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Psychic Sunshine Meadows makes a dark discovery in the woods
Excerpt...“Sunny, you’re the one who told Mitch you just wanted to be friends,” my best friend, Joanne Burnham, pointed out from the passenger’s seat.
We sat in my slightly rusted VW bug with the orange, yellow, and pink flowers on the side. I loved my bug, but sometimes it refused to cooperate when I needed it to the most. Like now when I would give anything to avoid a certain conversation. Grrr. I turned the key for the umpteenth time, and finally it started. Silently, I pulled out of the gym parking lot and headed for home, hoping Jo would take the hint.
Jo was a sultry, voluptuous, burgundy-haired goddess and proud proprietor of Smokey Jo’s Tavern. She had a knack for reading people and had become my own personal shrink whether I wanted to listen to her or not. Even I had to admit that ever since I’d moved from the Big Apple to the quaint upstate town of Divinity in January, I seemed to need a lot of advice.
I’d been looking forward to the quiet, slower-paced town with its ancient Victorian houses, elegant storefronts, and old-fashioned brass streetlamps. Nothing had ever happened
here until I came along. I certainly hadn’t expected to be accused of murder after giving a tea leaf reading to the town librarian who later turned up dead. But now that the murder had been solved and my name had been cleared, I was hoping for the quiet normalcy I longed for.
Hitting the gym being anything but normal for me.
Exercise was not my thing. But ever since Sean O’ Malley—Jo’s hunky blond Irish bartender with dimples to die for—charmed me into trying Zumba, I was hooked. Sean moonlighted at Wally’s World gym, but even his charming Irish self wouldn’t be enough to entice me to go back now.
Not after today.
I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to do the Zumba booty again.
“Have you changed your mind about Mitch?” Jo asked, tipping her head to the side and studying me with her smoky gray catlike eyes.
“No, absolutely not,” I scoffed. “Detective Grumpy Pants and Tinker Bell would never work as a couple. It would be insane. Ridiculous even.” I snorted, shaking my head over the absurdity of the notion. The nicknames we’d given each other said it all. “Believe me, I did us both a favor by ending ‘us’ before we even got started.”
“Riiight . . .” she purred.
I glanced at her with my lips turned down. “What do you mean ‘riiight?’ ”
“Oh, nothing. Except you are jealous as hell.”
I gaped. “Am not!”
“Uh, you might want to watch the road before we end up in a ditch there, Tink. And yes you are.”
I whipped my head up to the road and swerved back into my lane, barely avoiding The Divinity Gazette newspaper box on the corner by the bus stop. “You’re crazy.”
“No, you’re the crazy one. Crazy about one big delicious detective.”
“Even if I was—which I’m not saying I am—it wouldn’t matter. We fight all the time, and he thinks I’m a quack.” I sighed. “He’s not a true believer, Jo. Is it so wrong to want to be with someone who accepts me for who I am? For what I am?”
“Not at all.” She reached out and squeezed my arm. “I’m not blaming you, honey. I’m just pointing out that you don’t really have a right to get jealous if you’re nothing more than friends. Maybe you should try dating someone new. Take your mind off him, even though I still don’t see why you won’t give him a chance.”
“Ugh. I just hadn’t expected to ever meet his ex-girlfriend face-to-face here in Divinity. Mitch never dates anyone, so these past couple months have been easy just being friends. I guess with her living in the city, the thought of ever actually talking to her never entered my mind. She’s just so . . .”
“Yes,” I said miserably. “At least her perfectness is only skin deep. She’s been here for a week and has managed to anger half the town already. So far I’ve lucked out and avoided her. God, did you see her body? There’s not a single jiggly part on her.” I groaned. “Why did she have to go and ruin Zumba for me? Guess my jiggly parts won’t be going anywhere anytime soon because I’m never going back there.”
“Oh, please. First of all, you’re hardly jiggly. You’re adorable. I’m twice your size, but you don’t see me complaining. I like my body.”
“Who doesn’t like your body? There’s a distinct difference between big and va-va-va-voom.”
Jo laughed. “Thanks. I’ll take that. As far as the ex goes I’ll bet half her ‘firm’ parts were bought and paid for. At least your parts are real. Men like Mitch prefer parts that are real.” Jo winked.
“Doesn’t matter, because like I said, Mitch and I are just friends. If he wants to get back together with his ex, then that’s his business. We never even went out on an actual date. All we ever did was kiss, and who could blame us after nearly getting killed. He certainly didn’t waste any time moving on, though.”
“Riiight . . .”
“Stop saying that,” I growled, shoving a hand through my short blond spiky hair, and then I hoisted my chin a notch. “Besides, I might want to date someone else myself.”
“Get out.” Now she gaped at me. “You mean you’re finally going to give Sean a chance?”
“Sean is like a brother to me.” I grimaced and waved her off. “That would be too weird.”
“Sugar, you don’t have a clue when it comes to men. The way that man looks at you is anything but brotherly.”
“Again with the craziness. Sean and I have talked. He gets it. Other than you, he’s my best friend. I won’t risk screwing that up. Besides, that blue-eyed hottie can have any woman he wants and usually does.” I chuckled. “I’m talking about the new mailman, Kevin Brown.”
“Oh, yeah, I heard about him. Honey brown hair, hazel eyes, and a body that was made to wear a uniform.”
“All that and he’s sweet, too. You don’t find too many men like that these days. Now that my life is finally in order and my business is thriving, I think you’re right. Maybe it’s time I put myself out there and start dating someone I actually have hope of a future with.”
“Well, here’s your chance,” Jo said as I turned on Shadow Lane and approached my enormous Victorian house with the wraparound porch and peeling antique white paint. I used my trust fund to buy this house, and I got her for a steal since everyone thought she was haunted. “Wait, who’s that old lady he’s wrestling with? Damn. She might be tiny, but she’s obviously got spirit. Look at the fight she’s putting up. Kind of reminds me of you.”
I pulled in my driveway and parked my bug, staring through my windshield in disbelief. “Granny Gert?” I said, trying to wrap my brain around the image before me.
“My grandmother, Gertrude.”
“Oh.” Jo squinted out the windshield. “She’s so stinking cute.”
“She’s something,” I mumbled.
The petite woman with snow white hair artfully styled and curled wore a faded floral, old-fashioned apron made out of flour sacks from years ago. Having lived through tough times, Granny reused everything. Ruffles adorned the neck, and a long wooden spoon stuck out of the front pocket by her hip. An angelic smile graced her face as she played tug-of-war over my mail with the handsome mailman I had hoped to date.
“Were you expecting her?” Jo asked curiously.
“Hmmm. I wonder what she’s doing here.”
“That’s what I’d like to know,” I said, but part of me had a strong suspicion I already did. My parents, Donald and Vivian Meadows, had promised not to interfere in my life until Easter at the earliest. They hadn’t even lasted two months.
“What are you going to do?”
“Go rescue the mailman before Granny ruins my chances of him ever asking me out.”
National Bestselling Author of The Fortune Teller Mysteries TEMPEST IN THE TEA LEAVES 4 1/2 Starred RT Review
Best Amateur Sleuth of 2011, RT Reviewers' Choice Nominee, Best First Novel Agatha Award Nominee
CORPSE IN THE CRYSTAL BALL - June 2012
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