Birth of the Black Orchids by M. R. Dimond

They wanted to save the world. Now they'd be happy to cover rent and student loans.

Johnny Ly wanted to rescue and heal all the cats. Dianne Cortez thought that if numbers couldn't save the world, she could at least save people's money. JD Thompson wanted to bring justice to people caught in the legal system, but he can't do it for free. Also, they like to sing.

Somehow, the American Dream isn't working out for them. So when Johnny's grandmother offers them her old mansion, they flee high-powered jobs in Austin, TX, for a fresh start in the small Texas town of Beauchamp.

It's a nice old house. Too bad about the murder, which they'd better solve before it ruins their Christmas grand opening. Can they rise to the occasion as detectives with their skills as a veterinarian, accountant, lawyer, and ABBA tribute band?

Bonus story: "The Way Old Friends Do" A few months into the new year, income is low for the Black Orchids, with the town of Beauchamp happily using the free coupons from the grand opening. So Dianne expands their services to what JD calls “baby-sitting old ladies”—an easy job, until the clients run away.


The doorbell rang, and I instinctively moved in that direction.

Dianne swept the door open to reveal a policeman, complete with mirror shades (because this is Texas in winter). He was brown as Dianne and almost as tall, but born without smile muscles. The silver husky beside him grinned, blue eyes and flopping ears adding a maniacal touch.

“May I come in with my dog?” asked the officer in a way that didn’t feel like a request.

Dianne’s bright lipstick gleamed as she welcomed them both. “Of course! Working dogs are always welcome. I’m Dianne Cortez, and you are—” She leaned in to read his badge. “Officer Alejandro Quintanilla-Villenueva.”

“Most people call me Officer Al. This is Cupcake. She’s not so much working as training,” explained the officer, proving he could smile, probably at Dianne’s effortless pronunciation.

I jumped when I realized what I was holding. I power-marched into the kitchen.

Chantal was huddled by the pantry, giving herself an insulin shot. As she put away her equipment, she scolded, “JD, I told Cherry to put those out.”

“We can’t.” I glanced over my shoulder and saw Dianne step back to admit Officer Al and Cupcake. “Our neighbor brought them for Johnny.”

“So? Johnny’s never minded sharing.”

“They’re medicinal, and a drug dog just arrived,” I hissed.

“For Johnny, Mr. Totally Straight and Narrowest of the Narrow?”

“Yes. Let me by.” I grabbed a plastic bag from the pantry. I folded up the empty box sitting on the counter and shoved it and the whole plate in. Meanwhile, the policeman paid court to Johnny’s grandmother.

“That’s a huge dog!” Chantal exclaimed as she peered into the hall. “Where do we put this stuff?”

“Freezer? Behind the meat?”

“Will that work?” Chantal rummaged through the freezer, already full of bags of bacon, chicken tinga, ground beef, and other meats to spice up Johnny’s vegetarian meals. He does most of the cooking because he likes it, and he tolerates what the rest of us do to it.

“Who knows?” I shoved the bag to the very back of the top freezer shelf.

“Not me.”

The deed done, Chantal and I scrubbed our hands under a cascade of hot water and suds. While trying to remember if the police could arrest the whole party on drug charges for one box of edibles, I took exactly one step into the gallery to meet doom when doom met me from another direction. My father tapped my sleeve.

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About the Author

M. R. Dimond wanted to be a writer from childhood. So naturally she majored in music in college. She won her first professional orchestra audition while still a teenager, but playing the cello never paid the bills. After some years of day jobs, night music, and early morning writing, she knew more than ever that she wanted and needed to be in the arts. She then went back to school to earn an MBA, on the theory that she needed better paying jobs to support her art habits. After stints in professional orchestras, law firms, cat rescue, bookkeeping, and technical communication, she returned to her childhood’s dream of writing fiction, which has turned out to be about musicians, lawyers, veterinarians, accountants, and cats.

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