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"Another One Bites The Crust" - Sneak Peek!

Book 7: The Oxford Tearoom Mysteries

COMING Oct 2017!

Here’s a little sneak peek of Gemma and Muesli’s next adventure…

Pre-Order exclusively at Apple iBooks: http://www.hyhanna.com/crust-apple

OR – Sign up to my Readers’ Club Newsletter to be notified when it’s released on other vendors: http://www.hyhanna.com/newsletter )

***

I turned as I heard the sound of footsteps. The last customer—the elderly lady—had finally finished her tea and was coming to the counter to pay. It was Mrs Purdey, who lived alone on the other side of the village. She was one of the regulars, coming in for a “cuppa” most days, always accompanied by her umbrella (rain or shine) and her enormous canvas shopping bag. Now, she struggled to tuck the canvas bag under her arm as she paid her bill.

“That was lovely, dear,” she said in a quavering voice. “The egg custard tart was delicious.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” I said, watching her struggle. “Would you like me to hold your bag for you while you get your purse?”

“No!” She jerked back. “Er… no, I can manage. Thank you, dear.”

I gave her an odd look but took the cash she offered and rang up the till. As she began to turn away, however, I couldn’t help noticing that the canvas bag seemed to be… squirming.

“Mrs Purdey… have you got something… er… alive in your bag?” I blurted out.
She started guiltily. “In my bag? No, dear, of course not.” She pulled the bag tighter against her and began hurrying to the door.

I frowned. Was I imagining things? I stared at her retreating back and the bag clutched in her arms. No, I wasn’t wrong—it was definitely squirming. And a second later, I heard a muffled: “Meorrw!”

“Muesli!” I gasped.

I ran after the elderly lady and caught her just as she was stepping out the door.

“Mrs Purdey…” I hesitated. How did you accuse a sweet old lady of stealing your cat? I cleared my throat. “Um… Mrs Purdey… have you seen Muesli anywhere? I can’t find her… I think she might have… er… crawled into your bag by mistake.”

“Certainly not!” cried Mrs Purdey, clutching the bag even tighter to her chest. “I told you, there’s nothing in my bag.”

I reached towards her bag. “Well, can I just take a look? Because you know, Muesli is so naughty—she might have just crawled in without you noticing—”

She twitched away from me. “No, no! She’s not in my bag!” she gasped, struggling to contain the squirming.

The next moment, a little grey-striped head popped out of the gap at the top of the canvas bag.

“Meorrw!” said Muesli indignantly, the fur all ruffled around her ears and her whiskers bent crooked. She wriggled and heaved, and managed to pull herself out of the bag, then leapt for the floor. Giving herself a shake, she sat down and began to wash in a disgruntled fashion.

“Oh!” cried Mrs Purdey. She flushed. “Well, I… I… I thought Muesli might like to come and stay with me.”

“Er… that’s really sweet of you but—well, Muesli lives with me.”

“She could live with me instead. I know she would love it. I would take very good care of her,” she said earnestly.

I gave her a weak smile. “I’m sure you would but… you can’t take Muesli home with you, Mrs Purdey.”

The old lady looked sulky. “Why?”

“Because… well… she’s my cat,” I said helplessly.

“But she looks just like my Smudge! She could almost be him! She’s got the same grey tabby fur, see? And the white fur on the chest… and the white paws. And Smudge had beautiful green eyes too… and a pink nose…” Her voice caught. “He… he died a few months ago and I’ve been all alone since then. I miss him so much…” She looked wistfully at Muesli. “She looks so much like him… Really, she could almost be him…”

“Yes, but she’s not your Smudge,” I said gently “She’s my cat and she has to stay with me. You can always see her when you come to the tearoom, though,” I added with a smile. “You know you’re welcome any time. Oh, except tomorrow—we’re shut tomorrow as both Cassie and I will be attending a ball in the evening.”

Mrs Purdey sighed, then with a last wistful look at Muesli, she turned and shuffled out the door.

——————-
** this is from the unedited 1st draft so please excuse any typos!