Severely caffeinated from the sweetness and caffeine of the whoopie-pie latte and stuffed with homemade cruller, I dropped off my plate at the counter and waved on my way out. With that, I trotted across the road to the brick monstrosity standing next to the local fire station where I had essentially grown up.

It wasn’t a house, but a business with a discreet plaque letting everyone know it was first opened in 1910. My family had been running the business since then. It was a point of pride for my father, but a bone of contention between us.

My one brother had chosen yard maintenance along with general handyman work and the other was a funeral director like my dad, destined someday to take over the family business. Which had left me free to marry Waldo and make babies, according to my mother.

Except now the marriage was over, my mother had no grandbabies, and my father was hinting very heavily that I should come work full-time for him and my brother. Which was not going to happen if I could in any way avoid it.

He kept promising me a raise if I’d step up to full-time, but I was having none of it. With my wages here, my wallet was tight, but I had wanted to keep out from under my parents’ rule. So, I’d made the tough decision to take on cleaning my former friends’ houses to supplement my income.

As I walked into the brick tunnel covering the driveway, I counted the days until I could be done with the cleaning jobs and concentrate solely on filling out reams of paper work to run my own business. Too many at this point to be happy, but it was better than nothing.

And, despite the fact I’d once gotten trapped in a coffin in the basement, I didn’t mind living with the other, better memories to be had at the family business. At least my dad had let me rent the small apartment above the parlor.

Long ago, my grandfather had lived up there with his whole family. When my parents had married, my mother had nixed that idea before it even entered my father’s mind. Living above dead people wasn’t my dream come true, either. However, I couldn’t ask for better or quieter neighbors.

I strolled by one of the two hearses my father had on hand as I got myself into funeral mode. The behemoth cars were all black with silver scrollwork, very tasteful and beautiful in their own way, but they weren’t for everyone.

As lovely as they were, it had been traumatizing to have to take my driver’s test in one of the big boats. Most likely, the Department of Motor Vehicles employee at Penn DOT had been scarred for life too, since shortly after the momentous event he became a clown in the circus that had come through the next town over.

I barely made it through the door before I was hit by the whirlwind that was my mother.

“Hi, baby! How was your day? The bathroom’s all ready for you, sweetheart. I know how hard it is to clean all those floors. I don’t understand why you do that when you could just as easily have taken a loan from me. You shouldn’t have dish-water hands when you used to direct the help.”

Karen Graver was in fine form today as she rambled on, trailing along behind as I went through the side door and straight to the office and bath in the back of the building. She must have been waiting at the door, which wasn’t unusual even if it was unnecessary.

It was the same litany every time: Why didn’t I let her help financially? Why did I have to make things so much harder for myself? Why was I, a working stiff instead of sitting in the lap of luxury? Why hadn’t I provided her with at least one grandbaby to dote on since my brothers were probably never going to settle down?


You can read more about Tallulah in Cremains Of The Day, the first book in the NEW “Tallie Graver” mystery series.

There’s no reverse on the hearse . . .

For Tallulah Graver, marrying wealthy Waldo Phillips seemed like the best way out of the family business, the Graver Funeral Home. But when her marriage falls apart and Tallie is left with next to nothing, she turns to cleaning houses to make ends meet. As humbling as it is to tidy the mansions of the snobby socialites she used to call friends, at least she doesn’t have to be around dead bodies. Until . . .

She discovers one of her employers lying in a closet with a knife sticking out of her chest. This unpleasant shock seems to be part of a web of weird experiences: Tallie’s friend Gina’s shop is broken into, her ex is stun-gunned where it hurts the most, and now she’s receiving flowers from the dead woman. Granted the deliveryman is handsome, but seriously, that’s enough to cast a pall over anyone’s day. Now Tallie needs to dig deep to clean up this mess—before she finds herself in a grave situation.

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Meet the author
Misty Simon loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There’s nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter and three insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at misty@mistysimon.com or visit her website at mistysimon.wordpress.com.

All comments are welcomed.

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