A Body in Redwork
Redwork quilting, an old friend’s secrets, and decorations strung with alibis and deceit.
This Christmas, Jenny Doan expected to be busy. She'd double booked herself, and not even two assistants could keep her straight. Between the quilting retreat and the fabric designer’s convention in Hamilton, Missouri, things were bustling. Then the unspeakable happened, and piece by piece, Jenny began to unravel secrets, proving everyone had something to hide.
As the week comes to a close, her Christmas Redwork Retreat won't be the only thing at risk. Jenny must race the clock to find out who is eliminating designers from the quilting industry before the killer strikes again. Will she solve the case or find death under the tree, all tied up in murder?
A sneak peak into Jenny Doan's first full length mystery.
“Where is she?”
Officer Wilkins bolted up the stairs, taking them two at a time without any issue. Jenny followed him, catching Tilly at the top. She was breathing fast, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Tilly pointed to the only open door in the hall. Mickey and Helen’s room. Her hand dug through her hair and she clutched her head as if she could hold her mind inside her body.
“I didn’t know it was her. I thought it was a pile of laundry. I was looking for Mickey, then I saw her in the blankets. She didn’t move, so I tried to shake her. I was worried she’d fallen off the bed and hurt herself. I just wanted to wake her up, but she was so cold.”
Jenny looked back at Mickey’s open door.
“Can I go?” Tilly’s small voice had flipped from the yelling and panic of a moment before. Her trembling hands echoed her distress. When Wilkins nodded, she gripped the railing and ran down the stairs.
Officer Wilkins held a finger to his lips and started slowly to the open door. The words of the Christmas carol rang in Jenny’s head. Deck the halls with boughs of folly. A shiver ran down her spine, knowing she was likely going to see what it meant.
Officer Wilkins disappeared on the other side of the door. Jenny hesitated, waiting to see if he would reappear, but the hall stayed empty. The need to know finally pulled Jenny forward.
She swung the door back to see Wilkins kneeling over a large redwork quilt rolled haphazardly on the floor at the end of the bed. For a moment, Jenny didn’t notice anything wrong. Then she saw a hand peeking out from the edge of the blanket and a section of the tell-tale red hair dangling onto the floor.
“Mickey.” Jenny breathed her name and dropped to the ground beside the quilt.
Officer Wilkins only looked up for a moment. “This is a crime scene. Be careful.”
“She’s really dead?” Jenny’s throat tightened. Up until that moment, she hadn’t been sure. Like maybe Wilkins would come back and saying everything was fine.
In answer to Jenny’s question, he pulled a fold of the blanket back so Jenny could see what he was looking at.
Mickey was painted like a giant doll.
Her skin it had turned waxy white against the bright colors of the makeup. A black line had been drawn above and below her eyes like stitches, and large pink circles sat high on her cheeks. Her lips were bright red, so solid it didn’t look like lipstick anymore.
Jenny couldn’t breathe. Her hand came to her mouth and a gasp of disbelief squeaked from her as she caught the reality of what she was seeing. Mickey was dead.
“I, uh, I’m going to go back downstairs. I think I need to—” She stood and stepped back to the hallway.
“Wait. Mrs. Doan. I need you to stay close.” Officer Wilkins, she couldn’t think of him as Tyler when he was kneeling over Mickey, Officer Wilkins gestured for her to follow him as he went back into the hallway. “Stay here, please.”
Wilkins crept down the hallway and slipped into the next room. Jenny could still hear her friends whispering downstairs and someone was crying. Jenny still hadn’t figured out how to get her lungs working smoothly and she leaned back against the wall trying to breathe.
The person on the floor didn’t even look like Mickey. What was she going to do? How was she going to tell Mickey’s family? Was that her job?
Jenny turned back and looked into the room. Mickey’s pale form lay still on the ground and Jenny tried to look over her and see what she’d missed the first time but a sob caught in her throat. This was her friend.
Wilkins was making his way through the last of the bedrooms before heading downstairs and he thankfully beckoned her to follow him.
She hurried behind him and made her way to the huddle of friends surrounding Tilly who was the one Jenny had heard sobbing.
“Is it true?” Maura still had a pattern book in her hands and her fists were clenched around the pages wrinkling them in her grip. “Is Mickey really dead.”
Officer Wilkins had disappeared into one of the side rooms. Jenny looked back to her friends. There wasn’t any other answer. She nodded and gasps sounded through the group.
Tilly began to cry harder and Jenny could feel her own lip quiver. Helen’s hands trembled as she shook her head and breathed the word, “No.”
Cherry was the only one who hadn’t really known Mickey and even she stared openly at the stairs in a state of shock.
By the time Officer Wilkins returned the women were a mass of tears and sniffling. They’d asked repeatedly what had happened and Jenny could only confirm over and over that she knew nothing.
Wilkins held a phone to his ear, his voice low. “Yes, Berry Street. Send a team. One dead and ...” Wilkins hesitated and Jenny looked up meeting his gaze. He looked away. “Seven suspects.”
Jenny’s blood went cold. Of course they were suspects. She looked around at her traumatized friends and hugged as many as she could get her arms around.
“It’s going to be okay.”