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The Dinner Club Murder Mysteries
Jane Marsh wants to shake off the empty nest syndrome, plus the notoriety of the death of her first and second husbands, by starting over in a new place. She sells her family home to move to a far northern suburb of Denver. At the same time, Jane's dinner club is undergoing a transformation, and a new man—a gourmet chef—enters her life.
But, things turn sour when, on the day Jane moves into her new home, she discovers a dead body. She cannot feel at home in this town where she’s surrounded by cowboys, horse pastures, and suspects. Not to mention where a murder was committed practically on her doorstep. How can she focus on romance and dinner clubs when one of her new friends—or maybe even her old ones—might be a murderer?
Page Count: 294
Word Count: 72285
Slam! Chink. The brown packing box fell off the dolly with the tinkling sound of glass on glass. Jane sighed as the mover stacked the box labeled “kitchen” back on the dolly and thumped down the basement stairs with it.
Never mind. She’d sort it out later. She slipped outside into the warmth of the early September, blue-sky, Colorado day to check on her puppies sniffing around their new territory in the backyard. Leaning over the deck railing facing the lot to the east, she gazed into the bottom of an open excavation where a basement was being poured. Someone had parked a tractor down in the dirt, and near it a white cowboy hat lay on the ground. A man’s hand stretched toward the hat’s brim. Had someone fallen into the pit?
Jane bounded down the deck stairs and out the wooden gate, only stopping for a moment to secure the latch. She rounded the corner of her new house and rushed to the adjoining lot, pausing near the edge of the concrete that formed the basement’s foundation.
A man was shoved against the corner of the foundation wall. His torso and legs were partly covered with dirt. The cowboy hat concealed the top of his head. His left hand almost touched the brim, as if he were about to take off his hat and say “Howdy do.” A large manila envelope lay a foot or so away from his other outstretched hand.
On the envelope tall, block letters spelled out: “Jane Marsh—welcome to your new home.”
Jane’s hands flew to her throat. “Ethan,” she breathed.
Her eyes took in the three cement walls rising out of the dirt floor and at the rear, a crumbling slope of dirt spilling into the pit. Starting toward the back slope, she hesitated. The soil might not be stable. She lifted two planks, plunked the long ends of the boards into the pit, and climbed down.
The smell of turned earth filled her nose as she skirted the tractor, a small, front-end loader. Falling to her knees, she lifted the cowboy hat, then dropped it. She felt the man’s wrist for a pulse. It wasn’t there. Then her hand moved toward the envelope with her name on it, but she drew back.
After yanking a cell phone out of the back pocket of her worn jeans, she punched in 9-1-1. “A man fell into a construction pit… I’m pretty sure he’s dead…no, he’s beyond help.” The dispatcher asked for the address, and she gave it to him in a shaky voice. “Yes, I’ll stay on the line.” The makeshift bridge was harder to get back up than it was to get down. After making it to the top, she crossed the lot and rushed through her front door.
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