Welcome to my Friday bonus feature called Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special**!! Today, in lieu of one of my own recipes, I’m going to introduce you to a new author who will share one of her favorite recipes. Not only will you and I occasionally learn how to make something new and delicious, but we’ll get a chance to check out some wonderful authors. Introducing author, R.A. MUTH, and her favorite recipe for Copycat Starbucks’ Iced Coconut Mocha Macchiato!
THE SQUEAKY CLEAN SKELETON
The Haunted Housekeeping Series Book 1
BY R.A. MUTH
Hi! I’m Tori Madison, and I hate scrubbing toilets, which is unfortunate because my BFF Hazel and I own Bubbles and Troubles, Beach Plum Bay’s premier cleaning service.
When Mrs. Livingston asked us to sort through the contents of her attic, however, we thought our toilet-scrubbing days were over. That is…until we found her corpse.
As if finding our client’s body stuffed in a steamer trunk wasn’t enough of an upset, someone needed to save her cat from being sent to a local high-kill animal shelter. That person, as it turned out, was me. I had no sooner set up the critter’s litter box in my guest bathroom when he revealed another side. A six-foot-four, hunky, Irish side that only I can see.
Before I could come to grips with my new feline friend’s secret, Mrs. Livingston’s relatives, eager to claim their inheritance, asked Hazel and me to solve the murder. And the amount of the reward was many times over what their aunt owed for the job she hired us to do. Soon we had a plan that included Rune, my new housepet-turned-houseguest.
The more I got to know Rune, the more I wanted to confide in Hazel. But was I risking our lives by keeping my cat’s secret as we went through with our crazy plan to catch a killer? Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice.
A whiff of caramel wafted through the air as I secured the lids onto two travel mugs filled with coffee. I left the house with the cups and my tote bag, locking the door behind me. As I dashed across the dooryard, the tiny garden in the space between the kitchen door and the driveway, one foot skidded on the damp grass. I somehow managed to remain upright and reach the van without falling face-first onto the lawn.
“Thanks for driving,” I said as I slid into the heated passenger seat and handed Hazel, my business partner one of the mugs so I could close my door, its outer shell bearing our company logo–a feather duster over the name “Bubbles and Troubles” in bright pink.
“Good morning! Are you as wicked excited about this job as I am?”
“Absolutely! I did some research last night about Mrs. Livingston’s interior design trends through the decades. If she’s kept all the stuff she’s ever bought for that house, then we can expect a generous commission.”
“Mhmm. Estate jobs like this come along once in a blue moon.”
“And it sure beats scrubbing toilets.” I shuddered. “If this works out, we’ll never have to clean other people’s houses again.”
“We can only hope and pray,” Hazel agreed.
After our most recent client, a busy mom with six sons and two daughters, we decided to take our business in a new direction. in mind. It was the first time since my husband’s death the year before that I was glad not to have children of my own. I had no idea kids were so messy!
For the rest of the drive, Hazel and I reviewed our game plan, and soon my bestie navigated the van up the mansion’s long driveway, slowing to a stop a bit past the front door.
The excitement of whatever waited for us inside pulled me from my seat and I gathered my share of the supplies before exiting the vehicle. Hazel stepped through the majestic columns at the front of the home and I followed, unashamedly gaping at the home’s ornate features.
“Close your mouth. You look like this guy.” Hazel tilted her head toward a brass, salmon-shaped door knocker. She pressed the doorbell and a muffled chorus of The Grand State of Maine, our state song, chimed through the inside of the home.
I pressed my lips together and gazed overhead at an enormous iron lantern, its cracked glass casting reflections of the early morning sun onto the columns.
A few seconds later, the thick wooden door opened to reveal our client on the other side. As with our initial visit to her home, she was dressed to the nines, this time in a black wool pencil skirt and a white silk blouse. As usual, a stylish hat sat perched atop her silver hair.
“Hello, girls! I’m so glad you’re here. Now, as I told you before, I haven’t been into the attic since a decade or so before my late husband’s funeral. I’ve forgotten so much of what’s there. Out of sight, out of mind. Do you have any questions before you get started?” Christine Livingston chatted. Her stilettos click-clacked on the wood floor as she took a few steps back. “Well, I suppose you don’t. Let me show you to the attic so you can get started.”
Like giddy schoolchildren on a field trip, Hazel and I entered the home. The door clicked shut behind us as we followed the older woman down a long hall.
“Mrs. Livingston? Do you mind if I take photos for our website? I’ll be happy to give you a preview so you can approve or reject as you see fit,” I offered.
With a look over her shoulder, the older woman smiled. “Be my guest, and you’re welcome to post whatever content to your website that will help draw attention to the items we’ll send to auction. The more I get, the more you get. Isn’t that how this all works?” She didn’t wait for an answer but continued onward.
Hazel and I silently fist-bumped behind our client’s back.
After what seemed an eternity of leading us through the labyrinth of hallways and staircases, Mrs. Livingston stopped at an ancient wooden door which she unlocked with a skeleton key. She wrestled with the doorknob a little before throwing it wide open. She gestured toward the stairs like a game show hostess who revealed a fabulous prize and beamed a smile. “It’s all yours! There’s a guest bathroom in the hall, and if you have any questions, I’ll be in my study.”
“Thank you so much,” I gushed and grabbed her hand with both of mine. I gave it a few pumps and continued, “This means so much to us.”
Mrs. Livingston delicately pulled her hand from mine and nodded. “It means so much to me that you girls are willing to sift through God-knows-what I’ve sent to be stored there through the years. Every time I decorate, the new pieces arrive, and the old ones go into the attic. Well, I won’t keep you any longer.” With a final reminder to tell her if we had any problems, she disappeared the opposite way we arrived.
Hazel and I hurried up the narrow stairs as much as we dared, as they were not only steeper than the other stairways in the home, but they also lacked a railing. When we reached the top, it felt like we’d time-traveled into the past.
Oil paintings leaned in a neat stack against one wall, their edges collecting thick layers of dust. The top half of a dressmaker’s dummy lay tucked inside an antique cradle. Dolls from a bygone era sat piled atop the form, the edges of their lace dresses tinted with yellow and their porcelain faces split with hairline cracks. Luggage, hat boxes, old trunks, and wooden shipping crates collected in every nook and cranny, and I could not even begin to imagine what treasures they held.
“Where in the world do we start?” I asked. A narrow path snaked around the items.
Hazel fanned herself with the fingers of one hand and pointed to the far wall with the other. “First, help me open that window. It’s wicked stuffy in here.”
“Sounds good.” On my way to the window, I passed an antique fan. “This might help, too.”
“Ooh, my grandma had one like this! Every summer, when we visited her blueberry farm, Gavin and I would talk into it to make our voices sound like robots. Gotta love the lack of technology back then.”
Ignoring Hazel’s reference to her brother, I unlatched the window and struggled to raise the bottom half. By the time it complied, beads of sweat had dripped from my forehead, and I welcomed the chill of the breeze coming through the six-inch opening.
“Good work!” Hazel plugged the fan into an outlet on the wall beneath the window, and the blades whirred to life. “Be careful. These things are sharp, and the last thing we need is for someone to lose a finger.”
R. A. Muth is a coffee addict who entertains readers with quirky characters who solve not-too-scary murders in places she’d like to live in real life. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time at the beach with her family and binge-watching Netflix with her golden retriever.
Links to R.A.’s website, blog, books, #ad etc.:
I hope you enjoy the recipe R.A. is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy Eating!
- 2 tablespoons chocolate sauce
- 1.5 ounces espresso (or use one teaspoon instant espresso and a few ounces of hot water or 4 ounces of strong coffee)
- 1 cup coconut milk
In a glass layer the chocolate sauce, espresso, and coconut milk. Add in the ice. Top with whipped cream and additional chocolate sauce. (Or caramel!) And enjoy. If you don’t have espresso you can also use 1 cup of cold brew or leftover coffee!
Thanks, R.A., for sharing your book and recipe with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!