Tree of LIfe and Death“I will never understand why it’s taking Keely so long to show Matt her vault,” Dee Madison said as we waited for Keely at the Smugglers’ Tavern.

Dee was my best friend, so I accepted that she sometimes spoke a little thoughtlessly and without consideration for double-entendres. Especially after she’d had a full mug of hard pear cider. “You probably shouldn’t mention it while she’s here.”

“It’s the truth,” Dee said. “Matt Viera isn’t just an excellent reporter. He’s one fine-looking man. And it’s not like Keely has anything to hide. Other than her tendency to faint, of course.”

“She prefers to call it passing out,” I reminded her. “Promise you won’t upset her. We need her help.”

“All right, all right.” Dee signaled for another drink.

The Tavern’s owner, Hope Ramsay, was behind the bar, and she knew us. This second mug was unlikely to have any alcohol in it.

“For someone who’s a lot younger than me,” Dee said, “you fuss over me like a mother hen.”

Keely came into the room just then. “Dee, Emma.” She tossed her quilted messenger bag onto the bench beside me and slid in next to Dee. “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.”

“Not as long as Matt’s been—”

I cut Dee off. “I’m starved. Let’s order.”

Dee barely waited until we’d placed three identical orders for the seafood special before getting down to business. “The quilt guild is organizing a workshop to make ornaments for a Christmas tree in the lobby of the Danger Cove Historical Museum. We’ve hired an instructor to motivate the die-hard quilters, but we’d like to offer something for people who own quilts but haven’t made one. Yet.”

Keely didn’t hesitate. “How can I help?”

Dee had already moved on to her second mug of cider, as if everything had been settled. That left me to work out the details. “We were hoping you’d offer to do some appraisals for a nominal cost. Perhaps limit them to holiday quilts, given the time of year.”

Keely considered me for a long moment. “Okay, what aren’t you telling me?”

Dee set down her empty mug. “You’re such a suspicious person.”

“Just realistic,” Keely said. “I’ve been through too many situations where clients held back important information. The best way to ensure a perfect event is to know all the risks in advance.”

“You’re as much of a downer as Emma,” Dee grumbled. “And you don’t even have the excuse of being an old fuddy-duddy.”

I knew she didn’t mean it the way it sounded. And, to be honest, I was something of a fuddy-duddy.

I directed my response to Keely. “There shouldn’t be any problems. The guild will organize everything. But people can be somewhat emotional about their quilts, especially the ones associated with holiday memories.”

Keely looked at me skeptically. “That’s all? No protest marches? No Plan B’s that involve hiring a hit man? No match-making?”

Fortunately, Dee was working on her third mug of cider, and couldn’t swallow fast enough to answer before I did. “No match-making.”

Dee set down her mug. “Speak for yourself, Emma. Matt will be there to report on the event for the Cove Chronicles and he said he’d make a few ornaments. It would be a crime if Keely missed the chance to see him operating a sewing machine. There’s nothing quite as sexy as a man who knows how to use power tools. It’s bound to convince her she should learn to quilt.”

Keely laughed. “If that’s all you’re planning to do, I think I can resist the urge to throw myself at Matt. Or at the sewing machine. But what about the protests and hit men?”

Dee shrugged. “I can’t think of anyone I want to picket or kill.”

“Then you can count on me,” Keely said.

I could relax and enjoy my own cider now.

Dee might not mean it when she said she wished someone was dead, but there were too many people, even here in quaint little Danger Cove who did mean it.

Fortunately, that wasn’t my problem. All I had to do was organize the volunteers for the event. Then, if anyone ended up dead, well, that was just one more reason why we needed Keely there. She knew what to do about dead bodies.


Gin Jones’s Tree of Life and Death is the seventh book in the multi-author Danger Cove Mysteries series, and the second in the Danger Cove Quilting Mysteries subseries, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. The first book of the overall series is Secret of the Painted Lady, and the first quilting mystery is Four-Patch of Trouble.

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About the author
Gin Jones is a lawyer who specializes in ghost-writing for other lawyers. She also makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors of the XLH Network. Visit Gin at her website, www.ginjones.com.

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