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Authors: Laina Turner

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Wedding - Illinois

Laina Turner - Presley Thurman 08 - Vows & Victims

BOOK: Laina Turner - Presley Thurman 08 - Vows & Victims
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Laina Turner - Presley Thurman 08 - Vows & Victims
Presley Thurman {8]
Laina Turner
Five Seas Ink (2014)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Wedding - Illinois
Presley goes back home to help Katy plan for her wedding to Chris, and instead of nuptial bliss, realtor Bethany Granville is found dead in Katy’s salon. Katy didn’t even know Bethany. Ever curious Presley wants to solve the murder but as usual, things aren’t that simple and grow even more complicated when ex-friend Dirt, who was in jail for murder, escapes.
Is he headed back into town? And did Chris know Bethany? All these are questions Presley is determined to get the answers to.
Table of Contents

Blurb

Title

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

Other Books By Laina Turner

Vows & Victims

A Presley Thurman Mystery

Laina Turner

Chapter 1

I
can’t believe you’re actually getting married,” I said to my best friend from back home, Katy, while packing to head down there for the upcoming nuptials.

“You mean you can’t believe I’m actually getting married to Chris. I know you don’t approve.”

“It’s not that I don’t approve. I just want you to be happy. And Chris doesn’t have the best track record in making you happy.”

“I know, Presley, but he’s changed. I realize you’re not going to believe me until you see for yourself, which you will, I promise, when you get here. He’s a completely different person. You just need to spend some time with him. He’s really been trying hard.”

I held back a sigh. I wanted to be happy for her, but there was a lot of negative history there. However, Katy was a grown woman and could make her own decisions, or mistakes, as I saw it. I just needed to be the supportive friend, and if things fell apart, be there to pick up the pieces and not say I told you so.

“So you’ll be here by noon, right? In time to go with me to the florist and the caterers? And, oh yeah, stop by the hall to make sure everything is set, just to name a few things?”

I plopped down on the bed, phone still in my hand, and sighed quietly so Katy wouldn’t hear me. It was taking a lot of effort to try and show genuine enthusiasm, not just for the whole wedding in general but for all the work the maid of honor was supposed to do. I was happy to be a part of her wedding, but I wasn’t the best at all the organization and stuff.

“Yes, I’m going to pack tonight and head out first thing tomorrow. I can’t wait!”

Katy laughed. “Whatever. I’ll see you then.”

I got off the phone and sat up, taking a mental inventory of what clothes I had clean that I should pack. My bridesmaid dress was there already waiting for me. Hope to God it still fit, since six weeks ago when I had it fitted and altered it had been a little tight and I just hadn’t been in the dieting mood. Food was so good.

I quickly made my clothing decisions and got everything together, except what I needed in the morning to get ready. I got in my pajamas, set my alarm and lay down to try and get some sleep, but my mind kept thinking about what Katy was about to do. It reminded me too much of the problems I was currently having with Cooper, and I wasn’t sure sleep would be forthcoming.

When the alarm went off at six, I wanted to hit the snooze once or twice, as was my normal practice, but I knew I needed to get up and on the road if I was going to make it to Alkon in time for the many meetings Katy had planned for us.

At seven fifteen, I was in my black Kia Sportage pulling into traffic to head out of town. Jared, my roommate, was still sleeping when I left, so I wrote him a note to not forget it was garbage day. I joked that taking out the garbage was the only reason I kept him around.

I’m Presley—thirty–something, auburn–haired, size eight on a good day, size ten most of the time—Thurman. I live in Chicago in a condo with my friend Jared and was heading back to my hometown of Alkon, which was a couple of hours south of the city. While I left that small town one minute after graduation, not all of my friends did. Katy, for example. And my parents were still there, so I frequently went back to visit.

This was only the second time I had been back since the murder of Senator Tom Daniels. I had become involved in the murder, no fault of my own of course, and some of the key players had been friends of mine. Coming back stirred up some not–so–great memories, and with Katy’s wedding I had a great big memory smacking me right in the face.

I merged onto the freeway and thought about Chris, the guy Katy was marrying. He had never treated Katy very well, in my opinion. Not only had Chris and Katy been on again and off again since high school, but he had also been involved romantically with Helen, the wife of Senator Daniels, when the senator was murdered. Chris had been played by Helen so, of course, when he got his heart broken he ran back to Katy, who, God knows why, took him back. It had been their pattern for so many years I almost wondered if it was just her habit.

I tried to put it out of my mind because I truly did want to be supportive for Katy, and obsessing over all the reasons why she shouldn’t marry Chris wasn’t going to help that. So instead, I thought of my own current situation. I had recently started a job as a food blogger. It didn’t pay much and was basically a start–up column for a local paper, which had begun taking their product online, much like the writing gig that had indirectly gotten me involved with the murder of Senator Daniels.

In that case, I had been an online journalist and the online magazine had sent me to interview the senator because he was visiting Alkon, which also happened to be his wife’s hometown. Shortly after the murder, in an unrelated series of events, the online magazine went under. It was sad, not only because I lost my new job, but my friend Trevor had been the editor and was instrumental in getting it off the ground. He had lost his job, as well as his investment. Lucky for him, he had found another job quickly, not surprisingly though, because he was talented. Me, on the other hand, I was still searching. I was, by definition of my college degree, a human resource professional. I had spent many years after college climbing the corporate ladder working toward that golden job in the C–suite. Then I became disillusioned, was sexually harassed by my slime ball of a boss, and walked out one day.

It was the best—and scariest— day of my professional life. While I never regretted leaving the business world, it left me without a clear path. I wanted to find a way to make a living doing what I loved, but it wasn’t easy. Life was funny. When you were young you thought you would have it all figured out by the time you left high school. Ha! I left high school a long time ago and I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Writing this food blog scared me a little. What I knew about food mainly centered around eating it, but I was convincing enough, or they were desperate enough, that they hired me. My first piece was due Friday, in three days. Another reason I was stressed about the wedding. I had to find time to write five hundred words on a topic I knew little about. Coming to Alkon was also a great opportunity to talk to my mom, who really was a person who knew about food, and I was hoping she could help me. If only I could get her to write it for me.

I turned on the radio and station surfed, distracting myself from everything, and tried to just enjoy the drive. A couple of coffee stops and a couple hours later, I made it into Alkon and went straight to Katy’s salon. As I pulled in, I was surprised I didn’t see any cars in the lot and then I remembered she didn’t open until 1:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, as it was one of her late nights.

I had made such good time I had arrived twenty minutes early, so even Katy was not there yet. I got out of my car to stretch my legs and walked around in circles in the parking lot. Then I headed over to peek in the window of the salon. Katy was always changing the décor and I was curious to see what the latest look was.

I shaded my eyes with my hands and leaned against the front window to eliminate glare so I could see in better. I could see she had replaced the tile colors with a softer blue, which gave the salon a much lighter feel than it had before. As I looked around I saw a mannequin sitting, or rather slumped over in one of the hair styling chairs. Why would she have one of those? Or was it a mannequin?

I squinted to see better and almost wished I hadn’t. Holy crap. That was most certainly not a mannequin. I reached for my phone, thinking,
What are the odds this would happen to me twice?

I had just found a dead body.

Chapter 2

S
oon the place was hopping with cop cars and employees of the salon, along with curious town folk who listened to the police scanner for excitement and then rushed out to follow the drama. I was almost surprised not to see my dad or any of his friends.

“What the hell, Presley?” Katy said by way of greeting when she got to me after answering some questions the cops had.

“Beats me,” I said, throwing my hands up in the air. “I just made the mistake of getting here early and looking in the window.”

“How could something like this happen on my wedding week?” Katy wailed. “And at my business!”

I gave her a hug. “It’s just a minor snafu. It’s not going to ruin your wedding,” I said sympathetically, though I couldn’t help but wonder if this was yet one more sign that her marrying Chris was a bad idea.

“There is a dead body in my salon, Presley. This is more than a minor snafu. It’s a dead body!” she said, her pitch rising with every word.

She had a point. Couldn’t really minimize something like this.

I decided to change tactics. “Do they know who it is in there?” I said.

Katy shook her head. “Not yet.”

The door of the salon opened, and the paramedics rolled out a body on a gurney, covered up, much to the onlookers’ dismay, if their disappointed murmurs were any indication.

“Honey, are you OK?” A concerned looking Chris rushed up and put his arms around Katy, who melted into his arms.

Not that I was about to jump to a quick judgment overall, but this was a side of Chris I hadn’t seen before. He had never been all that caring and compassionate. Maybe he had changed. At least in this moment, I was impressed.

After a few minutes, he let go of her. “Hi, Presley.”

“Chris.” I nodded, watching as the ambulance pulled away and a police officer walked over. It was the same one who had arrived on the scene first.

“Presley, I have a few more questions for you.”

The cop was Officer Schultz. I knew him somewhat from when the senator was murdered.

“Sure, but I don’t know much. I was just looking through the window.”

“These are just routine questions, but you never know, you might have observed something and not initially realized it.”

He went through his questions, not giving any real information, and finally closed his notebook. I took advantage of his pause to ask a question of my own.

“Do you know who that is? I mean…was?”

“Weren’t you involved with Senator Daniels murder?” he countered.

“Kind of, I guess.”

He just looked at me a moment. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking and it made me more than a little uncomfortable. I’m not sure why, it wasn’t as if I had done anything wrong.

“We haven’t yet ID’d the body. Thank you for your time.”

I turned to Katy and Chris. “He wasn’t very chatty.”

“Oh, Presley, don’t start,” said Katy.

“Start what?”

“Trying to get involved in this. You are here to be my maid of honor and all that entails. Not to try to solve a murder.”

“I’m not trying to get involved,” I said defensively. “But aren’t you the least bit curious as to who the dead body found in your salon is?”

Katy rubbed her temples. “Of course I want to know. I want to know who it is and why she was in my salon. And how she died. I mean, maybe she broke in and died of natural causes.”

“Katy, as nice a thought as that is, I don’t think it’s very realistic. People aren’t like cats where they just go off to die in a salon somewhere,” I said, trying to lighten the mood, which didn’t at all work because Katy just glared at me. She didn’t seem to find me funny. “I’m sorry, Katy. I know this is the last thing you needed. What can I do?”

“Well, as weird as it seems to just go about our day, what else is there? We can’t do anything about a dead body, and clearly the salon will be closed for a few days, at least, I’m guessing. So, off to check on the hall and meet the caterer,” she said with forced enthusiasm.

BOOK: Laina Turner - Presley Thurman 08 - Vows & Victims
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