Love, Die, Neighbor: The Prequel to the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series
- Publisher: Spot On Publishing
- Series: Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series, Book Prequel
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
- Available Formats: eBook, eBook and Paperback
As the mother of an active toddler and the wife of an often absent husband, Kiki Lowenstein already has both hands full. But when the Lowensteins move into their new house on the same day the construction crew leaves, Kiki must learn to juggle boxes, baby, and big expectations. Her determination to be a good neighbor hits a serious roadblock when she angers the Nordstroms, the couple who live next door. Then Sven Nordstrom dies under mysterious circumstances, and Kiki is forced into the one role she never planned on playing: amateur sleuth.
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I have my child perfectly trained. We know the way to every McDonald’s in the city, and we can even find the route to a few out in the boondocks, too. Anya catches sight of those golden arches and the chanting begins, “Do-no, do-no, do-no.” As I turned into the drive-through lane at the restaurant nearest our home, her cheers grew louder and louder.
After I received my order — two sausage burritos and a large coffee for me, an English muffin and an orange juice for her — I found an empty spot in the parking lot. There we ate our food. Thus satiated, we tossed the trash into a can and headed for Whole Foods, a local grocery specializing in organic and healthy fare. It wasn’t my usual place to shop, but I’d worked it out in my head that only the best would do for Sven and Leesa.
Because I badly needed a dose of courage to face the Nordstroms, I decided to take an approach with proven success. I would arrive on their doorstep like the proverbial Greek bearing gifts. Maybe I’d be more warmly received. I bought an expensive, gluten-free, über-healthy chocolate cake, paired with a bouquet of fragrant fall mums and asters, and a cheery “Hi, Neighbor!” card that I signed: Kiki, George, and Anya Lowenstein.
How could anybody resist the wonderful peace offerings I had planned for the Nordic gods across the street? Anticipation of their delight boosted my self-confidence. While the tantalizing smell of chocolate begged me to sample the treat to make sure it was worthy, I resisted the urge. Instead, I drove us straight home after shopping.
After lifting Anya out of her car seat and bringing in the goodies, I dressed my daughter in her cutest outfit. I ran a brush through my hair and secured it in a clip. After washing my face, I added a smear of lip gloss. Satisfied that I looked passable, and she looked adorable, I carried Anya down the stairs.
She fought me as I loaded her into her stroller. At seventeen months, she struggles to assert her independence, a sign she’s growing up. As much as possible, I encourage her, but today I was on a mission. Into the stroller she went.
A nip in the air signaled fall was in full swing. I picked our way down the mud-splattered concrete driveway, along the sidewalk, across the street with its smattering of gravel, and up our neighbors’ pristine brick drive.
The Nordstroms’ yard presented a stark contrast to ours. Their front lawn looked plush as a thick green carpet. Their landscaping was mature, perfectly proportioned to their house, while our spindly shrubs seemed cheap and puny, as if we’d tossed a handful of twigs into the soil willy-nilly.
“Give it time,” I reminded myself. “Home wasn’t built in a day.”
Anya grinned, her new front teeth gleaming in the sun. She was roaring into toddlerhood with a vengeance. Her new favorite words were, “No” and “Wha-da?” The latter being her personal code for, What is that?
“Friends,” I told her as we bumped along. “Next to family, they’re the most important part of life. In fact, I venture to say that in my life, they could easily outrank family. If I had any. Friends, I mean. You have family, Anya, but…it’s complicated.”