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Authors: Mary Clay

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Murder is the Pits

BOOK: Murder is the Pits
11.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Praise for Mary Clay’s
DAFFODILS* Mysteries

*Divorced And Finally Free
Of Deceitful, Insensitive, Licentious Scum

Witty and hilarious...”

Midwest Book Review

... a crisp pace with plenty of humor

Romantic Times BookClub

The Ya Ya Sisterhood meets The First
Wives Club. A cleverly done light mystery that’s a rare find

The Examiner (Beaumont, Texas)

The Turtle Mound Murder is light and
accentuated with the familiar mannerisms of Southern women. ... A
fun book.”

Southern Halifax Magazine

Bike Week Blues is one of the funniest
capers this reviewer has had the privilege of reading.”

Harriet Klausner, #1 Reviewer,

Sometimes we just need something fun to
read. The DAFFODILS Mysteries fit the bill.”

The DeLand-Deltona Beacon

* * *

written as
Mary Clay

The Turtle Mound Murder

Bike Week Blues

Murder is the Pits

New Age Fiction
written by
Linda Tuck-Jenkins aka Mary Clay

Starpeople: The Sirian Redemption

* * *


*Divorced And Finally Free Of Deceitful,

Insensitive, Licentious

Murder is the Pits
Mary Clay

An IF Mystery

An Imprint of Inspirational Fiction

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

* * *

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may
be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic,
electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,
taping or by any information storage or retrieval system, without
permission in writing from the publisher.

Published by IF Mystery, an imprint of
Inspirational Fiction

P. O. Box 2509

New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170-2509

Cover Design: Peri Poloni,

This is a work of fiction. All places, names,
characters and incidents are either invented or used fictitiously.
The events described are purely imaginary.

Smashwords Edition

ePub ISBN 978-0-9710429-2-6

Copyright © 2009 Linda Tuck-Jenkins

* * *

Chapter 1

August 12, New Smyrna Beach, FL

Our car crested
the hill, and the
headlights caught the outline of a man directly ahead.

“Who the hell is that?” Penny Sue screeched.
She slammed on brakes and the Mercedes slid sideways, narrowly
missing a hunched man pulling a wheeled cart. Lucky for him, she
was driving slowly over the rutted sand driveway. Illuminated by
the headlights, he nodded slightly and kept walking toward the path
that ran under the elevated beach access.

I tensed, fearing Penny Sue might lose her
cool and respond with a rude hand gesture or profanity. “I think he
lives in the next complex. I’ve seen him a lot lately on the beach
in front of our place. I asked him once if he was catching
anything. He laughed and said the spot was a mother lode.
Apparently, there’s a trough out there where fish like to hang

“Fishing in the middle of the night?” Penny
Sue asked skeptically. “And, what’s that thing he’s pulling?”

“He calls it his fishing machine,” I
answered. “It holds his poles and other gear.”

“Well, he scared the fool out of me and
almost became fish food himself.”

I bit my lip. I doubted anything could scare
the fool out of Penny Sue. She wasn’t a complete dingbat, just—how
to say it?—impetuous. And, that was putting it kindly.

She parked in the front of our condo,
snatched the CD from its player, and got out in a huff. “We were
having such a good time, too.”

“No harm done. Put it out of your mind,”
Ruthie, our peacemaker, advised.

“You’re right. I’m not going to let a crazy,
old coot ruin my birthday.” Penny Sue jammed the key into the
weathered lock and bumped her hip against the door. The warped wood
gave with a loud pop. She stomped down the hallway, security alarm
screeching its armed-state, as a robotic voice demanded, “Halt! Who
goes there?” Penny Sue keyed in the code to the alarm with one hand
and elbowed a button on top of Lu Nee 2’s head—our robotic security
guard and maid (massive exaggeration). “Boy, that was a good show.
Y’all couldn’t have given me a better birthday present.” She
flipped on lights and headed for the kitchen. “I laughed until my
face hurt. The person who wrote that play had to be a woman.”

The play in question was
, a fitting birthday gift because Penny Sue had just
turned forty-seven and experienced much of the play’s subject
matter—whether she admitted it or not. The
couldn’t have given Penny Sue Parker a better gift were Ruthie Jo
Nichols, and me, Rebecca Leigh Stratton, her old-time college
sorority sisters and new-time cohorts in the DAFFODILS (Divorced
And Finally Free Of Deceitful, Insensitive, Licentious Scum).

Virtually The Three Musketeers at the
University of Georgia, we’d grown apart over the years, what with
all our marriages, kids, and whatnot. It was my divorce that
brought us back together and to New Smyrna Beach. I’d been living
in Penny Sue’s daddy’s condo since my house in Roswell, Georgia
sold last year. The condo was intended to be a stopgap move to tide
me over until my property settlement was finalized. But, I’d grown
attached to the place and made little effort to move, even though
my share of the settlement had finally come through.

The complex was a rare find that I couldn’t
duplicate elsewhere, because it was built on an incline and
arranged so each condo had an ocean view. Our unit was in the
single story oceanfront building. Up the hill a short distance,
two-story duplexes flanked our building—their back balconies
overlooking our parking lot and the Atlantic Ocean. Finally, a
three-story duplex rounded out the cluster. Centered behind the
two-story buildings, the tall duplex’s balconies had a great view
over our roof.

I cruised the sand driveways of each cluster
daily, searching for sale signs, desperately hoping to get a jump
on the competition. And, there was a lot of competition for
property on this quarter-mile stretch of wide, car-free beach. Yep,
that’s car-free, not carefree, though it’s that, too.

New Smyrna and Daytona Beaches are two of
the last ocean resorts that allow beach driving. The famous Daytona
Beach races were originally run on the hard-packed sand,
establishing a tradition that most old-timers considered an
inalienable right, in the same class with free speech and the right
to bear arms. Yet, times change, and sea turtles—facing
extinction—were no match for the cars and campers that cruised the
ocean’s edge. So, a deal was struck between the county and Federal
environmentalists, where half of the beach permitted driving and
half didn’t. That way, sea turtles had a place to nest where they
wouldn’t have to dodge cars, and locals had a place to park,
picnic, and swim for the day.

A side benefit of the compromise was a
massive increase in real estate values for beachfront property in
the non-driving section. Predictably, tourists with young children
clamored to buy or rent apartments in the “safe” zone, sending real
estate values through the roof. It’s the “through the roof” part
that worried me. I wanted to buy a beachfront unit like Judge
Parker’s. At current prices, I could just afford it on my divorce
settlement. The way the market was moving, beachfront would be out
of range within a few months. To call it a seller’s market was an
understatement. A couple of B-units—the two story duplexes in the
middle of each cluster—came on the market and were sold before I
could get the owner on the telephone. And I was calling from their
driveway on my cell phone! In each case, I’d waited until
to phone, judging that a
respectable hour. Both times I was told the owner had just accepted
an offer. The buyers, whoever they were, could not have been
Southerners, or least not mannerly ones. Calling before nine was
pushing the envelope of civility, calling before eight-thirty was
downright barbaric. After that, I decided I’d better cruise the
development twice a day.

“Which will it be?” Penny Sue asked, holding
up a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream in one hand and a coffee pot in
the other. “A cordial or decaf?”

Ruthie was oblivious to the question,
preoccupied with tuning the television to the Weather Channel. An
insatiable news junkie who read newspapers and watched cable news
every chance she got—“One must be informed”—Ruthie had been
fretting about two tropical storms, Bonnie and Charley, which had
formed in the Caribbean. Thankfully, Bonnie had moved into the Gulf
of Mexico and out of our range, while the jury was still out on

Penny Sue curled her lip peevishly. “Well,
what will it be?” she snapped.

“Both,” I said quickly. “How about decaf
with a little Bailey’s in it?”

“That would be great,” Ruthie said
distractedly, eyes glued to Dr. Steve, the Weather Channel’s
hurricane expert.

I took the coffee pot from Penny Sue. “Sit
down, birthday girl. This is your day.” I looked at the clock.
. “Only one more hour to

Penny Sue hopped—hefted might be more
accurate—onto the stool at the end of the L-shaped bar separating
the kitchen from the great room and dining area. The focal point of
the condominium, the spacious area had a vaulted ceiling and two
walls with sliding glass doors that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean
to the east and natural vegetation on the south.

With the moon overhead a mere sliver and the
No Outside Light Ordinance in effect for turtle nesting season, the
natural beauty was invisible. Still, you knew it was there and
could feel the energy of the ocean, plants, and wildlife all
around, which is what I loved about the place. Although New Smyrna
had the foresight to pass a high-rise ordinance that limited
complexes to nine stories, the new condos, for all their glitz and
glamour, could not match the majestic—almost spiritual—atmosphere
of this low rise, natural community. Geez, I hoped I’d get to buy
one. After living in the Judge’s place, I didn’t think anything
else would be the same.

I dumped water into Mr. Coffee and flipped
the switch. The water started to drip, sending a pleasant hazelnut
scent though the room.

Penny Sue swiveled her stool to face Ruthie,
perched on the edge of the sofa and listening intently to Dr.

“Another hurricane, wouldn’t you know it?”
Penny Sue moaned.

On our first visit—the
Let’s-Cheer-Up-Leigh-After-Her-Rotten-Divorce trip—there’d been a
hurricane. That storm turned out to be the least of our worries. I
tripped over a body on the second day, which unleashed absolute
hell. None of it was our doing, mind you. Pure and simply a matter
of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Still, for all the
torment, the trip was a success since it
take my mind
off my divorce and my two-timing, asset-hiding ex-husband, Zack. It
also convinced me to leave Atlanta and move to New Smyrna

“What does Dr. Steve have to say?” Penny Sue
called to Ruthie.

“Bonnie’s safely into the Gulf and about to
make landfall in the Panhandle,” Ruthie replied without shifting
her eyes from the television. “Charley’s south of Cuba, headed for
the Gulf, but may take a northerly turn.” She looked up grimly as I
handed her a cup of Bailey’s coffee. “I sure hope it follows
Bonnie’s path. After our first trip, I don’t relish the thought of
going back into that owner’s closet.”

The owner’s closet is a large storage room
found in most resort condos. Designed to keep personal items away
from renters’ prying eyes and sticky fingers, the closet turned
into a prison on our first stay, thanks to some mobsters who
thought we had something we didn’t. Which brought me to the other
reason for our reunion in Florida, besides Penny Sue’s birthday.
We’d been notified that we might be called next week to give
depositions for the trial of the head honcho of a drug smuggling

Judge Parker, Penny Sue’s daddy, said we
probably wouldn’t have to appear—the government had a mountain of
evidence from undercover operations—still, we had to be available,
and it was a good excuse to get together.

Penny Sue hopped down from her stool and
strode our way. “Have you put up a hurricane box?” she asked

I stared into my mug, as if looking for bugs
or other foreign matter. “No.” I squirmed under her scrutiny. “I’ve
been busy with the property settlement, Ann (my daughter—a long
story I’ll explain later), and I do have a job, you know. Besides,
New Smyrna Beach has never taken a direct hit from a

BOOK: Murder is the Pits
11.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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