Authors: Leann Sweeney
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General
A YELLOW ROSE MYSTERY
AN OBSIDIAN MYSTERY
Praise for Leann Sweeney's Yellow Rose Mysteries
''As Texas as a Dr Pepper–swigging armadillo at the Alamo. A rip-roaring read!''
—Carolyn Hart, author of
Death of the Party
Shoot from the Lip
is full of emotions! Anger, sadness, fear, happiness, laughter, joy, and tears . . . they are all there, and you will feel them along with the characters in this book!'' —Amanda Shafer, Armchair Interviews
''I adore this series.''
''A welcome new voice in mystery fiction.''
—Jeff Abbott, bestselling author of
''A dandy debut . . . will leave mystery fans eager to read more about Abby Rose.''
—Bill Crider, author of A
Pick Your Poison
goes down sweet.''
—Rick Riordan, Edgar® Award–winning author of
The Sea of Monsters
''A witty, down-home Texas mystery . . . [a] fine tale.'' —
Midwest Book Review
The Yellow Rose Mysteries
by Leann Sweeney
Shoot from the Lip
A Wedding to Die For
Pick Your Poison
A YELLOW ROSE MYSTERY
AN OBSIDIAN MYSTERY
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
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First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © Leann Sweeney, 2008
All rights reserved
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I would like to thank my husband, Mike, for supporting me through this part of my life called a writing career. The challenges have been many, but he is always there for me. My writing group is amazing and I never could have written this book without their insights and encouragement. A huge thank-you also goes to Officer Sheri Rowe of the HPD Crime Scene Unit and Bart Nabors, HPD Homicide investigator. Every question I posed was answered thoroughly and completely. I learned so much. Also, a special thank-you to Sue Klein for sharing her knowledge of Glenwood Cemetery. I also owe much gratitude to my wonderful agent, Carol Mann, and to Will Sherlin, as well as Hilary Dowling and my fabulous editor, Claire Zion.
This book is for my wonderful writing group:
Amy, Bob, Charlie, Heather, Kay, and Laura, as well as for surrogate members Susie and Isabella. Thank you for being who you are individually and for what we have as a group. I am forever grateful.
My daddy used to say there's news and then there's sitdown news. When I received the call from a police officer named Cooper Boyd asking me to help him identify a car-wreck victim, I was thankful to be already seated in the big leather chair in my home office.
''Oh my God,'' I said. ''Is it Kate? Or Jeff? Or—''
''Ma'am, the victim is female. Who is Kate and when did you see her or speak to her last?''
My heart was racing now. ''Kate Rose is my twin sister. She has dark brown hair and brown eyes. She works in the Texas Medical Center and I talked to her before she—oh God. What happened?''
''Take a deep breath. The victim has blond hair and the incident occurred in Montgomery County last night. Obviously this woman is not your sister.''
''That's good. That's so good.'' Now that my thoughts were no longer focused on worst-case scenarios, I noticed Boyd's voice sounded like he'd gargled with axle grease this morning.
''This wasn't exactly an accident,'' he said. ''I've come here to Houston from Pineview, where I'm the police chief. The victim was life-flighted to Ben Taub General around midnight. She's in a coma.''
''Will she pull through?'' My pulse slowed a little, but the coffee I'd just finished was still sloshing around after being stirred by panic.
''Doctors aren't saying much,'' he answered.
''You said Pineview? I've never heard of it.''
''Small town, northwest Montgomery County. You
know anyone up that way? A client? A relative? A friend?''
caught my attention. ''You must know more about me than my name. Why do you think I can help you identify this person?''
''The victim had your business card in her possession, ma'am. Yellow Rose Investigations, right? And adoption reunion is your specialty?''
''Yes,'' I said.
''See, her having your card is one of the two things we know about her.''
''And the other?'' I asked.
''Someone wanted her dead.''
I closed my eyes and pictured a young woman tangled in the wreckage of an automobile. It didn't help the swirling in my gut. ''And she had
''Yes, Ms. Rose.''
''Okay, I'm worried she might be one of my former clients, even though I'm pretty sure I've never done a search for anyone up that way. But she could have just moved there or—''
''Listen, I need your help now,'' he said. ''This young woman probably has relatives who should know she's in critical condition. Think you could meet me in the hospital lobby?''
''I—yes. Sure. Which hospital did you say?''
At least she was in good hands. Ben Taub has one of the best trauma centers in the country. ''I can be there in fifteen minutes. How will I know you?''
''I'm in uniform. Brown and gold.'' He disconnected without a good-bye.
Since it was August and hotter than hell's door handle, I was dressed in shorts and a tank top. I decided that wasn't suitable hospital attire and hurried upstairs with my calico cat, Diva, on my heels. I quickly changed into lightweight cropped pants, a sleeveless cotton blouse and summer clogs.
''What the heck do you think this whole identify-thecoma-patient thing is about?'' I asked Diva as I applied lipstick. No time for any other makeup to cover my usual crop of summer freckles, the ones that had ap peared despite the gallon of sunscreen I'd gone through since May.
Diva answered my question with several insightful meows. Too bad the cat whisperer wasn't around to interpret her answer.
As I stepped outside and went through the back gate to the driveway, I wondered if I'd even had a letter from anyone from Pineview. I sure couldn't remember, but then there were times when I couldn't even remember the Alamo.
Using the remote on my key chain, I turned off the car alarm on my new silver Camry. I'd had a superduper special-order car alarm installed that beeped a reminder to engage it whenever I parked. No one got near my car without that thing making enough noise to embarrass thunder. I'd had a little trouble on a case last year with a very bad man sticking GPS devices under my bumper every time I wasn't looking. That would
Five for Fighting's latest CD started playing once I started the ignition. ''The Riddle'' was currently my favorite song. The drive took only ten minutes and that meant I had five minutes to find a parking place in the Medical Center complex—a definite challenge. But since it was nearly noon, most of the morning clinic appointments were over and I located a spot pretty fast. Then I walked the long path to the hospital.
The air-conditioning made the small, stark lobby almost as cold as my ex-husband's heart. I quickly spotted Cooper Boyd thanks to his brown uniform. He looked to be in his midforties with dark, gloomy eyes. He'd be a pretty darn good-looking guy without the gloom. I approached him and we shook hands.
''Abby Rose,'' I said.
''Thank you for coming.'' Boyd reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded sheet of paper and handed it to me. ''This is a copy of what we found under the woman's front seat. We sent the actual card for fingerprinting.''
My business card, all right—front and back. Someone had scrawled the words ''adoption searcher'' and ''Do this today'' on the back. The card appeared smudged and wrinkled, and this condition made the copy a poor one.
I looked up at Boyd, who must have been at least six feet tall. ''I could use more details,'' I said. ''Maybe I did have contact with this person in the last few years. Otherwise, how did she get my card?''
''For one thing, a passenger could have dropped it, but speculation is a waste of time at this point. What kind of details do you need?'' His drawl had to be East Texas. Very pronounced.
''You're sure this was a murder attempt?'' I asked.
From the look on his face, I wished I would have eaten those words before they'd tumbled out. I'd just questioned a lawman's conclusions. You don't do that. Jeff, my boyfriend, is HPD Homicide and I know better.
Boyd's right jaw muscle tensed. ''Yes, ma'am, I'm certain. Even the assailant didn't much mind if we figured that out. Now, can we go upstairs and have a look at the victim? Then you can be on your way.''
''I am so sorry. I didn't mean to question your assessment. My daddy always said I had a tongue like a bell clapper.''
He smiled briefly and I breathed an inward sigh of relief. Conflict with strangers is not my favorite pastime.
''No offense taken,'' he said.
''Please call me Abby, by the way.''
''And I'd prefer Cooper.'' We began the short walk to the elevators. ''
seems like a title I don't deserve. Like I should be a genius and God knows I'm not. I've only been doing this job for a year.''
''What did you do before?'' We entered an empty elevator and Cooper punched the button for the fourth floor.
''FBI. But not anymore.''