Tag Archives: Cozy Mystery
Date Published: October 2016
The indomitable widow of a Marine sniper is faced with the reality of starting a new life with her teenage son, after hearing the awful news that her loving and brave husband was killed in the line of duty. Drawn back to her childhood home, Rossalyn Channing meets up with old friends and begins her healing process, safe in the loving company of her parents.
Irresistibly drawn to a mysterious little building in a small town, Rossie impulsively buys it and makes big plans for an eatery that her late husband would have loved. Things are not always as they seem in quaint small towns, however, and she begins to wonder if the challenges that she faces are insurmountable. The determination of the fearless military wife is strong, but will she prevail as a stranger in a strange land?
Add to the mix a body found on her property, and scary strangers randomly appearing to torment her, and you set the stage for the first book in the Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Series. This poignant tale of courage in the midst of adversity will inspire you, and leave you hungry for more.
Other Books in the Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Mysteries Series:
Baby Back Murder
Hawg Heaven Cozy Mysteries, Book 2
Published: December 2016
Rossalyn Channing’s savory new bacon-heavy business in a small town is booming, and she, along with son Ryan, is settling in quite well, until one of her favorite television shows comes to town wanting to film nearby. Rossie directs them to a place that she knows and is dismayed when her location turns out to be tragic. Sinister character emerge on all sides, and Rossalyn fears for her life and Ryan’s safety. With the help of some unexpected friends, will she manage to solve the murder before it’s too late? Find out in this next exciting installment of the Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Series!
Nacho Usual Murder
Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Mysteries, Book 3
Published: January 2017
Rossalyn Channing’s world is rocked when a stalker gets up close and personal. She receives surprises visits and surprise bouquets from a would-be suitor who was recently released from jail. Things take a dramatic turn for the worse as she becomes the suspect in a local murder, and everything turns upside down when a close ally seems to suddenly be acting suspiciously. Will the events that occur be enough to drive the newcomer Rossalyn, and her son Ryan out of their small town? Or will Rossie figure out who’s been lurking in the shadows, before it’s too late?
Hawgs, Dogs, and Murder
Hawg Heaven Cozy Culinary Mysteries, Book 4
Published: April 2017
Rossie’s accountant confesses a possible connection to the untimely demise of her coworker, and Rossie fears that the woman’s life might be in danger. Meanwhile, the single mom wonders if she’s losing her mind, or if there really is a stranger lurking about. Throw in a heaping helping of Jose’s amazing cooking, and a love triangle that just might be the end of her, and you have a hearty recipe for a good old-fashioned mystery, filled with action, drama, and suspense.
About the Author
Summer Prescott is a best-selling Cozy Mystery author. Her highly regarded INNcredibly Sweet series continues to be a reader favorite, and The Hawg Heaven series has been tremendously well-received. The author spends her days creating new and inventive ways for her characters to solve crimes and save the day.
Date Published: June 2016
Publisher: Asdee Press
It’s Monday of spring break when Professor Lyssa Pennington’s backyard garden project unearths a loaded revolver. With no record of violence at their address and no related cold case, the Tompkins Falls police have no interest. But the Penningtons and a friend with the State Police believe there’s a body somewhere. Whose? Where? And who pulled the trigger?
Lyssa sobbed and punched her pillow and finally fell deeply asleep.
Sometime after midnight, a hand rose from the hole in the center of the garden, found her in the guest room, and grabbed her by the throat.
She bolted upright and sucked air with noisy gasps. Stroking her throat, she scanned every corner of the room. She was alone.
White window curtains fluttered as the heat came on. She studied the lacy pattern traced on the linen panels by the streetlamp as it shone through the branches of a tree.
Her breathing eased, and her hand slid instinctively lower, to her breastbone, where she massaged with soothing pressure. Her newfound calm brought awareness. She wasn’t alone.
Death was in the room with her.
About the Author
C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting: entirely fictional, Tompkins College is no college and every college, and Tompkins Falls, is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY (AKA Bedford Falls from It’s a Wonderful Life).
Date Published: December 5, 2016
Book 3 in the Death by Cupcake series. Can be read as a standalone.
Kristie is kind with a capital K, so it’s quite the surprise when she wakes up next to a dead man with no recollection of the previous night. Even worse? She’s naked. Kristie may be a sweetheart out to save the world, but sticking her nose into an investigation of rapes across campus makes her the target of a murderer. Before she knows it, Callie is smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation with her colleagues Callie and Anna. If that’s not enough to drive a sane person up the wall, a friend has decided he’s going to keep her safe whether she wants him to or not. And, oh yeah, he’s her man and that’s that.
Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu. You are most welcome, but you may need to serve yourself as our barista Kristie is busy trying to save the world.
Warning: Although there are plenty of moments that will make you shake your head and laugh at the antics of the ladies of Callie’s Cakes, the subject matter – rape on college campuses – is very real and somewhat darker than your usual cozy mystery.
About the Author
I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage, every once in a while, to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I decided to follow the husband to Istanbul for a few years where I managed to churn out book after book. But ten years was too many to stay away from ‘home’. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.
Publisher: 4-D Publishing
Roberta Sedgewick is stuck in a house that is too empty without her beloved Burton—the rat died and left her with his dog and rooms that rattle. She convinces her three golfing buddies, all in their seventies, to sell their homes and buy adjoining condos. The widows intend to spend the rest of their days golfing, gambling at the casino, and having fun. Oh, the heaven of it. But then they all hire the same maid who uncovers long-hidden criminal secrets kept by each woman. Oh, the horror of it. The reputations of their deceased husbands, a banker, a minister, and a respected farmer, will be tarnished forever. Three of the widows could face jail time, and the fourth fears for her life. Whatever will they do with the conniving, blackmailing maid?
I catch my breath. This could be it. To make sure, I draw the newspaper almost to my nose and read the listing again. Right here in the real estate section of the Vista Harbor Chronicle is the answer. The date in the corner reads July 7, only four days ago. A happy dance springs within me, but I control the urge. No customer sitting at a high table in a bistro needs to witness a lady past her prime make a fool of herself. Instead, I jig my fists below the table in a silent yes, yes, yes. I’ve found the condos. Life at age seventy-two is about to change. I slide from the stool and head for the door, hoping no one notices the newspaper tucked under my left arm.
“Thank you, Mrs. Sedgewick,” the coffee gal calls after me. She saw the paper, and that’s her way of letting me know. Without looking back, I waggle my right hand above my shoulder and push open the door.
Outside, I dig through my Gucci for my phone. I love my hobo bag, but don’t like searching for whatever drops to the bottom. I need to figure that out. I also don’t like the dark face of the phone in the bright sunlight. Phone people need to figure that out.
I move under the umbrella of a red maple. In filtered light, I send a text to my three buddies. Meet me at the clubhouse. I have a surprise. I shuffle a little smart-step, unable to hide my joy. I’m still light on my feet even though my hair has turned soft white. I avoid coloring it but fight other signs of aging with a diet pill once in a while and wrinkle cream rubbed in nightly. Like most Pisces, I’m proud, a bit vain, and not afraid to admit it. I hop into my reliable Subaru.
A hand grabs the top part of the car door.
I gasp and brace against the seat.
A careworn woman stands there like a waif. “I did naught mean to startle you. I noticed you did a jig step before getting into your car and wondered if you are from Scotland. I’m so homesick for the heather.” She’s medium height, medium weight—medium all the way around. Her flyaway hair is sandy, and her sad eyes show more burnished gold than green. She removes her hand from the top of the door. “I’m sorry for intruding.”
“No need to be. I’m not from Scotland, but some distant relatives were. They mixed with my English ancestors, so I’m blessed with a good dose of Highland merriment and English good sense that battle each other. I hope you find your way back to the heather.” I close the car door. It thuds softly, not a hard slam to show dismay. So often anymore I’m prone to sharpness and a quick tongue, followed by guilt. Or else I rattle on about nothing and don’t worry about it.
The Scottish woman walks away, spine stiff, head high. An odd, lonely woman, but likable.
A sense of uncertainty chases around my shoulders. I banish it with a glance at my watch. There’s enough time to run by Jones Realty and arrange for a showing of the condos this afternoon. I tilt the rearview mirror and apply a boost of blush, lip gloss, and a dab of liquid concealer by my left eyelid—the dang droopy thing. There. All is repaired well enough to see Ned Jones, the realtor.
Before I swing into the late morning traffic on Harbor Drive, a white-knuckle thought smacks into my gray matter. The newspaper is only a few days old, but what if someone already bought one of the units? What a terrible thought. I press harder on the accelerator and zip through Vista Harbor, the alpine resort community I call home. It’s a small town compared to Aspen or Big Sky, but it’s more than big enough to accommodate tourists and newcomers. I don’t mind sharing the beauty of my valley, my mountains, and my lakes. Sure, there’s room for all, and yes, I claim ownership. This part of Montana belongs to me.
Ten blocks later, after having to slam on the brakes to avoid the rear end of a showoff car, I park next to a chalet-style house with a readerboard announcing homes or acreage for folks to buy. Big black letters read, New on the Market. Four Single-Story Condominiums in the Harbor Hill Area. Perfect. And no more stairs to climb.
I straighten my skinny jeans, smooth my top, and walk inside the office. A clock chimes the half hour . . . plenty of time before lunch.
Behind a glass counter, inlaid with prize listings and a Sold banner across each, a young man thumbs through a stack of listings and thoroughly ignores me. He must be the new assistant, and the talk of the town, like any new buck. No cure for small towns and gossip.
“Is Ned in?”
“No.” The young squirt doesn’t bother to look up and continues to scan a paper, nimble finger flying down the page.
I lean a little onto my right side and place my jewel-covered fingers on the counter, thrumming them on the most expensive listing. “Just tell your boss our mom called from the nursing home and wants more money.”
The kid makes eye contact. “You’re his sista?”
“No, but you should treat me like I am. Do I hear Boston in your accent?”
“Moving to a small town is an adjustment. Attitude counts.”
Satisfied I have his attention, I say, “I would like to see those newly listed condos at 2:00 this afternoon.”
“The ones out on Harbor Hill?”
I nod. “The ones with the same name as the golf course, ski mountain, and every other place that isn’t called Alpine or Vista. What’s the street number?”
“101. Ned is showing a unit now.” The kid tries not to smirk. He doesn’t make it. His brown-flecked eyes shine with mischief. They probably always do. He’s a young devil, I can tell, and figure he’s teasing me.
“Please inform him Roberta Sedgewick will be at the condos at 2:00 this afternoon. If he can’t make it, have him call me. He has the number.” Halfway out the door, I lean back inside. “Oh, by the way, I’m interested in buying all four and may be interested in listing four pieces of prime property. Like the kind you have there under glass on your counter. Tell him not to sell any of the units until we talk. Understood?”
I chuckle to myself as the door closes. I’m bad.
About the Author
Marie F. Martin is the author of an intense vow in MATERAL HARBOR, surprising twists of a family’s past in HARBORED SECRETS, a grizzly attack and lover’s spat in RATHAM CREEK. Together her three thriller, mystery, or suspense novels have over 250,000 Kindle downloads and 613 five star reviews.
She now adds DON’T MESS WITH MRS. SEDGEWICK to her list of books.
Marie lives in a fertile valley at the base of the Rocky Mountains. She enjoys a quiet life where laughter comes easy, love easier. She invites you to join in her rich, rural memories on her website where she has posted a memoir of her early childhood and raising her family of four children.
Sale Price – $1.99!
Mystery, Cozy Mystery
Date Published: June 28, 2016
A witch. A murder. A wedding dress?
Dylan Apel is having one heck of a summer. She knows her hand-made clothing is special, but magical? Discovering that she’s a witch is bad enough, but when Dylan realizes there are folks who’ll kill to possess her witchy powers— that’s enough to make a girl want to hide out in the back of her boutique. Only problem is, Queen Witch is in town, itchin’ to make sure Dylan learns to cast spells, and this witch won’t take no for an answer.
Dylan must learn fast—someone just killed her best client with a poisoned gown meant for Dylan. Was it the tall, mysterious hottie in black, who’s suddenly everywhere she goes? After all, the first thing Roman Bane says is he doesn’t like witches. Is he here to save her, or kill her?
Dylan is barely getting a handle on her new powers when she finds herself surrounded by witches bossing her this way and that, local police nosing about, and wary clients—death by clothing is not good for business. And the solstice is coming … a time when witch powers are at their peak. Can Dylan survive the chaos long enough to figure out her new life?
“If that ain’t the other side of stupid, I don’t know what is.”
Reagan Eckhart, all platinum-blonde ninety-eight pounds of her, shoved a newspaper in my face. I winced, barely avoiding a massive paper cut to the nose.
“Those idiots put you in Arts and Leisure. You should have been on the front page of the Birmingham News.” She tapped the newspaper with a single red fingernail. “With as much business as you do, Dylan Apel, you should have been the main story of the day.”
“Don’t you think technically they should have put me in the business section?” I said.
Reagan fluffed the foot of hair teased up at her crown. At least it looked like a foot. Okay, it wasn’t a foot—only six inches. But those were a tall six inches. Big enough to practically be their own person. “Whatever,” she mumbled.
The debutante was in rare form today. Reagan was dressed to the nines in a black halter top and pants that resembled Spandex. Personally, I was waiting for her to break out into the chorus of “You’re the One That I Want,” à la Olivia Newton-John. Harry Shaw, her fiancé—a smallish, bald financial advisor—definitely wouldn’t join her if she did. His idea of playing John Travolta probably resembled hot-and-heavy talk about how gross grease and lightning were and why would you want to put the two together?
I grabbed the paper and scrutinized the picture of me and my sisters, Seraphina and Reid. Bright, beaming smiles on our faces, we stood in front of our side-by-side stores—Perfect Fit and Sinless Confections. Seraphina, tall and slender, her hair shimmering like glass in the sunlight, looked absolutely perfect. Even Reid, my eighteen-year-old baby sis, looked cherubic and innocent, her doe eyes and cheeky smile radiating youthful exuberance.
Then there was me. I sighed. It had taken two hours to smooth my hair, and it had still frizzed on the edges. I wasn’t as tall or slender as Seraphina. But what I lacked in athletic build, I made up for in curves. Good for me. I might not look statuesque and perfect, but I could put on a slutty dress and have enough T and A to get noticed.
Was that a zit on my cheek?
“When I realized you had this store, Dylan,” Reagan said, “and I saw how beautiful the dresses were, I told Harry—I said, ‘Harry, that’s who’s going to design my wedding dress.’ Didn’t I, hon?”
Harry, nose-deep in the business section, remained silent.
Reagan kicked him.
“Ow!” Harry rubbed his ankle. “What’d you do that for?”
“Didn’t I, Harry? Didn’t I say that?”
Harry shrank a little, his bald pate looking even balder under the fluorescents. “Yes, of course you did, dear.”
Poor guy. He probably wouldn’t last a year in the marriage. He’d be whipped, beaten down and likely castrated after two months.
Did I say that out loud?
“Anyway,” Reagan continued, flitting about the room. “I told Harry, Dylan Apel and I were best friends in high school—”
“Mortal enemies,” I corrected.
“—and of course she’s going to be the one to design my dress.” Girlfriend didn’t miss one beat. I don’t think Reagan listened to what people said. Did she even hear them when they talked?
From the corner my assistant, Carrie Dogwood, snickered. I shot her a look of warning. She turned a deep shade of red and pretended to straighten a rack of sequined gowns.
“Reagan, do you want to see your dress again?” I asked.
“Of course,” she squealed. “I can’t get enough of it.”
Carrie crossed to me. She leaned over, kept her voice low. “Wonder what she’ll complain about this time.”
I turned away from Reagan. “Hopefully nothing,” I whispered. “Can you grab the dress?”
An unfinished blue gown caught my attention. The color of a robin’s egg, the dress would be the envy of the Silver Springs solstice banquet, what with its deep vee neckline and overlay of chiffon. I needed to finish it before the dance, which was barely two weeks away.
I sighed. I’d been working a lot lately, thanks to Reagan’s never-ending changes to her gown. There was less than a week until the wedding, and after that I’d have plenty of time to work on my own dress. That is, if I survived Reagan for a few more days.
I stared vacantly at the gown until a bodiless hand thrust the newspaper into my face once more. Reagan popped up in front of me and wiggled the now crumpled article. “But this reporter nails it. She absolutely gets it right. I could have gone anywhere for my dress, but there’s just something about your gowns and your sister’s food. It’s like I’m transported to another place. I don’t know how to describe it.”
I had heard the same mantra over and over from clients. There’s something about your clothes that I can’t put my finger on. It’s almost like they’re magical.
Yeah. Right. Not that I didn’t appreciate the compliment. Believe me, I did. So did Sera. If it weren’t for the folks in our lakeside community of Silver Springs, Alabama, we’d be beggars. Hoboes maybe. Vagabonds most likely. And not the good kind. Not the sexy kind you see on the covers of romance novels.
Wait. There weren’t hoboes on those. Well, anyway, we’d be dirty, covered in rags that smelled of oil and sweat, with grit under our fingernails that not even the best manicure technician could lift.
“Here’s the dress,” Carrie said.
Reagan’s smile vanished. “Oh.”
My dreams, my hopes, my wishes for a beautiful future crashed and exploded like a car careening off a cliff in a 1970s B movie. What could possibly be wrong this time—the hundredth time? I swear, every occasion this girl saw her dress, she found something to criticize. It was a wonder I hadn’t strangled her before now.
I smoothed the lines of frustration that were forming on my forehead. “What’s the problem?”
Reagan wrinkled her nose. “It’s just…well…that’s a lot of sequins.”
I took a deep, cleansing breath and thought happy thoughts. “Last week you wanted more sequins. You said it didn’t have enough bling.”
Carrie bit back a giggle.
I flashed her a seething look. I mean, seriously. I knew it was funny, but it was only good service not to laugh at the customer while she’s standing right in front of you. At least wait until the door hits her backside as she’s leaving.
“Well,” Reagan said, “last week there weren’t any sequins. What were there? Like five on the whole thing?”
I steepled my fingers beneath my chin. “There were two hundred.”
“Oh. How many are there now?”
“It’s too many. Listen, Dylan, just because we were best friends in high school—”
“Mortal enemies,” I said.
“—doesn’t mean you can take advantage of me. If this dress isn’t to perfection by Saturday, then I’m getting it for free. Right?”
Whoa, Nelly. “I’m sorry?”
Reagan batted her fake eyelashes. “That’s just plain old good business. The customer is always right. I mean, we go way back. Too far back to let a little disagreement over some sequins ruin what we had.”
I poked the air with my index finger. “Once again, we were mortal enemies. Reagan, you have brain damage when it comes to what high school was like.”
A tittering laugh escaped her throat. It sounded like a thousand butterflies taking flight. That was right before I lifted my imaginary rocket launcher, aimed high and fired, sending the beauties crashing to the ground in a blazing explosion.
“You’re so melodramatic, Dylan. We had a little disagreement about prom; that was all.”
I crossed my arms. “Reagan, let me remind you of exactly what happened in high school.”
“Why don’t you do that, since you’re so convinced we had nothing to do with each other.” Reagan pulled one of her eyelashes. Ouch. Didn’t that hurt?
I shook my head and said, “You had Colten Blacklock ask me to prom for the sole purpose of standing me up the night of.” I pointed to her and then to me. “You and I—we were never friends, and I’m not giving you this dress for free. We’ve done a dozen fittings, and you’ve found something wrong with each and every one. You can either take it or leave it.”
Reagan’s mouth fell. She swung to Harry. “Are you going to let her talk to me like that?”
Harry squashed the grin on his face and cleared his throat. “Ahem. Well. You have tried the dress on a lot, and Miss Apel has been more than accommodating.”
Reagan stomped her foot. “You,” she said, wagging a finger at him. “You wait until we get home.”
Oh no. I didn’t want Harry to be in the dog house because of me. I reached out and rubbed Reagan’s arm, trying to soothe the savage bridezilla. “Reagan, I’ll lose some of the sequins. Stop by tomorrow and see what you think.”
She flashed a tight, bitter smile. “What you have better be good, or I’m taking my business elsewhere. And that means your sister won’t be doing the catering, either.” She squared her shoulders, swiveled on her heel and stormed out of the shop. Harry gave me an apologetic smile and followed. The little bell above the door tinkled as they left.
“Do you think she’ll back out?” Carrie asked.
I shook my head. “Of course not. Not unless she wants a dress off the rack and a cake from Walmart.”
Carrie laughed. “She’s something else, isn’t she?”
“She’s certainly something.” I rubbed my neck. Tension latched to the cords of muscle. I’d have a headache pretty soon if I didn’t take an ibuprofen. Extending my palm, I gestured for Carrie to hand me the wedding gown. “I guess I’ll alter her dress.”
Carrie stuffed the layers of silk in my hands and nodded to the blue cross-necked dress. “But when are you going to finish that one?”
I peeked out from behind the mass. “I don’t know. We have, what? Two weeks until the summer solstice? I’ll work on it soon.”
The bell above the door tinkled. Seraphina crashed in, a whirlwind of flour following her. Her blue eyes sparkled with delight. How I envied those eyes. Mine were poo brown. Some said chocolate, but I knew better. Those folks were just being Southern polite.
“Oh my God! Did y’all see the article?” She waved the paper like a flag of surrender.
“It’s incredible. The reporter went so far as to say our work is, and I quote…” She scanned the article. “Where is it? Where did that passage go? Oh, here it is.” She jabbed it. “She said our work is ‘inspired by the gods themselves.’ Ha! You couldn’t pay for better advertising.”
“You probably could,” I said.
Carrie flipped the ends of her chestnut hair. “Listen, y’all, I just got this new gel manicure machine in the mail. Do you mind if I go freshen up these bad boys?” She wiggled her perfect coral nails. To my eyes, they needed no refreshing. But hey, every girl has some sort of vice. Carrie’s happened to be that she was ADD about her nails. In the three years she’d worked for me, I’d never seen one chip. Ever. Mine, on the other hand, looked like Godzilla had tried to paint them—there were broken wedges of color that Carrie would have deemed unforgivable.
“Go ahead. We’ll be here,” I said. She picked up a shipping box and exited to the back.
I hung Reagan’s wedding dress on a rack and brushed my hands of any rogue sequins that hadn’t been sewn on properly, which was actually impossible since I’d done the work myself. But my grandmother had always taught me to be humble, so that was my attempt.
Sera chewed her bottom lip. “The reporter says, ‘Dylan Apel’s dresses will transport you to another time and place. A claim I can attest to personally, for I experienced this peculiar phenomenon first-hand when I tried on one of her gowns. When I saw my reflection in the mirror, for a split second I was taken back to the cotillion ball where I met my husband thirty years ago. If that wasn’t enough to put a spring in my step, one bite of Seraphina’s baked treats and I was back in my grandmother’s kitchen as she created confections on the stove. Truly a magical experience.'” Sera paused, looked up at me. “Seriously. That’s some good stuff.”
“Yeah, it’s good,” I said. But the reporter’s description about trying on my clothes bothered me. I shrugged off the uncomfortable feeling and smiled. “Though I have been accused on occasion of drugging my clothes.”
Sera frowned. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
The bell tinkled. I stepped forward, my most welcoming smile on my face.
My sister glanced at me. “You look like a piranha. Tone it down.”
I settled into a half smile. “Good morning! Welcome to Perfect Fit.”
A towering redhead sauntered into the store. Bangles covered both her arms, clinking pleasantly as she walked. Emerald-green eyes fixed on me and Sera. I squirmed. Couldn’t help it. At five-five I wasn’t short. Not by any means. But this was a tall woman. Five-ten easy. And all that hair. A cloud of silky crimson and honey curls cascaded down her back. I don’t even think she had any product in it. It was a totally natural head of hair.
I hated her.
Kidding. But envy did surface.
She smiled brightly. My envy turned into instant like. “Mornin’. I wanted to try on some clothes,” she said in a throaty voice, the kind that drove men mad. I’d never seen her before, and Silver Springs was a minuscule town. From the look of interest on Sera’s face, I guess she hadn’t seen this woman before, either.
I stepped forward. “Absolutely. What are you looking for?”
“Just some regular day-wear stuff.”
My time had arrived. I had a knack, a sixth sense really, about clothes and people. In one try I could create an entire body-fitting wardrobe and not even know the size of the person. What can I say? It came naturally to me.
“Are you looking for sportswear or business?”
Cha-ching! “Let me pull a few items and see what you think.”
“I’m gonna head back,” Sera said. “I’m sure there’s something I need to make.”
I waved. “Bye.”
She waved back and left, leaving me to focus on my client. Five minutes later I had two armfuls of pants, jackets, and blouses. “Let me get you in a dressing room. After you’re done, come out and see what you think in the three-way mirror.”
None of my dressing rooms had mirrors. People thought it weird, but I wanted to be around when my clients saw themselves in my clothing for the first time.
The woman disappeared behind the door, a roomful of clothes at the ready. Two minutes later she reappeared in a pair of jeans and a loose blouse.
“Take a look.”
She stepped forward. The air contracted as if the very atmosphere had been sucked away. The mirror shimmered, and the woman’s image bowed and straightened. It happened fast, so fast no one ever noticed. No one except for me.
So, this is where I tell you what that’s all about. I would if I could. The easiest explanation is that my clothes make people feel great. From what Sera’s told me, putting on one of my garments reminds you of an amazing time in your life. For instance—you’re a fifty-year-old woman buying a dress for your daughter’s wedding. You try something on and poof, you’re transported back to the wondrous feeling you experienced at senior prom. Of course, that would be you, not me. My prom stank thanks to Reagan Eckhart.
At least, that’s what I’d always thought. It’s also why the reporter’s story bothered me. She saw her younger self in that mirror. That had never happened before—at least not that I knew of. My clothes blanketed clients in a wondrous feeling. They didn’t make anyone see visions.
Sera’s baked goods do something similar. Every time I eat something she’s made, I feel amazing, like I could take on the world. One bite of a buttery croissant and I’m totally superwoman. Minus the red cape. And the tights. Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t be caught dead in that outfit.
But why are we like that? We’re gifted; that’s what our grandmother always called it. We have a gift.
“What do you think?” I asked.
She stared at her image. After a long moment her lips curlicued into a smile. She licked the bottom one, her eyes shining.
“Your clothes are breathtaking.”
Thirty minutes and three hundred dollars later, I placed the last package in the redhead’s hands.
“How’d you hear about us?” I asked.
“I saw the article in the paper.”
I clicked my tongue. “Wow. News travels fast.” Sweet. Today might be a crazy, busy day.
She smiled, her eyes glittering. “You don’t even know the half of it.”
She pinched her brows together, giving her a dark, ominous expression. “In one week I guarantee you won’t recognize your life.”
An awkward laugh escaped my lips. “Oh. Ha-ha. I hope it’s all good.”
She shook her head. “That little article that came out about you? The one that was supposed to help your business? Well, you just did the opposite. You stirred up a bed of fire ants.” She leaned forward and gave me a stern look. “And in case you need remindin’, the sting from a fire ant lasts a long time. Take this as your warnin’.”
I was so confused. “What do you mean, a warning?”
“Watch your back.”
With that she left, her cloud of hair billowing behind her. I stood stone still. Numb shock tingled over my body, filtering down into my fingers and toes.
What the heck just happened?
After living in Chicago, Louisville and New York, Amy Boyles finally settled in North Alabama with her husband.
Along with writing, she has a passion for cooking ridiculously fattening food and complaining about weight gain. She loves to connect with readers.