Authors: Christina Freeburn
Tags: #Mystery, #christian fiction, #christian mystery, #mystery books, #christian suspense, #british mysteries, #mystery series, #humorous mystery, #amateur sleuth, #murder mysteries, #craft mystery, #cozy mystery, #english mysteries, #women sleuths, #crafts, #scrapbooking, #female sleuth, #southern fiction, #southern mystery
Praise for the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series
DESIGNED TO DEATH
“Battling scrapbook divas, secrets, jealousy, murder, and lots of glitter all make Designed to Death a charming and heartfelt mystery.”
Author of the Crime of Fashion Mysteries
“Read this fun book and you will never think of Washi tape in in quite the same way again, I promise. Christina Freeburn’s second installment in her scrapbooking mystery series is full of small-town intrigue, twists and turns, and plenty of heart.”
– Mollie Cox Bryan,
Agatha Award Finalist,
Scrapbook of Secrets
“This is a fun series with very likable characters you will want to visit with again and again with every new book. Even if you are not a fan of scrapping (and I’m not – it’s about the only craft I never got into) you will enjoy the series as it is not heavy with information about the hobby – as some hobby series can be. And if you are into the hobby, there are hints at the back of the book.”
– Kate Shannon,
Rantin’ Ravin’ and Reading
CROPPED TO DEATH
“Christina’s characters shine, her knowledge of scrapbooking is spot on, and she weaves a mystery that simply cries out to be read in one delicious sitting!”
— Pam Hanson,
Multi-Published Women’s Fiction Author
“This was a great read that had me reading non-stop from the moment I turned the first page. The author did a good job in keeping me in suspense with plenty of twists and turns and every time I thought I had it figured out, the author changed the direction in which the story was headed...The writing flowed easily and I liked the cast of characters in this charming whodunit!”
– Dru Ann Love,
Dru’s Book Musings
“Witty, entertaining and fun with a side of murder…When murder hits Eden, West Virginia, Faith Hunter will stop at nothing to clear the name of her employee who has been accused of murder. Will she find the real killer before it is too late? Read this sensational read to find out!”
Shelley’s Book Case
“A cozy mystery that exceeds expectations….Freeburn has crafted a mystery that does not feel clichéd or cookie-cutter….it’s her sense of humor that shows up in the book, helping the story flow, making the characters real and keeping the reader interested.…And she promises more Faith Hunter books—I hope she writes fast!”
— Cynthia McCloud,
Scrapbooking is Heart Work Blog
Books in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series
by Christina Freeburn
CROPPED TO DEATH (#1)
DESIGNED TO DEATH (#2)
EMBELLISHED TO DEATH (#3)
coming April 2014
DESIGNED TO DEATH
A Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery
Part of the Henery Press Mystery Collection
Kindle edition | September 2013
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including internet usage, without written permission from Henery Press, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
2013 by Christina Freeburn
Cover art by Fayette Terlouw
Author photograph by Megan Freeburn
This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Printed in the United States of America
To my mother-in-law, Cathy, who always believes
the books I write should be on the bestseller lists.
Having your support and encouragement
means the world to me.
A big thank you to the people of West Virginia who’ve done what they could to help this become home. We moved here ten years ago and one of the first things I did when moving to WV was find a new CM consultant. I knew if I wanted to meet some new friends, I needed to find a crop to attend and finding a consultant was the first step.
The next thing was looking for a writing group and/or organization. The internet is a wonderful tool as I stumbled across West Virginia Writers, Inc. Not only did I discover I could do things I didn’t think I had the knack for (accounting) but I also “found” kindred spirits and “my sister”.
I also want to mention that while scrapbook message boards can be filled with drama and angst, these boards also build long-lasting friendship and allow a part of “home” to travel with you.
A big thanks to all of those who participate on scrapbooking message boards...large and small...who not only share their life, projects, and musings but take time to share in the lives of others and offer words of encouragement and a hand of friendship when needed most.
I plucked a copy of the special issue of
magazine from the stack on the cropping-turned-signing table.
Introducing the New Divas
was emblazed across the front in a bold, bubblegum pink font. The heavier cardboard style cover of the issue kept the magazine firm as it rested on my palm. I ran my hand over the slick surface and hoped having an official Life Artist Diva in residence would help bring fans to our store in Eden, West Virginia.
A basket of black cats, witches, and ghouls of various sizes and levels of scary was shoved behind the table into the corner. I had spent the morning taking down all of the Halloween decorations from the walls and doors, rearranging products so the focus of the store was no longer Halloween, which was two weeks away, and instead had a general scrapbooking theme. We changed the decor so it didn’t compete with Belinda Watson’s signing...as requested by her mother, Hazel.
Tonight, I’d have to put all our decorations back up and shuffle the inventory again. If we didn’t get the new Halloween lines sold in the next few weeks, we’d end up discounting them when Christmas came. We couldn’t keep money tied up in old inventory. Customers expected the latest and greatest at all times and seeing “stale” merchandise would have them turning to online sites for their scrapbook shopping needs.
“Pick up the pace, Faith.” Grandma Hope scooted behind me and placed an array of acid-free markers on the table. “Restlessness is settling in.”
The women with tickets for the class, and those who had pre-purchased books, waited in the store while the rest of the customers snaked down the sidewalk in front of Scrap This, stomping their feet and huddling together to ward off the chill. The line extended from our store all the way past Home Brewed.
I watched Dianne and an employee of hers walk down the line to take orders. Grandma Cheryl hustled outside with a calculator and her credit card ready iPhone to ring up purchases for the special issue of
“Isn’t this thrilling?” A woman sidled up to me.
“Absolutely. I can’t wait for Belinda to start teaching.”
Leslie Amtower’s, editor-in-chief of
, blue eyes shined as she gazed at the women clamoring for her magazine. She looked every inch the part of a creative vision. She wore a nicely tailored suit in grays and creams, the current color trend, and her long blonde hair was arranged on top of her head in artistic curling tendrils. A gray and cream scarf, shot through with a bold pink fuzzy fiber, completed the outfit.
“Am I mistaken...” Leslie pointed toward the cash register, her pink-tinted lips twisting unattractively, “or isn’t that the murderer?”
No sound could be heard but the whoosh of all the women’s necks rotating from Leslie, to Marilyn Kane, and back to me. Not this. We had finally shaken off, or at least I thought, the store’s recent scandalous past and now Leslie lobbed it at us.
Marilyn froze with a finger above the total key.
I dropped a stack of books onto the table and reminded myself I didn’t use the particular words bouncing around in my head. At least not out loud, and in front of my grandmothers. “No. Her husband was a murder victim.”
Leslie flipped the ends of her scarf over her shoulder. “I could’ve sworn I saw her picture in the paper.”
“Being suspected of something doesn’t make a person guilty,” I said. “The police found the real murderer.” With my help. I kept that tidbit to myself, not just from not wanting to seem like a braggart, but to keep Leslie from remembering my picture had been in the paper for the same crime but for aiding and abetting the accused. I called it reluctant amateur sleuthing.
Scrap This had gained some notoriety because of the murder. I had hoped having a Diva in our midst would get our reputation back to revolving around scrapbooking.
A woman in line used her cell to snap a picture of Marilyn Kane. “Can I get one of us together?”
“Today’s focus should be on Belinda. Not your employee.” Leslie crossed her arms and glared at Marilyn.
I remembered my manners, refraining from pointing out
was the one who brought it to the customers’ attention.
Marilyn yanked her purse from under the counter.
“Trust me, Marilyn doesn’t want any of this attention,” I said.
Grandma Hope raced over to the register. I hoped she planned on smacking the “paparazzi” lady, and convinced Marilyn to stay. We needed all employees on deck today. We didn’t need shoppers to decide to look here then buy online because of long lines.
“Just make sure Belinda is the focus of this day.” Leslie glided into the crowd, soaking up the hero worship bestowed on her by the croppers who recognized her from the picture included on the “Letter from the Editor” page.
Women squealed and reached out to stroke their fingertips on the scarf floating behind her, as if one touch transferred the “greatness” from her to them.
A camera flash went off. I turned around and saw reporter extraordinaire Karen England, looking very bored, standing in a corner while a man snapped shots with a Nikon D800.
My heart pitter-pattered and I felt a swoon coming on. I was in love. One day I hoped to afford the “love of my life.” Until then, I’d covet from afar. The ruggedly attractive photographer in his forties saw me looking at him and brought the camera down, a mix of confusion and concern flashed on his face.
I pointed at the camera, then placed my hand over my heart.
He grinned and raised the camera up like a mock salute.
He understood the love affair I wished to have with his camera.
Karen narrow-eyed me and jabbed her elbow into his side. The photographer got back to work.
“I’ll finish up here.” Grandma Hope shooed me toward the classroom tables. “You go make sure everything is ready for the class.”
“I’m on it.” I scurried the few feet from the signing area to the class area.
I morphed into my role of special events coordinator. Who would’ve thought Belinda Watson, local Edenite would become a L.A.D.—a Life Artist Diva—on her first try. Scrapbook designers from all over considered being named a L.A.D. as “the shining moment” and first step of launching a design career. Belinda had never shown an interest in it, though her cousin Darlene had.