Leave Tomorrow Behind (Stella Crown Series)

Leave Tomorrow Behind

A Stella Crown Mystery

Judy Clemens

www.JudyClemens.com

Poisoned Pen Press

Copyright

Copyright © 2014 by Judy Clemens

First E-book Edition 2014

ISBN: 9781615954612 ebook

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

The historical characters and events portrayed in this book are inventions of the author or used fictitiously.

Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave.,
Ste.
103
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

www.poisonedpenpress.com

[email protected]

Contents

Leave Tomorrow Behind

Copyright

Contents

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Epigraph

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Chapter Thirty-five

Chapter Thirty-six

Chapter Thirty-seven

Chapter Thirty-eight

Chapter Thirty-nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-one

Chapter Forty-two

Chapter Forty-three

Chapter Forty-four

Chapter Forty-five

Chapter Forty-six

More from this Author

Contact Us

Dedication

For all of my readers who asked when they
would get to spend time with Stella again.
I hope you enjoy her new adventure. I sure did.

 

Acknowledgments

Much thanks goes to:

Lydia and Sharon Hartzler for sharing their knowledge about cows and 4-H, answering my questions practically before I asked them, and giving me great ideas. I’m glad my questions about manure could offer family suppertime conversation.

KB Inglee and Elizabeth “Bodge” Inglee-Richards, and Ron Baldridge, DVM, for their veterinary expertise and willingness to answer strange questions about medicines and animal health.

Cindy Luginbill, for answering questions about salons and day spas.

Lee Diller, for being a great boss at my “other” job.

Nancy Clemens for being an awesome and speedy first reader, and always encouraging my dream.

Steve, Tristan, and Sophia Smucker for being wholly supportive and enthusiastic about my writing life, and for being the best family I could ask for.

My wonderful, wonderful readers, who asked many times when Stella would be coming back to visit. I’m so glad you insisted.

The team at Poisoned Pen Press for their camaraderie, flexibility, and way of making this job so fun.

If I changed information about 4-H, or veterinary meds, or beauty salons, or the recording industry, it was purely because of literary license. The people I named all know their stuff.

Epigraph

Dance, dance, dance little lady

So obsessed with second best

No rest you’ll ever find

Time and tide and trouble

Never, never wait

Let the cauldron bubble

Justify your fate

Dance, dance, dance little lady

Dance, dance, dance little lady

Leave tomorrow behind.

—Noel Coward

 

 

Chapter One

The conversation was simple. Miranda, my future sister-in-law, would make a suggestion, and I would say no. Like this:

“Off-the-shoulder?”

“No.”

“Three-quarter-length sleeves?”

“No.”

“Puffy ones, then.”

“No.”

It was early. Well, early for some people. I’d been up since five-thirty, when I’d milked the cows, and now I was supposed to be eating breakfast and watching the morning news. But sometimes plans fall through, and we have to soldier on. That’s what I was doing. Except I’d be hard-pressed to find an actual soldier who would want to face the grilling I was getting.

Miranda had, in a moment of what she called “insanity,” kept me from being impaled by a pitchfork earlier in the summer, but that hadn’t made us instant bosom-buddies. In fact, sometimes it seemed she regretted her whole impulse to save my life. I can’t imagine why.

Back in the whole annoying conversation, she sighed. Heavily. “Fine. We don’t have to talk about the sleeves right now. How about the skirt? Full? Floor-length? Flared?”

“No.”

“You have something else in mind?”

“No. I mean…no, there’s not going to be a skirt.”

She blinked, then gave a little clap. “You mean you’re going to wear slacks? Oh! Silk pants! That could be nice.”

“I am not wearing silk pants.”

“So, what, then? I suppose you’re just going to be naked?”

“I’m not going to be naked, Miranda. I’m going to be wearing jeans.”

“Jeans? You can’t wear jeans!”

“Can so.”

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. And then she was suddenly smiling, like one of those manic televangelist ladies with all the makeup and the big hair. “Okay, Stella. I get it. If you don’t want to talk about your dress right now, we can talk about something else.”

“I am not. Wearing. A wedding dress.”

She waved a colorful brochure in the air. “Cake. Let’s talk about cake. Now, I was thinking, maybe, one of those multi-tiered cakes, with the flowers, and the little figurines on top, you know, made to look like you and Nick. Or, we could get the guy on that TV show, the Cake Boss guy, he could make a themed cake, like with—” she swallowed “—cows, or motorcycles, or houses, like our family’s development company builds—”

“Ma’s making the cake.”

She laughed and flicked her hand at me, like I was the silliest thing she’d ever seen. “My mother couldn’t make a cake to save her life.”

“Not your mother. Ma Granger. She’s making the dessert.”

“Ma Granger? I don’t know, Stella. Do you really think she’s equipped to make that much?”

“She raised eight boys. I think she can make enough dessert for fifty people.”

She blinked, a whole lot, like she had dust in her eyes. Which wouldn’t have surprised me, actually, since we were in my old farmhouse, and it was a dry summer, and I wasn’t exactly on top of the dusting.

“Um,” she said, “I believe I just heard you say fifty people?”

“Yeah, around that. Could be sixty, maybe, with all the Granger kids.”

“Kids? But wait, there are almost three hundred guests on the invitation list. And none of them are children.”

“What invitation list?”

She poked around on her iPad, then swiveled it toward me. “This one.”

I scanned the names. I didn’t recognize any of them. “Who are these people?”

“Folks from Virginia, mostly, although your friends are on it, too, of course, somewhere. You know, it’s mostly our family’s friends, church members, employees, neighbors—”

I shoved the tablet back to her. “You can pick twenty-five.”

She choked. “But…but the venue. It’s huge. We’ll be swallowed up.”

“What venue? I think the yard here will hold seventy-five people just fine.”

“Yard? Here? I don’t think…”

“Hey, there.” My fiancé, Nick, entered the kitchen, his hair messed up from sleep, but otherwise looking mighty fine. He walked over and planted a kiss on my mouth. “How’re you this morning? Cows all good? Queenie?”

“Nick.” Miranda’s chin stuck out toward New Jersey. “You have got to talk to her.”

“I am talking to her. I asked about the dog, and work, and how she’s feeling.”

“I mean you have to talk to her about the wedding.”

“What about it?”

“She won’t agree to anything!”

“She agreed to marry me. That’s the most important part.” He went to the counter and poured a cup of coffee. “Nice to have you here, Sis. Otherwise, I have to make my own brew.” He took a sip and sighed contentedly.

Miranda shook the iPad at him. “Twenty-five people, Nick. That’s what she said I could have.”

“For what?”

“The invitation list!”

Nick slid out a chair and sat next to me. “Twenty-five sounds fine.” He frowned and put his arm on the back of my chair. “But the Grangers will be more than that. We’re not limiting them, are we?”

“No,” I said. “They’re on my part of the list.”

“And she said she gets sixty!” Miranda pointed at me, just in case Nick wasn’t sure who she was talking about.

“It is her wedding.” Nick took another sip.

“It’s yours, too.”

He smiled. “Exactly.”

Her mouth opened. Then it shut. “Oh, for heaven’s sake. I don’t know why I’m helping you two, anyway. It’s not like any of it is appreciated.” She whisked all of her lists and brochures and magazines and samples together, whacked them on the table to even them out, then stacked them on her iPad. She stood up, knocking her chair against the wall, and stalked out of the room, leaving some flowery scent in her wake.

Nick took another sip of coffee.

“The cows are good,” I said. “Want some breakfast?”

 

Other books
Extreme Bachelor by Julia London
Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene
Ever So Madly by J.R. Gray
Dangerous Joy by Jo Beverley
Feels Like Love by Jeanette Lewis
The Dog and the Wolf by Poul Anderson