Dorothy Howell, Mystery Author
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Excerpt from Duffel Bags and Drownings

“Miss Randolph?” Detective Elliston called.

I turned and saw him standing outside the conference room next to—oh, wow, some really hot looking guy.  He was in his early thirties, I figured, a little over six feet tall with a muscular build, blond hair and—oh wow again—deep blue eyes. 

“My partner, Detective Grayson,” Elliston said. 

“Dan Grayson,” he said, and offered his hand.

I took it.  Heat raced up my arm. 

“She found the victim,” Elliston said.  “Haley Randolph.”

Dan nodded.  “We’ll need a few more minutes of your—Randolph?  Haley Randolph?”

The heat that had consumed me turned to ice.

The Haley Randolph?” Dan asked, frowning.

Oh, crap. 

Yeah, okay, I had a bit of a reputation with the LAPD.  It was because of those other homicide detectives I’d met during past investigations—long story.   

“Let’s get this over with,” I said, then put my nose in the air—one of the few traits I’d inherited from my pageant queen mom—and glided into the conference room. 

I took a seat at the table.  The detectives sat side by side across from me. 

“I’ve heard about you down at headquarters,” Dan said.

I don’t think he meant that as a compliment.

“Then you’ve probably also heard that I’m better at solving murders than some of the detectives,” I told him, and refrained, somehow, from doing a fist-pump.

A tiny grin pulled at his lips—which I only noticed because he was sitting directly across from me, I swear.

“Tell us what happened,” Dan said, shifting into serious-cop mode. 

“Faye needed to find Cady and Jeri, so I and some other people went looking for them,” I said, trying to make it sound routine. 

“But you’re the only one who looked in the ice room,” Dan pointed out.  “Why is that?”

I’d learned a long time ago that the less said to a homicide detective, the better—for me, anyway.  So no way was I going to let this interview get bogged down with a lot of unnecessary details. 

“You’d have to ask the others why they didn’t look there,” I said. 

“Why did you come here today?” Dan asked.

This didn’t seem like the best time to mention that perhaps my job at L.A. Affairs was hanging in the balance, and that hiring Cady Faye Catering for a huge event had put me out on a very shaky limb. 

“A routine call,” I said. 

Dan glanced at the notebook Elliston had placed on the table.  “You’re coordinating a big party for some important Hollywood people, aren’t you?  Were you worried about the success of your event?”

Of course I was.

“Of course not,” I said.

No way was I admitting anything to two homicide detectives looking for a suspect.

“There’s a lot of pressure on you to make these parties come off flawlessly,” Dan said, and made it sound like I was on the bomb squad. 

“Your job was at stake, wasn’t it?” Dan went on.  “You and the victim got into a confrontation.”

“No,” I told him.  Okay, now I was starting to get rattled.

“Things got out of control,” Dan said.  “You hit her.”

“I did not,” I said.  Yeah, I was really rattled now.

“She fell into the water tank and you left her there to die,” Dan said.

“Of course not!” 

Jeez, I’m usually better at this sort of thing.  Something about this guy had me all keyed up.

He leaned closer.  “There was no trail of water leading from the ice room.  And you’re the only person in the entire building whose clothing is wet.  How do you explain that, Miss Randolph?  How?”

I drew in a breath and tried to calm myself.  Honestly, I’m not very good at calming myself, so what could I do but shift the conversation in a different direction?

“There’re all kinds of exits from this place,” I told him.  “There’s construction going on so things are wide open.  People are all over the place—the builders, catering staff, servers, the costume people, delivery guys—and none of them know who’s supposed to be here and who’s not.  Anybody could have slipped in and out unnoticed.  Have you looked at the surveillance tape?”

Both detectives just stared at me.

“And tell me this,” I demanded.  “How the heck could killing somebody at my caterer cause my event to go smoother?”

Neither of them said anything, which suited me fine.

I shot to my feet and said, “If you have any more questions, you can call my lawyer.”      

I stomped to the door, stone-faced, hoping nothing about my expression revealed that I didn’t actually have an attorney. 

Detective Grayson called my name.  I turned around.  He was on his feet, his chest puffed out, his nose slightly flared—which is a totally hot look on men—and said, “You’re involved in a murder investigation, Miss Randolph.  Don’t leave town.”

I gave him what I hoped was a defiant glare—which I’m afraid was actually an I-think-you’re-really-hot glare—and left the room.

 

All of Dorothy’s novels are available in paperback and ebook editions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

 

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