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Authors: Mary Clay

Tags: #action and adventure, #cozy mystery, #divorced women, #female sleuth, #humor, #mystery humor, #southern humor

The Turtle Mound Murder

BOOK: The Turtle Mound Murder
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Praise for Mary Clay’s
A DAFFODILS* Mystery

*Divorced And Finally Free Of Deceitful,
Insensitive, Licentious Scum
(
TM)


Witty and
hilarious...”

Midwest Book Review


... a crisp pace with
plenty of humor ...”

Romantic Times BookClub

“The Ya Ya Sisterhood meets The First Wives
Club. A cleverly done light mystery that’s a rare find ...”

The Examiner (Beaumont, Texas)

“The Turtle Mound Murder is light and
accentuated with the familiar mannerisms of Southern women. ... A
fun book.”

Southern Halifax Magazine

“Bike Week Blues is one of the funniest
capers this reviewer has had the privilege of reading.”

Harriet Klausner, #1 Reviewer, Amazon.com

“Sometimes we just need something fun to
read. The DAFFODILS Mysteries fit the bill.”

The DeLand-Deltona Beacon

* * *

DAFFODILS Mysteries
written as
Mary Clay

The Turtle Mound Murder

Bike Week Blues

Murder is the Pits

New Age Fiction
written by
Linda Tuck-Jenkins aka Mary Clay

Starpeople: The Sirian Redemption

* * *

A DAFFODILS* Mystery

*Divorced And Finally Free Of Deceitful,

Insensitive, Licentious
Scum
(TM)

The Turtle Mound Murder
Mary Clay
An IF Mystery

An Imprint of Inspirational Fiction

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

* * *

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may
be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic,
electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,
taping or by any information storage or retrieval system, without
permission in writing from the publisher.

Published by IF Mystery, an imprint of
Inspirational Fiction

P. O. Box 2509

New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170-2509

www.inspirationalfiction.com

Cover Design: Peri Poloni,
www.knockoutbooks.com

This is a work of fiction. All places, names,
characters and incidents are either invented or used fictitiously.
The events described are purely imaginary.

Smashwords Edition

ePub ISBN 978-0-9710429-0-2

Copyright © 2009 Linda Tuck-Jenkins

* * *

Chapter 1

Roswell, Georgia


Damn, girl, you
look like hell!”

I slid into the booth next to the window at
the Admiral’s Dinghy, a locals’ hangout in the restored district of
Roswell. Penelope Sue Parker, my long-time friend and sorority
sister, was already finishing a glass of wine. From the gleam in
Penny Sue’s eye, it might have been her second.

“Thanks, that makes me feel real good,” I
said sarcastically.

Penny Sue studied me, sipping wine, sunlight
bouncing off the two-carat diamond on her right hand. “You look
like you haven’t slept in a year. Heavens, you have dark circles
under your eyes.” She raised her glass, signaling the waiter.
“What’s wrong, honey? You still depressed?”

“I’m going to change my name,” I said in a
rush.

“I don’t blame you. I’d get rid of that
skunk Zack’s name as soon as possible. I’m surprised you haven’t
done it sooner. As far as I’m concerned, you’ll always be Becky
Martin.”

“Leigh,” I corrected. The waiter arrived
with two glasses of wine. I stared at the glass the waiter put in
front of me. “What’s this, Penny Sue? You know I shouldn’t drink;
I’ve been taking antidepressants off and on for months.”

“Pooh, one little glass of wine won’t kill
you. It’ll help you relax.” Penny Sue pouted, fingering the
substantial emerald hanging from her neck. “What’s this stuff about
Leigh?”

“My middle name. I’m sick of being Becky.
Good old Becky; sweet, cute Becky; dumb shit, blind Becky.”

“You were just too trusting,” my friend
assured me.

Stupid, trusting, the label made no
difference; Zachary Stratton had played me for a fool. As soon as
the kids were off to college, my loving husband took up
woodworking. Each night when I went to bed, he’d retire to his shop
in the garage for a couple of hours. A partner in Atlanta’s most
prestigious law firm, Zack claimed rubbing and sanding wood
relieved the stress of his hectic day.

Wood, hell—it was silicon breasts!

While I snored blissfully, Zack sneaked out
to meet a strip club dancer he’d set up in a house a few blocks
away. The scam worked for over a year until Ann, our younger, was
picked up for DUI late one night. I rushed to the garage to tell
Zack. The tools were cold, and his car was gone.

A staunch believer in a person’s right to
privacy, I’d never intruded on Zack’s domain. I made an exception
that night. In a matter of minutes, I found a carton of wooden
figurines identical to the ones he claimed to have made. In a
sickening flash I realized the find’s implications and gagged,
recalling the times I’d ooed and awed over the silly statues. Rage
suppressed the tears and gave me the strength to carry the box to
the center of the garage. When Zack returned home, I was waiting,
feet propped up on Exhibit A.

“I’m forty-six; Becky is a child’s name.” I
took a drink of wine and glared. “Leigh, now there’s a woman’s
name. Momma got it from
Gone With the Wind
. You know,
Scarlett, Vivien Leigh. I deserve that name, don’t you think?”

“Absolutely,” Penny Sue said, raising her
glass in salute, “Leigh it is. What in the world brought this
on?”

“My therapist said it would help me release
the past.”

“Are you still seeing that squirrelly guy
downtown?”

“No, I gave him up months ago. He was too
strange.”

Penny Sue threw back her head and laughed.
“Of course, dear, he’s a therapist. They’re all weird. You teach
what you need to learn.” The New Age explanation for the purpose of
life, the phrase was Penny Sue’s pat answer to everything. “Why did
you drop Dr. Nerd?”

I scanned the room to see who might be
listening. “The jerk crossed the line when he suggested I attend a
Sufi ceremony, saying a novel experience would help my depression.
It was novel, all right. By the time I arrived, everyone was naked,
lying in a pile. My therapist was on the bottom.”

Penny Sue snorted with amusement. “Figures.
I would have guessed as much. What about that other one? The
attitude healer in Vinings? Did you ever try her?”

“Yes, lord, another dead end.”

“What happened? Ruthie said she was
good.”

I sat back and folded my arms. “That’s not
saying much—Ruthie hasn’t been right since she drove off the bridge
and cracked her head. I signed up for the Heal Your Mind, Heal Your
Life workshop, figuring it would give me a chance to see the
therapist in action, before going for a private session. Am I glad
I did; that lady’s in dire need of analysis herself.

“Waltzes in the first meeting and announces
she’s a reincarnated priestess from ancient Egypt. Then, she starts
in on visualizing the future we want.” I waved expansively.
“Nothing wrong with that; except we can’t just imagine it, we’ve
got to visualize her way. We have to cut out pictures from
magazines and make paper dolls. She did it, too. All her pictures
came from bridal magazines. Paper dolls? Bridal magazines? Does
that tell you something? And I’m supposed to follow her advice?
Yeah, right.”

Penny Sue chuckled. “That explains why
Ruthie liked her. Ruthie’s always had a fetish for wedding gowns.
Remember how she wore one to the Old South Ball at Kappa Alpha each
year?”

“I’d forgotten about that. The gown wasn’t
so bad, it was the veil—”

“With sunglasses! Wasn’t she a sight?”

“How’s Ruthie doing anyway?” I asked.

“The same. Lives with her father; works on
charities and an occasional political campaign. She’s still into
New Age stuff; you know, meditation and crystals. You should give
her a call. She’s always going to meetings and séances. I’ve been a
few times, it’s fun. Nothing else, it would get you out of the
house.”

I leaned forward. I could already feel the
effects of the wine. “Maybe I will.” Getting out with people was
what I needed; I knew I’d become almost reclusive, dreading the
thought of running into old friends and having to re-tell the story
of The Big Split. Yet, the loneliness fed the depression, which
made me more reclusive, and on and on until there was nothing
except a dark emptiness. A great, gaping void in the center of my
chest; a black hole that could not be filled by therapy or pills.
“Does Ruthie ever date?”

Penny Sue said, “Heavens no, she’ll never
remarry, at least as long as her father’s alive.”

Ruthie’s father was J.T. Edwards, a retired
railroad executive who lived in a restored mansion in Buckhead. I
blinked back tears. “Probably just as well.”

“What’s got you so down?”

I blotted my eyes with the back of my hand.
“Zack moved out last week while I was visiting my folks.”

“That’s terrific news! Y’all living under
the same roof while you fought over the property settlement was
sick. I told Daddy so.” Penny Sue’s daddy was Judge Warren Parker,
founder of Zachary’s firm. “Daddy likes you and feels bad about the
situation, but Zack’s a valuable asset to the firm, because of his
connections with the telephone people. They love him.”

“Naturally,” I said. “He takes them to strip
joints whenever they come to town. That’s how Zack met Ms.
Thong.”

“Who?”

“His little lap dancer. I found a picture of
her in a silver thong bikini at the bottom of Zack’s sock
drawer.”

Penny Sue shrugged. “Daddy promised to have
a word with Zack, advise him to give you a fair shake. You know,
fifty-fifty.”

My cheeks flamed. “It worked,” I said,
trying hard to control my anger. “Mr. Fairness took half of
everything in the house. Half of the pictures on the walls, half of
each set of china, and half of the furniture, right down to one of
Zack, Jr.’s twin beds.”

“Half the Wedgwood?” Penny Sue asked. I
nodded. “No wonder you’re depressed.”

“The Wedgwood’s the least of my worries, he
could have had it all. It was the spite that gets me. We’re
supposed to sign off on the property settlement tomorrow. I can’t
imagine what else he’s got up his sleeve. A person who’d take half
the sheets—I mean all the top sheets, no bottoms—is capable of
anything.”

“No doubt.” Penny Sue drained her glass and
clicked it down. “Girl, you need a vacation.”

“Vacation? After tomorrow I may not be able
to afford lunch. Besides, I have to sell the house.”

“Hire a realtor; you need a change of
scenery. New Smyrna Beach is beautiful in the Fall and Daddy hardly
ever uses his condo anymore. Remember what a good time we had there
in college? Come on, Beck—er, Leigh—it’ll be relaxing, do you a
world of good.”

“I’ll see how the settlement goes,” I
replied.

Thankfully, the waiter arrived to take our
order, shutting Penny Sue down. I chose the Caesar salad, while she
ordered quiche with a Dinghy Dong for dessert.

“A Dinghy Dong? Isn’t that the extra large
chocolate eclair?”

Penny Sue cut me a look. “So?”

“Comfort food? What’s wrong, did you breakup
with the Atlanta Falcon?”

Penny Sue raked a hand through her
meticulously streaked hair. “Honey, I’m dating a Falcon
and
a Brave, now. But, a Dinghy Dong’s something else; I always have
room for one of them.”

* * *

From Parker, Hanson, and Swindal’s
twenty-third floor conference room in downtown Atlanta, the people
on the street looked like ants foraging for crumbs. I could
sympathize, I had a bad feeling that’s what I’d be doing at the end
of the day.

I should never have quit my job, I thought
ruefully. Until the fateful night when I found out about Zack, I’d
been a part-time bookkeeper for a local car dealership. Money
wasn’t the issue, though I enjoyed having funds of my own. The job
gave me a sense of purpose, something to think about other than
bridge and local gossip. But I couldn’t concentrate and started
making mistakes after I discovered Zack’s other life. Afraid I
might do serious damage, like fouling up an IRS report, I decided
to quit.

Although most of my sorority sisters were
pampered Southern belles, my family was a hundred percent middle
class. I was one of only two sorority pledges who had not “come
out” at a debutante ball. That never bothered me, or them, for that
matter. By my senior year I was president of the sorority and a
regular at all the posh, hotsy-totsy balls.

Which was how I got hooked up with Zachary.
A six-foot-one handsome blond from a poor, farming family, Zack was
in his last year of law school when we met. He’d dated Penny Sue
first, but was dumped for her first husband, Andy Walters, the
amiable, if dumb, captain of the football team.

BOOK: The Turtle Mound Murder
3.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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