It’s been a while since I found myself entangled in murder. The last time it happened was before Brian and I got engaged. . .and before my mother, Dallas society maven Cissy Blevins Kendricks, shoved her show-offy sparkler in my face after her beau proposed as well.
It all started at the wedding of a senator’s daughter, to which I’d been dragged kicking and screaming. Cissy’s fiancé, Stephen, happened to flee—I mean, leave—the city for a golf outing at Augusta the weekend of the suddenly bumped-up nuptials (due to a bump in the senator’s virginal—ahem–daughter’s belly). My gossip-prone mother divulged that the bride was at least four months along, though I was sure the senator would do his best, “oh, the grandbaby came early!” impression during his upcoming run for the Oval Office.
I should have resisted Mother’s begging and pleading, staying home with Brian to watch the Stanley Cup play-offs. Not that I loved hockey, but I definitely didn’t love attending hoity-toity events with Cissy, particularly when she insisted I wear the dress she’d brought from Saks, along with a pair of organ-strangling Spanx. By the time the bride and groom exchanged their vows, I would be truly breathless.
I knew from the moment I ran into the wedding planner—the bully from my prep school days, Olivia La Belle, aka, La Belle from Hell—that disaster was just around the corner. And when I caught Olivia reaming out the cake baker, a lovely woman named Millicent Draper who had baked all my birthday cakes from my first to my Sweet Sixteenth—I felt like strangling Olivia myself. So when I stumbled upon Olivia’s lifeless body, I wasn’t sure whether to feel horror or relief. I had wished her dead so many times while I was growing up. But, back then, I’d imagined her being squashed by a meteorite. I had never envisioned seeing her with blood at her throat. . .and a distraught-looking Millie standing over her with bloody knife in hand.
Maybe I didn’t go through with my deb ball when I was eighteen (something my blue blood mother held over my head to this day). Maybe I wasn’t the perfect daughter she’d hoped I’d be, following in her high-heeled footsteps and graduating from SMU, marrying well, and setting up house in Highland Park. But I was like Cissy in one way: I couldn’t seem to stay out of other people’s business.
So when Millie was hauled to the police station as the primary suspect in Olivia’s murder, I knew I had to get involved. Though Brian jumped in to defend her (and he’s one of the best young criminal attorneys in Big D, so she was in good hands), I knew that no one could dig up the dirt on Olivia La Belle’s sordid life as well as I. She had bullied her way through school and, from the way she mistreated folks on her reality TV show, The Wedding Belle, she was still in the bully business.
If I just turned over a few rocks, I figured I’d find a whole CostCo size can of worms. So that’s what I did. And I don’t regret it. Even after Cissy found out and tried to talk me out of it.
“I know what you’re up to,” she said, her pale blue eyes homing in on mine. “You’re not calling Olivia’s assistant for an appointment because you want her to plan your wedding. You want to pump her for information about Olivia and see if she rats out the perp.”
Dear Lord, she did watch Law & Order re-runs.
“Geez, Mother,” I said, squirming, “what if I just changed my mind and figured you were right about having a professional involved in my wedding?”
“Oh, please, do you think I just fell off the turnip truck?” She sniffed. “Listen here, sweet pea,” she went on, her voice deadly serious, “if you’re gonna play undercover agent with Olivia’s assistant in order to find out who killed her, I’m going with you, and that’s that.”
“Oh, you are so wrong,” I said.
“You’re a bad liar. You always were.” She reached for my arms and held me in a death grip. “Why don’t you just accept my help? There’s a lunatic running around out there, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“This is America. There are always lunatics running around,” I said, “just turn on the news or read the paper.” Or look in the mirror, I mused, only half-kidding.
Mother frowned. “I’m not jokin’,” she warned. “You’ve been doing this since grade school, and one of these days it could catch up with you.”
Maybe she was right. I did have a thing for Nancy Drew. But I knew I had to try. I wasn’t about to let kind-hearted Millie go to jail for a murder she didn’t commit. So I asked myself—not for the first time—“What Would Nancy Do?”
And that’s exactly what I did.
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About the author
Susan McBride is the USA Today bestselling author of Blue Blood and the Debutante Dropout Mysteries. Say Yes to the Death, the sixth installment in the Lefty Award-winning, Anthony Award-nominated series, was released by HarperCollins on September 29. For more on Susan and her books, visit SusanMcBride.com or find her on Facebook.