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Authors: Elise Hyatt

A Fatal Stain

BOOK: A Fatal Stain
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Another Fine Mess

Chapter 2: Making Light

Chapter 3: One Fence Too Far

Chapter 4: Very Suspicious Circumstances

Chapter 5: Minding the Home Fires

Chapter 6: Of Rats and Men

Chapter 7: Playing Happy Families

Chapter 8: Froth and Roses

Chapter 9: A Prickly Investigation

Chapter 10: Sofas and Susceptibility

Chapter 11: Fire and Chills

Chapter 12: Too Close for Comfort

Chapter 13: The Insidiousness of Dreams

Chapter 14: The Principal Suspect

Chapter 15: The Loose Ends

Chapter 16: The Matter of Bridesmaids

Chapter 17: Never Did Run Smooth

Chapter 18: Suspicions Everywhere

Chapter 19: Groovy Greeks and Rotten Realtors

Chapter 20: Someone to Watch Over Me

Chapter 21: You Can Go Back

Chapter 22: Return of the Mummy

Chapter 23: De Leon Doesn’t Sleep

Chapter 24: All in the Appearances

Chapter 25: Following Inquiries

Chapter 26: Help!

Chapter 27: The Smile on the Face of the Tiger

Chapter 28: An Unlikely Savior

Chapter 29: Running toward Danger

Chapter 30: Alley Alley All Go Free

Chapter 31: Of Candy Corn and Men

Chapter 32: Good-Bye, Ccelly

Sow’s Ears into Silk Purses

A Note on Gifted Children

Praise for the Daring Finds Mysteries

“A very funny mystery with a likable cast of characters…Will win new fans to the series. The mystery is very intriguing. With Dyce’s eccentric bookstore owning parents and refinishing tips added in,
French Polished Murder
is sure to please and leave readers eager for the next Daring Finds Mystery.”


The Mystery Reader


French Polished Murder
is an interesting, enjoyable cozy mystery that is well written with good characters who work well together…[A] fun book with a little romance and enough mystery to keep you interested.”


Once Upon a Romance

“[
Dipped, Stripped, and Dead
is] a fun read. I look forward to seeing Dyce’s next adventures. An eccentric, entertaining cast of characters rounds out this cozy mystery. Refinishing tips are included as a bonus.”


Fresh Fiction


Dipped, Stripped, and Dead
is an enjoyable, absorbing whodunit.”


Genre Go Round Reviews

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Elise Hyatt

DIPPED, STRIPPED, AND DEAD

FRENCH POLISHED MURDER

A FATAL STAIN

A Fatal Stain

ELISE HYATT

BERKLEY PRIME CRIME, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi— 110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third- party websites or their content.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Neither the publisher nor the author is engaged in rendering professional advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, projects, and suggestions contained in this book are not intended as a substitute for consulting with a professional. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion in this book.

A FATAL STAIN

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime mass- market edition / October 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Sarah Hoyt.

Cover illustration by Brandon Dorman.

Cover design by Rita Frangie.

Interior text design by Kristin del Rosario.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or
electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of
copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-61156-2

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

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 for this “stripped book.”

ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

To Amanda Green, Kate Paulk, and Sean Kinsell, without whom this series would never have existed.

CHAPTER 1
Another Fine Mess

The first time I tried to run away from home, I was
three. I’d packed all my comic books and a box of cookies in a book bag emblazoned with
Remembered Murder
, the name of my parents’ bookstore in Goldport, Colorado, and I’d made it all the way down to the bus station, where I realized I didn’t have the money for a ticket. I’d sat quietly in a corner bench and eaten my cookies and read my comics until my grandmother noticed I was missing and came to find me.

It never occurred to me that a three-year-old with a mystery bookstore shopping bag would be sort of noticeable. And it was several years before I realized that, even if I had the money to buy a ticket somewhere, I wouldn’t have known where to go. My knowledge of geography at the time was limited to my street, the road leading to the kindergarten, and the diner where Grandma took me for
Kids
eat free on Mondays
dinner. The only reason I’d found the bus station was that you could see it from the diner.

And I was married before I realized that, even had someone let me buy a ticket and run away by bus somewhere, no one would have given me a job when I got there.

The saddest thing of all was that at thirty-one, this was still about my level of planning. And that I was, once more, contemplating running away from home. Or at least running away from my parents’ store, where I sat by the fireplace, in one of the sofas provided for the comfort and convenience of customers wishing to browse mystery books, and listened as my mother and my best friend planned my second wedding.

Ben, aka Benedict Colm, has been my best friend since middle school. He is tall and rugged looking, with a face that’s more interesting than handsome and the sort of body that makes one think of Viking ships. He tones down the feeling that he should sport a horned helmet by wearing a selection of impeccably color-coordinated and blandly conservative suits during the week. On the weekend, he dresses down by wearing slacks, no coat, and sometimes shirts with an almost imperceptible pattern, which he convinces himself are garish. Today he was practically slumming, as he wasn’t wearing a tie and had unbuttoned the first three buttons in his subtly striped shirt.

I suppose the attire goes well in his job as an investment planner. Unfortunately, I suspect it was one of the things that had kept my mom—a porcelain doll-like woman who could have played a more true-to-life Miss Marple than the rather butch TV series actress—from believing me when I told her Ben was gay. Though if she
still didn’t believe it as he leaned forward and said, “I’m wondering if perhaps we could find someone to make a tuxedo for Pythagoras, so he can be best cat?” I washed my hands of her.

No,
in any case
, I washed my hands of my mother, whose response was, “So, your pet rats, are we putting them in the specially designed harnesses, so they can be used as boutonnieres?”

It was at this moment I realized my hands had come up of their own accord and clasped the sides of my head, in horror. Cats and rats? Did they hear themselves? And though Pythagoras, who is not so much my cat as a cat I allow to crash at my home, might be nominally my pet, the rats weren’t even mine at all. Okay, so I’d rescued them from inside a piano I’d bought to refinish for my fiancé, Cas Wolfe. I’d only nursed them and looked after them because otherwise they’d be snake food. Besides, they were Ben’s problem now. Ben had adopted them. I didn’t want them in my wedding.

“I don’t want anyone in my wedding,” I heard myself say. I sounded surly and unaccountably like a teenager. My hand moved, all on its own, making a horizontal slash from side to side to indicate how much I didn’t want anyone at my wedding. “At least no one besides me and Cas. No cats. No rats. No tea roses. No boutonnieres and
no
book distributors. Also, no, Mom, my wedding is not the ideal venue to display the covers of upcoming mysteries that can be bought at the store for a discount of twenty percent. And paperback books do not make tasteful wedding party favors.”

BOOK: A Fatal Stain
12.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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