Jenn and Deb should be floating on a cloud of newlywed bliss. Instead they’re sweating buckets and biting each other’s heads off. And that’s before they discover that one of their neighbors is stealing their deliveries.
Living in a one bedroom apartment is working out as well as either professional woman thought. Neither wants to give up her independence, or her stuff. Add a broken air conditioner in the mix and you have the recipe for two cranky brides.
The grumpy cherry on top is that the smart speaker they’ve been waiting for isn’t at the mailbox. And a bunch of other stuff has gone missing, too.
The duo become disagreeable detectives to find out which neighbor is stealing their packages. Is it the sweet, old lady? The goth hacker? Or the cheery, single dad? Once they start asking questions, they uncover more secrets than they bargained for.
But will they put their own differences aside and rediscover the romance between them?
Excerpt from The Disappearing Deliveries by Nancy Basile
“This heat is melting my fingernail polish. My fingernails, too.” Jenn fanned herself with her hands outside Diana Warner’s door.
Deb glanced at Jenn sideways. “I don’t like it, either. I hope the landlord sends a repairman today.” She rapped on the door of 1B.
“He better, or I’m going to mount floodlights on your Jeep and spin doughnuts in his front yard.” Deb burst out laughing, which made Jenn laugh. Their laughter was awkward and short-lived after being irritated with each other for so many days. But those few moments had released a few notches of tension between them.
Diana Warner opened the door of her apartment wearing a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt and cutoff shorts. Her midnight-black hair fell in a sheet that camouflaged her striking, gray eyes. “Yeah?”
Her curt greeting took them aback. “Hi. I’m Jenn, and this is my wife, Deb.” She waved a thumb between them. “We live upstairs and our air conditioning is broken. We’re talking to the other tenants because we’re not happy with how slowly the landlord is handling maintenance.” Jenn paused, waiting for an invitation to enter the apartment, but Diana just stared at her. “Can we come in?”
Their neighbor hesitated, but then exhaled. “Sure, but watch your step. I live alone, so I don’t worry about redding up.”
Jenn and Deb stepped inside the apartment, and Diana closed the door. As soon as she did, thick darkness forced them to blink until their eyes adjusted. All the blinds were drawn, and there was only one lit lamp, covered by a purple scarf.
When Diana saw that Jenn and Deb hadn’t moved an inch, she flicked on the overhead light, which had them blinking and blind all over again.
“Sorry about that.” Diana sat in a swivel chair at a mammoth computer workstation that faced the living room. “I keep it dark in here to see the monitors better.” She pointed to four monitors that were full of code and windows within windows. Two keyboards sat on the desk, along with a joystick, steering wheel, microphone, and mouse. A camera and lights were positioned behind the screens.
Jenn and Deb used their feet to swipe aside empty shipping boxes, books, pizza boxes, and dirty clothes to come further into the apartment. Jenn moved aside a stack of technical manuals to sit on a dingy couch, while Deb perched on top of a stool she had pulled from under the kitchen counter that was invisible under a mountain of dirty dishes and takeout containers.
“I think I graduated with your sister, Dana.” Jenn brushed crumbs off the couch around her legs. “But you graduated later.”
Diana’s eye roll was visible even behind her sleek, midnight hair. “We’re nothing alike.”
“I can see that.”
“What’s that mean?” Diana’s chin jutted out from the curtain of her hair.
“Just that you two are different. You’re Nine Inch Nails. She’s Taylor Swift. You’re black. She’s pink. You’re emo. She’s preppy.”
“I’m not emo.” Diana denied her moody ways, but she ducked her head and the corner of her mouth lifted.
“I don’t blame you.” Jenn waved a hand. “If I was the youngest of five—”
“Darren, David, Delaney, Dana, Diana,” Diana rattled off the list of her family’s children’s names.
“—I’d be emo, too.” Jenn grinned at Diana while scanning the apartment for anything that looked suspicious. Although everything looked suspicious in so much clutter.
“We heard you’re a help desk consultant. I bet that requires a lot of equipment and bandwidth.”
Diana crossed her arms over her chest. “It does. Anyone who does my job needs equipment and bandwidth.”
“Right, that’s what I mean.” An awkward silence stretched between the women while various hard drives, processors, and routers whirred in the background.
Deb cleared her throat. “Do you ever have trouble with connectivity or electricity in the building?”
“No. Why?” Diana dropped her chin to chest, shrinking in her chair.
“We’re cataloging tenant complaints we can take to the landlord,” Deb replied.
“No complaints.” Diana’s foot tapped the floor. “No, I like living here. A lot. Nobody bothers me, and I don’t bother them.”
Jenn studied the boxes that were scattered around Diana’s apartment. “Working from home, you must shop online a lot.”
Diana shrugged, her arms still crossed. “Most of what I need isn’t available around here. And I can usually get everything cheaper online.” She snorted. “It’s not like I make enough to shop retail.”
“I’m surprised.” Deb wiggled on the bar stool, trying and failing to find a more comfortable position. “I figured working for a big medical network downtown would pay well.”
“Ha.” Diana stamped both her feet and rested her hands on her knees, so her bony elbows stuck out. With her black hair hanging almost to the floor, she looked like a spider about to pounce. “They’re the biggest because they’re the only game in town, which means they can pay people whatever they want. They know we won’t find jobs anywhere else. They have us locked up and locked down. It’s crap.” She leaned back in her chair again, twining a piece of her hair between her fingers.
“Do you have a side hustle?” With her foot, Jenn nudged a box that was the right size for a smart speaker, but the logo was wrong.
“No.” Diana crumpled in on herself, arms crossed. Her hair fell forward, hiding her eyes completely. “You got everything you need? I’m kind of busy today.” She spun around to face the monitors, lifting her hands to a keyboard.
Jenn stared at Deb over her shoulder, but Deb wasn’t ready to be dismissed. She stood up and stepped forward to stand next to the couch. “One more thing, have you had anything stolen?”
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