The lives of two strangers, Greg Jenkins and Megan Brighton, become inextricably entangled when they each sign up for a dinner dating agency. Greg’s reason for joining has nothing to do with looking for love. His recently divorced sister Sam has disappeared and Greg is convinced that Dinner for Twelve, or at least one of its clients, may be responsible. Neither is Megan looking for love. Although single, she only joined at her best friend Brenda De Luca’s insistence. When a client of the dating agency is murdered, suspicion falls on several of the members. Then Megan’s friend Brenda disappears without trace, and Megan and Greg join forces. Will they find Sam and Brenda, or are they about to step into the same inescapable snare?
Below is a sample of this book:
As he listened to the second phone call from his mother, Greg Jenkins noted the increased tremor in her voice.
“Samantha still hasn’t arrived. And she’s still not answering her phone. I’m so worried. Should I call the hospitals? What—”
“Whoa. Slow down, Mum. Don’t stress out. Remember what the doctor said. Don’t worry about Sam. We all know how bad she is with time. She’d be late for her own funeral.” Greg laughed, hoping to ease his mother’s tension.
“Please, Mum, I’m sure you’re worrying unnecessarily. Sam has—”
“Gregory, dear, I wish you wouldn’t call her that. Sam’s a boy’s name.”
“Okay, Mum.” He started again, using the name Sam herself loathed. “Samantha’s a big girl now. I’m sure she’s all right, but just to put your mind at rest I’ll go and check on her. She’s probably so wrapped up in her new man she’s forgotten she was supposed to visit you this weekend.” He laughed again.
“What new man?” The pitch of her voice rose.
Greg could almost see her gripping the phone in both hands as she waited for her eldest child to answer. Silently berating himself for opening his big mouth, he wrestled with what he could say without digging himself into a bigger hole.
“Sorry, Mum, there’s someone at the door. I’ll have to go, but I promise I’ll get Sam… Samantha to phone you as soon as I can. Now don’t get all worked up. There’s nothing to worry about, you’ll see. Bye, Mum.”
He hung up, sucked in a deep breath and slowly released it. There was no one at the door but at short notice, it was the only thing he could think of to get out of what would’ve been the inevitable interrogation. His sister needed her butt kicked for letting down their mother like that. Sam, of all people, knew how over-protective their mother was, more so since Sam divorced her no-hoper of a husband and moved to Melbourne.
Greg picked up the phone again, and pressed the two buttons that would dial his sister’s home phone a suburb away. As he waited for the call to connect, he wandered through the house into the kitchen. The phone started ringing. Cradling it between his chin and shoulder, he filled the kettle. The phone rang out, which was good. It probably meant Sam was en route to their mother’s place. Maybe she’d been unlucky enough to end up with a flat tire or broken down. It was bound to be something as simple as that.
The kettle boiled as he tried Sam’s mobile number. It too went unanswered, but at least this time Greg was able to leave a message. He looked at his watch. He’d give her half an hour and if she hadn’t called him back by then, he would have to think of what else he could do to try to track her down. Younger sisters, who’d have them?
Twenty minutes later, he’d emptied the coffee pot and finished off the best part of a packet of shortbread biscuits without realizing it. His mother’s anxiety had started to rub off on him. He didn’t wait the half hour out. Instead, he reached for the phone and dialed Sam’s mobile first and then her home again, ending up with exactly the same results as before. No answer at either.
Had it been a Freudian slip when he’d inadvertently mentioned the new man in Sam’s life to his mother? Greg knew nothing about the guy except he was, in Sam’s words, “tall, dark, and drop-dead gorgeous.” He didn’t even know the guy’s name. What he did know was that Sam had met him through one of those agencies that specialized in dinner dating. Dinners for the desperate and dateless. He found the whole concept repugnant, but his sister had assured him that all was civilized and above board. He’d taken those assurances at face value, happy she was making an effort to get on with her life.