Bloodstains and Candy Canes
by Marla A. White
Attending a swanky cookie exchange is the last thing on veterinarian Dr. Mandy Brown’s holiday to-do list, but she agrees to help a friend out. The party comes to a screeching halt after a body turns up on the kitchen floor, a carving knife jutting out of his back.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Mandy comes face-to-face with Officer Dylan Shaw, a man she thought she was dating until he ghosted her. Tensions escalate as motives for murder come out of the pantry as fast as guests scarf down the pot-spiked brownies, making everything all the merrier.
Although the case seems open and shut, Mandy doesn’t believe the evidence. Can she and Dylan put their differences aside and find the real killer, or risk one of the bakers getting away with murder?
Dolores is right. Shaw once told me 911 calls are automatically routed to the Highway Patrol where they get sorted to the appropriate agency. If you know the local police number, you’ll get a faster response by calling them directly. But I also know the last person I want to see right now is Officer Dylan Shaw.
“Who cares?” I ask. “The dead guy isn’t going anywhere.”
Dee narrows her eyes and gives me an icy gaze. “No, but the killer is. The police need to get this place locked down fast if they’re going to have a shot at finding them.”
Well poop, I hadn’t thought of that. My head is too far up my own butt to think past my broken heart. “Fine, I’ll call him.”
She nods, pulling the sobbing Bethany under one arm and uses the other to guide, coerce and otherwise wrangle Agnes, the guests, and caterers alike back to the veranda. Very few people have the strength to refuse Dolores’ will of iron.
When everyone is gone, I slip into the den and grab my phone. Stomach lurching with dread, I hit the button for Shaw and wait the tension-filled five seconds as it rings once before he answers. “Hey Mandy, what’s up?”
His cheerful tone surprises me until irritation sweeps away the pleasure his voice brings. Does he not realize I’m mad at him for ghosting me? “This isn’t a social call, Shaw.”
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Marla White is a story analysis instructor at UCLA and writing coach who lives in Los Angeles. She graduated from the University of Kentucky where she took her first horseback riding lesson. After dabbling in hunters, barrel racing, and weekly trail rides, she fell hopelessly in love with the sport of eventing. She conquered Novice level before taking a break to pursue novel writing but hopes to return to the saddle some day soon. When she’s not writing, she’s out in the garden, hiking, putting together impossibly difficult puzzles, or (of course!) baking.
Marla A. White will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.