Title: The Baron’s Cufflinks
Author: P.J. MacLayne
Genre: Women Sleuth, Mystery
What starts as Girl’s Night Out ends in murder, and Harmony Duprie is a suspect.
She’s innocent, of course, but with no alibi, the sheriff’s department won’t remove her from the list of suspects. It doesn’t help when a waitress from the bar gets beaten up and the only clue is a slip of paper with Harmony’s name on it. Throw in a rookie deputy dead set on building his reputation and Harmony must tread carefully.
But caution isn’t Harmony’s middle name and she plunges head first into danger to defend her honor.
What she finds is a web of half-truths and suspicions implicating several law enforcement agencies, with Jake, her ex-lover, stuck in the middle of it all.
Can Harmony rescue Jake and find the real culprit before she becomes the next victim?
In this scene, Harmony Duprie, my heroine, gets the first inkling that her carefully scripted life is about to go off-track again.
“I’m Deputy Theo Nelson. I’d like to ask you a few questions.” The impossibly young man’s starched uniform crinkled as he moved.
Instinct had me reaching for my purse then I remembered the lessons Freddie had drilled into me about dealing with officers of the law. “I’m going to get my phone out of my purse to make a call,” I told him. “If that’s okay with you.”
“Can it wait? I need to ask you a few questions concerning the incident last night. May I?” With a wave of his hand, he indicated the chair.
Instinct and experience told me to tell him no, but I found myself nodding.
He adjusted his duty belt, took a seat, and pulled out a small notebook. “For the record, I understand that you and some of your friends were at The Dog House last night?”
“Yes,” I said curtly, planning on keeping my answers short and to the point. I wasn’t comfortable with the situation, but couldn’t deny the truth.
His monotone delivery of the rest of the night’s event made it seem boring. I answered each statement with either a curt “yes” or “No.” Mostly.
“One witness said Mr. Foard hit you.”
“The witness is wrong. He pushed the waitress but was so drunk that when he tried to grab me, I avoided him with no problem. The bartender put an end to it and one of his buddies offered to take him home.”
He scribbled a few notes then looked up at me. I recognized the technique—he hoped the silence would make me uncomfortable and I would say more. It didn’t work. I waited. He sighed.
“How long did you stay after they left?” he asked.
“Only long enough to pay the bill.”
“Can anyone corroborate your story?”
“Besides the staff and other customers? Talk to Detective Thomason. He met us there.”
“Yes, do you know him?”
“By reputation. Can Detective Thomason vouch for your whereabouts the rest of the night?”
“No. He was on duty. Once we were safe, he took off and the four of us headed home.”
The deputy closed his notebook, pulled a card out of his pocket and dropped it on the table. “Thank you, Miss Duprie. If we need anything we’ll be in touch.” He tapped the card. “That’s my number if you remember something else.”
“Deputy,” I said. “What’s this about?”
He paused as if considering what he could reveal. “Mr. Foard was shot last night.”
“Is he going to be okay?” Even if I didn’t like the man, I wished no ill on him.
“He’s dead, Miss Duprie.”
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Born and raised among the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania, P.J. MacLayne still finds inspiration for her books in that landscape. She is a computer geek by day and a writer by night who currently lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. When she’s not in front of a computer screen, she might be found exploring the back roads of the nearby national forests and parks. In addition to the Free Wolves’ stories, she is also the author of the Oak Grove series.
P.J. MacLayne can be reached on:
My Blog: http://pjmaclayne.blogspot.com/