My guest author this week is Christina Larmer
Ever since she picked up her first copy of The Three Investigators, C.A. Larmer has been mad about crime fiction. Now the author of seven murder mysteries, including the best-selling Agatha Christie Book Club and the Ghostwriter Mystery Series, Larmer also works as a journalist from Byron Bay in Northern NSW, Australia. When she’s not penning women’s health articles or plotting her next murder, she’s busy cheering her sons on the soccer sidelines, helping her husband in his music studio or wrangling wayward snakes on their hinterland property. Larmer has also worked in New York, Los Angeles and London but her heart forever remains with her hometown in tropical Papua New Guinea where she was born and bred.
Words Can Kill (Ghostwriter Mystery #5)
By C.A. Larmer
In her fifth and most heart-wrenching mystery yet, Ghostwriter Roxy Parker is hot on the trail of her estranged boyfriend, Max. He’s disappeared from a Swiss alpine resort, a perky blonde by his side, and his flatmate has shown up murdered in Berlin, bludgeoned by his own guitar. The German police suspect Max of murder but Roxy knows better.
Max Farrell may be a cad, but he’s no cold-blooded killer.
So it is that Roxy packs her designer luggage and heads to Europe to track him down—but she has to be quick! Max has just sent Roxy a cryptic text message, which proves his life is hanging by a thread.
In this fun, fast-paced story, C.A. Larmer takes us on another exciting adventure and proves, yet again, why she’s one of Australia’s most popular cozy crime writers. Fasten your seat-belts, guys, and come along for the ride!
WORDS CAN KILL EXCERPT:
“Max is missing.”
They were three simple words, spoken casually by a woman young enough and pretty enough to still believe she was the centre of the universe and therefore her missing brother a minor inconvenience that she was hoping to palm off (preferably to Roxy Parker), but they still managed to send a sliver of ice through Roxy’s heart.
She froze for a second, the warm glass of Merlot almost at her lips.
“Missing?” she said, then tried a little humour to dislodge the chill. “Like, missing his brain? Missing me desperately? What do you mean, missing?”
Caroline raised one spaghetti-strapped shoulder into the air and shrugged. It was late Thursday evening and not yet summer, but that didn’t stop her from donning a sexy slip of a dress that showed off her golden brown tan and the intricate rose tattoo on the back of her right shoulder. Her long, lean legs were wedged into stilettos as high as the Harbour Bridge and were poking out now from beneath the table.
“I don’t know, sweetie. Personally? I think it’s all a false alarm.” She scooped some lemongrass chicken onto her fork. “I nearly didn’t call you but, well, it’s got Mum and Dad in a bit of a tizz which is bizarre because they never get in a tizz. Unless somebody chops down a tree, of course, or mentions the letters CSG.” She rolled her big brown eyes and plunged the fork into her mouth, talking while she chewed. “Anyway, they haven’t heard from him in a few days and seem to think that’s a big deal—something he said freaked them out, apparently.” She offered her “go figure” look.
The two women were seated at a rickety table in an overcrowded Thai restaurant just a few blocks from Roxy’s inner-city Sydney apartment. When Caroline had called her, keen to “discuss something important”, Roxy had expected little more than boyfriend trouble or a change of career. God knows there’d been enough of both. This, however, was out of the blue.
She took a settling gulp of her wine and returned the glass safely to the table. “A few days is hardly a problem, is it?”
“My sentiments exactly but, well, Mum’s being all loopy on this one so …” She hesitated. “He hasn’t called you, has he?”
The sudden crinkle in Caroline’s otherwise flawless forehead was not without basis. The last time Roxy had spoken to her supposed “boyfriend” Max, just over six months ago, it had all turned very sour, very fast. They had been dating for almost a year and things were going swimmingly (albeit more treading water than doing laps) until Max mentioned a sudden job offer with Mercedes-Benz in Germany. Roxy had reacted badly, a little “Caroline-like” in fact, and had not managed to find her maturity in the meantime. She was still feeling raw from the rejection and had been hoping Max would do as he always did and make the first move: call with apologies, send her a surprise airline ticket to Berlin, something. But of course he hadn’t done that and so the silence had ensued.
Now it felt deafening.
“Anyhoo,” Caroline was saying, oblivious to Roxy’s internal discomfort, “I normally call Max when I have a problem; he cleans it up for me quick smart. Problem is, well, Max is my problem.” She laughed. “Then I remembered that you’re kind of good at looking into ‘mysteries’”—she used the two finger quotation mark symbol that Roxy abhorred—“so was wondering if you want to track him down for me and tell him to call his bloody parents so I can get them off my back.”
She raised one hand again to a waiter who had been tracking her from the moment she’d walked in and he scurried across, delighted to be at the stunning blonde’s beck and call. She ordered another glass of wine.
“You want?” she asked Roxy, almost as an afterthought, and Roxy tapped her glass.
“Merlot, please.” Then to Caroline, “Can we just back up a little? I still don’t understand why your mother thinks he’s vanished.”
“Oh she’s being so melodramatic, darling. I’m sure he’s just run off with some German flooz—” she caught herself and had the decency to blush. “Oops.”
Roxy shrugged her off. “I don’t care if he has a girlfriend, Caroline.”
“Sure you don’t. Anyway, I’m not saying he does have a girlfriend, I’m just saying—”
“So why is your mum so worried?” Roxy cut her off. “What did Max say when they last spoke?”
Caroline leaned forward, one dress strap dropping provocatively from her shoulder. “That’s the thing, he didn’t say very much and what he did say made absolutely no sense. Mum reckons he said he was heading to Brazil for a few days.”
“Brazil? For a few days? From Germany? Really?”
“I know! How bizarre is that? Mum must have heard him wrong. I mean, her hearing’s not what it used to be and Max was calling on his mobile phone, from the road apparently. Anyway, it’s not so much what he said, it was the way he said it.”
The waiter appeared with the wines and Caroline refitted her strap and then took her glass with barely a glance, causing the poor man’s shoulders to deflate considerably as he turned away. She swallowed a generous mouthful and said, “He sounded kind of strange.”
“How do you mean strange?”
“Mum says he sounded worried, stressed even, but you have to remember, Mum’s a hippie. She thinks she can read people’s cosmic energy down the phone line.” Again with the eye roll. “She says Max’s energy was ‘as black as a witch’s breath’.”
LINKS TO BOOKS/WEBSITES BY C.A. LARMER
• AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/C.A.-Larmer/e/B006S9LC86/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1406003680&sr=1-2-ent
• NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/C-A–Larmer?keyword=C.A.+Larmer&store=ebook
• KOBO: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=C.A.+Larmer
• APPLE iPAD: https://itunes.apple.com/AU/book/id834409708?l=en
• C.A. Larmer blog: http://calarmerspits.blogspot.com.au/
• TWITTER: @CALarmer
• FB: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006328031549&ref=tn_tnmn
Christina and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.
This week, I’m pleased to host mystery author, P J. Nunn
As with most things, PJ Nunn’s career started out as something else entirely. She started out in retail then moved to property management. That led to teaching high school, then serving as a counselor and liaison to the local police youth services division. She also spent five years as chairperson of the Coryell County Child Welfare Board and spent years counseling abuse victims and serving law enforcement as a trauma counselor and consultant (something she still does today). When she moved to Dallas, a family illness caused her to leave a job teaching psychology at Dallas County Community College District to become a freelance writer, but found that a few favors she was doing for friends—writing press releases and setting up book signings—was better suited to her talents and her drives.
In 1998, she founded Break Through Promotions, now a national public relations firm helping authors, mostly of mystery novels, publicize themselves and their work. The business is thriving and PJ is excited about the release of her first novel, Angel Killer. PJ lives with her husband some of their five children near Dallas, TX. Learn more at http://pjnunn.com.
When Jesse Morgan’s boss and best friend died, she inherited Private Spies, a private investigation firm that specializes in missing persons. Unfortunately, she knew little about the business aside from her intensive work on the computer. But if Joey thought she could handle it, she felt obligated to at least give it a try. How hard could it be, right?
So Jesse took on her first case. Very straightforward. This guy is missing, find him. Oh but wait, he also kidnapped his own daughter. Find her too. Still not that hard. Except when she ran his report, the picture she found on his drivers license is of another guy. And when she found a guy who matched the first picture, he had another name. And when she found a girl that looked like the daughter, she didn’t match anything. Not good.
Enter a retired police officer named Byron (really?) who says before Joey died, he hired him to work for them. Ok. This might be helpful. But then came a stalker, and a dead guy, a dead duck and an increasing list of incidents that all seem confusing to Jesse. Up to her eyeballs in threats and questions, Jesse’s outraged when the woman who hired her decides to fire her. Unbelievable! Unable to stop at that point, Jesse is determined to find the guy and solve the case. If only it was as easy as it sounded.
Here is an excerpt from Private Spies:
I hate mornings. Unfortunately, if I sleep through them like I like to do, I miss half the day. Time is money, or so I’ve heard. After a quick shower, I tugged on a sweater and a pair of jeans, promised Elvis I wouldn’t come home without food, and headed out. An unlocked door and the smell of fresh brewed coffee greeted me at the office.
“Bernice!” I smiled for the first time in awhile. “I didn’t expect you back until next week.”
“I knew you’d need me,” she smiled up at me from her desk, looking more like a weirded out fairy godmother than any receptionist I’ve seen.
At fifty something, her hair was more white than brown and she wore it in a variation of a beehive that I thought went out in the sixties. Bright blue eye shadow covered her eyelids like finger paint no matter what color of garish flowered muumuu she wore on her ample frame. I never did hear where Joey found her, but she was a whiz around the office.
“You’re right about that,” I said, retrieving the stacks I’d sorted from my desk. “Bills to pay, invoices to send, and stuff to file,” I said, setting each one down on her desk in turn.
“Oh, girl, looks like you’ve been busy!” she clucked.
“Not busy enough,” I groaned, sinking into my chair and glancing over at the piles still covering Joey’s desk. He might have known right where everything was, but to me, it just looked like a mess. “I’ve got a new case, though, so I guess those will have to wait another day or two.”
“No worries,” Bernice said cheerfully. “I’ll have it sorted out in no time. I know his system.”
She’d get no arguments from me. I have enough trouble with my own mess. The sound of Bernice rustling around and muttering to herself was oddly comforting and I got right to work on the Gafford case.
“Look at this,” I told Bernice, less than an hour later.
The picture Beverly Gafford faxed of her ex husband was grainy at best, but it still didn’t look anything like the driver’s license photo I picked off the Internet. Joey had us set up to get into all kinds of databases. Some of them, I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to get into, but sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions.
“Does that look like the same guy to you?” I handed the printout to her.
Bernice held the two photos in chubby hands an arm’s length away from her bifocals.
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “Not at all. You sure this is the right guy?”
I shrugged. “Same social, same name.”
“Guess it’s a really bad picture,” she said, putting them back on my desk. “You know those DPS pictures are a plot from hell.”
She nodded her head with her lips clenched in a tight line. Bernice thought everything was a plot from hell.
“Maybe,” I said.
But I didn’t think it was just a bad picture. Something seemed hokey about the whole thing.
“I’m going to see if I can find this guy in person,” I told her, pulling my purse out of the bottom drawer.
Ordinarily, that was a luxury I didn’t have, working on the Internet, but since he was supposedly here in Dallas I could do some actual investigating. That was a perk that didn’t come up often. Most of the time, I just did all my searching online and Joey had done the rest. I missed him.
Expecting to find a little house similar to my own, I was surprised when the address led me to the Frost Farms section of DeSoto. Where the really rich who don’t want to live in north Dallas live. Ranches and mansions with circular driveways and pools and stables and maids and limos. I heard one house actually has its own bowling alley. Not that I’d ever been inside one, but I could tell immediately that my whole house and yard would have fit easily in the garage.
My poor little Taurus probably felt like an unwanted stepchild. Hard to be inconspicuous in a Ford around there. Hard to see anything parked on the street, too. The house number was on the mailbox but the driveway was so long I had to rescue a surveillance bag out of the trunk and use binoculars. Joey liked to have all the right equipment, even if we hardly ever used it. Man, I missed him!
I didn’t have to wait long to see someone; people came and went like it was moving day only they weren’t carrying anything. Unfortunately, none of them even remotely resembled either of the men I was looking for, or the little girl, either. I was about ready to give up when a man came out of the stables and caught my attention. Even with the binoculars, it was hard to tell, so I took a chance and got out of the car. I needed to stretch my legs anyway. PIs do way too much sitting.
I had to hurry to cross the grass in time to catch him before he reached his truck, so I didn’t really have time to think of anything clever to say.
“Excuse me!” I called when I got close enough for him to hear me.
When he stopped and turned, I knew it was the same face that Beverly Gafford had faxed to me. He wasn’t very big, maybe five foot ten, a hundred and sixty pounds, but he had the wavy brown hair and the deep creases in his face that come from hours in the sun. Lawrence Gafford number one. The one that matched the picture that didn’t match the name. Maybe I wasn’t ready to be the boss yet. None of this made sense.
“Are you Lawrence Gafford?” I asked, trying not to breathe as hard as an obscene phone caller.
A scowl replaced the smile he’d been wearing. “Who wants to know?”
I pulled a card out of my pocket and handed it to him. “Jesse Morgan, Private Spies.”
“I got nothing to say to you,” he snarled and pitched my card on the ground, then turned and continued to his truck.
“Look,” I chased after him, “I don’t want to cause a problem, I just need to know…”
He couldn’t hear me because he was driving away. Great.
“Hilarious! Jesse Morgan is a girl-next-door turned detective who if she runs short of skill will make up for it with sheer determination or maybe luck. She won’t rest until her case is closed.” - Bookbrowsing
Facebook/PJ - https://www.facebook.com/authorpjnunn
Facebook/BreakThrough - https://www.facebook.com/breakthroughpromo
Twitter – www.twitter.com/PJNunn
GoodReads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard
Blog – http://pjnunn.wordpress.com
P J. is giving away either a trade paperback or a Kindle copy of Private Spies. Leave a comment and be automatically be entered to win!
This week, I’m hosting mystery author, Deborah Garner.
Deborah is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.
The Moonglow Cafe
New York reporter Paige MacKenzie has a hidden motive when she heads to the small town of Timberton, Montana. Assigned to research the area’s unique Yogo sapphires for the Manhattan Post, she hopes to reconnect romantically with handsome cowboy Jake Norris. The local gem gallery offers the material needed for the article, but the discovery of an old diary, hidden inside the wall of a historic hotel, soon sends her on a detour into the underworld of art and deception.
Each of the town’s residents holds a key to untangling more than one long-buried secret, from the hippie chick owner of a new age café to the mute homeless man in the town park. As the worlds of western art and sapphire mining collide, Paige finds herself juggling research, romance and danger. With stolen sapphires and shady characters thrown into the mix, will Paige escape the consequences of her own curiosity?
Here is an excerpt from The Moonglow Cafe:
The newspaper fell to the table and Paige caught her breath. Jake was even more handsome than Paige remembered, all blue eyes, chiseled chin, deep tan and windswept hair. She had missed him. Now here he was, his sly grin revealing she was the recipient of a well-planned surprise.
“Hi, Paige,” Jake said, looking pleased with himself.
“You tricky rascal! How?”
“First a toast. To Paige MacKenzie, intrepid reporter.”
Paige lifted her own glass and clinked it against Jake’s. “To Jake Norris, mysterious cowboy!” She took a sip of champagne before setting down her glass.
“So, how did you pull this off?”
“Your office,” Jake said. “I called there yesterday because I couldn’t reach you
on your cell phone.”
“I was in flight. My phone was off. And you hate leaving messages, don’t you?”
Paige crossed her arms and tried to look annoyed. But she couldn’t stop smiling.
“And you just go trouncing across the country, heading west, no less, without a word of warning.” Jake’s tone was 95 percent teasing and 5 percent scolding.
“I didn’t have much notice, to tell the truth,” Paige said. “Besides, I thought maybe I’d surprise you.”
“Well, I do believe I beat you to it.” Jake rocked back in his chair, looking like a schoolboy who’d just gotten away with an excellent prank.
“Yes, I believe you did.”
Enya had moved seamlessly into a haunting blend of pan flutes and soft drums.
Jake’s eyes reflected candlelight. As Jake leaned forward and lowered his voice to a whisper, Paige gave in to the urge to touch his hand with light fingertips just to be sure she wasn’t imagining his presence.
“Will we be getting menus soon?” Jake looked around the café for Mist. “I worked up an appetite driving today.”
Paige slid her hand back to her champagne flute, leaned forward, too, and matched his secretive tone.
“Moonglow doesn’t have menus,” Paige whispered. “Menus complicate life.” She felt a wave of satisfaction at Jake’s puzzled look. He may have surprised her first, but at least she had a head start on knowing Timberton’s quirks.
Two plates of food glided silently onto the table; the aromas of caramelized onions and port sauce rose up. Slender stalks of fresh asparagus fanned out to the left side of two tender, beef medallions. A diminutive, almond-encrusted puff pastry of baked Brie accompanied the meal. Jake looked at the plate and back up at Paige.
“Trust me,” Paige said. “Just eat anything she serves. The breakfast I had this morning was heavenly. If I could, I’d eat every meal here for the rest of my life.”
Jake dug into the gourmet meal, glancing around the café between bites. Paige watched him and knew he was as curious as she’d been since she arrived in Timberton. Hunger trumped conversation temporarily, but as he finished a last bite of Brie, he spoke.
“What kind of town is this, anyway? It didn’t look like much when I drove in.
But then the only café in town serves up a meal like this? I don’t get it.”
Paige could only agree.
“I wish I could tell you. It’s an odd place, that’s for sure.” Paige paused as
Mist switched out the empty dinner plates for two coffees, one miniature chocolate soufflé and two spoons.
“What does Susan have you working on this time?” Jake sipped his coffee
“I’m writing a sapphire article to coincide with a gemology convention coming up in New York in a few weeks,” Paige said. “There’s a gem gallery in town, and the owner knows a lot about Montana sapphire mining and the town’s history. Once I get a good focus, I hope it won’t take long to pull it together. But there’s something else.”
Jake took a sip of coffee as Paige lowered her voice again.
“I came across an old diary last night while I was trying to figure out how to turn on the heat in my room.”
“One of those display pieces that hotels put out for guests to see?” Jake said, holding his coffee cup close to his face to breathe in the aroma. “Wow, this coffee is excellent.”
“No,” Paige said. “I mean, yes, the coffee is amazing, but no, the diary isn’t a display piece. It was hidden inside the wall. I’m sure it belonged to a local artist. This town is filled with unusual characters and secrets,” Paige said, dipping a spoon into the soufflé. “It seems surreal.”
“Yes, I agree, surreal,” Jake said. “What are the entries in this diary like? Do they have anything to do with sapphires?”
Paige looked a little guilty. “Nothing to do with sapphires. From what I’ve read so far, the diarist was a painting student who was frustrated with his teacher and his own work. He was an angry person, but his story intrigues me.”
“Yes, I remember how you can’t resist the possibility of a good story.” Jake’s voice had softened. He reached across the table and laced his fingers with Paige’s. That simple contact unnerved but warmed her. It was good to feel his touch.
“How does a cool, Montana evening walk sound after we pay the tab?” Jake nodded to the café’s front door.
“I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a check,” Paige laughed. “Payment for meals here is just as bizarre as everything else in this town.”
“If we don’t get a bill, how do we know what we owe?” Jake said. Paige guessed that nothing in Timberton made sense to Jake.
“To quote what Mist told me this morning, ‘leave what your heart tells you.’”
“Well,” Jake sighed, “My heart tells me I’d better appreciate an extraordinary meal when I have a chance.” He stood and pulled out a worn, leather wallet from the back pocket of his jeans, taking several bills and dropping them on the table.
Just seeing Jake stand moved Paige to a familiar breathlessness. The scuffed boots were the same ones he’d been wearing when she’d first met him in Jackson Hole. The sound of his first step onto Moonglow’s wooden floor brought back memories of a day in another café, one state away. Had it really been only a month? She admired the snug, relaxed fit of his jeans. They looked like the same jeans as before, though the belt buckle was different. It was similar to the silver buckles she’d seen him wear, but with a trace of gold edging. The design featured majestic mountains and pine trees that surrounded a rustic bridge.
Paige blushed. She knew she’d stared at that belt buckle a bit too long. Of course she liked it. All of it. What was not to like about this Wyoming cowboy?
“Recent addition to your wardrobe?”
Jake grinned. “Even guys shop sometimes, you know.” He helped her up from her chair, picked up the long-stemmed, red rose and presented it to her with a slight bow.
“Dramatic,” she teased.
“Well, drama could be your middle name, if I recall your last visit correctly.”
Jake released her hand and slid his arm around her shoulders.
“Not this time.” Paige sighed. They stepped out into the cold night and paused on the sidewalk. “The people are interesting, and the diary adds an intriguing twist, but there’s not a drop of drama to be found in this town from what I can tell.”
“That’s fine,” Jake said. “You’re here to do an article on sapphires. Maybe the town’s old-time residents will find the diary interesting. Anyway, the most important thing is that you’re here.” He turned Paige toward him and drew her close.
“I think maybe you should show me this diary,” Jake whispered, his lips brushing Paige’s ear. “You know…the one in your room?”
“Yes.” Paige said with a soft smile. “I think that’s a good idea.”
Book Purchase Links for The Moonglow Cafe
You can find Deborah Garner at:
Deborah and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment. When you do you’ll be entered to win a free copy of The Moonglow Cafe in any ebook format.
This week, my guest is author, Lynn Cahoon.
Lynn Cahoon’s a multi-published author. An Idaho native, her stories focus around the depth and experience of small town life and love. Lynn’s published in Chicken Soup anthologies, explored controversial stories for the confessional magazines, short stories in Women’s World, and contemporary romantic fiction. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.
Guidebook to Murder
In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store–Coffee, Books, and More–open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?
When Jill’s elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily’s gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill–along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit–especially if it gets her closer to South Cove’s finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she’s on the case–and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently. . .
Here’s an excerpt:
Empty shops are the death knell for small businesses. The thought nagged at me as I read, curled up in my favorite overstuffed armchair. Wednesdays were notoriously slow for all the South Cove businesses. Not many tourists included the day in an impulsive California coastal weekend getaway, but I liked to be open, just in case a random busload of quilting seniors decided to stop for a shot of espresso and a few novels to read while they traveled to their next stop on the tour. It had happened.
The mortgage papers on the building listed me as Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More, the only combination bookstore and coffee shop within sixty miles. But as anyone who’s gone through a divorce or lawsuit knows, paper only tells half the story. I might own the shop, but I’m also one of the world’s biggest suckers.
When I moved to South Cove five years ago, I realized to survive in the small tourist town I’d need to patch together a few different jobs. So I’d jumped at the chance to serve as the business liaison between the local businesses and the city council.
Now I regretted my impulsive nature. And as if to highlight my error, the fax machine on the back counter beeped and started printing out a message.
It could be a catering order coming in. Hope springs eternal and all that. I jumped up from my chair to glance at the half-printed page.
The South Cove city letterhead sparkled on the top. Then Mayor Baylor’s scrawl appeared over the sheet. Short and sweet, he wanted the agenda for the next Business to Business meeting in his office by five on Friday.
As the new kid in town, I’d been honored when the city had offered me the position. I should have known there was a catch, because none of the other more-established business owners wanted the job. Working with His Honor The Mayor was a nightmare. But I was stuck with the job—at least until I could sucker the next victim into taking it on. Planning this month’s get-together had been on my to-do list for three weeks. I wrote it there myself, right after I’d left the last meeting. I left the fax on the machine and went back to my book.
With a steaming hot mocha within reach on the table, I snuggled in to devour the latest installment from my favorite mystery author. Customers could come tomorrow. The mayor and my to-do list could wait another day. The sunshine warmed my skin, and the smell of deep, dark coffee hung in the air. I tried to ignore the nagging going on inside my brain.
I’d read two pages when the phone rang. My plans for a quiet morning of reading weren’t working out. Running the few steps to reach the phone, I felt breathless when I answered. “Coffee, Books, and More, how can I help you?”
“Jill, is that you?” Miss Emily’s high-pitched voice blared over the phone line. Man, for being in her eighties, the woman could really project.
“Yes, it’s me. What’s going on?” My heart slowed a few beats. I needed to get into better shape. I grabbed a dust cloth, happy for the cordless phone. Conversations with Miss Emily were never short.
“Those rats at the council are at it again.” Miss Emily’s ongoing argument with the city was a popular topic of discussion not only with me, but with anyone who stopped by her house to visit.
“What did they do now?” I walked over to the closest bookshelf and started to wipe away the dust that had already settled since I cleaned yesterday. I loved my little store but sometimes I felt like it owned me, my time, and what was left of my rapidly shrinking savings account.
“They want me to sell out to some charlatan who’s building an apartment complex for wealthy seniors. And they’re offering me a condo at a reduced price in the complex. Can you believe it?” Miss Emily sounded near tears.
“They can’t make you sell.” I tried to calm her.
“The letter says they can. It says the council can condemn the property and just take my house. Can they do that?” Miss Emily rattled the pages hard enough that I could hear the crinkling over the phone.
“Just put that letter away and I’ll look it over on Sunday. When do you have to answer?” I was starting to worry. The council had never threatened to condemn her property before. I’d have to check with Amy, she’d know the details. Having the city planner as a friend came in handy.
“The end of the month.”
“We have plenty of time. We’ll call some lawyers on Monday if we need to.” One more thing on my to-do list.
“I’m buying a rifle to keep those carpetbaggers off my land,” Miss Emily declared.
Lynn and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.