Death at the Midnight Dragonfly by Susan Boles
Argent Ocean Publishing
(November 10, 2017)
Paperback: 216 pages
E-Book ASIN: B0771PXNYD
On the fourth day of Christmas, In Mercy, Mississippi....Four suspects lying, Three sleuths a sleuthing Two clues a hiding And a very, very dead body.It's the Christmas season in Mercy, Mississippi. But things are far from jolly.For Vlad Templeton the sleepy little town where he spent his childhood provides the perfect place to conduct his state funded sleep study. But when the local bank manager, who was participating in the study, is found dead on his doorstep, is it a set up...or is Vlad somehow involved?But, when someone makes an attempt on Lily Gayle's and Dixie's life, the two realize they better move fast....or they might end up sleeping forever.
About the Author
Susan calls McNairy County, TN her home ground even though she has moved away. It was here, at Bethel Springs Junior High School that she began her writing career with two friends. They formed their own little writers group that was so secret they were the only ones who knew it existed. She still has some of the stories they wrote carefully preserved in a loose leaf binder and tucked away for safety. She has worked in retail management, briefly for the Census Bureau and for many years in the investment/insurance industry in the regulatory compliance arena. All of which are left brain activities. So she exercises her right brain activity with reading and writing…just to keep both sides even. Reading has been a passion since she was very young. As a toddler, her mother read to her from her 'baby books' and her Mother tells a story about her holding one of them upsidedown and 'reading' by repeating the story verbatim from memory. Susan writes mysteries set in the big city of Memphis, TN and the fictional small town of Mercy, Mississippi.
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Read an Excerpt
After I'd had my breakfast the next morning, I decided to take the bull by the horns and run up to the Dragonfly to determine if Vlad Templeton was actually my old friend or, by some incredible coincidence, a total stranger with the same name.
But first, I pedaled over to the It'll Grow Back to check up on Dixie. I came down the sidewalk to the shop, leaned my bike against wall and peered around the edge of the big plate glass window into the shop. Dixie was there alright. Arranging hair products on a stand where she kept them for sale.
She didn't look like she was still in crazy mode, so I took a chance, eased the door open. Dixie jumped like a scared cat when the bell chimed. When she saw it was me tears filled her eyes the same time her cheeks flamed red. Rushing over, she hugged me so hard I thought she might just crack a rib or two.
"Lily Gayle! Thank goodness you came by. I'm so distracted I don't know what to do."
I patted her back gently while I tried to loosen her death grip. What could have gotten in to her? It's not like I'd never seen her have a fight with Jack in all these years. I finally managed to break free long enough to go back over to the door and lock it.
Something was seriously wrong here and I didn't want any customers walking in on Dixie in such a state. Once the door was secured, I led Dixie to the back of the shop where she had a tiny office and sat her in the swivel chair. In the fluorescent lighting, surrounded by boxes of hair products and shelves of paperwork, she looked worse than she had last night.
"Now. Tell me what in tarnation has gotten into you."
"Oh, Lord, Lily Gayle. Me and Jack had the awfulest dust up you ever saw last night."
I laughed. "Yeah. I was there for part of it. Remember?"
With a trembling hand she pushed her hair back from her face. "No. I mean after we got home. I lit into him so bad about going to the bank for that loan that he slammed out of the house and stayed gone all night."
I sank down on a stack of boxes at chair height to take that in. I had never know of Jack to get so mad he stormed out of the house. And for him to have stayed gone all night was really out of character. My heart hurt for Dixie.
I reached over and took her hand in mine. Waited till she looked up at me. "Now, hon. I understand you're beside yourself. But you know Jack will be on back home soon."
Dixie sniffled and rubbed the back of her other hand under her nose like a child. "He's never ever done anything like this. What if something happened to him? I tried to call him on his cell phone but he doesn't have it with him. I found it on the floor in the living room when it started ringing."
I silently cursed Jack to hell for staying gone this long. I didn't think anything bad had happened to him 'cause Ben would have gotten word by now if that was the case and would've moved heaven and earth to get to Dixie and make sure she heard it from him.
I stood up. "You know what? You come on up to the Dragonfly with me. That'll take your mind off things still Jack brings his sorry ass back home."
Startled eyes met mine. "What? Why are you goin' up there?"
At least I'd gotten her mind off Jack for a minute. "I want to go up there and see if it's Vlad from when we were kids."
She tilted her head. "Of course it's him, Lily Gayle. How many Vlad Templeton's could there be in the world?"
I brushed some dust off my shirt that must have been on the edge of the shelving in here. Dixie kept the shop itself sparkling clean, but wasn't much on keeping it so spotless back here where no one else ever came. "I reckon you're right. And I'd just as soon have my first meeting with him after all this time be private." I nudged her foot with mine. You should come. He was your friend, too."
She gave me a sly smile. "As I recall, you had a big ol' crush on him back then."
Her statement caught me off guard and heat rushed into my cheeks.
Dixie gave a delighted laugh. "You're blushing."
"I am not. That space heater you've got under your desk has it so hot in here a body can hardly breathe."
Dixie scooted away from the built in desk and pointed to the space heater. Which was off.
"Well." I said. "It must be a hot flash then."
Dixie laughed again. "You haven't been havin' hot flashes before. I think maybe you still have a soft spot for him."
"Don't be ridiculous." I huffed, getting mad now. "You're making a big deal out of nothing."
"If you say so." She shuffled some papers on her desk around. "But methinks the lady doth protesteth too much."
I stood up from the boxes, brushing more dust off my shirt. "Oh stuff that Shakespeare crap. Are you coming with me or not?"
Dixie stood, too. "Nope. I have someone new coming in for a color treatment and I don't want to cancel on a new customer." She hugged me, then stepped back. "But thanks for coming by and cheering me up. You're right. Jack will be on home soon. He's probably up at that gym in Olive Branch working out his frustrations with his witchy wife. I forgot to mention the other day at breakfast that Jack joined it."
I left Dixie getting her station ready for the new customer, but in a much better mind set than the one I'd found her in. That made me happy. But riding my bike in the cold wind out to the Dragonfly sure did put a damper on my enthusiasm for the trip.
As pedaled my bike up the curved driveway to the house, I saw Ben's cruiser parked out front and he stood on the steps observing the scene. In the driveway, the county rescue ambulance idled with lights strobing red beacons across the scene. Two EMT's worked frantically on someone lying on the big front porch as a third hustled over with a gurney.
As two of the EMT's lifted a tall body onto the stretcher, I stood up and pushed hard on the pedals to quicken my pace to the house. As I got close, I saw the person lying still as death on the white sheet and my heart stopped. Then galloped to catch up.
I glanced around, looking for a clue as to how the bank manager had ended up here on the porch of the Dragonfly when I'd last seen him in the town square. Gazing around curiously, I noticed a pair of bright red boxing gloves under a bush by the stairs. What the heck?
My memory flashed back to the truck I hadn't recognized last night in the parking lot on the town square -- and a pair of boxing gloves spilling out of a gym bag. I wondered if they were the same gloves. Then I remembered Dixie telling me just this morning about Jack joining that boxing gym.
But, the boxing gym was new and I couldn't be sure of who might have joined. And besides, there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for why a pair of boxing gloves were lying on the ground like that. But my intuition told me that they were related to Tom Hammond being on that gurney in the back of an ambulance that was now hauling ass down the long drive toward the road back to town.
As I turned back to the porch I saw Ben frown at me over the shoulder of a man who's back was toward me. Then, with a resigned look on his face, he motioned to me to climb up the steps. When the man Ben'd been talking to turned, I realized with a start that it must be Vlad. All grown up and handsome as the devil.
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