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If Cooks Could KillAn Angie Amalfi Mystery
By Joanne Pence
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Joanne Pence
All right reserved.
Connie Rogers glanced down at herself to make sure her brand new black lace Wonderbra was still doing its job and her boobs hadn't sagged as low as her spirits. She'd fixed herself up pretty hot for tonight's date in a leopard-print Lycra top with plunging V-neckline, short black polyester skirt, black diamond-patterned nylons, and sky-high patent leather heels, size 7 narrow. She normally wore a medium, but the narrow looked a lot better, and it fit. Almost. Not to mention that she'd risked razor burn by shaving her legs and underarms even though she'd last done them just three days earlier. Okay, so maybe that was overkill, but a girl could hope, couldn't she?
She sat alone at a window table in the Wings of an Angel restaurant. Her feet ached and her skirt seams screamed. She wriggled in the chair trying to stop the waistband from digging in quite so tight. She'd worn it to make sure her date liked what he saw. If he ever showed, that is.
If her willpower alone could have caused him to enter the restaurant, he'd have bounded in doing handsprings. She'd already smoothed the white linen tablecloth, straightened the silverware, and twirled the single rose in the milk glass vase so many times half the petals had fallen off. The oversized gold-plated Anne Klein watch she'd splurged on at Costco showed 7:20 p.m. Not only was her date twenty minutes late, but since she'd arrived ten minutes early, if she were a thumb-twiddler, she'd have nothing left but stumps.
It wasn't as if she'd twisted his arm to go out with her. In fact, she'd never even talked to him, but she was a victim here. A victim of a blind date who'd stiffed her. What was with that?
Earl White, one of the three owners of the Wings of an Angel and the one who acted as both maître d' and all around waiter of the small restaurant, caught her eye. He was short and barrel-shaped, with hair resembling a shellacked brown helmet atop a face crisscrossed with wrinkles. He, too, glanced at his watch, then back at her with a shrug.
Being stood up was bad enough; the last thing she needed was an audience. She bet Earl had never been stood up. He was in his sixties, and not only single, but still bringing in a paycheck instead of living off Social Security, which made him one of the most sought after men at the North Beach Senior Center. She once heard there was a knock-down-drag-out over him between Gina DiGrazia and Beatrice Pikulski. Plus, he was straight, which in San Francisco, was not to be assumed.
Connie's best friend, Angie Amalfi, had helped Earl and his partners, Butch Pagozzi and Vinnie Freiman, build Wings of an Angel into a pleasant, albeit small, restaurant, and they'd grown close in the process. As a result, whenever Connie showed up, she, too, was treated like family. Maybe that was why Earl had taken such an interest in her plight a couple days ago.
She'd been talking with him about getting herself a dog. A little dog, nothing big or troublesome, but just something warm and alive to greet her when she went home after work. Something that needed her, that would love her unfailingly, through good times and bad.
Okay, so she had a goldfish. It was alive; it needed her, but it wasn't anything she could give a big hug to. Talking to it, watching its flat eyes and lack of reaction as it went around in circles no matter how heartfelt her story was, was an exercise in futility.
Earl had suddenly -- rather rudely, truth be told-- asked how her love life was going. She asked if zip, zero, nada was a clear enough answer. Before she knew it, he'd talked to his partner, Butch, who was also the restaurant's cook. Butch had called a nephew--apparently the only one in the family who'd made a name for himself--and arranged tonight's turkey of a blind date.
Excerpted from If Cooks Could Kill by Joanne Pence Copyright © 2005 by Joanne Pence. Excerpted by permission.
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