Threads of Deceit (Vineyard Quilt Mysteries Book 1)

BOOK: Threads of Deceit (Vineyard Quilt Mysteries Book 1)
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Threads of Deceit

Copyright © 2014 Annie’s.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews. For information address Annie’s, 306 East Parr Road, Berne, Indiana 46711-1138.

The characters and events in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental.

Library of Congress-in-Publication Data

Threads of Deceit
/ by Mae Fox & Jan Fields

p. cm.

I. Title

                                                       
2014915926

AnniesCraftStore.com

(800) 282-6643

A Vineyard Quilt Mystery™

Series Creator: Shari Lohner

Series Editors: Shari Lohner, Janice Tate, and Ken Tate

Cover Illustrator: Kelley McMorris

10 11 12 13 14 | 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Contents

Copyright Page

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-One

Twenty-Two

Quilted Vineyard Coasters

PROLOGUE

R
ain spattered against the empty street that stank of wet pavement and something less pleasant … sewage, mold, and a pinch of death. A tall woman pulled the hood of her long coat farther forward to hide her face. The picture of hunched misery, she kept to the shadows and walked close to the buildings as if hoping for a shield from the damp onslaught.

Nearly a block ahead, a rotund man stomped his way down the sidewalk, splashing as he went. His black umbrella and neatly pressed pants, now a muddy ruin at the cuffs, gave him a subtle English air. He clutched a small wrapped package to his chest. Never pausing or glancing backward, he gave no sign that he was aware of the woman’s pursuit.

Though she felt edgy, creeping along as she did, the woman didn’t allow that to quicken her steps or close the distance between them. This wasn’t her first time following a stranger on a rainy night.

The man stopped so suddenly that she nearly stumbled in surprise. She ducked into the small alcove of a shop entrance, where the darkness that pooled around the door covered her completely. The man turned then, his movements stiff. His gaze swept over the street and sidewalk but didn’t linger on her hiding place.

His umbrella shook, revealing his nerves. He turned away and darted around the corner. The woman sprang out of the shadows and ran after him, grateful for the soft-soled shoes that kept her footfalls from ringing against the wet pavement. She reached the corner and peeked around the stained brickwork
of the old building. She saw the man pressed against a door, his shoulders hunched against the rain as he fumbled with a lock. In a flash, he ducked into the building.

“Bingo,” the woman whispered.

“Bingo what?” the voice in her ear came so suddenly and so loud that the woman jumped.

“I found his stash,” she whispered, trying to regain her composure.

“Excellent! Do you want to call the police or shall I?”

“I’ll do it.” She paused. “After I retrieve the client’s property.”

A groan grated against her eardrum. “Julie Ellis, are you out of your mind? We had an agreement. You find the stash, and then we let the police recover the stolen loot.”

“I didn’t argue with you,” Julie said quietly. “But that’s not the same as agreeing.”

“Why do you always do this? You’re going to get yourself killed one of these days!”

“Look, Hannah, I can’t call yet. If I do, that Imari
Kakiemon
porcelain vase will end up sitting in an evidence locker somewhere for who knows how long. How much time do you think the old woman has left to live?”

“I know your heart is in the right place—”

“No. No argument. The whole reason the vase has been missing for seventy years is because the
authorities
lost the family heirloom when they rounded up one little girl’s entire family and shipped them off to an internment camp. How can I face the family and say that I left their vase in the hands of the
authorities
again?”

“You can’t run around breaking and entering and tampering with a crime scene.”

“It’s not a crime scene until the police show up.”

“It doesn’t work like that, and you know it.” Hannah’s voice was filled with urgency. “Now call the police and get back here.”

“I’m having trouble hearing you, Hannah,” Julie said, tugging the Bluetooth headset out of her ear. She held it in front of her mouth for a moment. “It must be this rain … bad reception … sorry.” She dropped the receiver into her pocket.

The door she was watching opened, and the man stepped out. Julie ducked around the corner and into a doorway again. She pressed herself tightly against the cold metal of the door, breathing shallowly in the thick air.

Moments later, the man strode around the corner. There was no sign of the package. He held his umbrella at a slight angle, blocking his side vision. Still, Julie held her breath, willing him to pass without glancing her way. He did.

When his footsteps faded, she stepped out of the shadows and smiled. Time for her favorite part of the evening—a little breaking and entering for a good cause.

O
NE

S
ix months later.

The black Buick Verano slipped smoothly out of the bustle of late-season tourist traffic and slowed to a stop at the curb. The two women in the car leaned forward to peer out the front window at the tall, red brick Victorian perched on the low hill. Everything about the house was neat: the clean lines between cream and blue painted trim, the precision of the old brickwork, the way the tall peaked turret seemed to jab at the clouds floating by in the late summer sky.

Forty-year-old Julie Ellis smiled at the house, thinking it was a perfect match for the woman beside her. Hannah Marks had that same precision about her, that same orderliness. She liked order and rules and systems. She would fit in perfectly at the Quilt Haus Inn. Julie, on the other hand, knew she might find that her own square peg had a bit more trouble cramming into any available round hole.

Hannah leaned back into her seat and pushed her glasses up on her nose. “This is never going to work.”

“What?” Julie pulled her eyes away from the house and flipped down the driver’s-side visor. She ran a hand through her dark curls, hoping they were properly tamed. She needed to look the very soul of virtue.
Maybe a bun?
She looked around for a pencil to hold the bun in place.

“You playing innkeeper. You’ll be organizing high-stakes poker matches with the elderly quilters by the end of the week just to stir things up.”

“First, not all quilters are elderly,” Julie said, squinting as she peered at her lips. Should she put on a bright “atta girl”
lipstick or go for the innocent, natural look?

“That’s not relevant.”

Julie continued as if Hannah hadn’t spoken. “And second, I happen to
like
quilting. I haven’t had much time for it, but I’m looking forward to having that chance now.”

“Right … I give it four days before the first casino night. That’s assuming you even get the job.”

“I’ll get it. I always get what I go after.”

Hannah rolled her eyes at that, looking suddenly younger than her normally stern thirty-something. “I applaud your choice of a non-larcenous career change, but this job is going to bore you to tears.”

“No job is boring if you do it right. And I plan to do this one right.”

“So you’re committed to this.”

“I am.”

“And you honestly believe it’s going to work.”

“I do.”

BOOK: Threads of Deceit (Vineyard Quilt Mysteries Book 1)
3.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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