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Authors: Charlene Weir

Murder Take Two

BOOK: Murder Take Two
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Title Page

Copyright Notice



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Also by Charlene Weir



To Patty and John Westley


Heartfelt thanks to Jane Paul for reading the manuscript; to my daughter, Leslie Weir, without whose help, etc., and who went above and beyond; to Leila Laurence Dobscha for many things (in all my books—it's about time I thanked her), including the color of the carpet; to Kullikki Kay Steen, MD, for medical advice; and to Detective David Pires of the Daly City, California Police Department and Alexander Kump of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, who answered questions about police procedure from a frantic unknown author. These busy people patiently and graciously answered all my questions. Any errors are mine, either because I didn't ask enough questions or didn't understand the answers.


Yancy wished they'd get to the murder. He shifted his belt—gun, ammo clips, handcuffs, radio, baton, and flashlight—aware of the sweat it left around his uniform shirt. Slapping at the buzz of flies by his face, he leaned a shoulder against the inside barn wall. Anything to break up the boredom, and him being a cop it wouldn't have to be more than mildly interesting. He stood well out of the way, by the small door at the side of the barn, a big old limestone place, the uneven stone floor littered with coils of cable—cable, cable everywhere—cameras, lights, mikes, and people constantly moving in a hurry. The huge lights on tripods were off right now, so the far corners dipped into dim shadows.

“Clem, for God's sake, what's the problem? We're ready.” Hayden Fifer, big Hollywood director, stood on a raised platform with camera and cameraman. His voice thundered through the more than three-story height of stone, rattling rafters and raising dust. Livestock were long gone, but the effluvia lingered and seemed to rise up with the dust and hang in the air to be caught on the rays of sunlight rushing through the big open doorway.

Clem was Clem Jones, a skinny kid, female, with spiked pink hair and an attitude. Yancy didn't much care for Clem. They stared fish-eyed at each other. With her weird hair, far-out clothes, and air of serious intent, he found her slightly ridiculous. The feeling was probably mutual. She was Fifer's assistant, and, Yancy thought, not responsible for shepherding actors onto the set, but Fifer yelled at her anyway. He yelled at Clem a lot. She muttered into a handheld radio, and Yancy barely heard her words through the static. “She won't come out of her trailer.”

“Tell them to get her in here! What do you think I pay you for?”

Clem jammed the radio in the pocket of the ankle-length, prison-striped smock she wore and scuttled over cables, around cameras and mikes, through clumps of crew, and out the big doorway into the fierce sunshine.

For two weeks Yancy'd been hanging with the movie crowd, doing nothing, just being there: handy, making sure they weren't bothered, had everything they needed, turning up whenever one of them hollered. Some assignment, right? Shit. It didn't take more than two days before he was brain-dead. Nothing ever happened. Nothing. Ever. Happened. Near as he could figure, movies were made by herds of people milling around for hours until the director called, “Action.” Cameras rolled for sixty seconds, or ground away for hours to get sixty seconds of usable film.

If he'd ever had any inkling of running away to became an actor, this would cure it, one giant yawn giving him nothing but slow time that let his mind tick over. Which he didn't want. He should do something, but he didn't know what. And if he did, ten to one, it'd be wrong. What about simply running away? Now there was a thought.

From Mac, one of the teamsters he'd been idling away time with—teamsters hauled in all the trucks necessary for the making of a movie and chauffeured around the stars—Yancy had gotten the hot tip about the murder on the call sheet today. So far that was just as unreal as everything else.

He had no idea what the movie was about, except it was a thriller.
Lethal Promise.
He knew that much because every vehicle had a placard on the dash with the name printed on it. Filming wasn't done in any sequence that allowed perception of a story.

Movies weren't a cushy way to go, long hours and hard work. Today, they'd started at six
, which meant
started at six
It was now after one, temperature ninety, humidity ninety, and the hot wind that blew in was more irritating than welcome. It was so hot he wondered they didn't all pop off of heat stroke. Being from California, maybe they could survive anything. He smacked the fly feasting on the back of his neck as his mind played through who he might get to swap duty time with. Could he get away with that? It might nettle the chief, she wasn't exactly all sunshine these days.


Startled, Yancy turned. He hadn't heard her slip through the small door behind him. Laura Edwards. Big-time actress. The Star. “Uh—” Oh, yeah. One cool cop.
There she was.
Remote fantasy from the movie screen standing right beside him. In the flesh. Spectacular flesh. Up to now, he'd only seen her at a distance, on the set, or disappearing into her town car. She was beautiful. Small, maybe five two with hair of pale gold that dazzled like sunlight on new snow, and blue eyes, the soft warm blue of a Kansas sky on a spring morning, a body that only Hollywood could dream up—taut and tawny and ripe.

He clasped his hands behind his back, lest they stray of their own accord toward all that female lushness. “They're looking for you,” he said.

“They can look.”

Director Fifer, still on the raised platform, bellowed for the harried Clem who was nowhere to be seen. “Will you, for God's sake, tell them to get her up here?”

They'd been using the platform to shoot a bad-guy-menaces-heroine scene in the hayloft. Villain had caught the beautiful Laura and had her bent backward over the railing, whether to send her falling to her death or choke the life out of her hadn't been clear. Since she was the heroine, the murder most likely wasn't of her.

Before lunch, hours had been spent setting up lights with a photo double hanging head down over the railing. Fifer, up on the platform peering at a monitor, issued instructions that resulted in minute changes in the position of lights, or cameras, or various appendages of the hapless female upside down over the railing, and ditto the villain, primarily his hands around her throat.

After achieving whatever effect he was striving for, Fifer had called for Laura Edwards to drape her beautiful form exactly as the stand-in had been. Therein followed more minute moving of appendages. Hours later all was perfection.

“Roll cameras.”


“Scene twenty-four, take one.”


Before anything much happened, a young female with a clipboard trotted onto the set. Fifer called, “Cut!”

An argument ensued. Fifer got irate, the female stayed implacable.

“Now what?” Yancy asked his teamster buddy.

Mac grinned. “It's been six hours.”

“Only six?”

“Contract. A break after six hours or the pay goes up at thirty-minute intervals. Meal penalty. Fifer's way over budget already. He can't afford more.”

Polaroid pictures were taken of Laura and the villain from every conceivable angle and then Fifer called a lunch break. The barn couldn't have emptied out faster if he'd shouted, “Fire!”

After the break they all trooped back, except Ms. Laura Edwards. She was not on the rail and Fifer was royally pissed.

Now she was standing right by Yancy. She put an index finger, featherlight, on his forearm and looked up at him long and intensely. “I'd like you to do me a favor.” Her voice was low with promise, the spot beneath her finger was warm as a downy duck.

What might she want from him? She smelled like fresh air and wildflowers. In her tight black pants and scoop-necked white blouse, she looked ready for a romp in the hayloft, but not with the likes of him; we're talking light-years away. So what's with all this luminous intensity? Obviously, she wanted something from him. The question was, what? He'd been with this bunch since they'd rolled into town, and she'd ignored him so far. She hadn't gotten a speeding or parking ticket she wanted him to take care of, hadn't caused any riots or broken any laws. Unless maybe after filming shut down and he'd gone home? Naw. He'd have heard about it. The guys at the department were using all kinds of heavy-handed humor, they wouldn't let anything like that go by. So what did she want from him? “Yes, ma'am,” he said.

She inched closer. “Come to my trailer after the shot,” she whispered. “It's very important.”

Is it now? You have intrigued me, lady. “Yes, ma'am.” She was so compelling he found himself whispering back.

“Clem!” Fifer bellowed.

That much put-upon young woman materialized at the foot of the platform and yelled up at him. “The designer said Laura won't come out of her trailer because the blouse looks like a potato sack.”

Fifer held a muttered conversation with the stunt coordinator who was agitating to block out moves. “Enough assing around,” he said. “Kay!”

A shadow angled through the open doorway and paused. Kay Bender, the stunt double, backlit by bright sunshine, dressed identically and wearing a gold wig, was the image of Laura Edwards without the passion: a doppelgänger.

Laura glanced at her and shivered. “Please,” she pleaded and floated away through the small door.

The apparition in the wide doorway and the appeal in Laura's single word made the hairs stand up on his neck. Don't be a goofus, he told himself. This is the land of make-believe.

The stunt double clambered up wooden rungs to the loft.

During the lull the bad guy had been up there lounging against the hay bales. Instantly, he put on a murderous expression. Kay draped herself with her back over the railing, head hanging down, hair trailing. So far as Yancy knew, haylofts didn't have railings, but what the heck, this was Hollywood. The villain grabbed Kay by the throat.

The stunt coordinator gave instructions.

Fifer gave instructions. Cameras rolled.

Then everything seemed to happen in slow motion that took up a fraction of an instant.

There was a splintering crack. The railing gave way. Kay plummeted.


Kay seemed to gather herself into a ball in midair. She landed hard on her back on a layer of straw, jerked convulsively, then lay still.

“No!” Fifer yelled. “Wrong! What's the matter with you people?”

BOOK: Murder Take Two
2.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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