Read A Hoe Lot of Trouble Online

Authors: Heather Webber

Tags: #Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Mystery & Detective, #General

A Hoe Lot of Trouble

BOOK: A Hoe Lot of Trouble
3.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


For my family,
for their love and support
(and for inspiring an occasional murderous
thought or two)

All my love



Thou shall not stuff pictures of thy husband down the…


“Miz Quinn, you really oughta lock that back door.”


Mrs. Ursula Krauss lived in a brand spanking new…


For crying out loud, I’d forgotten again! What kind of…


I followed Bridget as we took the side roads to… 


As I drove to the high school to meet with Vice… 


I stopped at my office after leaving the high school.


I woke the next morning determined to actually make progress…


After lunch with Ana, I headed home, despite my inner…


I had the worst habit of cleaning when I was…


As I drove southbound on I-75, I kept one hand…


“You damn well don’t have to drive me.”


I pounded on the front door of Ginger’s town house.


John Demming had stood me up.


What to eat for supper? I was not in the…


Ana brushed Passionate Purple onto her baby toe.




I’d spent a sleepless night on the couch, gun in…


“Wipe the drool off your lips before we sit down,”…


“Demming?” I asked, my voice choked. I should have been…


My weak knees brought me to the ground.


“A restoration project?” Ana’s voice echoed across the line.


“Stop scratching.”


By mid-afternoon, after doing my best to swallow scorched soup…


I’d made a deal with the devil.


My cat clock meowed eleven times.


It took me about five minutes to realize that calling…


I parked in Mr. Cabrera’s driveway, tossed him the keys…


Hours later, I sat on the front porch swing with…

Take Your Garden by Surprise


About the Author


About the Publisher


Thou shall not stuff pictures of thy husband
down the garbage disposal.
I made a mental note to add this to my list of personal commandments. I'd put it right after "Thou shalt not eat more than two pints of ice cream in one night" and just before "Thou shalt never wear the correct size jeans." Priorities and all.
I opened the cabinet under the sink and stared at the root of my problem. My newest commandment wasn't a result of sudden regret at the loss of the photos. Instead it came from the fact that by stuffing pictures of the two-timing weasel down the disposal I had caused the sink to clog.
Little Kodak bits of my husband's head floated around the sink's stainless steel basin. I found an odd sense of peace seeing Kevin Quinn drowning—even one-dimensionally—but I couldn't risk Riley seeing the pieces. I fished them out and shoved them in the trash can.
I stared at the stack of prints I'd yet to destroy and picked up the top one. It had been taken soon after I met Kevin. I'd been twenty-one and fresh out of college when Officer Kevin Quinn pulled me over for speeding. Being somewhat desperate—since I'd already gotten two tickets in the previous six months—I faked being sick. I still remember with startling clarity the mad dash I'd made toward the tree line, where I'd given a fair imitation of that
girl—without the head spinning, of course.
Officer Kevin let me off, but later that night showed up at the off-campus apartment I'd shared with my cousin Ana with a pot of chicken soup.
Looking back, I should've taken the ticket.
We looked so disgustingly happy in the picture I was holding.
Kevin, the weasel, hadn't changed much in the last eight years, at least physically. He was still one sexy piece o' man. Six foot, three inches. Short, jet-black wavy hair. Clear green eyes. And a smile that made my knees go all spongy.
He'd been eight years older than me, a widower with a seven-year-old son and a boatload of baggage, but when he looked at me with those vivid green bedroom eyes, smiled that mischievous smile—I'd never had a prayer of escaping, heart intact.
Okay, I admit it. I hadn't wanted to—until recently.
I looked down at my younger, naïve self. My mother liked to think all her kids looked like movie stars. According to Mom, my younger sister Maria was the spitting image of Grace Kelly. My older brother Peter? George Clooney. And amazingly, there
some resemblance in a slightly out-of-focus way.
Mom, however, never specified who I looked like—she just kept telling me I had a face for the movies. Which left me wondering if I had more in common with that
girl than just that incident with Kevin.
But I didn't think so. Or at least I hoped not.
Unlike my sister, I'd never be movie-star gorgeous. She was French baguette where I leaned toward . . . pumpernickel. But I'd never minded. My heart-shaped face had its own unique charm I've grown fond of during our twentynine years of cohabitation.
As I looked at the picture, I realized I hadn't changed much since I met Kevin either. My shoulder-length brown hair was still styled in that same nondescript bob. My lips were still too full, my smile too wide. Though they could pass for brown most of the time, my eyes remained a dark muddy green, but nowadays they had tiny lines creasing their corners.
Kevin had said I was beautiful.
And I'd believed him.
Until two days ago.
Sighing, I split the photo in two. Tucking my half into my robe pocket, I dunked Kevin's half into the full sink, enjoying it almost as much as I would dipping a Krispy Kreme into hot chocolate. As I tried to figure out what to do about the sink full of water, the phone rang.
I checked the clock. It was early.
"Hello?" I said with an edge to my voice that was sure to frighten any telemarketers.
Didn't sound like a telemarketer, and although the female voice sounded oddly familiar, I couldn't place it.
"Yes." My tone still warned that I was in no mood to buy a time-share in Costa Rica.
"It's Bridget," she said. "Tim and I got your message and your card. Thank you."
My mouth dropped open. I'd called and left a message on her machine the other day, but I hadn't expected her to call me back. Not for a while, at any rate. Not with all she had going on.
I wrapped the phone cord around my finger. "I was so sorry to hear about Joe."
Bridget's father-in-law, Joe Sandowski—"Farmer Joe," as I used to affectionately call him—was found dead in one of his cornfields early last week. Ordinarily the death of a man as old as Joe wouldn't raise a plucked eyebrow, but ap parently, according to the local paper, there had been
(which was never specified, and left inquiring minds wanting to know) found at the scene that indicated his death had been anything but natural.
"Thanks," Bridget said. "We're sorry too."
An irrepressible sadness tightened my throat. Although I hadn't seen Joe Sandowski in years, he'd played a pivotal role in my life. His love for the outdoors had rubbed off on me to the point where I'd gone to college for landscape design.
Soon after graduating I had opened my own run-of-themill landscaping business, which, through a quirky twist of fate, two years ago had morphed into what it was now: Taken by Surprise, Garden Designs. TBS was one of a kind in this area of Ohio, in the country really. We specialized in surprise garden makeovers. In and out in a day, hard work mixed with more than a little chaos, and in the end, a very happy customer.
My job was extremely gratifying, fun and rewarding. And I'd have none of it if it weren't for Farmer Joe.
I'd wanted to go to his funeral, to pay my respects to a man who'd shaped my life—even if he hadn't known it—but the paper had specified a private ceremony and I hadn't wanted to intrude. I sent one of Hallmark's finest to Bridget and Tim instead—a poor substitute, I know, but what else could I do?
"Nina, do you think we could get together?"
Bridget Sandowski had been my friend since she'd shared her purple grapes with me in kindergarten. We'd been joined at the hip until she met Tim, her future husband, our freshman year of high school. Even then, we'd remained close. It wasn't until she and Tim went off to Stanford that we started to lose touch with each other. However, it was one of those friendships that was set in stone, despite the fact that we didn't see each other more than twice a year. At most.
"Of course. Has something happened? Is this about Joe's death?"
There was a slight hesitation before she spoke. "Nina, I'd rather not discuss it on the phone."
Maybe Bridget thought I'd have inside information about Joe's case since I happened to be married to Freedom's lead homicide investigator. Unfortunately, my inside track with the police department had been roadblocked when I kicked Kevin out of the house. And I didn't think my landscaping skills would do her any good at this time in her life.
My curiosity piqued, I said, "Lucky for you it's my day off. When and where do you want to meet?"
"As soon as possible. And anywhere is fine."
I eyed the soggy picture of Kevin and the water dripping off my counter. "I have a few things to take care of here, but I can meet you at Gus's, say eleven?"
"I'll be there."
I hung up the phone, not sure what to make of Bridget's tone. Something in it raised the hairs on the back of my neck.
I tucked the rest of the photos back into my junk drawer and took a sponge to the water pooling on the countertop. As I devised nefarious ways to be rid of the rest of Kevin's images, I suddenly remembered I already had plans for a late breakfast with my best bud, Analise Bertoli—who also happened to be my first cousin on my father's dysfunctional side of the family.
BOOK: A Hoe Lot of Trouble
3.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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