A Sneeze to Die For

Oh Holy Fright

Nora Alexander has sunk her inheritance into the Tunie Hotel, in Piney Woods, Texas. Now there is a chance that her first major booking, a national cat lovers’ conference called Meow Meet-Up, will help her bottom line. It also presents increasing risk for its financial demise. Pushy reporter Alan Shaw shows up the day before the event, making trouble for Nora and the conference.
When Shaw is later found dead in the bottom of the hotel’s faulty elevator shaft, Nora depends upon boyfriend and police officer, Tuck Watson, to investigate and save the Tunie Hotel’s reputation. Nora also has to deal with a surprise health inspection and a conference organizer bent on getting steep discounts for conference attendees.
Things spin further out of Nora’s control when she discovers she has a cat dander allergy setting off unpredictable sneezing episodes at inopportune times. The featured feline guest, grand champion show cat, Catpurnicas, escapes and disappears, leading to a town-wide search. Surrounded by members of the Meow Meet-Up convention, Nora must sort through a list of suspects that include a beloved cozy mystery writer. A Sneeze to Die for is the second book in the Piney Woods Cozy Mystery Series, which began with Murder of a Good Man.

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Excerpt

A Sneeze to Die For by Teresa Trent

 

 

ONE

Alan Shaw rang a small silver bell in a staccato pattern. The bell, which usually rested on the check-in desk was in his hand as he stood by a computer in the office center the hotel provided. He reached over and plugged a USB thumb drive into the side of one of the machines and attempted to turn the computer on. As he waited for it to boot up, he continued to hammer on the annoying little device, Nora managed a smile. The Meow Meetup, a gathering of cat lovers, would be the first official convention at the Tunie Hotel since Nora had bought a partnership in the business. This man was most likely their first guest for the event. With full occupancy at the Tunie, this little get together would help Nora and her partner, Marty Reynolds to stay in the black. Even though she was nervous, having a convention in a forty-room hotel in East Texas was exciting.
Shaw, unimpressed with her dazzling smile, continued to ring the bell.
Nora moved into his line of sight. “Can I help you? I’d be glad to help you at the front desk.” She gestured toward the check-in area. The short, pudgy man was more than a little perturbed and had showed it through his use of the tinny bell. He followed her over and then leaning on the counter wedged his worn black high tops between his cheap leatherette bags. “Glad to know you could work me into your busy schedule,” he said, his voice crisp.
“I’m sorry for your inconvenience. How may I help you? Are you checking in for the Meow Meetup?”
“The Meow Meetup? Really?” The little man gave Nora a look clearly disgusted with her and the cutesy name of the convention. “To be blunt, the last thing I’d like to do is to check into this fleabag motel to cover a conference with an ill-chosen location, but needs must. Piney Woods, Texas? Who chooses a place like this? Did you know you can smell … livestock out there?”
Nora’s chin rose at his insults. He was typical of someone from a large city who considered anything outside of his area inadequate. Next, he would start asking about bedbugs and as for the livestock smell, what did he expect? He was in Texas. She ignored his comment and attempted to put on her best hospitality face. “Welcome to Piney Woods. Let me look up your reservation.”
“Shaw. Allen Shaw. Hopefully, your clerk didn’t write my reservation on his tobacco chaw wrapper.” “I assure you, sir. We have a state of the art check-in system that doesn’t require chewing tobacco wrappers to document our reservations.” Nora gave the little rat another smile and typed his name into the computer. She waited for the reservation confirmation to come up as she watched the spinning cursor signifying the computer was busy. Result not found.
The “state of the art” system didn’t seem to know he existed. Nora typed in the man’s name again, hoping it would appear. Still, the results of her search came up with nothing. Alan Shaw was not registered at the hotel. Maybe it was on a chewing tobacco paper somewhere?