Can a bunch of gray-haired knitters solve a murder?

The gray-haired knitting detectives are back! Oops. They’d like me to let you know they never went anyway. They claim I neglected them. Hmm… No comment.

What are those knitters up to now? The craft store burned down with the owner Bernadette inside. The police claim it was an accident since Bernadette was smoking. No way, say the knitters! Bernadette was not a smoker. It’s time for them to solve this mystery themselves.

Curious? Here’s an extended excerpt to whet your appetite!

Chapter 1

It’s not kidnapping if we give him back.

“Can I have my baby back now, please?” I ask politely despite my toe tapping in impatience. The knitting ladies are always stealing my baby to cuddle him. They don’t even mind if he spoils his diaper. They’re ‘happy to help’. Their words, not mine.

“But Colt wants to spend time with his grandma, doesn’t he?” Betty rubs her nose against his and he coos in delight.  

Betty isn’t actually Colt’s grandma. She’s not related to me or my husband. No, she and her knitting crew of friends adopted me when my grandma died. Except Grandma didn’t die, she was murdered. And Anna wasn’t really my grandma, she was my late husband’s grandma. It’s a complicated and long story.

Suffice it to say, Betty, Rosemary, Martha, Rose, and Ally – aka the knitting crew – now consider themselves my grandma as well as my baby’s grandma. I should be excited they all consider themselves grandmas to my baby – especially since I have no contact with my own mother – but I’m not. Not when they never give me a chance to cuddle him.

My husband, Noel joins us and plants a kiss on my hair. “Betty steal our baby again?” He doesn’t bother waiting for a reply. He walks over to her, and she readily hands Colt over to him.

I growl. “Why are you willing to give him the baby but not me?”

“Because everyone knows a man holding a baby is a dish.” She winks.

I roll my eyes. She’s right. Noel is hot as all get out holding Colt. The man is the very definition of tall, dark, and handsome, but the woman is in her eighties for gosh sakes.

“If I’m your granddaughter, then isn’t he your grandson?”

“Doesn’t mean I can’t look!” A round of uh-huhs greets her announcement.

“They’re not wrong,” my best friend, Jack says as he throws his arm around me. He makes an exaggerated sigh as he watches Noel cradle Colt in his arms. 

I slap his chest. “You have your own man. You remember Damien, don’t you? Stop staring at mine.”

“But mine’s not here. I need something pretty to feast my eyes on, Iz.” He pouts.

I resist the temptation to roll my eyes again and duck under his arm as I head for the kitchen. When my grandmother lived in this house, the knitting crew met here once a month for an afternoon of knitting. I’ve carried on the tradition. I didn’t think my nod to tradition was an excuse for them to continually steal my baby. I was wrong.   

“Where’s Damien?” I ask Jack as I open the oven to check on the meatloaf. It smells delicious and my stomach growls. Too bad I’m on a diet since I’ve yet to lose the weight from having Colt. Poor me.

“He’s visiting his family today. He’ll be back tomorrow.”

“Why didn’t you go with him?”

Jack places a hand over his heart and widens his eyes. “And miss an afternoon with my favorite gaggle of knitters?” He flutters his lashes. “Never.”

I shove the pile of plates into his hands. “Here. Make yourself useful at least.” 

While Jack sets the table, I prepare the food. In addition to the meatloaf, there’s scalloped potatoes, green beans, and for me a boring salad of lettuce leaves and carrots.

There’s a knock on the door before it opens. “We’re here,” Tommy yells as he and Dee appear in the dining room.  

Dee is the knitter Rosemary’s granddaughter. She moved back to town last year when she left her husband. Her husband wasn’t happy about her leaving and followed her back. Then, he ended up dead – murdered, in fact. The police immediately pointed the finger at Dee. The knitting crew – who dubbed themselves the gray-haired knitting detectives – jumped at the chance to clear her name and find the real killer. They fancy themselves amateur detectives.

“I was about to call you. Why are you late?”

Dee ducks her head but not before I see the blush spread across her cheeks. “No reason,” she mumbles.

Tommy smirks and pulls her close, making it painfully obvious why they’re late.

Rosemary pushes her way through the knitters to reach her granddaughter. She pulls her into a hug. “Glad you could make it, Delilah.” She releases her and grabs her hands for a squeeze.

“And?” Betty asks.

I’m confused. And what?

Rosemary’s lips turn down in a frown. “No engagement ring.”  

Dee snatches her hands back. “I can’t believe you, Grandma!”

Rose pulls a notebook out of her bag. “We’re going to have to re-do the chart. No one had longer than six months.”

While I was busy giving birth to Colt, Tommy got down on one knee at the hospital. Except he didn’t ask Dee for her hand in marriage. He gave her a promise ring instead. A gorgeous ruby, but not a diamond. Naturally, the knitters used the occasion to start a betting pool. The women are shameless gambling addicts.

Martha looks Tommy up and down before shaking her head at him. “I’m disappointed in you.”

Martha fancies herself a matchmaker. Never mind she first set Tommy up with Jack as she thought he was gay. She claims she knew Tommy wasn’t gay, but she was trying to push him. Yeah, right. Can you say world’s worst matchmaker?  

“I’ll take eight months,” Jack shouts and pulls out his wallet. Dee’s mouth drops open as she stares at him. He winks. “Nothing personal, darling, but daddy has his eye on a new coat.”

As if Jack needs the money from a bet to buy a new coat. The man owns a successful business downtown. Fabulous, Darling is a clothing store catering to cross-dressers and big and beautiful women. It sounds like an odd combination, but it works.

Noel returns holding a freshly diapered Colt. I open my arms for my baby. Ally gets there before me. She snatches the baby from my husband and then walks away as if she didn’t just commit a kidnapping.  

“I’m going to seriously stop hosting your knitting gatherings if you ladies don’t stop kidnapping my baby,” I grumble.

“It’s one afternoon a month, Izzy,” Betty points out. “You get him for the rest of the month.”

If only that were true. The ladies are always stopping by to get some extra cuddle time with Colt. It’s sweet, but Colt won’t be a baby forever. I don’t want to miss out on any cuddles especially since he won’t be getting any brothers or sisters.

Since I was over forty when Colt was born, Noel put his foot down after the birth. He doesn’t want us to try for more children as there are all kinds of risks with an older mom. I’m fine with sticking to one child, but I do want the chance to enjoy my one child.  

“Now, stop your grumping and sit down,” Betty orders. She fancies herself the leader of the knitting ladies. She says leader, I say tyrant.

We take our seats at the dining room table and I watch as everyone fills their plates with food I refuse to eat. I concentrate on my salad. My incredibly sad looking salad.

“Why are you eating rabbit food?” Jack asks as he stuffs an obnoxiously sized slice of meatloaf into his mouth.

I glare at him. He knows perfectly well I’m on a diet to lose those last ten pounds from giving birth to Colt. He also knows the knitters and my husband think I’m being ridiculous. While Noel keeps his mouth shut – he’s not a stupid man after all – the ladies do not. They will needle me and needle me until I give in and eat half the meatloaf. Pun intended.

Time to change the subject. “How is Sam the Ram coming along, Ally?”

Ally is knitting Colt a stuffed sheep as my son can’t get enough of his stuffed animals. I feel bad because the pattern is quite difficult. You need to work with multiple cable charts, shaping and finishing techniques. Confession – I have no idea what any of those words mean except to say it’s a complicated design.

Ally grins, although she hates being the center of attention. It’s hard to believe, but she’s maintained her timid demeanor despite being friends with this group of knitting hooligans.

“It’s going well, but I’m nearly out of cream wool.”

“Which means it’s time for a trip to Bernadette’s,” Betty says.

“Who’s Bernadette?” Dee asks.

“Bernadette owns the craft store, The Craft Nook, downtown. I’m sure you’ve met her before. She attends our church,” Rosemary explains.

Martha rubs her hands together. “I met a widower I think would make the perfect match for Bernadette.”

Poor Bernadette. Knowing Martha, the widower is not anywhere close to a good match, let alone the perfect match.

“Bernadette has no interest in a new husband,” Betty points out.

“She’ll change her tune when she meets Ken.”

Betty purses her lips. “You’re barking up the wrong tree.”

“Just because you don’t want a new husband doesn’t mean no one else does,” Martha argues.  

Before I have a chance to stop the ladies from getting into a full-blown argument, Colt decides he’s done not being the center of attention. He grabs a fistful of his mashed banana and throws it at me. The gooey substance lands on my chest before gliding down into the front of my t-shirt. Blech. Slimy.   

The knitters oh and ah as if he’s adorable. I have mashed banana dripping into my bra, but no one pays me one lick of attention. I guess I know how important I am to them.    

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