Title: PAINTING THE ROSES DEAD
Genre: YA mystery
Word Count: 56K
When Alison Burke, dressed in her Alice-in-Wonderland costume, ends up dead in Disney World's rose garden, Teegan Krane blames herself. After all, she's a character attendant, charged with handling guests and directing Alice's schedule. Needless to say, murder was not on today's agenda.
But Alison's death isn't the end of things. The other performers who play Alice report shadowy figures outside their apartments and threatening notes in their lockers. Talk about curiouser and curiouser. When another Alice reports blackmail even after the police arrest a suspect, Teegan resolves to discover the person behind the threats.
As she investigates behind-the-scenes (and under the streets) at the most magical place on earth, she discovers a world of jealousy and competitiveness blurring the line between fantasy and reality. With her best friend due to start as the newest Alice, Teegan has one week to discover the killer--or risk losing her forever.
Usually the screams don't start until after the park opens. That's why this one, at 7:39 AM, startles me. I flinch, upsetting Aspen Joy, today's Magic Kingdom Alice in Wonderland, from her slouch against my shoulder.
"Teegan, I have a double shift today," she says. "At least let me sleep."
I roll my eyes and peel off my sweatshirt (the third sacrifice I've made for Aspen this morning, which actually isn't anywhere near a record), folding it into a makeshift pillow. Alison Burke, everyone's favorite Alice, was supposed to be here today, but she'd texted Aspen last night, asking to trade shifts. So it's Aspen I'm dealing with. Not that I'm supposed to think of them separately.
According to the Disney handbook for character attendants, Alice is Alice is Alice, no matter if Alice is Alison or Aspen. This is too many A-names for early on a Monday, so I adjust the pillow and hope she'll be less crabby when she wakes up.
I pull out today's schedule, scanning the itinerary. "I'm gonna go check on that scream. I've set your phone alarm for 8:00 so someone can cosmetology has time to do your hair and makeup."
Aspen grumbles assent, burying her face in my sweatshirt. She's grumpier than usual--probably out late with one of the French cast members from Epcot. Whenever she's over there, her attendant spends half the time coaxing her back into England--"Kids, where was Alice born?" (Answer: Oxford, though most people just say England.)