SECOND TO NUN

SECOND TO NUN

by Alice Loweecey

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941962930
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication date: 09/22/2015
Pages: 290
Sales rank: 588,929
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.61(d)

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CHAPTER 1

Hot, tired, and triumphant, Giulia Driscoll pushed open Driscoll Investigations' frosted glass door.

"Nobody talk to me until I rip these nylon torture devices off my legs."

She hung her purse on the coat rack and headed straight for the narrow bathroom. Seconds later, she stuffed her pantyhose into the pocket of her navy blue suit jacket and wiggled blissfully free toes. She opened the door again, carrying her low-heeled shoes in her left hand.

"A few years back, I thought pretending to be a nun again was the worst undercover job I'd ever have. Wrong. If that company calls me for a follow-up interview, I'm wearing pants."

Zane, her all-but-genius admin, looked at her with that expression men get when women are the most inscrutable creatures on the planet. Sidney, her perky, all-natural assistant, fist-bumped Giulia as she went past.

"If I ever try to institute a formal dress code here," Giulia said, "you have permission to pour cold water over my head until I come to my senses."

"Did they fall for it?" Zane said.

"Did you catch the cheating scumbag harassing the receptionist?" Sidney said.

"To answer Zane's question: Possibly. I gave the HR person ideal canned answers as much as I could. That's one reason I used my maiden name. You never know if someone's heard of Driscoll Investigations."

She pulled out a chair at the worktable under the single window and stretched her spine, dangling her head over the back of the chair and dropping the shoes in the same motion.

The position gave her an upside-down view of the stores across the street: The pizza place that filled the air with the aroma of frying sausage every morning, the celebrity tanning studio, the combination New Age/Tarot Reading shop, and the cell phone store on the corner. The pre-lunch rush had started. Several people headed into the cell phone store. The pizza delivery Honda pulled into traffic after a taxi and a city bus zoomed past. The tanning salon looked deserted, as always. A tall, white-haired woman in flowered capris and a blue camp shirt came out of the Tarot shop.

Zane said, "How soon did they ask you about your greatest weakness?"

Giulia sat up again and laughed. "It's one of the questions on the intake form."

Zane leaned forward, his white-blond hair falling over his eyes. "Do they think anyone answers that question honestly?"

"Maybe it's their inside joke. Sidney, the cheating scumbag did indeed harass the receptionist. He's so good at it — you know what I mean — that if I hadn't been looking for inappropriate touching I wouldn't have noticed anything out of the ordinary."

Zane mirrored Sidney's frown so well they looked like the positive and negative prints of a photograph. "Seriously, why is that receptionist putting up with his crap? This isn't the 1950s. The company's employee handbook has to have a section on sexual harassment."

"It's not that straightforward. The CEO and the scumbag are golf and drinking buddies. He's done this before and gotten away with it. He targets a low-level employee who can't afford to make trouble at the job. The receptionist's disabled father lives with her and her income pays the rent. She needs the job for that and the health insurance."

Sidney made a noise that sounded like an angry bear. "We've got giant hogweed in the fields behind our alpaca pasture. Let's toss him into it naked."

Giulia said, "Is it similar to poison ivy?"

"Not even close. Hogweed gets like ten feet tall and causes blisters and burns that can hang on for years."

"That's much better than my idea of dumping him into the koi fountain in the company's lobby." Giulia stood, still barefoot. "Did I miss anything around here?"

The door burst open. The white-haired woman from the Tarot shop strode in and looked at all three of them in turn.

"I need the owner, right now."

Giulia stepped forward. "I'm Giulia Driscoll. How may I help you?"

The woman grabbed Giulia's hand and dragged her toward the door. "I have to take you to Lady Rowan."

Giulia dug her heels into the just-buffed wood floor. "Release my hand, please."

The woman tugged harder. Giulia braced against her and kept herself in the same spot.

"Please release my hand."

"All right." The woman complied. "I'm sorry, but this is urgent. Lady Rowan told me that I must seek the Veiled Woman immediately."

Giulia glanced at Sidney and Zane, who both shrugged.

"She's the Tarot reader, of course." The woman pointed out the window with her left hand and reached into her straw purse with her right. "Here." She slapped a checkbook with a lighthouse cover on Zane's desk. "Private detectives get a retainer, right? They always do in the movies. You hold my checkbook while I take your boss to consult with Rowan. When we return I'll pay for this appointment."

Giulia slipped bare feet into her shoes. This promised to be much better than spying on a cheating husband. "Let's go."

CHAPTER 2

Giulia and her new client walked side by side downstairs and out onto the sidewalk. Both women dodged a score of hurrying pedestrians.

"Those stairs are an accident waiting to happen. I'm MacAllister Stone. Everyone calls me Mac. Here's a gap in this insane traffic. Ready to run for it?"

They dashed across the street to the music of honking taxi horns and at least one physically impossible suggestion. Giulia figured Mac to be in her early seventies, but her fitness level shaved off a good twenty years.

"People these days have no manners." Mac led Giulia past the tanning salon's wide glass windows and under the New Age shop's deep purple awning.

The restrained storefront showcased different styles of Tarot decks for sale. A black velvet picture frame enclosed a rate sheet for various types of readings. The awning blocked the June sun, creating a pool of twilight for them to stand in. Mac opened the door and ushered Giulia inside. A bell chimed a single high note.

Opposite them, a huge vase filled with stargazer lilies sat on the floor between two flowered armchairs. The scent of violets hung in the air, but didn't overpower it. The dark floral carpet and mauve wallpaper completed the color scheme.

"Jasper, you're a lifesaver," Mac said to the ponytailed young man behind the counter.

"I can do more than blow stuff up, Aunt Mac." He held out a prosthetic hand to Giulia. "I'm Jasper Fortin, Lady Rowan's nephew."

Giulia shook hands. "I seem to be missing an essential clue here."

Jasper smiled. "Sorry. Hazard of the profession." He stepped over to a violet jacquard tapestry hanging in a doorway. "They're back."

A fluting voice answered, "Send them in, please."

He held aside the tapestry, still smiling. "Lady Rowan will see you now."

Mac led the way into a square, dim room with the same carpeting and wallpaper. A circular table and three Mission-style chairs took up seventy percent of the space.

A dark-haired woman faced them. "Ms. Driscoll, I'm relieved you agreed to come with Mac. Take the right-hand chair, please. Mac, the other is the chair you sat in earlier."

She pressed a remote control and recessed ceiling lights brightened, banishing the spooky atmosphere. "Much better. Let's get down to business."

Giulia sat in the indicated chair, trying to decide whether Lady Rowan was emulating Maria Ouspenskaya in The Wolf Man or going for cliché New Age Summer Fashion.

Rowan winked at her. "Certain customers expect the mysterious Hollywood getup, Ms. Driscoll. Mac here likes the whole cosplay treatment. If it were just you and me, I'd wear a business suit. You don't need the ambiance."

Giulia gave her points for reading all the nuances of the newcomer's body language.

"Rowan and I were sorority sisters," Mac said. "I think she looks adorable in all those scarves and shawls."

"I'm too old to qualify for adorable. Only because this place has excellent air-conditioning am I sporting the layered look today." She placed her hands on either side of the complex pattern of Tarot cards on the table. "This isn't your reading, Ms. Driscoll, so I won't unpack everything. That would take another half-hour. The reason I sent Mac for you is this combination of the High Priestess, the Hanged Man, and the Moon."

The many bracelets on her arms jingled as she indicated the cards. "The High Priestess guards the veil of knowledge. When she combines with The Hanged Man in relation to Mac's situation, the meaning started to become plain to me. When I turned over the Moon card, everything settled into its proper place."

Giulia turned her polite smile on both of them. "I don't quite see what's been settled in relation to Driscoll Investigations."

Rowan cackled. "That was a beautifully subtle mood-killer. In brief, I told Mac that she was to do nothing without consulting she who uncovers the truth. I called Jasper in here. He's clairvoyant but needs more practice. He knew right away to whom the cards referred."

"You see?" Mac said. "The cards and Jasper directed me to you, the former nun. The Veiled Woman. You're meant to help me."

Giulia didn't have Rowan's people-reading skills, but she knew how to take control of a situation. Step one was to get back on her own turf. "I appreciate your confidence in me. If Lady Rowan will excuse us, we can discuss in my office the possibility of Driscoll Investigations taking you on as a client."

Rowan smacked the table with one multi-ringed hand. "See, Mac? Ms. Driscoll is already in charge. Go, go. Come back here afterward."

Mac popped up. "Of course. Ms. Driscoll, I should warn you that I have a wall covered with framed sales awards, and I haven't lost my touch."

Giulia stood and smoothed her suit skirt. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Lady Rowan."

In the outer room, Jasper was marking sale prices on essential oils. Three teenage girls entered the shop, giggling and whispering. Giulia led the way this time and Mac followed.

CHAPTER 3

Giulia closed the door to her private office.

"Mac, what exactly do you hope we can do for you?"

Mac settled in the client chair, a whole head taller than Giulia, even sitting down. "I think my family ghost is trying to evict me."

Giulia groped for words.

Mac smiled. "You think I'm batty. I know that look. Is it the Tarot or the ghost or both?"

Giulia put an answering smile on her face. "Not at all. I know several people who are skilled in Tarot reading. I was thinking that removing a ghost requires a different type of investigator."

"Nope." Mac shook her head with decision. "Rowan and I have been friends since we were seventeen years old. Her skills are the real thing. If she says I need you, I'm not arguing."

A client referred by Tarot was a first for DI. Giulia wanted to take her on, if only to watch Sidney's practical head explode. But ghost-hunting?

"Mac, in all seriousness, our usual caseload involves insurance fraud, background checks, and deadbeat parents. Tangible things."

Mac snorted. "Please. Who should I contact? That ghost chaser who buys infomercial space on late-night TV? The husband and wife team who advertise on Craigslist? No. I need a real private investigator and I want you. Give me ten more minutes of your time to convince you."

Giulia liked her enough to give her the chance. "Go ahead."

Mac leaned forward.

"My great-grandfather built Stone's Throw on Conneaut Lake as his family's home when he married my great-grandmother. He always wanted to live in a lighthouse. It was never a working one because the lake isn't deep enough or long enough for real shipping, but that didn't bother him. He and his wife had eleven children and twenty-seven grandchildren. They scattered all over North America and none of them wanted to take over the old place. It sat empty for two decades before I bought it."

She brought out an Android phone. "When I retired, I'd been regional manager for a hotel chain for thirty years. I knew I could turn Great-Grandpa's white elephant into a working bed and breakfast. I had plenty of real-world experience, enough money saved, and excellent credit. I sank everything into the renovations. I've been breaking even for seven years, but something's changed. Please look at these pictures."

Giulia came around the desk.

Mac held up the phone. "This is the inside of the lighthouse. See the scratches on the stairwell walls? They're higher than anyone can reach. I'm six foot one and they're a foot above my fingertips." She swiped to the next picture and enlarged it. "This is the living room. See behind the drapes? Those aren't my sheer white curtains." She swiped again. "This is the attic. I keep all my decorating supplies up here. I have the only key to the attic door. Now look at those cracks in the window facing the lake. Do you see anything?"

Giulia studied the random damage to the glass. All at once a pattern emerged. "It says 'Mine.'"

"Oh, good. You do see it." She returned the phone to her straw purse. "I bet you're going to tell me there are simple, logical explanations for everything I just showed you. Perhaps the scratches are cracks in the old plaster or bird claw marks. Maybe the white curtain is really fog or sea mist. By chance an unseen flaw in manufacture appeared in the glass as it got old. Am I right?"

"I'd want to see everything in person before making that call."

Mac's wrinkles all scrunched together from her huge grin. "I was hoping you'd say that. Okay, look. There's a lot more to this: We have a family tradition of a lost hoard of gold coins that might be involved, plus a psychic I've hired to do weekly séances and who's convinced one of my ancestors has turned into a Woman in White."

Giulia took a legal pad and a pen out of her center drawer. "We need to start at the beginning."

"Not here. On the premises is best. I want you to stay at Stone's Throw. Are you married?"

"Yes."

"Good. That wasn't meant to be rude. Stone's Throw is all about the romantic getaway. If the Veiled Woman comes to me, I know you'll fix my ghost problem." She reached into her purse, but came up empty.

Giulia buzzed Zane. "Would you bring Ms. Stone her checkbook, please?"

After Zane closed them in again, Mac gestured for Giulia's pen. "What are your rates?"

Giulia told her the usual retainer amount and the per-diem fees while Mac wrote a check.

"Here you go, plus your time today. Now." She pulled Giulia's legal pad toward her, wrote a dollar figure, and reversed the pad. "This is my offer for you and your husband to evict whoever or whatever is trying to ruin my business."

Frank would've whistled. Giulia restrained herself. "That's serious money."

"Nobody alive or dead is going to force me into a retirement home to crochet afghans until my brain atrophies. Today's Thursday. I have a free room starting tomorrow night. I'll keep it open for you and your husband. I don't want my obituary to read 'Death by Ghost.'"

CHAPTER 4

Giulia went straight to the window after her new client left. Mac crossed the street and headed directly for the Tarot shop.

"Giulia." Sidney's plaintive voice reached out to her. "You are a cruel boss to leave us in suspense. You have to tell us what the Tarot client said."

Giulia turned to face the room. Zane and Sidney weren't even pretending to work. They turned their chairs to her and leaned forward in tandem.

"She thinks her house is haunted."

Sidney snorted. "You're kidding. There's no such things as ghosts."

"She's quite serious."

Sidney's suspicion eyebrow went up. "She looked pretty happy when she left. Did she hire us?"

"She did. I will be heading to Stone's Throw Bed and Breakfast, possibly tomorrow, to thwart either a cranky ghost or a phony psychic."

For half a second Giulia thought Sidney's head really was going to explode.

"Zane, tell her there's no such things as ghosts. You're the computer brain in a human shell."

Zane didn't answer for a moment. "I'm not prepared to give a definitive answer on the subject."

Giulia cut off Sidney's reply. "Why not?"

"I've never experienced anything supernatural, but my grandmother told us a lot of stories. Half of them could've been made up to scare us on a summer night. But if the others were even partially true, there's some weird shit out there. I beg your pardon."

"That's okay. Mac mentioned something called a Woman in White."

Zane nodded. "La Llorona."

"Who?" Sidney said.

"It's a spirit legend in dozens of countries. Sometimes it's considered an omen of death."

"If she hired the psychic to conjure up this death omen once a week to entertain the guests, it was an extra good marketing choice on her part," Giulia said. "Anyway, now she's found what she thinks are evidences of an actual haunting."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Second To Nun"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Alice Loweecey.
Excerpted by permission of Henery Press.
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.

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SECOND TO NUN 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters in the books, especially the continuing characters are fun, the conversations are snappy and the mystery is full of unusual twists and turns. I would like for the author to go into more detail as to why her main character left the convent, how she happened to come to work with Frank etc. Overall though this is a great series.
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the Driscoll Investigation Series. Guilia, Sydney, Zane and Jane staff the business, but her husband Frank, a police detective, helps out so much that he may as well still be on the payroll. It may seem unbelievable that an ex-nun runs a private investigation business, but it makes for some fun reading, especially when she is having second thoughts about lying and deceiving others while coming to terms with her own post-convent life. Giulia Driscoll and her staff are skeptical about taking on the "case of the haunted lighthouse." She is used to doing background checks, finding embezzlers and trailing cheating spouses, not chasing down ghosts. "Mac" the owner of the B&B housed in the lighthouse, offers her a large sum of money to help out and Guilia really likes her, so she takes the case. She and Frank are given an open invitation to take up temporary residence at the Bed & Breakfast to determine whether there is a ghost or if the so called psychic that does seances weekly behind the eerie happenings. Giulia quickly enlists her husband Frank's help, using the guise of a much needed get-away for the two workaholics. Once Giulia arrives, strange things do happen, but Giulia and Frank are absolutely convinced that logical, rational, and entirely human explanations exist for them. They have a list of suspects to investigate as more and more unexplained things occur. Second to Nun has a great mix of excitement and suspense, and once I started reading, I could not wait to get to the end to find out who "the ghost" really was. Several different suspects took center stage in my mind as I read, and I did not figure out the culprit until just before it was revealed in the story. Giulia's crew keeps me laughing and that never hurts when reading a fun cozy mystery like this one. A great book for cozy mystery lovers who also like a little humor in the story. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Title: Second To Nun - Guilia Driscoll Mystery Book 2 Author: Alice Loweecey Published: 9-22-15 Publisher: Henery Press Pages: 290 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub Genre: Cozy, Women's Fiction, Humorous Mystery, Women Sleuths, Ghost ISBN: 9781941962930 ASIN: B010BUDQVI Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley . In the second book of the Guilia Driscoll series Guilia is hire to find the source of the paranormal activity taking place a local bed and breakfast. She is to discover the history and debunk the rumors of ghostly activities or have it moved onto the great beyond. Guilia and her husband, Frank Falcone, are posing as guest at the B & B for a few days. No soon do they settle in than things begin to happen. When their host is injured they must step up their investigation before the next "accident" results ends in a death. This well written story will draw you in and keep you involved in the story to the very exciting conclusion. I enjoyed reading it. As soon as I get some free time, which isn't any time soon I want to get the preceding series Folcone-Driscoll Investigations to see how it all began. I think you will enjoy Alice Loweecey's style as much as I do. Guilia Driscoll may be nobody's fool, but her sense of humor can come up with some real zingers at times that will leave you in stitches. This is one series filled with characters you will not want to miss getting to know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RochelleRosesandThorns More than 1 year ago
Giulia Driscoll is a delight. I was the only Protestant on my block growing up, so I vicariously went to parochial school. While I didn’t actually have nuns wrapping my knuckles with rulers, the boys on my block sometimes did. Somehow I have difficulty picturing Giulia doing that to her students. I have a feeling she’d be a kinder nun who would keep order with compassion and humor, and whose weekly confession would include her ongoing coffee habit. (Yeah, I hear ya groaning.) At any rate, Second to Nun was a real page burner, and Ms. Loweecey did something not too many mystery writers manage to do. She kept me guessing whodunit to the very end of the book. I kind of had part of it right, but not all of it. I love it when an author manages to surprise me. Woo Hoo! Thanks, Ms. Loweecey! I plan to go back and read the beginning of this series when I have time (hollow laugh), and I look forward to snagging more of your books when they hit Net Galley (I hope). By all means, grab Second to Nun. You’ll definitely enjoy it.
weluvdopey More than 1 year ago
Great Series! This is a great series; this is the second book in the Giulia Driscoll series by Alice Loweecey. Giulia Driscoll is a former nun who now runs her own private investigator firm. She gets asked to investigate a haunted lighthouse called Stone’s Throw Lighthouse. Guilia and her husband Frank head to the lighthouse hoping to get some alone time while investigating. However, once they arrive things start happening and it is becoming life threatening. If you are looking for a great mystery with some humor then you need to read this book. This book will keep you guessing until the end. I can’t wait until the next book in this series comes out. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.