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Authors: Laina Turner

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Laina Turner - Presley Thurman 05 - Gems & Gunshots

BOOK: Laina Turner - Presley Thurman 05 - Gems & Gunshots
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Laina Turner - Presley Thurman 05 - Gems Gunshots
Presley Thurman [5]
Laina Turner
Laina Turner (2012)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - San Diego
Presley Thurman heads to San Diego to hang out with Cooper and enjoy the great West Coast weather. She didn't expect that while hanging out at the local coffee shop, she would be a witness to a robbery and murder at Gemstone's Unlimited.
Much to Cooper's dismay, Presley feels compelled to investigate. She discovers that not only was the store owner a womanizer but also was filing false insurance claims for diamonds that weren't really stolen. Was that why he was being blackmailed? Was that why someone robbed his store? Presley is determined to find out.

Table of Contents

Gems & Gunshots

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Books by Laina Turner

GEMS & GUNSHOTS

A Presley Thurman Mystery

By Laina Turner

Copyright 2012 Laina Turner

Smashwords edition

Five Seas Ink Publishing

Formatting by
Anessa Books

Prologue

P
resley, I wouldn’t have this as a backup plan if I didn’t feel it would work. I need that money and nothing is going to stand in my way. Hopefully for you, Greg will pay up and no harm done. You will just spend a few uncomfortable hours in the trunk,” she said, walking over to the trunk of her car and opening it.

I looked at her, my hands on my hips. “You can’t be serious!”

“I know it’s not ideal, but until I have the money, I need to make sure you’re in a place where you can’t escape. And I think you probably already know that these two can’t really be trusted.”

Chapter 1

W
hoo–hoo, I’m going to California!” I yelled to Jared, my best friend and roommate, as I hung up the phone.

“What? That’s not fair. Details, chic, details,” he said, flopping down on our overstuffed, chocolate brown Pottery Barn couch and looking at me expectantly.

I sat down in another chair facing him. “That was Cooper. He has been nominated for some kind of award. Something in his field. I don’t know all the details, but anyway, that’s not the point. He wants me to fly out and be his date for the event. Not only am I thrilled he’s getting an award, but I’m also thrilled about seeing San Diego. Plus, this thing is black tie event so I even get to buy a fancy dress. Isn’t that great?”

Cooper was my on–again, off–again boyfriend. We had gone to high school together and recently reconnected. I was currently living in Chicago and he’d moved to San Diego, so the long distance thing was making it difficult to have a relationship, but we were trying.

“I’m jealous!”

“Good.” I giggled. “I don’t know what’s more exciting: the trip to California or the black tie event.”

“It’s a toss up. You can count me in on helping you shop. When is it?”

“It’s in two weeks. Cooper said to let him know how long I wanted to stay.”

“So what are you thinking?”

“If I can get the time off, I think at least two weeks, since I’m flying all that way. Since Cooper is paying for the plane ticket and I can stay at his place, I want to take advantage of the opportunity.”

“Do you think you can get time off from the shop?”

“Yeah. Things are in a good routine now and there aren’t any big events coming up; it shouldn’t be a problem.” I worked as a manager of an upscale boutique called Silk. We catered to mostly rich, needy women. While the customers could be a little annoying at times, we had such amazing merchandise that I would never be able to afford without the generous employee discount; it made it all worth it. I had been working at the boutique for a while after getting fired from my regular corporate job in human resources and having a short–lived stint as a journalist for an online magazine. I was now in what I liked to call the finding–myself phase of life. A phase that my mother felt I should be out of already, considering I was almost thirty. I had stayed at the boutique rather than look for the “real” job my mom kept bugging me to find because I really wanted to be a writer.

Ever since I was a little girl scribbling in my journal, I had made up fanciful stories. As an adult, I had continued to write but never finished anything or ever thought it would go anywhere and instead had pursued a stable business career, which at first I enjoyed, but it had stopped being fulfilling. The events of the past year had given me a new perspective. One that showed me life was too short to not do what you love—or at least attempt to do what you love. Hence, the job at Silk. It wasn’t going to make me rich and I didn’t plan on doing it forever. I stayed there because it allowed me enough free time to write and try to pursue my dream. And I did actually enjoy working there. I had always enjoyed fashion.

I was about three quarters of the way through what was my millionth attempt at writing a full–length novel. This time, however, I wasn’t allowing myself to stop without finishing, even if I thought it was crap—which is usually what happened at this point. I thought if I could at least finish something, it would give me the confidence I needed to continue. Maybe a change of scenery by going to San Diego would help me with that.

“You’re lucky I’m right in the middle of a big project at work or I’d be completely fine inviting myself as the third wheel,” Jared said.

“You know Cooper and I would love to have you anytime.”

*****

“Do you really think you’ll be able to close that suitcase and not have the zipper break?” Jared asked me. We were in my room, and he was watching me pack. I was a horrible packer. I was afraid I would get to my destination and not have the perfect outfit, so I packed many options. Way too many options.

“Oh, shut up,” I said good–naturedly. “I’m going to be there for ten days. I need a lot of wardrobe changes.”

“Just make sure you take out the gown for the event as soon as you get there. You’ll probably have to find a dry cleaner to press it. I don’t think you should iron it yourself. You don’t have the best track record.”

“That only happened once,” I said. One time I had left the iron on a pair of linen pants too long and scorched them. Jared never let me live it down. Probably because they had been his pants from Banana Republic.

The day after I found out about the event I’d gone to work and started opening the latest shipment of merchandise. As luck would have it, I found the perfect dress. It was a deep purple, not normally a color I would choose, but it was such a pretty shade that looked almost black in some lights. It was essentially strapless but did have a jewel–encrusted thin strap going over my left shoulder. The fabric crisscrossed at the chest and then flowed to the floor. It accentuated my relatively thin rib cage and then flowed over my not so thin hips in a way that flattered, and I needed all the help there I could get. The dress also had a demure slit that came up to the knee. It was only noticeable when I moved because of the full skirt. Some silver heels and silver chandelier earrings completed the outfit, and I couldn’t wait to wear it. It was probably the most beautiful thing I had ever worn and in it I felt like a million bucks.

“Are these shoes supposed to go?” Jared asked holding up a pair of black peep–toe sling backs.

“No. I decided two pairs of black shoes was enough. Now help me get this zipped.” With me sitting on it and Jared zipping, we finally got the suitcase closed.

Jared looked doubtfully at it. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that zipper busts mid–flight.”

“Don’t be such a negative Nelly. Besides, that’s what I have this strap for,” I said, pulling out a hot pink strap that I proceeded to tighten around my suitcase.

“Are you almost ready? We need to leave in twenty minutes.” Jared was taking me to the airport to save money on parking fees. Parking fees and luggage fees cost almost as much as the actual flight these days.

“Yep. Just need to grab my carry–on from the bathroom, and then you can carry that and the suitcase down to the car.”

“Me? It’s your luggage.”

“Yes, but I’m not a feminist. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a man do all the hard work,” I said, smiling. He rolled his eyes at me but grabbed the bags.

“Damn traffic!” I said, as we sat almost at a complete stop on the freeway.

“I told you to take the Blue Line. It’s much faster,” Jared said. The Blue Line was our train system.

“You know I hate taking that thing.”

“Well, then don’t complain about the moving parking lot. Besides, we have plenty of time. I knew it would be like this, which is why I wanted to leave so early.”

“You’re so good at planning.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere.”

“I know. Why do you think I do it?” We inched slowly for what seemed like an eternity and then finally the exit for O’Hare came up on the right.

We pulled up to the Southwest Airlines gate, and Jared wedged his car in between two taxicabs. A much tighter squeeze than I would have tried. We both got out and walked around to the back to get my luggage. Jared grabbed my two suitcases and set them on the ground for me.

“Fly safe. Text me when you land,” he said, giving me a hug.

“I will.” I grabbed the handles of my suitcases and made my way to the ticket counter to check in.

I waited what seemed like an eternity in the security line. Really, people should have to pass a class before they fly. Folks still didn’t understand the “no liquids over three ounces” rule or that “take off all metal” meant just that. It was frustrating for me; I couldn’t imagine how the TSA felt. I finally got to the gate and took my place in line waiting to board. Thoughts of seeing Cooper and sunny California had me wondering if there might be some adventures awaiting me there.

Chapter 2

M
y flight hadn’t gotten in until late. There had been a three–hour delay in Salt Lake City where I had a layover. When I finally got to Cooper’s house, I crawled into bed exhausted. I woke up when Cooper left early for work.

As promised, Cooper left me the keys to his extra car and directions to the local coffee shop so I could get some good coffee in my system and explore a little. I walked out the front door, locking it behind me, and smiled as I felt the warm sunshine on my face. Perk number one of being in San Diego in January: it is much, much warmer than Chicago. Not being a fan of cold weather, I could easily adapt to the temperature being mild and sunny year–round.

As I pulled out of the driveway and down the street, I looked around and observed an area that seemed to be older, well kept homes. Nicely landscaped and with a homey feel to it. I expected to see kids out running about, though I was sure I would in the afternoon, as they were probably all in school about now. No wonder Cooper liked it out here so well. The house he was currently staying in was a rental, but he had expressed to me many times that he’d love to purchase something out here. Cooper had a homebody personality even if he was rarely home. Right now his Business kept him on the road a lot. I assumed that was the main reason he hadn’t yet bought a house and put down permanent roots.

I easily found my way to the coffee shop; it was only about a mile down the road and located in a strip mall that looked to be mostly small shops. I pulled into the half–full lot to park and had to admit that as much as I liked my Kia, especially for getting around in Chicago traffic, I could easily become accustomed to the BMW 320i that was the car Cooper was letting me drive. I had no doubt this little baby could also get around in Chicago traffic very nicely. It just wasn’t exactly in my price range. What was it my mom used to say to me? “Champagne taste on a beer budget.” Yep, that was me.

I grabbed my blue and silver Coach tote out of the back of the car. It contained my laptop, paper, and colored pens guaranteed to jump–start my creativity (according to Jared who had given them to me). I locked the car doors and walked up to the double doors of the coffee shop, aptly named the Coffee Break. I was excited to see they had outdoor seating and doubly excited that I was able to sit outside in January. I ordered my usual—skinny vanilla latte in the largest size possible—and took my drink to the tables outside. I reached into my tote and started to grab my MacBook but instead decided to take out my notebook and use some of the fancy pens to write down some ideas.

BOOK: Laina Turner - Presley Thurman 05 - Gems & Gunshots
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