Chapter Nine of Entitled to Murder: A Cozy Mystery Short Story
Hello, Book Lovers!
On Wednesday evening, I reached the end of the first act of my cozy mystery short story, Entitled to Murder. Yay! And, I’m excited to share with you, a revised draft of chapter nine. You’re one chapter away from a big plot reveal. But, don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you.
If this is the first time you’ve stumbled across Entitled to Murder, I highly recommended going back and reading from chapter one. Click here to start at the beginning of the story.
Before, I dive into the opening chapter of this cozy mystery short story, here’s a brief description of the story for those who are new here.
About the Short Story
A recently widowed bookworm must solve the mysterious circumstances behind her grandfathers’ death, but there’s one thing she is certain of… the killer is a member of her family.
Lucy Hobbs has lived a sheltered life. The only danger she has ever faced was turning the pages of a murder mystery novel. All of that is about to change. It’s Halloween, Lucy’s favourite time of year, but it’s more than just a holiday—it’s her grandfather, Alfred’s 87th birthday. After months of grieving this is the one thing, she has been looking forward too. Little does Lucy know she is walking into a family feud, a lost sheep, and murder. On the day of Alfred’s Will reading, Lucy learns of some unexpected changes that cause her to look at the birthday party’s events under a new light.
Can Lucy figure out who the murderer is before they strike again?
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address the publisher at: hello at ameliadhay dot com.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Dull whispers were the background symphony to Alfred’s lawyer’s entrance into Henriette’s study. Elsie Weatherford tucked her shoulder-length greying hair behind her ear, as she pulled folders out of her bag and placed them neatly on the table. The string of pearls that hung around Elsie’s neck clinked against the buttons of her navy twin set, as she continued to arrange her things on the desk in Henriette’s study. Fourteen people stood huddled around the desk, watching Elsie.
Four hours earlier, the out-of-town guests braved the storm and drove home. No one wanted to leave the family members who attended grandfather’s party had stayed on at Meadow House. A gloomy atmosphere littered with faint whispers hung over the family home. That same atmosphere was present at the will reading. Attending the will reading felt strange after all, Lucy and her family already knew how the reading would unfold. The running of Meadow Farm would be handed down to Thomas, her mother Jane’s eldest brother. Maybe the reading is just a legal formality.
Leaning against the second door to Henriette’s study that led out to the snug, Lucy bit the inside of her lip. Henriette sat on the Victorian style armchair opposite the desk. Her posture was slumped, and her head was bowed. Lucy sighed.
A warm hand brushed against Lucy’s elbow, causing her to jump. Tensing her frame, Lucy glanced over her shoulder. Colin had crept across the study from the corner bookshelves and was standing behind her, partially blocking the light from entering through the studies only window.
‘She’s practically prehistoric,’ Colin whispered in Lucy’s ear.
Lucy shook her head. ‘Elsie is the late wife of grandfather’s best friend. I hope to still have a career when I’m in my seventies, just like Elsie.’
Colin sighed. ‘What’s gotten into you? You used to be fun.’ Colin nudged Lucy’s side.
Out of the corner of her eye, a blur of grey dashed across the room from the hallway. Tiberius waltzed over the neat array of paperwork, waving his thick grey tail as if he was on a leisurely stroll on a summer afternoon. The English shorthair cat stretched, then sat and curled up on top of a white envelope. Glancing up at Elsie, Tiberius let out a series of meows.
Elsie smiled at Tiberius as she stroked his thick grey coat. The meows subsided as Elsie scratched Tiberius’s chin.
‘You’re just trying to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action.’ Elsie ran her hand along Tiberius’s head, and down his back towards the tip of his tail. ‘I’ll just have to work around you, won’t I.’
Thomas got up from the armchair next to Henriette and waved Tiberius off the desk. Turning his neck, Tiberius stared straight through Thomas, then swivelled around and gazed up at Elsie. With great care, Elsie slid her fingers under Tiberius’s belly and lifted him up as she slid the envelope out.
‘Shoo,’ Thomas said, waving his hands at Tiberius who refused to budge.
Elsie dismissed Thomas. ‘He’s fine. I can work around him.’
As Elsie sat, she adjusted her spectacles and cleared her throat, causing the chatter in the room to subside. Pushing her thick-framed glasses up her nose, she clutched the envelope in her hands.
She sighed. ‘Normally, a will reading is unnecessary from a legal point of view. I thought on this occasion since you’re all here, I might read the will and answer questions that make come up.’
Margaret grimaced. ‘Why would there be questions? The will should be relatively straightforward.’
Elsie glanced up at Margaret over the top of her frames, pursed her lips, took a deep breath, then opened the envelope and pulled out a single piece of paper.
Holding the will in her hand, Elsie started reading the document with a blank expression.
Colin leaned forward and whispered in Lucy’s ear. ‘Best poker face ever.’
A moment later, Elsie looked up and surveyed the crowd. She sighed.
‘Seven days ago, Alfred changed his will, sealed it in this envelope and asked me not to submit it to the courts until after his death.’ Elsie took another deep breath.
Margaret clutched her bump and raised her eyebrows. ‘Sorry?’
Thomas rolled his eyes as Elsie held out a finger to silence anyone else who talked.
‘Alfred’s assets include Meadow House, Meadow Farm, and fifty thousand pounds of cash distributed among various accounts, including his pension.’ Elsie glanced up at the restless crowd. ‘And now for the official reading of the will.’ Elsie pursed her lips as she scanned the page. ‘I, Alfred William Henry Chambers being of sound mind and body etc. etc. etc. Leave Meadow Farm, it’s assets, any intellectual properties, and it’s daily management to Peter Clarence Chambers.’ Elsie bit her lip as Grace and Margaret gasped.
Leaning back in his chair, Thomas shrugged as Henriette reach across and squeezed his arm. Margaret and Grace rushed to the desk and plucked the will out of Elsie’s hands and stared at the page. As Margaret’s eyes reached the bottom of the page, she glared across at Peter, who was slumped against the side of the bookshelves with a bewildered expression.
‘There must be some mistake,’ Henriette sobbed.
Grace peered down at Elsie, who remained seated on the leather desk chair. ‘My brother has spent many years working on the farm. He’s put his entire life into it.’
Murmurs from the crowd gathered in Henriette’s study grew louder as Thomas cleared his throat.
‘It’s fine.’ Thomas waved his hand. ‘There’s no way Peter can manage the farm on his own, he’s going to need my help.’ Thomas said with a vacant expression. ‘And just in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not getting any younger. Honestly, I’m relieved to know that the farm will not be a burden to me in my old age. Dad was eighty-seven and was still working. It’s nice to know, I can retire at some point.’
Margaret turned and glared at Thomas, as Henriette rose from the chair and ambled out of the office, leaving her bickering family behind her.
Colin raised his eyebrows at Lucy.
‘I don’t think she knew.’ Lucy leaned in and whispered in Colin’s ear.
Lucy sighed as Henriette turned a corner and disappeared out of sight. With a rock-forming in the pit of her stomach, Lucy weaved through the crowd. As she reached the desk, Lucy leaned across and picked up a sleeping Tiberius and cradled him in her arms as she strolled out the door and down the hall. Upon reaching the stairs, Tiberius jumped out of her arms and sprinted up to the upper level. Tiberius, I’m too tired to play.
I hope you enjoyed reading the ninth chapter of my cozy mystery short story, Entitled to Murder. Now, I need to get back to writing. Hopefully, I will finish the story by the end of the first week in February. After that, I will hand the story off to beta readers make a few minor edits, then submit the short story to my editor. Honestly, I can’t wait to share the ready to publish eBook with you. If you want a free copy of the ebook when it’s available, make sure you sign up using the opt-in form below.
Once I draw closer to pressing the publish button on this story, I may remove everything after the first chapter, depending upon whether I choose to enrol this book in Kindle Unlimited or publish it on all ebook retailer platforms. But that’s a long way off in the future. If you are interested in receiving email updates alerting you of new chapters plus a free copy of the ebook, Entitled to Murder when it finished, subscribe for updates by filling out the opt-in form below.
I’m looking forward to sharing the next few chapters with you as I finish writing and editing.
I’m Amelia. I write mystery and thriller novels under the pen name A. D. Hay and I’m the author of Missing the first book in the James Lalonde series. I’m the host of the Book Nerd Podcast and The Authorpreneur Podcast. Right now, I’m editing my soon to be published mystery novels, The Candidate, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity. When I’m not writing, hosting my podcasts or coaching aspiring authors, I love to travel around Europe with my Husband Roland, drink tea, and eat pizza.