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The Armstrong AssignmentA Janet Markham Bennett Cozy Thriller

Diana Xarissa


Author’s Note

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

The Blake Assignment

A sneak peek at The Blake Assignment

Also by Diana Xarissa

About the Author

Copyright © 2021 DX Dunn, LLC

All Rights Reserved

Created with Vellum

Author’s Note

Welcome to the first book in my new series. When I finished the Markham Sisters Cozy Mystery Novella Series, I wasn’t ready to be done writing about Janet. It felt very much to me as if her adventures were just beginning. This series will be about some of those adventures.

If you’ve read the Markham Sisters books, then you’ll already know some of the characters in this new series. You don’t have to have read that series in order to enjoy this one, though. I do include several of the characters from that series in the first chapter of this title, but none of them are significant to the rest of the story. I simply wanted to include them in Janet’s wedding.

I’ve written the book in British English, as I did with the Markham Sisters stories. Unlike those, however, I have not included a glossary of terms or other notes on British versus American English. If you miss these, please let me know, because I can always include them in future books in the series if there is any demand for them.

This is a work of fiction and all of the characters were created by the author. Any resemblance any of them may bear to any real person, either living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The story begins in the fictional village of Doveby Dale and the action moves to other locations, some of which are real places and others which are fictional. All of the events that take place within the story are entirely made up. The businesses and other locations in the story were all created by the author. Again, any resemblance they may bear to any real businesses is coincidental.

As this is the first story in a new series, I’d really appreciate hearing what you think of it. All of my contact details are available on the About the Author page at the back of the book. I hope you enjoy the story.

Chapter 1

“You may kiss the bride,” the woman told them.

Janet Markham looked at Edward Bennett and smiled. He leaned forward and gave her a gentle kiss before pulling her into a tight hug that was followed by a more passionate embrace.

“I love you, Janet Bennett,” he whispered in her ear before he released her.

“I love you, too,” she mouthed at him before they turned to face the people in the rows of chairs behind them.

Janet felt tears well up in her eyes as she looked around the room. Her sister, Joan, was sitting in the front row, holding hands with her husband, Michael Donaldson. Behind Joan was a crowd of people, most of whom Janet had not yet met when she and Joan had purchased Doveby House, the bed and breakfast in Doveby Dale that they’d owned for over two years.

Owning a bed and breakfast had been Joan’s lifelong dream, one that she’d shared with her sister only after they’d unexpectedly inherited some money from a distant relative. They’d both been primary school teachers until their retirement. With some reservations, Janet had allowed herself to be persuaded to buy the beautiful seventeenth-century manor house and help her sister run the bed and breakfast. In the years since, both women had seen their lives change in ways neither of them had ever imagined.

Most notably Joan, who’d never seemed to notice the opposite sex when she’d been younger, had been courted by Michael, who lived in the house across the road from Doveby House. The pair had been married for several months now, and Janet had never seen her sister so happy. And today, three days after Christmas and just three months after Edward had proposed, Janet and Edward were married.

Edward Bennett had been the first paying guest at Doveby House after the sisters had purchased the property. He’d arrived on their doorstep while they were still getting settled, insisting that he had an existing reservation that had been made with the former owner. It was only later that he’d told Janet the truth. Edward worked for a top-secret government agency that had used Doveby House as a safe house. He’d been sent after the sisters bought the house to make certain that any paperwork that could tie his agency to the property was destroyed.

He’d also told Janet that he was interested in a relationship with her, but things were complicated by his job. Although he was meant to be retired, he still spent the next two years travelling around the world, with only an occasional visit to Doveby Dale. Once Edward had finally managed to retire properly, he’d asked Janet to be his wife. When she’d said yes, she’d expected that they’d spend six months or more planning their wedding, but Edward had wanted to start the new year with Janet as his wife.

She thought it was probably best that she didn’t know how much money he’d spent arranging everything for her dream wedding in such a short amount of time, but as she looked around the beautifully decorated room in Ashcroft Hall, Janet thought things couldn’t have been more perfect.

Her gaze moved back to the rows of guests, and she wondered how Edward had managed to get so many of them to attend. Before she had too much champagne, she’d have to find time to thank each of them for coming. As she looked at the other side of the room, she felt her smile falter. Behind Edward’s sister and

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