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Authors: Madison Johns

1 Target of Death

BOOK: 1 Target of Death

of Death

Cajun Cooking Mystery



Copyright © 2014 by Madison Johns

Target of Death Madison Johns

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment
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Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to
persons living or dead (unless explicitly noted) is merely coincidental.

Edited by EbookEditingPro

Proofreader Cindy Tahse

Cover Susan Coils


would like to thank all of my readers, Tammy Lynn Rodrigue, in particular for
allowing me to use her name as the main character in this new series. This has
been a long road, and both Tammy and I spent many nights burning up the
Facebook chat to develop this character and series. It turned out so much
better than I could have ever hoped for. I’d also like to acknowledge Susan
Coils for the kick ass cover!


I dedicate this book to
my late boyfriend, Charles Kalkman, who is still with me daily in spirit.
Here’s to you, Chuck. I miss you so much, babe.

Also by
Madison Johns

Barton Senior Sleuths Series:

and Outrageous


Guns and Ghosts




in Tawas


in Tawas


Barton/Kimberly Steele Cozy Mystery Series

Hip & Dead



and Pregnant

Steele Novella)





Chapter One

“Well, congrats, Tammy. We are officially
in the middle of nowhere.”

I wrinkled my brow in irritation. “Not at
all.” I rustled the map in my lap. “I think we’re almost there.”

Dixie rolled her eyes. “You said that an
hour ago.”

“Remind me again why I brought you?”

“Because I’m your bestest friend in the
world and you’d be lost without me.”

I smiled. How couldn’t I smile when Dixie
said something that sweet? Most folks might think Dixie is an airhead on account
of how her blonde hair was all teased and big, but she’s one of the smartest
women I know—after me, that is. I had to chuckle at that. Seriously,
though, I’m Tammy Lynn Rodrigue and I’m anything but the smartest woman on the
planet. I quit using my real last name years ago to hide my family’s dark past.
I’m from Estelle, Louisiana, and I was heading to Michigan to attend an archery
competition, The Tournament of Trouble, in Bear Paw, Michigan. That is, if I
ever found the place. Since I recently lost my job, I really need the prize
money to keep a roof over my head and food in my belly. Oh, and did I mention
that it was in the dead of winter? So much for wearing my flip-flops.

“It sure is snowing hard,” Dixie announced.

“I can see that. I sure hope we don’t

“Uh-oh. I so know you’re not finishing that
sentence. It’s bad luck and you know it.”

“There is no such thing as bad luck,” I
said, while crossing myself like Grandma always taught me to do--when she
wasn’t going to church every dang day, that is. Since I wasn’t all that much of
a Jesus freak, I rubbed my antler pendant that was attached around a black cord
necklace for good measure. It was made from the antler of the first deer I ever
killed with an arrow. I killed it on the first try, too. That made my dad
pretty proud. Mama wasn’t too happy about it, though. She thought I should do
more ladylike things, such as knitting. She kinda gave up after awhile, which
made me happy. But it’s not like I’m all that much of a tomboy since every once
in a while, I do like to dress up in pink, with green glitter eye shadow to
accent my hazel eyes and red hair. I also love to wear heels on occasion,
preferably in the form of leather boots, even though I much prefer the chunky heel
type. They’ve come in handy a few times, too, like when a date got out of line.
Oh yes, these boots were so made for walking all over you.

Dixie looked over at me and busted out laughing.
“You crack me up, Tammy.”

“Why, now,” I said, acting like I hadn’t
just looked like I was superstitious as all get out.

“Slow down, would you,” Dixie shouted, but
it was too late as the Dodge Dart I was driving slid sideways, narrowly missing
a truck. The car spun around into a donut, landing smack in a ditch with a

I pressed my hand against my chest as my heart
hammered away and glared at Dixie like it was her fault. “Well, so much for
good luck charms.”

“All that crossing yourself didn’t do
anything for you, either, but it sure was funny.”

It was snowing so hard now that I couldn’t
see much at all. “I told you to rent a four-wheel drive truck!”

“I tried, but they didn’t have any.”

Dixie and I crawled out of the car, still
arguing, when the truck I almost nailed also stopped. A tall man hopped out and
proceeded to pull out chains from the bed of his truck, then walked toward us.
Not one to be intimidated, even though I was in unfamiliar territory, I stood
my ground, trying to look all brave. It really wasn’t an act. My dad always
told me never let them see you sweat. I wasn’t actually sweating, but I was
possibly perspiring a little. I’m so blaming that on the near-death experience
I just had, or thought I had, anyway.

The man was covered from head to toe with a
feather-down jacket and snow pants. He never said a word as he hooked the chain
around the undercarriage of my rental car. It was hard to see what he even
looked like since he had a ski mask covering his entire face. Under other
circumstances, I’d have worried about a man in a ski mask, but then again, I
was from Louisiana and I was used to seeing people in masks during Mari Gras in
New Orleans. Plus, it was quite cold and neither Dixie nor I were prepared for
it, jacket-wise.

Finally, the man stood up and yelled, “Get
behind the wheel and I’ll get you out of there. All you have to do is help
steer the car.”

I wanted to say, “Hey, buddy, tell me
something I don’t know,” but he was being neighborly, so the least I could do
was be nice and act all frail. Hey, if it helped me get the car back on the
road, I was game.

I crawled back in the car and started the
engine, gripping the steering wheel hard as the car jerked when the chain
tightened against it. The engine of the truck roared, and the car was easily
pulled from the ditch. My feet pounded the floorboard in my version of a happy
dance. I watched as the man moved from his truck and removed the chains. I got
out and thanked him.

“You sure talk funny,” he said, referring to
my Louisiana accent, no doubt.

“So do you,” I fired back.

“Are you Louisiana Sassy, by chance?”

I put my hands on my hips. “What if I am?”

He laughed. “Of all the luck. You have
quite a reputation.”

I didn’t like that a bit, but before I had
a chance to teach this Michigan man a lesson about how to treat a lady, Dixie
said, “She sure does. She’s deadly with a bow. We’re here for the archery

“Well, you might just want to turn around
now because I’m going to win that competition. I’m not about to let a girl one-up

“I see,” I began. “I have been beating men
in competitions for years and I’ll have no problem defeating you. Louisiana
Sassy doesn’t take any guff from anyone, least of all a man wearing a ski

He swiped the ski mask off, flashing me his
cat-green eyes. A smile curved his lips. “It’s so on, little lady, but I hope
you brought plenty of tissue for when you lose to me. I’m a national champ.
I’ve never been beat.”

I leaned forward until I was eye-to-eye
with the man. “Me, either.”

He eyed my car. “You can’t even seem to
stay out of a ditch.”

“Oh, that little thing. Back home we have
bigger potholes.”

“Is that right? Well, you certainly
couldn’t have drove yourself out of the itty bitty ditch,” he laughed. “You
better move along now before you catch yourself a cold. This isn’t Louisiana.
If you plan to last long enough to enter the competition, you better buy
yourself a parka. It’s going to be in the twenties tonight.”

Our conversation was interrupted as
flashing lights illuminated through a cluster of pine trees further up the
road. As the cop cars screeched to a stop, I bit my lower lip. Was this
standard policy in Michigan when a car goes in a ditch? I then shook my head,
as that didn’t make a lick of sense since I had never even called a wrecker.
Something was wrong; I could just feel it in my bones.

Cops staggered from their cars that had
careened down on us only moments ago. One of the cops froze when he scrutinized
the man who had pulled us out. “What’s going on here, Daniel?”

“I was just helping these ladies out of a

There was something about how he said ‘ladies’
that I hated, but then again, I was surprised someone from the north even knew
what a lady was.

“Is there something wrong?” I asked the trooper,
noting the state police emblem on his car.

“Yes, we found a dead guy in a wooded area
not far from here.”

“Oh, my,” Dixie said. “That’s just awful.”

Daniel waved his hands. “Don’t look at me.
I just got here. I can’t say the same for the women here. For all I know, they
might be responsible.”

Dixie had to hold me back before I smacked
this fool. “You just pulled us out of the ditch—or have you forgotten?”

“We take murder investigations seriously
here, and as such, we have enough probable cause to search your vehicles,” the
trooper informed us.

I pointed in the direction of my rental
car. “Knock yourself out, but I’m warning you, our gear is packed tightly in
the car.”

Daniel was stone-faced for the moment as he
surveyed the cops going through his truck. I, on the other hand, was livid as I
helplessly watched as the cops toss our belongings on the ground. “Hey,” I
shouted. “Take it easy, would ya.”

When they removed my bow, I rushed forward.
“Don’t you dare throw that on the ground. I need that for the competition.”

“Where are you from, Miss?”

“Estelle, Louisiana. Why?”

“I was trying to identify your accent.” He
allowed me to hold the bow, but when he came back with an arrow, he frowned.
“Have you been bow hunting today?”

“No, I hardly think it’s bow season in

“Even if it was,” Dixie said, “we’re from
out of state.”

“Good point.” He waved the other cops
forward. “This arrow looks similar to the one we found in the victim.”

“How is that?”

“It also had white and pink feathers.”

“You mean fletches, don’t you? You
obviously know nothing about archery, and I imagine arrows like that can be
found anywhere.” I gave him a hard stare. “There is an archery competition in Bear
Paw, don’t forget.”

“I know all about it, young lady,” a man
behind me said. “I’m Sheriff Simon Price. We’ll be taking your arrow to compare
it to the one used in the crime.”

I stared at the silver-haired sheriff with
less than enthusiasm. “I see. Well, we just got here, so surely we can’t be
suspects and you’ll find my arrows all have field tips, which are used for
tournaments. Whoever killed the victim must have used a broad-head tip. That’s
what most hunters use.”

“You can check our GPS unit in the car if
you’d like,” Dixie volunteered. “It will prove that we just got here.”

“I see. Well, like I said, we’ll be
retaining the arrow. I hope you ladies plan on sticking around in town until
the investigation is cleared up.” He stroked his mustache. “I have a friend in
town who could offer you a place to stay while you’re here. Margarita
Hickey, she owns the local restaurant,
Hidden Pass.”

I sighed. “Sure, whatever you say.”

The sheriff then gave me directions, which
I only half listened to. How hard could it be to find? My thoughts were more on
Daniel, who seemed to have some kind of death wish for suggesting Dixie or I
could be capable of murder. Oh, I have had dark thoughts, all right, but it’s
not something I’d ever act on. My family already had a black mark against it
and didn’t need another.

The cops left our belongings on the snow-covered
ground and I just wanted to scream at them to put everything back the way they
found it, but I knew that would be impossible on account of how hard it was for
Dixie and me to pack the car the first time around. I had some harsh words for
that Daniel character, but he had piled into his truck and sped off.

As the sheriff made for his car, I asked,
“Can you give me the full name of the man who helped us out of the ditch? I haven’t
properly thanked him for helping us out.”

“Daniel Adams. He’s our local archery
champ. I’m fairly certain that he won’t let a woman beat him.”

Oh, I’d like to beat Daniel, all right.
Instead, I just nodded in agreement. “I’m so used to the type, and it’s always
so gratifying to me when I—”

“Meet them later for a congratulatory
drink,” Dixie interjected.

Dang that Dixie for interrupting me before
I could add that I’d kick that man’s ass all the way to China. I suppose I
should thank Dixie. Otherwise, we might not run into him again until the
competition, and that just wouldn’t do. For all I knew, the Daniel character
might be the one responsible for the murder, although it didn’t appear that the
cops had found any bow or arrows in his truck, but he sure lit outta here fast.

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