A Corpse In a Teacup

Chapter One: Casting Call

Tuesday settled in for the runway approach, watching the lights of Southern California come alive as her six-thirty a.m. flight descended over Burbank. It was an ungodly hour to do anything but sleep or, well, these days it was just sleep. All those gorgeous men she had just left behind in Darling Valley, the small town outside of San Francisco, made her realize she needed to do something about that.

A calm came over her. Goodbye, Darling Valley. Goodbye murder and mayhem. Now she could get back to her normal life, reading tea leaves for an exorbitant fee at The Mulberry Cat Café and get her body back on track with a good cleanse. The only trouble with visiting Olivia was the absence of healthy food. She never stocked her kitchen with anything except sugary and salty treats. It will take her days to get that stuff out of her system. Though she did enjoy the Salted Caramel’s ice cream. She actually squirreled away a jar of their hot fudge sauce in her suitcase that none of her nutritional clients need know about.

She went over her calendar. Meet with Holley, do her shift at the Café, then maybe squeeze in a trip to the consignment shop after work to touch up her wardrobe. Easy peasy day.

The attendant walked by. “Are you buckled up, ma’am?”

Tuesday bristled. Ma’am? She looked down at her outfit. Many lively colors and prints capped by her pink Afro. What about this happening look deserved a ma’am? Had miss gone out of style for twenty-somethings? Okay, early thirty-somethings. Tuesday indicated her fastened seatbelt and smiled yes.

The attendant leaned over Tuesday’s shoulder to look out the window. “Weather looks good, but you never know. This time of year it could be a bumpy landing.”

Tuesday checked her cellphone as they taxied up to the gate. A text from Holley Wood. Her nine a.m. starlet client with a name she was born to live up to. Holley was the reason Tuesday had dragged herself out of bed for the dreadful early flight instead of a comfortable noon plane with cocktail service. Even she didn’t drink Champs for breakfast. Well, not as a habit.

Holley had a standing Monday morning reading. Tuesday opened the Mulberry Cat Café early just for her, so she better not say she’s canceling. She hadn’t been her best practical self when she made the reservation to Darling Valley. Not that practicality was her middle name, but she’d had murder on her mind. Specifically, why one showed up on her friend’s doorstep. In her haste to get to Olivia, she booked an expensive one-way instead of a cheap return ticket. She had to pay a premium price for the return commuter flight she found last night at the last minute. Don’t make me regret it, Holley, she thought as the plane bounced onto the runway.

The passengers started leaping out of their seats and bashing each other with their carry-ons from the overhead compartments despite the attendants’ instruction to stay seated until the plane came to a full stop. Tuesday settled back to wait for the crowd to thin out. No point being trampled to death waiting for the crew to open the doors. She flicked on Holley’s message.

“We’re on for this morning, right? I need to see you. Someone is trying to kill me!”

“Oh, Holley,” Tuesday said to the baggage truck pulling up underneath her window, “You‘re so melodramatic.”

Tuesday collected her six matching suitcases at the baggage carousel outside the terminal and spotted a free luggage cart a few feet away. The blond next to her saw it at the same time, but as she was having trouble walking upright on her nine-inch platforms while keeping her low cut tank top up and over her silicon enhanced breasts, Tuesday nabbed it. With a huge heave and a promise to start packing light, she pushed the trolley out into the rising Burbank sun.

An airport shuttle van pulled up and Tuesday made a beeline for it. When the driver saw her overloaded cart tottering his way, he signaled No. A crack in the sidewalk caught a wheel and threatened to topple her cart. Passengers piled into the van ahead of her as she struggled to keep her tower of suitcases from spilling into the roadway. She frantically signaled the driver to wait for her. He came over and said, “Too much bags, lady. Take next vehicle.”

The blond on the towering heels had found her own cart. The driver gave