Authors: Kay Finch
For their invaluable help with this novel, I thank my fabulous
writing group-Amy, Bob, Charlie, Dean, Heather, Joe, Laura,
Leann, and Millie. Special thanks to Susie and Isabella for sharing
their home with us every week, to Scotty Harris for police
procedure advice, and to Sherri Saunders for her probate know-how.
Any mistakes or misstatements made in the novel are mine. For
their encouragement and advice, I also thank Chelsea Gilmore, Julia
Weis, and my agent, Mike Farris. Special appreciation to my
husband, Benton, for always being there.
I clomped over Aunt Millie's threshold in my black steel-toed
sneakers, wedging myself into a crowded, mildewy foyer that looked
like the Goodwill drop-off after closing. My seventy-year-old aunt
took one look at my yellow hard hat and rolled her eyes.
"You know, Poppy, everyone does not love a comedian," she said.
"Wasn't trying to be funny."
Heaps of papers, boxes, stuffed garbage bags, and stacks of books
surrounded us. Millie's black cat, Jett, picked his way through the
mess like a soldier negotiating a minefield.
I rapped on my hat. "This is self-preservation."
Millie tossed her head, making her tight gray curls bounce. "I call
for help, and you insult me?"
"Nothing personal, Aunt Millie. Professional-organizer training
stresses brutal honesty."
Okay, I had added the hat for a touch of humor, hoping to start
this project on a light note. Guess that tactic bombed.
Millie puffed out a breath. "Training? Huh. You came out of the
womb speaking your mind."
"Part of my charm," I said. "Besides, wouldn't be much help to
my clients if I didn't tell the truth."
"Doesn't mean I have to like it."
I inspected an unfamiliar box labeled microwave oven. Next to the
box, a sixty-four-piece set of stainless steel flatware sat atop an
unabridged dictionary. "Where'd all this stuff come from? You promised to lay off the garage sales."
"I have." Millie took a calculated step to her right, but even her
wide girth couldn't hide the set of rusty wrought-iron nesting tables,
the misshapen throw pillows, or the cartons of yellowed paperbacks
I knew hadn't been there last week. Jett hopped up onto a stack of
fresh cartons near the front door-recent UPS deliveries.