Engaged to Die (Death on Demand Mysteries, No. 14)
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Love is in the air -- but alas, so is murder -- as award-winning author Carolyn Hart returns once again to the South Carolina Low Country island of Broward's Rock and sets her delightful married sleuths, the Darlings, on separate trails to a killer.
Nothing warms the heart like romance -- even as the raw, cold winds of January chill the residents of Broward's Rock to the bone. But it's more than amore that intrigues mystery bookstore owner Annie Darling and her husband, Max, when wealthy, widowed art patron Virginia Neville announces her engagement to Jake O'Neill, her handsome, charming, and much younger fiancé, at a gala opening at the Neville gallery. Virginia's joyful announcement leaves many of the gathered -- especially certain members of her resentful extended stepfamily -- quite peeved. And one of the guests takes the news harder than the rest: before the last champagne bubble pops, murder disrupts the grand celebration.
Quickly deputized by Acting Police Chief Billy Cameron, troubleshooter Max Darling dives headfirst into the icy investigative waters, leaving wife Annie somewhat out in the cold. But since her young assistant, Chloe, is a prime suspect -- and one of Jake O'Neill's most recent broken hearts -- Annie is determined to untangle the unholy marriage of jealousy, blackmail, gunplay, and malicious mischief ... even if it means crossing swords with hubby Max and placing herself in the perilous path of a cleverly sadistic stalker.
for both of you." Bob's big hands settled on her shoulders, gripped them tightly. "Thanks to you. And that woman almost got you. .. ." Annie pushed away the memory of the pressure of the gun against her skin, Virginia Neville's desperate face, and her fatal plunge into the hospital stairwell. "But she didn't." Annie was brisk. Boston began to clap. "Let's give a cheer for our hostess, the bookseller with the mostest." "Annie, Annie, Annie . . ." came the chant. Startled, Annie turned.
stared at her. The big face offered no welcome. Annie smiled, the kind of smile automatic in common social interchange. "Hello. I'm Annie Darling. I'm here to visit a resident." He didn't move. "It's almost time for their dinner." His voice was uncommonly high and soft. "You plan to stay for dinner? You have to have a reservation." "No. This is a surprise visit to an old friend. I'll just pop right in and right out." She took a step forward, almost butting up against his chest. Grudgingly, he
Virginia Neville. Her breathing still shallow, Virginia demanded, "What girl are they talking about? Did some girl hurt Jake?" "Nobody knows what happened." Annie had no intention of telling Virginia Neville about Chloe Martin. Oh, dear heaven, where was Chloe? Why had she run from the grounds tonight? And there could be no doubt that she'd been down here at the point. The green stole made her presence clear. Somehow Annie must get in touch with her. But Annie didn't have her cell phone with
blood—"and talk to the Neville family. 1 We'll meet back here in an hour. Keep your cell phone on. I'll do the same." He pulled the door shut. .j... Max stepped back, and the cruiser roared away. I Max watched the dust-churning car barrel down the i ,. road. Billy knew there was much to do, many avenues to explore, but everything was on hold until Chloe Martin was found. Was there anything Max could have said or done to calm Billy down? Max shook his head. The acting chief was past
mild face creased by worry. Young Lover Two, and Chloe had hidden from him. Annie stuck out her hand. He grabbed her hand, crushed it, pulled her farther from the counter before loosening his grip. He spoke in a low voice. "Mrs. Darling, do you know where Chloe is?" He poked his glasses higher on his bent nose. His dark spaniel eyes were imploring. "I heard you talking to her." He looked toward Mavis. "They say Chloe's a fugitive." He shook his head "That's crazy." His hands tightened into