Knot Guilty: A Crochet Mystery

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Overview


Molly Pink and her pals, the Tarzana Hookers, are ready to bring the craft of crochet to the masses. But when one of their members finds herself the prime suspect in a murder, the Hookers are going to have to switch their focus to fighting her bad rap…

Molly and her friends can’t wait to get more people hooked on crochet at the annual SoCal Knit Style Show, where Shedd & Royal has been granted a vendor booth. In the past, the show has always been about knitting, and this is...

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Knot Guilty: A Crochet Mystery

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Overview


Molly Pink and her pals, the Tarzana Hookers, are ready to bring the craft of crochet to the masses. But when one of their members finds herself the prime suspect in a murder, the Hookers are going to have to switch their focus to fighting her bad rap…

Molly and her friends can’t wait to get more people hooked on crochet at the annual SoCal Knit Style Show, where Shedd & Royal has been granted a vendor booth. In the past, the show has always been about knitting, and this is the first year there’ll be crochet classes and a crochet competition.

The show’s organizer is K. D. Kirby, publisher of several knitting magazines and owner of a yarn store that caters to an elite Beverly Hills crowd. Everyone is shocked when K.D. doesn’t show up for the opening reception, but that’s nothing compared to how they feel when she’s finally found—dead in her hotel suite.

Suspicion immediately falls on Adele, one of the Tarzana Hookers, who locked horns with K.D., and whose handmade crochet hook is found at the murder scene. Certain that Adele’s been framed, Molly starts her own investigation, hoping to get their pal off the hook and find a killer before another guest checks out…

DELICIOUS RECIPES & CROCHET PATTERNS INCLUDED!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/29/2014
Hechtman’s solid ninth crochet mystery (after 2013’s Better or Worsted) finds Molly Pink and the Tarzana Hookers tangled in a crisis at the SoCal Knit Style Show, where for the first time the Shedd & Royal store is invited to exhibit. Adding crochet to the popular annual knitting show increases tension between crocheters and knitters until the simmering anger leads to the murder of the show’s organizer. Molly’s ex-boyfriend, homicide detective Barry Greenberg, presses her to keep out of the ensuing investigation, but when suspicions falls on one of her hookers, Adele Abrams, she feels she must clear Adele and uphold the hookers’ reputation. Meanwhile, Molly’s list of potential suspects expands until no one feels safe and there may not be a next year for the crochet contingent. Crochet fans will love the patterns in the back, and others will enjoy unraveling the knots leading to the killer. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary Agency. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE NATIONAL BESTSELLING CROCHET MYSTERIES

“A delightful addition to the mystery genre.”—Earlene Fowler, national bestselling author of The Road to Cardinal Valley

“Who can resist a sleuth named Pink, a slew of interesting minor characters and a fun fringe-of-Hollywood setting?”—Monica Ferris, USA Today bestselling author of The Drowning Spool

“Hechtman brings a new and entertaining twist to each story.”—Reader to Reader

“A cozy mystery that you won’t want to put down. It combines cooking, knitting, and murder in one great book!”—Fresh Fiction

“A real page-turner.”—MyShelf.com

“What fun—crochet and mystery.”—Vanna White, cohost of Wheel of Fortune

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425252970
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/4/2014
  • Series: Crochet Mystery Series, #9
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 79,360
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Betty Hechtman has a degree in fine arts and since college has studied everything from tap dancing to magic. When she isn’t writing, reading or crocheting, she’s probably at the gym. She lives in Southern California.
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Read an Excerpt

Acknowledgments

You know that saying about being careful what you wish for? My name is Molly Pink, and I can tell you it’s one hundred percent true. Ever since my husband, Charlie, died, I’ve been saying that I want to try flying solo. To live without having to answer to anyone. You know, I could wear sweatpants with a hole in them and eat ice cream for dinner. I’d be the captain of my own ship.

I thought I was headed right to that lifestyle. I’d gotten past my grief and had started a new chapter in my life by getting the job at Shedd & Royal Books and More as the event coordinator/community relations person. But then I met Barry Greenberg and we had a relationship. Okay, maybe he was my boyfriend. It’s hard for me to say that word, even in my mind. It just sounds so ridiculous since Barry is a homicide detective in his fifties.

You might notice I said had a relationship. Really it was off and on again and off again and on again. You get the picture. But now it was finally off forever.

Let me offer a little catch-up on that. During all the off and on again of our relationship, there had been the complication of my friendship with Mason Fields. Mason had always wanted it to be something more, but I had wanted it to stay the same.

Then, when Barry and I had yet another hiccup, we decided we would be better off as friends. Barry had seemed to accept it, but then he showed up and said he was walking away from the whole situation. He said the friendship thing was all a sham and I was the only one who didn’t know it. Then he suggested I go out with Mason because I deserved better than what he, Barry, could offer.

It reminded me of the whole King Solomon story when two women were fighting over a baby and the king offered to cut it in half. One of the women stepped forward, relinquishing her claim rather than seeing the baby injured. The king knew that meant she loved the baby more and gave it to her. So, it seemed Barry was saying he cared more because he was so concerned with my happiness. But that didn’t mean I was ready to resume our relationship.

I had never told Mason about Barry’s gallant act. Actually, I had barely talked to Mason after that. It was all on my part and I’m not even sure why. He left messages and I didn’t return them. Then the holidays hit and I got lost in work. Mason stopped trying to contact me. I can only imagine what he thought. In the end, I had let my social life go dark.

Assorted people had been staying with me for various reasons, but that had all ended as well.

The final step came when my son Samuel moved out—well, in—with his girlfriend. Though he didn’t take his cats.

And suddenly there I was alone. At least almost alone. I had the two cats and two dogs: my terrier mix, Blondie, and Cosmo, a little black dog that was supposed to be Barry and his son’s dog, but that’s another story. So here at last was my chance to soar on my own wings. Do whatever I wanted. Answer to no one.

At first I was so busy with the holidays and everything at the bookstore, I didn’t think much about being on my own. But it was January now, and as I once again looked around my cavernous living room, it all began to get to me. I made a tour of the three bedrooms on the other side of the house from mine. Only the one I used to keep all my yarn and crochet stuff in showed any signs of life. The other two were uncomfortably neat. My footsteps echoed as I walked into the kitchen. It was just as I’d left it when I went to bed. Just like yesterday and a lot of yesterdays before, there were no dishes in the sink, no ravaged refrigerator. No one had come knocking at my door in the middle of the night looking for comfort after a bad night with suspects. No one had called and suggested a fun outing. All the peace started to overwhelm me.

I made coffee for myself quickly. Did I want to sit around and revel in all this quiet and independence? No. I couldn’t wait to get to work and the problems, the confusion, and most of all the people. I’d heard the statement that silence is deafening, and now I understood it. I needed some noise. I needed some upheaval in my life. Yes, I had learned my lesson about being careful what I wished for. I’d gotten it in spades and absolutely hated it. I knew what I had to do to stir up the pot of my life.

I didn’t even drink the coffee in my kitchen. I filled a commuter cup and made sure the dry cat food bowl was full and located where the dogs couldn’t help themselves. And I left.

It took a bit of doing to zip up my jacket while holding the coffee mug as I crossed the backyard. Even here in Southern California, January days are short and chilly. I probably seemed like a wimp for bringing it up when it was icy and snowy back east, but the dew had frozen on the grass.

The sun had already melted the thin layer of frost on the greenmobile, as I called my vintage blue green Mercedes. Vintage sounded so much better than old. I ran the windshield wipers for a moment, and they got rid of the residue of moisture. One negative about my car: no cup holder, which meant I had to hold the commuter mug between my legs. I looked down at my usual khaki slacks and hoped I’d make it to work without any coffee stains.

A few minutes later, I pulled the car into the parking lot behind Shedd & Royal Books and More. Once I was inside, I inhaled deeply, noting the familiar fragrance of the paper in thousands of books, mixed with freshly brewed coffee coming in from the café, and nodded a greeting at Rayaad, our chief cashier.

The last of the holiday merchandise was gathered on a front table with a sale sign. Even after all these years it still seemed odd how the same merchandise looked so exciting before the holiday and irrelevant after. I mean, a chocolate Santa was still, at the heart, chocolate.

Any day we’d start putting up Valentine’s Day decorations and sell the same type of chocolate the Santa was made out of shaped like hearts wrapped in red foil.

As I made my way through the store, I saw the playwrights’ group gathered in a tight circle around their facilitator. The yarn department was in the back corner of the store, and along with handling events and community relations, it was my baby. I always liked walking in and seeing the feast of color from the cubbies of yarn. Ever since we’d put up a permanent worktable in the middle of the area, it was never empty.

I recognized a few faces of my fellow Hookers. That’s hookers as in crochet. The Tarzana Hookers had been meeting at the bookstore since even before the yarn department had been added.

We exchanged a flurry of greetings just as Dinah Lyons caught up with me. She’s my best friend, a fellow Hooker and an English instructor at the local community college. She slipped off her loden green boiled wool jacket and dropped it on a chair.

“I need to talk to you,” I said as we hugged each other. “I’ve decided to change my life.” Dinah’s eyes snapped to attention as she got ready to listen. Then my voice dropped. “It’ll have to wait.” Mrs. Shedd had just joined us. She was the “Shedd” in Shedd & Royal and my boss. This wasn’t a usual gathering of the crochet group to work on projects. This was a meeting.

“Give me an update,” Mrs. Shedd said quickly. She never seemed to change. Her blond hair didn’t have a hint of gray even though she was well into her sixties. She’d been wearing a soft pageboy style for so long, I bet her hair naturally fell into place when she washed it.

She didn’t sit and seemed a little nervous, but that seemed to be her default emotion lately. Keeping a bookstore afloat these days wasn’t easy. We were surviving, but only by broadening our horizons. Thanks to my efforts, the bookstore had become almost a community center. Besides the playwright group, I’d added other writing and book groups. We’d recently taken on hosting crochet-themed parties, which was turning into a nice success. And, of course, we had author events.

But what we were attempting this time was really a stretch and required an outlay of cash. “Tell me again why we’re doing this,” my boss said, looking for reassurance.

Adele Abrams joined us as Mrs. Shedd was speaking. Adele was still dressed in her outfit from story time. Just guessing, but I bet she’d read Good Morning, June. It was a children’s classic written in a different time when girls wore pinafores like the pink one Adele wore over a puffy-sleeved dress. She’d completed the look by forcing her brown hair into tiny little braids. Adele would have stood out even without the outfit. She was tallish and amply built, and her voice naturally went toward loud.

Before I could say anything, Adele began. “This is the chance of a lifetime. We are carrying the torch of crochet into the world of knitters.” Mrs. Shedd didn’t look impressed. Who could blame her? She wasn’t interested in us being pioneers as much as doing something that would make a profit and help the bookstore. I was relieved when CeeCee Collins slipped into the chair at the head of the table and took the floor away from Adele.

“I feel responsible for encouraging you to have the booth at the yarn show. I’m sure it’s going to be a big success,” CeeCee said to my boss.

CeeCee was the real head of our crochet group, though Adele never quite accepted it. She was also a well-known actress who, after a long history of TV and film appearances, had started a whole new chapter in her career when she began hosting a reality show. Then she nabbed the part of Ophelia in the movie based on the super-hit series of books about a vampire who crocheted. We’d been hearing there was Oscar buzz about her performance since the movie had come out, but rumor is different from fact, and the actual Oscar nominations were going to be announced in the next couple of weeks. Needless to say, CeeCee was a little edgy.

As always, CeeCee was dressed to be photographed. She said she’d seen enough celebrities snapped in jeans and T-shirts with their hair sticking up to learn her lesson. But, she claimed it was a fine art, not to look too done. Kind of like her reality show. It was supposed to look real, but a lot of editing and planning went into what the audience ended up seeing.

CeeCee noticed the two women at the other end of the table who were not part of the group. They appeared to have no idea what was going on. CeeCee, in her typical gracious manner, explained that we were talking about the bookstore’s upcoming booth at the Southern California Knit Style Show.

“This is a very big deal because it’s the first year they’re including crochet in the show. Before, everything was just about knitting. You know, knitting classes, fashion shows of knitted garments, design competitions for knitted pieces. There probably wasn’t even a lonely crochet hook for sale in any of the vendors’ booths in the marketplace.”

CeeCee made a slight bow with her head. “I’d like to think I had something to do with K.D.’s change of heart.” She explained to the women that K.D. Kirby put on the show along with being the publisher of a number of knitting magazines. “I was the only crocheter included in an article in Knit Style magazine about celebrity yarn crafters. I think hearing about how popular the craft is and seeing what wonderful things you can make made her realize what a mistake it was not to bring crochet into the show.”

The women nodded their heads in unison to show they were listening, though I noticed knitting needles sticking out of their tote bags. “So, this year there is going to be a crochet category in the design competition with yours truly as the judge.” CeeCee did another little nodding bow before adding that she was also going to be acting as the celebrity face of the show.

One of the women finally spoke. “So you mean you can do more with crochet than just make edging on something or use up scraps of yarn to make one of those afghans full of squares?”

Adele was squirming in her seat at their words. All of the Hookers thought that crochet was the more interesting yarn craft, but Adele took it even further. She thought crochet was superior to knitting, and she wasn’t afraid to say it.

CeeCee put her hand on Adele’s shoulder. It looked like it was just for reassurance, but I knew it was to hold her in her seat. “Why yes, crochet has become quite a fashion statement. Designers have taken intricate lace patterns that had been used to make doilies and are blowing them out into shrugs.” CeeCee had taken her hand off Adele’s shoulder, and my bookstore coworker took the opportunity to pop out of her chair and start talking.

“I’m going to be teaching one of the crochet classes,” Adele said, doing an imitation of CeeCee’s bow. “A stash buster wrap.” The women didn’t seem to know what to make of Adele’s statement and looked back to CeeCee for some kind of reassurance.

CeeCee dropped her voice and spoke directly to Adele. “We need to talk about that.”

Since the booth was sort of my baby, I jumped in and told Mrs. Shedd how we’d come up with a plan to bring shoppers to our booth. “We’re going to teach people how to make a little granny square pin with some beads for decoration.” I was glad I had brought a sample and showed it to my boss and the women.

“That’s wonderful,” one of them said. “I bet a lot of people will want to make one of those.”

It was like music to Mrs. Shedd’s ears, and she looked a little less tense. “Bob wants to have us offer some of his treats,” I added. Bob was the barista at the bookstore café. He also made fresh baked goods. “The wonderful smell alone would act like a magnet.”

Mr. Royal arrived carrying a piece of poster board with a miniature version of the booth he’d constructed. He laid it on the table in front of us all, as more of our group arrived. We all leaned over and admired it. The two newcomers got up and walked to the head of the table to get a better view.

“It’s wonderful,” I said. It looked like a little store. There was even a sign across the front announcing the name of the bookstore in big letters. “There’s just one thing missing,” Adele said as she scribbled something on a piece of paper and tore off a strip. She attached it to the bookstore sign. It said: “Crochet Spoken Here.”

Mrs. Shedd seemed a little less worried when she saw the name of the bookstore prominently displayed. “A lot of the people coming to this show are local. We want to make them aware of us. Perhaps you can add something that mentions all the groups we have meeting here.”

I reassured Mrs. Shedd that with the Hookers helping we’d make sure the bookstore was well presented.

“I’m depending on you two,” Mrs. Shedd said, referring to me and Adele, but looking squarely at me. We were the bookstore employees, and no matter what help the others offered, the buck stopped with us, or actually, me.

I’d been hired as the event coordinator and community relations person, and Adele had been given the kids’ department as sort of a consolation prize, since she thought my job should have been hers. But somehow with one thing and another we’d ended up working as a team, putting on the crochet parties and now this booth. Adele balked at being left out of running the yarn department, but she’d cooked her own goose with her strong feelings about knitters. She didn’t even think we should have knitted swatches of the yarn we sold.

Yes, I knew how to knit. The basics, anyway. All those knitted swatches had been done by me. There was no way we could have a yarn department and shut out knitters, even if some yarn stores weren’t so happy with crocheters.

“No problem,” I said with a smile. “We’ve got it covered.” Mrs. Shedd muttered something about hoping so, because if this booth turned out to be a disaster she wasn’t sure what she would do. Then my boss left the area, saying there were things she had to take care of.

“I didn’t get a chance to tell her about the kits I’m going to sell,” Elise Belmont said. She’d extracted one from her bag and put it on the table. “If Mrs. Shedd had seen these, she wouldn’t have been so worried. We’re going a sell a million of them.” Then Elise caught herself. “Or at least the whole stock. Do you want to see all the different kinds?” she asked.

Elise was a small woman with wispy brown hair. She seemed a little vague until you knew her, and then it was obvious she had a steel core even if she did look like a good gust of wind could carry her off. The group shook their heads at her offer. We didn’t need to see the kits; we knew what they were.

I sometimes wondered what Elise’s husband, Logan Belmont, must have thought about her love affair with Anthony, the crocheting vampire. She’d read all the books, had seen the movie made from the first one countless times, and had even convinced CeeCee to get the film’s star to sign a life-size cutout. What did Logan Belmont think of having a full-size figure of Hugh Jackman staring at them as they slept?

The kit on the table was the first one she’d made for her vampire scarf. It had black-and-white stripes with a red tassel, or what she called traditional vampire colors. Get it? The white was for their pale, colorless skin, the black for their clothing choice, and the red—I’m guessing you can figure that one out. Her stitch of choice was the half double crochet, which she insisted looked like a fang.

Rhoda Klein rolled her eyes. She was a matter-of-fact sort of person with short brown hair and sensible clothes who couldn’t understand an imaginary affair with a literary bloodsucker. “I think Mrs. Shedd would be more interested in the free crochet lessons we’re going to offer.”

“Did I miss something?” Eduardo Linnares said as he joined us at the table. He was holding a garment bag and laid it on the chair next to him. “I brought what you asked for,” he said. Dinah suggested he show it to us. Eduardo had been a cover model until recently. He’d been on countless covers of romance novels dressed as pirates, wealthy tycoons, cowboys and assorted other hero types. The one thing all the pictures had in common was that his shirt always seemed to be unbuttoned down the front. When he started being cast as the pirate’s father and pushed into the background on the cover, he’d decided it was time to move on, and he’d bought an upscale drugstore in Encino. We were asking him to go back to the old days for the weekend.

He opened the garment bag and laid a pair of leather pants and a billowing white shirt on the table. We figured dressed in that outfit, he’d attract a lot of people—well, women—to our booth.

“Anything to help out,” he said. Like all of the Hookers, he was grateful to the bookstore for giving us a place to meet. He’d been a lonely crocheter until he’d found us. The plan was that he would teach his specialty. It was hard to believe, with his big hands, but he was a master with a small steel hook and thread. He’d learned Irish crochet, which was really lace, from his grandmother on his mother’s side.

Sheila Altman came in at the end. When she realized she’d missed everything, her brows immediately knit together and she started to go into panic mode. Somebody yelled to get her a hook and some yarn. Sheila was actually much better at managing her anxiety than she had been, but she still had relapses, and nothing calmed her better or faster than some crocheting. Adele made a length of chain stitches before handing it to Sheila, who immediately began to make single crochets across. She didn’t even look at the stitches or care that they were uneven; the point was just to do them and take some deep breaths. After a few minutes she sank into a chair. “That’s what I’m going to teach at the booth,” she said with a relieved sigh. “How to relax.”

We talked over our plan of action for a few minutes. Who was going to be in the booth when and what they were going to be doing. Sheila put down the crochet hook and took out a zippered plastic bag with a supply of yarn in greens, blues and lavender. “I thought I could sell kits, too, if it’s all right.” She showed off one of the kits, which included directions for a scarf.

Sheila was known for making shawls, blankets and scarves using combinations of those colors. Her pieces came out looking like Impressionist paintings. I told her it was fine, and it was agreed that the kits would be sold only when the two women were there to oversee them.

With everything settled, we all started working on our projects. The two new women asked if it was okay if they stayed, and we all agreed. Adele sucked in her breath when they took out knitting needles and began to cast on stitches with the yarn they’d just bought.

“Calm down,” I said to her. “None of us like the way knitters treat us like we’re the stepsisters of yarn craft. But we’d be just as bad if we treated knitters the same way.”

Adele started to protest but finally gave in and went back to working on a scarf made out of squares with different motifs.

Dinah moved closer to me. “You said there was something you wanted to talk about?”

I was hoping for a more private situation. Not that I had secrets from the rest of the group. One of the beauties about our group was that we shared our lives with each other. Good, bad, happy and sad. Still, I wasn’t quite ready to share my decision with all of them. Not until I saw how it worked out.

Before I could say this wasn’t the best place to talk, CeeCee interrupted. “We need to talk now.” She looked around and saw that Mrs. Shedd had gotten all the way to the front of the store. CeeCee moved in closer, making it clear what she was about to say was just between us and probably some sort of problem. “When K.D. decided to bring crochet into the show, she asked my advice about who might teach classes, and I suggested Adele. All the knitting classes are taught by elite knitters who have written pattern books and traveled around doing workshops. She called them the knitterati.” CeeCee turned toward Adele. “She’s now found some master knitters who know how to crochet, and, to get to the point, K.D. has her doubts about having you teaching a class. And to be honest, there haven’t been a lot of people signing up to take the class.”

I watched the whole group suck in their breath and prepare for Adele’s reaction. As predicted, Adele seemed shocked and huffed and puffed that she was more qualified to teach the class than all the famous yarn people. CeeCee put up her hand to stop Adele. “The point is, K.D. would like you to give her a personal demonstration.” Before Adele could object, CeeCee added that it wasn’t a request, it was a command, and that K.D. would just get someone else to teach the class otherwise.

Adele absorbed the information and begrudgingly said she would do it. There was no way I was going to let Adele meet K.D. alone. Who knew what she would do? Adele actually seemed relieved when I suggested accompanying her.

“I’m going, too,” CeeCee said. “My reputation is at stake since I’m the crochet liaison for the show.” She looked from Adele to me. “Did I mention she’s expecting Adele tomorrow morning?”

Adele began to sputter about having to audition and the fact that she hadn’t been consulted about the meeting time, but CeeCee made it clear she had no choice, and we agreed to meet at the bookstore and go together. I was grateful there were a few minutes of peaceful yarn work before the group broke up.

As I got up from the table, Dinah linked arms with me.

“Now we can talk.”

Dinah and I took our conversation into the café. It was cozy with the scent of freshly brewed coffee mixed with the buttery sweetness of freshly baked cookie bars. Most of the tables were full, but we found one by the window that was far enough from the others to afford some privacy.

There was a slight delay in placing our order while the barista, Bob, talked to me about what he was going to make for the yarn show. He offered several alternatives, and I finally left it up to his judgment. His lips lifted into a satisfied smile that made the dot of beard below more prominent. I know it was called a soul patch, but to me it looked like a mistake in shaving.

“I’ll pick up the treats on the way,” I said, and he assured me they would be packed up and ready to go.

Once we had our drinks—For me, a red eye and for Dinah, a café au lait—we settled in and Dinah looked me in the eye. “Well?”

Actually, this was the first time we’d had to really talk in a while. We’d both been busy, and we’d either been on the run or there’d been other people around.

Before the holidays, Dinah had been giving her students their final exams and grading their final projects. Her ex’s kids with his latest ex had come for the holidays. I knew it sounded crazy, but she’d gotten attached to the kids, and since neither of their parents were doing much of a job at being parents, the kids adored her. And then there was Dinah’s relationship with Commander Blaine. She was so used to guys who turned out to be jerks that she kept waiting for him to start acting like one. Only recently had she finally accepted that he was the nice guy he appeared to be.

After the holidays, she’d begun a new term and was teaching an additional class. It had gotten so that we’d only seen each other at the Hooker meet-ups at the bookstore, and those had been less frequent because of the holidays, too. Dinah had no idea of the turn my life had taken.

Before I told her my solution, I had to explain the problem. “My personal life has become flat, dull, quiet and boring. With everything going on with the bookstore, I didn’t notice at first. Do you know that we now have even more adult writers’ groups, a junior writers’ group, reading groups and even a cookbook lovers’ group. Then there are the crochet parties that we’ve been putting on almost every weekend, and finally the kids’ crochet group. I was so busy putting all those things together, and putting in all the extra time at the bookstore during the holidays, that it wasn’t until Samuel moved out that I noticed I was living the life I’d claimed I wanted.”

“Samuel moved out?” Dinah seemed surprised. “Molly, you should have called me,” she said. “I could have easily added some noise to your life.”

I quickly explained that Samuel had moved in with his girlfriend about a month ago. “It doesn’t matter now. Maybe it’s even a good thing because I have realized what I want, and more important, what I don’t want. All that stuff about wanting to try flying solo turned out to be nonsense. More than the commotion, I miss being with someone. When Barry and Mason were both around vying to be the man in my life, I took it for granted.”

Dinah leaned in closer, her eyes bright. “I sense that you’re going to do something,” she said.

“I’ve thought it over, and I definitely want a man in my life. What’s more, I know who now. I’ve decided to be proactive,” I said. “Of course, there is always the possibility that I’m too late.”

“Who is it? Who are you choosing?” Dinah asked, ignoring her drink. She knew that Barry had stepped away saying I’d be better off with Mason. Barry’s reasons for stepping back had been that his job was more than a job to him and that he’d always be off chasing leads and could never promise any kind of normal lifestyle. It had really touched my heart when he said that I deserved more than that. Barry’s lifestyle had been hard for me to deal with, but I also knew he needed me, and there was that chemistry between us.

“No matter what Barry said, I’m sure he’d forget it all if you called him and said you wanted to work something out,” Dinah said.

I shook my head. “No. I think Barry is right, that I would be happier with Mason,” I said.

Dinah’s eyes widened and she said, “Wow.”

“Mason is a great guy. How many times has he come through for me? I know he’d be there for a whole meal, not running out after the salad saying he had to track down a suspect. And he’s fun to be with. There aren’t always issues and he’s never let me down. We’re both looking for the same no-strings kind of relationship,” I said. “Or we were.”

“Then he doesn’t know that he won the Molly lottery yet?” Dinah said.

“It’s been months since I talked to him. Who knows where his head is—or his heart.” All my self-assurance drained out and I slumped. “What was I thinking?”

Dinah saw me wavering. “Just do it. Don’t think. Call him now.” Dinah pushed my cell phone toward me.

I picked up my BlackBerry reluctantly. “Okay, I’ll do it, but I’m calling his office. That way he’ll know it’s me.” I didn’t add that he could act accordingly, which meant he could choose to not take my call. I felt my heart thud a few times as I hit the call button and heard the phone begin to ring.

The receptionist answered with the law firm name. Mason was a partner, and I felt my breath catch when she got to his name in the title. I was really doing this.

When she finished, I asked to speak to Mason and she put me on hold. I was trying to think of something clever to say to Mason when she came back on the line.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Pink, Mr. Fields is out of town.” Then she offered to connect me to his voice mail. I mumbled a no and hung up.

I told Dinah the gist of the call. “Is he really out of town or is that just a polite way of saying he doesn’t want to talk to me?” I said. Dinah tried to reassure me, but I was sure she knew it could have been a brush-off. Mason was definitely a catch and probably had met someone else. Someone with more sense than I had who would grab him up.

Dinah had to get to class and I had to get back to work. I put my phone away and headed back into the bookstore.

“Pink,” Adele called out in a stage whisper as I went past the entrance to the children’s area. She waved to me to come, while looking around the bookstore in a furtive manner. I had gotten so used to her calling me by my last name I didn’t even notice anymore.

“What’s up?” I asked, grateful to have my mind taken away from the call to Mason.

“You can’t tell Mrs. Shedd that K.D. Kirby is making me audition. Please,” she said with a worried look. “This is so embarrassing. It’s just another incident of knitters trying to put us crocheters in a corner.”

I didn’t agree that was the motivation. It made perfect sense that K.D. might have doubts about Adele’s teaching abilities. There were only a few crochet classes offered, and the other ones were all taught by people K.D. knew. The only thing Adele had going for her was CeeCee’s recommendation.

I assured Adele I wouldn’t tell our boss and said that I’d make up an excuse why we had to meet with the woman putting on the show.

After that, I spent the rest of my workday doing my regular work, like straightening up the yarn department and dealing with some hurt feelings in the poetry group. As had become my habit, I didn’t leave the bookstore until we closed.

I appreciated the greeting I got from Cosmo and the cats when I got home. The three of them were the welcoming committee waiting by the door. Blondie was asleep in her chair in my room and as usual had to be coaxed to go outside.

Everything was almost as I’d left it, except Cosmo had knocked over the trash and spread it all around. I cleaned it up and considered dinner. Now that I could have ice cream for dinner without anyone looking askance, I didn’t want it. Instead I pulled out one of the dinners for one I’d made up. I had taken to cooking a big pot of something and then dividing it into neat little portions that could be heated quickly. At the last minute I changed my mind and made some steamed broccoli, mashed a potato and microwaved a vegetarian sausage I’d gotten to like when Mason’s daughter was staying with me. She was a vegetarian and had introduced me to a bunch of new foods.

I even set up a place in the dining room. But eating alone didn’t take long, and there was no reason to linger at the table. I cleaned up and grabbed a crochet project. I had a whole array of half-done projects that I cycled through. This time I picked the tote bag I was making out of red cotton with navy blue accents.

I had my smartphone sitting next to me, and my eye kept going back to it as I thought over my call to Mason’s office. It might have been true that he was out of town. It was stupid of me not to leave a message. If he really was out of town, he might have called when he got his messages. This way I’d never know for sure.

I fiddled with the BlackBerry until the list of contacts came on the screen. I had the opposite of a magic touch with the cell phone. It turned itself to silent, never told me I had messages and screens appeared on it when I wasn’t even touching it. This time when the contact list showed up, it went right to Mason’s name all by itself.

His cell number was staring me in the face. Was this some kind of sign?

In a moment of bravado, I hit the little green receiver icon and the phone began to dial. There was still time to hit the red icon, but instead I let it ring.

After about the fourth ring, I started expecting his voice mail. This time I would leave a message. Though nothing that would show my cards. I was thinking of something benign to say when I heard his voice come on. It took a moment for me to realize it wasn’t a canned recording asking me to leave a message, but a sleepy-sounding voice, a live voice.

“Mason?” I said tentatively.

“In the flesh,” he joked. I heard him suck in his breath. “Am I dreaming or is that really you, Molly?”

I said something about being sorry—that it seemed I’d awakened him. “Where are you?” I asked, realizing the receptionist might have been telling the truth.

“East Coast,” he said. After a pause he continued, “It’s 2 A.M. here.” But when I apologized again, he shrugged it off. “What’s up?”

It was the moment of truth. My opportunity to be proactive had arrived, and suddenly I had cold feet. There were a few moments of dead air, and he actually asked if I was still there. Then the Mason I knew and loved kicked in, and he realized I had something to say that was difficult.

“I’m guessing you have something on your mind,” he began. “You’re having a hard time with it, aren’t you, Sunshine?”

I mumbled a yes and wanted to kick myself for being so wishy-washy. Just say it, I told myself, and then it came out in a stream. “Mason, I realize I was wrong about what I thought I wanted and I’m sorry that I didn’t return your calls but now I know that I want to have a relationship with you.”

All I heard was breathing, and my heart sank. A multitude of thoughts went through my head. He wasn’t alone. He was trying to think of a nice way to turn me down. He’d fallen back asleep during my run-on sentence. But then I heard him chuckle. “Whew,” he said finally. “I thought you were going to tell me you and the detective got married.”

Mason didn’t know what Barry had said when he stepped out of the picture, so I told him. Mason chuckled again. “He gave you the noble speech. Most women would have melted for that.” I didn’t want to tell Mason that I had thought about it. Didn’t the “noble speech,” as Mason called it, mean that Barry really loved me more? He was more concerned with my happiness than his own.

But this was about what I wanted, and that was Mason.

“So?” I said, finally. “What do you think about what I said?”

“Hallelujah, you finally saw the light.” It seemed like it was taking a moment for it all to sink in. “I wish I were home. I’d come over and we could toast the beginning of us.”

He started figuring when he’d be back in town. “I’m going to be tied up with a client when I get back,” he said. He gave no details about who, and I didn’t ask, knowing he couldn’t say. The whole lawyer privilege thing. I knew it was probably somebody I’d heard of. Mason’s specialty was dealing with celebrities who had gotten into trouble. They required a lot of care along with his legal expertise.

“It’s just as well. I am going to be tied up with work all weekend.”

He was wide awake now and sounding very happy. “We’ve waited this long, what’s a few more days. We can work something out.”

All the tension had left my body, and I felt myself smiling. “Yes, we can,” I said. Neither of us wanted to get off the phone, but finally I said he ought to get some sleep, and he agreed.

“Love you,” he said just before he clicked off.

He was already gone before I could react.

I was still smiling about the phone call the next morning. I kept thinking about what it would be like spending time with Mason again, this time as a couple. It might have been a bit teenagerish, but I was kind of floating a little above ground. However, I had to force my feet back to earth. There was too much going on for me to be wandering around in a romantic fog.

When I walked outside and felt the cold morning, it was the slap of reality that I needed. I was glad I had a warm jacket on, but the chilly air went right through my cotton khaki work pants. The thermometer in my car confirmed that it was cold. Forty-four degrees. There was still even a thin coating of frost on the windshield of the greenmobile. Not that it was going to last. Already the rays of sunlight were working on turning the ice into droplets of water.

The ride was so short, the heat had barely started to warm the interior of the car by the time I pulled into the parking lot of Shedd & Royal. CeeCee pulled her electric car next to mine, and we were both getting out at the same time. She looked at her royal blue car, clucking her tongue.

“Being green gets tiresome. Sometimes I wish I had my gas-guzzling Caddie back.” She sighed. “But can you imagine the flak I’d get. We celebs are supposed to be an example and all. If we drive electric cars, other people will want to emulate us and give up their inefficient cars, blah, blah, blah.” CeeCee looked down at her deep brown fur jacket. “This fake fur looks almost too good. I hope none of those animal rights people start harassing me. I feel like I need to wear a sign that says it’s not real.”

While we stood there talking, Adele zoomed into the parking lot in her gray Matrix. She flounced out of the car and over to us. “You two don’t have to go with. I can handle K.D. Kirby all on my own.”

CeeCee and I said, “No,” in unison, and Adele rocked her head at what she considered a waste of our time.

“If you insist,” she said. “Let’s get going.” She looked at my vintage car and CeeCee’s little electric number. “I’m driving.”

Adele led the way back to her car. She had dressed for the occasion. She was wearing an example of her stash buster wrap. She’d focused on yarn in shades of red with just enough deep blue to throw in some contrast. The wrap wasn’t really warm enough for the cold morning, but Adele wasn’t about to hide it under a coat. Underneath she wore slacks and a top in a bluish shade of lavender, which made the color of the wrap pop even more.

She hadn’t spared the makeup, either. Adele had the habit of going to extremes. When her boyfriend suggested she tone things down when she met his mother, she went so far, his mother thought she was too dull for him. And then when she had another chance to try to impress Mother Humphries, as she called Eric’s mother, she went too far the other way, wearing clothes that were too bright and turning the drama up to a fever pitch.

Was it any surprise that Adele was a wild driver? I heard CeeCee letting out gasps from the backseat as she reached over the passenger seat grabbing my shoulder. Adele took one of the canyon roads through the mountains. She zoomed past Sunset Boulevard, through the residential streets of Beverly Hills and onto Wilshire Boulevard. I think we both let out a sigh of relief when we turned off Wilshire and into the parking lot for the Knit Style headquarters. It was one of the classic old buildings along the major thoroughfare. Just two stories tall, it was white stucco and had been built in the days when time was spent adding decorative details to the facade.

We walked around to the front, and I looked through the large ground-floor windows into a yarn store. CeeCee saw me instinctively heading for the door.

“The Knit Style Yarn Studio is part of K.D.’s empire, but we’re meeting her upstairs in her office,” CeeCee said, taking my arm and steering me to a glass door that had “Knit Style Publishing” written in gold paint. Inside there was a small alcove with a bunch of plants and a door to an elevator. Ahead of us a marble staircase led to the second floor. Was there really a red carpet going up the center of the stairs? Yarn studio, red carpet, I thought, shaking my head. Maybe just a little pretentious.

This was going to be the first time I met K.D. Kirby in person. All the dealing for the booth had been done by phone and email with her staff. We followed the red carpet up the stairs and ended up in a reception area.

“Let me handle this,” CeeCee said, turning to Adele and me, but mostly to Adele. I got it. Her reputation was at stake. I had the feeling she was sorry she’d suggested we have a booth at the show and that Adele teach one of the classes. CeeCee pulled ahead and approached the receptionist, who seemed to know her. It made sense. CeeCee had been there for the photo shoot to go along with the magazine article.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2014

    Mystery awaits

    I have enjoyed all of Ms. Hechtman's books but this one kept me at the edge of my seat because I was wondering which guy the main character was going to wind up with.....BUT the ending....Oh! dear
    that was a good one....not only does it have me sitting here wondering when the next book will be out....but it was one heck of
    a cliff hanger...just like they do on TV. Now we must wait for the
    next book as to what happened. So I highly recommend this book as well as all of her other books..........

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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