be fine.”
“But I—” I started saying but she hushed me, “Don’t talk. Try to relax.“
“You don’t understand, I’m not—”
“Helen!” the woman yelled, waving to her friend who was just shoving her cell phone into her bag. “Help me! She has to take it easy.”
“Oh, Marge, just look what this monster has done to her.” Helen stared at my bloody jacket. Her little black terrier sniffed at my feet and barked like a madman.
“Helen, has Onyx found someone’s trail? Unleash him; maybe he can lead us to the murderer.”
“I’m not dead,” I said but both women ignored me.
An approaching siren wailed loudly. I groaned and closed my eyes again. Maybe everything was just a bad dream. Soon I would wake up in my bed.
“Over here!” Helen shouted.
“Shit!” I heard a familiar voice say. “Linn?”
I opened my eyes and here they were again: the deepest blue and most beautiful eyes ever. Shocked, I slumped and avoided his gaze.
“Just stay calm and cool,” the little devil whispered into my ear. “If you play it right, he’ll take the bait.”
“Are you nuts? Look at her!” the little angel barked. “Do you really think he fancies sweaty and blood-smeared women?”
The little devil made a dismissal gesture. “Blood shouldn’t be a concern in his line of work.”
Police inspector Bas van de Groot knelt down in front of me with a concerned look on his face. “What happened?”
At that moment two paramedics appeared behind him.
“Get out of the way,” one commanded. He pushed Helen, Marge and the inspector aside, bent down, and promptly searched for my pulse.
“Can you tell me what happened?” he asked me.
I inhaled deeply as five pair of eyes stared at me.
“I was running. Then my nose started bleeding.“
“Okay. What happened then?“
I gazed down to my shoes. “My head was spinning. I haven’t had breakfast yet. So, I sat down and closed my eyes.“ This situation was getting more embarrassing every second. I cleared my throat. “Then these two ladies came and suddenly you arrived.”
The paramedic scrutinized my jacket and my bloody hands. “You aren’t hurt anywhere else? All this blood came from your nose?”
The paramedic let go of my hand. “You should eat something immediately and take it easy for the rest of the day.” He got up. “Are you able to walk or should we drive you home?”
Before I could answer, Bas whipped out his police badge. “Don’t worry, I’ll look after her.”
You can read more about Linn in Santa’s Last Muffin, the first book in the “Hansel & Pretzel” mystery series.
Yuletide season seems to be a merry time in Kitchener, Ontario. Everyone is enjoying the town’s traditional Christkindl Market, until Santa Claus is discovered – with a knife stuck in his back . . . The murder investigation cancels Linn Sommer’s date with her big crush, the handsome police inspector Bas van de Groot. But wait and see, isn’t her cup of tea. Working at the German bakery ‘Hansel & Pretzel’, she starts digging into the late Santa. His reportedly perfect niceness resembles puff pastry: The more layers she reveals, the naughtier the secrets that emerge. With visits from ghosts of Christmas past, she not only zeroes in on the killer, but also stumbles upon the true reason why Bas doesn’t have any time for her anymore . . .
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Meet the author
German-born Dani Baker has lived in several cities in Germany, as well as in Berne, Switzerland and San Francisco, California. Since 2010, she calls Kitchener, Ontario, home. If she’s not shoveling snow in winter or chasing away skunks, wild turkeys, rabbits, or numerous chipmunks from her vegetable beds during summer, she’s working freelance for different German educational publishers.
Moreover, she’s teaching baking and cooking classes as well as exciting her friends with European baked goods made by DCK – Dani’s Chaos Kitchen.
To date, she has published three books as Daniela Wolff and three titles of the Hansel & Pretzel series in German.
“Santa’s Last Muffin” is her first book in English. Visit Dani at danibakerbooks.com.
All comments are welcomed.