Authors: Cindy Bell
Mascara and Murder
A Bekki the Beautician Cozy Mystery
Copyright © 2013 Cindy Bell
All rights reserved.
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This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and locations portrayed in this book and the names herein are fictitious. Any similarity to or identification with the locations, names, characters or history of any person, product or entity is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
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Table of Contents
The giggling was really off the charts. It was getting to that high pitched level that just made most people want to clamp their hands over their ears and flee swiftly from the location. But Sammy didn't mind. She was actually enjoying it. All of the girls were excited because it was Annabelle's twenty-first birthday. They had a lavish evening planned, and it began with S
ammy coming out to Annabelle's Aunt Katherine's mansion estate to do each of their hair and makeup. All of the girls looked beautiful to begin with, their youth and the luxury of wealth on their side gave them a soft glow to their cheeks and a vivacious attitude towards life.
Sammy could recall babysitting for Annabelle now
and then when she was a kid. Sammy had worked as a mother's helper for the few tourists that would come to Harroway and the well-off families that lived in the large houses on the other side of town. Harroway is a tiny little town that really shouldn't have tourists, but is just wealthy enough to get some. Many of these families had their own nannies but Annabelle's mother had insisted on using the locals during the summer. Maybe that was why Annabelle wasn't as insufferable as most of her friends, or maybe it was just because she was a naturally sweet girl.
"More curls Sammy,"
Annabelle pleaded as she looked at her in the mirror. "I want my hair to be perfect!"
"It will be," Sammy promised her as she added a few more curls to
Annabelle’s long, auburn hair. It was a little hard for Sammy to join in on the fun the girls were having, because she had never looked the part. She had always been a little more voluptuous than the popular girls, and shorter. She likely would have grown up feeling very left out if it weren't for Bekki. She and Bekki were inseparable. Bekki got Sammy interested in becoming a beautician, because they would spend hours trying out different looks and fashions. It was something they could do privately together, knowing that no one would tease or mock them. As a result they both had a keen eye for finding and enhancing the beautiful qualities in people. But Sammy hadn't quite found that in herself. She still felt a little shy in a room full of what she called beautiful people.
unt Katherine didn't help with that feeling. She was hands down the snobbiest person in the entire town of Harroway. She wouldn't even look in a poor person’s direction. She would send her maids to do all of her shopping and never set foot inside the quaint and historical shops of Harroway. She didn't mingle, as she put it, with the commoners. So it was a big surprise to Sammy when they chose Bekki's salon, and then particularly Sammy herself, to work the party. Sammy was sure it had been because of Annabelle.
"Look we're running behind," Katherine said with a slight huff. "We have
a huge party planned for tonight, and you are piddling with curls," she narrowed her eyes at Sammy as she spoke. "You haven't even started the makeup yet. This is not play time!"
Sammy stared at the woman with a million t
houghts running through her head, but she kept her mouth shut. She knew better than to say or do anything to lose such a big commission.
"How does that look?" she asked Annabelle as she finished styling her hair.
"Oh," Annabelle gasped as she looked into the mirror, her big brown eyes shimmering. "I look just like a princess!"
Sammy couldn't help but smile at Annabelle's reflection. It was always her goal to make every woman she worked on feel like a princess, or at least
like one of the most beautiful women alive.
As Sammy moved on to the rest of the girls, she just had to touch up the styles and cuts that she had already created. Each style was specifically tailored to compliment the gown the young woman was wearing that night. It was almost like they were getting ready for prom, only this time they wouldn't have to hide the fact that there was alcohol in the punch.
"How much longer?" Katherine demanded as she hovered over Sammy.
up shouldn't take long with such beautiful young ladies," Sammy replied in a polite tone.
Katherine rolled her eyes. "Just get it done," she snapped.
Sammy began opening up her large makeup kit when she noticed that something was glaringly missing. Sammy had a bit of an addiction to mascara. Maybe it was because she had such beautiful, large, hazel eyes with unusually long lashes, or maybe she just liked the curly brushes. Either way, she had a bundle of them, and they had their own special case that she tucked inside her larger makeup case. It was always in the top right corner of the case. But not when she needed it the most, not when Katherine was staring down at her with a look of absolute loathing.
"I uhm," Sammy cleared her throat nervously. "It looks like I might have misplaced the mascara," she said meekly. "It'll only take me a minute to run o
ver to the salon and get it."
not be serious," Katherine said, dragging out each word as she spoke them as if Sammy had just insisted the earth was flat.
"I'm sorry," Sammy said, and avoided looking right at Katherine. "
I could use yours but I have some with glitter that Annabelle wants me to use for her. I’ll go get them quickly. It will only take a minute, I promise," she smiled at the girls waiting for their makeup.
"Looks like you
girls get a snack break!" Katherine grinned.
Some of the girls rolled their eyes and looked away from Sammy with annoyance. But Annabelle, who was precariously thin, seemed overjoyed by the idea.
The caterer hired for the party had also been hired for the day to make sure that Annabelle, her cousin, and her close friends all had every delectable snack they could get their hands on at any given time. As Sammy stepped out of the dressing room, Lucy, a young caterer's assistant stepped inside. Sammy caught her name from the name tag she wore. It struck her as they moved past one another that Lucy was about the same age as the girls who were shrieking and giggling over the tiny cakes on the tray she was carrying. Life and its circumstances had a strange way of dealing its hand.
Bekki was sorting through the mail that had been delivered to the salon the day before when Sammy burst through the door.
"Sammy?" she said with surprise as she looked up at her frazzled friend. "What are you doing here? Did you already finish the party?"
"No," Sammy moaned as she rushed over to her station. "I left my mascara here!"
"Oh no," Bekki frowned as she hurried over to Sammy's station to help her look for it. "That's not good."
"I know," Sammy sighed. "Of all the days, of all the people, it had to be Katherine Windward!"
"You mean, Katherine Windbag?" Bekki giggled and lowered her voice as a customer stepped in through the door. "Don't let her get to you Sammy. You're doing great. Everybody makes mistakes, and here," she smiled as she picked up the case of mascara that had fallen to the floor. "It must have slipped off the shelf while you were getting read
y this morning. See?"
Bekki's warm smile was a goo
d salve for Sammy. Even though she and Bekki had parted ways after high school, ever since Bekki had moved back to Harroway their friendship had picked right back up as if nothing had ever changed. Sammy was relieved to have her back in her life and Bekki was, too. Bekki had been working in the city as a beautician who was very much in demand, but all that had come crashing down when she had caught her boyfriend, Trevor, cheating on her and he had confirmed that he had no long term interest in their relationship. Heartbroken, Bekki had returned home to Harroway to find her roots again. Her family had run the salon when she was a child and she had practically grown up in it, so the entire town knew her, or at least of her. It was rather comforting in contrast to the huge city.
"Oh thank you, thank you," Sammy grabbed the mascara case and clutched
it close to her chest. "You have literally saved my life. You are my hero."
Bekki laughed and shook her head, the waves of her long
, dark hair sweeping back over her shoulder. "No, I'm not the hero, remember?" she smiled slightly as she thought of her sort of boyfriend. Nick Malonie was the one who got away in high school. The two of them had a wild summer fling that fizzled out as soon as school was back in session because Nick disappeared for a few months. Bekki had spent most of the time believing that Nick never truly cared about her. Since they had seen each other again, the old sparks still flew, and now that she knew that the breakup had all been a misunderstanding, she was eager to see where their relationship might lead. However, it was still in an iffy phase. Nick had taken a weeklong vacation from his job as a detective for the Harroway police department to go fishing in the deep country. He had invited her to come with, but Bekki had declined.
"Don't you want to spend the wee
k with me?" Nick had teased as he gazed into her clear blue eyes. Bekki glanced away with a small frown.
"It's not that I don't want to," she replied quietly. "I just don't know about leaving the shop,
and Sammy has that party to do and…"
Nick's smooth voice interrupted her train of excuses. "And you're just not ready," he said in a whisper that could not hide the slight hurt that colored his tone.
"I'm sorry," Bekki replied and stared down at her shoes. Nick's fingertips glided softly along the curve of her cheek to gently grasp the slope of her chin. When she looked up at him he was smiling.
"It's okay," he promised her and kissed her lightly. "I've got all the time in the world."
Bekki's mind was still lingering on the memory of that conversation, when Sammy hurried back towards the door of the salon.
"Don't rush," Bekki called after her. "Katherine can wait a few minutes!"
"I'll be done soon!" Sammy called back over her shoulder as she darted down the sidewalk to the parking lot where she had parked her car. Just about everything in Harroway was within walking distance, but the big homes were on a hill further away from the main area of town. Bekki turned to the customer who was waiting for her hair to be done and had a short chat with her about what she would like done. Bekki always took plenty of time with her clients, not only listening to what they wanted, but getting to know them, so that she could give them a style that suited them. Even though she was focused on the woman in the chair before her, her mind continued to drift back to Nick. She thought about what he was doing right at that moment. Probably sitting in a boat out in the lake with his fishing pole. Possibly, hopefully, thinking about what she was doing right at that moment as well.
As Sammy drove back to the Windward estate, her heart was pounding. All she could hope was that Katherine wouldn't outright fire her the moment she walked back in. Or worse yet, let her finish her work and then refuse to pay her. Despite being very wealthy the Windwards had a reputation for being very cheap. They were not generous or involved in any charities and seemed intent on hoarding their wealth. Katherine didn't even allow her own children to inherit their wealth early. She was determined to hold on to every penny until she kicked the bucket, at least that was what the rumors around town said. Of course, gossip was something Sammy heard plenty of while working at the salon. She knew just about everything about everyone she encountered. She parked in the large
, circular drive of the Windward mansion and hurried up to the door. When she stepped inside she noticed the absence of giggling. She walked back to the dressing room where she had left the girls waiting for their makeup. The door was slightly open, but it didn't sound like anyone was inside.
She nudged the door the rest of the way open and stepped inside, bracing herself for the consequences of her mistake. She thought perhaps there would be a note from Katherine Windward declaring what a terrible waste of oxygen she was, or even just a harshly jotted out check for half of the cost of the makeup and hairstyling. What she did not expect was the nightmarish scene she walked into.
Sprawled across the floor was Lucy,
the young caterer's assistant, with her name tag still clipped to her shirt. As Sammy's eyes moved up along her body she realized that the young girl had not just taken a nap, or passed out on the floor. There was an electrical cord wrapped around her neck. An electrical cord that connected to the hair dryer that Sammy had brought along with her to the mansion. Sammy rushed forwards, her heart pounding, and a scream stuck in her throat. She hoped that perhaps the girls had staged it, that it was just a stunt to teach her some kind of twisted lesson, but as she knelt down beside the young woman she could see that it was no stunt. The cord was wrapped so tightly that when Sammy tried to loosen it, hoping that the woman might still be breathing, it was very difficult to do so.
"Oh no, oh no," she gasped as she tugged at the cord. It would not come free. There was no sign of a pulse, or of the woman being able to breathe. She turned her head to shout for help when the door to the dressing room suddenly burst open, and Katherine Windward in her statuesque glory stood over Sammy, who had tears pouring down her cheeks, and gasped in horror.
"What have you done?" She demanded as she looked from Sammy to the young girl on the floor. Sammy's fingers were tightly curled around the cord, hoping that if she pulled it away from the young girl's neck, she might spontaneously come back to life.