masked-to-deathHolding up a black dress on a hanger, I walked toward the window to see it in the daylight. The color looked a little faded. The material was a wool blend, too hot for an evening in the Caribbean. I dropped it onto the nope pile on my bed, returning to my closet.

I removed a blouse and skirt combo. It was a cute outfit, but not sophisticated cute, more like going to a movie with a friend instead of out on a date at a fancy restaurant. More clothes for the no pile.

So far, the only items in my packing pile for my vacation were the new unmentionables I bought, a swimsuit, and two pairs of pajamas with Disney characters sprinkled all over the shirt and shorts. I was running out of options in my closet.

Squaring my shoulder back, I marched back, determined to find something to wear on the cruise. I couldn’t walk around in a state of undress or in my bathing suit for a week. Though, Ted might appreciate that plan.

I pulled out a blouse. Nope. Next up for inspection was another dress. I cringed. Definitely no. Why had I bought it? I threw it onto the ever growing nope pile before collapsing onto the floor in a heap of despair. I draped my arm over my eyes and sighed. I had nothing to wear.

Okay maybe not nothing, but none of the clothes I owned would work on a cruise, especially for the ceremony, formal, and semi-formal dinner nights. Where would I get a dress that was fancy enough for formal but didn’t look like I was going to the prom? There weren’t many choices in Eden, West Virginia.

Maybe if I hadn’t watched An Affair to Remember, I wouldn’t be so insecure about what I owned. I let out a dramatic, long-suffering moan. Why had I agreed to go with Ted on this cruise?

A list of reasons tumbled through my brain: because it sounded fun, I’d always dreamed of traveling, Eden was cold the beginning of February and the Caribbean was warm, a free seven-day cruise. And the most important: Bob Roget and Garrison Moore were getting married and I was invited.

I was going to make a trip to Morgantown to buy some new clothes, the perfect solution to my first world dilemma. My cell trilled. I snagged it. An unfamiliar number displayed on the screen.

“Hello,” I said a little suspiciously. After all the ruckuses I had managed to find my way into, I couldn’t help being leery of a call from a strange number.

“Is this Faith Hunter?” A sophisticated feminine voice asked.

“Yes, it is.” I racked my brain trying to think if I had inadvertently got myself into anything recently.

“Wonderful. I wasn’t sure if Ted had given me the correct number. I just spoke to him and he was in a rush and blurted it out. I wasn’t sure I wrote it down correctly.”

Who was this woman? A teeny bit of jealous wiggled through me. Why had Ted had time to answer her call but not mine? I was about to ask who the heck she was when nurture won out over nature and my manners showed themselves. “May I inquire as to who I’m speaking with? I haven’t spoken to Ted today so wasn’t expecting a call.”

“This is Odessa. His mother.”

At least that explained why he answered her call and not mine. Ted and Bob had been telling some tales about their mother and one item was a common factor—Odessa wasn’t a woman who liked being ignored. “What can I help you with?”

“I need your measurements. Hip. Bust. Sleeve. Length from waist to knee. I’m having your dress made for the ceremony. It will be spectacular and will also work, with a few added pieces, for formal night.”

I wanted to pick out my gown for formal night. My plan was to have a gown risqué enough to catch Ted’s attention but not so revealing it scandalized my grandmothers if they saw a picture of me wearing it. My gaze drifted over to the bed. A gown cost a lot of money and I wanted to purchase a cruise wardrobe.

“Can I call you with them tomorrow? I’ll have a seamstress in town measure me so I know they’re accurate,” I said.

“Let me give you my email. It’s easier to reach me that way when I’m out at sea.”

I remembered Ted’s mom worked on the cruise ship we were sailing on. I wrote down her information. “If you’d like, I can send them directly to the seamstress making the dress.”

“The ship’s costume designer is making them. Our dresses are going to be the talk of the ball,” Odessa said, before hanging up.

Costume designer? Ball? I hit the speed dial for Ted.

MASKED TO DEATH is the fifth book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This mystery series published by Henery Press, January 2017.

A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.

Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising toward Davy Jones’ Locker.

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About the author
The Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series brings together Christina’s love of mysteries, scrapbooking, and West Virginia. When not writing or reading, she can be found in her craft room or at a crop. She’s working on the sixth book in the series published by Henery Press. Christina served in the US Army JAG Corps and also worked as a paralegal, librarian, and church secretary. Find Christina at or her author page on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

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