Death Loved A Woman (Happy Holloway Mystery Book 2)

BOOK: Death Loved A Woman (Happy Holloway Mystery Book 2)
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Death Loved a Woman
Happy Holloway Mystery Book Two
Audrey Claire
Contents

Death Loved a Woman

(Happy Holloway Mystery – Book 2)

Copyright © September 2015, Audrey Claire

No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, distributed, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without express written permission from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

This book is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, or any events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story line are created from the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.

www.authoraudreyclaire.com

Also by Audrey Claire

Happy Holloway Mystery

Death Wore Brown Shorts

Death Loved A Woman

Death Wore A Scream (coming soon)

Margot and Odds Cozy Mystery

Odds and Ends

Odds Against

Odds Ball

A Libby Grace Mystery

How to Be a Ghost

How to Blackmail a Ghost

How to Kill a Ghost

A Makayla Rose Mystery

Depth of Field

Multiple Exposures

Distortion Control

www.authoraudreyclaire.com

Chapter One


O
kay
, Annie, are you ready?” Shem asked, standing beside Annie.

She drew in a deep breath and gazed down through the hole at the floor below. Flynn stood there, looking up at her. He smiled and gave her the thumbs up. Her stomach rocked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess. Let’s do this! Tell me what to do.”

Shem hesitated and frowned at her hands. “Why are you wearing those gloves?”

“I have sensitive palms and fingertips,” she lied. “I don’t want to get bruised and not be able to write later.”

She had thought up that little excuse in the hardware store where she compared prices and features of several different styles of gloves. The ones she wore today were cute with lilac and pink flowers and vines all over them. On the palm side and along her fingers was a prickly rubber to help her grip.

Annie’s excuse for wearing the gloves still sounded a bit weird, but it was better than admitting she feared any germs that might exist on the pole. Without the gloves, she wouldn’t be able to make herself touch it. Ninety-nine percent of her reason for coming today was the fun of sliding down the pole, and she wouldn’t miss it because of her hang-ups.

Shem shook his head, but he kept the wide smile. “I’m not sure how well you’ll slide with those on, but we’ll give it a try. Now, grab onto the pole with both hands. Keep one foot braced against the side of the hole, and wrap the other leg around the pole.”

Annie followed the instructions and drew in a shaky breath.

“Are her eyes closed?” someone said.

“Annie, open your eyes,” Flynn called.

She frowned but obeyed and jumped onto the pole. Her chunky figure dragged her down, but the gloves squeaked on the way, making her face flame. Shouts from below called up encouragement, and Annie wrapped her arms tighter around the pole. The material of her jacket helped make the trip slipperier, and she descended at a faster speed.

Annie let out a whoop of delight when her feet touched the floor, and she wobbled a bit as she straightened. A cheer rose from the men, and she blushed again. “I did it! Does that make me a firefighter?”

Flynn laughed, helping to steady her. “Sure.”

Annie snorted and glanced past his shoulder. The only female firefighter at this station cast her a scathing look and turned away. Annie had been with the guys two days, and she had made pretty good friends with them—all except Corrigan, who seemed to dislike her on sight.

The men went about their duties for the day, and Annie headed over to the locker she’d been temporarily assigned. She tried not to gush at the brand new jacket and pants with the reflective strips on them, but she did set her hat on her hair, grinning like a kid.

“You like all that attention,” Corrigan accused.

Annie looked over at Corrigan. At six feet tall, she towered above Annie. She wore her dark hair short as not to be inconvenient to her job, but the feathered cut suited her pretty face and big eyes. Annie thought Corrigan could be a model if she wanted to. That wasn’t Corrigan’s style.

Today, Corrigan wore a tank top that showed off sleekly muscular arms, and she stood with her feet slightly apart and back straight as if she dared anyone to challenge her. Annie had no such plans.

“It’s not that I like the attention,” Annie corrected her. “It’s that I love having fun, and everything I choose to do is for that reason.”

Corrigan made a sound of disbelief, and Annie turned back to her locker. She considered trying on the uniform again, but it was heavy, and she walked like a man on the moon in it. Very comical but exhausting on her untrained limbs.

“Men will do anything for a woman to smile at them,” Corrigan said. “I didn’t expect them to behave that way over you, though. Why are you here?”

“Research. Didn’t you hear? I’m a writer, and I’m thankful your boss gave me permission to come. I’ll be here all week.”

Corrigan grumbled.

Annie whipped the notebook she kept for the firehouse out of her locker and opened to a page. She clicked her ink pen a few times. “You’re going in my book.”

Corrigan’s eyes widened. “How dare you? What…are you going to write?”

“Curious?” Annie heard it in the woman’s voice. The idea didn’t turn her off. So far all of Annie’s attempts to make friends with Corrigan failed. She’d never met anyone so standoffish, not anyone she couldn’t draw out a little. Corrigan had refused to talk about herself or even give her name when Annie showed up the first day. Flynn had introduced everyone, and Corrigan hadn’t bothered to say hello.

Corrigan’s hands tightened on the shirt she held in her hands. “You’d better not make me look bad or use my name.”

“You might be the lead character in a new series with a sexy, strong love interest.” Okay, she was totally sucking up now. Annie couldn’t stand anyone to hate her.

To her surprise, Corrigan flushed, and Annie caught how her gaze zipped for a millisecond over to Flynn. Then she faced her locker and slammed the door. “I don’t care what you do. Just leave me the heck alone.”

Annie turned to find Flynn leaning against a locker. “Don’t mind Corrigan, Annie. She’s a good person underneath all the gruffness.”

“She doesn’t like women?” Annie wondered, and then bit her lip, thinking she should watch what she said.

“She likes them just fine. I think it’s the perky type she has an issue with.”

Annie smirked. “The perky type?”

“You can’t deny you don’t even need a cup of coffee in the morning, Annie.”

She laughed. “I just choose to start the day with a ray of sunshine. And today we can use it. The sun hasn’t shown itself all morning. We might be in for some rain.”

He winked. “Keep doing what you do, Annie. I for one like you just the way you are.”

Flynn strolled away, and Annie watched him go. If anyone was a good guy, it was Flynn, and she liked him a lot, too. Her feelings weren’t romantic—she hoped—but if she ever did consider getting a boyfriend, she would look for one like him.

A bell clanged overhead, and Annie winced. The first day she arrived, when the siren went off, she screamed in surprise. No one other than her was alarmed. This was usual for them when they got a call.

Shem walked out of the office leading from the main garage. Annie’s tour included the space where a dispatcher received emergency calls and relayed the information to Shem. “Elderly man stuck in the house,” Shem announced. “You can go with us this time, Annie.”

She spun back to her locker and slipped into the fireproof pants.

“Leave the jacket off,” Flynn advised.

She was glad she’d followed the advice about wearing a simple T-shirt because moisture already coated her legs. She wore capris under the fire retardant pants, and she might catch fire at any second.

The men assigned to the smaller of the trucks climbed aboard in the front. Shem held out his hand to Annie, and she grasped his forearm to join the group in the back.

“Take care of her, Shem,” Flynn said from the ground.

Annie frowned. “You’re not going?”

“Not this time. I have to take care of something.”

“You say that far too often and never explain yourself.”

Shem bumped her from his position beside her and leaned closer to her ear. “He’s expecting Barbara Jean to show today, especially with Wesley on duty. It’s bound to happen. She likes pitting the two of them against each other.”

“Barbara Jean?” Annie asked, but she already had an idea who Shem meant.

The truck jerked forward, and they pulled out of the garage. A blast of the horn sent vibrations through Annie’s chest, and she glanced up to find the traffic lights outside the station had turned red, stopping oncoming traffic in both ways. The driver didn’t turn on the siren, thank goodness.

“Whenever Flynn says he has to take care of something, it usually has to do with her,” Shem continued. Annie noted he didn’t sound the least bit jealous, just matter of fact.

Shem, in his late forties from what she could tell, seemed to be decent man. With mostly premature gray hair that was already thinning on top, he kept himself in good condition. Annie had heard Shem married his sweetheart the year before, and she supposed the woman had fallen for the smiling baby blues behind thick horn-rimmed glasses. Certainly, not the handlebar mustache though, but one never knew.

“So Barbara Jean is dating both Flynn and Wesley? How terrible. I think Flynn deserves better than that.”

“But not Wesley?” he teased.

Annie felt her face grow warm. “I know Flynn. He’s my friend. I just met Wesley yesterday. Neither of them should be cheated on, and if they both know about the other, why in the world would they put up with it?”

One of the other men who sat across from Shem spoke up. Annie didn’t realize he heard them talking. Derek was a younger man, about twenty-two and fresh from college.

“You haven’t seen Barbara Jean, Annie. I wish she would look at me.” He sighed and clutched his chest. “Unfortunately, I don’t have any money.”

Annie frowned in confusion.

“Wesley not only comes from a family with money, but he’s up for inheriting a nice chunk of change from his grandmother.” Shem whacked Derek on the head, and the younger man yelped and ducked. “You forgot. Flynn doesn’t have any money.”

“Flynn’s got looks going for him. You’d need money, Derek,” one of the other men shouted above the noise from the truck’s engine, and they all laughed. Derek muttered and grumbled, folding his arms over his chest.

Annie laughed with everyone else, but she couldn’t help wondering about a woman who could keep Flynn doing her bidding. While they continued to the call, Shem gossiped as much as some of the ladies in Annie’s circle of friends.

“Barbara Jean doesn’t actually cheat on Flynn. One or the other of them keeps breaking it off. She’s really supposed to be engaged to Wesley. I don’t know if it’s because his family hates her and she’s intimidated by them, but they haven’t sealed the deal. Next thing you know, Wesley is chasing behind her while she’s with Flynn. If you ask me, her real love is Flynn, but these young women tend to go where the money is until they settle down.”

The truck pulled up before a small house on a quiet street. Everyone jumped down from the truck, and Annie ignored Shem’s outstretched hand to do the same. “I’m one of the guys, Shem. Don’t give me special treatment.”

He chuckled and headed along the front walk. Annie started after him, but Corrigan moved in front of her. “You don’t have clearance to go inside.”

“Clearance? But why did I ride along if I can’t go in?”

Corrigan rolled her eyes and continued past. Annie swung to face the others, but everyone left her standing on the sidewalk. They had all shifted into hero mode and probably forgot she was there.

“Well if that’s the case,” she muttered, “nothing’s stopping me from joining them.”

Annie yanked her pants higher on her hips and followed the firefighters. If she was going to get the job written right, then she had to experience it all. Nothing would stop her.

BOOK: Death Loved A Woman (Happy Holloway Mystery Book 2)
4.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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