by Olivia Greyson and Maddie Briggs, best friends and co-owners of The Gingerbread House.
From THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES, by Virginia Lowell.
Olivia Greyson settled on her living room sofa with a book, a cup of coffee, and a plate of chocolate chip-oatmeal cookies. Rain pattered on the roof of her apartment. Spunky, her little Yorkie, whimpered and fixed sad eyes on the cookies.
“Don’t even try that deprived-pup routine, Spunks,” Olivia said. “It’s my job to keep you from getting sick.” Spunky’s furry little face drooped. “Because I’m Mom, and I said so,” Olivia added. As she stretched out her legs and opened her book, the 1812 Overture erupted from her cell phone. She answered at once. “Maddie, really? The 1812 Overture again? And didn’t you promise to stop messing with my ring tone?”
“I said I’d think about it, Livie,” said Maddie Briggs, Olivia’s business partner and best friend since age ten. “And I will. Eventually. Meanwhile, I’m on my way upstairs. I hope you have cookies up there.”
Olivia swooped up the plate of cookies and moved it to the desk in the entryway to save the goodies from Spunky. She reached her apartment door as the bell rang. Before opening the door, Olivia quickly scooped up her pup to keep him from making a run for it.
“Is that fresh coffee I smell?” Maddie used her foot to close the door behind her. “Oh goody, cookies. And I brought books.” She held a covered plastic box under one arm. “We finally moved the last boxes from Aunt Sadie’s house to her new apartment in our house, and we found these in her attic. Come on, this will be fun.”
Spunky settled on the back of the sofa to watch as Olivia and Maddie set the box between them and delved inside. “Wow, these are all old books,” Olivia said. “Destination Unknown, by Agatha Christie, 1954… This doesn’t look like one of her mysteries. Oh, and here’s a really early copy of Why Shoot a Butler, by Georgette Heyer. It looks well read.”
Maddie grinned. “Aunt Sadie bought that one used. It was published in 1933, and as Aunt Sadie pointed out, she wasn’t quite born yet.” Maddie retrieved a battered copy of The Scarab Murder Case, by S. S. Van Dine. “I remember she read this one to me at bedtime. I had recurring dreams about Egyptian mummies coming to life and leaping out of my closet. I refused to change my clothes for three days.”
“Who is this guy?” Olivia held up a copy of Holy Disorders, by Edmund Crispin. She opened to a random page and skimmed a paragraph. “Hey, this is funny, in a British sort of way.”
“I didn’t quite get the humor when Aunt Sadie read Crispin’s books to me,” Maddie said, “but I’ve been rereading them, and now they make me giggle. I keep waking Lucas up in the middle of the night. Poor guy, he needs more sleep than I do.”
“Everyone needs more sleep than you do.” Olivia took a bite of cookie, followed by a gulp of lukewarm coffee. “How did Aunt Sadie get hold of these books?”
“Ooh, she traveled lots during her wild younger days,” Maddie said. “After my parents died, poor Aunt Sadie had her hands full with a ten-year-old to raise. No more travels to exotic places. But before that, when she was on her own, she used to take a ship to Europe whenever she felt like it. Everything was cheaper then, and she adored seeing new places, experiencing other cultures. She bought these books in London.” Maddie smiled as she spread all the books on the coffee table. “When I got dumped in her lap, she called me her new adventure.”
“She meant it, too.” Olivia scooped up the coffee cups. “I’ll make fresh coffee. Then, my friend, we have some reading to do. Everyone needs a lazy afternoon now and then, right?”
Virginia Lowell is the author of COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE, A COOKIE BEFORE DYING, WHEN THE COOKIE CRUMBLES, ONE DEAD COOKIE, COOKIES AND SCREAM, and DEAD MEN DON’T EAT COOKIES. Visit Virginia at: www.virginialowell.com