A cold rain rattled the window over the kitchen sink and thunder rumbled across the Missouri sky. Death (rhymes with teeth) Bogart leaned close to the glass and peered out into the early gloom. If he looked across the back yard and between the two houses on the next street over, he could see the road his girlfriend would be taking on her way home. The sheets of water blurred and marbled his view, but he could see well enough to know that no cars were approaching.
He wasn’t really expecting her quite yet. Wren Morgan wasn’t a speedster at the best of times. In this weather she’d be driving slowly, and the auction where she’d been working was well out in the country. He still worried, though.
It was in Death’s nature to worry.
When he’d met Wren, less than a year before, he’d been fresh out of a military hospital. A roadside bomb in Afghanistan had left him permanently disabled with a compromised lung capacity and unemployable in any capacity he felt qualified for. His wife had cleaned out his bank account and divorced him while he was in a coma and, when he awoke, they told him his brother had been killed.
Now he was a private detective and part-time bounty hunter with a thriving business and the sweetest girlfriend he’d ever had. He’d never imagined that his life could be this good.
The rain cleared and he caught a glimpse of a familiar blue pickup coming slowly down the road. He smiled to himself and turned the burner off under the pot he had on the stove.
He stirred the soup and the savory scent of onions filled the kitchen. He filled two heavy stoneware mugs and slid a cookie sheet containing two thick slices of Italian bread under the broiler in the oven. By the time he heard her engine turn off in the yard, the bread was lightly-toasted. He buttered the slices, floated them on top of the soup, and added a slice of Swiss cheese to each before returning them to the oven. Then he went to the front door to meet his lady.
Wren, when she came in, was dripping wet.
“You don’t want to kiss me,” she warned. “I’m sopping.”
“I don’t care. I always want to kiss you. Rough day?”
“Moron in a little sports car, speeding down country roads in the rain, I had to stop and pull him out.”
“You didn’t have to,” he said. “You’re just too nice.”
She laughed. “Not this time. He was blocking half the road. What is that amazing smell?”
“French onion soup. I found the recipe in this old cookbook in your kitchen.” The book, Cooking With An International Flare, was at least forty years old.
“Oh, yeah,” Wren said. “I got that–”
“. . .at an auction?”
“There was supposed to be a vanilla soufflé for dessert, but it kind of exploded in the oven,” he admitted reluctantly.
She raised her eyebrows. “Baking ordnance? That’s impressive. Mine usually just deflate and look sad.”
“You obviously don’t use enough gunpowder.” He leaned in and kissed her on the tip of her nose. “Go change into something dry,” he said. “Supper will be ready when you are.”
He watched her walk away toward the bedroom, shedding wet outerwear. Her cheeks were flushed from the chilly day and her red hair was plastered to her head and dripping down her neck. In passing, she stopped to pet Thomas, the burly old tomcat. Lucy, her hound dog, was playing in the rain like a puppy, but Thomas did not approve of the weather.
I’m such a lucky guy, Death thought.
Wren got to the bedroom door, stopped and looked back with a gentle smile and her eyes warm in the early twilight.
“I’m such a lucky girl,” she said.
You can read more about Death and Wren in DEATH & THE GRAVEDIGGER’S ANGEL, the third book in the Auction Block mystery series.
Death and Wren Bid on Answers to the Mysteries of Love and War
When former army medic Tony Dozier is accused of killing a member of the hate group that disrupted his wife’s funeral, the prosecution charges premeditated murder and the defense claims temporary insanity. Former marine Death Bogart and auctioneer Wren Morgan think there’s more to the story.
They’re both led to the long-abandoned Hadleigh House, where Wren begins preparing the contents for auction but ends up appraising the story behind an antique sketchbook. As Wren uncovers the century-old tale of a World War I soldier and his angel, Death finds a set of truths that will change. . .or end. . .their lives.
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About the author
Loretta Ross is a writer and historian who lives and works in rural Missouri. She is an alumna of Cottey College and holds a BA in archaeology from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She has loved mysteries since she first learned to read. Death and the Redheaded Woman was her debut novel. Connect with Loretta at lorettasueross.com.
All comments are welcomed.
Death & the Gravedigger’s Angel is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.