Holly and Homicide

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  • Edition: Original
  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 10/27/2009
  • Publisher: Dell

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It's Christmastime in sleepy Snowcap, Colorado, and the town is up in arms. The venerable Goodwin Estate has been sold to enterprising out of towners and is getting a major makeover just in time for the holidays. Interior designers Erin Gilbert and Steve Sullivan walked smack into a storm of chaos: the estate's new owners, including one whose idea of holiday decor involves inflatable elves and a gingerbread facade, are battling among themselves. Erin's big-talking ex-boyfriend shows up just in time to make Sullivan crazy jealous, and when a local building inspector is found strangled with a strand of Christmas lights, Gilbert and Sullivan begin to suspect it might be time to leave this psychodrama of a project behind. But after an incompetent sheriff accuses Erin of murder and there's another gruesome killing, the only way out is to turn detective. Her new job: solve a mystery with too many clues...and far too many guilty parties.... FEATURING DOMESTIC BLISS HOME DECORATING TIPS!


Chapter One

The article about a grave robbery caught my attention. It was a short piece, only three or four column inches, on the second page of the Snowcap Village Gazette, which quoted a haughty wisecrack made by the local sheriff: “Probably another case of yuppie skiers robbing us of our ancestry, like the way they’re turning the Goodwin estate into the Wendell Barton B-and-B.” My heart started racing, and I thought: Here we go again.

 Sullivan handed me a cup of coffee. Although he’d pulled on a pair of jeans and a black T-shirt before heading downstairs to the kitchen of the aforementioned Goodwin estate, he slipped back under the covers beside me, his own cup in hand. 

“Thanks, sweetie.” I took a tentative sip. Perfection. 

“Did you see the story about the grave robbery in this week’s Gazette?” 

“Yeah. Annoying potshot about the inn. Sheriff Mackey sounds like a major jerk.” 

“No kidding.” Wendell Barton, who owned the ski resort a few miles from here, was just one of the partners who’d purchased this fabulous Victorian mansion from Henry Goodwin, a direct descendent of its original owner. Steve’s and my two-person company—Sullivan & Gilbert Designs—was in charge of the remodel. “I suppose by ‘yuppie skiers’ turning this place into a ‘Wendell Barton B-and-B,’ he means you and me.” 

“Not if he’s ever seen you try to ski,” Sullivan teased. I considered swatting him, but didn’t want to risk his spilling coffee on our divine gold-and-burgundy silk duvet. I settled for narrowing my eyes at him. He laughed and kissed my forehead. 

I felt the warm glow that I’d grown so wonderfully accustomed to during the nine-plus months since we’d started dating in earnest. “I’m getting better at skiing, you know. You said so yourself.” 

“Yes, you are, Gilbert. If you make good use of our last three weeks here, you might even be able to stop without grabbing onto a tree.” 

His snide remark called for a comeback, but my worry about the grave robbery nagged at me. Why would somebody steal a person’s bones? I took a couple of sips of coffee and reread the article. 

“I’m sure the incident at the cemetery was just a prank,” Sullivan said. “Drunken frat boys on a ski trip, blowing off some steam, maybe.” 

“Their timing’s odd, if that’s all it was. They had to dig through snow and frozen ground, just for a dumb joke. You’d think they’d get maybe two inches down and decide to go TP some trees instead.” 

“Yeah, but it has to be a prank. What sensible motive could there possibly be? It’s idiotic to dig up a random fifty-year-old grave. Wasn’t there a really common name on the tombstone?” 

“ ‘R. Garcia,’ and the cemetery records are inadequate, so they don’t even know how to track down Garcia’s relatives.” My imagination started to run wild in spite of myself. “Maybe that’s why this particular grave was chosen . . . so as to ruffle the fewest feathers. I hope I’m just being paranoid, but this could be the handiwork of one of the hundred or so townspeople trying to prevent the Snowcap Inn from opening.” 

Sullivan stared at me, his gorgeous hazel eyes incredulous. “Seriously, Erin? You think someone’s going to . . . what? Plant a skeleton in a closet here? Stick some bones

Excerpted from Holly and Homicide by Leslie Caine
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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