Tag Archives: Cozy Mystery

A Deadly Inside Scoop Blitz

 

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Cozy Mystery

 

Date Published: May 12, 2020

Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family’s ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she’s going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on the village and keeps the customers away.

To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she’ll catch the ice cold killer before she has a meltdown…

About the Author


Abby L. Vandiver, also writing as Abby Collette, is a hybrid author who has penned more than twenty-five books and short stories. She has hit both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller list. Her latest cozy series, An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery, published by Penguin Berkley, is out now, with the second book, A Game of Thrones, coming in March 2021.

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Death in Champagne Shores Blitz

 

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A Champagne Shores Cozy Mystery, book 2

 

Cozy Mystery

Date Published: November 20, 2020

Champagne Shores, Florida, is a beach town in need of a paint job.

What it doesn’t need…is a murder.

Champagne Shores, Florida, is poised to become a tourist magnet, but a murder in the marina threatens the town’s sunny reputation. Sure, the marina’s owner had been a thorn in the local chamber of commerce’s side, but he hadn’t really made serious enemies…had he?

Millie Silver wants her True Colors Paint Store to inspire a makeover for her hometown, and she’s busy leading the Champagne Shores Revitalization Committee. But when she and her dog Sunshine discover the body of the marina’s owner, they find themselves on the trail of a murderer. The clues and suspects stack up and include an estranged wife, surly fishermen, and a flashy group of treasure hunters flaunting the Spanish gold they find offshore.

While the town repaints and reinvents itself using Millie’s color inspiration, Millie recruits her family and friends to help the police chief uncover secrets, grudges, and even sunken treasure along the Florida coast.

Excerpt from chapter 3

Chief Parker propped his elbows on my paint counter and waited. I knew he was a patient man, but if he was expecting me to blow his case wide open, there was disappointment in his near future.

I didn’t see anything,” I said. “No crazed killer rushing from the scene, no one lurking about to see if anyone noticed his handiwork.”

Or hers,” my sister put in.

I gave her a raised eyebrow. “Do you really think Lisa would murder him instead of just divorcing him? How would that benefit her?”

The chief frowned. “Haven’t gotten to beneficiaries, but money is a common motivator. And secrets.”

Could be both,” Tiffany suggested. I knew she heard a lot of secrets in her line of work, but the morning’s events were too raw for me to want to inquire.

This is going to get more complicated before it’s over. Probably before the day’s over,” Chief Parker said.

I feel bad for Richard,” I said. “We’re talking about his death as a complication, but it hardly seems fair to him.”

Tiffany slipped an arm around me in a half-hug. “I know it’s upsetting.”

I wish I could have seen his reaction to Ocean Sunrise Blue at sunrise,” I said. It seemed so unjust that he never got to see it. Paint colors are a living thing and appreciating them is a rare and beautiful pleasure life offers. Sharing it is my gift. And so is finding dead bodies in Champagne Shores, it seems.

I thought lightning didn’t strike twice in the same place.”

We all looked to the shop door where Aunt Minerva stood, hands on hips. She wore her red knitting glasses and at least two different strands of yarn were stuck to her blouse. She had obviously left the house in a hurry.

Lightning can strike anywhere in the right atmospheric conditions,” Darwin said.

My aunt’s worried expression softened for a moment and then returned to full-on flustered. “I’m not even going to ask if it’s true that you discovered another body. You all look serious and I’m guessing there’s a reason the chief’s got his antacids out this early.”

Chief Parker thumbed a white disc from the roll in his hand and closed his eyes for a moment as he chewed.

Well?” Aunt Minerva asked.

I sighed. “I went to see Richard Croy about the paint color, but his shop was still locked. Sunshine drew my attention to a boat where we found Richard dead on the deck.”

Poor Sunshine,” Aunt Minerva said, giving my dog a kiss on the nose before coming over to me and giving me a warm hug. She’d been a mother to me, Tiffany, and Darwin ever since our own parents died in an accident when we were almost too young to remember them. “Have you already figured out who did it?” she asked as she drew back and patted my cheek.

What? No. And I’m not getting involved.”

You’re already involved,” Aunt Minerva said.

I shook my head. No way was I getting dragged into another murder investigation.

Sunshine didn’t touch the body this time,” I said, feeling that I’d found a particularly strong piece of exonerating evidence. “So I’m not directly involved.”

Everyone—even Darwin—gave me a skeptical look.

Well, she didn’t,” I said, hearing the note of petulance in my own voice.

Silence prevailed for a moment, and then the chief’s chair creaked as he put his antacids in his chest pocket and got up. “We’ll wait for time of death from the medical examiner, and maybe that will give us a starting point. I probably don’t need to ask when the last time was you saw him.” He paused and waited. “Alive, I mean.”

About The Author


Amie Denman lives in a small town in Ohio with her husband and sons. She has published more than 40 novels—romance, mystery, and women’s fiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s walking and running outside. The victim of a lifetime of curiosity, she’s chased fire trucks on her bicycle just to see what’s going on. Amie believes that everything is fun: especially roller coasters, wedding cake, and falling in love.

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The Mayor Who Canceled Christmas Blitz

 

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Standalone Christmas novella within the Julie Cavallo Investigates series

 

Cozy mystery

Date Published: December 4th, 2020

 

Provençal mayor Victor Jacquet receives a mystifying note.

Then his small town mounts a rebellion.

And then his entire world implodes.

Some holiday season!

Fortunately for Victor, he never believed in the magic of Christmas.

Unfortunately for Victor, said magic still believes in him…

Told from Victor’s point of view, this novella stands alone within the Julie Cavallo Investigates Series.

The Mayor Who Canceled Christmas tablet

 

Excerpt

Mayor of Beldoc Victor Jacquet takes his seat and opens the manila envelope in front of him. Efficient as ever, Chantal has prepared enough of them for each attendee to have one. The envelope contains the minutes of the last sitting, the agenda of the current one, and all the relevant documents.

Victor takes the floor. “This year, we’re going to change things up. There will be no Christmas tree on Beldoc’s Place de la Mairie or on any other square.”

The room gasps. Then, shocked whats and whys hit him from everywhere.

I have a good reason for the ban!” Victor shouts over multiple voices.

The room falls silent, curious to hear it.

My team and I do not wish to encourage consumerism,” Victor says. “And we want an eco-friendly holiday season.”

In what way is our cherished Christmas tree an impediment to that?” Sarah asks.

Victor adjusts his tie. “Well, you see the tree encourages compulsive gift buying. People acquire useless items just to have something to put under the tree.”

Are you going to ban Christmas trees in private homes, too?” Rose asks, her tone laced with sarcasm.

I wish I could!

Of course not,” Victor replies. “All I want is to make our town greener. I don’t want living trees slaughtered in the name of consumerism! So, whether you like it or not, we’re ditching the Christmas tree.”

But what about the spiritualism of its meaning?” Rose asks. “To many of us, it symbolizes the birth of Jesus. You aren’t qualified to deny us that celebration!”

Victor glares at his rival.

Really, Rose? You’re a former hippie who believes in karma and never goes to church. You aren’t qualified to talk about Jesus!

He opens his mouth to say just that, when Clothilde butts in. “You know what the Christmas tree also stands for, Victor? Family. Friendship. Human connection. Love. You want to cancel those, too?”

Victor redirects his scowl at her.

What a sucker punch. That was low, Clothilde, even for you!

She knows better than anyone in this room how lonely he’s been since his wife and parents passed. She knows he has no real friends.

Anyhow, it doesn’t matter what the Christmas tree represents,” he says at length. “There’s no money to pay for it this year. The municipality has used that budget line for… er… a town planning project. Discussion closed.”

Rose claps a hand to her mouth. “You sneaky, scheming, shameless ruffian! You didn’t… Did you?”

She knows. She figured it out, the witch!

Victor chews on his pencil, refusing to respond.

The council members, staffers, and citizens look from Rose to him and back.

What?” many ask. “What is this about?”

The urinal,” Rose says without taking her eyes off him. “He spent the Christmas tree budget on purchasing and installing that god-awful public urinal in front of Magda’s shop.”

Something hurtles across the room, like a frisbee, and smashes into Victor’s face. It’s an unopened manila envelope. Victor swears and rubs his sore nose. It doesn’t seem broken.

Like a shark smelling blood, Magda draws her daggerlike, red nails and launches herself at him.

Before she’s had a chance to scratch Victor’s chest, his deputy Blandine slams her purse on Magda’s head. The ladies yelp and grab handfuls of each other’s hair. Magda kicks Blandine’s shin. Blandine steps on Magda’s foot. Bawling, Magda lets go of Blandine’s hair and rips her silk blouse down the front.

Aaaargh!” Blandine swings to punch Magda. “That cost a fortune, you dumb cow!”

Magda blocks the blow. “Serves you right, thief!”

They grapple with each other and tumble down.

People rush to the pair who are now rolling on the floor. They pull the determined wrestlers apart and drag them to the opposite corners of the room.

Victor rises to his feet. “This council meeting is over! We’ll discuss the remaining two items in January.”

The attendees fidget and wriggle but stay put, clearly too entertained to leave just yet.

Chantal rushes to Victor’s side. “Mesdames, Messieurs, it’s truly over! Please go home!”

Without saying another word, she stretches both arms toward the doors on each side, the way flight attendants show the emergency exits during the safety demo.

Merry Christmas, everyone!” she cries as the reluctant attendees shuffle to the doors.

About the Author

Ana T. Drew is the evil mastermind behind the recent series of murders in the fictional French town of Beldoc.

When she is not writing cozy mysteries or doing mom-and-wife things, she can be found watching “The Rookie” to help her get over “Castle”.

She lives in Paris but her heart is in Provence.

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Marybeth, Hollister and Jane TOUR

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Woman’s Fiction, Cozy Mystery

Date Published: 9/28/20

 

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Some secrets draw people closer………after they tear them apart.

Marybeth and Hollister moved to rural New York to escape—both the city life and a checkered past. Their lives were unassuming, until they bought a grandfather clock. They just wanted something to fill the space under their stairs, but they got much more than they bargained for. What secrets could the clock possibly hold?

Jane was sent to Callicoon to find the Eagle diamond, which was stolen from the Museum of Natural History in the ‘60s and never recovered. Convinced she won’t find what she’s looking for, she grudgingly takes the assignment. When she arrives, things aren’t what they seem and Jane finds more than she ever expected.

 

Marybeth, Hollister and Jane phone

EXCERPT

Brenda Loring was far too small for the overstuffed capacious couch. She appeared uncomfortably absorbed by the cushions, hardly consoled. At first glance, she looked swallowed by the plush off-white arms. It could be assumed that her body had found a semblance of solace, but the truth was, there really weren’t any sacred places to turn for comfort; the fluffed-up cotton squares were far too affectionate and they consumed her behind their good intentions, providing only a pretense of succor.

     Brenda sat up straight and reached for her glass; next was the cigarette. Comfort was better found in a nicotine binge and a scotch devoid of ice or water.

     Brock was still not sure if he should believe her, even though she’d been insisting for months. “I’m not hallucinating,” she kept repeating. “I know what the hell I’m talking about. It’s all going to hell.”

     His thoughts raced ahead as he watched her light the tip of her cigarette with a lit butt from an old dish with more ash than a crematory. 

     Brenda was birdlike but hardly unattractive, just sticky and twiggy, unlike his wife, who was a full hug, an eye level kiss. Brenda took a deep drag and looked at him through smoke.

     “What a fuck,” she said. “Both of them. They are both fucks. I’m telling you, Devon has bought Glen off, paid him well to screw us over, though I don’t know why he would, disloyal asshole.”  

     He shrugged his shoulders. “It’s hard to believe, can’t wrap my head around it, that’s all.”

     Brenda leaned forward and crossed her tiny legs, shapely but thin. Her fingers seemed long as arms, her elbows stuck out like wayward bones.

     “Peter has lost control of his people. He’s too old to run the organization. That’s what I think. I have my spies, you know, people who hate Devon and will tell me the truth when I ask for it. You think he’s above screwing his brother? 

     “Why let the organization go to shit now?”

     “Why not now? I heard Peter was sick; maybe that’s why he’s losing control. Maybe it’s serious. Maybe Devon doesn’t want anything going to Peter’s idiot wife if he should die. Imagine Delilah in charge of the LVAJ? Ha!”

     “I don’t think Delilah would want it. Advising Peter in business is not quite the same as running the entire organization. That’s a mammoth job.”

     “Ha!” Brenda took a sip of scotch. “I wouldn’t underestimate her, Brock. She has a degree in art, after all. You sound like a misogynist, just because she’s blonde and beautiful. She’s far from stupid.”

     “I didn’t say she was stupid.”

     “Didn’t say she wasn’t either.”

     “Look, you think we ought to go to Peter with this?” he asked, “he should know about our suspicions.”

     “No, I don’t think we should go to Peter.”

     Brock took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “So, you’re saying the Prince was a phony, but what if he wasn’t?”

     Brenda threw back her head and laughed loudly. He noticed that her hair didn’t move, so stiff it seemed to stand at attention. Her hair is obedient, he thought. 

     “Oh, come on,” she said. “The whole thing was a scam. I’ll bet my ass that the Yellow Diamond is sitting behind some asshole’s velvet pull in Saudi Arabia and nowhere near that little turd that calls himself ‘Prince Vizueta.’ She drew out the syllables of the prince’s name and made a face. “Prince of bullshit.”

     Brock thought for a moment. “So, if the Yellow Diamond buy was a scam, what’s next?”

     Brenda did all three things at once. It was quite impressive. She laughed and took a drag off her cigarette as she put the scotch glass to her lips and drank.

     “I wish I knew.”

     Brock stood up and looked at his watch. He hadn’t called home. It was after ten p.m. in San Francisco. Jane would be angry. One should make a point of calling home when one is suspected of having an affair. 

     “It’s getting late,” he said.

     He’d spent months on the phone with Brenda, ever since she first uncovered what she believed to be a conspiracy. He wasn’t quite so sure. He thought she was a bit hysterical over nothing. Besides, he was cautious. He liked absolute proof. But with their constant phone calls, he couldn’t blame his wife for suspecting him of infidelity. Once Brenda got to Philadelphia for the Yellow Diamond Buy, she called him several times a day so she could give him the scenario of treachery; so she could share her anxiety as she nervously sucked on her cigarette and drew him into her fears like the nightmare fairy. 

     “Why don’t we wait for Devon’s next move, see where he’s going with this,” Brock said, putting Jane out of his thoughts, he’d deal with it in his own way. “No sense making a big deal out of something that could just be gossip,” he added. “Or paranoia.” He stared at her.

     “Well, it’s been months since this phony prince put out a bid on the Yellow Diamond and went back to his phony country with it.”

     “Right, and there hasn’t been anything since, no bids out on any precious stones at all.”

     “But it doesn’t mean there won’t be,” she said. “I sense it in my bones that we’re being screwed with.”

     “Look, if someone out there really has the Yellow Diamond other than the Prince, wouldn’t they have contacted Peter and told him he was being made an ass of, that you can’t purchase what someone else owns?”

     “Why should they say anything? Anonymity is what matters to us, not friendship, you know that.”

     Brenda stood up tall but barely reached his chest. She went to a wall of windows and looked out from her thirty-second-floor Manhattan condominium. The night was dark, but the city shone against the sky. It seemed like a false movie set, almost too perfect to be real.

     She turned to face him. “Let’s confront Glen, find out what the hell is going on. If he knows we’re aware he’s a turncoat, he’ll tell us everything. When it comes right down to it, he’s a wimp and he’ll play both sides. Glen has no loyalty. “

     Brock raised his eyebrow. “And you think Glen is going to admit he has his own agenda?” he said. “Just like that?”

     “Where is it going to leave us if Devon takes over the American operation?”

     “Under Devon’s employ, that’s where.” He realized Brenda was being too emotional; one of them had to be rational.

     Brenda sat and puffed; taking deep drags and pushed the smoke out through her teeth.

     Brock paced a bit around the room. “So, according to you, Devon paid the commission out of his own pocket? To make it all look legit?”

     Brenda moved her head, barely a nod but he knew that’s what she’d intended.

     “Right. He has a plan,” she said. “I just don’t know what it is. I mean, a phony bid? A phony buy? I don’t get it.”

     Brock sat on the arm of a chair so thin it hurt his backside and he moved quickly onto the couch with false substance.

     “It has to have something to do with discrediting Peter, that’s what I would guess. What else could it be? Devon has finally gotten sick and tired of sharing his customers.” 

     Brenda squashed her cigarette out. He was relived she didn’t relight. His throat felt raw from her smoke, and the nicotine stunk. 

     “Devon has thought this whole thing up, a fake prince, a ludicrous bid ─ and he sent it all to Peter on a silver platter. I watched Glen go through the motions of recovering the Yellow Diamond; it was clear bullshit.” She looked back out at her seven-million-dollar view. “I never saw the diamond with my own eyes; I never watched any money exchange hands. He had me answering the phone and reporting back to Peter all day while he said he was doing business.” 

     Brock wet his lips with his tongue. “Why would Devon approach Glen and not me, or not you, for that matter, if he’s plotting against Peter? I mean, why Glen?”

     Brenda rocked her body just a bit. She was flirting, which was always her way, her constant affectation around men. Brock smiled, but only to himself. He’d never wanted any other woman but Jane from the moment they’d met. It was absurd that she now thought he did, especially Brenda, whose scantily fleshed out body reminded him of an adolescent boy. He wanted to flip open his cell phone and call his wife, just to tell her that her father was a bastard and the only thing he wanted from Brenda was assurance. If all this were real, it changed everything.

     “Because you’re married to Jane and Peter was always more of a father to his daughter than he was. Jane would never let you betray Peter. And me?” Brenda winked at him. “My few one-night stands with Peter could be interpreted as loyalty, though God knows, I have none.”

     Brock stood up. He towered over her and nearly reached her eight-foot ceiling.

     “Listen, if what you’re saying is true, I want a takeover. I want no part of this war between Peter and Devon. Let them chew each other up. You and I together have enough contacts to go on our own.”

     He stared at her. He was surprised at his own words, but he meant it. If he had wanted to work with Devon, he would have stayed in England. Devon was a mean bastard. He was also greedy; his split had been an absurd five percent.

     “I was hoping you’d say that.” Brenda lit another cigarette without leaving his gaze.” 

     “That would make us partners,” he said, “just you and me, I’m not opening this up to anyone else.”

     “I’m yours,” she said, sending him smoke rings. “Peter is getting too old for this and Devon is a creep; we can’t trust him. This idiot ploy of his is going to splinter the whole operation, so let’s take our contacts and run.”

     Brock slipped on his jacket. “Let me think this through,” he said. “I’ll be back in touch. Id this is real we’re bound to hear of another false buy very soon. If this is Devon’s plan, to discredit Peter, he won’t wait very long to send him more bullshit about a precious stone that’s surfaced.”

     “Maybe art this time, who knows? What about Jane, will you tell her?” she asked.

     “Of course, I tell her everything,” he said and paused at the door. “Not right away though, she might not like it.”

 

  About the Author

I am an award-winning hybrid author of southern and women’s Fiction,
including Dancing Backward in Paradise, The Story of Sassy Sweetwater, Where
the Wildflowers Grow, Pleasant Day, Marybeth, Hollister & Jane and Lies
a River Deep. As my alter ego, Olivia Hardy Ray my books include Annabel
Horton, Lost Witch of Salem, Annabel Horton and the Black Witch of Pau, and
Pharaoh’s Star. The first novel I ever wrote, Dancing Backward In Paradise,
won an Eric Hoffer Award for publishing excellence and an Indie Excellence
Award for notable new fiction, 2007. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater and
Dancing Backward in Paradise received 5 Star ForeWord Clarion Reviews and
The Story of Sassy Sweetwater has been named a finalist for the ForeWord
Book of the Year Awards. I have published in ESL Magazine, Christopher
Street Magazine and I have also written early childhood curriculum for
Weekly Reader and McGraw Hill.

 

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Marybeth, Hollister and Jane Blitz

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Woman’s Fiction, Cozy Mystery

Date Published: 9/28/20

 

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Some secrets draw people closer………after they tear them apart.

Marybeth and Hollister moved to rural New York to escape—both the city life and a checkered past. Their lives were unassuming, until they bought a grandfather clock. They just wanted something to fill the space under their stairs, but they got much more than they bargained for. What secrets could the clock possibly hold?

Jane was sent to Callicoon to find the Eagle diamond, which was stolen from the Museum of Natural History in the ‘60s and never recovered. Convinced she won’t find what she’s looking for, she grudgingly takes the assignment. When she arrives, things aren’t what they seem and Jane finds more than she ever expected.

Excerpt
    Brenda Loring was far too small for the overstuffed capacious couch. She appeared uncomfortably absorbed by the cushions, hardly consoled. At first glance, she looked swallowed by the plush off-white arms. It could be assumed that her body had found a semblance of solace, but the truth was, there really weren’t any sacred places to turn for comfort; the fluffed-up cotton squares were far too affectionate and they consumed her behind their good intentions, providing only a pretense of succor.
     Brenda sat up straight and reached for her glass; next was the cigarette. Comfort was better found in a nicotine binge and a scotch devoid of ice or water.
     Brock was still not sure if he should believe her, even though she’d been insisting for months. “I’m not hallucinating,” she kept repeating. “I know what the hell I’m talking about. It’s all going to hell.”
     His thoughts raced ahead as he watched her light the tip of her cigarette with a lit butt from an old dish with more ash than a crematory.
     Brenda was birdlike but hardly unattractive, just sticky and twiggy, unlike his wife, who was a full hug, an eye level kiss. Brenda took a deep drag and looked at him through smoke.
     “What a fuck,” she said. “Both of them. They are both fucks. I’m telling you, Devon has bought Glen off, paid him well to screw us over, though I don’t know why he would, disloyal asshole.”
     He shrugged his shoulders. “It’s hard to believe, can’t wrap my head around it, that’s all.”
     Brenda leaned forward and crossed her tiny legs, shapely but thin. Her fingers seemed long as arms, her elbows stuck out like wayward bones.
     “Peter has lost control of his people. He’s too old to run the organization. That’s what I think. I have my spies, you know, people who hate Devon and will tell me the truth when I ask for it. You think he’s above screwing his brother?
     “Why let the organization go to shit now?”
     “Why not now? I heard Peter was sick; maybe that’s why he’s losing control. Maybe it’s serious. Maybe Devon doesn’t want anything going to Peter’s idiot wife if he should die. Imagine Delilah in charge of the LVAJ? Ha!”
     “I don’t think Delilah would want it. Advising Peter in business is not quite the same as running the entire organization. That’s a mammoth job.”
     “Ha!” Brenda took a sip of scotch. “I wouldn’t underestimate her, Brock. She has a degree in art, after all. You sound like a misogynist, just because she’s blonde and beautiful. She’s far from stupid.”
     “I didn’t say she was stupid.”
     “Didn’t say she wasn’t either.”
     “Look, you think we ought to go to Peter with this?” he asked, “he should know about our suspicions.”
     “No, I don’t think we should go to Peter.”
     Brock took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “So, you’re saying the Prince was a phony, but what if he wasn’t?”
     Brenda threw back her head and laughed loudly. He noticed that her hair didn’t move, so stiff it seemed to stand at attention. Her hair is obedient, he thought.
     “Oh, come on,” she said. “The whole thing was a scam. I’ll bet my ass that the Yellow Diamond is sitting behind some asshole’s velvet pull in Saudi Arabia and nowhere near that little turd that calls himself ‘Prince Vizueta.’ She drew out the syllables of the prince’s name and made a face. “Prince of bullshit.”
     Brock thought for a moment. “So, if the Yellow Diamond buy was a scam, what’s next?”
     Brenda did all three things at once. It was quite impressive. She laughed and took a drag off her cigarette as she put the scotch glass to her lips and drank.
     “I wish I knew.”
     Brock stood up and looked at his watch. He hadn’t called home. It was after ten p.m. in San Francisco. Jane would be angry. One should make a point of calling home when one is suspected of having an affair.
     “It’s getting late,” he said.
     He’d spent months on the phone with Brenda, ever since she first uncovered what she believed to be a conspiracy. He wasn’t quite so sure. He thought she was a bit hysterical over nothing. Besides, he was cautious. He liked absolute proof. But with their constant phone calls, he couldn’t blame his wife for suspecting him of infidelity. Once Brenda got to Philadelphia for the Yellow Diamond Buy, she called him several times a day so she could give him the scenario of treachery; so she could share her anxiety as she nervously sucked on her cigarette and drew him into her fears like the nightmare fairy.
     “Why don’t we wait for Devon’s next move, see where he’s going with this,” Brock said, putting Jane out of his thoughts, he’d deal with it in his own way. “No sense making a big deal out of something that could just be gossip,” he added. “Or paranoia.” He stared at her.
     “Well, it’s been months since this phony prince put out a bid on the Yellow Diamond and went back to his phony country with it.”
     “Right, and there hasn’t been anything since, no bids out on any precious stones at all.”
     “But it doesn’t mean there won’t be,” she said. “I sense it in my bones that we’re being screwed with.”
     “Look, if someone out there really has the Yellow Diamond other than the Prince, wouldn’t they have contacted Peter and told him he was being made an ass of, that you can’t purchase what someone else owns?”
     “Why should they say anything? Anonymity is what matters to us, not friendship, you know that.”
     Brenda stood up tall but barely reached his chest. She went to a wall of windows and looked out from her thirty-second-floor Manhattan condominium. The night was dark, but the city shone against the sky. It seemed like a false movie set, almost too perfect to be real.
     She turned to face him. “Let’s confront Glen, find out what the hell is going on. If he knows we’re aware he’s a turncoat, he’ll tell us everything. When it comes right down to it, he’s a wimp and he’ll play both sides. Glen has no loyalty. “
     Brock raised his eyebrow. “And you think Glen is going to admit he has his own agenda?” he said. “Just like that?”
     “Where is it going to leave us if Devon takes over the American operation?”
     “Under Devon’s employ, that’s where.” He realized Brenda was being too emotional; one of them had to be rational.
     Brenda sat and puffed; taking deep drags and pushed the smoke out through her teeth.
     Brock paced a bit around the room. “So, according to you, Devon paid the commission out of his own pocket? To make it all look legit?”
     Brenda moved her head, barely a nod but he knew that’s what she’d intended.
     “Right. He has a plan,” she said. “I just don’t know what it is. I mean, a phony bid? A phony buy? I don’t get it.”
     Brock sat on the arm of a chair so thin it hurt his backside and he moved quickly onto the couch with false substance.
     “It has to have something to do with discrediting Peter, that’s what I would guess. What else could it be? Devon has finally gotten sick and tired of sharing his customers.”
     Brenda squashed her cigarette out. He was relived she didn’t relight. His throat felt raw from her smoke, and the nicotine stunk.
     “Devon has thought this whole thing up, a fake prince, a ludicrous bid ─ and he sent it all to Peter on a silver platter. I watched Glen go through the motions of recovering the Yellow Diamond; it was clear bullshit.” She looked back out at her seven-million-dollar view. “I never saw the diamond with my own eyes; I never watched any money exchange hands. He had me answering the phone and reporting back to Peter all day while he said he was doing business.”
     Brock wet his lips with his tongue. “Why would Devon approach Glen and not me, or not you, for that matter, if he’s plotting against Peter? I mean, why Glen?”
     Brenda rocked her body just a bit. She was flirting, which was always her way, her constant affectation around men. Brock smiled, but only to himself. He’d never wanted any other woman but Jane from the moment they’d met. It was absurd that she now thought he did, especially Brenda, whose scantily fleshed out body reminded him of an adolescent boy. He wanted to flip open his cell phone and call his wife, just to tell her that her father was a bastard and the only thing he wanted from Brenda was assurance. If all this were real, it changed everything.
     “Because you’re married to Jane and Peter was always more of a father to his daughter than he was. Jane would never let you betray Peter. And me?” Brenda winked at him. “My few one-night stands with Peter could be interpreted as loyalty, though God knows, I have none.”
     Brock stood up. He towered over her and nearly reached her eight-foot ceiling.
     “Listen, if what you’re saying is true, I want a takeover. I want no part of this war between Peter and Devon. Let them chew each other up. You and I together have enough contacts to go on our own.”
     He stared at her. He was surprised at his own words, but he meant it. If he had wanted to work with Devon, he would have stayed in England. Devon was a mean bastard. He was also greedy; his split had been an absurd five percent.
     “I was hoping you’d say that.” Brenda lit another cigarette without leaving his gaze.”
     “That would make us partners,” he said, “just you and me, I’m not opening this up to anyone else.”
     “I’m yours,” she said, sending him smoke rings. “Peter is getting too old for this and Devon is a creep; we can’t trust him. This idiot ploy of his is going to splinter the whole operation, so let’s take our contacts and run.”
     Brock slipped on his jacket. “Let me think this through,” he said. “I’ll be back in touch. Id this is real we’re bound to hear of another false buy very soon. If this is Devon’s plan, to discredit Peter, he won’t wait very long to send him more bullshit about a precious stone that’s surfaced.”
     “Maybe art this time, who knows? What about Jane, will you tell her?” she asked.
     “Of course, I tell her everything,” he said and paused at the door. “Not right away though, she might not like it.”

 

About the Author

I am an award-winning hybrid author of southern and women’s Fiction,
including Dancing Backward in Paradise, The Story of Sassy Sweetwater, Where
the Wildflowers Grow, Pleasant Day, Marybeth, Hollister & Jane and Lies
a River Deep. As my alter ego, Olivia Hardy Ray my books include Annabel
Horton, Lost Witch of Salem, Annabel Horton and the Black Witch of Pau, and
Pharaoh’s Star. The first novel I ever wrote, Dancing Backward In Paradise,
won an Eric Hoffer Award for publishing excellence and an Indie Excellence
Award for notable new fiction, 2007. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater and
Dancing Backward in Paradise received 5 Star ForeWord Clarion Reviews and
The Story of Sassy Sweetwater has been named a finalist for the ForeWord
Book of the Year Awards. I have published in ESL Magazine, Christopher
Street Magazine and I have also written early childhood curriculum for
Weekly Reader and McGraw Hill.

 

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