I’d been avoiding Mother’s calls for days.
She was anxious to finalize her plans for my elaborate wedding, and I’d hoped by putting her off that she would finally cease and desist.
Guilt prompted me to pick up the phone and face the consequences.
“Good morning, Mother. How are you?”
“I’m perfectly fine, but I was beginning to worry that you’d fallen off the face of the earth, Margaret. It’s a relief to know you’re alive and well.” Mother cloaked her sarcasm in such a soft, sweet tone it took a few seconds to realize I’d been zinged.
“Business is booming.”
“Not too booming for you to have lunch with your mother today, I hope?”
When she referred to herself in the third person, I knew I was in trouble, so I bit the bullet. “Of course not. Just the two of us?”
“There’s someone at the door,” Mother replied without responding to my question. “I’ll see you at noon.”
With a feeling of foreboding, I hung up the phone. I feared the wedding-planning trap had been sprung.
USA TODAY bestselling author Charlotte Douglas, a versatile writer who has produced over twenty-five books, including romance, suspense, Gothic, and even a Star Trek novel, has now created a mystery series featuring Maggie Skerritt, a witty and irreverent homicide detective in a small fictional town on Florida’s central west coast.
Douglas’s life has been as varied as her writings. Born in North Carolina and raised in Florida, she earned her degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and attended graduate school at the University of South Florida in Tampa. She has worked as an actor, a journalist and a church musician and taught English and speech at the secondary and college level for almost two decades. For several summers while newly married and still in college, she even manned a U.S. Forest Service lookout in northwest Montana with her husband.
Married to her high school sweetheart for over four decades, Douglas now writes full-time. With her husband and their two cairn terriers, she divides her year between their home on Florida’s central west coast—a place not unlike Pelican Bay—and their mountaintop retreat in the Great Smokies of North Carolina.
She enjoys hearing from readers, who can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wedding Bell Blues
From the Author
Welcome back to Pelican Bay! This month Maggie is inundated by all things bridal.
She and Bill Malcolm are hired to find a runaway bride and to provide security for a wedding reception. At the same time, Maggie struggles to convince her mother and sister that she doesn’t want them to plan for her “the biggest wedding Pelican Bay has ever seen.” But all is not beribboned bouquets and white lace as Maggie and Bill’s search for the missing bride-to-be turns into a full-blown murder investigation.
My mail has been filled with requests for Maggie and Bill to tie the knot. Will their marriage finally happen in Wedding Bell Blues? Or will commitment-shy Maggie balk again? Relax, smell the orange blossoms and enjoy Maggie’s latest adventure.
“Good morning, Maggie—if you like this hot, sticky weather.” Darcy Wilkins, my secretary-receptionist and jill-of-all-trades, dropped the mail on my desk.
“Like it or not,” I said, “it’ll be this way for the next six months. Thank God for air-conditioning.”
Darcy handed me a jumbo French-vanilla latte from the bookstore coffee shop downstairs and settled on the sofa in my office. Cupping a mug of green tea in her capable dark hands, she propped her feet on the coffee table and waited for further instructions.
In the far corner of the sofa, Roger, the pug I’d inherited from a former client, slept undisturbed, his legs straight in the air in the dying cockroach position, head hanging backward over the cushion’s edge. His snuffling snore mixed with the rumble of traffic on Main Street one storey below where the morning rush could be heard, even through closed windows and above the hum of central cooling.
I sorted through the stack of envelopes and set aside the utility bills for Darcy to handle. My morning started going downhill at the sight of an oversize white linen envelope addressed to Miss Margaret Skerritt, Pelican Bay Investigations, Pelican Bay, Florida. In the same elegant script, the return address indicated the plump package was from Mrs. Philip Skerritt, my mother.
Knowing what I’d find, I slit the envelope and dumped its contents on my desktop with a sigh.
“June is busting out all over,” I said to Darcy, “and I’m running out of places to hide.”
She arched an eyebrow in question. Roger snored louder.