Table of Contents
Dying to Be Thin
″More fun than an exploding Whoopie Pie! When plus-sized and out-of-work news producer Kate Gallagher heads for Durham, North Carolina, the ′Diet Capital of the World,′ to take up residence at a diet clinic, she finds more than low-cal meals and fellow dieters. Instead, the plucky heroine is introduced to a dead diet doctor with a love for S and M, dueling diet clinics, and more suspects than she can shake a carrot stick at, not to mention a charming detective who finds Kate delightfully delicious.″
—Sue Ann Jaffarian, author of
″A delightful debut. Plus-sized TV producer Kate Gallagher is as irresistible as a pint of mocha chip ice cream—without the guilt.″″
—Susan Kandel, author of
″Dishes out generous servings of humor and who dunit. . . . Fun and fast-paced, this quirky cozy truly puts the
.″—Susan McBride, author of the Debutante Dropout Mysteries
Dying to Be Thin
made me laugh so hard, I choked on my M&M′s. They say comedy comes from pain, and anyone who has tried to lose that pesky last fifty pounds knows how painful that can be. When spunky, chunky Kate takes on a murder investigation while trying to take off weight, the result is sheer delight. Kate Gallagher is the funniest, most adorable heroine in recent memory. Bridget Jones, eat your heart out!″
—Pamela Eells, executive producer of
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
″Ms. Lilley has crafted a humorous story and blended in a delightful cast of characters.″
—The Romance Readers Connection
″Kate Gallagher is quirky, witty, and tough when she needs to be. She can also ferret out information better than a homeland security interrogator.″—Pop Syndicate
Also by Kathryn Lilley
Dying to Be Thin
A Killer Workout
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First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, September 2009
Copyright © Kathryn Cheng, 2009
All rights reserved
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eISBN : 978-1-101-13618-8
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This book is dedicated to my husband, Gene, with love
Murder′s never perfect.
Everyone wants a body to die for.
Especially me. My name is Kate Gallagher, and I′m a perfect size sixteen, which is an
per fect size for someone in my line of work. I′m a reporter in TV news—a field where any female bigger than a size two is practically an endangered species. Zaftig gals like me are vulnerable members of the newsroom herd, so I have to spend much of my time beating off the News Barbies, who are constantly on the prowl for my job. In broadcasting, the law of the jungle is up or out, but for mostly cosmetic reasons (174 of them, last time I checked in with the scale), my career has stalled in my adopted hometown of Durham, North Carolina. For me the town might as well be called Fat City.
My body/career problems came to a head last summer when I was summoned to Beatty the Beast′s office. Beatty is the news director at Channel Twelve Action! News. His favorite sport is torturing reporters with asinine assignments designed to jack up the station′s perpetually sagging ratings.
Monday morning started off with a bang that week when Beatty eyed me across his desk and announced that he had a brilliant idea for an investigative series.
″Quick-weight-loss scams—they′re a billion-dollar business.″ Beatty paused for dramatic effect. ″What are they? Who suffers? Who′s ripping off Thunder Thighs?″
He lobbed a glance at my hip zone and added, ″I want
on the fat-scam story, Gallagher. You know the territory.″
I shifted in my skintight wiggle skirt, which I′d bought fifteen pounds ago. Too many drive-through dinners and no-show sessions at the gym had left me and my skirt with more waddle than wiggle.
″Well, I′ve heard of a place where they
to melt off cellulite,″ I said. ″First they slather you all over with some kind of cream; then they wrap you up in plastic and stick you in a sauna. It′s just water loss, though—totally bogus.″
″Fantabulous. That′s a dynamite visual.″ Beatty raised his fingers in the air and twisted a pair of phantom knobs. ″I see you doing the story in a bikini. You′re being frosted with fat cream and shrink-wrapped.″
I blanched. ″A
?″ I said. ″No way. I don′t even own a bikini.″
″You can expense it. We′ve got to see them slathering you in the cream, so that means bikini. The rest is up to you. I want a five-part series on diet scams for sweeps week.″
When I didn′t reply, his eyebrows shot up above the rim line of his aviator glasses, hairy protuberances that usually represented the leading edge of an ass-kicking squall.
″Investigative stories are
beat, Gallagher, ″ he said. ″But if you can′t handle this one, I′ll put Lainey on it. She′s itching to do a series. And I′m sure she′d have no problem wearing a bikini.″
″Lainey would prance naked on a catwalk if it meant promoting herself,″ I said.
Beatty yanked off his glasses and tossed them on the desk. ″In case you forgot, Gallagher, this station′s ratings pay your salary, so spare me any yada yada about how you won the duPont Award and you only do ′serious′ news. We could use more people around here with Lainey′s attitude. ″
Ouch. Lainey Lanston was my newsroom rival and personal nemesis. Formerly a print reporter at the
, she had always dismissed TV news as lamebrain puffery—until the morning she showed up for her first day of work at Channel Twelve. Ever since then she′d been breathing down my neck, trying to outscore me on getting lead stories. The fact that Beatty was calling Lainey by her first name meant she′d already oozed her way into his good graces. A bad omen for me.
I gritted my teeth and said, ″Lainey′s completely wrong for this story—I already have some good sources. I′ll do it.″
When his eyebrows remained aloft, I added grudgingly, ″Okay, including the damned visual with the bikini.″
″Atta girl.″ Beatty flashed some teeth in a smile that might have been meant to be conciliatory. ″And give me your usual hard-hitting stuff,″ he said. ″Not like that piece of crap we ran yesterday about the escaped zoo tiger. We promote it as a killer, but then we show it holed up in a bush having kittens.″
″Cubs. Tigers don′t have kittens.″
″Whatever.″ Another gesture dismissed me. ″They were milk-eaters, not man-eaters.″
″All you had to do was play up the happy-ending twist. That would′ve worked.″
″Hey, that woulda been fantabulous,″ he said with another show of canines. ″Maybe I should move you over to features.″
″Maybe it′s time for me to leave.″
I fled from Beatty′s office and cut a path through the crowded newsroom, avoiding the curious stares of my colleagues. I knew they were dying to pump me for information about my closed-door session with the news director, so I took refuge in an editing booth.