Skeletons in the Closet

By: Jennifer L. Hart

The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag:Skeletons in the Closet





Dedication





In loving memory of Betty M. Kiley.

Who loved a good mystery almost as much as a good laugh.

I miss you, Nanny.





Acknowledgments



Big thank you to my editor M.E. Ellis and for taking a chance and putting in a great deal of time and effort.

A special shout out to Dan Allen for running the website while it lasted, and J.T., thanks for all the grafix. To my most excellent proof readers, Rachel Saltzman and Elizabeth Krijgsman, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules.

To Amy Duncan, Kat Marshall, Roy and Ginger Smith, and all of my other favorite readers, even if I just entertain you guys, it’s been worth it.

And to my husband, Scott, you’ll never know how much it means to have someone listen to me rant. Thanks for not making me feel crazy and for watching the munchkin brigade whenever I need to write. I couldn’t have done it without you.







The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag: Skeletons in the Closet





Maggie Phillips hasn’t had it easy. As the wife of retired Navy SEAL, and the adoptive mother of two little hellions, Maggie is constantly looking for ways to improve her family’s financial situation. She accepts a cleaning position for her new neighbors (who redefine the term ‘eccentric’), never imagining she will end up as the sole alibi for a man with a fascination for medieval torture devices when he is brought up on murder charges.





While Maggie struggles to prove the man’s innocence, her deadbeat brother arrives, determined to sell Maggie and Neil on his next great scheme and to mooch with a vengeance. If that isn’t bad enough, her in-laws, (the cut-throat corporate attorneys) descend on the house, armed with disapproval and condemnation, for the family’s annual Thanksgiving celebration.





As the police investigation intensifies, Maggie searches for the killer among the upper echelon of Hudson, Massachusetts in the only way she can— by scrubbing their thrones.





Of the porcelain variety, that is…





Chapter One




One of these days the world will be invaded by aliens, and I’ll miss it. Since I average at least an hour to get dressed, the mother ship will enslave the human race while I’m struggling with pantyhose. Do other women have these problems?

I don’t know about the rest of my gender, but I average an hour, not due to my technique for applying makeup or picking out the perfect outfit. My hour consists of stupid hold-ups. For instance, one evening not so long ago, I climbed from my shower, did the eyeliner and mascara bit, and turned my attention to my hair. I’d pulled my semi-dry tresses into a bun while doing makeup, but one scraggly gray stood straight up in the air, a traitorous rebel surrendering to the onslaught of age. I didn’t want to pull the bugger because I’ve heard that three more will take its place. Who knows if this is actually true, but why take the risk? So I combed the gray, and that’s when I saw it.

Dandruff.

Shit.

Why didn’t I use the Head-n-Shoulders? So now the crisis: should I ignore the dry, flakey scalp and forgo the awesome black dress for something else or rewash my hair?

Neil pounded on the bathroom door. “Are you almost ready?”

I gazed in the mirror. The gray hair and the dandruff had joined forces and were on a full-fledged campaign to ruin my appearance.

“I’ll be done when I’m done,” I announced through the door.

“Come on, Maggie, we’re gonna be late.”

I rolled my eyes. Big shocker. Neil and I were always late. As the parents of two young boys, we blamed our tardiness on the kids, but in truth, I’m usually at fault.

I poked my head around the corner. “Go check on the boys.”

“Yikes,” Neil said as he scanned the horror of his wife. “Take your time.”

Neil is a retired navy SEAL. It takes some effort to scare him.

I turned back to the mirror.

“What I need is a game plan,” I told my reflection. I grabbed a pair of cuticle scissors from my vanity table and attempted to cut the gray. This was not as simple as it may sound. Trying to sever just the gray required both a steady hand and compensation for the backwards motion in the mirror. A few of the dark brown strands were sacrificed for the greater good. Next up, the dandruff.

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