During her journey on the number 19 bus from Finsbury Park to Sloane Square, Mavis MacDonald had a lengthy, silent chat with herself about how she enjoyed the company of her three colleagues, but that she was under no illusions about the fact that the WISE Enquiries Agency was facing a challenging time. She was well aware they needed A Serious Chat about their future, and, by the time she alighted at her bus stop, she’d decided that this would be the day for that discussion.
On this particular morning, the stairs from the street to the office were also proving to be a challenge, and Mavis felt all of her sixty-odd years as she tried to maintain a steady pace upward. She told herself she was thankful that Christine Wilson-Smythe’s father, the viscount, had been allowing them to use the office space for almost nothing, but the income just wasn’t, well. . .coming in. She then told herself that was understandable, because Annie Parker had been laid up for some time after being stabbed while in pursuit of a vicious kidnapper a few months back, and Carol Hill – the woman whose computer skills were quite amazing – was happily pregnant.
Mavis smiled as she recollected Carol’s delight when she’d told them all about the baby – Carol and her husband had been trying for so long, and it seemed that their doctor had been right after all; Carol had given up her stressful, high-powered job in the City to join the team and had fallen pregnant within the year. “Good for you, Carol,” thought Mavis as she approached the door to the office. Having two grown sons and now two grandsons herself, she knew how fulfilling family life could be, though she still mourned the loss of her poor, dear husband.
Before she opened the door, Mavis drew herself up to her full five feet and straightened her serviceable navy blue gabardine. It wouldn’t do for the girls – which was how she thought of them, even though Annie was in her fifties and given to the odd bout of unenviable perspiration – to see her looking anything less than her best. Her decades as an army nurse had taught her that appearance matters; to be taken seriously, first one has to take oneself seriously. She was pretty sure there must be an old Scottish saying along those lines, but she couldn’t recall it at that moment.
She hoped there’d be a pot of tea ready, and was pretty confident that both Carol and Annie would already be at their desks. As for Christine? It was difficult to berate her for her lack of punctuality because she was a delightful wee girl. Ah, to be beautiful, rich, titled and in your twenties. . .Mavis envied her, but she was such a bright, happy, and thoughtful person, she just couldn’t find it in herself to be cross with her. Annie Parker on the other hand – now she was a real handful. Like Pooh’s friend Tigger, that was Annie – always bounding about the place, and tripping over her own feet on many an occasion. But also a good woman, at heart. Sharp tongue on her though, and always running off with that cockney rhyming slang nonsense. Mavis tried to keep her under control, but she just wouldn’t be silenced sometimes. No discipline.
Carol was a delight. Pure and simple, a country girl originally, Mavis had warmed to her the day they’d met. Mavis had known a lot of Welsh men and women in the armed forces, and had always been aware of their often-intense intelligence and quick wits – plus their ability to sing or fight at the drop of a hat. Carol was like that, though much more likely to sing than fight, thought Mavis. But with a wee bairn on the way, she might be off and leaving them before they knew it. Then where would they be?
Sighing heavily, Mavis opened the door, ready to face the day. There was Carol, her head bent over her computer, twirling one of her short blonde curls with a finger, and Annie’s tall, angular frame was jerking about on her chair as she battled with the running shoes she wore for her tube journey every morning. No sign of Christine. Not a surprise; she was probably trying to park her Range Rover somewhere. Mavis hooked her practical, short-bobbed hair behind her ears, then unbelted her coat, placing it carefully on a hanger.
The day had begun. She wondered what it would hold for the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency.
You can read more about Mavis and her friends in The Case of the Dotty Dowager, the first book in the NEW “WISE Enquiries Agency” mystery series, published by Severn House Publishers.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on July 3 for the chance to win a signed copy of The Case of the Dotty Dowager. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.
About the author
Born and raised in Swansea, South Wales, Cathy Ace is the author of the Cait Morgan Mysteries. Her new series is The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries – featuring four female professional investigators, one of whom is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish and one English (hence the acronym). They tackle quirky British cases from their base at a Welsh stately home – the ancient seat of the Twyst family, the Dukes of Chellingworth, set in the rolling countryside of the Wye Valley in Powys, Wales. Cathy now lives in Beautiful British Columbia, where her ever-supportive husband and two chocolate Labradors make sure she’s able to work full-time as an author, and enjoy her other passion – gardening.