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Chick Lit
Last of the Big Time Spenders
by Cindy Davis

The entire Moore clan is celebrating Thanksgiving at Old Man Thompson’s barn. Though Joy’s not blood-related, they insist she be a part, which makes sense since, months ago, she uncovered the murderer of patriarch Merrick Moore. The walls vibrate with the beat from the popular band Loco-Motion. Suddenly, the lead singer lights up like a roman candle on New Years Eve. Nona Williamson has been electrocuted and things are looking bad for the family. After all, except for Joy and the band members, the only attendees are blood-related. This puts a huge kink in the investigation. "Sounds interesting!"

Chapter 1
Only the Good Die Young

Chapter One

It’s nearly midnight. The Thanksgiving celebration has been rocking for hours. The turkey carcass sits like a vociferous wart amid the near-empty bowls of veggies and stuffing on the long row of buffet tables in Old Man Thompson’s barn. Every member of the Moore family is in attendance. I know. I hear you asking what I’m doing here as I’m not related to anyone in Uncertain, Florida let alone the Moore clan. The answer is that they wouldn’t take no for an an...

Chapter 2
Say Goodbye to Hollywood

Chapter Two

Say Goodbye to Hollywood

Saturday night

We—Anna, Diablo, and I—stand guard, keeping people from swarming too close to the scene until the police and paramedics arrive. Not that there’s any need for medics. It’s obvious Nona is dead. And, if not for the wire cutters Diablo found, I’d wonder if this was just a horrible accident. But no, I’m certain someone wanted Nona Williamson dead. Therefore, this is a crime scene and needs to be protecte...

Chapter 3
Keeping the Faith

Chapter Three

I’m up with just enough time for coffee before leaving for the police station. I’m starving but will be seeing Jakob in a while, so I sit at the teeny table watching the rain dribble down the windows, drinking fresh-brewed coffee and nibbling on a leftover slice of pizza. Christine supplied all sorts of food and drink for me while I houseboat-sit. The coffee was roasted here in town and it’s fantastic. 

The rain is still making a decisive rat-a-tat-tat on ...

Chapter 4
You May be Right

Chapter Four

Just then, I spot Jakob out on the street, heading in our direction. Suddenly I can’t help myself. I say, “Cheese it, the cops,” which breaks Anna into hysterics.

Isaac appears, damp rag in hand. He wipes down Fergus’ table. “What’s so funny over here, ladies?”

“Nothing. Just blowing off steam. This whole thing with Nona…”

Jakob steps into the building shaking water from his cap. He’s already zoned in on ou...

Chapter 5

Chapter Five

“Joy, would you do me a favor?” Amanda calls from up front where she’s checking out a customer. “Would you get me a roll of register tape?”

“Sure.” I bound off the stool and hurry to the back. My old room. The space Michael offered me the day I arrived in town. Pretty sure he felt sorry for me. The rumor that chased around for a long time—well, it still does—is that I was homeless. As Anna said already, I did nothing to dismis...

Chapter 6

Chapter Six

“Did you know Eddie and Nona were dating?” I pull up my hood as Whitney and I scurry between the raindrops. To the rhythm of my footsteps, lyrics play. Don’t say a word. Nobody noticed. Nothing was heard. It was committed discreetly. It was handled so neatly. 

Obviously this relates to Eddie and Nona, their relationship not being in the public domain. Eddie and I talk frequently, often over coffee or a snack at the store. We ...

Chapter 7
The Night is Still Young

Chapter Seven

Diablo issues his most raucous squawk, which makes both officers leap back. Believe me, I’ve been on the receiving end of that sound, and it does make you sit up and pay attention.

Jakob, unfazed by the commotion, slides the zipper across and seals in the evidence. Done with his mission, Diablo flies toward the door. I walk over and hold it open so he can leave.

“Wait, the bird can’t go,” says one of the officers.

“Why?” Whitney as...

Chapter 8
I Don't Want to be Alone

Chapter Eight

Not many details to go on, right?

The person's build is similar to both Philip's and Hank's, but I don’t recall either of them wearing a cap. Means nothing. He could’ve put it on in the car. 

I grab the pizza box and napkins and go inside before whoever it is sees me. I’m literally a target out here. I want to look out the bedroom window where I can’t be seen. I lock the door and get into place between the bed and the wall. This window overlook...

Chapter 9
Shades of Grey

Chapter Nine

Monday mid-morning

Amanda looks up as I enter from the back hallway. “When did you come in?” she asks with a welcoming grin. At that moment, a customer carrying a shopping basket steps up to the register and I’m saved from answering. Three customers enter, holding the door for the one who’s exiting. 

I keep walking. “I’ll stop in to see you later.”

Amanda wiggles three fingers at me, shouting, “Mom called. She wants...

Chapter 10
A Matter of Trust

Chapter Ten

Monday late afternoon

“Wowser.” This comes from Anna the same time I say, “Jeez-looweez.”

Anna already had her phone in her hand. I tapped her arm to stop her from dialing. 

“I think we should wait to call the police. There might be something else to find.” 

“Good idea.” 

We leave the evidence on the table and go back to work. Finding nothing else in the kitchen, we next tackle the dining an...

Chapter 11
Blonde Over Blue

Chapter Eleven

Monday night

I eat two more slices sitting on the deck of my temporary home, cool air blowing off the bay and drying the sweat on the back of my neck. I lounge with my head back on the cushion as the sun melts behind the trees, the orange-yellow ball dissolving into the wispy palm fronds. Shadows slink across the deck like creatures of the night. 

Diablo stands on the corner of the table working on a piece of crust. I carry on a conversation with him as though he is ...

Chapter 12
Don't Ask Me Why

Chapter Twelve

Tuesday lunch

The trio of bells announces my arrival in the general store. Amanda isn’t here. She’s taken the day off. The new person is bustling about down one of the aisles. He calls, “I’ll be right there.”

The voice is familiar but all I can see of this man is the top of his red head. Red? That rings a bell. I tiptoe around the end-cap and peer at the new employee, who glances up with a smile. Leif Kennedy, the bartender from O’Marra...

Chapter 13
The Entertainer

Chapter Thirteen

Tuesday afternoon 

Hank is shouting that he can’t swim. Unfortunately, I can’t help him; one, because I’m at least twenty feet upstream. Two, I landed underwater and swallowed a gallon of the stuff. Choking and gagging, I finally get the spasms under control. Hank is floundering up ahead. I dig in and stroke toward him, but it seems like he’s moving further away by the moment. 

Then something lucky happens. Well, I feel it’s lucky...

Chapter 14
River of Dreams

Chapter Fourteen

Tuesday late afternoon

Philip Newsome lives in a small ranch house on the way back toward town just off Route 70. Air conditioners hang like warts out of almost every window. A newer brown Camry is parked in the yard. Could this be the car from my place the other night? For the life of me, I cannot remember what they were driving, or what the return vehicle looked like. 

I wonder if Hank warned Philip we were coming. If so, will he pretend not to be home? The answe...

Chapter 15
Running on Ice

Chapter Fifteen

Tuesday late

Jakob drives me back to the marina. On the way, I tell him about the visit I had from Hank and Philip, but he already knows.

“How?” I ask.

“I hear things.” He stops in the parking lot.

“Nope. Not accepting that as an answer.”

He gets out and comes around to open my door. What’s up with that? He never opens a car door for me. I unbuckle and step out. The air is warm and sticky. Somehow it makes t...

Chapter 16
You're Only Human

Chapter Sixteen

Wednesday mid-morning

On the way to the park, we duck under low hanging branches still dripping with morning moisture. I discovered this trail the second day I was in town. I use it frequently and it seems like I’m about the only one. I suspect it’s otherwise only used by wild critters intending to raid the dumpster behind Christine’s pizza.

After a short walk, most of it bent in half, we emerge near the children’s playground. It’s deserted ...

Chapter 17
C'etait Toi

Chapter Seventeen

Wednesday afternoon

I spread my arms and dip my head, and soar through the sky like Harry Potter playing quidditch. I tilt left to dodge a dragon shooting rancid breath in my face, but the creature is hot on my heels. I zip the other direction to avoid it and fly into the flailing arms of a giant squid. I strike a direct hit with my bludger but even so, its multiple arms slap my cheeks like whips.


I circle up and again to the left, but it sta...

Chapter 18
Tomorrow is Today

Chapter Eighteen

Friday very early

It’s dark when I awake. I wiggle all my joints and find that nothing hurts too bad. Okay, that’s a lie. Everything hurts. A lot.

Someone is snoring in the living room. It doesn’t sound like what came out of Eddie at the hospital so maybe there was a change of the guard last evening. I don’t want to know. Trouble is, being in such close quarters, it’ll be hard to make coffee with out waking whoever it is.

I wish I cou...

Chapter 19
Storm Front

Chapter Nineteen

I slip gingerly into the passenger seat in Anna’s car. 

“Hey, girl,” comes Whitney’s voice from the backseat. “Have any trouble getting out?”

“It was kind of hairy for a minute. I dropped something in the bathroom and Jakob’s snoring stopped. I froze in place, trying to blend in with the shadows.”

Anna gets the car moving.

“Hey, I haven’t seen you. How did the date with Philip go the othe...

Chapter 20
Code of Silence

Chapter Twenty

Jakob’s anger fills the car. It’s so thick I can barely breathe. Oh wait, that’s my ribs hurting like there’s no tomorrow. And when Eddie finds out about us being at Nona’s, there might not be any more sunrises. To keep the pain at bay, I concentrate on regular breathing. In out. In out. The sun isn’t up yet, but its light gives off a sour hue that exactly matches Jakob’s mood. I understand what’s going through his mind, but I am not a ...

Chapter 21
Ain't No Crime

Chapter Twenty-one

“Ho-lee she-it,” Anna says. “This is…”

She’s at a loss for an adjective. None of us supply one; we’re in shock. 

I shake off the woozies emitted into my brain by the cash. “Okay, now there’s no doubt Nona’s been blackmailing people. Trouble is, there’s no indication where this particular cash came from because apparently, whatever information she gathered on that person, she turned over to them when th...

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