Today I’m joining the blog blitz for For Richer For Deader. I’m sharing an extract from the book with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog blitz and to the author for providing the extract.
Is the Wedding Between TV’s Sir Hewitt Willoughby-Franklin’s Step-Daughter and Billionaire’s Son Off?
Rumours are that the recent death of Kelley Lindsell (29), the personal chef of tycoon Rudy (68) and Sheri Trotman (65) at Sir Hewitt’s Fawstead Manor country estate in Fenshire, has spooked Sybil Bransgrove (36) so badly she’s considering cancelling her nuptials.
Meanwhile the bride and her mother Lady Grace (61) are being supported by family friend Lady Beatrice (36), the Countess of Rossex, who, alongside her business partner Perry Juke, is currently managing the project to refurbish the Manor House and Lodge on the estate.
Not again! Now that Lady Grace has asked Lady Beatrice to liaise with the police during the investigation into Kelley’s death, she’ll have to cooperate with boorish Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam whether she likes it or not. Her only relief will be solving the murder with the help of her friends Perry and Simon and her dog Daisy to get rid of him faster. But with so many wedding party guests staying on-site, any one of them could be the killer. Can they find out who it is before Sybil calls off the wedding…
“Lady Rossex, thanks for coming so promptly. You remember DCI Fitzwilliam, I expect?” Mike Ainsley’s blue eyes sparkled as he gave her a playful grin before turning to the man standing by his side.
Rats! Of course it would be him. She cursed fate or providence or whatever it was that made your most unwanted thoughts come true.
There was a smile on Fitzwilliam’s face, but the seemingly friendly gesture didn’t fool her. Beneath that suntan (I wonder where he went?), his smile was forced, and his brown eyes flashed a warning not to mess with him. He looks hacked off already.
“Lady Beatrice, good to see you again.” He gave her a brief nod, his gaze not leaving her face. At least he’d used her less formal name. Surely that was a good sign? So why does it feel like you can cut the tension in the room with a knife?
“Fitzwilliam.” Nodding back, she felt the heat in her face and, after giving him a brief smile, looked away. This is awkward.
Dragging his gaze from her face, Fitzwilliam turned to Perry. “And Mr Juke, likewise.”
Moving his hands in front of his chest like someone doing an impression of the waving emoji, Perry grinned. “Hi, Fitzwilliam.” Trust Perry to try to lighten things up.
But it was to no avail. Fitzwilliam lost no time in further pleasantries. “So I understand that Mike and his team have been evicted from Fawstead Manor and you’ve arranged for them to be re-homed here? Is that correct, Lady Beatrice?”
Mike gave a short laugh that turned into a cough, and he shook his head. “That’s not quite what I said, Fitzwilliam.”
Fitzwilliam turned to him. “Is it not fair to say that the owner demanded you leave, and rather than point out to her how it was appropriate for you to be on-site to undertake an investigation, Lady Beatrice told her she would arrange for you to come here instead?”
Mike shrugged and gave Lady Beatrice an apologetic smile. He opened his mouth to respond, but Lady Beatrice had had enough of this already. What is his problem? I came up with a solution that worked for everyone. Well, except him, clearly.
She jumped in. “Chief inspector, I really don’t see what the problem is. There’s much more room here for Mike, his team, and PaIRS, and you all still have permission to access Fawstead Manor when you need to. Lady Grace was getting very stressed and upset about having the police permanently on-site when she’s about to receive some important guests for her daughter’s wedding party. It seemed unnecessary to make it more difficult for her when there was an alternative solution that works for everyone.” Crossing her arms, she met his gaze. Don’t blink first. He stared back.
“Lady Rossex”—well the friendly, less informal address didn’t last long—“while I appreciate your efforts to find a solution, it’s none of your business. We can liaise with the owner ourselves. Also, I might point out, if we need to be on-site, then we will be on-site. It’s not up to the owner to decide. It’s a matter of police procedure.”
Well, that’s me told! So boorish Fitzwilliam was back and in fine form. Lady Beatrice sighed. What had she expected? Any hope that they could get along as they’d appeared to at the end of the murder investigation back in April had well and truly faded. Well, she would rise to the challenge as she had last time. Along with Perry and Simon, she would find out who had written the notes and killed the animals, and then Fitzwilliam could return to Surrey and leave them alone.
“Look, my lady. You have work to do up at the manor, and so do we. The quicker we can find out who is threatening who, the sooner we can put a stop to it. So can I suggest you concentrate on your wallpaper and stuff, and Mike and I will get back to Fawstead Manor and set ourselves up there so we can sort this out.” He smiled, oh so insincerely, then continued, “I’m the first to admit that in the end, your—” He paused. “Erm, help with the murder investigation here earlier in the year was useful, but I think Mike and I can handle this without your input this time, if you don’t mind.”
Useful? How dare he! They had practically solved the entire case. And she’d handed over the killer to him. How ‘useful’ was that? She was about to tell him what he could do with his help when she caught Perry’s eye. Ever so subtly, he shook his head. She took a deep breath. He’s right. I’m better than this.
She nodded and fake-smiled. “Very well, chief inspector, we’ll leave you to it. Come on, Perry, we have wallpaper and stuff to deal with.” They turned and headed towards the door.
“Oh, and Lady Rossex?”
She slowly turned back. “Yes, chief inspector?”
“Once I’ve read your and Mr Juke’s statements, I may need to interview you. So please make yourself available.”
Just breathe and leave, Bea. Without responding, she turned and followed Perry out.
For Richer For Deader is available from Amazon.