Barking With the Stars

Barking With the Stars

Sparkle Abbey

November 2017 $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-841-7

Lights! Camera! Murder!

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Lights! Camera! Murder!

A star-studded fundraiser to help provide service dogs for wounded warriors sets tongues wagging . . . about Caro Lamont, pet therapist to the stars.

Caro’s ex-husband Geoffrey is spreading rumors about her competence and snuggling up to the biggest stars, including Purple - the temperamental diva, who's the lynchpin of the celebrity line-up. All too soon, Caro is losing clients, her reputation, and patience with Geoffrey's shenanigans.

More trouble is unleashed when the high-strung headliner is found dead and Geoffrey was seen leaving her hotel room. With a potential killer on the loose, Caro is hounded by questions about who had reason to want Purple out of the picture. Though all the evidence points to her ex, Caro believes the police are on the wrong trail.

Even if her sleuthing puts her in the doghouse with Detective Judd Malone, Caro must dig up the truth before the real killer gets away with murder.

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series. The pen name was created by combining the names of their rescue pets—Sparkle (Mary Lee’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). They reside in central Iowa, but if they could write anywhere, you would find them on the beach with their laptops and, depending on the time of day, with either an iced tea or a margarita. Visit them at


"Such a cute series!” — Polished Nails and Puppy Dog Tales blog


Chapter One

I SHOULD HAVE known something was up by the way folks were looking at me. The sideways glances and the subtle turning away should have given me a clue. But the swirl of chatter, the yips and barks, and the swell of people and pets, surrounded me as soon as I walked in.

Still, I haven’t always been a pet therapist, I was trained as a clinical psychologist, for Pete’s sake. You’d think I’d have a little bit of insight.

But there’d been a fender bender in the southbound lanes of PCH and traffic had been backed up so I was running late. I’d skidded into the hotel in a big ole hurry, gotten directions, and raced to the volunteer check-in at greyhound speed. Then in such a tizzy over my tardiness, I just assumed that was the reason for the stares. I’d failed to catch that there might be something else going on.

"Oh, there you are.” Rufus McGrill, the onsite organizer for the star-studded event, hurried up, his tablet at the ready, his face nearly as red as his hair. "People have been looking for you.”

"I’m so sorry.” I dug in my bag for my credentials which the volunteer packet I’d been given said I needed to be wearing at all times. "Traffic was awful.” Ah, there it was. I slipped the lanyard over my head and adjusted the tag, which proclaimed, "Barking with the Stars Official Pet Liaison.”

My friend Diana Knight had been the one who’d gotten me involved in the celebrity fundraiser which would benefit a group called Warriors for the Paws, but I have to tell you, convincing me had not taken a ton of arm twisting.

When Sunny Simone, the CEO of Warriors for the Paws, had told me that every day twenty-two veterans take their own lives, I’d felt sick. Twenty-two. What a shocking number. That’s a suicide every sixty-five minutes. Her group matched trained therapy dogs with veterans who’d developed post-traumatic stress disorders from the horrors they’d experienced in combat zones. Too many soldiers came back with PTSD, and these dogs could be just what the doctor ordered for so many—from waking their human from night terrors to helping the veterans remain calm in stressful situations to helping with episodes of depresssion. I’d checked them out and Warriors for the Pawswas making a difference. I was in.

"Yoo-hoo, Caro.”

Hearing my name, I looked for the source.

I spotted an arm waving from across the room. Diana Knight was so petite that I couldn’t see the rest of her, but I recognized the blond hair and the flash of hot-pink nails. And, well, who could miss those diamonds?

Once Hollywood’s darling in a series of classic romantic comedies in the fifties, Diana was a classic herself. Now, in her eighties, she had not slowed down one bit. As she parted the crowd and headed toward me, I could see she had her rescue puggle, Mr. Wiggles, tucked close to her. Diana’s heart was as big as her fame, and she collected strays like she collected fans. I guess in a way you could say I was one of those strays.

"Oh, my.” She stopped in front of me and took a deep breath. "What an unbelievable turnout of volunteers.” Dressed to the nines, as always, she sported an icy-blue pantsuit with a brightly colored scarf thrown over her shoulders and wrapped around the pup like a sling. "Mr. Wiggles is glad to see you. Aren’t you, buddy?” She picked up the pup’s paw and wiggled it so it looked like he was waving at me. "Say good morning to Caro.”

"Good morning.” I gave the pup a nuzzle.

"Don’t you look amazing, as always?” she continued. "Is that a new Stella McCartney?”

I nodded. Diana loved fashion and kept up with the latest designers. She hardly ever guessed wrong. I’d picked up the top recently and loved the dog-print motif.

"If I had your height and gorgeous red hair, I’d wear her, too.” She continued without taking a breath, "Have you seen Armand and Elizabeth? They were looking for you. And that nice Rebecca Tyler was name-dropping your name all over the place and bragging about how wonderful you were during the Pet Intervention project.”

Mr. Wiggles pushed against the scarf/sling and gave a little yip.

"The crowd is a little overwhelming for him. He’s not used to not being able to run around at will.” She placed him on the floor but kept her hand on his leash.

"But a crowd is great for the cause, though, right?” I smiled at Rufus who waited for Diana to finish, though I couldn’t say he waited patiently. In fact, his red hair now stood upright, making it appear as if his forehead was on fire.

"You were saying...” I threw the conversation back in his direction.

"Sunny would like for you to take a look at the accommodations for our headliner, Purple, and her dog, Lavender. I know you’ve already been working with them. Anyway, Sunny said you had to approve the dressing room setup.” He glanced down at the screen. "And then, if you could, check on... uhm... Babycakes?”

I nodded. "That’s Shar Summer’s Chinese Crested.” Shar was a hit sensation on a popular television show about triplet sisters who perform magic. In reality, all three triplets were played by her. I’d known this type of event would be right up her alley.

"That’s right.” Rufus clutched the tablet to his chest.

"First, I have to check in with Kristen Karmania and her teacup Chihuahua. I promised I’d let her know when I got here.”

"No.” I wasn’t sure who said it first, Diana or Rufus, but they both said it with force.

"What do you mean, no?” I looked from one to the other.

"Well...” Rufus stood poised like he wanted to make a run for it. "You see...” His voice trailed off and he looked down at his tablet.

"Oh, for Pete’s sake, just tell her.” Diana rolled her eyes. "KK and her band of bimbos have been led astray by your ex and have said to tell you your services are no longer needed. They don’t even have to chutzpah to tell you in person.”

"Geoff is here?” I wasn’t as worried about being dumped as I was about my ex-husband. I should have expected it, but I hadn’t heard from him recently so I’d wrongly assumed he had moved on. "That...” I couldn’t think of a term for Geoffrey that I could say in polite company.

"I’m afraid, it’s worse than that.” Diana took my arm and steered me away from Rufus and the group of people who had slowly inched closer in an attempt to hear.

"You see, he has not only inserted himself into the Barking with the Stars event and ingratiated himself to some of the celebrities, but he’s also been spreading rumors.”

"What kind of rumors?” I didn’t care so much about losing Kristen Karmania, or KK as the press referred to her. She hadn’t been a client for long and in the short few weeks I’d been working with her, I’d had my doubts about whether she really had any interest in following my advice. Chihuahuas can be high strung, but Scamp, her teacup, was Zen in comparison to KK herself.

"Well, hello there, Ms. Lamont. Do you care to comment on the all the buzz?” Callum MacAvoy, ace reporter for the local television station and a constant thorn in my side, inserted himself between Diana and me.

I wasn’t sure if he meant the event or the rumors being spread by my ex. Either way the answer was the same.

"No, I don’t.” I looked behind him and didn’t see a camera crew so he wasn’t really reporting on anything at all. Plain and simple, MacAvoy was on a fishing expedition.

"Excuse us.” I scooped up Mr. Wiggles, linked my arm with Diana’s, and moved us to a corner that seemed semi-private. "What is Geoff saying?”

"He’s telling people, your clients, that you are taking some time off. That you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown since being held hostage by that crazy man you helped capture a while back, and you’re going to give up your practice and move to England.” Diana’s voice quivered with disgust.

"What?” I couldn’t wrap my head around Diana’s words. "I’m what?”

"There you are.” Of course, his voice projected from across the room.

Speak of...

Though it was a sad cliché, "speak of the devil” was exactly what popped into my head as Geoffrey Carlisle, my ex-husband, slithered up and put his arm around my shoulders.

"Are you okay, my dear?” Gloriously handsome on the outside and rotten to the core on the inside, Geoff’s fake worry might have sounded sincere. To someone who hadn’t been emotionally destroyed by him. "I’ve been hearing the most awful things. Like you’re losing it.” He smiled but more at the nearby eavesdroppers than at me.

"I am about to lose it, but not in the way you mean.” I kept my voice low. "Remove your arm from me. And don’t touch me again.”

He dropped his arm and took a step back. The man had movie-star looks and played them. His dark hair a perfect foil to his expensive custom-made charcoal suit—blue tie chosen to complement his vivid-blue eyes. Contacts.

"You look good, Carolina.” His tone was pleasant but dripped with insincerity.

I glanced down at my jeans and the designer dog-print top. There was a time when Geoff’s polish would have caused me to feel inadequate. Not anymore. I knew who I was and I liked my bohemian look.

Besides, my clothes were all washable, and when you’re dealing with wound-up canines, that trumps fashion any day. Somehow, I didn’t think his high-priced Tom Ford suit would fare so well when someone’s puppy peed on it.



Chapter Two

DOWN, GIRL. I walked away from Geoffrey without another word. I’d learned there was nothing to be gained from engaging with someone who wouldn’t know the truth if it hit him upside the head. The last time we’d talked, I’d told him in no uncertain terms that I hoped we never crossed paths again. Ever. And I’d meant it.

Now, here he was. Smack dab in the middle of my world again and, from what Diana had shared, not only attempting to take over my clients, but this time he also seemed intent on trashing my reputation.

As I stomped back to the dressing rooms, I was pretty sure everyone I passed could see the steam coming out of my ears. I stopped and took a deep breath. I’d deal with the rumors and lies later, but first I needed to check on Babycakes. That was, if Shar Summers hadn’t also fired me.

It was easy to find Shar. I simply followed the trail of pink. The television star was looking over what would be her dressing room. I poked my head in the door. It was already awash in pink satin, pink pillows, and pink clothes.

She looked up from where she sat at a sparkly dressing table draped in pink beads. "Hello, Caro.” She waved a hand decorated in multiple pink rings. "Come on in.”

The petite star had her dog tucked under one arm, and with the other hand she was flipping through what I assumed were the program notes. The little Chinese Crested was high strung. And, in the sequined doggie coat and hat, looked more like a well-dressed alien than a canine.

"Did you need something?” I took a deep, calming breath. No need to bring my own unresolved Geoffrey-tension into the situation.

"I just wanted to know if there was something I should be doing with Baby. You know, to get her to be okay with this. I can’t have her nipping at the other celebs or their pooches. I haven’t had a problem with her lately but this will be a lot of people and a lot of puppy dogs.”

"That’s why I suggested you bring her today. So, she can get acclimated and once she’s used to the place she won’t be so nervous.” I’d also thought maybe Shar wouldn’t be so nervous as well. Nervous owner translates to nervous and unstable dog. But I hadn’t said all that aloud.

"My angel-baby seems a-okay.” She set aside the notes. "Right, girlie-wirlie?”

I knew from the baby-talk she was addressing the dog and not me. "Ri—”

"What the hell is this?” A voice screeched from the dressing room next door.

We all three froze.

"I said, What. The. Hell. Is. This?”

Each word was punctuated with something hitting the wall. More really bad words followed at the same volume, and Shar sat mid-sentence—her mouth open, blond curls frozen, her blue eyes wide. Babycakes began to shake.

"This is not what I asked for. I asked for pomegranate juice. POM-OH-GRAN-IT! Got it?”

The door opened and then slammed shut, rattling the sparkly pink beads draped on Shar’s mirror. I opened the dressing room door and peeked out in time to see Purple, the event’s headliner and biggest star, stomp down the hallway toward the exit.

"Wait!” A Keith-Urban-look-alike in faded jeans and spiky blond hair followed her. A roadie maybe? Or one of her musicians or technical crew?

Purple didn’t turn around, but raised a hand over her head and made a smoosh of dismissal. "Later.”

"Come on.” The guy slapped his leg with the paper he held and retreated.

Rufus and his clipboard attempted to intercept Purple at the end of the hall, but she pushed him aside and continued.

"Wow, and I thought I was high maintenance.” Shar had come up behind me. She played a bit of a ditz on her TV show, and sometimes I wasn’t always sure it was acting, but in this case, she was spot on with her assessment.

"Wow, is right.” I didn’t know who Purple had been yelling at but whoever it was certainly had not deserved such an abusive dressing down.

"That’s Diva with a capital D, or I guess P in this case.” Shar giggled at her joke as she continued to stare down the hall where Purple had disappeared.

I was thinking a different word entirely, but my mama raised me better so I didn’t say it aloud.

Purple was an amazing singer, but she was even more famous for wearing wigs that obscured her face. The wigs varied in style and color, though mostly a white blond with some sort of bow or hair ornament and a vivid streak of purple down the right side. They always completely covered her facial features except for her mouth, thus creating an irresistible air of mystery.

No doubt about it, the look was very effective marketing. You couldn’t argue with that. The singing sensation had become much more than a talented vocalist. The enigma she created with the mystery surrounding what she really looked like and why she covered her face was the stuff of legends. She’d topped the charts, filled stadiums, and was a much-sought-after late-night talk show guest.

And her fans. Well, they were something else. They bought her music, they followed her from venue to venue, they dressed like her, they collected Purple t-shirts, Purple dolls, Purple posters, Purple key chains, and Purple underwear. I swear I am not making that last one up.

Shar and I ducked back into her dressing room.

"How do you think she sees?” Shar tipped her head.

"I’ve wondered that myself.” I’d been working with Purple and her dog, Lavender, at the house she’d just purchased in one of Laguna Beach’s gated communities, and in the half-dozen or so times I’d been there, I’d never seen her without the wig. It seemed to me that always wearing a wig would be beyond uncomfortable, but you couldn’t argue with the fame the image had created.

"Thanks for getting me involved with Barking with the Stars.” Shar set Babycakes down carefully in her pink puppy stroller.

"I’m glad you were able to do it.” I handed her the list of tips I was sharing with everyone. "It’s such a great cause.”

"There’s something I need to tell you.” Shar looked up from the paper, her blue eyes blinking furiously.

"What is it?” Shar and I had some history and her nervousness could mean a number of things.

"It’s just that I don’t know if you know it, but there are some online sites with bad reviews about you and your business,” she said in a rush. "Some of the others were talking about it earlier. No one believes them, of course, but I thought you should know.”


Apparently not content to simply spread lies about my mental health, he’d also taken advantage of other ways to trash me and my business. What a jerk.

"Thanks for letting me know.” I unclenched my fists and concentrated on breathing normally. "I really appreciate it.”

"I don’t know what you can do, but thought you’d want to know.” She went back to reading through the list.

Once I’d finished up with Shar and Babycakes, I moved on to my next celebrity check-in. I shared my tip sheet and then spent some time with Armand and Elizabeth Watts, who’d just had their first child.

I had been working with them for months. Their little Skye Terrier, Plucky, had initially had some difficulty in dealing with the idea that he was no longer the center of their world. But they had been great to work with and things were going well now. Armand, a superhero movie actor, and Elizabeth, a romcom darling, were the latest Hollywood "It” couple and the people-watching magazines followed their every move, so lending their support to Barking with the Stars would add even more press interest in the event.

As I was leaving their dressing room, I saw Rufus down the hallway chatting with Diana, and decided to check in. I knew she understood, but I’d sort of left Diana standing when I walked away from Geoffrey.

"How do you think things are going?” I asked.

Rufus’s color seemed to have calmed, so I hoped that was a good indication his blood pressure had returned to normal and that things were going smoothly.

"Well, our celeb-who-shall-not-be-named has apparently calmed down.” He tapped his tablet and looked around. "At least for now.”

"I was going to check out her dressing room next, but I really wanted to do my assessment with her and the dog present. Maybe I’ll stop by her place on my way home.” Perhaps I could help in providing some calm or at least figure out what had her so on edge.

"Oh, she’s not there.” His smile seemed like more of a grimace. "We’ve put her up in the Starfish Suite here at the hotel.”

"Really?” The woman had just purchased a fabulous house in Laguna Beach. The drive to the hotel was ten, maybe fifteen, minutes, tops. "Why would you need to do that?”

"She’s having some remodeling work done on her house and the noise is, quote, driving her up a wall, unquote.” He made air-quote hand gestures as he spoke.

"Then it makes it even easier for me to stop by.” I patted his arm. "Hang in there, Rufus. You’re doing great. Besides, in a week this will all be over.”

"Thanks, Caro.” He smiled, this time a genuine smile. "You’re right. Just so many egos in one place. Sometimes I wonder what we were thinking.”

On my way back to the lobby, I ran in to Mandy, Purple’s assistant, who was pushing a luggage cart through the courtyard and toward the westward wing of the complex.

"Can I get someone to help you with that?” I held the door for her to pass through. "I’m sure the hotel staff would be happy to assist.” In fact, I was pretty sure they would be appalled that she was doing it herself.

"No, I’m good.” Mandy was smaller than I was in stature, but she clearly worked out. She wasn’t having any problem maneuvering the overloaded cart. "Thanks, though,” she added as an afterthought.

I followed her to the next doorway and held it as well. "I’d heard you and Purple were setting up here for the duration.”

"Yep, the noise the contractors were making in doing the demo work was awful.” She stopped in front of the elevator and pushed the button.

"Listen, I was hoping to check in with Purple and Lavender.” I realized Mandy, much like Rufus, kept everything running. "Would now be a good time?”

"I can check.” She pushed the button again. "It’s been a stressful day.”

I wanted to ask about the earlier incident but it was really none of my business. "I don’t want to put you in a bad spot, so if she’s not up to it, that’s fine. I can come back. But it might be a good idea if I see how Lavender is doing. Especially after a day in all the chaos.” The elevator had arrived and I held the door for her. "The problems she’s had I understand have mostly been in hotels when you all were on the road.”

"You’re welcome to try.” Mandy pushed the luggage rack into the elevator. "Follow me.”

The elevator stopped on the sixth floor and we got off. Again, I held the door so she could push the cart through. As she turned it toward the hallway leading to the rooms, one of the boxes shifted and I reached forward to grab it.

"Holy Guacamole! Don’t run me over.” A voice from the other side of the cart sounded all too familiar.

"Betty?” I leaned around the cart to see Betty Foxx, who worked at my cousin Melinda’s pet boutique.

"Carmen, what are you doin’ here?”

Betty never called me by my given name. I’d given up on figuring out whether it was due to not actually remembering it or if she was messing with me. Clearly her loyalties lay with my cousin, Melinda, so I was guessing the latter.

"I could ask the same of you,” she shot back.

Betty, as usual, was dressed in what some might call satin pajamas but what she’d determined was fashion-forward day wear. This matched set was a hot pink with big white polka-dots. As always, the look was finished off with a single strand of pearls and eyebrows painted on with lipstick.

You heard that right. Lipstick eyebrows. In this case, neon pink.

On this foible as well, I’d given up on trying to figure out the logic.

"Well, I got this here bow. Made special for that big star Purple’s dog.” Betty held aloft what looked like a corsage box. "I gotta deliver it to her and when I went by the house, the lady there told me she was living here. Temporarily.”

"I can take that.” Mandy held out her hand.

"No way, Jose’, lady.” Betty shook her gray curls and held the box out of reach.

"Purple is not seeing anyone right now,” Mandy said firmly. "She’s resting.”

"Well, it looks like you and Carol are goin’ that way so I’ll just tag along.” Betty shifted her white patent-leather pocketbook and crossed her arms. "I’ll hang out until she’s rested and ready to see me.”

"Fine.” Mandy seemed to know she wasn’t going to win this one. "Follow me.”

When we reached the Starfish Suite, Mandy took out a key card, swiped it, and opened the door. "You two wait here.” She held up her hand.

I hated being lumped in with Betty, and the fact was I was still plenty upset with her and the problems she’d caused my cousin, Mel, and me over a family brooch. Mel and I had been on the outs for a while over our Grandma Tillie’s brooch, and just when we were getting close to a truce, well, let’s just say Betty stepped in and made things worse. And now neither of us had the brooch.

Mandy motioned us into the room.

Referring to the space as a "room” was a pretty big understatement. The suite was probably on par with my house in terms of square footage.

Purple was ensconced in a large royal-blue high-backed chair. She was draped in a black-and-white satin robe, and her Lhasa Apso, Lavender, sat on a small settee by her side. Although I’d met with the pop star many times, I was always disconcerted by being unable to make eye contact.

Her platinum-blond wig completely obscured the top half of her face and the usual vivid streak of purple accented the right side. What I could see of her face was smooth and flawless, her jawline delicate. Her lips, the deep hue of a classic red rose, were perfect.

In the short time I’d known her it always seemed to me Purple was forever on stage. Setting the perfect scene. Playing a part. As a psychologist, I found it fascinating. As a person, I found it concerning.

Mandy had pulled the luggage cart into the room and had begun taking the boxes off one by one. Her movements were swift and efficient, like the woman herself. Pick up a box, pull it off, drop it. One after another.

"Would you like something to drink?” Purple raised the crystal glass she held, her voice soft and nothing like the strident tone I’d overheard when I’d been in Shar’s dressing room. "Perhaps some pomegranate juice? It’s very good for you.” She set the glass down on a small white satin-draped tray on her lap. More of the staging. "Mandy, would you get these lovely ladies something to drink?”

"No, thank you,” Betty and I answered at once.

"Please have a seat.” The singing sensation made a regal gesture in the direction of the couch.

Betty and I sat down side by side on the blue-and-white striped sofa. I looked over at Betty and her odd outfit and bizarre hot-pink eyebrows. Somehow it didn’t seem quite as crazy in the presence of a pop star with a wig covering her most of her face.

"What’s with the wig?” Betty asked, always to the point. "Can you see outta that?”

"You’ve brought the bow?” Purple ignored her question and held out her hand. Slim and elegant fingers tipped in a dark magenta.

Betty scooted forward and handed the box to her.

Purple opened it and held it out for us to see. A big purple hairbow with tufts of wide gold.

"Perfect.” She stroked the shiny ribbon. "Look, Mandy. This will be perfect.” She held it high over her head so her assistant could admire it.

"Very nice.” Mandy had all the boxes unloaded from the cart and had begun to open them setting the contents on the large, glass conference table. The boxes appeared to contain awards and other memorabilia. I wondered why Purple would need those at the hotel. But then, I wondered about a lot of things in this situation.

"What’s all this?” Betty had moved from the couch to where Mandy worked. She picked up a trophy that looked a bit like an Oscar but the figure was a woman whose face was obscured by hair. A Purple, maybe, instead of an Oscar. "Man, that’s heavy.” She almost dropped it.

"Put that down.” Mandy’s voice was sharp as she took the statuette from Betty and put it down carefully on the table.

"Fine.” Betty, not to be deterred, moved on to another item. "Hey, this doll looks just like you. I guess it does anyway.” She lifted up the doll’s hair to peer at the face. "Why do you cover your face? I knew a lady once who had a bad accident and she kinda wore her hair over one side. That what happened to you?”

Again, with a glare Mandy removed the item from Betty’s hand and placed it on the table.

"Betty.” I gave the little senior a hard stare. "Not appropriate.”

She shrugged her narrow satin-clothed shoulders and moved on to another item. "Sorry. Just askin’.”

"What do you think, Caro?” Purple held the bow out to me. "Would you try it on Lavender, please?”

I took the bow from her and turned it over in my hand. "Custom-made by Kim’s Designs exclusively for the Bow Wow Boutique,” the tag said. It was good quality and light enough it shouldn’t be a problem for the dog.

I bent down and clipped it to Lavender’s top knot. I stroked her back and she wiggled a little in answer. She didn’t seem to mind the bow.

"After my parents were killed, my grandfather raised me.” Purple’s tone was suddenly very serious. "He was a decorated veteran of World War II and I always wear his Purple Heart close to my heart.” She tugged on a chain that had been hidden by her robe collar. "That’s why I wanted to do this event for the vets.”

"I’m sure Warriors for the Paws appreciates your support.” I was feeling a little softer toward her. "Your involvement will make such a difference in what they can accomplish.”

Mandy unclipped the ribbon from the dog and placed it on the desk. "I’ll put this with the rest of her things for the show.” She went back to unpacking the boxes.

I wondered what it was like having someone as efficient as Mandy taking care of all the details of your life. There were days when I needed someone like her.

"What’s this?” I could see Betty inching closer and closer to Purple but I wasn’t sure what she was up to. She’d picked up a plastic bag from Mandy’s cart.

"That is medication. Put it down.” Mandy was out of patience with Betty. I understood. I’d been there myself from time to time.

"I’ll attach my gramp’s Purple Heart lapel pin to Lavender’s bow,” Purple continued, oblivious to Mandy’s irritation, "and we’ll both be honoring him when I go on stage for the finale.”

Betty moved back toward the couch but very close to Purple, and as she did I saw something in her hand, and realized her intent. The scamp was going for Purple’s wig.

"Betty!” I stepped forward to stop her.

As I did she tripped over my foot.

And ended up face first in Purple’s lap.

Red liquid flew everywhere. Purple’s white wig was red.

The white on her black-and-white robe was red.

The dog was red.

"What happened?” Betty raised her head, the white satin drape from the tray Purple had been holding had landed on Betty’s head. It covered the top of her face, a satin mirror of Purple’s iconic look. She lifted it up and peeked out. Red juice dripped from her hair, her eyelashes, her nose.

"Are you okay?” I asked. She didn’t appear to be injured but I wanted to be sure. "Is everyone all right?”

"What on earth?” Mandy had rushed over.

"I’m so sorry. Mrs. Foxx tripped over my foot.” I had no idea why I was defending the elderly rabble-rouser. "Purple, are you okay?”

Mandy picked up the small camera which had flown out of Betty’s hand and landed on the floor when she tripped.

"Take her and get out.”

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ISBN: 978-1-61194-292-7

The Pampered Pets Mysteries, Book 4

A killer has been unleashed.

Our Price: US$11.95

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Fifty Shades of Greyhound

Sparkle Abbey

May 2014 $13.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-4-181

The Pampered Pets Mysteries, Book 5

Our Price: US$13.95

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The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo

Sparkle Abbey

October 2014 $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-466-2

The Pampered Pets Mystery Series, Book 6

Our Price: US$14.95

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Downton Tabby

Sparkle Abbey

June 2015 $13.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-624-6

The Pampered Pets Mysteries, Book 7

Anyone for tea and crumpets . . . and murder?


Our Price: US$13.95

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Raiders of the Lost Bark

Sparkle Abbey

March 2016 $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-677-2

Mel’s enemy may be barking up the wrong tree . . .

Our Price: US$14.95

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