Authors: Cindy Keen Reynders
I wrote this book for my mother, who sang me salty WWII WAC songs as a babe in my cradle, giving me a fine appreciation for humor.
I also wrote this for the laughter gods, with whom we should all communicate daily.
Published 2007 by Medallion Press, Inc.
The MEDALLION PRESS LOGO
is a registered tradmark of Medallion Press, Inc.
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment from this “stripped book.”
Copyright © 2007 by Cindy Keen Reynders
Cover Illustration by Adam Mock
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Typeset in Caslon 540
Printed in the United States of America
10-digit ISBN: 1-9338362-4-5
13-digit ISBN: 978-1-933836-24-9
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Thanks to Cristina, Jordon and Brian for putting up with mom when I had my fingers glued to the keyboard instead attending PTA meetings. Thanks to my dad and the rest of my extended family for listening to me ramble about my “latest” story. Thanks to my husband Rich for his fantastic Sunday breakfasts which fueled my imagination. Most of all, thanks to my best friend and sister Shauna, who taught me to laugh at life again when my creative spirit went MIA and who was a major player in helping me write
The Saucy Lucy Murders.
UN GLISTENED BRIGHTLY THROUGH PINE AND spruce trees, and onto the champagne powder snow. Above, blue sky, scattered with lumpy winter clouds, arched like a dome. A roaring snowmobile skiffed across the frosty white landscape with two riders bundled in heavy coats, hats, mittens, and goggles. Their laughter rang out into the crisp air, echoing throughout the remote wilderness.
Someone crouched in the shadows on a ledge above the snowmobile, hidden by a boulder. With steady hands, the shadow-person lifted a high-powered rifle and took aim. As the snowmobile’s occupants came into range, the shooter took a deep breath and pulled the trigger.
The snowmobile driver immediately slumped over the steering wheel and the vehicle veered into a snowdrift, spilling the occupants onto the ground. Blood spread out from the driver’s head and onto the white powder, like a snow cone dunked in cherry syrup.
Neither occupant moved for a moment, then the smaller individual, who had been riding behind, scooted out from underneath the snowmobile’s bulk and scrambled to their knees. Leaning forward, the individual examined the driver.
A scream pierced the silent landscape.
The shadow-person smiled.
OU NEED TO START DATING AGAIN
. Otherwise you’re going to dry up and turn into a prune with lips.” Lucy Parnell plopped plump blueberries into the thick batter in the bowl she held and the occasional one into her mouth.
“Damn it Lucy, I refuse to go on another one of your heifer checks,” Lexie Lightfoot returned. “Just because a guy has a pulse and all his real hair doesn’t mean I have to go out with him.”
Lucy rolled her eyes.
“Besides,” Lexie continued. “The last time you set me up on a date, the guy wound up with a bad headache and an appointment at Stiffwell’s funeral home.”
Lexie gave the loaf pan in her hand another shot of flour spray and loudly thunked it down on the counter. Blind dates were pure misery. She hated them. Yet, despite her protests about being ‘fixed up’, her older sister constantly tried to play matchmaker.
“You can’t blame that on me,” Lucy shot back as she stirred the blue-specked concoction with a large wooden spoon. “And the sheriff ruled Hugh Glen-wood’s death a hunting accident. Case closed.”
“Whatever. Lexie turned on the oven to preheat. “It was January—way past any hunting season we have around here. More like it was nearly Super Bowl time and Sheriff Otis, my dear brother-in-law and your chunky hubby, probably wanted to solve the murder quickly so he wouldn’t miss any of the game or miss the bouncing boobies at half-time.”
“For Pete’s sake, Lexie!” Lucy’s brows shot up. “Your mouth! Mother and Father would roll over in their graves.”
Yes, they probably would, Lexie thought. The good Reverend Castleton and his gentle wife would never have dreamed of swearing or speaking in such colorful language. Lexie respected her family’s desire not to swear, yet she couldn’t break herself of the habit. She considered the occasional swear word or use of colorful language therapeutic.
Oh well, it was best to just ignore Sister Lucy’s outburst. “I still say there was foul play involved,” Lexie said, referring to Glenwood’s death.
“You have always had an active imagination, baby sister.” As usual, Lucy dismissed the man’s death as nothing more than a sad mishap, then prattled on about the virtues of being a wife, mother, and pillar of the community. Things, she reminded Lexie,
had no hopes of attaining unless she became
a Mrs. Somebody again.
Unfortunately, Lucy had chosen to start her crusade right before the starving lunch crowd came barging through the front door. Lexie cast a worried glance at the clock, hoping her sister would be done tongue-whipping her before the café got slammed.
Still yickkety-yakking, her slightly plump shape clad in one of her typical floral-printed shifts, ruffled apron, and sturdy brown work shoes, Lucy ladled batter into the loaf pans.
Lexie wiped down counters, rinsed dishes and loaded the dishwasher, oblivious to what her sister was actually saying. Man, that woman could ramble. No wonder Otis sent her off once a year to a religious retreat, no questions asked. He needed a break. His wife could talk the feathers off a peacock.
Lexie considered the unexpected turns her world had taken the last couple of years. She would never have imagined returning home and opening a café. But life was like a lake sometimes, the waves rippling in different directions depending on which way the wind blew. Whatever happens you have to be prepared for change.
So, after Lexie’s divorce from Dan Lightfoot two years ago, she’d moved back home to tiny Moose Creek Junction. At first, she and her daughter Eva, then sixteen, had lived in a small apartment over the Loose Goose Emporium, and Lexie had clerked there. Six months later, Lexie and Lucy’s parents passed away in a car accident. In their will, they
passed the Castleton family home, an old Victorian, to Lexie and Lucy.
The accident shocked Lexie and Lucy to the bone. But after the sadness faded, Lexie suggested they convert the downstairs of the Victorian into a café and the upstairs into comfortable living quarters for herself and Eva. Lucy could work in the café and also share in the profits since she would be co-owner. Lexie also suggested they name the café in their mother’s honor. Lucy loved the idea.
The Saucy Lucy Café was born with a simple menu—good old-fashioned soups and hearty sandwiches assembled with homemade bread. Or a customer could have a piece of pie and coffee. All made with Lucille Castleton’s recipes. Lexie and Lucy’s mother, despite her penchant for wearing support hose and bad wigs, had been a wonderful cook.
The Saucy Lucy Café was an instant success. Of course, it was the
sandwich shop in town, which translated into the only fast food available to local residents. Lexie supposed that might have something to do with it.
“Yoohoo, you’re not listening to me.” Lucy had popped the blueberry bread into the oven and now stared at Lexie, arms akimbo.
Lexie realized she’d been standing at the aluminum sink for far too long, scrubbing the bottom of it mercilessly.
Lucy made an exasperated sound. “Quit being so melodramatic, Scarlett O’Hara. It’s time to join
the world of the living again. I know this nice gentleman who attends my book club meetings …”
Lexie rolled her eyes. Just what she wanted. To date a man who crashed a book club filled with spinsters and housewives. He must be a real winner.
Lucy just wouldn’t leave well enough alone. When they were kids, she played overprotective big sister like a mama bear protecting her cubs. Of course, Lexie resented Lucy’s constant interference in her life. It was like having two mothers. Most people had trouble with one.
Would she never stop meddling in her love life? Lexie scowled. “Look Luce, I’m not interested in the barf bags you introduce me to. All of them ogle me like I’m a prize cow fresh from Fannie Farmer’s spread.”
“You’re too judgmental,” Lucy said. “Remember, the Bible says, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged.’”
“OK, maybe not a prize cow. A well done steak, then. And they talk to my boobs.” She grabbed her chest for emphasis.
“Goodness!” Lucy’s face turned pink and she cleared her throat. “You need to be thankful for God’s gifts.”
“Right,” Lexie said. “If I wore a push-up bra, I’d smother myself.”
“I’m only trying to fix you up on a simple date, dear. It’s not like I’m making you bungee jump off a water tower. And so what if you’re … ah, well endowed. There are worse things. You could have
“Leukemia or be blind … I know. Why won’t you just leave me alone? Why do you think that marriage is a cure-all?”
“It’s been an entire year since you had a date.” Lucy shook her finger at Lexie. “And you know what our church says about being married. It’s the only way to enter into the Kingdom of our Lord.”
Lexie stared heavenward. “Forgive her, Father, for she knows not the hell pit of dating. Besides, who died and said the First Community Church of the Lamb of God is right about everything?”
“Lexie, don’t be sacrilegious. You know Mother and Father wouldn’t approve. Especially since Father was the reverend there for over twenty years.”
“Mom and Dad don’t have to worry about such things now, sis. They’re in a better place.” Lexie thought of the car accident that took their lives and closed her eyes, the pain of their passing still sharp to bear.