I downed my glass of wine and glared at the article on my iPad again. There it was, in black and white, but I still could hardly believe it. My own cousin Janet, who had always been more like a sister to me, was throwing me under the bus. She wanted to leave our cable show, “Cooking Cousins,” and move on to greener—$$$—pastures. In the process, she was blaming me, saying I had cheated on our show and actually couldn’t cook a darn.
Startled, I gazed up. I’d been so lost in my anger that I hadn’t even heard my old friend Dru Ann approach the café table. I jumped up and hugged her.
“How are you?” I asked. I hoped she felt as great as she looked. Granted, Dru hadn’t lost all the weight after the last baby, but she appeared happy, and really, what else mattered?
“I’m just fine, honey.” She pulled back and nodded at my empty wine glass. “But it looks like you’re not. It’s not even 3 p.m.”
I sighed and flopped back in my chair.
“Ooh, boy, this already sounds like a doozy,” she said, sitting down. “Fill me in.”
So I told her all about Janet calling me a cheat in the media and trying to dump me. In the middle of my tale, Dru ordered her own glass of wine, which made me smile for the first time all day.
I hadn’t seen Dru Ann in more than a year. She moved down to Miami right after college about twenty-mumble-mumble years ago, and only returned home occasionally, like now, for Thanksgiving, which was in three days. She has three adorable kids, but I was glad they were visiting with relatives this afternoon so Dru and I could have a good old gab fest.
She shook her head as I finished talking. “This seems out of character for Janet.” Dru knew my cousin, too. “So, what are you going to do about it?”
“Well, I’m certainly not going to just sit here and take it.”
Dru Ann laughed. “I never thought you would.”
I leaned forward. “The girls and I have devised a plan to get revenge,” I said, referring to my three teenage daughters. “We’re calling it Operation Knock Her Down a Peg. Janet is having some network exec over to her house for Thanksgiving. Let’s just say I’m going to make sure that dinner doesn’t come off quite the way Janet hopes.”
Now Dru Ann roared. “I’ve always appreciated your spunk, Cathleen.” She paused and frowned. “It’s so much better than taking everything.”
Dru Ann had never lacked a backbone. “What are you talking about?”
“I have this friend at work, Lizzie. That poor girl. She’s perfectly lovely. Mid-twenties. Beautiful long, dark hair. Pretty face. Nice figure. But she’s friends with all these size-zeroes who make her feel like a big, fat zero herself.”
I wrinkled my brow. “That’s terrible.”
“She’s finally found a nice guy, but these girls don’t like him because he doesn’t have any money.”
Dru nodded. “She has the same problem you do, honey. She’s put her trust in the wrong people. She should dump those … witches. Although, now that I think about it …”
“Well, Lizzie does have terrible taste in friends. And I’ve never met this boyfriend. Just heard her talk about him. Maybe he’s too good to be true.” She finished her wine. “I’d hoped this was her happily ever after, but what if it’s the beginning of something worse. Something far, far worse.”
Oh Lord. “It’s a short plane ride from here to Miami. And it looks like I’m going to be out of a job in a few days. Maybe I’ll fly back home with you and give Lizzie a few pointers in sticking up for herself.”
“She could use it,” Dru Ann said. “Now, what exactly do you have planned for your cousin for Thanksgiving?”
I rubbed my hands together in glee. “Let’s just say you’d want to avoid the turkey. And the green-bean casserole. And the pumpkin soup. And the …”
Learn more about Lizzie’s story in “Dead and Buried Treasure,” which appears in the new Halloween crime anthology All Hallows’ Evil (published in trade paperback and as an e-book by Mystery and Horror, LLC.) Does Lizzie get her happily ever after? Or do her hopes and dreams end up dead and buried?
And learn more about Cathleen’s Thanksgiving revenge in “Operation Knock Her Down a Peg,” which appears in the new anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: Room for Thirds (published as an e-book by Untreed Reads Publishing). This anthology is filled with humorous crime stories set at Thanksgiving.
Meet the Author
Like your crime short and sweet? So does Barb Goffman. She’s the Macavity Award-winning author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Even, a short-story collection published in April 2013 by Wildside Press. In September, Barb won the Macavity Award for her story “The Lord Is My Shamus,” which is available in her collection. She’s been nominated multiple times for the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards for her short stories, as well as once for the Pushcart Prize. Her stories run from funny to dark, and from amateur sleuth to police procedural.
Barb works as a freelance crime-fiction editor. In her spare time, she serves as a co-editor of the award-winning Chesapeake Crimes series, as program chair of the Malice Domestic mystery convention, and as secretary of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She’s a past president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime.