As their beloved Black Sheep member Lucy Binger prepares to tie the knot, the close-knit group decide they need a weekend to unwind before the big day. Suzanne Cavanaugh has just the spot—her friend Amy lives in a luxury New England community on Osprey Island, renowned for its famous cliff walk and spectacular ocean views, and she would be happy to host the knitters.
Shortly after their arrival, however, the idyllic setting turns into a crime scene. The body of a prominent resident of Osprey Shores is discovered on the rocky coastline below the cliffs and evidence suggests his fatal misstep was no accident. When the investigation focuses on Amy’s husband, the knitters step in to untangle the clues. But with this crafty killer on the edge, the Black Sheep must walk a fine line—and look before they leap to any deadly conclusions.
“Friendship, knitting, murder . . . create the perfect pattern. Great fun.”
—New York Times bestselling author Jayne Anne Krentz
About the Author
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"Your last weekend as a free woman, Lucy. How do you feel?" Phoebe stood behind the counter of the Black Sheep Knitting Shop. She stared up at Lucy, her dark eyes shining. "Maybe you should make a bucket list."
Lucy laughed. "Seriously? A bucket list?"
Maggie shook her head. "For goodness sakes, Phoebe. She's walking down the aisle with the man she adores. Not marching to the gallows."
"Sorry. I didn't mean that marrying Matt is some horrible fate. But it is sort of final. Till death do you part and all that? Aren't there a few wild and crazy things you want to do this weekend, that you can't do after you're married?"
Lucy had never considered their prewedding, girls' getaway from a "wild and crazy" angle and didn't know how to answer Maggie's twenty-something assistant.
As usual, Maggie did. "What exactly are you thinking, Phoebe? Are we about to film 'Knitting Group Gone Wild'?"
"That could be an interesting project," Phoebe mused. "But not very likely with this group."
"Thank goodness," Lucy replied. "But I do know what you mean. It is my last weekend of singlehood. And the big day is near. But I don't have anything wilder or crazier in mind than a long bike ride around the island and a few of Suzanne's crazy cocktails."
"That's what you say now. Think about it." Phoebe's tone was quite knowing for her tender age. "We've hit the ten-day countdown, in case you didn't notice. Ten, nine, eight ..."
"Phoebe, please," Maggie interrupted again. "Let's not make the poor bride any more anxious than she already is."
"I'm not anxious. Not one bit. Not about marrying Matt. Though throwing a big party like this is a bit daunting," Lucy admitted.
"Of course it is. If there's anything we can do to help, please let us know. Let's talk it over this weekend, while we're all relaxing. Did you pack the bridal book we gave you?" Maggie looked up from the carton of yarn she was packing.
"I did ... something like that." Her friends had thoughtfully given her a bridal book with a white satin cover and pages for to-do lists and reminders. But Lucy preferred yellow legal pads and a bulging, messy folder. It got the job done.
Despite Phoebe's concern, she definitely didn't have cold feet. Not even a cold toe. She and Matt had been living together for over two years, and she had no qualms about joining her life and fate with his. He was definitely "the one." She doubted married life would be much different for them than their life was now.
But Phoebe was right; it was a big step. A till-death-do-you-part deal. Or it should be. She and Matt had both been down this path before, and they knew that married life wasn't always easy. But she felt sure this time would be the charm for both of them.
Maggie glanced at Phoebe. "Suzanne will be here any minute. Why don't we straighten up the shop? I don't want to come back to a mess on Monday. And you are the newly crowned assistant manager."
"That I am." Phoebe snapped her computer shut and set to work.
Phoebe's title had recently been bumped up along with a generous bump in salary. Maggie had also given her a cozy niche to display her original and uniquely designed knitwear. The promotion and perks were well deserved, but Maggie had her own agenda. Phoebe had graduated about a month ago, and Maggie didn't want to lose her.
Armed with a degree in fine art and design, Phoebe had already launched her own business, selling her original creations — socks, bathing suits, hats, head bands, and other hip-looking apparel — online, at street fairs, and at the farmers' market held on the village green every weekend. She'd even had some patterns published in knitting magazines. But she was also Maggie's right hand and seemed happy to continue working and learning from Maggie. The shop just wouldn't be the same without Phoebe.
Lucy didn't notice much amiss, but Phoebe was scurrying about, arranging bins and baskets of colorful yarn and displays of knitting needles and other necessaries.
Maggie was very particular. She loved her shop, which was lovely, inside and out, reflecting her warmth and artistic sensibility.
The Victorian building, once a private home, had been neglected and run-down when Maggie had bought it years ago. But, as usual, Maggie's artistic eye had spotted the possibilities. She left her position as an art teacher at Plum Harbor High School to follow her bliss and turn her passion for needlework into a full-time career. Maggie had recently lost her husband and this radical change helped pull her from a well of grief.
Using her retirement nest egg, she bought the building and set up her business on the first floor: a knitting shop with cubbies of yarn and welcoming couches in the front room, and a large farm table and teaching space in the back. All and all, it was as cozy and inviting as her home.
The storeroom in back had once been a kitchen and was still fully equipped. Lucy and her friends appreciated that, since their group loved to eat almost as much as they loved to knit. Phoebe rented the second-floor apartment, which was a very convenient arrangement.
Maggie was devoted to her business, though she was far less of a workaholic in the last year or so, since her romance with Detective Charles Mossbacher had begun.
Still, she rarely took a day off or closed early, even when she was sick. But when the prewedding girl's weekend was proposed by their knitting group, Maggie didn't make a fuss about closing for four full days. Lucy had felt honored. Even more so now, as she watched her friend arrange a rack of pattern books with a military precision that screamed separation anxiety.
"Hard to leave your cozy nest?" Lucy wasn't one to tease much, but Maggie had fiddled with the rack three times.
Maggie looked as if she wanted to smile, but was holding back. "I love to travel. It broadens the mind and refreshes the spirit. It's the leaving that's the hard part," she admitted. "If Osprey Shores is half as fabulous as Suzanne claims, it will be well worth closing up for a few days. You know me, as long as I have some yarn and needles handy, I'm comfortable anywhere."
There would doubtlessly be plenty of knitting, along with all the other activities they planned to pack in while away. And of course, there would be plenty of downtime to do absolutely nothing. Maybe Phoebe's idea about making a list wasn't such a bad one after all.
A car horn sounded in the drive. Maggie peeked out the front window. "Suzanne's here. Finally."
"I need to run upstairs and grab my stuff. Be down in a jiff." Phoebe set down the basket of yarns she'd been organizing and headed for the staircase in the storeroom, which led to her apartment. "You can lock the front door, Mag. I'll come out the side."
"Good plan." Maggie was behind the counter, tugging out a big duffel and several tote bags filled with needles and yarn. Then, flinging the straps over her shoulders and looking a lot like a curly headed little packhorse, she was ready.
"Let me help you. I left my things on the porch." Lucy unburdened her friend of a few bags, and they headed to the front door.
"I know it looks as if I'm taking half the shop, but Suzanne's friend, Amy, has a knitting group, too. They're meeting tonight, and I thought we could get together, and I can do a little thing on summer yarns and start them off on an easy project."
"That's very nice of you, but this is supposed to be a vacation. For all of us. I don't like to see you working."
"Oh, it's not work. Not really. I wanted to return Amy's favor. Considering how the Cutlers were so generous to loan us the cottage for free. According to Suzanne, the place would be out of our price range otherwise."
From Suzanne's wide-eyed description, the resort community of Osprey Shores did sound luxurious — and out of their league. A quick glance at the website had confirmed it. But it was still generous of Maggie to give her time and energy this way. Lucy could see she wouldn't be talked out of it.
Maggie locked the door and checked it twice. "Besides, you know me. 'Johnny Appleseed with knitting needles,' some wisecracking friend once called me." Maggie caught her glance, then slipped on her sunglasses.
Lucy smiled, the wisecracker in question. "I guess it stuck because it's true."
"Hey guys! Sorry I'm late." Suzanne hopped up the brick path and quickly grabbed a few bags from Lucy and Maggie.
The vivacious brunette was in full vacation mode, wearing a stylish black romper, black wedge sandals, and huge sunglasses. A fresh mani-pedi in scarlet red accented the outfit perfectly.
Lucy glanced down at her own sorry toes, hidden by her leather espadrilles — luckily. She'd been rushing all week to meet a work deadline, and had barely made time to pack and take a shower. But Suzanne had said there was a day spa on the resort grounds. A few hours of beautifying would be the perfect treat on their weekend. Add that to the list.
"Hop in. We'll definitely make up time on the highway," Suzanne promised.
"I had a feeling you'd say that," Maggie mumbled.
Dana sat in the front seat and called out the window. "Don't worry, Mag. I'll keep my eye on the speedometer."
"Ladies, please. I always get you where you need to go in comfort, style, and safety. Don't I?"
Lucy tossed her luggage and knitting bag in the back. "Mostly. I'm still glad Dana's in charge of cruise control."
Peering inside the cargo area, Lucy was not surprised to see two large coolers and several bags of groceries. They were spending the weekend together in a cottage that had a state-of-the-art kitchen, but would surely be out for most of their meals. Still, Suzanne liked to travel with ample provisions and had probably even stowed a few favorite appliances back there.
Lucy had also brought her bicycle, and she clamped it to the bike rack on the back of the SUV once Suzanne closed the hatch.
"I hope you weren't waiting too long. I had a late afternoon closing, and Dana had patients," Suzanne explained.
"I thought Thursday was the new Friday?" Lucy said, slipping on her seat belt.
Suzanne shrugged. "I did, too. But my boss didn't get the memo." She started the engine. "Hey ... aren't we forgetting something?"
"I think you mean someone." Dana pointed to the shop.
"I'm coming ... hey, don't leave without me, guys!" Phoebe trotted down the driveway, one hand holding a big sun hat on her head, the other a hot pink rolling bag that bumped along behind like a faithful pet.
In a skimpy yellow sundress and high-wedge sandals, she looked like a long-legged bird — the type they would soon see skittering up the rocky shoreline on Osprey Island. The floppy brim of her hat hid most of her face and all of her dark, color-streaked hair. On the other hand, the sundress hid few of her tattoos.
"We wouldn't dream of leaving you, Phoebe. Don't be silly," Lucy called out.
"I'm holding back on takeoff. Don't worry," Suzanne said.
Phoebe paused in the middle of the driveway, took a deep breath, and adjusted her load. In addition to the suitcase, she also carried a black knapsack, a knitting bag, a pair of binoculars and a camera slung around her neck.
Suzanne got out again and stowed Phoebe's bags in the trunk while Phoebe squeezed into the backseat with the knitting bag, finding her spot between Lucy and Maggie.
Suzanne jumped into the driver's seat again. "Buckle up everyone. Off we go." She hit the gas and zoomed out of the driveway.
"Spoon Harbor Lobster Pound, for the best lobster rolls in New England," she announced, sounding a lot like a tour bus driver. "Do we need to take a vote?"
"Lobster rolls? That's on my list. Let's check it off right away," Phoebe replied
"I'm all for it. As long we get to the island in time for Amy's knitting group," Maggie said.
"Got it timed perfectly. No worries," Suzanne promised. "We may hit a little traffic on the thruway, but I'll make up time on the local roads."
Dana caught Lucy's gaze and rolled her eyes.
"I've always wanted to try that place in Spoon Harbor. It's written up in all the guidebooks," Maggie said.
"And for good reason," Suzanne promised. "I thought we should kick off our weekend with a treat. We have a lot to celebrate."
"A long list," Dana said. "Phoebe's graduation and promotion ... and somebody's getting married."
Lucy squirmed under the spotlight. "Yes, poor old somebody. We thought the old spinster would never find anyone who'd have her."
"You know what they say, 'Every pot has a lid. Even the bent one,'" Maggie offered.
"Very true," Dana agreed. "Not that you're a bent pot lid, Lucy," she quickly added.
"Um, gee ... thanks. I think. Bent or not, I am looking forward to one last fling with my pals. In fact, lobster rolls are on my bucket list, too."
"Your bucket list?" Dana gave her a curious smile.
"Phoebe thinks Lucy should make a list of wild and crazy things she wants to do this weekend, before she gets married. As if she's going to be locked away in a dungeon after she says, 'I do,'" Maggie explained.
"Which I hardly think is necessary," Lucy said. "I am looking forward to relaxing, riding my bike, and having fun with all of you. Maybe a little skydiving or bungee jumping? A hot air balloon ride?"
"You're kidding, right?" Suzanne met Lucy's gaze in the rearview mirror.
"I'm not one to hang on a rope and jump off a cliff, but I've always wanted to try a balloon ride," Dana confessed. "Do you think we can find a place to do that up there?"
"I'll stick to knitting," Maggie said quickly.
"I bet it's awesome. But I'm not big on heights. The ladder in the stockroom is about my limit," Phoebe said. She already had her needles and yarn out to stitch away the long car ride. Lucky girl. Lucy always felt a little motion sick when she tried to knit in a car.
"I'll look into it. But, balloon rides or not, I don't think married life will be any different than just living together. I mean, not much different."
"Probably not. Until you have a baby," Suzanne said in a matter-of-fact tone. "But enough stress for one summer. We'll start working on you about that once you and Matt have settled in."
"Gee ... thanks for the break." Lucy laughed. But she knew Suzanne, who had needled her to push Matt to pop the question all last summer, and didn't doubt that her dear friend would soon be moving on to the next life goal.
"Amy told me you were going to give a lesson to her knitting group tonight, Maggie." Suzanne glanced over her a shoulder at Maggie. "That's very nice of you. They're all in a tizzy about it."
Amy Cutler, their connection to the deluxe — and free — weekend accommodations, had been Suzanne's college roommate. They'd stayed in touch over the years, though Amy and her husband, Rob, had lived in Southern California for a while. They'd returned to New England almost two years ago, and Suzanne had advised them on finding a new home.
The Cutlers had settled in Osprey Shores, a private resort community on Osprey Island, off the coast of Maine. Amy's husband had done well in the biotech industry, and was working as an independent consultant and inventor. Living in a remote spot, far from a major city, was not an issue for them. He'd apparently done so well that they were able to buy two cottages, one to live in and a second as an investment.
As Suzanne drove steadily toward their destination, Lucy recalled how, at a knitting meeting a few weeks ago, her friends debated where to take her for a bachelorette weekend. Not that she expected them to take her anywhere. The phrase bachelorette weekend actually made her a little wary. But they were very insistent. Her wedding was approaching swiftly but they couldn't settle on the right spot for the getaway — the choices ranging from Martha's Vineyard to Mexico.
In the midst of their conversation, Suzanne found a text from Amy, asking if Suzanne could help market the second cottage the Cutlers owned to vacationers. Serendipity, Lucy decided as her friends quickly agreed the island would be the perfect spot for their girls' holiday. When Suzanne asked Amy if the place was available, her old friend had insisted they come and stay for free.
"It's very sweet to hear they're in a tizzy. I'm not such a big deal," Maggie replied.
"Maybe not in Plum Harbor. But on a remote island in Maine, I guess you're hot stuff," Suzanne teased.
"Well, when you put it that way ..."
"You know I'm only teasing," Suzanne countered.
"You're hot stuff wherever you roam, Maggie," Dana said, smoothing things over. "I can't believe we're finally going away together. How many times did we talk about doing this?"
"There was the house Suzanne found on Plum Island, last summer," Lucy replied. "But that had all been a ruse."
"And even more surprises came out of it," Suzanne reminded her.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Knit To Kill"
Copyright © 2017 Anne Canadeo.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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