Monday, August 5, 2013

Hot Enough to Kill by Paula Boyd

Chapter 1

I generally find myself back in the thriving metropolis of Kickapoo, Texas, for reasons that are either beyond my control or my good sense—sometimes both. I’ve come back to my hometown for holidays, so-called vacations and entirely too many funerals. The only thread of commonality in these events is that I am guaranteed to experience some level of unpleasantness. It’s one of those facts of nature, like washing your car so it will rain. I show up in Kickapoo and bad things are sure to follow. Only this time, the first bad thing had already happened. Somebody had shot my seventy-two-year-old mother’s boyfriend. Shot him dead. On purpose.

Now, before I explain the whos and what-fors of the murder, you need to know a few things about my mother. Lucille Jackson takes no guff off anybody. Those are her words, not mine.

No longer auburn-haired, she’s still a striking woman and credits her current “natural blonde” look to a weekly dousing of a rinse called “Frivolous Fawn.” However, don’t think I’m comparing the woman to a gentle deer frolicking in a meadow. Unless Bambi’s developed a fondness for whimsical costume jewelry and wild purple pantsuits, it just doesn’t work. A better visual might be a cosmetically enhanced pterodactyl with a glitter-covered chip on her shoulder and a real bad attitude. Of course, I could be letting my latent childhood hostilities taint my assessment.

To be fair, my mother holds an equally unflattering opinion of me, something along the lines of “ungrateful and man-less daughter intent on squandering her looks and journalism degree by hiding in the mountains of Colorado” covers most of the bases. We do, however, love one another in our own ways.

When Dad died of a heart attack two years ago, it took Mother a good while to come out of her shock. When she did, she did it in a big way—or at least a scandalous one. She started dating the mayor. Unfortunately, the mayor still had a wife.

Now, the truth is, the mayor and his spouse hadn’t lived together in years and hadn’t even liked each other when they had. This is all beside the point, of course, because no matter how you sliced it, my mother’s boyfriend had still been legally married to another woman. I was so proud.

Lucille, the queen of rationalization, did not share my dismay. She found Mr. Mayor’s nebulous marital state to be perfectly acceptable because she didn’t ever want to remarry anyway. Closer to the point, there apparently weren’t many hot hunks pushing seventy to choose from in Kickapoo, Texas, population 1,024, or rather 1,023 living souls and one dead mayor.

Which brings me right back to the reason I’m sweltering in 112-degree heat—and that’s inside the building—waiting for my mother to come sauntering out of the county jail so I can take her home. It’s not your typical family reunion spot, but Lucille is anything but typical. That said, you can understand why I wasn’t particularly surprised that I heard her before I saw her. Lucille commands attention, one way or another.

“I don’t know what lies you’ve been told, Jolene,” Mother said, bursting through the door to the county lock-up waiting area. She sashayed past a deputy, past me and toward the exit, her heels clicking out an ominous beat. “These people know good and well that I didn’t kill BigJohn—not that he didn’t need a what-for, the old goat.” With her nose stuck up in the air and a black patent leather purse swinging from her elbow, Lucille marched out of the Bowman County Courthouse and toward my dark blue Chevy Tahoe.

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Genre – Mystery & Thriller / Women Sleuth

Rating – PG13

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