Dead in the WaterI’m Eve Appel, and with my partner and best friend, Madeleine Boudreaux, I own and operate a consignment shop in rural Florida. We’re well established in the area now after a few ups and downs. You can read about the rollicking ride in A Secondhand Murder and the second in the series, Dead in the Water, was released by Camel Press earlier in July.

I’m the kind of woman who often can’t control what comes out of my mouth while Madeleine is always socially appropriate, but seems to have no control over what her body does. I’m saying she’s clumsy. Take this typical day for us when I’d just moved to Florida.

“A rodeo??” I said to Madeleine when she mentioned it. A rodeo? Sure. That sounded area appropriate, and not as creepy as running across a gator while picnicking in the park by the lake.

The only catch was that I’d moved here a month ago, and we hadn’t yet opened our shop.

I looked around the shop. “Things look pretty disorganized.”

“Pooh. We’ll work tomorrow. Today is the last day for the annual rodeo, and I want you to see it. It’s real Florida.”

Madeleine had been showing me around “real” Florida in the last few weeks, so I was familiar with the gators and cowboys, the cowboys I met in the local bar, the gators in nearby canals and on the lake.

Cowboys? Up close and doing their roping, riding and bull riding thing? It was too tempting.

I must admit that I did love the excitement of the events, calf roping, barrel racing, and, the most thrilling, bull riding. I don’t know what I admired most, the skill of the cowboys or the energy of the animals. We sat in the lowest row of the stands and got a close up view of everything, including a good whiff of the cattle. Pick-up riders rode past us, their attention focused on insuring that the riders were safe once off the bulls. People cheered their favorite participant on from the stands. The noise of the steers, bellowing of bulls and neighing of horses added to the air of excitement.

“That was quite a show,” I said to Madeleine as we left the stands. “I’d like a chance to get a closer look at those bulls. They’re huge.”

Madeleine shot me a look filled with skepticism. “You want to get a closer look at those cowboys near the bull pens. Don’t lie to me.”

Well, yes, but the bulls were kind of intriguing too.

“And you’ve already rubbed elbows with cowboys in the Burnt Biscuit Restaurant and Bar on the dance floor.”

“Yeah, but these are sweaty, real cowboys with bulls to boot.”

“This is not a good idea, Eve.”

“Of course it is.”

I was wrong, as I usually am where Madeleine is concerned.

We wandered in the direction of the bull pens and caught the attention of several cowboys working with the stock and others I recognized as having participated in the events.

“Well, little ladies, did you enjoy the rodeo?” asked one of the riders.

Madeleine may be little, but at over six feet with my stiletto heels which I always wore, I am not.

We struck up a conversation with the men and talked of spurs, ropes, pickup riders, and prize money, all matters important to rodeo riders. Madeleine leaned back onto the fence surrounding the stock pens as we talked. I didn’t notice what she was doing, but one of the cowboys did.

“Careful there, Ma’am. You don’t want to lean into that lever or you’ll…”

Madeleine jumped away from the fence, but too late. She’d tripped the level, and the gate swung open. The bulls inside jockeyed for position as they sniffed freedom to the outside world.

The cowboy pushed us out of the way, as the bulls rushed for the open rodeo grounds.

“Oh, oh,” said Madeleine.

“Oh, crap,” I said.

“Bulls are out!” yelled a cowboy.

The chase to round them up began. Men on horses and on foot, the two clowns who worked the rodeo and spectators not afraid to back down a bull dashed out of the stadium to herd the animals back into the pen, but not before two of them jumped on the merry-go-round, scaring the riders already there. Others took off toward the barbeque stands and knocked over three booths, scattering pounds of ribs and chicken onto the ground. It took several hours before the bulls were back in their pen.

As for Madeleine, the lure of the rodeo has worn off, and I haven’t heard her mention attending the event for the past two years. She still agrees with me, however. Cowboys are really cute, but she prefers them on the dance floor rather than riding a bull.

You can read more about Eve in Dead in the Water, the second book in the “Eve Appel” mystery series, published by Camel Press. The first book in the series is A Secondhand Murder.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on July 24 for the chance to win a copy of Dead in the Water. (US entries only, please.)

Meet the author
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her writing muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats, and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is author of several mystery series, all featuring country gals with attitude. Lesley has also authored a number of short stories and several standalone mystery novels. She invites readers to visit her on her website, on Twitter or on Facebook.

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