Authors: Tonya Kappes
Tags: #chick lit, #Fiction, #Mystery
Also by Tonya Kappes
Carpe Bead ‘em
Something Spooky This Way Comes
Believe Christmas Anthology
Olivia Davis Paranormal Mystery Series
Color Me A Crime
Magical Cures Mystery Series
A Charming Crime
A Charming Cure
A Charming Potion
Grandberry Falls Series
The Ladybug Jinx
Happy New Life
A Superstitious Christmas
Never Tell Your Dreams
A Divorced Diva Beading Mystery Series
A Bead of Doubt Short Story
Strung Out To Die
Small Town Romance Short Story Series
A New Tradition
The Tricked-Out Toolbox~Promotional and Marketing Tools Every Writer Needs
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the permission in writing from the author or publisher.
Edition: December 2012
Copyright © 2012 by Tonya Kappes
All rights reserved
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the publisher and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
What others are saying about Author Tonya Kappes
“Full of wit, humor and colorful characters, Tonya Kappes delivers a fun, fast-paced story that will leave you hooked!” Bestselling Author, Jane Porter
“Fun, fresh, and flirty, Carpe Bead ’Em is the perfect read on a hot summer day. Tonya Kappes’ voice shines in her debut novel.” Author Heather Webber
“I loved how Tonya Kappes was able to bring her characters to life.” Coffee Table Reviews
With laugh out loud scenes and can’t put it down suspense A Charming Crime is the perfect read for summer you get a little bit of everything but romance. Forgetthehousework blog
“This book was fun, entertaining and good to the last page. Who knew reading auras could get Olivia in so much trouble? Sit back, smile and cozy up to Splitsville.com, where Olivia does the dumping for you. There’s heap loads of humor, a dose of magical realism, sprinkles of romance, and mystery when someone ends up dead!” Author Lisa Lim
“This book was funny and clever with a unique premise. I truly couldn’t put it down.” Author Diane Majeske
“I loved this book. Grandberry Falls is my kind of town and I for one would love to live there and get to know all the local folks. I enjoyed reading this book and can’t wait to read the next book about Grandberry Falls by Tonya Kappes. I have added Tonya Kappes as one of my new favorite authors.” Jean Segal
“The fantasy world that Kappes introduced came to life. This is definitely one series that will be on my To Be Read list as subsequent books come out.” author Andrea Buginsky, A Magical Cures Series
Dedications and Acknowledgments
I would like to thank my critique group, Heather Webber (Heather Blake), Shelley Shepard Grey, Hilda Knepp, and Cathy Liggett, for their endless love for the crazy Divorced Divas and supporting me through difficult writing times.
Hugs and kisses to my guys (Eddy, Jack, Austin, and Brady) for always being supportive. I love you guys!
Thank you Dru Ann Love, mystery reader extraordinaire, for taking time out of your busy schedule and beta read Strung Out to Die. Your insight is invaluable!
As always, my mom and dad for being my biggest cheerleaders. I can’t imagine life without you!
Strung Out To Die
A Divorced Diva Mystery
“She is going to be the death of me,” I grumbled, wondering why Marlene had left the empty bead boxes stacked up next to the front door.
Willow, my pet pig, trotted in and plopped down next to the stack of boxes. She was as good as a vacuum cleaner when it came to beads lying on the floor.
“No, Willow. No beads today, just empty boxes.” I shooed her to the back as I slammed the front door with my foot.
The thin shop walls rattled, sending empty boxes tumbling to the floor. At least I thought they were empty until I heard glass beads trickling out onto the hardwood. Frantically, I pushed them out of the way and crawled on my hands and knees to stop the sparkly gems from rolling under the shelving unit that my stupid ex-husband had put up. Sean had a brilliant idea—or so he thought–that if he screwed the shelves up on the wall, it would make an excellent display, leaving a two-inch gap at the bottom.
I think he did it on purpose. He knows I hate to clean, especially under the beds, couches or anything that has an under. These shelves have just enough space underneath for the dust bunnies and loose beads to find a home.
Willow scrambled out of the back room, nose down and her tail twirling in the air as though she was about to take off ass first.
“Stop!” I yelled, throwing myself down on the ground. There was no way I was going to take her to the veterinarian for another enema. That was not a pretty sight for anyone involved. Especially a pig or the beautiful beads she so loved to gobble up.
Willow darted to the back, with her tail tucked as if she knew what would happen if she did eat another bead.
With my butt stuck up in the air, (which was not particularly my best attribute) I squeezed my eyes shut and shoved my hand into the depths of the unknown. I’m not very fond of putting my hand in
, much less a dark
Head on the floor, I peeked into the dark abyss. I couldn’t see a thing.
I stood up and adjusted my waistband. Yes, since my divorce from dumbass, I’ve gained a few extra pounds eating too many pieces of Agnes Pearl’s homemade fudge. The spry eighty-five year-old wealthy widow pays Marlene in room, board, and fudge to take care of her. Because Marlene likes to stay the same size six, she brings the delightful chocolaty treats to me and the other Divorced Divas.
The Divas, for short, was a group formed in the most unlikely of ways. I was driving through Swanee on a rough day. Sean hadn’t paid the alimony, and in the back of my head, I knew I needed to make a payment to the Sloan’s for rent.
The church sign read, “If you are divorced. Stop here. Meeting at 7pm.” As luck would have it, it was 7pm. I whipped my little VW Beetle into the parking lot and marched right in.
The women greeted me with open arms, and we’ve been close ever since.
We found laughter and tears while bashing our ex-husbands and cheering each other on. Diva Flora tended to take suggestions literally. Once, she cut all the armpits out of her husband’s business shirts, put them in a garbage bag and dumped canned kidney beans on them. When he came to get his garbage bags of clothes, he had a little treat inside. Needless to say, the Divas group got a visit from Noah Druck, our local cop. He suggested we bash our ex-husbands, only figuratively from then on, unless we wanted a slew of lawsuits.
We Divas loved meeting and came up with all sorts of fun evil plots in our head, but that’s where they stayed. The church wasn’t able to accommodate additional meeting times, so we moved them to different Diva’s houses and then finally to The Beaded Dragonfly.
I glanced around again, looking at the unswept floor and all the bead boards lying on the table that still had wire clippings and crimp beads that needed to go in the trash. Obviously, Marlene hadn’t gotten around to any of the closing cleanup, which surprised me since I saw her in the parking lot of The Livin’ End bar when I was leaving.
After work last night, I went to grab a quick drink at the bar with my best friend Ginger Sloan Rush. I left Marlene to finish the nightly chores, which included checking off the new inventory, cleaning the bead boards, and taking out the trash. She hadn’t said a word about not finishing her work at the shop. She’d just been eager to get into the bar.
There wasn’t anything worse than coming in on a Saturday morning, The Beaded Dragonfly’s busiest day, to a room full of mostly empty boxes with a few stray beads left in them, before I’d even had my second cup of coffee; especially when I had my very first bride coming in for her consultation.
The bride, Margaret McGee, was the break I needed. This job was exactly what I needed to help get me back into the black. If I could land this client, I was sure she had several bride-to-be friends, and they might also need some jewelry. I rubbed my hands together hoping this was my break.
I was tired of depending on Sean’s alimony along with a few beading customers here and there to make ends meet.
I looked back at the boxes.
Of all days.
I pay Marlene to do those things. It was only minimum wage, but at least it’s better than nothing. Plus, she got to design and make all the jewelry she wanted—for free. That was exactly what she wanted when she first stepped her high-heeled shoes into The Beaded Dragonfly.
I rummaged through the desk drawer to see if I could find a flashlight so I could track down the runaway beads.
I got sidetracked when someone tapped on the door and looked up. I had only thirty minutes until the shop opened, and I needed all thirty to get at least some of the out-of-stock items filled. I’d have to trust that Beautiful Beads Wholesale sent everything I ordered.
There stood Noah Druck with his hand on his holster like he was ready for some gun slinging right there on the steps of my bead shop.
The beads lost to
were going to have to wait.
Noah folded his massive arms across his chest as he waited for me to unlock the door. Lines creased between his brows as he narrowed them.
If he wasn’t a cop, I might be interested. He’d come around a time or two to the cottage to make sure no one was bothering me, and on both occasions we had a beer and a little friendly banter, but nothing came of it.
His compelling blue eyes, firm features, and confident shoulders told me he was here on more than just a friendly visit.
“Morning, Holly.” Noah took his hat off, leaving a ring around his dark hair.
I felt the urge to ruffle it up a bit, like I did my carpet when something like my laundry basket sat in one spot for too long, but resisted.
“Well what brings you over to The Beaded Dragonfly this morning? A glass bead bracelet to go with your police blues?” I referred to his uniform, and wanted to lighten the tension I found forming around his eyes.
He shuffled his body weight to each side and moved his hand back down to rest on his gun. There it was. The flashlight I needed was neatly attached to his holster. I felt my eyes light up like a starry night.
“Can I come in?”
Without even answering or waiting for an answer, he pushed by me into the shop. I backed up to oblige, keeping my eye on the prize.
I reached out in hopes I could just borrow the flashlight for just a couple minutes, only for him to smack my hand away.
“What are you doing?” His eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Just because I’ve known you all my life, doesn’t give you the right to grab things from me while I’m on duty.”
I pulled back, realizing he was right. He was never too far behind Sean when we were in high school. It was as if I was the third wheel. Once we got married, Sean and Noah had a falling out, leaving just the two of us in the marriage.
“I need a flashlight for a second.” I pointed to it.
With a finger flick, he had it out of the holster, flipped it in the air, and handed it to me.
“All you have to do is ask and maybe bat a couple eyelashes.”
I did my best batting and took it.
“Where’s Marlene?” His posture straightened up and his neck craned to see in the back of the shop.
“Don’t get me started on her. Hold onto this for a second.” I gave him the flashlight back.
I’d forgotten about the boxes I needed to get out of the way before any customers came in.
was going to have to wait some more. I stacked a couple of the boxes on top of each other.
“I really need to talk to her.” He put the flashlight on one of the bead tables. “Let me help you with those.”
“No. I’ve got it.” There was no way I was going to let him see the messy storage room. “What do you want to talk to her about?”