Sunday, August 13, 2017
Love, Die, Neighbor Excerpt and Discount Code
My life in crime began with a good deed.
You see, I dialed 911 after a neighbor took a tumble off his racing bike. Under the right circumstances, contacting the emergency dispatcher would have been a normal response to Sven Nordstrom’s cry for help.
But Sven’s accident didn’t happen under normal circumstances. It happened after a series of nasty interactions between our family, the Lowensteins, and his, the Nordstroms. There was definitely bad blood between us.
When Sven took that fatal fall, my behavior as a concerned citizen linked me to his death in ways I couldn’t begin to imagine. Rather than prove my good intentions, my call to the authorities looked suspicious. The ugly finger of blame pointed my way.
That’s how I, Kiki Lowenstein, became involved in a murder investigation.
My husband, George, and I took possession of our new house the minute it was habitable, on the Friday before Labor Day weekend. We literally walked in as the construction crew walked out. We were that eager to get settled. The technical term for this is “beneficial occupancy,” but in retrospect, it should have been called a “big mistake.”
We should have waited another week and allowed a cleaning crew to thoroughly vacuum, dust, and scrub all the surfaces. But after six months in a cramped extended-stay hotel, the three of us were desperate to get out of each other’s way. This house would actually allow us to go for weeks without bumping into each other. But first, we’d need to get settled in.
The interior of the four-thousand-square-foot building looked like the aftermath of a natural disaster. Sawdust thickened every surface. Loose nails and screws had been scattered everywhere. Drywall dust covered all the woodwork. Dirty footprints marred the tile floors. The wooden floors looked dull, thanks to a film of ground-in dirt. Stray pieces of lumber rested precariously against the banisters and walls.
In the midst of all that mess sat enough boxes to fill an entire moving van. All our worldly belongings had been packed in cardboard containers of all sizes. The stacked boxes towered over my head, in many cases giving me a surreal sense of existence. In the dim light, I could imagine visiting Stonehenge, where the stone monuments dotted England’s landscape.
“First on my list is setting up Anya’s playpen,” I told my husband. “Otherwise, I don’t know how I’ll keep her from hurting herself. Especially since she’s walking now. Once that’s done, I can dig in and try to sort out this mess.”
Anya had begun “cruising” at a year old, hanging onto furniture as a way of scooting around a room. Because we’d always lived in cramped quarters, she could toddle from one stationary piece to the next with ease. This new house would offer more of a challenge, thanks to the spacious floor plan. I had a hunch that by the time next summer rolled around with her second birthday, my daughter would be as fast on two feet as an Olympic runner, and every bit as determined. Already she fought me when I tried to put her in her stroller.
“Right,” my husband George said. “Once we get the playpen and the high chair, you can get to work doing your job, and I’ll get back to mine.”
My job. It would feel good to be productive.
George and I had met at my first (and last) frat party at college, where I learned that drinking Purple Passion Punch is the first step on the path to losing your virginity and getting pregnant in one fell swoop. When George found out I was expecting, he immediately offered to marry me. Faced with a lot of bleak choices, I took him up on his offer. Once we’d tied the knot, there was never any question of living anywhere but here — St. Louis ─ George’s hometown.
At the ripe old age of twenty, I’d gone from college sophomore to newlywed, from living in a dorm to a small apartment, here in “the Lou.” The Lowensteins had deep roots here. Their connections allowed George to go into business with an old friend from high school. Together, the men opened a real estate development company.
That partnership allowed us to build this honking big house, a regular McMansion at four thousand square feet on a big lot in Ladue, the swankiest town in the metro-St. Louis area. George acted as our subcontractor, borrowing crews from other jobs. This saved us a lot of money, but it also meant that building our house took longer than expected.
“Just think,” George had said. “This will be the perfect place for Anya to grow up. She’ll have everything her heart desires.”
I had agreed. Our child had definitely been born into a life of privilege.
“Okay!” George rubbed his hands together. “While I’m at work, bringing home the bacon, your job is to get this place cleaned up and make new friends in the neighborhood.”
~To Be Continued~
REMEMBER...the sale prices are good for two days only! Aug. 16 & 17, Wednesday and Thursday. Buy your digital copy here: http://bit.ly/LDNprequel. Or your discounted paper copy by using this code -- B3J4HBYX -- to get $5 off the print version when you buy it here: https://www.createspace.com/6900602.
NEXT WEEK: I'll share an excerpt from Paper, Scissors, Death: Book #1 in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series. This book was an Agatha Award Finalist. It will be on sale for two days, and I'll share the links with you.