After receiving a midnight phone call, professional organizer Tina Shaw rushes to her best friend’s ancestral home to determine if Leslie really saw a ghost. Tina doesn’t see one in the cluttered Newport, Rhode Island, Victorian attic, but does hear strange noises. While she tries to reassure Leslie, they’re drawn outside when police and firefighters arrive. A murdered man has been found in Leslie’s side yard.
A note in his pocket reads My name is Joshua Young in childish printing. Leslie’s father’s name is Joshua Young, the men are about a decade apart in age, and the man was killed outside the house where Leslie’s father grew up. Tina must help her friend find the answers to who the murdered man really was and why he was killed. And to what’s making the noises in the attic.
While Tina is absorbed in helping her friend investigate, a quarrel with her boyfriend, Hank, begins when he demands she quit because it’s too dangerous. He has ties to the police, and when Tina suspects he’s holding back information from her, her Irish temper flares even more.
The secrets behind Joshua Young’s murder are bigger than Tina ever imagined. Can the murderer be stopped before killing again?
Cluttered Attic Secrets illuminates the real spirit of friendship and is a suspense-filled mystery with many secrets and ghostly occurrences, a little romance, and a few organizing tips to help you tame your own secret clutter.
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Excerpt from CLUTTERED ATTIC SECRETS
“Tina?” Leslie whispered when Tina answered her cell phone. “What are you doing?”
“Reading a book. Why are you whispering?”
“Can you come over?” Leslie continued to whisper.
Tina put her book down and sat up straight on the couch. “Sure. What’s going on?” She glanced at the grandfather clock. Just after midnight.
“Something strange in the attic.”
Tina stood up and walked to the hall closet. She grabbed her light jacket and put it on while heading toward the back door. “You’re in the attic?”
“Yes, but I’m going downstairs now to let you in.”
“Okay. Talk to me while you go.” Tina scribbled a note at the small kitchen desk telling her mother and great-uncle where she’d be. Then she stepped outside the back door and inhaled a deep breath of the early spring air. She looked up at the moonlit sky filled with scudding clouds and smiled. She loved Newport in the spring. Her yellow VW stood waiting in the driveway. The old house had a one-car detached garage, and naturally her mother had dibs on it. The only way the night could be improved was if she put the top down, but it wasn’t quite warm enough for that.
“Okay, I’m downstairs,” Leslie said in her ear as Tina climbed into her car.
“That’s good. Can you stop whispering now?” Tina backed out of the driveway and headed toward Leslie’s Victorian house only a few blocks away.
“I’m not sure.”
When Leslie didn’t elaborate, Tina’s alarm rose. “Why not?”
“Maybe it can still hear me down here.”
“It? What it?”
“The ghost. I think it’s a ghost.”
Tina almost slammed on the brakes, but stopped herself in time. “A ghost? In the attic?”
Tina heard Leslie fumbling around with something in the kitchen. Probably the coffee maker. She shivered. A ghost. Impossible.
“What exactly did you see, Leslie?”
“It’s hard to describe. I think they call it an apparition? Or something like that.”
“Sounds right.” Tina made a left turn onto Leslie’s street. “Sort of a ghostly outline of a person? Male or female?”
“Hmm. Male, I think. I only saw it for a second or two.”
At least she’d stopped whispering. “Where exactly? I’m pulling into your driveway, by the way.”
“Okay. I’m in the kitchen. I’ll be at the side door. I saw it in the attic in the back corner.”
Tina parked and headed to the door. Leslie stood there, phone at her ear. They laughed when they saw each other. “I guess we can end the call now,” Tina said and did so. Then she hugged Leslie. “You okay?” She pulled away and studied her best friend. Her hazel eyes were a little, should she say “haunted looking?” Wide, anyway. Ash blonde hair with its usual honey-blonde professional coloring framed her heart-shaped face. She may have lost a few pounds during the move into her aunt’s old house, but she still had a great figure.
“Better now you’re here.”
“What are friends for? I mean, who you gonna call?”
Leslie giggled and closed the door behind them. She walked to the coffee maker and watched it until its final drip dripped.
“I hope that’s decaf.” Tina took off her jacket and sat down at the round kitchen table. “It smells good.”
“Oceans’ brand Swiss Water Process Kenya AA Decaf.” Leslie laughed as she read from the label.
“Oh la la. That’s some expensive stuff.”
“We deserve it. With a shot of brandy.” Leslie pulled a bottle out of a lower cabinet and set it on the table. Then she poured the coffee and sat down. “Okay, I was probably imagining things. Shouldn’t have gone into the attic late at night, in the dark. But now that I’ve gotten most of the downstairs and second floor done, I’m itching to get to work. My aunt must have put every discard she ever had up there.”
“You never showed me the attic.”
“If you’d seen it, you would have wanted to start on it first thing. I needed to fix up where I live first. Help yourself to the brandy.”
Tina poured some into her coffee and took a sip. “Wow. This is good. I don’t suppose you want to go back up there now?”
Leslie shrugged. “I’m not sure. Maybe after coffee. I don’t think I can sleep tonight.”
“Well, whatever you want to do. I’ll stay here, asleep or awake. We can look at the attic together, or not.”
“You’re the best.” Leslie added a bit more brandy to her mug and sighed. “I think I need to go back up there to convince myself I was seeing things. Maybe we’ll be able to figure out what I really saw. A play of the moonlight or something.”
“Do you believe in ghosts?” Tina had known Leslie forever, but they’d never discussed the subject before.
“Not really. I mean I haven’t thought much about it, and when they’re mentioned I tend to scoff. How about you?”
“The same. I don’t totally discount them, but I’m skeptical, for sure. What you saw probably did have something to so with the lighting. Let’s finish our coffee and go see.”
“If you insist.” Leslie smiled. “What I’ve always wondered about is why people are afraid of these supposed ghosts. I don’t understand how they could harm you.”
“I never thought about it a lot, but you’re right. From what little I’ve read or heard, they can’t even open doors or pick things up. So, how could they attack you and do any damage? And why would they want to in the first place?”
“Well, I’m feeling better about going back up there.” Leslie stood up. “You ready?”
Tina hesitated for a second. “Sure. But do you want to take a weapon?”
“What, a gun? A baseball bat? A stake? How about a silver cross? If I could find one.”
Tina laughed. “Silly me. But I do recommend a high-powered flashlight. You have one of those?”
“Yes. Every woman who lives alone needs one, or several.” Leslie opened a drawer and pulled one out. “Let’s go.”
Leslie stared at her.
“What?” Tina asked. “You know the way. I’ve never been up there, remember?”
“I could tell you where the door is.”
“Leslie, if you don’t want to do this, we can just stay down here drinking coffee.”
“You’re right. Onward!”
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