What happens when the knitters accuse the wrong person of murder?

Silly question. Of course, they ‘apologize’ by solving the murder themselves!

It’s release day! Yeah! Hold the Coffee is on sale now for just 99 pennies. Seriously, you can’t buy anything for 99 pennies anymore. Wrong! You can buy Hold the Coffee for that much and then you’ll have something to read tonight when you’re exhausted from a week of working at home. Here’s the link.

Want me to whet your appetite before you go one-clicking? Not a problem. Here’s the first chapter for your reading enjoyment.

Chapter 1

Eavesdropping – listening in on a conversation when you should darn well know better

I collapse on the sofa next to my best friend Jack. “Tired, Izzy?”

I snort. Tired? I’m not tired. I’m exhausted. No, I’m beyond exhausted. Having a baby who’s teething will do that to a person. Especially when said person has a husband who is a police detective working on a big case, which is keeping him out at all hours of the day and night.        

I want to crawl into bed and sleep for a year, maybe two. But there’s no chance of getting any rest today. A group of my late grandma’s knitting friends are here for their knitting get-together, although not a whole lot of knitting gets done if you ask me. Gossiping and eating? Those get accomplished in spades. Knitting? Not so much.

The grandma gang meets every Sunday and once a month it’s my turn to host the meeting at my house, also known as my late grandma Anna’s place. Technically Anna wasn’t my grandmother. She was my former husband’s grandma, but I claimed her as mine.

“What case is Noel working on?” Betty asks.

I have no idea. My husband Noel refuses to tell me what cases he’s working on. Part of the reason he won’t talk about his work with me is these ladies. In addition to being world-class knitters, they are nosy as all get out and fancy themselves sleuths. He gets a bit touchy when they stick their noses into police business.

The knitters – Betty, Rosemary, Martha, Rose, and Ally – even came up with a name for their group – The Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives. It sounds crazy, but they’re extremely proud of their ‘sleuth prowess’. In fact, they claim they recently solved the murder of their friend Bernadette. Never mind I, not them, was the one in the room when the confession happened.

Rosemary stops knitting to sigh in my direction. “I remember those sleepless nights with a crying baby like they were yesterday.” She smiles at her granddaughter, Dee. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. You won’t have to do it all alone. When Tommy’s on shift at the fire station, I’ll spend the night and help you out.”

“Dee’s pregnant?” Betty screams. Although, with her hearing failing, she’s almost always screaming lately.

Dee holds up her hands. “I am not pregnant. I just got engaged for gosh sakes.”

Betty’s lips purse. “You got engaged months ago. When’s the wedding?”

I giggle as Dee stares at the ceiling as if asking for guidance. Good luck finding guidance from the knitters there. I’ve been searching up there for years without success.

Her fiancé Tommy wraps his arm around her. “I wouldn’t mind having a baby.”

Dee’s eyes bug out of her head before she slaps his chest. Since his chest is the equivalent of hard granite, the only affect her slap has is to make her wince in pain. “Do not give them any fuel for the fire. Don’t you know better by now?”

Tommy knows better all right. But he also knows the sole way he’s going to push Dee into marrying him some time this decade is if the knitters are on the case. Dee is a bit gun shy. After her first marriage ended in murder, I can’t blame her.

Tommy shrugs all nonchalant like, but I can see the gleam in his eyes. He knows exactly what he’s doing. “All I’m saying is I want to have a baby with you. Preferably before I’m old and gray.” He mumbles the last part, but we all hear him.

“I need time to plan the wedding and I’m not having a baby until we’re married.”

I have to cover my mouth to stop my laughter from exploding out of me. She said the wrong thing in front of the wrong people.

“Ladies, needles down,” Betty commands. She fancies herself the leader of the group. The other ladies humor her because she’s a bit scary. She’s also pretty good at managing this gaggle of women.

“I’ll take point,” she starts as the ladies focus their attention on her.

Take point? I mouth at Jack. I guess she’s seen all of the Murder, She Wrote re-runs and has moved onto Criminal Minds.

“You can’t be point. Delilah is my granddaughter. If anyone is going to be in charge of planning her wedding, it’s going to be me.” Rosemary crosses her arms over her chest and harrumphs.

Dee raises her hand. “It’s my wedding. Maybe I should be in charge?”

Betty grunts. “You had your chance. Too late.”

“No, no, no. I should be in charge. I’m the town’s matchmaker. It makes sense if I plan the wedding as well,” Martha chimes in.

She does indeed fancy herself the town’s matchmaker. Never mind she’s never actually successfully matched anyone. She actually set Jack up on a date with Tommy. The same Tommy who is in love with Dee.

Dee opens her mouth to answer Martha, but the door bangs open and Rose rushes inside. Between gasps for breath, she manages to tell us, “He’s dead. I can’t believe he’s dead.”

I stand and take her elbow to help her to a seat. “Let me get you some water.”

By the time I fill a glass with water and return, Rose is surrounded by her knitting friends. While Rosemary, Martha, and Ally appear concerned, Betty’s eyes are twinkling with excitement. I push them out of my way.

“Let her breathe.” I hand her the glass of water. “Take your time. I can hold off the old ladies, no problem.” I wink.

“Who are you calling old, young lady?” Betty scowls at me.

I’m forty-one years old. Young, I am not. But I am smart enough to know saying the o-as in old-word in front of the knitters is a surefire way to move their attention off Rose and onto me.

Rose tugs on my shirt. “It’s okay, Izzy.”

I study her face to make sure she is indeed okay before moving out of the way. The knitters descend upon her once again.

“What’s going on? Who’s dead?”

“Is it murder?”

Betty rubs her hands together. “Goodie. Things were getting a bit dull around here.”

Dull around here? It’s been mere weeks since their last ‘case’. How much excitement do they need?

“Totally dull. Come on, Rose darling, bring some sparkle into our lives.” Jack presses his hands together and bats his eyelashes in her direction.

“I didn’t say anything about murder,” Rose protests.

I chuckle. These ladies have the penchant to turn any death into murder. Starting with my grandmother who supposedly died peacefully in her sleep. She was murdered, claimed the knitting ladies. To my utter surprise, they were right.

Betty takes a seat at the dining room table and motions for the other ladies to take their places. Once everyone is settled, she pulls a pen and one of those little spiral bound notebooks detectives carry out of her pocket. Oh boy. Does she carry one of those with her everywhere now?

She taps the notebook with her pen. “Start at the beginning.”

“The beginning? There is no beginning. This isn’t a story.”

Martha grunts. “How disappointing.” She stands. “I need to get back to my knitting project.”

“Sit!” Betty barks and Martha drops into her chair. “Let’s hear what Rose has to say before we dismiss the situation.”

“Clifford is dead.”

“Clifford?” I ask. I’m sure I know whoever it is. It’s hard not to know everyone when you live in a small town, but my mind is coming up blank. I blame Colt. Babies have a way of making you forget your own name.

“Clifford Simmons. He ushers at church.”

Betty grunts. “How the man ever became an usher in church is beyond me.”

“What do you mean?”

“He is not a good Christian.” Betty’s lips purse in obvious disapproval.  

She doesn’t say anything more about him. Of course, now I’m curious. In Betty’s book, ‘not a good Christian’ can mean anything from wearing wrinkled pants to church to being a complete and total scoundrel.

“What happened?” Jack is practically bouncing on his toes.

He loves the adventures of the so-called knitting detectives. He thinks they’re a hoot. I don’t necessarily disagree, but someone needs to make sure they don’t go completely off the rails. Mayhem will ensue if that happens.

“I’m not sure. I was walking back to the administration offices after taking a break with Milly when Ezra came running out of my office screaming Clifford was having a heart attack.” Rose swallows before continuing, “By the time I made it back there, it was too late.”

“This is disappointing,” Betty grumbles. “A heart attack isn’t murder.”

“Not necessarily,” Ally says, and all eyes focus on her.

“What do you mean?” I barely dare to ask, but I’m too curious not to. Besides, if I don’t ask, one of the gray-haired crew will.

“I heard Milly talking the other day,” she whispers. My eyes widen. Unlike the rest of this nosy crew, Ally isn’t usually an eavesdropper.

“And? Don’t keep us in suspense.” Betty isn’t known for her patience.

“Milly said she was going to kill Clifford. And she would do it in such a way no one would know what happened.”

“Excellent.” Betty scribbles away on her notepad. “We’ll start with Milly as a suspect then.”

“A suspect in what?” Noel asks as he joins our group. He kisses my forehead in greeting before focusing his attention on Betty.

“Never you mind.”

He crosses his arms over his chest and glares down at her. “Try again.”

“Betty thinks Clifford Simmons was murdered because Ally overheard Milly saying she was going to kill him,” Rose explains and Betty frowns at her.

Noel scratches his head. “Clifford? He died of a heart attack at the church today, didn’t he?” He doesn’t wait for a response before continuing, “There’s no foul play suspected.”

“Because they don’t know about Milly’s statement,” Betty says. Her voice making it clear she doesn’t think much of the local police department.

Noel rubs a hand over his beard. “The autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow. I’ll ask around.”

Betty claps. “Okay, ladies. I think we’ve overstayed our welcome.”

I smirk. They haven’t overstayed their welcome. They want to discuss the ‘case’ more out of Noel’s presence. When Jack winks and follows them out the door, I know I’m right. He motions he’ll call me later. Yep. They are definitely off to come up with another one of their hare-brained schemes.

“At least everyone’s attention is no longer on my wedding,” Dee whispers as she hugs me good-bye. I don’t say anything, but she’s wrong if she thinks her grandma isn’t going to be all up in her business planning her wedding. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet. After all, it’s been weeks since the proposal. Personally, I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

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