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I opened the door and stepped in.I waited a moment while my eyes adjusted to
the light or lack of light.The store is
a cliché of the old, dark, dusty bookstores that you read about in a
novel.Bookshelves line the walls and
aisles.Thompson’s is small so it
doesn’t hold a large inventory, but the books are rare and expensive.Mostly first editions or books that are out
of print.I love coming in and looking
around, but I seldom buy anything because most of the books are out of my price
If the store, itself, is an old cliché, then Daniel Thompson
fits right in.He is a grumpy old
man.He hates parting with his books and
has even refused to sell to certain people.It is a good thing he has enough personal money that the store is just a
hobby for him.Daniel works every day,
Monday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.He refuses to open on Saturdays and has no
employees.He has had several offers for
the space but will not sell.I think he
just needs something to do, some reason to get out of bed each day.
Daniel and I have an odd relationship.He really doesn’t like anyone, but he
tolerates me.We have an
understanding.I can browse his books,
even read some of them in the store as long as I don’t talk to him.Which, of course, I take as a challenge.I love the old man.His bad temper doesn’t faze me, and I enjoy
getting him to open up.
A few months after I opened Scents and Sensibility, I
discovered Daniel’s secret vice.One day
I had come in the bookstore to look around and found Daniel behind the counter
savoring a pastry.It was a cream cheese
empanada sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.He absolutely loves them.His
wife had just passed away, and the one I saw him eating was one of the last she
had made.It took me a couple of months
to get that out of him, but once I did, I made a vow to myself to bring him
some at least once a month.Daniel won’t
shop in any of the stores so he never goes into Nora’s Bakery, but I do.
“What do you want?” Daniel asked me now.I smiled slightly at his gruff tone and
headed over to him.As usual, he was
sitting behind the counter with a book in front of him.
are you?” I asked him.
“Fine, fine,” he replied looking at the bag in my hand.I didn’t say anything, just sat the bag on
the counter and looked around.It didn’t
take long.I heard the rustle of the bag
as he opened it.I walked to the nearest
shelf and scanned the books hiding my smile.When I turned back to him, half of the empanada was already gone, and
Daniel had a contented look on his face.
“I heard the police showed you a picture of a man who fit
the description of the one who was arguing with Isabel,” I said nonchalantly as
I walked to another shelf and pulled down a book.
“Wasn’t him,” he answered around a mouthful of pastry.
I carefully put the book back and looked at Daniel.“The man in the picture wasn’t the man you
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“Of course, I’m sure!I’m not blind.That man, that
Peter Simms, he wasn’t the one I saw with Isabel.”
“They didn’t show you any other pictures or ask you about
“Nope,” he replied as he stuffed the last of the pastry in
his mouth.“You gonna buy anything?”
“Nope,” I replied with a grin.“Have a good day, Daniel.”
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It was almost seven by the time I was ready to leave.The area behind the stores was well lit, but
even so, I didn’t see them until I reached my car.They were both dressed casually in jeans, t-shirts, and
jackets.The younger one walked toward
me with the swagger of youth.He was
trying hard to be menacing.The other
man didn’t have to try.He was a couple
of years older than I was, and I had a bad feeling I was about to become
acquainted with the Cantono family.The
kid was probably young Mike that Griggs had mentioned.It was obvious he thought was in charge, but
when I looked at the other man, I knew who the real threat was.
He was tall, thick, and very well built.He had jet-black hair that he wore a little
too long and a couple of days of stubble on his classically handsome face.Even at a distance, I could see startling
blue eyes.His jacket was a soft black
leather, not the short bomber jacket, but the longer style that hit just below
his butt.He looked like the type of man
you would not want to meet in a dark alley.Unfortunately, it appeared I didn’t have a choice.At least about the alley part.Thank God for lights!
I casually slipped my hand into my purse.Although I don’t carry my gun much anymore,
every purse I have own since I was thirteen had a gun holster embedded.They had to be special ordered, and there had
been a time or two when I considered just purchasing off the rack, but now I
was very grateful that I hadn’t.The
feel of the gun in my hand helped quell the turmoil in my stomach.I didn’t draw but edged closer to the car
“Hey, bitch,” the kid said.“You have been butting into things that ain’t none of your business.”
He was still several feet away and hadn’t advanced any closer
so I waited.The older man simply leaned
on the side of their car and watched.When
I didn’t reply, the kid reached behind him and pulled out a knife.I stiffened, wondering what I should do.If the kid had a knife, did the older man
have a gun?I kept an eye on him.The kid was closer, but the man worried
me.As well as I can shoot, I couldn’t
shoot both of them at the same time.I
just hoped I wouldn’t have to shoot anyone.
“You ain’t got nothing to say?”
My heart was pounding and my breathing shallow.I swallowed and took a deep breath trying to
calm my nerves.I started to pull out
the gun but hesitated.I wasn’t sure I
could do it.I had never pointed a gun
at a human being.My father had taught
me everything I knew about guns, and he had told me to never point at anything
that I wasn’t willing to shoot.
“Mike,” the older man said softly.He voice sent a shiver down my spine and not
in a good way.“Just deliver the
A flash of anger crossed the kid’s face.He took a step toward me and that’s when I
pulled the gun.I was pleased but
surprised to see that my hand was steady.I didn’t say anything but just stared.
Mike halted, unsure for the first time.The man behind him pulled away from the car
and stepped closer but didn’t pull a weapon.He studied me a minute and then gave me a nod of respect.
“I don’t want to hurt anyone,” I said, “but I will if I have
to.I got your message.It would be best if you leave.”
The kid had recovered.The swagger was back, but so was the anger.He took a step toward me.I aimed the gun directly at him, praying
fervently that I wouldn’t have to use it.
“You heard the lady,” came a voice from the right.“I’ve called the police.I doubt you want to be here when they
I breathed a sigh of relief that was quickly followed by
panic as Daniel Thompson stepped out from behind the dumpster.The shotgun he held in his hands wasn’t quite
steady.I stepped toward him as the two
Cantonos whipped around.Once they
realized that they now had someone armed on either side, they moved back toward
the car.I continued making my way
toward Daniel while keeping an eye on the men.
“You think we’re afraid of the police?” Mike said.“How do you think we know about her
“Mike!” the man said harshly.“Get in the car.”
“Now,” he growled. The look he gave Mike would have made me pee
in my pants.Mike didn’t do much
better.He paled and quickly walked
around to the driver’s side and got in.
The other man watched him before turning back to us.He didn’t seem concerned.He was relaxed and confident.He did have a scowl on his face, but I think
it was left over from the look he had given Mike.His expression smoothed out as he studied us.
By now, I had reached Daniel.As the man wasn’t armed as far as I could
see, I didn’t aim my gun at him although I keep it in front of me.His eyes traveled down and back up again, and
I could tell he noticed.He looked me in
the face, and when I raised my chin and looked back, he suddenly grinned.I gasped softly.He was gorgeous, even better looking than
Trent.I hadn’t noticed before because I
was so scared, but I certainly noticed now.He might be the best-looking man I have ever seen.He was also the scariest.He raised his hand to his head and gave me a
small salute.I could hear sirens in the
distance. He stared at me a moment
longer and then winked.“Night, Ms.
Thanks for joining me for the Dead in a Dumpster Pre-Release Party. I am giving away a $10 Barnes and Noble eGift Card today. Come back tomorrow to register for an Amazon eGift Card.
A noise on the glass windows startled us both.The dark clouds had turned into rain, and the rain had now turned into sleet.We spent the next half an hour watching people scramble for their cars and soon the square was almost deserted.The sleet continued to fall, but it was still fairly light.I could tell the streets were starting to get slick so I sent Myra home at five.She lives a few miles out of town on a country road.I didn’t want her to get caught in the bad weather.
One hearty soul came in about twenty minutes later looking for a gift for his wife, but that was the only sale I made.At ten minutes before six, I decided it was safe to close and locked up.I straightened the store and gathered the trash before heading to the back.I badly wanted to go straight home and crawl into a warm bath to wash away the stress of the day, but first I had to complete payroll.
It was a quarter to eight before I was finally ready to leave.I went to the bathroom, gathered up the trash, and headed out the door.The sleet was still falling, and I could feel the ice pellets hitting my head.I hurried over to the dumpster setting the trash down by the bin.I pulled back the large lid and propped it against the brick wall.As I reached down for the trash, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.
I looked into the dumpster and saw Isabel Meeks staring back at me.It took my brain a few moments to determine she wasn’t actually looking at me but sitting perfectly still, eyes wide open, a surprised look on her face, and a huge bloodstain on her chest.I had never seen a dead body outside of a funeral so I did what any rational, mature human being would do.I screamed.I then turned and ran as fast as I could back to the store.I fumbled with the lock a moment but finally managed to get the door open.I even disabled the alarm before stumbling to my chair.I sat there shaking and staring at the door trying to process the scene.An image of Isabel flashed into my head, and I bolted from my chair and to the bathroom where I promptly lost my lunch.
Still a little shaky and somewhat nauseated, I rinsed out my mouth and walked back to the chair.I don’t know why it took me so long, but it finally occurred to me that I probably needed to call someone.So for the second time that day, I reached for my phone to call the police.
Dead in a Dumpster, the first Leah Norwood Mystery, will be released September 23, 2014. Come join me next weekend for a Pre-Release Party. I will be giving away an Amazon egift card, a Barnes and Noble egift card, and an eBook copy of Dead in a Dumpster. The party starts at 12:00 a.m. central time on Friday, September 19, 2014 and ends at 12:00 p.m. central time on Sunday, September 21, 2014.
Leah Norwood finds the body of Isabel Meeks in the dumpster behind her store,
she can’t believe the police consider her a suspect. Sure, she didn’t liked
Isabel, but then again, neither did anyone else. Isabel had a condescending
attitude and a bad reputation. As manager of the antique store, Patina, she had
made a lot of enemies.
Patina’s assistant manager, the handsome and charming Trent. Isabel was
blackmailing him. There is Patina’s owner, the aloof and influential Anthony
Thorpe.Isabel was smuggling drugs
through his store. And there is the entire drug dealing Cantono family. Isabel
had lost a box containing heroin from one of their shipments. That is just to
name a few and didn’t even include the stranger who was seen arguing with Isabel
just hours before her death.
police have too many suspects and too many soft alibis. Leah needs to prove to
the sexy new chief of police that she had nothing to do with Isabel’s death.
loves a good mystery. Can she find the killer before the police charge her with