An Excerpt from “the case of the empty bed”

Mystified header

Meant to Be Press presents the 5th book in the Love Notes Series: MEANT TO BE…MYSTIFIED! Edited by Naching T. Kassa


Every romance begins with an element of mystery, and these five tales are no exception. Cozy up with a whodunnit at a ski resort, a scandalous nuptial theft, the secret held by an antique table, supernatural murders in a small town, and a ghostly encounter at a Regency wedding. Can you solve these puzzles before the amorous sleuths? Or are you…


Featuring the stories of Emmy Z. Madrigal, Lela Bay, M.M. Genet, Kate Nox, and Naching T. Kassa


An excerpt from MEANT TO BE…MYSTIFIED.

The Case of the Empty Bed

Naching T. Kassa


Clark leaned over. His warm lips touched hers. “I’ll park the truck and meet you inside.” He moved back, but Mina caught him by the lapels of his black pea coat and pulled him forward. She pressed her lips to his.

“I guess you are sure,” he said. “Shouldn’t I call your dad? Tell him I won’t be working at the bakery tomorrow or the next day? Or did you take care of that too?”

The blare of a car horn made Mina jump. She pulled away from Clark and peered out the pickup’s rear window. A silver Mercedes sat behind them.

“I’d better go,” Mina said.

“I’ll meet you inside.”

“No. I’ll wait here for you.” Before he could say another word, she stepped out of the pickup.

As Clark pulled away, the Mercedes took his place. A young woman in a blue, down coat left the driver’s side and hurried to the back of the car. She opened the door.

An elderly woman, dressed in a white fur coat and boots, emerged from the back seat. Bottle-blonde hair framed her plump face. She waved the young woman away and stepped up onto the sidewalk. When the older woman’s gaze fell upon Mina, her blue eyes grew narrow.

“Staff uses the rear entrance,” she said.

“I’m not staff. I’m Mina Matsuhara. I was invited to the convention.” She held out her hand to shake.

The woman’s eyes grew wide. She didn’t shake.

Mina dropped her hand to her side. “Aren’t you Lavinia Whittaker? The Mistress of Mystery? I’ve read all your books.”

“Sarah, fetch Mr. Chambers for me. Ms. Matsumoto—”


“—says she was invited to the convention.”

“She’s a guest of honor,” Clark said. He stood in the snow nearby, holding Mina’s suitcases in both hands. “She won her second Edgar last April. Don’t let the pickup fool you. It’s mine.”

“He’s right, Mother,” Sarah said, consulting her smartphone. “She’s on the list. She’s been nominated for three Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Awards.”

The woman’s gaze darted between Clark and Mina. She pursed her red lips. “Edgars?”

“She has two.”

“I have six.” She turned on her heel and headed up the walk.

“I’m so sorry,” Sarah said. “My mother isn’t usually like this. She’s had a lot on her mind lately. And the trip up here was rather nerve-wracking.”

“No problem,” Mina said. “I understand.”

Clark shook his head. “I don’t.”

“Sarah!” Lavinia called.

“Coming, Mother!” The young woman hurried off.

Mina glanced up at Clark. His brow furrowed as he stared after the woman.

“She had no right to treat you like that.”

Mina took his arm. “Hanii, don’t worry about it.”

“Is she up against you for any of those awards?”

“Yes, for two of them.”

“I hope you beat the shi—pants off her.”

Mina stood on tiptoe and kissed his lips. “I hope I beat the shipants off her, too. Let’s go in.”

They’d barely taken three steps before a cry pierced the wintry air.

Sarah reached out as Lavinia crumpled to the ground. The woman hadn’t slipped or lost her balance. She just fell. Sarah knelt beside her as Mina and Clark rushed up.

“She’s had an attack,” Sarah cried. “I’ve got to get her pills!”

“Go,” Clark said, removing his coat and covering the woman with it. Sarah rushed to the Mercedes.

“I’ll get help,” Mina said. She hurried through the lodge’s glass doors and up to the reception desk. No one stood behind it. She rang the bell.

After several seconds, a young man stepped up from the back office. His name tag read “Jimmy.”

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“Is there a doctor here? A woman’s been hurt.”

“He’s in the infirmary.”

“Please, get him!”

The young man darted off, leaving Mina at the front desk. She bit her lip and stared at the photographs on the wall. A group of young people dressed in sweaters and holding rifles stood smiling, frozen in time. A few seconds later, the desk clerk returned with a tall, balding man in tow. Together, they hurried outside.

When Mina reached Lavinia, she found her clutching Clark’s hand in hers.

“He’s here. I…I killed…him,” she said, staring at him with unfocused eyes. “I know…I did.”

She turned to Mina.

“Sarah…I didn’t want you…to know. Sarah…” Her voice trailed off.

“I have her pills!” Sarah said, rushing up. She opened the prescription bottle and withdrew a small white pill. She pushed it under Lavinia’s tongue.

Mina and Clark stepped away as the doctor and various employees crowded in. A short man, with thick glasses and a brown suit, leaned over the doctor’s shoulder as he examined Lavinia.

“Get a gurney,” the doctor said. “We need to get her inside.”

The gurney arrived, and the doctor and desk clerk lifted the woman on to it. They wheeled her up the steps and inside. Sarah stood on the sidewalk, pale and trembling.

“Are you alright?” Mina asked.

Sarah shook her head. “I don’t understand it. She’s been doing so well. She hasn’t had an attack in almost six months.”

“You said the drive up here was pretty stressful.”

“It wasn’t that bad. She was just fine until she saw that man in the window.”

“Man? What man?”

“I’m not sure. I only caught a glimpse of him. He was in that room, the middle one on the second floor. He was standing at the window and for a moment it looked like he had a… Well, I’m sure I imagined it.”

“Imagined what?”

“It looked as though he had a glowing red eye. My mother saw him and then she just dropped. In all the excitement, I lost sight of him.”

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