It was Sunday, the day our consignment business was closed. Madeleine, my business partner and I were in the shop inventorying our merchandise and reminiscing about our move to Sabal Bay, a small city on the edge of the Big Lake in rural Florida.
There was a rap on the front door of the shop. I went to the door to explain that we were closed today, but when I looked through the window, I could see the face of a young woman, tears streaming down her face. I unlocked the door, and she rushed through throwing her arms around me.
“You’ve got to help me. I’m getting married today, and I don’t have a dress.”
Well that was poor planning, I thought to myself, trying to pry her arms from around my neck.
“I mean, I did have a dress. My maid of honor offered to press it for me, but she set the iron too hot and burned the front of the gown. The ceremony is this afternoon. Help me.”
She was in a pickle.
“I know you’re friends with a mob boss. Do you think he might be willing to break into a shop, and I could find a gown. I’d pay him, and I’d leave money for the gown, too.”
In a pickle and desperate, too.
“Don’t be silly, “ I said. “Even if you paid for the dress, the shop probably would call the cops, and you’d be charged with breaking and entering.”
“I don’t care. By then I’ll be on my honeymoon and out of reach of the cops. They can jail me when I get back from my honeymoon cruise.”
As distraught as the woman was, I was beginning to get miffed at her assumption that I could and would get a friend, regardless of his “Family” connections, to break the law so she could wrap herself in tulle and lace for her wedding day.
Madeleine, who had always maintained reservations about my friendship with mobster Nappi, tugged on my sleeve and whispered in my ear. “This is what befriending a mob boss will get you,” she said. “Aiding and abetting.”
It wasn’t as if Nappi hadn’t done favors for me over the years, favors I preferred the authorities not know about, but Madeleine had a point. No one should know about these peccadillos, and I should nip any suggestion of illegality on my or Nappi’s part in the bud.
I shook my head. “You come here asking for help and expect me to engage in illegal activities to come to your aid?”
My gruff tone of voice brought on renewed crying now increased in loudness and in the volume of tears pouring from her eyes.
“I’m sorry. How rude and thoughtless of me. I’ll just wear my jeans and a clean shirt.” She turned to go.
“You don’t have a nice dress you could wear?” Madeleine asked.
The young woman looked at Madeleine in disbelief. “I’m a ranch gal. I don’t own anything but jeans. I even wear them to church, a clean pair, I mean. I only expose my legs to the sun when I put on my bikini and go to the beach. And you can’t expect me to wear that to my wedding, can you?”
I could. It was something I might have done when I was younger, but her willingness to engage in thievery underlined how desperate she was, and I was, after all, the owner of a shop specializing in women’s designer fashions.
“We have no wedding dresses in right now, but I do have a negligee in beige with ecru lace trim that might pass as a wedding dress. It’ll reveal a bit more skin that you might like, but I think it will fit you. If not, there are only navy blue and black cocktail dresses.”
“I can’t wear black on my wedding day. Let’s see the nightgown.”
I held it up for her and she nodded. We hustled her off to the dressing room and held out breath.
“What do you think?” she asked.
“Revealing,” said Madeleine.
“You should have seen my wedding gown if you think this is revealing.” She looked at her bare back in the mirror and appeared delighted with what she saw.
“You won’t have to change from your wedding dress into your negligee on your wedding night,” I observed. Very efficient, I thought .
“You don’t need shoes, do you? Because I don’t think we have anything that would work,” said Madeleine.
“Don’t be silly. I’m wearing a new pair of blue cowboy boots, and I borrowed a matching cowboy hat from a friend.” She dried her eyes and checked her watch. “I’m late.” She didn’t bother to change back into her street clothes but dashed out of the store.
“She didn’t pay us for the gown,” said Madeleine.
“No, but she’s got everything covered now: something borrowed, something blue and something stolen. What more could a bride want?” I asked.
Mud Bog Murder is the fourth book in the Eve Appel mystery series, published by Camel Press, September 2016.
When Jenny McCleary leases her property to be ravaged by the annual mud bog races, the small rural town of Sabal Bay, Florida, is divided into warring camps: environmental activists versus monster truck fans. Jenny, who frequents the consignment store owned by Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, doesn’t seem to mind when Eve and Madeleine join the protesters the day of the races.
During the race, Eve catches Jenny’s airborne head after it is tossed into the air by the wheels of a truck. Now every protester is a suspect in Jenny’s murder. What’s left of her alligator-gnawed body is found near the airboat business of Eve’s Miccosukee Indian friends, Sammy Egret and his grandfather. When more evidence turns up nearby, Grandfather is arrested.
Even without the disembodied head, Eve has her hands full. The town resents her role in the protests and is boycotting the consignment shop on wheels. She is torn between two men–GQ-handsome, devoted PI Alex and tall, dark, and exotic Sammy. Jenny’s sweet and needy teenage daughter is dating a petty criminal. Will Eve and Madeleine ever be able to move into their new digs? Not unless the town forgives them. And not if whoever decapitated Jenny gets to Eve before she and her sleuthing buddies solve the mystery.
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About 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 literary 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 the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. Mud Bog Murder follows the first three books in the Eve Appel mystery series, A Secondhand Murder, Dead in the Water and A Sporting Murder. Connect with Lesley at www.lesleyadiehl.com.
All comments are welcomed.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Mud Bog Murder. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 3, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!