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Authors: Livia J. Washburn

Murder by the Slice

BOOK: Murder by the Slice
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MURDER BY

Livia J. Washburn

AN OBSIDIAN MYSTERY

The Sweet Hereafter

“It’s pretty obvious that the cause of death was a knife wound. And on the edge of the hole in the blouse, Calvin found cake frosting,” Mike said.

Phyllis stared at the knife. She and Carolyn had used it quite a bit during the carnival to cut samples for people. She saw some of that frosting dried on the blade. “Oh, my God,” she said softly. “My God. You mean we used it to cut …” She suddenly felt sick to her stomach. “Thank goodness you got here when you did.”

The idea that she could have used the knife to cut a piece of cake for the murdered woman’s daughter was grotesque.

“The paramedics said it looked like a stab wound to the chest. Probably got the heart. Mrs. Dunston wouldn’t have lived long after that,” said Sam.

A little voice piped up.

“Mrs. Dunston? You mean Becca’s mama?”

Phyllis looked around in horror and saw that a small boy had come up to the table without any of them noticing.

He went on. “You said you were gonna get us somethin’ to eat.” Then he turned his head and shouted, “Hey, Becca, did you know your mama got stabbed in the heart?”

MURDER BY

Livia J. Washburn

AN OBSIDIAN MYSTERY

Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

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Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0745, Auckland, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Copyright © Livia Reasoner, 2007 All rights reserved

OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

ISBN: 1-4362-4765-9

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or oth erwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual per sons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

This book is dedicated to all PTO and PTA volunteers, with a special thanks to the ladies I worked with at Azle Elementary—Joan Faulkner, Lynne Hall, Janet Merck, Rene Heerwagen, Teresa Dyer, Naomi Washburn, Jennifer Lauderdale, Karen Propp, Tracy Williams, Cynthia Robertson, Barb Karbo, Jeri Geary, Lori Bearfield, Marla Grant, Karen Campbell, Tammy McCraven, Lisette Edgar—and the only guy on the board, my husband, James Reasoner.

Chapter 1

The sun blazed down on the sidewalk in front of the WalMart located in Weatherford, Texas. Phyllis Newsom was glad she had worn a hat to shade her head. Unfortunately, that didn’t help the part of her sitting on the uncomfortable metal folding chair.

According to the calendar autumn had started, but that didn’t mean the weather had begun to cool off. That was still a month away, maybe even longer. For now, it was still hot—Texas hot.

From the chair beside Phyllis’s, Eve Turner waved at someone she knew and called, “Hello there, dear. Would you like to buy a cake or some cookies and help out the Retired Teachers Association Scholarship Fund?”

The man she had spoken to looked a little uncomfortable, as well he might since his wife was with him. Eve had probably had one or more of their children in her English class when she was still teaching, and knowing Eve, she had flirted shamelessly with the man at every school function the parents attended. As she smiled brightly at the man, he said, “Ah, maybe when we come out.”

His wife just tightened her grip on his arm and kept walking.

Phyllis wasn’t surprised by Eve’s failure to sell anything. She had been out here for nearly an hour with Eve, Carolyn Wilbarger, and Sam Fletcher, the four of them sitting behind a folding table filled with cakes and plates of cookies, and they’d sold very little. The cookies were holding up fine, but the icing on the cakes was starting to melt against the clear plastic wrap that covered them.

Phyllis glanced up at the sun. It would move around the building so that they would be in the shade in another hour or so, but it was going to be a long hour until then.

She was as enthusiastic a member of the Retired Teachers Association as anyone—she had spent almost her entire adult life teaching, after all—but she wished she hadn’t let herself be talked into helping man this bake sale table.

It was awfully difficult to say no to Dolly Williamson, the retired superintendent of the school district and the head of the RTA. Besides, the scholarship fund needed to be built up again. Each year the association awarded college scholarships to two deserving students who were the children of educators. The amount of those scholarships depended entirely on how much money the association could raise during the year.

BOOK: Murder by the Slice
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