Silver Hills Senior and Singles Residence isn’t exactly a boring place. Home to a death predicting cat named Tolstoy, a night manager who may or may not suck blood and float above the floor, a cook with mad voodoo and pie baking powers, and a trio of nosy sleuths who are determined to get to the bottom of the corpse in the library (maybe literally)…some might say things couldn’t get any weirder.
Some would be wrong.
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“You want something?” Bea asked. “Coffee. A donut?” She turned around and Flo’s hands shot up to protect her from the sight. It was bad enough she had to look at her own wrinkly, sagging body in the mirror every morning. She certainly didn’t need to look at Bea’s flaccid flesh.
“Maybe you should put on a robe,” Flo suggested.
“Eye bleach,” Agnes murmured behind Flo.
Flo reached back and blindly struck out, connecting with something soft and squishy.
TC yelped. “That was my boob.”
Bea looked down at herself. “What’s wrong?”
“You’re naked!” Agnes exclaimed on a laugh.
“I know. I warned you. I sleep in the altogether. Always have. I find it so freeing. Don’t you?”
“Some things aren’t meant to be free, Bea,” Agnes said. “Like your boobies and backside. Trap those puppies right now or I’m going to have to leave.”
Bea lifted a tattooed brown eyebrow and placed hands on skinny hips. “That’s supposed to talk me into getting dressed?”
“Point taken,” Flo said. She threw Agnes a look. “But aren’t you cold?”
It was a long shot since the apartment was like a sauna on the Serengeti, but the power of suggestion did its thing. Bea shivered. “You know, it is a little cold in here.”
“Freedom isn’t free,” Agnes offered in a disgruntled voice.
“We’ll wait in the living room while you throw on a robe,” TC offered helpfully.
“Okay.” Bea turned and headed across the apartment and the three friends scrambled through the kitchenette into a small living room.
Flo’s nose wrinkled. “This whole house smells like talcum powder.”
Agnes dropped onto the couch and a cloud of white puffed skyward, leaving behind a sweet, powdery scent. She sneezed three times. “Good God! Does the woman bathe in the stuff?”
TC held her finger over her lips as shuffling sounds approached the bedroom door. A beat later Bea trundled through, pulling the belt of her robe tight around her middle. She looked up with a grin. “Anybody for some brandy?”
“No,” Flo said quickly, before Agnes could accept, “Thanks anyway. We won’t keep you. We just had a couple of questions.”
Bea frowned. “That handsome young buck who works with Cook?”
“The busboy, yes.”
Bea dropped into a faded recliner, sighing wistfully. “If I was just a few years younger…”
More like a few centuries, Flo thought uncharitably. “You know he’s dead, right?”
Bea blinked. “Really? When did that happen?”
“We thought you might be able to answer that,” TC told the older woman.
Bea looked genuinely shocked. “Why on earth would you think that?”
“Because he was holding a magazine covered in talcum powder and we all know you bathe in the stuff,” Agnes offered helpfully.
Bea didn’t deny it. She cocked her head, her gray eyes narrowing in thought. Then she pursed her lips and nodded. “Yup. I remember now. He was in the library.”
“Yes,” Flo said encouragingly. “Sitting in the chair that backs to the stairs.”
“What? No.” Bea shook her head. “He was standing in front of the book shelves, holding onto the magazine rack with one hand. I asked him if he was trying to pick a magazine and then offered to pick one for him.” She leaned forward and Flo twitched as the robe gaped wide, showing the world everything Beatrice Barker owned. “He didn’t look so good, poor thing. He must have been coming down with the flu or something. All sweaty and pale. I helped him to a chair and gave him a little shove. I heard him hit the chair with a thump and went back to picking out a magazine for him.”
“Was he still alive when you gave him the magazine?” TC asked.
Bea fixed her with a startled glance. “Alive? Of course. Why wouldn’t he be?”
“Because as I think we mentioned already, he’s now dead. We found him sitting in the library with a magazine in his hands.”
“Really?” Bea asked. “When did that happen?”
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