Magical chaos, old enemies, new adversaries,
and danger around every corner…I HATE this time of year!
Okay, I’ll admit it, this is my least favorite time of year.
Yeah, I understand the enchantment of the season…I get that…but most people
don’t have jobs that involve wrangling magic. During the last three months of
the year, magical influences run rampant. And that means a lot more work for
And this year is the worst of all.
Why you ask?
Because I’m not only trying to wrangle the out-of-control
magic artifacts flying around all over the place. This year, I also have to try
to keep a magical cat and a talking frog out of trouble.
It isn’t every day that you find yourself staring at a frog’s squishy butt bulging from the underside of a sink drain. I would have felt better if I’d believed it would never happen again. However, because I appeared to be frog-cursed, there was a strong possibility I’d eventually end up lying on my back under the sink, eyeing the posterior region of Mr. Slimy again.
Sighing, I gave the squishy bulk a tentative poke with my finger, earning a forlorn, “Ribbit!” for my efforts. Something trickled downward, hitting my cheek and dripping down to the paper towel I had draped under my head to keep “under the sink” cooties off my hair.
I realized, too late, what had just dripped on me.
“Argh!” I shoved out from under the sink and bent over while grabbing frantically for more paper towel to wipe frog pee off my cheek. “I can’t believe it!”
The figure lounging against my refrigerator grinned. “You shouldn’t poke a stressed frog, Naida.”
I glared at the source of almost all my problems.
Okay, I know I previously said that about Mr. Wicked, my adorable kitten who was probably better at being an artifact keeper than I was. But I’d reassessed the players and decided Rustin Quilleran, former witch and current frog squatter, was definitely more trouble than my sweet little kitten.
I mean, Wicked was curled up on his pillow, purring happily.
Rustin was driving a fat frog bus that got itself jammed in my drain and peed on my face.
I’ll let you do the math.
“Not funny. You need to keep a better lock on the contents of your bladder.”
His grin widened. “I think you have a mistaken view of my ability to control your wedged friend,” he told me. “I’m just a passenger on that particular bus.”
Which, normally I’d be happy about. I mean, when Rustin had gotten stuck in the frog because of a spell his horrible family had performed, I’d felt terrible. We’d tried everything to get him out of there. But, in the end, the evil Jacob Quilleran had interfered, making certain poor Rustin didn’t escape the fate Jacob had locked him into.
I still hadn’t found out why Rustin’s Uncle Jacob had felt the need to lock him in a frog.
Rustin wasn’t being very forthcoming with the information.
I hurried past him, into my bathroom, where I put soap onto the wet paper towel and scrubbed my cheek until I was in danger of removing a layer of skin cells along with the frog pee.
“What are you doing here, then? Standing there laughing isn’t helping at all.”
Rustin shrugged. “I was bored. Your life is generally good for a few laughs. I’m happy to report that this morning has been no exception.”
I barely resisted zapping him with my almost worthless keeper magics. I pretty much had only enough oomph in my zapper to curl someone’s hair or make them pee themselves.
Trust me when I tell you I’d had enough of making stuff pee for the day.
Flinging the soiled paper towel into the trash, I glared at him. “I’m so glad I could entertain.”
“Me too.” His grin never wavered.
A part of me was happy to see it. I’d been so worried that Rustin would lose his humanity because of his enforced incarceration in the frog. But his cousin Maude and his very powerful Aunt Madeline had been working on reversing the spell. They hadn’t managed yet to free him. But they’d created a metaphysical barrier between Mr. Slimy’s ─ a.k.a. the frog’s ─ consciousness and Rustin’s so he could maintain his power, brain capacity, and humanity…basically his soul.
That was as good a result as we could have hoped for under the circumstances.
Even though that meant, as Mr. Slimy’s current foster parent, I was also the unlucky owner of the ethereally handsome and eternally snarky witch who was stuck inside the frog.
You thought I was kidding about the challenges of my life, didn’t you?
The bell jangled downstairs in my bookstore, and I glanced at my stuck amphibian.
“Ribbit.” Slimy’s sticky tongue snapped out and snagged a massive fly that had tried to make a break for the window above the sink.
I looked at Rustin. “Keep an eye on the squishy, green bus. I have to go see who’s downstairs.”
He nodded, casting what appeared to be an affectionate glance toward Mr. Slimy.
I shook my head. How anybody could be fond of a frog was beyond me.
Although, I realized as I bounced down the steps to the first floor, that I’d begun to form an attachment which transcended disgust. In fact, I almost dreaded the day Madeline managed to find a way to extract her nephew. I was going to miss him.
Unlocking the door that separated the bookstore from the artifact library behind me, I blinked in surprise.
Had I just had a Freudian moment? Was I going to miss the witch? Or the frog?
I shrugged, shoving the question aside for another time. It would probably be an easy choice.
She’s got a lot more to lose now…and somebody’s determined to make sure she loses it all.
Blaise is at it again. She’s still searching for that perfect job. But even when she thinks she might have found a job that could be more of a career than just a 9 to 5 gig, something always happens to get in her way.
Usually, that something involves a corpse…
But this time, Blaise’s past comes back to haunt her in a big way. She’d thought she put that whole, seeing a murder on the beach thing behind her. But it seems somebody doesn’t want to leave the past where it belongs.
And her past problems are about to become her current nightmare.
She’s just trying to live her life. But someone doesn’t want to let go of the past. And that means not letting go of her!
“Just think of it as a giant party,” Blaise’s friend, Suz Whatsnoggin told her, grinning.
“It will be just like working at the bar,” Dolfe offered, taking a long swig of his icy cold beer.
Tyrese shook his head. “Not really. There are no Bridezillas at the bar.”
Dolfe’s handsome face filled with worry. “Bridezilla? I don’t know what that is but I’m pretty sure I don’t like the sound of it.”
Blaise winced, imploring her friends with her eyes not to inform her sexy fiancé about the horrors of dealing with a nervous bride. It was the last thing Blaise wanted him to think about on the virtual eve of their own wedding.
Well…if you consider “within the next year” the eve.
Fortunately, Suz caught what her friend was throwing. “It’s nothing you need to ever worry about, Honeybun.” She winked at Blaise.
But Dolfe was not a stupid man. In fact, he was probably even smarter than he was good-looking, Blaise thought. And that was a lot of smart. “It’s just a mean term used for brides who get the jitters,” she told him in as offhand a way as she could muster. “Suz is right. You’ll never experience that with me. I’m a rock.”
He grinned. “A rock, huh?” Being the aforementioned smart hottie, Dolfe was wise enough not to venture any further into those tempestuous seas. He simply smiled, shaking his head, and took another sip of his beer.
Tyrese apparently wasn’t smart enough to stay out of the storm. He dove right in, daring the waves to swamp him. “I have no delusions. If Suz and I choose to get married someday, she’ll be the queen of bridezillas. My Suz will own the term.” He shook his head as Suz gave him a quelling look. “I love me some strong woman. I have my own special way of easing her nerves.”
When he waggled his brows, Suz rolled her eyes. “Stupidity, thy name is Tyrese.”
Ty’s leer slid away. “Babe!” He leaned across the table, one long, brown finger tucking up beneath her delicate chin and lifting. “You know you’re cray-cray about me.”
She leaned in too, her lips a mere breath from his as she released the Kraken. “Dude,” Suz said in her sexiest voice. “You know, if we ever did decide to tie the knot, I’d just be marrying you for your last name, right?”
Ty laughed. “What? You don’t want to lumber through life with the name Whatsnoggin anymore?”
Suz smacked him on the arm.
Blaise shook her head. “Please tell me you didn’t just go there,” she said.
Dolfe winced. “We don’t make fun of a person’s name around here, man. It’s not in good taste,” said the guy named Honeybun.
Ty’s smile withered. “She started it.”
Suz snorted. “Really? That’s what you’re going with? A playground excuse?”
Ty shrugged. “Look, I love your weird name, babe. It’s just one of the many funny little oddities that make you special.”
Dolfe groaned and Blaise sucked in a gasp. “Ty!”
Suz stared at him for a long moment, her pretty face so lacking in expression it was an expression all on its own. It was a face that said, you are so dead, while simultaneously declaring a total lack of concern.
Tyrese slowly lost his swagger and began to wilt, until he became little more than a handsome puddle in the delicate chair. When he was so puddly he looked ready to slither bonelessly off the chair onto the newly carpeted floor, Suz finally gave him a tight smile. “Just for that, if we ever decide to get married, Tyrese Miller, you’re going to take my name.”
Everybody gasped at that, followed by Dolfe’s low chuckle.
“Snap!” Blaise told her friends, knocking dainty knuckles with Suz.
“Come on, girlfriend,” Suz told Blaise. “Help me count the new shipment of linen napkins that just came in?”
Blaise stood, winking at Tyrese. “You’d better pull together your best defrazzling game, son. That’s one ticked off ‘special’ girl right there.” Blaise grinned as she followed Suz’s angrily swaying behind toward the door at the back of the enormous room. Behind her, she heard Dolfe’s deep chuckle as Ty whined at him in a voice that sounded like seagulls on a stormy beach.
Suz stopped at the open storage room door and grinned. “That should keep him on his toes for a while.”
Blaise laughed softly. “Oh yeah.”
Before going inside, the two of them stood in the doorway and looked around at the massive main space. It was a gorgeous room, elegant and clean, with lots of light and clean, simple lines. Blaise was impressed by her friend’s vision and decorating skills.
“It’s really beautiful, Suz.”
Her friend sighed, leaning companionably against Blaise’s shoulder. “It is, isn’t it?”
Blaise nodded. When Suz had first come to her with the idea of a wedding reception barn venue, Blaise had thought Suz had lost her mind. But her friend had quickly sold the plan, backing up her excitement with lots of rock-solid information that supported both the need and profitability of the venture.
With Blaise’s help and Dolfe’s investment in time and effort, Ty and Suz had turned the dream into reality in only a few short months.
They’d found a big, dusty barn out in the country on twenty acres of farmland and woods. The property featured a picturesque creek running along behind the main building, a wide lawn with old growth evergreens, and a lovely bridge over the creek that would make a perfect spot for pictures.
Ty and Suz had turned the interior of the metal-sided barn into a beautiful space, with rustic looking cedar walls, a tall ceiling with the original beams, and cream-colored carpet that Blaise couldn’t help thinking was going to be Hell on Earth to keep clean.
The public portion of the venue mostly consisted of one, giant room, with an alcove for coats and gifts, two bathrooms, and an open-air patio out back that served both as an outdoor kitchen and smoking lounge. The roof of the lounge was outfitted with industrial-sized heaters for cooler nights, and giant ceiling fans for sultry summer nights. The structure was mostly enclosed, with one wall entirely open so that smoke from cigars or the grill could escape harmlessly out into the night. The view through the open wall included the pretty little creek and bridge, as well as a few acres of grass, flower beds, and evergreen trees.
It was actually a really nice space that Blaise hoped they’d be able to use for future Honeybun parties. It was large enough to accommodate a family as big as the Honeybuns, even as they continued to grow.
The non-public part of the venue consisted of a storage room with a small office at the back, and a caterer’s kitchen with restaurant-grade appliances.
The main room held fifty tables that were big enough to seat eight to ten people each, with chairs that Suz had covered in frilly white covers. Overhead, crystal chandeliers looked both opulent and kitschy against the age-darkened wood and were complimented by yard after yard of gossamer drapings, which hung from the rustic beams.
They’d added a small dance floor on one end, with a raised stage and glossy wood floors.
A swinging metal door in the back corner of the main space led to the caterer’s kitchen, which contained ample refrigeration, a bank of industrial microwaves for reheating food that was brought in for events, and a couple of long, wide, stainless-steel counters for food prep. They’d added the kitchen space on Dolfe’s suggestion, and it had required building a small annex of the main building. But Blaise realized it had absolutely been the right thing to do, and she was happy her friends had listened to her very smart fiancé.
Blaise had been intrigued as the couple turned the ugly building into something straight out of a fairy tale. All her doubts had slowly been swept away as she saw the enormous potential there.
And the last hurdle had been breached when they got their first clients, who were on their way to the venue at that very moment for a walk-thru.
Suz took a deep breath. “This is really going to happen, isn’t it?”
Wrapping an arm around her friend, Blaise nodded, “It really is.”
“I hope this couple isn’t difficult,” Suz said, frowning. She chewed on her bottom lip, clearly affected by the whole bridezilla conversation.
“We’ll deal with whatever happens,” Blaise said soothingly.
Suz nodded, giving Blaise a wide smile. “Have I told you that I’m so happy you’re here to help us get this off the ground?”
“Only five times today,” Blaise said, laughing. “But remember, it’s only for the first few months.” The wedding reception venue concept felt too much like working in a bar for Blaise’s taste. She was happy to help out, but it wasn’t what she wanted to do long-term for a living.
“I know,” her friend said on a sigh. “But a girl can dream, can’t she?”
“She absolutely can.” Blaise swung her arm to encompass the entire space. “Look what happens when she does.”
Grab your copy of Risky Venue at its temporary New Release price!
When the boundary between worlds is breached, lives are at risk, balance is disrupted and nothing is the same.
I screeched to a halt, my chest heaving from the exertion of running the length of the tracks, and watched with a horrified gaze as several more of the things slid from the car. I counted a dozen before I stopped counting and started looking for escape options.
It was a trap!
I shook my head even as I had the thought, mad at myself for being so completely drawn into it. I watched them.
They watched me.
Something about them was familiar. Though I was far too agitated at the moment to remember where I’d seen them before.
Or what they were.
The creatures started toward me and I stepped back, my hands coming up and magic sputtering from my fingertips. “Stay back!”
They didn’t even hesitate. In fact, they seemed to move more quickly in my direction. I gathered enough energy to exterminate a room full of Demons and flung it at them, expecting to see them burst into tiny pieces of supernatural ugliness.
They bowed backward when my magic hit them, their shadowy, amorphous shapes bulging outward as the energy hit, and their limbs jerking with the force. The light from my magic flared when it touched them, and then slowly dimmed, seeming to sink beneath their black, lifeless skin.
Instead of exploding into pieces, they seemed energized by my attack. Their eyes glowed brighter as they started forward again.
It was as if they’d absorbed my energy. Like it had made them stronger. The nearest one threw back its head, emitting an ear-splitting shriek that made me cringe away with a cry, covering my ears in self-defense. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and jerked my head up. The center of the leader’s spider-like form split apart in about a ten-inch vertical slash and a thick, silvery mist sprayed toward me from the breach.
I barely slammed up a protective web before the spray bathed me in foul-smelling magic. It sizzled against my web like acid, eating holes through my energy as I watched.
Horror filled my chest. I started to back away, more energy sputtering at my fingertips, even though I knew I couldn’t use it against them.
It would only make them stronger.
The creatures became more agitated as the magic leached from under my skin, merging together into a vibrating pack and surging forward as if they were drawn helplessly toward the power.
At a loss for anything else to do, I turned and started to run.
A bitter breeze shot down the concrete tunnel, bathing my back and legs in sulfurous stink. I stumbled as it burned my skin, leaving behind a film of ice.
My teeth clacked together from the sheer force of the cold, and it was all I could do to keep running as it hit me.
Deg! I shrieked in my mind as I stumbled forward. Where are you?
His silence was more ominous than the raspy breath of the things who rode my heels down the track. Something was very wrong.
First Littleton and then Deg.
Whatever was going on, if I was going to help them, I couldn’t be next. I reached the wide archway leading to the station but couldn’t stop. If I slowed enough to climb back up onto the platform, they’d be on me before I managed to reach the top.
With every stride I took, they covered an area twice what I could. I was seconds away from being overrun.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would die if they touched me.
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★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“…characters you can’t help but fall in love with … an intriguing, many layered mystery with many twists and turns, and at least one surprising revelation… I recommend this series and author to anyone who enjoys a good, cozy and fun mystery.”
She might be a country girl who loves short shorts and flip-flops, but her life is less defined by her countrified attire, and more by the way she hunts down a deadly killer.
Murder is sinking its hooks into the quiet countryside and dredging up ugly secrets. Deer Hollow is still a quiet little town steeped in Americana and known for its delicious country fare. But being named a top ten place to live just might have inspired an assassin to make the quaint country spot home.
As Joey searches for a killer, her past is dragged from the murky darkness where she’s hidden it. And secrets she never wanted to discover are rising like the stink of manure on a freshly fertilized field.
I’ve always been perfectly aware of my shortcomings as a person.
I consider myself generally a good person. With good instincts about people and a desire to be kind to others unless they’re unkind to me.
But I do have an aversion to pushy people. Which has put me on the wrong side of salesmen of all kinds more than once.
My second least favorite of these is Realtors. Not that being a Realtor is innately bad. It’s just that the act of buying or selling a house is way too much like dealing with used car salesmen for my taste.
Which brings me to my first least favorite type of salesmen.
Fortunately, it wasn’t a car salesman standing on my porch that sunny, cool-ish fall day in the rural area just outside of Deer Hollow, Indiana.
But it might as well have been.
The woman standing in front of Caphy and me had lipstick on her teeth and hair that looked as if squirrels might have built it on her head for nesting. Lucky for her my dog was much more tolerant than I was. Even when she was being none-too-subtly dissed by said lipstick-teethed intruder.
“Oh my! You should chain that beast up.”
The hand on Caphy’s collar tightened briefly as I fought to contain my instant rage. Cacophony, Caphy for short, was about the sweetest animal that ever lived. She was more than my best friend. I credited her with saving my life when I’d gone into the deepest depression imaginable after my parents were killed in a plane crash on our property.
She was also a Pitbull.
And that was all some people saw when they looked at her.
Caphy smiled at the woman, her muscular tail whipping painfully against my leg. She whined softly, quivering with friendly excitement.
“She’s fine,” I told the woman with the squirrel’s nest for hair. “She lives here. Whereas you…” I let my statement trail away, allowing my uninvited guest to gather my inference all by herself.
The woman frowned slightly, moving a purse the size of her extra-large backside in front of her like a shield. “Oh…um…okay. Well.” She extended her hand a few inches in front of her, a white rectangle stuck between two short fingers. “Here’s my card. My name is Penney Sellers. I was wondering if you’re interested in selling your house.”
I blinked several times. “Not in the least.”
As I responded I realized it was true. When I’d initially learned that I’d inherited the family home after my parents’ death, I’d thought I wanted to sell it. Too many painful memories lived within its familiar walls. I still thought I’d sell eventually. But I wasn’t quite ready to make that decision.
I glanced down at the card, grimacing at the obviousness of the woman’s name. “Is Penney Sellers really your name?”
In response she gave me a slightly snotty smile. “I can offer you a premium price. There aren’t many homes in this area of this quality.”
“Not interested. You do know there’s a huge subdivision going up on the south side of Deer Hollow, right?” Of course she knew that. But I was making a point.
“Those houses are fine. But they don’t have the…” She swung her arms toward the pond and the trees. “Ambiance. The setting here is truly spectacular.”
“Thank you. But I’m not interested in selling.” I backed into the house, tugging gently on Caphy’s collar. Her gaze locked onto the other woman who’d taken a step toward the door as if she was thinking about pushing her way inside. A low growl emerged from Caphy’s throat and the hair in front of her tail spiked.
Penney Sellers stopped dead in her tracks, her gaze shooting to the endlessly sweet creature who was giving her fair warning.
But Caphy’s warning didn’t stop the realtor’s mouth from moving. “Do you own all those woods over there?” The woman asked. Her expression was perfectly innocent. But there was a gleam in her eye that I didn’t like.
“Yes. All the way to the big stone marker on Goat’s Hollow Road. 100 acres.”
The gleam flared, making her look positively demonic. “A hundred acres! My goodness. I’d love to talk to you about subdividing the property. We could build a dozen homes and still have sizeable properties.”
“Not interested. Thanks for stopping by.”
I slammed the door in her face and locked it. Pressing my ear against the warm wood, I listened for her to climb into her car and drive away before I took a full breath. A soft whine drew my gaze to Caphy. “It’s all right, girl. She’s gone.”
The pibl’s tail snapped sideways once and then she nuzzled me, snorting softly. She was sensitive to my moods, and the alarm I was feeling was no doubt putting her on edge. I couldn’t have explained the panic tightening my chest if someone offered me a thousand dollars to do it.
It was an unreasonable fear. But undeniable.
Nobody could force me to sell my house. Nobody could make me give up my private little wonderland. It was all I had left of my parents.
It was also the place where Caphy and I had grown up. Where we’d run and played, where I’d climbed trees and learned to swim. But the new subdivision was affecting my life in ways I hadn’t expected. When I’d first learned it was coming it had seemed harmless. After all, the three hundred acre plot on the south side of Deer Hollow was miles away from me. The homes were supposed to be decent ones, built on quarter acre lots and not all exactly the same. I reasoned it would be nice to have some new blood in town.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t counted on the other stuff that came with those homes. The constant traffic through town from looky-loos. The noise, mess, and invasion of people who thought the town had been conjured up for their enjoyment.
And the realtors, builders and construction people who clogged the streets and turned the few restaurants Deer Hollowboasted into hotbeds of noise and inaccessibility at meal times.
Still, I could deal with all that.
It was the other thing that had my nerves thrumming like a banjo in the mountains of Kentucky.
A temporary office assignment turns deadly. And Blaise quickly finds herself in a killer’s crosshairs.
Backstabbing, infidelity, greed and power. There’s nothing more dangerous than office intrigue. Blaise continues her search for the perfect career by taking a temporary assignment in an architectural firm. Though she quickly learns that wrangling a proposal team to get to end of project is nearly impossible, keeping everyone alive might just be the hardest thing she’ll ever do.
With the help of her sexy fiancé, Dolfe Honeybun, Blaise is determined to get to the bottom of the body in the elevator. Problem is, with a cast of suspects longer than her To Do list, Blaise is up to her perfectly plucked eyebrows in possible killers. And she might not know who the killer is, but he knows everything there is to know about Blaise.
Blaise Runa checked her make-up in the mirror for the last time and climbed out of her car. Her phone rang as she started across the nearly empty parking lot to the ugly brick and metal building squatting alongside the street. The sun was still a vague promise on the horizon and Blaise felt the usual mix of excitement and dread as she approached the smudged glass doors leading to the lobby of the Beck and Poole Architectural Firm.
She tugged her phone from her purse and looked down, smiling at the photo of her newest love, Miss Ivy, the big eared sweet tempered mutt she and Dolfe recently adopted. Blaise punched the Answer button. “Hey, Handsome.”
“Morning, future wife. I couldn’t believe you were already gone when I woke up. Third time this week.”
Blaise pulled a lanyard free of her sweater and lifted the key card on the end, swiping it across the reader to unlock the door. “I have two days to get this proposal together and I’m still missing several pieces. I’m going to have to hit the database hard and try to pull together something for the team to edit.”
Heavy breathing came through the phone and Blaise blinked in surprise. “Are you giving me stalker breath?”
Dolfe’s husky chuckle replaced the breathing, followed by a wet slurp and a tiny yip. “Oh, is that Ivy?”
Another yip. “High, baby! Mama’s got to work today. You be good for Daddy, okay?”
She could almost hear Dolfe rolling his eyes. “You know she’s a dog, right?”
“I’m aware. But she’s my little fur baby too.”
“If she’s your baby then that makes her my baby and I don’t want to claim a baby this ugly.”
Blaise hit the stairs, eschewing the elevator in an attempt to skim the few extra pounds she’d piled on since taking the temporary project management position a few weeks earlier. The building had a killer cafeteria, with the world’s best pastries.
It was going to be the death of her.
“I hope you covered her ears before you called her ugly. She’s very sensitive.”
He snorted. “Sensitive? This little monster thinks she rules the world. She doesn’t have a sensitive bone in her puny little body.”
Blaise grinned. He wasn’t wrong. Ivy might only weigh ten pounds, but she thought she was a lion. “Give her a kiss for me, will you? I’ll see you tonight?”
“That’ll be a hard No on the kiss and a gooey Yes on the seeing me later part.”
“Love ya, babe.”
“I love you too, honey. But I have one more thing to say…”
“What’s that?” Blaise tugged the door open to the office on the third floor where she had a desk and flipped on the light.
“If we’re this monster’s parents, you’re taking the blame for these ears.”
“I was snorting into my pillow so much I sounded like my grand dog Nova. People this is a keeper. I went out and bought the paperback this weekend! You need to read this NOVEL it will cheer you up, make you get over the blues and damn will make you walk around with a smirk and half smile for awhile. These characters become you friends and family. I have a lot of people read Flo and Company! They are a treat.” Karen Frost Reviews
Come to Silver Hills. Where an old nemesis can lead to new trouble and murder is a line item in a business plan.
Vlad Newsome isn’t exactly known as a people person. He’s really more contentious than convivial.
But something’s changed with him, and Flo and Agnes are suspicious.
Vlad’s suddenly “peopling”. He’s shaking hands and even curving his thin lips upward at times in a terrifying imitation of a smile.
Could it be he’s turning over a new leaf? Is he facing a life-changing event that’s made him grow as a person?
He’s up to something. And Flo and Agnes are determined to find out what.
When a woman who had a beef with the reprehensible creature of the night known as Vlad Newsome turns up dead in her home…Vlad appears to be the culprit behind her murder.
Silver City PD certainly believe he’s guilty. But Vlad insists he’s innocent. It’s going to be up to Flo and Co. to solve the murder and find the “real” killer. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the ladies aren’t totally certain Vlad isn’t the murderer.
Will Flo and Co. walk away…leave Vlad to defend himself? If you believe that you haven’t been paying attention.
After all, this is Flo and Agnes!
“Maybe somebody died,” Agnes offered.
Flo rolled her eyes and pulled a spiky branch up to cover her face. “I hope not, since they’re all laughing.”
Agnes’s round face folded into a frown. “In some cultures, death is celebrated.”
“While I realize being a vampire could be considered another culture…I doubt any of Vlad’s victims or their families would celebrate death by fang.” Flo ducked, pulling the branch with her, as the goth version of a night manager skimmed a look her way. Regrettably, her movement totally exposed her fellow stalker.
Agnes gulped loudly as Vladwick Newsome fixed his black, deadly gaze on her, clearly miffed. “He saw me, Flo.”
Another man approached Vlad and, unbelievably, the usually unfriendly night manager offered the tall, tough-looking man his hand. They shook vigorously and Vlad actually leaned close, whispering something to the other man that made him smile.
“What the?” Agnes stood up, glaring across the street until Vlad turned her way. Then he said something to his new friend and started toward them, his dark eyes flashing with anger.
Flo grabbed her friend’s hand. “Come on. It’s still daylight. His powers are weaker when the sun’s up.”
Snorting, Agnes let herself be dragged toward the street. “I almost wish he really was a vampire so that would be true.”
Flo sighed. “Me too.” They hurried across the street and headed toward home. “I think we just witnessed Vlad’s attempt to foil our plans.”
Agnes shrugged. “To tell you the truth, I’m okay with that. I really don’t want to be a weekend manager.”
“Why not?” Flo asked. “I’ll admit the pay’s not great but it would be nice to have a little extra income, wouldn’t it?” Agnes didn’t actually have any income at the moment. She was able to live at Silver Hills because of an inheritance from her parents, which was just enough to pay for her apartment there and not much else.
Her friend shrugged. “It’s just…”
“Hey!” The snotty, strident voice assaulted them from across the street.
Flo grabbed Agnes’ hand, pulling her into a faster walk. “Don’t look back.”
“We can’t just ignore him,” Agnes said as she began to turn.
Flo jerked her around. “Don’t! He’s just going to threaten you and Tolstoy with eviction again.”
“Flo, you know he’s going to do that anyway. He’s going to be mad if I put my name in the hat for the manager’s position.”
“But if you get the job he won’t be able to threaten you with that ever again,” Flo reminded her.
She saw the moment the realization hit. Agnes’ round, expressive face brightened in a smile. “You’re right.” To Flo’s horror, Agnes stopped and turned as Vlad hurried closer. “What up, vamp?”
The cranky night manager curled his lip and oozed to a stop deep inside their comfort zone.
Flo took a step backward, glaring at him. “Vlad.”
He gave her a smug grimace. “Annoying woman from the second floor.”
Flo fought irritation. The man knew perfectly well who she was. He just liked to pretend she was so unimportant he couldn’t remember her name. She clamped her lips down on the desire to give it to him again. It wouldn’t make any difference and would allow him a win.
She was all about not giving Vlad Newsome a win.
He turned a piercing, nearly black gaze toward Agnes. Flo saw her friend twitch, her eyes widening as if she couldn’t look away.
“He can’t compel you with his gaze, Agnes.”
Agnes chewed on her bottom lip. “Are you sure? I’m feeling kind of woozy.”
“That’s because you stopped breathing.” Flo touched her friend’s thick wrist. “Drop your eyes and breathe, fool.”
Agnes didn’t blink. Her eyes were so big Flo was afraid they might be stuck. “Agnes, a bug’s going to fly into your eyes if you don’t blink.”
Agnes’ mouth opened into a horrified “O”. She hated when that happened. “I can’t Flo, he’s got me.”