Please help me welcome today’s guest, my friend and fellow author, Brenda Whiteside…
Writing murder mysteries is all in a day’s work until an obsessed fan brings Phoebe’s stories to life.
Mystery writer, Phoebe Anderson, owes her success to killing her first husband on paper seventeen years earlier. Now, someone has actually done it. Taking a few days to re-group on an isolated ranch, she doesn’t expect romance…or murder…to find her.
Mason Meadowlark is happy with his wild cowboy ways, avoiding love since the death of his baby and the end of his marriage twenty years before. When Phoebe shakes up his routine, he fights to control his emotions, fearing the pain of opening his heart again.
With an obsessed fan close on her heels, Phoebe is thrown into her own murder mystery…and the next target on the psychopath’s list is Mason.
Phoebe shuddered and stilled.
Like the aftershocks of an earthquake, trembling overtook her body. Her knees wobbled, but Mason caught her before she collapsed.
“What’s wrong?” He hugged her briefly then brought his face even with hers. “Phoebe, tell me. Why are you shaking? What’s happened?”
“Oh my God, Mason.” She spread her hands on his chest and glanced back at the bathroom. “Tell someone to call an ambulance. Hurry!”
He took a step toward the ladies’ room, but she grabbed his shirtfront. “No!” She peered around him and shouted. “Someone call nine one one.”
Mason touched his pocket. “My cell’s in the truck.” He grabbed the shoulder of a male customer, the closest person to them. “You got a cell on you?”
The man nodded and pulled a phone from his pocket.
“Call nine one one right now. There’s been…” His face questioned her.
“Someone’s badly hurt in the bathroom. Oh hell, hurry!” She thumped her palms against his chest.
The man punched buttons on his cell as he raced into the ladies’ room.
Phoebe wrapped her arms around Mason, tipped her chin upward, and found the words. “It’s that waitress, Mason. Carla.”
His expression went blank, from concern for her to no comprehension.
“There’s so much blood.” She stifled a gag, the sweet, copper penny reek still heavy in her nostrils. “Her throat.” A shudder rippled the length of her body. “I think she’s dead.”
“Christ Almighty.” The man staggered from the bathroom. “There’s a knife in her.” He stumbled past them, gained his footing, and stopped several feet into the dining room. His voice boomed above the slow chords coming from the stage. “There’s been a murder!”
The band stilled, and for an instant, so did the diners. A woman’s voice gasped, “Did he say murder?” Chairs scraped the floor, followed by the pitch of voices increasing. People left their chairs, and the room took on a chaotic motion.
A man near the stage stood and bolted toward the door. The sounds of sirens could already be heard in the distance. The man didn’t leave, but instead, blocked the doorway, raised his hands, and shouted, “Everyone stay right where you are.” He scanned the crowd. “Jake. Yeah, you. Go make sure the back entrance stays closed. No one is to leave.”
A gentle pat on her back released the tension between her shoulder blades. She moved with Mason as he shuffled her to the side of the hall leading into the ladies’ room.
His lips, soft against her earlobe, whispered, “He’s a cop.”
She folded into his tightened hug.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m nauseous.” The trembling lessened, but the effects of the ghastly scene still resonated through her. Carla’s head had lolled back, blood flowed from the gaping slash across her throat, and a knife protruded from her chest. Phoebe shivered. The scene was familiar. The residual odor of urine, blood, and pine air freshener clogged her head as if they’d combined to form a caustic cloud she’d inhaled.
Red lights could be seen through the curtained windows.
“There’s more, Mason. The way she is…how she looks.” She shook her head and shut her eyes tight. A shiver traveled the length of her body as she huddled so close against him an onlooker might not know where one body stopped and the other began.
Several uniformed policemen entered the front door, and after speaking to the off-duty policeman guarding the entrance, fanned out. One headed for the back of the restaurant, one took his position at the front door, and two hurried past them and into the ladies’ room.
“I can’t believe this.”
“I know, baby. Neither can I.”
A second later, paramedics rushed in and entered the restroom.
Her fisted hands on his back opened and caught his shirt in her fingers. “No, you don’t understand.” Her head was dizzy with the scene, a scene she’d created. How could this happen again? “It’s my book—”
About the Author:
Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won’t discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.
Visit Brenda at https://www.brendawhiteside.com or https://www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor