Read Invitation to Murder (Book 1 in the Candlemaking Mysteries) Online

Authors: Tim Myers

Tags: #card making, #clean, #cozy, #crafts, #elizabeth bright, #female sleuth, #invitation to murder, #light, #mystery, #tim myers, #traditional, #virginia

Invitation to Murder (Book 1 in the Candlemaking Mysteries)

BOOK: Invitation to Murder (Book 1 in the Candlemaking Mysteries)
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INVITATION TO
MURDER

By Tim Myers

writing as Elizabeth
Bright

Book 1 in the Cardmaking
mysteries

Praise for the Cardmaking
Mysteries written by Tim Myers as Elizabeth Bright

 


Independent-minded sleuth
Jennifer Shane tracks a murderer, crafts cards, and resists her
overprotective family with panache and good humor.”

--Carolyn Hart, Award winning author of
Death of the Party

 


Elizabeth Bright shines in
this crafty new series.”

Nancy Martin, author of the Blackbird
Sisters Mysteries

 


Elizabeth Bright writes an
engaging and fast read and incorporates interesting information
about card making while solving the murders.”

Armchair Interviews

Praise for the Lighthouse
Mystery series by Tim Myers

 

 


Entertaining ... authentic
... fun ... a wonderful regional mystery that will have readers
rebooking for future stays at the Hatteras West Inn and
Lighthouse.”


BookBrowser

 


Myers cultivates the North
Carolina scenery with aplomb and shows a flair for
character.”

 —
Fort Lauderdale
Sun-Sentinel

 


Tim Myers proves that he
is no one-book wonder... A shrewdly crafted puzzle.”


Midwest Book
Review

 


Colorful... picturesque
... light and entertaining.”


The Best
Reviews

Praise for the Candlemaking
Mystery series by Tim Myers


Excellent storytelling
that makes for a good reading experience…Myers is a talented writer
who deserves to hit the bestseller lists.”

 
---The Best
Reviews

 


A sure winner.”

---Carolyn Hart, author of the Death on
Demand series

 


An interesting mystery, a
large cast of characters, and an engaging amateur sleuth make this
series a winner.”

---The Romance Reader’s Connection four
daggers

 


A smashing, successful
debut.”

---Midwest Book Review

 


I greatly enjoyed this
terrific mystery. The main character…will make you laugh. Don’t
miss this thrilling read.”

---Rendezvous

 

The Lighthouse Inn
Mysteries by Tim Myers

Innkeeping With Murder

Reservations For Murder

Murder Checks Inn

Room For Murder

Booked For Murder

 

The Candlemaking Mysteries
by Tim Myers

At Wick’s End

Snuffed Out

Death Waxed Over

A Flicker Of Doubt

 

The Soapmaking Mysteries by
Tim Myers

Dead Men Don’t Lye

A Pour Way To Dye

A Mold For Murder

 

The Cardmaking Mysteries by
Tim Myers written as Elizabeth Bright

Invitation To Murder

Deadly Greetings

Murder And Salutations

Invitation to Murder

by Tim Myers

writing as Elizabeth Bright

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2005 Elizabeth Bright (Tim
Myers)

All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If
you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not
purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com
and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work
of this author.

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.

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. 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.

To Serena Jones and Martha Bushko at NAL,
and to my agent, John Talbot:

Thank you all for believing.

Chapter l


You’ve got to tell her I
won’t stop it! She’ll believe you. Please, you’re the only one who
can save me.”

I frowned at the telephone, wondering if
someone was having some fun at my expense. “Who is this?”


Don’t you know? Donna,
you’re my last chance. She’s going to kill me if you don’t tell her
the truth.”


I’m sorry, but my name’s
not Donna. I’m Jennifer.”


Oh, no, she’s here.”
There were a few choked sobs, and then she added in a whisper,
“It’s too late for me, isn’t it?”

Just before the line went dead, I heard a
scream that will haunt me till the day I die.

Earlier that Tuesday morning I’d been
wondering if going into business for myself had been such a great
idea after all. My name’s Jennifer Shane, and I own and operate
Custom Card Creations, my very own handcrafted-card shop. My
specialized store was recently born from the need to get out on my
own and away from my big sister Sara Lynn’s scrapbooking
store—aptly named Forever Memories—a place where I had worked after
leaving my corporate sales job peddling pet food all over the
Southeast. As much as I loved being around my sister, I knew I had
to do something on my own when I’d tried to convince her that a
handcrafted greeting card corner was a natural sideline for her
business. Sara Lynn hadn’t been interested. Not because it wasn’t a
good idea, mind you, but because her baby sister had come up with
it and Sara Lynn hadn’t thought of it herself first. So I took a
deep breath, withdrew every dime of my savings and my inheritance
from the bank and opened my shop on the opposite end of Oakmont
Avenue. We were bookends on the town’s main road where tourists
browsed when they came to Rebel Forge, Virginia. Whether in the
area for skiing in the winter or boating in the summer, there was a
steady stream of shoppers most of the year. Scattered between our
shops were old and charming buildings filled with crafters, antique
dealers, an art gallery, a potter and a dozen other eclectic
businesses that somehow felt just right to me. The first real
chance I had to make a sale for my shop was one I nearly turned
down. I wasn’t particularly interested in doing wedding
invitations; that I wasn’t why I’d opened my handcrafted-card
store, but the check Mrs. Albright waved under my nose convinced me
otherwise.

She’d walked into my shop earlier that
morning with her nose in the air and a look of complete and utter
disdain plastered on her sharp ferret features. I couldn’t see why
her reaction had been so negative. The shop was in a quaint little
tumbled-brick building with scarred hardwood floors and exposed oak
beams in the ceiling. It had formerly housed a handbag boutique,
but I hoped I had better luck than the last tenant. The poor woman
had gone bankrupt, but before the bank could foreclose, she’d
driven her car off the dam into Rebel Lake.


I’d like to speak with
the owner,” my visitor said in a voice that dared me to comply. She
had probably once been lovely, but the years hadn’t been kind to
her. Without even knowing her, I was certain that she was in a
constant battle to lose that last thirty pounds—a battle I was
pretty sure she was never going to win.


You are,” I said,
offering my brightest smile. “How may I help you?” I gestured to
the specialty areas I’d taken great pains to set up before I’d
opened the shop for business. “I have handcrafted cards and
stationery for sale up front, and if you’re interested, I offer
everything you need to make your own cards, as well. I have
specialty scissors, rubber stamps, cutouts, stickers, stencils,
pressed flowers and a dozen other different ways to enhance the
cards you make. I offer a variety of paper and envelopes in several
textures, thicknesses and colors, and if you want something totally
unique, I can design and fabricate a custom batch of paper just for
you. I’ve even got a computer, if you’d like to design something
yourself that way. Oh, and I offer classes in card making in the
evenings, but if you’re already a card maker, we’ve got the Crafty
Cut-Ups Club that meets here every Thursday night.” Okay, the last
bit was a stretch, but I honestly did plan to start the club just
as soon as I found at least two people who liked making cards as
much as I did. I’d memorized my sales pitch a few days before, and
I promised myself to pause for a few more breaths the next time I
had the chance to give it. I’d nearly passed out trying to get
everything out in one breath.

The woman’s disapproval was readily
apparent. She studied me with her querulous gaze, and it was all I
could do not to stoop down. I’m just a few inches short of six feet
tall, and when my long brown hair’s up in a knot like it was nearly
all the time, I knew I could be an imposing figure. Maybe if I was
one of those rail-thin nymphs that weighed next to nothing I could
still get away with my height, but I was solid—at least ten pounds
overweight even for my frame—and that was saying a lot.

She sniffed the air, and then said, “No, I’m
afraid you won’t be able to help me after all.”


Come on, its way too soon
for you to give up on me. If it involves cards, believe me, I can
do it.”


I’m sorry, but I suppose
I’ll have to use a printing business in a larger city. I had hoped
to offer something at least a little above the ordinary to our
guests and friends.”

As she started for the door, I said, “Why
don’t you tell me what you want? Then I’ll let you know if I can do
it or not.”

She paused, which was a good thing, because
I was getting ready to tackle her before she could get out of my
shop. I’d only been open two days, but in that time I’d had three
people come in to ask me for directions to other businesses along
Oakmont, and a spry little old man had wanted change for a single
so he could buy a newspaper. I hadn’t sold a card yet, not a single
piece of card stock or stationery, or even a stamp for that matter,
and my sister’s prediction of doom kept echoing through my empty
store.


I need wedding
invitations, but they have to be different something bold, yet
dignified; daring, yet classic.”

I wanted a pony myself, or at least a way to
make my first month’s rent. “How many invitations are you going to
need?”


This is a very exclusive
event,” she said. “We’re holding the guest list down to our four
hundred closest friends.” She looked around my small store, then
said, “Perhaps I’d better see if someone in Charlottesville can
help me. Thank you for your time.”

As her hand touched the doorknob, I said,
“Actually, that might be for the best. After all, I’m certain my
designs would be too outré for you.”

As I’d hoped, she looked intrigued for the
first time since she’d walked into my shop. “What did you have in
mind?”


Let me get some samples
for you.” I raced to my workroom, a small space in back where I
made the customized cards and papers I hoped to sell. I’d just
finished a fresh batch of handmade paper, and I’d included some
glitter and tinsel in the mix on a lark. I took a few sheets from
the drying rack, grabbed a handful of my more experimental
selections and hurried back before she could get away. If I’d been
thinking straight, I would have dead bolted the front door to keep
her there until I could make my pitch.


Here are a few
possibilities,” I said as I laid the sheets out on the counter in
front of her.

She studied the selection, paused over my
latest effort and picked it up. “But it’s still wet.”


Of course it is,” I said
as if it were the most common thing in the world to handle
brand-new paper. “As I said, this is all cutting-edge. The textures
are amazing, aren’t they? I can create whatever paper we decide to
use, based on your needs and tastes. There are lots of
variations.”

She looked around my shop again, then stared
at me for a moment before speaking. “And you’re certain you can
handle this?”


I can honestly say that I
haven’t had a single dissatisfied customer since I’ve been in
business.” Well, it was the truth. The man I’d made change for had
been extremely grateful, and if there had been anything wrong with
the directions I’d given, no one had come back to complain. That
made it a perfect score, in my opinion.


Then let’s do this. I’ll
be in touch sometime in the next few days about the details.”
That’s when she waved a check for the deposit under my nose. If I
could pull it off, my business would be on its way. It surprised me
that a woman who seemed to be such a control freak wouldn’t want to
settle the details on the spot, but Mrs. Albright seemed rushed, no
doubt already late for her next appointment. After she was gone, I
was still admiring the amount—afraid to put the check in my cash
register lest it disappear—when my big brother, Bradford, walked
in, decked out in his sheriff’s uniform. He was two inches over six
feet, and standing next to him, I somehow managed to feel
svelte.

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