Maudlin’s Mayhem




I scooched my feet into a pair of black leather ballerina flats—I was about five-eight so I could do flats without feeling short—and draped my pentacle over my head, along with a rope of moonstone beads. The pentacle was about two inches in diameter and stood out against my shirt. I fastened on freshwater pearl chandelier earrings, then took a few minutes to slap on a quick ten-minute face at my vanity.


Bubba was next to my makeup mirror, watching. He cocked his head as I pursed my lips to apply my lipstick—a bright fuchsia. I hated any pinks that weren’t magenta or fuchsia, but neon colors and jewel tones rocked my world.


“Mrow.” Bubba reached out one paw to tap my arm.


I paused, trying not to jog the lipstick onto my face. “Bubs, hold on. I’ll feed you in a minute. I’m almost done.”


Bubba waited a beat until I raised the lipstick to my lips again, then—more firmly—smacked me on the hand with his paw.


“Bubba! Look at what you did!” I frowned at my reflection. A bright pink line of lipstick ran jaggedly down my chin. “Gee thanks, Bub.”


As I reached for the makeup remover, I swear, Bubba snickered at me. He pulled his paw back, then began to groom it as though he had no clue what I was talking about.


“That cat is a menace.” Franny rose up beside me. As in, through the floor, to hover a foot above it.


I jumped. “I told you to stop doing that! And Bubba’s not just a cat. He’s a cjinn.”


Franny was the house ghost—or B&B ghost, now that I’d converted the place. And she was moody as all get out, always finding something to bellyache about. But over the past six months, I had actually gotten used to the bereft spirit and she had lightened up a little.


I poured a little makeup remover on a cotton ball and wiped the lipstick off my face. “I haven’t seen you for a couple of days. Where have you been keeping yourself? You can’t leave the house, so I know you weren’t on She shrugged. She was dressed in the dress she had died in—a sky blue muslin gown a la Jane Austen, over which she wore an ivory corset and a matching lace shawl. She was pretty in a serious sort of way, with blue eyes and blond hair spilling out of a messy bun.


“Oh, this and that. I watched the gardeners plant the new roses from out of the library window. Thank you, by the way, for setting up the computer e-reader for me.” Franny flashed me a rare smile. “I just read a marvelous book by a Mr. Mark Twain. It’s called Tom Sawyer.”


I grinned. I had been around during Twain’s time, and figured she would like some of his work. “Glad you liked it.”



Excerpt: Maudlin’s Mayhem

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