Politics Makes Strange Deadfellows
Kate Matthews Mystery Series Book 2
by Jane DiLucchio
Genre: Cozy LGBTQ Mystery
I thought about strangling Julia Thompson. And it wasn’t the first time. As mayor of Santa Barbara, Thompson claimed the right to respond first to any proposal presented by the staff at the weekly City Council meeting. Today, she ripped apart a suggestion to redirect funds used by the police to deal with the homeless problem. Her diatribe clocked four and a half minutes already—nearing five, I corrected, as I glanced down at my watch again. The urge to choke her vied with one to yawn. Loudly.
“Kate, staring daggers at Julia won’t stop her,” Reynaldo Sanchez, the representative from district five, whispered into my ear. “She knows better than to acknowledge you.”
I swiveled slightly in my, thankfully, padded woven chair and murmured, “Here I thought I was being so discreet.”
“Not with the scowls and checking your watch every thirty seconds.”
I faced forward, sighed, and tried to focus on Thompson’s tirade. She must have noticed my previous inattention, for her next words were directed to me.
“Even Ms. Matthews, the representative from the second district,” Thompson said, waving her hand in my direction, “has to understand the importance of ridding our city of unsafe, unsightly, and dehumanizing camps of those who choose to squat in the streets and parks of our city.”
I didn’t rise to the bait but merely looked out across the sparse crowd in the City Council chambers. Our regular Tuesday afternoon meetings weren’t exactly the hottest tickets in town. But each held at least one chunk of important business in it. Unfortunately, Mayor Thompson liked to make every meeting about her rather than the city. It was an ongoing argument between us ever since I was elected to the council three months ago.
Before the mayor could continue, the door at the back of the chambers flew open. A young, white male in jeans and a faded, blue shirt careened into the room, a shoulder bag hanging down his right side. He stared straight up at the platform on which we sat. His sun-bleached, brown, wavy hair was neatly combed straight back from his pale, taut, angular face. His dark eyes glared up at those of us seated on the stage.
Thompson’s eyes grew wide, and she beckoned to the police officer who stood to the side behind the council members. The officer hustled toward the entryway, but before she reached the intruder, the man pulled an oversized gun out of the shoulder bag and shouted, “You all deserve to die!”
“Down!” I yelled.
Even as my fellow council members dove for cover, a blast erupted from the gun. Red spread across Thompson’s chest.
Kate Matthews Mystery Series Book 1
A client dying on her massage table is traumatic enough for Kate Matthews, but when the police declare that death a homicide, her life is upended as she is cast as the major suspect.
None of this is what Kate expected from her move to the peaceful, beach town of Santa Barbara, California. After a near-fatal heart attack, an early retirement from her Los Angeles law firm, and a change in careers, Kate envisioned a quiet life with her wife, Alicia, and their grown children.
Since her client, Celia Tucker, held a politically-influential position on the California Coastal Commission, the murder becomes a media event. Kate finds herself and her family sucked into the maelstrom. The former lawyer has all she can do to find the truth behind Celia’s death without adding her own name to the body count.
Celia Tucker, California Coastal Commissioner and all-around pain in the butt, was my regular massage client Sunday afternoons. As I parked the car in the driveway of her ocean-view home, I took deep, centering breaths, knowing that Celia’s high energy level required me to be even calmer than usual during a session.
A gush of wind greeted me when I opened the unlocked front door. A gray, marble-floored entry led to a wide living room framed by windows and glass French doors overlooking the distant ocean.
I called my greetings as I set up the massage table between the couch and the fireplace. I covered the table with my usual soft, flannel sheets then topped it with an 800-thread-count linen that Celia had left out for me. She preferred the feel of her Egyptian cotton next to her bare skin.
As I spread the oil on her exposed leg, Celia screamed, “My back! My back’s burning!” She jerked herself upright on the massage table. As she sat up, the sheet fell from her shoulders. Red welts were forming on her back. “Epi. EpiPen.”
Celia’s gasp and waving arm propelled me to her purse. I dug through it and located the plastic tube. Mentally reviewing the instructions Celia had given me when I first started working with her, I popped open the top and slid the pen out of the holder. Grasping it firmly in my fist, I flipped up the safety lid and then pushed the pen against Celia’s thigh. I held it there as I counted ten long seconds. Each second was accompanied by wheezes from Celia’s constricting trachea. Her lips were swelling.
I tossed the pen aside and scanned the room for Celia’s phone while I massaged the medication into her leg. In those scant seconds, redness spread across the leg I had just oiled.
I sprinted across the room to an end table beside the couch, grabbed the phone, and punched in 9-1-1.
Despite the epinephrine, Celia’s breathing worsened. The emergency dispatcher stayed on the line as I detailed the developments. As she was describing what I might do in order to help Celia breathe, the EMTs pounded on the door.
Jane DiLucchio is a late bloomer when it comes to writing.
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