Linda Wood Rondeau

Snark & Sensibility

THE SLEUTH'S SURPRISE
Friday, September 4, 2020 by KIMBERLY ROSE JOHNSON

PLEASE WELCOME

KIMBERLY ROSE JOHNSON

TO

FICTION FRIDAY

book excerpt from

THE SLEUTH’S SURPRISE

NANCY DALEY MALONE STARED AT THE newspaper in disbelief. She held it up and waved it at Pepper White, her good friend and owner of Roaster’s Coffee Shop. “Did you see this?”

“No. What is it?” Pepper slid a plate with a chocolate donut onto the table in front of Nancy then sat across from her.

“Someone is running for sheriff against my mom.” “Ah, that. Yes, I did hear some rumblings.”?“Why didn’t you say anything?”?Pepper shrugged. “I figured you already knew.

You seem to always know everything that goes on in this town.”

Nancy frowned. “Not this time.”

“Your mom is scrappy. She’ll win back the community’s support.”

A jolt shot through Nancy. “Win back?” What was her friend talking about? The town respected and loved her mom. Didn’t they?

“Well, there’s been some talk that maybe she doesn’t have a good handle on things anymore. I overheard someone in here the other day suggest she’s become too comfortable.”

“That’s ridiculous!” Nancy’s face heated. She stood. “I need to go.”

Pepper reached out and touched Nancy’s arm. “I’m sorry. I probably should have told you sooner or not at all. Please don’t leave angry.”?Nancy stilled. “I’m not angry with you. I wish you would have said something when you first heard what people were saying, but I don’t hold it against you. I’m galvanized to do something to help my mom. People are wrong about her, and I want them to know it.”

“Ah, I see. Okay. Let me know how I can help.” “Thanks.”?Pepper reached for the plate with Nancy’s treat.

“What about your donut?”?“I can’t eat right now.” Her stomach was as knotted as the cord of her ear buds.?“At least take it with you.” Pepper wrapped the donut in a napkin and handed it to her. “I know you’ll want it later.”

Nancy eyed the donut—her once a week ritual she shared with her good friend. “Good idea. You’re probably right. Thanks.” She dropped the treat into her oversized purse and headed for the door. She’d show Tipton County they were wrong about her mom if it was the last thing she did.

*

Lyle Griffin dropped today’s paper on the sheriff’s desk. “You’re going to want to see this.” He glanced toward the small egress window in the basement office as someone walked past.

Sheriff Daley looked up from her computer screen and picked up the paper. Her brows rose. “How did I not know this?”

“I don’t think anyone knew. That’s Stan Gibson’s official announcement.” For the first time since Mary Daley had been elected, she had an opponent. Lyle had heard rumblings that the community was unhappy with the uptick in crime, and several citizens were blaming the sheriff. As if she had anything to do with it. “What are you going to do?”

She handed him back the paper. “I guess run a campaign. I’ve never had to do that while in office.”

“Won’t be easy, as hands-on as you are.”

“Agreed. But if I want to keep my job, it looks like I’ll have to figure out how to do everything while running a winning campaign as well.”

He eased into the chair across from her desk. “What can I do to help?” He did not want to work for Stan. The man seemed nice enough, but to his knowledge, Stan knew nothing about law enforcement, which begged the question how he was even qualified to be sheriff.

“I’m not sure what kind of help I need. It’s been a long time since I had to campaign.”

“How long has it been?”

“Twenty-five years.”

“You could retire.” As soon as he said the words, he wanted to snatch them back. “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. I only mean that you’ve been in law enforcement long enough to retire with benefits.” Mary was in the prime of her life at fifty-five. Her coffee-colored hair only had a smattering of gray. Though her face had begun to show her years of service, she still looked vibrant to him.

Her brown eyes flashed annoyance then softened. “Thanks for clarifying.”

He shrugged. “You’ve earned the right to retire.”

“You didn’t walk away when you reached twenty years.”

 “I wasn’t ready.” But should Stan win the election, he’d definitely give that option consideration. Lots of people reinvented themselves. There was nothing stopping him from doing the same.

Mary sighed. “I was invited to be the local celebrity judge at the Tipton County Fair’s pie-baking. I’d planned to decline, but it would be a good opportunity for me to rub shoulders with the community. What do you think?”

Lyle knew she hated that kind of thing and certainly didn’t need one more stress added to her life, but if she wanted to win, this was the perfect opportunity to connect with the community on a social level. “It’s a great idea. I can come along if you want company. Maybe hand out buttons or something with your face on them.”

She chuckled. “The obligatory buttons. I’d forgotten about those. If you’d like to go, that’d be nice, but it’s not necessary. I’m sure Nancy will want to be there, so don’t feel obligated.”

“I wouldn’t miss it.” The sheriff had done a good job raising her daughter, and if anyone could influence the community to vote for Mary, it was Nancy. The people in Tipton loved her. He’d do about anything for both mother and daughter. They were like family—the family he’d never had but dreamed of.

ABOUT KIMBERLY ROSE JOHNSON

Kimberly Rose Johnson won the 2018 Faith Hope and Love Reader’s Choice award for short contemporary novel. She’s married to her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child, Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes romantic mystery and suspense.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Kimberly’s hobbies include reading, watching chick flicks, playing the piano, long walks with her hubby and their yellow lab, drinking coffee and eating dark chocolate.

ABOUT THE SLEUTH’S SURPRISE

Mary Daley has been the sheriff of Tipton County for more than two decades, but someone wants her job. When it seems circumstances can’t get more complicated, a murder happens on her watch. Had she been the intended victim?

Deputy Chief Lyle Griffin only wants Mary to be happy, but when he asks her if she’d consider retiring, it sets off a string of events and emotions that muddy their friendship.  

Nancy Daley-Malone can’t believe anyone would run for sheriff against her mom. She is on board to help run the best campaign Tipton County has ever seen until the sheriff’s opponent is murdered and Nancy’s husband joins the race. On top of that, it appears someone is out to kill her mother as well.

Can Nancy, along with the sheriff’s department, find the murderer before it’s too late? Will Lyle and Mary be able to admit their feelings for one another or will the status quo remain?

 

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