"The Bottom Line: Grounds for Remorse is all kinds of messy from page one! [...] As with all true cozy mysteries, the plot isn’t too complicated, the big bad isn’t all that surprising, but you just don’t care because the read is so fun. Tallie is a hot mess, boyfriend Max is adorable, the sheriff is at the end of his rope, and read is worth it from start to finish. " - RoloPolo, Goodreads
No more cheating . . .
Best friends Tallie Graver and Gina Laudermilch both seem to spend a lot of time around urns. For Tallie, they're part and parcel of the family business, Graver's Funeral Home. Even though she's traded ashes for dusting with her own cleaning business, she still works part-time for her folks and lives above the funeral parlor. For Gina, they're the vessels that con-tain her heavenly brew at her coffee shop, Bean There, Done That. And both women are learning that owning a business can make finding time for romance challenging.
But when Gina's new beau turns out to have a wife, who barges into the coffee shop to take him home, she can't contain her bitterness and loudly threatens to poison his cup or boil him in a vat of coffee. So when Mr. Wrong turns up dead at the bottom of a staircase inside Gina's locked home, she finds herself at the top of the police's suspect list. Tallie needs to sweep in to save her friend. But she'll need to watch her step, or she may go from being a funeral home employee to becoming their next client . . .
I jolted awake and nearly knocked Max off the bed when the siren at the firehouse next door blared in the middle of the night. I had trained myself to sleep through it when I’d first moved over the funeral
home my parents and brother owned. It also helped that my father had installed soundproofing up here at my request.
Tonight, though, I’d had a hard time falling asleep and had wandered to the window a few times to soak up the moonlight and watch the few cars driving on Main Street. I had been restless even with Max’s arms wrapped around me in the Murphy bed that I’d lowered from the wall.
So, it was no surprise that I heard it and shot straight up in bed. As softly as possible I removed myself from under Max’s arm and went to the front windows of my apartment, where I’d be able to see the direction the fire truck headed. The lights could be mesmerizing as they strobed across the brick buildings of Main Street in our small town. Pennsylvania liked its sirens and its volunteer firemen.
But though the siren blared and the lights flashed, they didn’t get far. In fact, they pulled across the
street and stopped outside Gina’s. What on earth?
“Max. Max!” I shook him, then ran to my closet for a hoodie to throw over my pajamas. No time to waste on a bra, and the hoodie would cover up any sagging. Plus, the dead of summer could still get a little chilly outside in the middle of the night.
He sat up, his hair going in all directions. “What’s going on?”
“The fire truck is in front of Gina’s house. I have to go over there.”
Points for him that he was out of bed and stepping into his jeans before I’d finished my second sentence.
“See if you can get a hold of her. She might not be able to answer, but maybe she can. Just check.” He went to the window as he pulled a shirt on over his head. “I don’t see flames. But an ambulance just pulled up.”
“Oh no. That could mean anything.” They came out for all reasons, generally anything that involved a call to the emergency line at the police station. What had happened? Was Gina hurt? Had I left her alone and Craig had come for her? My stomach tried to claw its way up my throat. Stepping into shoes, I hit my Gina speed dial as I flew down the two sets of stairs to the main floor. Max was right on my heels. By the fourth ring, Gina still hadn’t answered, but then it didn’t matter because I saw her standing on the sidewalk with her arms wrapped around herself and a blanket over her shoulders.
At least she was alive. While I’d booked it down the stairs, horrible visions had flashed through my head of Craig getting in her house and killing her in her sleep. Seeing her standing there alleviated that fear at least, but it didn’t indicate what had happened. I didn’t even look for traffic as I ran across the street and jerked to a halt in front of her. I opened my arms and she stepped forward. But Chief Burton put an arm out between us, keeping her from hugging me. The man was the bane of my existence.
He still held a grudge over the stuck-up, snobby bitch I had been for the past five years. I’d thought helping him with a double murder a few months ago might have softened him up, but that didn’t seem to be happening with the way his eyes were flinty and his stance forbidding.
“What are you doing?” I demanded.
“This is a crime scene, Tallie.”
“A what? What happened?” Quickly taking in the scene, I saw no blood and no broken windows.
Nothing out of the ordinary, except my friend standing on the street with a blanket around her shoulders.
“Go home. We’re taking care of it. I need you to step back. We don’t want to contaminate anything
until we have all the evidence we need.”
“Gina?” I met her eyes. Max stepped up next to me and put a hand on my outstretched arm.
“Don’t leave me, Tallie. Please.” Her voice quavered with distress and I wanted to punch Burton in his shiny badge.
Instead, I glared at him and almost said the scathing words that were positively boiling on my tongue. But I did not want to make anyone even madder. I settled for taking a step back. “I’m not leaving. I won’t touch anything, but I’m not leaving.”
Burton sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. Not my problem.
“Do you want me to call your mom, Gina?” I asked. “God, no, please.”
“Can you tell me what happened? Why are the police and the fire department and the ambulance here?”
Burton stepped between us again. “You can stay, but I’ll be asking the questions. Right now, this is a
need-to-know basis and you are not someone who needs to know anything.” Burton stood with his back to Gina, fully blocking her from my sight. Kicking him would be a very bad idea, I told myself several times, while I fought down the urge to do just that. I tried a different tactic with the silvered-haired man who was the strong arm of the law around these parts. “Can you tell me what happened then? I live in the neighborhood and would like to know what has happened to bring everyone out before dawn.”
He frowned at me, his bushy gray eyebrows pulling down to form a V. “There’s been a death and that’s all you need to know.”
A death? I reeled back into Max’s arms, my brain now going to the threats Gina had made earlier toward Craig. No way would she have done that. I knew it in my heart. Plus, I didn’t even know who was dead. I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions until I had more facts.
And then the gurney rolled past me and Max. A hand flopped out from under the sheet, the manicured fingernails masculine and way too clean. It was Craig. To say this was not good was a gross understatement.
About the author:
Misty Simon is the author of Cremains of the Day and Grounds for Remorse in the Tallie Graver Mystery series. She loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There’s nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter and three insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three.
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