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Authors: Cindy Bell

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Shampoo and a Stiff

BOOK: Shampoo and a Stiff
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Shampoo and a Stiff

 

A Bekki the Beautician Cozy Mystery

 

Cindy Bell

 

Copyright © 2013 Cindy Bell

All rights reserved.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. 

 

This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and locations portrayed in this book and the names herein are fictitious.  Any similarity to or identification with the locations, names, characters or history of any person, product or entity is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

 

All trademarks and brands referred to in this book are for illustrative purposes only, are the property of their respective owners and not affiliated with this publication in any way. Any trademarks are being used without permission, and the publication of the trademark is not authorized by, associated with or sponsored by the trademark owner.

Chapter One

 

Bekki stood in the doorway of Nick's bedroom, and had to remind herself that it was now their bedroom. Their honeymoon had been a whirlwind of pleasure and a nice break from the salon and daily life. But now she was back to reality. Reality was a framed poster depicting several armed police officers and a tropical background hanging over Nick's king-sized bed. Of course she had seen it before, but now, it belonged to her. In fact, it seemed to be staring at her. As she studied the poster, she heard Nick in the kitchen preparing them a quick lunch to enjoy before they finished getting everything settled. Bekki had moved most of her things in before the wedding, but it wasn't officially her home until they returned from the honeymoon. Now, it felt as if she was trespassing in some way, even though her toothbrush was in the bathroom, and her books were on the shelf.


You okay?” Nick asked as he walked up behind her and caught her staring at the poster.


Yes,” Bekki smiled as she turned quickly to face him. “Just letting things sink in,” she kissed him softly.


Hmm,” Nick narrowed his green eyes slightly but his lips curved into a light smile as he studied her. “Well, the best part of getting back from the honeymoon is breaking in the house...”


Nick!” Bekki laughed and swatted at him playfully as he scooped her up into his arms and carried her towards the bed. He was tickling her mercilessly when her cell phone began to ring.


All right, all right, my phone,” Bekki laughed loudly and struggled to get her phone out of her pocket.


Saved by the cell,” he muttered and reluctantly released her. He flipped over on the bed onto his back as Bekki answered the phone.


Hi Bekki, hope I'm not interrupting anything,” Sammy chirped into the phone. She and Bekki’s mom, Marie, had taken over the day to day operations of the salon while Nick and Bekki were on their honeymoon. They had done an excellent job of running the place, which wasn't a surprise since Bekki's mother had owned and run the salon before Bekki took it over.


Not at all,” Bekki replied and gave Nick a hard shove as he tried to tickle her again. He gasped and rolled himself off the side of the bed with a loud thump. Bekki laughed and shook her head as he walked out of the bedroom to finish up lunch. He pointed a finger in her direction from the doorway.


This is not over,” he said in a mock warning tone. Bekki grinned and lay back across the bed.


What's up, Sammy?” she asked in a giddy tone.


Sounds like you two are still having fun,” Sammy teased over the phone. “I just wanted to let you know that I increased the shampoo order like we discussed and to remind you that that delivery is coming in tomorrow morning. If you want me to handle it I can,” she added.


No, no,” Bekki replied quickly. She had planned most of her deliveries to occur after she returned from the honeymoon. She trusted Sammy to handle it, but the hair products delivery was from a relatively new supplier. She wanted to make sure that they were providing the right product before she signed off on it. Besides she had been friends with the delivery driver, Tom, since she was a kid, and she was looking forward to seeing him.


I'll be there,” Bekki assured Sammy. “You take the day off.”


All right, no argument there,” Sammy laughed. “But call me if you need anything, okay?”


I will,” Bekki promised as she hung up the phone. When she joined Nick in the kitchen he set a chicken sandwich down on the table in front of her.


Are you sure you have to go back to work tomorrow?” he sighed as he sat down across from her. “I've really enjoyed our time away from curls and crimes.”


Ha ha,” Bekki grinned at him as she studied his gorgeous face. There was nothing about Nick that she didn't adore. She was still pinching herself that they were actually married. The ring on her finger reminded her, but it still felt like a dream. Nick reached across the table and took her hand in his.


I just want you to know, this house is our house now. If you want to you can paint it, polka dot it, camp out in a tent in the backyard,” he grinned at that. “Whatever you want.”


Thanks, Nick,” Bekki squeezed his hand lightly. “But it's already perfect, as long as you're in it,” she bit into her bottom lip and did her best not to mention the intimidating poster in the bedroom.

 

***

 

The next morning Bekki woke early and left Nick sleeping in. He still had one more day off before he had to return to duty. She paused a moment to study his slightly parted lips and his steady breath. She had no idea she could be so head over heels. As she leaned in to give him a light kiss on the cheek, she caught sight of that poster staring at her again. She glared at it, then stalked out of the bedroom. On her way into the salon she stopped off at Angela's Bakery for coffee and a bagel. Angela smiled when she saw her.


Welcome back,” she said as she handed Bekki her usual cup of coffee.


Thanks,” Bekki replied with an eager smile. “It was beautiful, but I have to say, it's good to come home.”


Good for us, too,” Angela touched her unruly locks. “I think I'm overdue for an appointment.”


I'll check the schedule,” Bekki promised as she walked out of the bakery.

Growing up in a small town
Bekki had often dreamed of making it to the big city. After she did make it to the big city, New York City to be specific, as a hairstylist and makeup artist to the rich and famous, she discovered a deep longing for the small town of her youth. She was glad that after a tough break-up she had returned home for comfort, and found the amazing life she otherwise might have missed out on. Now that she was married to Nick she couldn't imagine ever being with anyone else. Even though she had grown up under the reception desk of the salon she now couldn't wait to get to the salon in the morning.

Bekki
arrived about half an hour before opening to handle the delivery. Once she set down her coffee and bagel she heard the truck pulling up out back. That was another thing she liked about Tom, in the few times that he had delivered he had always been prompt. She opened the side door of the salon and stepped out to greet him. Tom smiled at her as he walked around the side of the truck.


Morning Bekki, sorry I'm a few minutes late,” he said as he unlocked the back doors of the truck.


You're late?” Bekki laughed as she stood beside him. “I thought you were just on time.”


Well, close,” Tom shrugged as he opened the doors of the truck. “I'm really glad that you decided to continue ordering from the company. The owners are great. They're brothers you know, it's nice to work for a family owned business.”


I can agree with that,” Bekki laughed as Tom lifted one of the boxes off the back of the truck. He abruptly froze. Then the box slid from his hands and tumbled to the ground, spilling its valuable contents.


Tom?” Bekki asked as she reached down to grab one of the bottles of shampoo that was starting to roll away. She heard a strangled gasp. As she glanced up, she was nearly eye-to-eye with a dead body.


Uh...” Bekki gasped as Tom let out a scream.

The body was sprawled out in the truck behind the boxes.
Bekki reached for her phone as Tom sank to his knees.


It can't be,” he gasped out as he shook his head. “That's Brad,” he gulped as he stared at the face, his own drained of color. It was clear that he was going into shock. Bekki reached out and rubbed his shoulder soothingly as she called ‘911’.


It's okay, Tom, the police are on their way,” she said gently.


But, it's Brad Zane, one of the owners of the company. His poor brother, he's going to be devastated,” his shoulder began to tremble under Bekki's grasp. As she looked back into the truck she noticed that it looked like Brad had been dead for quite some time.


Didn't you load the truck this morning?” Bekki asked hesitantly. She didn't want to push Tom too hard when he was already so upset.


No,” Tom gasped out and shook his head. “I loaded it last night.  All of them except for a couple of boxes that had a last minute order change were already loaded and ready to go.”

Before
Bekki could ask him any more questions she heard two police cars and an ambulance pull into the parking lot of the salon.

Since Nick had the day off,
Bekki didn't expect him to be one of the officers that responded. But a younger officer that Nick had trained, Morris, was there.


Bekki, are you all right?” he asked as he walked up to the truck.


Yes,” Bekki frowned as she tilted her head towards the truck. “We just found him this way.”


Wow,” he murmured as he looked into the truck. One of his superior officers stepped in and began assessing the scene. Bekki's phone started to ring so she walked away as Morris began questioning Tom.


Bekki, I just heard the call go out,” Nick said swiftly as soon as she picked up the phone. “I heard the address of the salon, are you safe?”


I'm fine,” Bekki assured him. “Morris is here. Everything is okay. The owner of the company I order supplies from somehow ended up dead in the back of the delivery truck. But no one is in danger, and it’s getting sorted out.”


I'll be over in a minute,” Nick said sternly.


No,” Bekki insisted as she glanced over her shoulder at the truck. “I want you to rest and try to enjoy your day off, Nick.”


Bekki, can I get your statement?” Morris asked as she hung up the phone.


Of course,” Bekki nodded as she walked back towards the truck. Tom was sobbing as one of the senior officers was grilling him.


What's going on?” Bekki asked with concern.


He's being arrested on suspicion of murder,” Morris explained as calmly as he could.


What?” Bekki's eyes widened as she looked at Morris. “But why? Do you have any proof?”


Well, the dead body was found in the back of the delivery truck he was driving,” Morris pointed out with a frown. “It's pretty clear that he might have been trying to hide the body and dispose of it.”


Then why would he open the doors to the truck?” Bekki demanded with a touch of annoyance. “Why would he be so surprised when he saw the body?”


Bekki, I'm just following orders,” Morris offered in an innocent tone.

Bekki
was beginning to regret telling Nick to stay home. If he was there at least she could reason with him. As she looked back over at Tom being led to one of the police cars in handcuffs her heart ached for him. She knew he wasn't the killer.


Bekki, can you tell me what you saw this morning?” Morris asked as he began to take notes. Bekki filled him in on the time she had arrived at the salon, what she could remember Tom saying to her, and his reaction when he opened the back of the truck.


Good,” Morris nodded and then lowered his voice. “And you said that you know Tom personally?”


Well, we've known each other for a long time,” Bekki explained hesitantly. “We lost touch when I moved to New York, but he's a good guy. He would never do anything like this.”


Well, then I'm sure everything will get cleared up,” Morris said in an attempt to reassure her. Bekki nodded but she felt very unsettled. With Tom being accused of a crime she was certain that he didn't commit and a prominent business owner dead in her parking lot, her first day back had certainly taken a strange turn.

 

***

 

A few hours later the scene had been processed and Bekki was allowed to take her delivery. It was eerie to unpack the boxes that had been in the truck with Brad's body. The contents were unharmed, but still, it seemed as if they were the only witnesses to what really happened to Brad. As she opened one of the boxes of shampoo she heard the door open in the front of the salon. She glanced up in time to see Nick walking across the reception area and behind the desk towards the back room where she was.


Couldn't stay away, hmm?” she asked as she opened the flaps of the box.


I just didn't think you should be alone,” he admitted as he paused beside her.


You know I'm not in any danger,” Bekki pointed out as she glanced up at him with an affectionate smile.


I know,” he replied and kissed her cheek lightly. “I also wanted an excuse to see you.”

BOOK: Shampoo and a Stiff
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