Between spending Valentine’s Day with her sweetheart, Sam, and shopping upcoming Presidents’ Day sales with the Good Buy Girls, everything is coming up roses and bargains for Maggie Gerber. But when the mother of Maggie’s nemesis comes to town, things stop looking so rosy. Summer’s mom is hoping to set her spoiled daughter up with Sam, and she’ll do whatever it takes to make the match happen.
When Maggie heads to her romantic rival’s house to put a stop to the scheming, she discovers Summer standing over a dead body—holding a weapon. As much as Maggie would love to see Summer get her just desserts, she can’t shake the feeling that the meddling menace is, in fact, innocent. Now Maggie and the Good Buy Girls will have to sort through racks of suspects to find a killer—or Summer will wind up getting a truly raw deal…
INCLUDES THRIFTY RECIPES!
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
“More flowers?” Ginger Lancaster asked as she walked into My Sister’s Closet, her best friend’s secondhand store, on the heels of Henry Dawson, the local florist. Joanne Claramotta and Claire Freemont followed right behind her.
The four women belonged to a self-titled group called the Good Buy Girls. They were friends who were all about bargain-hunting and thrifting, and since Maggie had opened her shop, it had become the hub of their operation and their unofficial meeting place.
“Yep, she’s got another one,” Henry said. “Looks like someone’s got quite the admirer.”
For the past three days, Henry had delivered a single red rose to Maggie Gerber with a card that had one word written on it. Maggie took the rose from Henry and felt her face grow warm. She was embarrassed but also a bit giddy from the attention.
“Thank you so much,” she said. She tried to offer him a tip, but he waved her away.
“You keep your money, Maggie,” he said. “I’ve been paid more than enough.”
Maggie gave him a chagrined look, and his wrinkled, old face split into a smile that showed off his dentures.
“Well, don’t hold back,” Joanne said. “What’s the word of the day?”
Maggie put the red rose in a vase with two others and opened the small card. The word You was scrawled in blocky script in a black felt-tip pen. She knew that handwriting. It belonged to her boyfriend, Sam Collins, who happened to be the police chief of their small Virginia town, St. Stanley. Of course, when she had questioned him the previous two days, he had denied all knowledge of any flowers or cards.
When put together in order, the cards read, Maggie, Will You.
“Squee!” Joanne let out a squeal. Her long brown ponytail swung back and forth as she bounced up and down on her feet.
“That is just the most romantic gesture ever,” Claire sighed. She pushed her black, rectangular glasses up on her nose. “I wonder what will be on the next card.”
“I don’t know,” Henry said. “But I’m betting I’ll see you tomorrow, and every day right up until Valentine’s Day.”
Maggie and the others waved to him as he left the shop. Ginger turned back to face Maggie and rested her chin on her hand as she leaned on the counter and studied the cards.
“So, what do you think he’s going to ask you?” Her teeth flashed white against her brown skin and her dark eyes gleamed with delight.
“I don’t know,” Maggie said. “I keep asking him, but he denies knowing anything about it.”
Ginger’s eyebrows rose. “Do you think it’s someone else?”
“No,” Maggie said. “I recognize the handwriting.”
“Don’t freak out on me,” Claire said. “But do you think he’s going to propose?”
“No!” Maggie said. “No, no, no.”
“Well, don’t beat around the bush,” Ginger said. “Tell us how you feel.”
“We’ve only been dating for two months, not even, a proposal would be . . .”
“Romantic?” Joanne sighed, and the others did, too.
“I was thinking premature,” Maggie said. She frowned at them. “Besides, logically speaking, it doesn’t work.”
“What do you mean?” Ginger asked.
Maggie leaned over the cards, and a hank of her auburn hair fell in front of her face. She tucked it behind her ear as she tapped the counter with her index finger.
“There are three more days to Valentine’s day,” she said. “So if he did have a rose and a card delivered every day, then a proposal really wouldn’t work because, marry and me would only be two more days.”
“Unless he’s planning something even more spectacular for the next two days,” Joanne said. She started jumping up and down again, and Ginger put an arm around her.
“Settle down, girl,” she said. “You are going to jiggle that baby right out.”
Joanne instantly put her hands on her belly and her eyes grew wide. “You think so?”
“No,” Ginger said as she gave her a half hug. “I’m just teasing.”
“How long now?” Claire asked.
“I’m eight months, give or take a few days,” Joanne said. “My obstetrician says it could be anytime if baby decides to come early.”
“A baby,” Maggie sighed. “It seems like ages since I’ve held a wee one.”
“So, if this whole card and flower thing does turn out to be a proposal, and you and Sam do get married, will you have another baby?” Claire asked.
“I . . . uh . . . huh?” Maggie stammered. “I’m sorry, I think I just swallowed my tongue.”
Ginger hooted with laughter. “You could, you know. You’re only forty-one. Why, there are women having babies well into their fifties now.”
“But then I’d be in my sixties by the time it went to college,” Maggie said. “And given that I already have a daughter in college, I don’t really want to do that again. The financial aid forms alone are a solid case for birth control.”
“But you’re a very young forty-one. I mean, how many people think your grandnephew, Josh, is your son?”
“A fair few,” Maggie admitted.
Maggie watched her niece’s three-year-old often, and while she loved him dearly, he was another reason she knew she was done bearing children. After an afternoon spent with her Josh-by-gosh, she was exhausted.
“See? You’re still young enough,” Joanne said. “Just think, our babies could play together. We could have mommy-and-me time together, too.”
“Aw,” Claire said. “That would be so cute. You could put them in matching outfits and have teddy bear picnics and tea parties. Adorable!”
Maggie frowned at Claire. “Don’t you start. You’re younger than me. You and Pete could get married and have kids, too, you know.”
Claire shook her head. “No, that’s not in the cards for me. I realized long ago that I was not mother material. I never even babysat when I was a teen, because the sound of a baby crying gives me hives. There’s a reason I’m an adult services librarian and not a children’s librarian, you know. My cat, Mr. Tumnus, is all the dependent I can handle, thank you very much.”
“Is Pete okay with that?” Joanne asked. “I mean, doesn’t he want to have a family of his own?”
“Thankfully, no,” Claire said. “We had a long frank talk when we first started dating, and we both decided that parenting was not our calling, so it looks like it’s all on Maggie and you—unless, of course, Ginger wants to try again for a girl.”
“Lord-a-mercy, no,” Ginger said. “Four boys are all I can handle. Besides, after Dante came along, I had them take out all of my plumbing since it had begun to collapse. So it’s just Maggie then.”
Maggie put a hand to her forehead as a sudden attack of wooziness hit her like a freight train. Did Sam want kids? She had no idea. They’d never discussed it. What if he wanted to be a dad? What if he wanted more than one? Oh, man, how had this topic of conversation never come up?
The bells on the front door jangled and Maggie glanced up, willing someone, anyone, to arrive and save her from this discussion.
The woman who arrived was not her first or even her last pick, but times being desperate, she decided not to quibble.
“Summer Phillips,” Maggie cried. She came around the counter and greeted the woman who had been her lifelong nemesis with a wide, warm smile. “Come in. How are you, dear?”
Summer froze in mid-step. She looked at Maggie as if she was worried that she was ill with something that could be contagious or deadly or both.
“You look deranged,” Summer said in her usual abrasive tone. She tossed her long, bottle-bleached hair over her shoulder and held up a well-manicured hand to ward Maggie off. “You’re not going to hug me, are you?”
“No!” Maggie protested. Although she was grateful enough for the interruption that she might give her a half hug or an air kiss. The sour look on Summer’s face checked that impulse.
“What’s wrong with you?” Summer asked.
“Nothing,” Maggie lied.
“She’s panicking,” Ginger whispered to Claire in a voice loud enough to be heard by everyone. Maggie heard them all giggle.
“I’m just being neighborly. What can I do for you, Summer?” Maggie asked.
“Nothing,” Summer said. “Believe me, I don’t want anything from you.”
“Then why are you in my shop?” Maggie asked. “You have your own consignment store across the street. Why are you visiting mine?”
A woman nudged her way into the shop behind Summer. She had the same pretty face as Summer, with an upturned nose and prominent cheekbones, but she was obviously older, with very fine lines around her eyes and mouth. Her hair was cut in a black bob, and it swung about her face in graceful sweeps as she looked Maggie over, from head to toe.
“Mom, this is Maggie Gerber,” Summer said. She stood aside and crossed her arms over her chest. “Now that you’ve met her, can we please go? This shop gives me the heebie-jeebies.”
“Your mother?” Maggie asked. She blinked. It wasn’t like she thought Summer had been spawned from a pinecone; still, she hadn’t seen Summer’s mother in ages.
Maggie glanced at the woman still scrutinizing her. Yes, she vaguely remembered Summer’s mother, Blair Phillips, from their high school days, but she knew Blair had been married at least three times since then, and she had no idea what her surname was now.
Blair’s lips pursed to the side in a scowl, and her eyes narrowed. Then she shook her head. “No, no, I refuse to believe it. There is absolutely no way that Sam Collins threw you over for this.”
“Excuse me?” Maggie asked. She frowned at the woman in front of her. “I’m pretty sure my boyfriend didn’t throw over anyone, especially not her, for me.”
“No one asked you,” Blair said.
Maggie glanced back at her friends to see if this was for real. Judging by the matching looks of irritation on their faces—yep, this was real.
“I’m sorry, unless you’re here to shop or to consign something for me to sell, you’re going to need to leave . . . now.” Maggie was pleased that her voice sounded so calm when on the inside she was boiling.
Blair glanced around the shop. Her nose crinkled in distaste. “No, I really don’t see anything in here that would interest me. I don’t do the shabby-chic thing that you’ve got going on.”
The front door opened and in strode a gray-haired man wearing a plaid shirt and jeans with a scuffed pair of cowboy boots. His wide leather belt seemed to prop up the beer belly he was sporting, but his smile seemed genuine as he took in all of the ladies before him.
“Well, I might have known you two girls would be off shopping the first chance you got,” he said. His voice had a light drawl to it, but Maggie couldn’t tell if it was age or origin that flavored his speech.
“Oh, no, we’re not shopping,” Blair corrected him. “We’re merely checking out the competition—and we’re being very generous by calling it that, believe me.”
Maggie supposed she should consider it a compliment that Summer and her mother found her and her shop wanting, but truly it felt like a slam—a well-delivered one, at that.
“Hi, I’m Mr. Blair,” the man joked.
He extended his hand to Maggie. Maggie and the others just stared at him, and he sighed, as if realizing that his wife had made his joke not funny.
“I’m Bruce Cassidy, husband to Blair and stepfather to Summer,” he said.
Good manners propelled Maggie forward, and she shook his hand. “Maggie Gerber. Nice to meet you.”
The others followed her lead, while Blair and Summer frantically whispered behind their hands.
Maggie was pretty sure they were shredding her shop, her hair and the outfit she wore today. She glanced down, trying not to appear self-conscious. She was wearing her favorite jeans—no, not skinny jeans, but the cut and fit were flattering—with a snug blue sweater. Possibly they were finding fault with her navy Converse sneakers, but today was the day she sorted inventory in her stockroom, and a skirt and blouse combo really didn’t cut it for the heavy lifting.
“We’re done here, Bruce,” Blair declared. She strode to the door in her tight skirt and calf-hugging boots topped by her puffy jacket. Summer fell into step behind her, and it was then that Maggie realized the two women were wearing the exact same outfit but in different colors. Blair favored dark jewel tones, while Summer was all about the pastel, shiny fabrics. Neither Blair nor Summer bothered to say good-bye when they left.
Bruce gave Maggie and the others a shrug as if this were normal operating procedure.
“We’ve only been married two years, but she still keeps me on my toes,” Bruce said. He smiled, but no one returned it. He tightened his scarf around his neck. “Ten years away from southern California and I’m still not used to the cold. Well, nice meeting you, ladies.”
He caught the door before it shut completely and pushed his way out onto the street behind Summer and her mother.
“Heaven help us, there are two of them,” Ginger said. She stood gaping at the window as if she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“I think I need to find a happy place,” Maggie said. “A very happy place.”
She closed her eyes and concentrated on the Presidents’ Day sales that would be coming up in a matter of days. Sure enough, thinking about all of the boots, coats, gloves and hats that were to be discounted on the big sale day helped pull her out of her spiral of outrage, hurt, horror and revulsion. Summer and her mother could not touch her in her happy sale place.
“Are you all right in there?” Ginger asked after a few minutes. When Maggie didn’t answer, she asked, “You’re not catatonic, are you?”
Maggie blinked her eyes open. “Just mentally perusing the Presidents’ Day sales.”
Claire, Joanne and Ginger all nodded in perfect understanding. Oh, yes, there was nothing a bargain hunter loved quite so much as a holiday sale.
“I refuse to let Summer or her mother ruin one of the best shopping weekends of the winter for me,” Maggie said. “I’ve been tracking the Sunday circulars, and the big stores are having mega sales. I’m pretty sure I can load up on items to stock the shop for next winter.”
“And we’ll help,” Claire said. “I saw Stegner’s is having a buy two get one free on shoes.”
“Perfect,” Maggie said. “And this time, I want to branch out to handbags.”
“Now you are speaking my language!” Ginger cried. She was known for her weakness for purses.
“I was thinking I could do a display of handbags in the window,” Maggie said. “Too bad Laura isn’t here. She’s so clever with window displays.”
Laura Gerber, Maggie’s only child, was away at college in Pennsylvania. Since Maggie’s husband, Charlie, had been killed when Laura was a toddler, it had been just the two of them for as long as Maggie could remember. She missed her daughter terribly, but she wanted Laura to pursue her own dreams, even if it meant Laura didn’t settle back in St. Stanley. As Maggie’s own mother had told her when Laura was born, the greatest gifts she could give her daughter were roots followed by wings.
“She could always do a phone consultation,” Joanne said. “Tell her what you’re thinking of doing, and she will tell you how wrong it is and then give you fabulous advice.”
“Is that what happened with your window display at the deli?” Claire asked.
“Pretty much,” Joanne said. She and her husband, Michael, owned and operated the local deli More than Meats. “Michael did not understand why I felt it was so important to decorate the windows of our deli. I think it was pregnancy brain. Ever since the tragedy there, well, I just feel the need to make it over.”
Maggie and the others nodded. One of Joanne and Michael’s employees had been murdered in the deli just before the holidays, and they knew Joanne had been struggling to put it behind her and focus on her baby’s arrival.
“So, were you leaning toward blue or pink for the decorations?” Claire asked.
Michael and Joanne had opted not to find out the gender of their baby. It had been driving Claire bonkers ever since Joanne had told her, and she never missed an opportunity to try and determine if her friend was having a boy or a girl.
“Neither,” Joanne said. “I was mostly just obsessed with naked cupids and big shiny red hearts,” she said. “I texted Laura with my brilliant idea, and she convinced me that lacy white doilies cut into the shape of hearts would be much more festive on a deli window.”
“Yeah, I don’t suppose anyone wants to order a big ole hunk of ham when they’re looking at a cupid’s butt,” Ginger said with a snort.
Maggie bit her lip to keep from laughing. It almost worked, but a small chuckle escaped before she could stop it.
Claire did not laugh but was instead eyeing Joanne’s belly as if she could see inside. Maggie could tell the gender issue of Baby Claramotta was making her batty.
“Has Michael been gaining weight?” Claire asked.
Joanne frowned at her. “Why do you ask?”
“Because I read an article that said when a husband gains a lot of weight during his wife’s pregnancy, then it’s a girl,” Claire said.
“How do they figure?” Ginger asked. “I birthed four boys, and the way Roger ate, you’d think he was the pregnant one. The man had worse cravings than I did.”
“He’s the exception that proves the rule,” Claire said. She turned back to Joanne. “So, any new love handles on the husband to report?”
Joanne frowned as if trying to think. “I don’t know . . . maybe . . . but I mean, he’s not huge or anything.”
Claire scrutinized Joanne’s belly. “Okay, well the other thing I read was that if you carry the baby low, it’s a boy, and if you carry high, it’s a girl.”
Ginger looked at Maggie and rolled her eyes. “For a woman who prides herself on research, she sure is busting out the old wives’ tales.”
“I don’t know,” Joanne said as she studied her belly. “From this angle, I feel like the baby is sitting right smack dab in the middle.”
Claire shook her head. “This is driving me crazy. How could you not find out what it is? Don’t you want to know? Aren’t you curious?”
Joanne hugged her belly. “I just want healthy. That’s all that matters.”
“Yeah, but how am I supposed to know if I should be stocking up on blue or pink?” Claire asked. “Sports teams or ballerinas?”
“Yellow and green are lovely, too,” Joanne said. She reached into her purse and pulled out her phone to check the time. “Oh, I have to go. Michael and I have a doctor’s appointment.”
“Will there be an ultrasound?” Claire asked as they headed toward the door. “Can I come? The doctor could just tell me. I swear I won’t blab.”
“No, you nut,” Joanne laughed. “You can’t find out the baby’s gender before us. Besides, you know you’d never be able to keep it a secret.”
“I would, too,” Claire insisted. “I’d just call it Cletus the fetus.”
“Then I’d think it was a boy,” Joanne said. “Listen, Claire, I love you like a sister, but no, you may not come to the doctor with me.”
She pushed open the door and waved to Ginger and Maggie as she left.
“Fine, but don’t blame me when all that baby has to wear is yellow,” Claire said. She, too, waved to Maggie and Ginger, and the door swung shut behind them.
“The suspense is killing the librarian in her,” Ginger observed.
“No kidding,” Maggie said. “I don’t remember carrying Laura high.”
“You didn’t,” Ginger said. “You looked like you swallowed a bowling ball and were cradling it in your pelvis. How often did you have to go to the bathroom?”
“Every fifteen minutes,” Maggie said. “And your boys rode high. Remember? Dante’s foot was lodged in your ribs for weeks.”
Ginger rubbed her right side. “How could I forget?”
The door to the shop opened and Sam strode in carrying a take-out bag from Slice of Heaven, the local pizza joint. Maggie could smell Mrs. Bellini’s signature sauce all the way across the room.
“Hello, ladies,” he said. He stopped beside Maggie and planted a quick kiss on her lips before handing over the bag.
“A man who delivers lunch,” Maggie said. “You really are pretty perfect, aren’t you?”
Sam grinned, and it made Maggie dizzy. She did not think she would ever get used to Sam being hers, all hers, again.
“Hi, Sam,” Ginger greeted him. She kissed his cheek and gestured to the vase on the counter with its three red roses. “Nice flowers.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he blinked at her, as if that made him look more innocent.
“Uh-huh,” Ginger said. “Well, here’s a word to the wise: If you’re romancing Maggie, you may want to go for the big, public gesture that will have people talking for weeks and will keep Summer’s mother at bay.”
Sam frowned. “Am I missing something?”
“Apparently, we all were. Blair and Bruce Cassidy, Summer’s mom and stepfather, are here for a visit and decided to stop by my shop to check out the competition,” Maggie said.
“And?” Sam asked.
“Blair found Maggie less than satisfactory,” Ginger said.
“What? Why?” Sam asked.
“Oh, how did she put it?” Maggie asked Ginger as she put the food on the counter and opened the bag to let the delicious smell perfume the room.
“In her opinion, you’re not worthy,” Ginger said.
“Not worthy of what?” Sam asked. He looked outraged, a fact that made him even more attractive to Maggie.
“Quote, ‘There is no way that Sam Collins threw you over for this,’ end quote,” Maggie said.
“‘This’ meaning?” Sam asked.
“Me,” Maggie said. “I was lucky enough to be the recipient of Blair’s scorn. Clearly, she thinks I am not worthy of you. It was a good time.”
“That’s . . . um . . . let me find the right word.” Sam paused. He scratched his head and said, “Insane.”
“No argument here,” Ginger said. “But if I were you, Sam, I would watch your back, front or any other part you value, if you get my drift.”
“Eep!” Sam let out a girly, high squeak and with a look of mock horror crossed his arms over his middle, which made Maggie and Ginger both laugh.
“Don’t worry,” Maggie said. “I’ll protect your virtue.”
Sam gave her a wicked wink, which made Maggie’s face get hot with embarrassment. Ginger glanced between them with a wide smile.
“How I never knew that you two were a couple back in the day, I cannot imagine. You really are perfect for each other.”
“That’s because someone let Summer Phillips mess with her head instead of asking me for the truth, thus causing our dramatic teenage breakup before we told anyone we were even together.” Sam gave Maggie a dark look.
“I’m never going to live that down, am I?” Maggie asked.
Sam and Ginger exchanged a look and then simultaneously said, “No.”
In high school, when Sam and Maggie had just been getting together as a couple, Summer had her boyfriend of the moment put on Sam’s football jersey. Then she staged a half-naked, passionate encounter for Maggie to walk in on, which she did, causing Maggie to believe that Sam was cheating on her. It ruined Sam and Maggie’s relationship. He left for college, and they didn’t speak again for twenty-plus years.
“Just don’t let your guard down around Summer or her mother again,” Ginger said as she pulled on her coat and headed to the door with a wave. “See ya, kids.”
Maggie took the bag from the counter and led the way over to a sitting area in the corner of her shop. It sported a glass coffee table and several mismatched chairs, all of which were available for purchase. When she had opened her secondhand store, Maggie had decided that one way to update its look was to make everything in it for sale, causing her furniture to turn over as often as her clothes, which kept the store fresh.
Maggie and Sam sat down on the love seat that was currently in residence, and Maggie unloaded the bag. Salads, bread and two cardboard containers with individual servings of lasagna were unpacked, and suddenly Blair and Summer’s visit seemed ridiculous. This was the magic of comfort food, and Mrs. Bellini made the best in town.
“So do you think I should be concerned about Summer and her mother popping in for a visit?” Maggie asked.
“Nah.” Sam dropped a kiss on her head and then leaned back to look at her with affection. “We’re rock solid. What harm could they possibly do to us?”
It did not take long for Sam’s optimistic outlook to take a sharp turn south.
“How many times have you been called to Summer’s shop over the past three days?” Maggie asked. She and Sam were fixing dinner in her kitchen while Marshall Dillon roamed around the house.
Maggie was glad to have Sam and Marshall there. Things had been awfully quiet since Laura had gone back to college, an event which had been followed shortly after by Sandy, Jake and Josh—her niece, her niece’s husband and their son—moving into their own house.
They lived around the corner from Maggie’s now, and she had dibs on babysitting Josh, but still, her house felt like an empty shell with no squeals from the three-year-old to break the quiet. She hadn’t stepped on a toy in weeks, and there were no cracker crumbs on the furniture. It just seemed wrong, and she didn’t like it. Of course, Sam now spent most of his evenings with her, and a lot of his nights, too, so maybe it had all worked out for the best.
“Five times. First they swore there was a burglar breaking in; next they were sure Mrs. Shoemaker was shoplifting.” He paused while Maggie sputtered.
“But that’s outrageous!”
“Agreed,” he said. “Then they were concerned that someone was hiding in the dressing room. It was a stray cat.”
“Summer probably caught it and put it in there just so she could call you,” Maggie said sourly.
“You’re cute when you’re jealous,” he said.
“I am not jealous,” Maggie corrected him. “Just appalled that your time is being wasted by those conniving idiots.”
Sam opened the oven and used a pot holder to take out the pan of freshly baked corn bread. “I do feel like they have me on speed dial.”
“Have you sent other officers over?” Maggie asked. She lifted the lid to her Crock-Pot and checked on the pulled pork. She had put in the leftovers from a roast they had made a few nights before and let it cook all day in her favorite sauce. It looked amazing.
“Yes, but Blair insists she will only talk to me. Honestly, it’s embarrassing,” he said. He sighed, then he turned to frown at Maggie. “Are you laughing at me?”
“No.” She clamped her lips together to keep from chuckling out loud. A snort came out of her nose instead.
“You are!” he accused.
“I’m sorry,” Maggie said. She gave in and laughed out loud. “It’s just that it’s all so crazy. Blair really thinks that if she keeps throwing Summer at you, you will eventually crack and give in.”
“I suppose I would laugh, too,” Sam said, “if it wasn’t happening to me.”
“Maybe you need to find a bigger fish for Blair to cast her net at,” Maggie said.
“Like who?” Sam asked. “Seriously, I’ll take anyone.”
“I don’t know,” Maggie said. “St. Stanley is not exactly hip-deep in available males. Obviously, Tyler Fawkes has been kicked to the curb.”
“I really thought after the Madison ball that he and Summer were a thing,” Sam said.
“So did I,” Maggie said. “But then Mama Blair showed up.”
“Tyler’s not good enough?” Sam asked.
“Apparently not,” Maggie said.
“Well, I’ve had plenty of time to observe the wacky family dynamic that is Blair Cassidy and Summer Phillips,” Sam said.
“What have you learned?” Maggie asked.
“Well, aside from the fact that Blair’s been married five times and Summer four—that’s nine husbands between them—I think that Blair genuinely cares for her daughter and wants her to be happy.”
“Which she assumes would be with you,” Maggie said.
Marshall Dillon strolled into the kitchen and sat in the middle of the floor. He blinked at them and let loose a yowl that was most definitely a complaint.
Maggie glanced down at the feline and smiled. “I swear the M on his forehead is wrinkling into a frown.”
“Yep, that’s his hungry face,” Sam said. He crouched down on the floor, and Marshall Dillon stood on his back legs and put his front paws on Sam’s knee. Then they gently bumped foreheads. As always, Maggie found this male bonding ridiculously charming.
“Well, I told him he has tuna from me for eternity after saving my life a few months ago,” Maggie said. She leaned over and scratched Marshall Dillon’s chin just the way he liked it.
“From me, too,” Sam said. “I really would deputize him for saving my girl. Heck, I’d make him my sole heir if I could.”
Maggie smiled. “I think you just need to feed the poor boy before he expires.”
Sam stood, scooping Marshall Dillon up with him. Together they filled the food dish Maggie kept at her house for the cat. Sam watched his boy for a moment until he was satisfied that Marshall Dillon was happy with his dinner. It occurred to Maggie that Sam would have made a really great father.
She shook her head. While she was curious about why Sam had never married or had a family, it felt as if it was too soon in their relationship to ask such a personal question. She was sure Sam would tell her in time.
She dished the pulled pork into a serving bowl while Sam cut up the corn bread. Maggie took the salad she had made earlier in the day out of the refrigerator and together they set the small table in the kitchen.
Sam poured them each a glass of beer and Maggie took the seat across from his. They both dished their food, and when they were done, Sam held up his glass for a toast.
“To many more evenings just like this with you,” he said.
“I’ll drink to that,” Maggie said.
She tapped his glass with hers. She knew what he meant. It seemed as if she had been single for a very long time. And then, her high school boyfriend Sam had strolled back into town and taken the job of sheriff.
Their high school breakup had been the stuff of legends. The misunderstanding engineered by Summer Phillips was one of many reasons that Maggie felt nothing but the purest strain of loathing for the woman.
But Maggie refused to let Summer and her shenanigans taint this second chance that she and Sam had. They had spent more than twenty years apart, and while Maggie would never ever regret her marriage to Charlie Gerber and the birth of her daughter, Laura, she couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened to her and Sam if they hadn’t broken up all those years ago.
Then again, she had to acknowledge that if her seventeen-year-old self had been truly sure of Sam, she never would have fallen for Summer’s stunt. So maybe she and Sam were just destined to meet when they were older and wiser. She certainly hoped that was the cosmic plan, at any rate.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked.
“The past,” she said.
Sam gave her a rueful glance. “And here I thought you might be pondering the meaning of all those one-word notes and roses you’ve been receiving.”
“The ones you deny you’ve been sending?” Maggie asked. She dipped a bit of her corn bread into the sauce-slathered pork and popped it into her mouth.
“I refuse to say anything on the grounds I might incriminate myself,” he said. As if to emphasize his point, he tucked into his meal with gusto.
“So, you have no idea what ‘Maggie, will you please be my . . .’ might end with?”
“Is that what the notes say?” he asked. He raised his eyebrows. “Wow, that could be anything.”
“Really?” Maggie asked. “Given that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I sort of figured the answer was obvious.”
Sam frowned. “Maybe it’s going to spell out ‘be my pal,’ or ‘be my cleaning woman,’ or ‘be my’—”
He didn’t get to finish, as Maggie threw her napkin at him and nailed him right in the forehead.
Excerpted from "Marked Down for Murder"
Copyright © 2014 Josie Belle.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for the Good Buy Girls Mysteries
“Maggie is a wonderful amateur sleuth.” —Lesa’s Book Critiques
“More fun than a closeout sale.”—Krista Davis, author of Murder, She Barked
“100% fun. It’s the real deal!”—B. B. Haywood, author of Town in a Strawberry Swirl
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Maggie and her friends "the Good Buy Girls" have bargains on the brain. Right now it is near Valentine's Day and President's Day. They are checking out the sales to see what they can get. Then Maggie's nemesis mother shows up with her husband. They are trying to get Maggie to give up her boyfriend so summer can have him. Summer's step dad is now murdered and they help and try to find out who did it. In the mean time one of the good buy girls Joanne id due to have her baby any day now. They all keep running back and forth with false labor. The ending will surprise you. Very good read.
I love hanging out with GBGs for another installment. Josie Belle knows how to add humor and intrigue which is why this series as been a continued success. I want to let everyone know the followup to this book will the final book in this series. You have a alot twists and turns in this novel which leave you wondering who the killer is. So snatch it up while you can. Enjoy fellow readers.
I so enjoy this series. If you read and enjoyed any or all of the other books in this series, you will like this one. Hope there are many more books to come in this series!