“My friend and business neighbor, Alice “Pinky” Nelson, talked me into hiring extra help in our shops for the Christmas season, and this is how the first day with our new employees began. But it was far better than the way it ended.”~ Cami Brooks
Emmy reported for work at ten minutes to ten, wearing a shy smile, brown woolen pants, and a coordinating earth tone sweater. Molly arrived a short time later, acting jumpy and dressed like trailer trash, or a homeless person. I almost didn’t recognize her. Emmy frowned and pursed her lips in disapproval.
Molly stared at my face which I’m sure displayed total disbelief. “Isn’t this okay?” she said.
“Ah, I’ll be right back,” I said. Pinky was in the back room and I hustled to find her. “Wait ‘til you see what the cat dragged in. Molly took you literally and I think did a little dumpster diving for clothes the secondhand stores discarded,” I whispered.
“Cami, you must be exaggerating, how bad can it be?” She peeked around the corner for a glimpse at our new help. When she pulled her head back in, both her eyes and mouth were opened wide. “Oh my gosh. She can’t serve customers in that get-up. You’re going to have to tell her.” Her whisper was probably loud enough for Molly to hear.
I shook my head. “Me? You’re the one who told her to buy some new-used old clothes.”
We left our hiding place to face the music. Emmy and Molly were still glued to their spots, standing by Pinky’s counter. They kept their eyes peeled on us as we walked toward them, no doubt curious about what was up.
Pinky pointed at a menu. “Emmy, if you want to sit down at the counter here and read over all the coffee and drink specials we offer, that’d be great. Cami and Molly and I are going to get started in Curio Finds.”
Emmy nodded, sat down, picked up a menu, and minded her own business. Or pretended to at least. Pinky led the way, followed by Molly then me. She marched to the store room in the back of my shop. When we were all inside, I closed the door.
Molly’s lips quivered and it seemed tears would closely follow. “Am I in trouble already?” she said.
“No,” I said.
“Not really,” Pinky said.
“Not really?” Molly said.
Pinky put her hand to her nose. “It’s your outfit. I mean, have you been storing it since high school in moth balls?”
Now that we were in a confined space with the door closed, the odor was strong and distinctive. Molly lifted her arm to her nose and inhaled deeply. “I don’t have a very good sense of smell. Like I pretty much can’t smell at all. I found this sweater and pants at the thrift store. There wasn’t a lot in my size, and they were trying to close up for the day so I didn’t have enough time to shop.”
“Molly, those old V-neck sweaters were meant to be worn over a shirt, not without one. I know a lot of women wear low cut tops, but it would be too much for our customers. If you bent over we’d see everything. Even with that purple bandana thing tied around your neck,” Pinky said.
“And, no offense, but the way you are stuffed into those gold metallic pants, I don’t think you could bend over if you tried,” I added.
Tears filled Molly’s eyes then ran down her cheeks. “I was just trying to fit in. I mean, Pinky you’re always wearing pink so I thought the turquoise top would be a good complement.”
Pinky looked at the wall behind me and pointed. “Cami, what about that outfit? The one you keep here, in case?” Molly and I turned and assessed the outfit Pinky was talking about: a pair of gray pants, a pale gray button-down shirt, and a wool shrug. “You two are about the same size.”
Molly looked at me. “I’m a couple of inches shorter, so the pants will be too long.” Her voice bordered on whining, and I tried my best not to feel irritated.
“Cami, what if you put on the gray outfit, and give Molly the one you’re wearing? For today, until she can get herself something similar.”
Heaven help me, I said I’d do it. Molly definitely could not work in our shops dressed as she was, and reeking of moth balls besides.
“Okay, Molly, do you need some help peeling off those pants?”
She sniffled. “I can manage.” She did, too, with quite a bit of effort.
Molly smelled better as soon as she was out of the thrift store clothes. She threw them in a heap on the floor. “Should I burn them?”
“If you wash them, you could use them for a retro costume.”
“Oh, well I guess I could donate them back.”
You can read more about Cami and her friends in The Iced Princess, the second book in the “Snow Globe Shop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Snow Way Out.
About The Iced Princess
The national bestselling author of Snow Way Out returns with more sparkling snow globes and cold-blooded murder. . .
It’s that time of the year again—the Christmas rush is about to begin, and curio shop owner Camryn Brooks and her BFF, coffee shop owner Alice “Pinky” Nelson, need to hire additional help. Their former high-school classmate, Molly Dalton, is not exactly who they had in mind. Has the rich socialite worked a day in her life? But Molly practically begs for the job.
On her first day, Molly seems to be in her own little world, and Cami worries that her new employee may flake out. The problem turns out to be far worse than that when Cami discovers Molly dead in the back of the shop, after drinking a poisoned cup of coffee. Soon there is an avalanche of suspects as Cami starts shoveling through the clues—including a shattered snow globe of Marilyn Monroe. Now Cami will have to venture out of her safety zone before the pathological poisoner stirs up more trouble. . .
Snow globe-making projects and tips included!
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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on December 21 for your chance to win a print copy of THE ICED PRINCESS. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!
About the author
Christine Husom is the Minnesota author of the Winnebago County Mysteries, Indigo Sea Press, and the Snow Globe Shop Mysteries, Berkley Prime Crime. She has stories in four anthologies, wrote a collaborative novel with eight authors and co-edited, A Festival of Crime for Nodin Press. She served with the Wright County Sheriff’s Department, trained with the St. Paul Police, and is currently a County Commissioner. Husom is a member of Mystery Writers of America and the National and Twin Cities Sisters in Crime. Visit Christine at www.christinehusom.webs.com