Authors: Sibel Hodge
What the critics are saying about
Sibel Hodge's books
"Hodge created a lovely chick-lit/thriller storyline that reminds me of Charlaine Harris’ Lily Bard mysteries that I love to eat up."
- The New Podler Review of Books
This is one of the best self published books I've read yet.
There were just so many over the top and lol moments that it made me fall in love with Amber.
It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a mystery this much."
- A Buckeye Girl Reads
"A witty well-paced romp, full of energy and with plenty of satisfying twists and turns."
- Romantic Novelists' Association
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VOODOO, LIES, AND MURDER
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Copyright © 2012 Sibel Hodge
(Formerly published as
Cover design by Lyndsey Lewellen
Gemma Halliday Publishing
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to your online retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's work.
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple."
* * * *
When everything in your life is going amazingly well, do you ever get the feeling that something bad is about to happen? It's kind of like in the back of your mind you don't think you deserve to be happy, and something, or someone, is going to turn around and bite you on the ass to spoil everything. Like the world as you know it is going to suddenly go
That was the feeling I had that moment as I lay in bed, staring at Brad. Brad, who was once my fiancé, then my ex, then my boss, then my fiancé again. Are you confused yet? I know I'd spent a long time being confused over my love life, but now everything felt right, and I was feeling pretty damn good about life, so this feeling I was getting of a doomsday cloud hovering over my head was très bizarre.
I propped myself up on my elbow, my eyes wandering with appreciation over Brad's face. Closed eyelids with sexy, long lashes hiding his blue-gray eyes that changed color depending on his mood. A smile that could melt an iceberg. Sensuous lips that could…well, that would be telling! My eyes wandered farther, toward abs that Mr. Universe would be proud of. Lower. Mmm. I licked my lips. Yep, Brad was Hot with a capital H.
Six months ago, I'd ended up moving in with Brad after Vinnie Dawson delivered a gazillion spiders to my apartment in an attempt to stop me asking questions about him. Call me strange, but there were much better things I wanted as a present. A lifetime's supply of Chunky Monkey ice cream, perhaps, or that sporty Mercedes I'd seen in a car showroom recently. Plus, I had a big phobia of spiders. No, that was putting it mildly. They scared the pants off me, and even though my apartment had been fumigated, I couldn't bring myself to move back in case one of the little creepy-crawlies was still lurking around in there somewhere, waiting to freak me out in the dead of night. Vinnie's little stunt didn't shut me up, though. I've got a big mouth and I'm not afraid to use it. Anyway, after that, Brad had asked me to marry him (again), and I'd never actually left his three-bed barn conversion since. Everything had been going perfectly. Better than perfectly, actually, so why did I have this weird brain-hovering thought that something bad was going to happen?
I pushed back the duvet, padded to the bathroom, and hot-blasted myself in the shower with some lemon shower gel until my skin was pink. When I returned to the bedroom, Brad had his hands laced behind his head, dozing, so I pulled on some black skinny jeans and a black T-shirt, and ran my fingers through my curly mane to try and tame it so I didn't look like I'd had a bad electric shock in the night.
Downstairs, my ginger cat, Marmalade, greeted me at the kitchen door, meowing and rubbing his head against my leg. I wasn't the only one who preferred Brad's place to my old apartment. Marmalade loved it, too. Hell, what wasn't to prefer? Brad's house had lots of wooden beams and rustic character. It was spacious, he had constant hot water, and one of those huge fridges that could store more chocolate than Cadbury. It backed onto empty fields and the views were incredible. Since Marmalade was the new boy on the block, he'd been outdoors more than usual, chasing mice and getting lots of extra pussy attention. Actually, since I moved in, so had I—minus the mice, of course.
"Hey, boy." I picked him up and gave him a quick cuddle, then grabbed two mugs from the cupboard, along with a French press, and switched the kettle on. I was scooping some fresh-roasted coffee into the press when Brad crept up behind me, sliding his arms around my waist.
"Agh!" Surprised, I spilled the coffee grains onto the granite worktop.
"I've still got the knack." He grinned as I turned around.
"Stop creeping up on me all the time." I playfully swatted his shoulder and looped my arms around his neck. Brad had learned a lot in his days in the SAS, but he'd get ten out of ten for stealth maneuvers every time.
"You want breakfast?" he drawled in his Australian accent, grinning suggestively and kissing me full on the lips.
I raised an eyebrow. "What are we talking here? Food or something else?"
"Food. Otherwise we'll be late for work. Tia just phoned and said something urgent's come in."
When Brad left the SAS he'd started Hi-Tech Insurance. When I wasn't being sexually harassed by my boss, I was his insurance investigator.
I unlooped my arms and turned my attention to clearing up the coffee as Marmalade growled at me and sat on my foot in protest at the lack of kitty chow heading in his direction. He swished his tail, slapping it on my ankle, telling me to get a move on.
"I'll feed him." Brad grabbed Marmalade's bowl and poured the stinky biscuits into it. A side order of milk and Marmalade was in feline heaven.
As I made the coffee, my eyes followed Brad rolling up his shirtsleeves, pulling a frying pan from the cupboard and whisking some eggs for an omelet. He was good with his hands. In the kitchen and
in the bedroom.
"So, Tia said on the phone she can't wait for you to set the wedding date because she's dying to get her bridesmaid dress," Brad said casually as he fried off some mushrooms.
"Uh-huh." I took a sip of coffee and gave him a look to show he wasn't fooling me. "You mean
can't wait for me to set the date." I was tempted to smile at his not-so-subtle hint, but I squashed it before he got any more ideas about the wedding.
"Well, why wait any longer?" He poured the egg mixture into the pan. It sizzled and bubbled in the olive oil.
"Marmalade, what do you think? Meow once for 'yes' and twice for 'no.'" I glanced down at my ginger fur ball. Okay, yes, so I talk to my cat. Sometimes I also ask him to make decisions about my life. But in my defense, before you call me completely nutso, a lot of the time he gave better answers than some humans I'd met.
Marmalade glanced up from his food bowl and meowed once.
"See?" Brad grinned. "Even Marmalade can't wait for you to set the date."
"Okay, okay!" I leaned my elbow on the breakfast bar, watching him work. He was always calm and relaxed, like his body was a perfectly tuned machine and motion was completely effortless for him.
Since I'd moved in everything had been domestic bliss, but was it all too good to be true? Was it about to come crashing down on me?
There it was again, that horrible, niggling feeling that something bad was about to happen. I shook my head to clear it of negative thoughts, and sipped my caffeine fix.
"What's the urgent thing at the office?" I skillfully deflected the conversation away from wedding dates, or the lack of them.
"Not sure. Tia was babbling on about psychics and voodoo and a missing girl." He shrugged. "You know Tia. I hope she hasn't been doing spells at the office again." He rolled his eyes.
I hoped so, too. Tia was the office receptionist, who was psychic and did weird spells. Usually she made me do them, too, and something always ended up breaking. She was the daughter of American fashion designer Umberto Fandango, and her dress sense could only be described as screamingly loud. She'd ended up working for Hi-Tec after I'd investigated the suspicious disappearance of her dad.
"Psychics and voodoo and a missing girl?" I pondered this. Since Tia was going out with Hacker, who also worked at the office, maybe it was something to do with him. He was from Haiti and knew all about voodoo stuff. "Has Hacker got himself in trouble with something?"
"No, Hacker's fine. Apparently, a woman called Chantal Langton has gone missing." Brad handed me a plate with half the omelet on it. I took it, wishing it were a big bowl of Coco Pops. Since I'd moved in, Brad was trying to break my addiction to junk food and wean me on to healthy stuff. Yeah, good luck with that. I mean, if junk food was really so bad for you, why did it taste so good?
I forked in a mouthful. Brad was a great cook, but a lack of chocolate and sugar in the mornings? Come on! How was a girl supposed to function properly? Oh well, I'd just sneak in a chocolate bar when he wasn't looking. Or a whole box, even. The way I saw it, a nice box of chocolates could provide all your daily caloric intake in one place. How handy is that? Or maybe I'd stop for donuts on the way in. Donuts! Ooh, I was salivating at the thought. In fact, if I had an apple donut and a banana muffin, plus a box of chocolates that included orange creams, lemon creams, and strawberry creams, they'd easily count as my five fruit and veg a day.
"Who's Chantal Langton?" I asked.
"She's insured with Hi-Tec, although I don't remember her name so I'd need to check the file. Tia says Hacker's got some info for us about the voodoo angle."
"Voodoo?" I shuddered. Okay, yes, I had a growing list of people I'd like to do voodoo on, but Hacker wouldn't oblige. He said if you dished it out, you got it back three times over. Bad karma and all that. And even though everyone on my voodoo-to-do list totally deserved it, the thought of voodoo dolls, turning people into zombies, and human sacrifices kind of freaked me out. Eeek!
* * *
An hour later, Brad and I arrived at the plush Hi-Tec office. Tia was on the phone as we entered reception, her blonde ringlets bobbing up and down with animation as she spoke. She caught sight of us and hung up, bounding around the reception desk toward us. Tia had—how can I put it?—an odd dress sense. Today she had on a pair of lilac boot-cut trousers, a clashing yellow fitted shirt, and an orange tie. Where did I put my sunglasses?
"Omigod!" Tia said, her American accent even more pronounced when she got excited. "Chantal Langton's gone missing." She handed me a file.
I took it, flicking through.
"Her mother's the famous voodoo priestess Nicole Langton and her father's the big property developer James Langton. All three of them have life insurance with us in excess of five million pounds, plus house and vehicle insurance," Tia babbled on. "Nicole Langton used to have her own TV show a few years ago. Did you ever see it? She's sooooo psychic, it's amazing!" Tia nodded knowingly. "I went to see her about five times. She always gets everything right about people. She goes into these trances and connects with the spirit world and then tells people in the audience about friends and relatives trying to get in touch with them. She's, like, totally awesome."