A Cozy Christmas at Brooke Blogs is a celebration of wonderful cozy mystery authors and their books. Stop by daily from 12/11/16 through 12/25/16 for special posts and be sure to enter the grand prize giveaway. Curl up and get cozy this holiday season!
Pearls Gone Wild by Diane Vallere
A Samantha Kidd Mystery Book 6
December 31, 2016
Amateur sleuth Samantha Kidd’s life is finally on track. It’s her normally cultured friend Cat whose life has lost its luster: eight months pregnant and abandoned by her husband the week before Christmas. She ropes Samantha into helping at her boutique, but a string of jewelry thefts threatens her business. And when Cat’s husband is found strangled with pearls inside the shop, the last thing she’s concerned with is profit. Samantha tries to get a bead on the killer, but when the suspects all clam up, she’s left tangled in knots. Add in an unexpected proposal, a flirtatious friend, and a brand new detective, and this is bound to be Samantha’s wildest adventure yet.
Books in the Humorous Samantha Kidd Mystery Series:
“Just Kidding” (short story)
#1 DESIGNER DIRTY LAUNDRY
#2 BUYER, BEWARE
#3 THE BRIM REAPER
#4 SOME LIKE IT HAUTE
#5 GRAND THEFT RETRO
#6 PEARLS GONE WILD
Perfect for the beach, the bath, or the line outside of the fitting room.
(and way more fun than shopping for bathing suits under fluorescent lights.)
National Bestselling Author brings you fashion, mystery, and humor in one stylish package.
Goodreads | Amazon
Get to know Samantha Kidd today!
Friday, 6:00 p.m.
“Men are rats!” Cat said. She threw a dinner plate into her kitchen sink and it shattered on contact.
“They’re not all rats,” I said.
“Name one who’s not a rat. Go ahead, name one.” Before I had a chance to answer, she continued. “My husband is a rat. His bosses are rats.” She grabbed another plate. “My brother is kind of a rat, don’t you think?”
“Cat, I don’t think it’s my place to say whether or not your brother is a rat.”
“He’s a rat, trust me. You don’t know because you chose Nick instead of him.” She brought the dish down against the sink. It bounced off, unbroken. She looked at it, confused, and then turned it over and looked at the bottom. “Corelle. Well, that’s not satisfying at all.” She tossed it onto the counter, where it skidded until hitting a loaf of bread.
Cat Lestes was a local boutique owner, a friend, and one of those people who make you constantly feel rumpled if only because she’s always immaculately dressed. I’d never seen so much as a hair of her striking red, asymmetrical haircut out of place…until tonight. Her husband spent more than half of his life on the road and, as if that hadn’t been enough space, he’d told her earlier this evening that he needed a break. It turned out his definition of “break” differed from hers; he told her he was moving out. Considering Cat was eight months pregnant, George’s timing seemed suspicious.
“I’m pretty sure George is just going through a phase, like last month when you said you wanted to run away and join a convent.”
She picked up a mug and shook it at me. “Nuns don’t have to deal with swollen ankles,” she said. I stepped forward and put my hands on her wrists.
“He didn’t cheat on you, he didn’t ask for a divorce. He’s just asked for some space. He probably was thinking about the baby and about how his life is going to change.”
She glared at me for a moment, and then deflated like a balloon twenty-four hours after a twelve-year-old’s birthday party. Her normally size two frame shrunk, causing her pregnant belly to protrude. It looked like a tiny nerf basketball had been strapped to her waist under her chocolate brown knit dress. “There are times to think about making more money and there are times to be there for your wife,” she said. “He should have known that.”
I pried the mug—the next about-to-be-broken item in her arsenal—from her grip and set it on the counter, and then wrapped her in a hug. Cat was like me in the fact that she wasn’t particularly touchy-feely, but at the moment it seemed like we both needed it. When we pulled apart, I pointed to the living room.
“You go sit down. I’ll clean up in here.”
“It’s my mess,” she argued.
“Let me do this for you.” She nodded and left me alone with the broken dishes.
Cat lived in a split level house in a residential neighborhood in Wyomissing. Her neighbors were in the post-retirement, 65+ range and seemed to stick to themselves. I often thought of myself as a woman who lived alone in a house probably too big for her, but even before Cat’s marital troubles, she’d been in a similar boat because of her husband’s travel. Except now she was on her own with a full time job and a baby on the way. I couldn’t begin to imagine the pressures she felt.
As I collected pieces of broken dishes and glass from the floor, I heard what sounded like the local news coming from her TV. These days it was mostly stories about the weather or the occasional car theft from one of the local malls. Thus represented the city of Ribbon, Pennsylvania, where we split our time (and our residents) between do-gooders and criminals. At least that’s how it seemed since I moved back two years ago. And here I’d thought trading New York City for small town life would lead to a more peaceful existence.
Cat’s proclamation that all men were rats landed on deaf ears thanks to my relationship with Nick Taylor. While her husband had let her down at a time when he should have been there for her, my love life was chugging along, hitting all the right notes.
Nick was a local shoe designer who kept an apartment in Italy, and shortly after my birthday in May, he’d left to meet with the factories about his upcoming collection. Our relationship was not without problems—many of which explained why we’d broken up once since making the shift from business colleagues (nine years) to on-again/off-again couple (two years)—but ever since I’d saved his father’s life, Nick seemed willing to overlook the problems (inconveniences?) that came with dating me. And I understood the needs of his business, and the fact that spending six months out of each year in Europe was part of his life. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to Nick coming home for the holidays.
I swept the broken pieces of china into the dustpan and then into the trash. Cat’s kitchen—her whole house, really—was usually immaculate. I did a double take when I saw the two errant grape tomatoes and scattering of green peas that I swept up with the broken china. Maybe her housekeeping skills were relaxing, but at least she was still keeping up with her daily vegetable intake. That put her one step ahead of me.
“Stupid bastard!” Cat yelled from the living room. Moments later, there was a thud. I dropped the dustpan and broom into the sink and ran to the living room. Cat was on the floor with her feet splayed out in front of her. Her dress was hiked up to her hips and between her knees was a partially empty bowl. Across the room, popcorn was scattered around the base of the TV.
“What’s wrong? What happened?”
She pointed to the screen. “The news is doing a profile on the rat. ‘Local businessmen do good.’ That’s a joke. He didn’t do any good by leaving me. Just because he’s helping his company hand out free ornaments tonight that doesn’t make him a saint. It’s Christmas. Where are the stories about stolen cars and thefts at the mall? Where are all the shady Santas?”
I leaned forward and plunked the remote from her hand. “Are you okay?”
“Retail. Holidays. Pregnant. Rat husband. Keep up, Sam. I thought I could rely on the news to match my mood, but no. It’s like they got tired of reporting on all of the retail theft so they’re looking for feel-good stories.”
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