Dial M for Mischief
  • Dial M for Mischief
  • Dial M for Mischief

Dial M for Mischief

4.8 8
by Kasey Michaels

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Meet the Sunshine girls—three mischievous sisters out to clear their father's name…and maybe get a little romance on the side.

Hollywood darling Jolie Sunshine is accustomed to trashy headlines. But the shocking gossip surrounding her father's sudden demise has sent her over the edge…right into the arms of millionaire Sam Becket.


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Meet the Sunshine girls—three mischievous sisters out to clear their father's name…and maybe get a little romance on the side.

Hollywood darling Jolie Sunshine is accustomed to trashy headlines. But the shocking gossip surrounding her father's sudden demise has sent her over the edge…right into the arms of millionaire Sam Becket.

Jolie and Sam once shared much more than a bed, till fame ended their escalating relationship. Now that very limelight is bringing them back together. With a murder to solve and a white-hot passion to quench, they're really about to give the paparazzi a field day.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this invigorating contemporary twist to Michaels's Beckets of Romney Marsh series (Becket's Last Stand , etc.), three successful sisters are determined to prove their father's innocent of the murder of a politician's wife and of his own "suicide." As the three-PI Jade, movie star Jolie and TV journalist Jessica-gather in Philadelphia to mourn their father, ex-cop-turned PI Teddy Sunshine, Jolie is relieved when her ex-fiancé, the dashing Sam Becket, rescues her from an annoying photographer who is nosing around the late suspect's family. After the Sunshine home office is torched while Jade's inside, the three use Sam's estate as a refuge and home base. Sam's cousin (and Jade's ex-husband) Court Becket flies to her side to help as they track down leads that at first look cold. Old passions reignite, and, for Jessica, a new one begins. As for what happened to the cursed Empress, an uncut emerald lost for centuries? Stay tuned. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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The sky was unusually bright the day his daughters buried Teddy Sunshine, the sun a big yellow ball chasing away all the early-morning clouds, if not the chill temperatures.

Jolie Sunshine, when she noticed the sun, wondered whether her father had ordered it up or if it was some sort of sick joke dealt them by fate.

In contrast to the brightness of the day, the small crowd around the grave site resembled nothing more than exotic black crows beneath the blue canvas canopy with Fulton Funeral Home stamped on the overhang. The only other colors were those of their pale faces and the blanket of bright red roses draping the bronze casket.

When I kick off, I want to go out like a Kentucky Derby winner—draped with roses. Big red ones. Don't you forget!

"We remembered, Teddy," Jolie whispered under her breath, earning her quick, inquisitive looks from her sisters, which she ignored.

Roses they could do. What his daughters couldn't do was to have their father buried with a full police funeral. Murderers didn't get that kind of honor.

Jolie swayed slightly between her sisters as the priest read a final prayer. The three held hands as they stood in their birth order: Jade to Jolie's right, Jessica, the baby, to her left. Teddy's Irish setter, Rockne, reclined stretched out at their feet, wearing his Notre Dame Fightin' Irish kerchief around his neck.

They were quite the dazzling trio, Teddy Sunshine's girls; Teddy's Angels, he'd only half-jokingly called them, harking back to the days of that old television show, Charlie's Angels, which Teddy said the movie couldn't really hold a candle to for sheer enjoyment.

Jade could almost be typecast in the role Kate Jackson had played in the mid-seventies. Beautiful, refined and all business.

Jessica could be a fresher, more lush and wholesome Farrah Fawcett, with brains as well as looks. Although, as Jessica had pointed out more than once, her teeth weren't as big.

But Jolie? Jolie didn't fit Jaclyn Smith's role, the one heavy on brains and beauty but also on sex appeal. Jolie was brunette; she was always told she was photogenic, but she had also spent most of her life believing herself to be too tall, too thin, too angular. Her mouth was too wide, her lips too full, her hair too straight, her hands and feet too long.

Hell, she'd spent most of her teenage years carrying the nickname Jolly Green Jolie.

Whenever she stood between her sisters, taller than either Jade or Jessica, she felt plain beside Jessica's almost too-perfect beauty and stupid when compared to Jade's quick, incisive brain—a living, breathing example of middle-child syndrome.

It was only when she was in front of the cameras that Jolie didn't feel awkward, inept, a giraffe in a field full of graceful gazelles. When the lights came on, all her self-doubt disappeared and she could be anyone she dreamed she could be.

How she longed to be somebody else today, rather than a grieving daughter. How she longed to talk to Teddy Sunshine just one more time, watch as his big Irish smile lit up a room brighter than any Hollywood klieg lights and made her feel so very special, so very loved.

Most of all, she wanted to hear his laugh, a laugh that could fill her world.

But now—in the shade beneath the blue canvas tarp, except for the droning voice of Father Sheehan and the sobbing of two maiden aunts from Buffalo Jolie would have been hard-pressed to name correctly—silence, cold and uncomfortable, was all around them.

There should be a Philadelphia Police Department honor guard in attendance, at the very least. Taps played. A salute fired. A flag ceremoniously folded and presented to Jade, as the oldest.

But the Sunshine daughters had to make do with a priest who had never known Teddy, filling in for Father Muskie, who was on his annual vacation in the Canadian north woods and out of touch, unknowing that his good friend and gin rummy partner had died in disgrace.

What the Sunshine funeral did have was press. Lots of it. Print and television news, along with about two dozen dredges of the tabloid-journalism pool, paparazzi hoping for a few good photographs, and some Mary Hart look-alike from one of the evening celebrity-magazine shows.

The local reporters had shown up to put a fairly boring cap on the Teddy Sunshine story: the ex-cop turned P.I. who'd eaten his gun after squeezing the life out of mayoral candidate Joshua Brainard's beautiful wife.

The rest were here for Jolie Sunshine, movie star—and may they all go straight to hell.

Rockne slowly clambered to his feet as the priest walked past, shaking hands with all three Sunshine daughters, and then collapsed onto his belly once more, raising his sad brown eyes to Jolie. He hadn't eaten anything for the past two days, even when she had gotten down on the floor early this morning and gone face-to-face with him, one of his favorite treats clamped between her teeth as she'd mumbled, "Yum-yums. 'Ook, 'Ock-nee, yum-yums."

Now there was a picture for the tabloids: Movie Star Fights Pooch for Doggy Treat, Fears Rise Over Mental Collapse of Fan-Fave Sunshine.

Like she'd give them the satisfaction. She'd get through this. They'd all get through this.

"Okay, it's over, Jolie. Time to say our last goodbyes," her sister Jade told her quietly.

Jolie felt her knees threaten to buckle once more but steeled herself to remain upright. When they left the grave site, the workmen standing under those trees over there would come back, lower Teddy into the ground, locking away all the real sunshine in her life forever. She wasn't ready for that. "No, not yet. Please, not yet."

Jade sighed, squeezed Jolie's hand. Jade, the oldest and, even now, in the midst of their nightmare, the practical one. The one who had stayed with Teddy, worked with Teddy in the Sunshine Detective Agency. The one who had come home to discover Teddy's body and then called her sisters, broken the news to them without tears, without hysterics. Just, "Daddy's dead—I need you here. Now."

"Honey, we have to face the cameras. One last time, and then we can go home, begin to figure this thing out. Okay?"

"Come on, Jolie, Jade's right," her sister Jessica urged. "We'll face them together. Just ignore the slimy bastards, say 'No comment' if you say anything at all as we keep moving toward the limo. You know the drill."

Jolie looked wryly at her sister, the blond bomb-shell who was currently on sabbatical from her own job as an on-air investigative reporter. "Slimy bastards, Jess? Aren't they your comrades-in-arms?"

Jessica rolled her huge sherry-brown eyes even as she tossed her head, her long blond hair falling forward once more to frame her face. "Puh-leez. I'm the real deal. What's waiting on the other side of the road are the dregs of humanity. Entertainment reporters? Bottom-feeding, scum-sucking dirtbags, that's all they are. But we're not going to let them get to us. Right?"

Jolie nodded. "Right. Just give me another minute. Just…just one more minute."

Jessica looked past Jolie to Jade, who only shrugged her shoulders and left the two of them standing where they were while she retrieved a trio of long-stemmed red roses the undertaker had provided. "Here, one for each of us. Jolie? Come on, honey. Follow me, do what I do."

"Yes, Mother," Jolie said, smiling for the first time in days as she took the rose. She was an actress. She would act. The grieving daughter approaching at the graveside, kissing the petals of a drooping rose and then placing it on top of the casket that was really empty, a prop, a part of the scene, that's all. She was the Mafia wife bidding farewell to her mobster husband, gunned down as he ate his favorite pasta in his favorite mobster restaurant. The sweetheart of a fallen World War I soldier who'd perished somewhere in France. The sister of a frontier sheriff ambushed on the streets of Laredo.

Her hand barely shook as she gently laid the bloom on top of the blanket of roses. She was acting. It was all a sham. This wasn't real. Teddy wasn't dead. Her daddy wasn't—

"Oh, God, I'm sorry I'm being such a jerk. Let's just get out of here before I lose it," Jolie whispered as she stepped back from the casket and bent down to grab Rockne's leash. She pushed past Jade, who had been stopped by one of the anonymous, interchangeable aunts.

"What's the rush? Oh, you want to leave now, Jolie? What a fantastic idea," Jessica muttered, following after her. "Jade and I would never have thought of that on our own—you long-legged dork-stork."

"Stuff it, Barbie doll—if you don't already—and go rescue Einstein from the aunts, will you? I'll go ahead to the limo, keep the cameras off you guys if I can." Jolie squared her shoulders. They were the Sunshine girls. They'd hung in this long and they were going to get through this!

None of them had cried throughout the funeral mass or the short ceremony at the grave site; they wouldn't give anyone that satisfaction. All Jolie wanted now—all she was sure the three of them wanted now—was to get this done, get this over and go back to the house Jade had shared with their father.

The house where he had sat in his study, surrounded by a lifetime of achievements nailed to the walls, and used his service revolver to blow his brains all over those signed photographs and commendations.

Jolie looked across the cemetery with its flat bronze plaques fairly hidden in the well-manicured grass, giving the area the appearance of a wide, green park. Pretty, even peaceful, if not for the crowd being held behind rope barricades on the far side of the macadam roadway that wound through the center of the cemetery.

As she and Rockne moved toward the limousine, eager arms were raised and she could hear the whir and snap of two dozen cameras, had to blink at the sharp shafts of sunlight reflected from many of the telephoto lenses pointed in her direction.

Her mouth went dry. Her heart pounded with pain and anger. She wanted to run, longed to run. Felt her hands bunching into fists at her sides because she wanted to hit someone, shake someone, demand to know if they really believed the "public's right to know" extended to being voyeurs at a funeral.

But she knew she had to keep walking slowly, at an unhurried pace, her head held high, her face shielded somewhat by the large, round sunglasses.

Jolie swore she could hear her father's big, encouraging voice whispering in her ear.

That's the way. One foot in front of the other, Jolie, baby, and soon you'll be walkin' right out that door….

She was almost there, almost at the limo. She had to hang on just another minute, and they would be out of this madness.

There were a half dozen rent-a-cops on the scene for crowd control, and yet someone wasn't on the job. One of the paparazzi slipped through the line to do an end-run around the hearse and toward Jolie, snapping his camera as he approached.

"Jolie! Look here! Look over here! Toss the glasses, babe! Let's see those big baby blues! Come on, honey, you owe your fans something, right?"

Steady, girl. One foot in front of the other…

The rent-a-cops stood back as the photographer edged closer. He dropped to one knee to get a good shot, the telephoto lens still in place. Jolie madly wondered if her fans really needed a close-up of the hairs in her nose.

"Hey, Jolie! What's it feel like knowing your daddy was a murderer? Gotta be tough, right?"

Something inside her snapped, actually went br-oi-i-n-g. She took a step toward the photographer.

"That's it, Jolie—nearly perfect. Now ditch the glasses."

"Don't do it, Jolie," Jessica called out, jogging toward her as quickly as she could in four-inch heels. "Don't react. Just let it go."

"The hell with that. Come on, Jolie. Look this way. You smile for us when you want us around. Smile for us now!"

Aw, the bloody blue devil with it, sweetheart—go give him a good conk!

Jolie would probably never remember how she got from point A to point B, but she was suddenly there, looking down on the son of a bitch who was still shooting frame after frame up into her face. She'd rather not remember grabbing the camera from him even as she kicked front with one foot, connected with his chest and sent him sprawling on his back on top of Bertha M. Pierce, 1917- 2003, beloved wife of Henry.

Yanking open the back of the camera, Jolie ripped out the film, exposing it to the sun, and then pulled back her arm, ready to throw the camera in the photographer's face. She knew the other photographers and video cameramen were having a field day from their vantage point across the road, but she didn't care. She'd needed a target for all her anger, her grief, her frustration, and this bozo had volunteered for the job.

And then she heard the scream.

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