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Authors: Diana Killian

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BOOK: Dial Om for Murder
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There was a brief silence.
“So are you thinking of looking into it?”
Her thoughts still in the past, A.J. asked blankly, “Looking into what? Having babies?”
Andy reddened. “ The murder.”
The bear-shaped honey bottle made a rude sound as she clutched it. “You’re joking, right?”
But Andy did not appear to be joking. He said as though it were the most reasonable thing in the world, “You solved the last one. You’re the one who figured out who killed Diantha.”
“ That was just a fluke,” A.J. told him. “And no way would I want to go through that again. The only reason I got involved at all was—”
“Yo . . .” Andy said.
“Momma,” A.J. said with him.
They grinned at each other. “How
is
Elysia?” Andy asked. “Is she having a good time in Egypt?”
“The cradle of civilization has been well and truly rocked. This morning she sent back a slew of digital photos of herself riding in jeeps and on camels and in hot air balloons.”
“Hot air balloons?”
“Apparently the very best views of Luxor are from hot air balloons.”
A shadow seemed to cross Andy’s face. But before A.J. could question him—assuming she could decide what to say—he said, “Now Elysia would have no hesitation diving into this murder.”
“Don’t even say it,” A.J. pleaded. “I can hear it now.” She mimicked her mother’s BBC English accent. “I remember when Twiggy was a guest on
221B Baker Street
and we had to solve the
gruesome
murder of a Scottish poacher. . . .”
Andy was laughing, and for a minute it was just like old times. A.J. did a little communing with her better angel, and said, “Listen, Andy, if you want to stay a few days, I guess it’s all right.”
His face lightened. “ Thanks. You’re a sweetheart.”
But not his. A.J. smiled ruefully.
The
guest room door was closed.
A.J. noted it with relief, then padded into the kitchen to feed Monster and Lula Mae.
Andy had retired early the evening before and was apparently still sleeping, which was fine with A.J. She wasn’t at all sure about the wisdom of her decision to let him stay. It was done and she needed to make the best of it, but she hoped Andy would give her plenty of space. His being there was stirring up a lot of memories she’d have been happier to leave as sentimental sediment. Not that they weren’t good memories. That was the trouble.
In A.J.’s old life Sunday mornings had meant freshly brewed coffee, hot croissants from the bakery around the corner, a stack of magazines and newspapers, and that perfect blend of chat and comfortable silences shared with Andy. Or, alternatively, omelets and brioche at Savann or Elmo or some other trendy eatery in Manhattan.
For the first few months after she’d inherited Aunt Diantha’s yoga and fitness empire, business had taken over A.J.’s life, and she had regularly worked days, nights, and weekends from dawn to dusk. She had told herself that this was necessary and all part of her learning curve, but eventually her mother’s nag—er—gentle remonstrance, and the knowledge that Aunt Di had never intended her to become a workaholic, had encouraged her to keep regular and sensible business hours. She had faced the truth that allowing Sacred Balance to become her entire life would simply be a way of hiding from the world.
Plus hanging around Lily that much was making her nuts.
She turned the radio in the kitchen on softly and listened to the news while she readied the ingredients for summer squash pancakes. Predictably, Nicole’s murder was the lead story on the local station, although there didn’t seem to be a lot to report so far. Naturally this did not stop the media from rehashing the little information there was.
Even so, there were only so many ways to say that the thirty-five-year-old actress had been slain in her home by an unknown assailant while preparations for her birthday party were underway.
With grim humor, remembering Andy’s comments the night before, A.J. heard that at the time of the attack, Nicole’s boyfriend, director J.W. Young, had been flying back from Mexico where he had been filming a documentary on the 2006 protests in Oaxaca by the local teachers union. So much for Andy’s theory.
According to the radio, the New Jersey native and star of the hit TV series
Family Business
appeared to have been struck repeatedly with a koala ice sculpture. Ironically, Nicole had been very active in koala preservation, and so on and so on.
There was discussion of Nicole’s role in
Family Business
as street-smart matriarch Bambi Marciano, and some vague allusions were made to real-life mob missus Barbie Siragusa. It sounded to A.J. like Barbie might not have been completely off base in her suspicion that the Bambi Marciano character was based on her. Well, wasn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Surely it wasn’t sufficient motive for murder?
Not that anyone was suggesting that Barbie was a suspect. In fact, there seemed to be a distinct lack of suspects—although there was some passing reference to a possible falling out between Nicole and her fan club.
There were a couple of interviews with Hollywood big-wigs who tried to find nice ways of saying that Nicole was a mostly adequate actress. Huge talent or not, her violent death ensured her place in the Hollywood pantheon.
After the commercials there was a very brief snippet of an interview with Jake, and hearing his voice over the radio gave A.J. a pleasant little jolt while she laid strips of turkey bacon in the cast iron frying pan that had well served generations of Eriksson women.
But Jake had little in the way of news to report either. In fact, “ The investigation is ongoing” seemed to size it up.
Poor Nicole. A.J. felt a little guilty because she had not liked her more.
She was thinking about this as she poured granola in two dishes and orange juice into goblets. Her negative opinion of Nicole didn’t change her fate, but it seemed to add insult to injury. It wasn’t a logical reaction.
A.J. glanced down the hallway. The guest room door was still firmly closed. That was unusual. Andy was by nature an early riser—as was A.J., although these days her mornings were spent doing her sun salutations or taking a quick walk in the meadow or woods with Monster rather than watching
Today
and gulping coffee as she did her hair. She still spared a few minutes for reading over breakfast, but the breakfast only sporadically included Pop Tarts or Captain Crunch, and her current reading was
Yoga Journal
or
Yoga + Joyful Living
rather than the
Wall Street Journal.
Switching off the radio, she fetched her yoga mat and went out on the flagstone patio to perform her sun salutation.
Sun Salutes, a series of flowing poses or asanas, were designed to wake up and energize the body through the integration of body, mind, and breath. Traditionally the sun salutation would be performed at dawn facing the rising sun, but part of the beauty of yoga was how adaptable it was to real life. And while A.J. certainly didn’t object to the spiritual aspects of yoga, she was finding that, for her, the immediate payoff was the physical benefits of an early-morning stretch combined with the calming focus provided by having to concentrate on each move.
Between trying to eat more healthily and incorporating more walks and yoga in her life, A.J. was feeling better than she had in years. Her back was mostly pain-free, and she felt much more capable of handling the little curves life continued to throw her way . . . like finding a murdered client or having her ex-husband drop in unexpectedly.
Spreading her mat on the flagstones, she sat down facing the sun. For a moment she breathed quietly, eyes closed, simply taking in the peace of the warm, sunny morning . . . the trill of a bird, the scent of the flowering vine overhead, the feel of the breeze on her skin. She deliberately put aside her tension, the buildup of anxiety normal with modern life. She clamped down on her straying thoughts: Had she covered the pancake mix? What would Elysia say if she knew Andy was staying with A.J.? What would Jake think? Had she paid the electric bill for the studio? None of that mattered now.
Rising, she went smoothly through the twelve-step sequence, starting by planting feet hips-width apart, palms together in the prayer position, fingertips brushing the center of her chest over her heart.
A.J. drew a deep breath into her lungs, opened her palms, and swung her arms back over her head, arching her back and gazing up at the vines twining through the pergola slats. She exhaled, bending forward from the hips and slightly bending her knees as she placed her hands on the floor. She made an effort to bring her head as close as possible to her legs—but it was still not easy even after months of practice.
As she inhaled, she bent her left leg, sliding her right foot back into a lunge.
The main thing was to move with slow deliberation, not pushing, not forcing. A.J. concentrated on each breath, inhaling on the open positions.
Exhaling, she slid her left foot into position beside the right and held the position, continuing to breathe—that was the real challenge, remembering to breathe steadily and evenly, matching the length of her inhalations with her exhalations.
Lowering herself from the pushup position, she rested knees, chest, and chin on her mat.
Discharge your tension into the earth. . . .
She could almost hear Aunt Di’s cool voice instructing her.
The morning sun was releasing the warm scent of flowers and earth.
A.J. inhaled, using her arms to push up into the cobra position. She pictured the arc of her body as she closed her mouth and tilted her chin up.
Curling her toes under, she exhaled and pushed into downward dog, feeling the stretch through her arms and the back of her legs. She slid her left foot forward so that it was parallel with the right. She rested her head in a forward bend as close to her knees as she could manage without straining.
Straightening, she swept her arms above her head, arched her back and gazed up at the wooden timbers. She could see a spider weaving a silvery web across the leaves of the vine. Once she would have reached instantly for a broom.
Actually she still felt like reaching for a broom.
Baby steps, right?
Returning inside, she showered quickly, and finding the guestroom door still closed, tapped softly.
There was no response.
She knocked again. Waited.
Nothing.
“Andy?” she called.
No response. Lula Mae twined around her ankles and meowed plaintively.
A.J. eased the door open.
The guestroom was empty. The bed had not been slept in.
Six
A
quick glance out the front window verified that Andy’s blue sedan was still sitting in the front yard. So . . . ?
With increasing trepidation, A.J. went through the house.
“Hello? Andy?”
She walked quickly from room to room. There was no sign of Andy, although his car keys were still lying on the kitchen counter.
She stepped outside and walked down to the meadow, shading her eyes as she scanned the waves of shimmering green—it was already getting hot.
To her relief she spotted Andy at the far end of the meadow. He waved to her and started back, and A.J. felt a little foolish for her brief bout of panic. What did she think had happened? The elves stole him away during the night?
“Everything okay?” she asked as Andy reached her.
Either his walk or the early morning sun had put needed color back in his face. He was smiling and seemed more like himself.
“Sure. I just thought I’d take advantage of the peace and quiet.”
When was the last time Andy had professed a desire for peace and quiet? But then A.J. hadn’t realized how much she needed space to breathe until she had started her new life.
They went inside and A.J. fixed summer squash pancakes while Andy drank orange juice and stroked Lula Mae, who had uncharacteristically curled in his lap, boneless and somnolent with an excess of sunshine.
BOOK: Dial Om for Murder
3.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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