Laid Out and Candle Lit
by Ann Everett
What do Sweet Thangs,Orgasm Pie, and murder in Brownsboro, TX have in common?
ANSWER: Tizzy Donovan
Small town girl, Tizzy is a widow, single mother, sister to the county sheriff and known as the local girl who talks to the dead. After almost five years without a man, she’s pent up and hot-to-trot, and in small town Brownsboro, the roster of available men is just plain lousy.
When Tizzy discovers a dead body in the cemetery, she quickly becomes a suspect. With each lead placing her credibility on the line, she knows there will be no talking her way out of this one with saucy come-backs and a helping of Better Than Sex Cupcakes.
Texas Ranger Ridge Cooper arrives in town to cut his teeth on his first murder case, and becomes torn between duty and desire. His job gets a whole lot harder as he works to find a viable suspect other than the sexy woman with a sassy mouth.
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Not only did Tizzy Donovan think her cup was always half empty, she was pretty sure someone had spit in it.
The last leg of her daily jog took her through Jenkins Cemetery. She stopped and breathed in the scent of freshly mowed grass and the musk of fertile earth. It was spring, and she should have a bounce in her step. But the approaching anniversary of Boone’s death pushed any sense of renewal away. A widow and single mother before the age of twenty-five had certainly not been in her plans.
She closed her eyes and willed the notions away. Many believed her ritual morbid. But to her, it remained a chance to start the day among people she loved most in her life. She didn’t consider the departed as eerie or macabre. She thought of them as peaceful. All the pain, suffering, disappointment, grief and demands of living were over. Granted, so was the earthly joy, but she believed the afterlife held much greater happiness. That is, unless you ended up in hell.
She inhaled sharply, feeling strangely alive among those who were no longer of this world. Her muscles eased as she reverently moved past the headstones.
Even though many of the dead had spoken to her for years, not one had ever appeared to her. But this morning something caught her eye. Something different. At first, she thought the early spring haze created an illusion. But, as she blinked and looked again, she spotted someone kneeling at the foot of Boone’s grave, praying. Apparition or not, she got a full blown, head-to-toe case of the heebie-jeebies, every hair on her body standing at attention. She rubbed her arms and tried to smooth them back in place. She closed her eyes. Okay. I’ll count to ten, and they’ll be gone . . . Nine . . . ten. She opened one eye, then shut it. Damn!
“Hello? Can I help you?” Tizzy asked, her voice trembling.
She moved closer. Her brain scrambled to make sense of what she saw. With each step her heart pumped faster and her knees grew weaker. The figure was not so much kneeling as it was slumped, and not so much praying as staged, its head resting limp against its chest and its lifeless arms spread wide, Tizzy’s scream came out as a weak yelp.
She staggered and struggled to keep her balance. Her breath coming faster, she leaned forward, hugged her belly tight with both hands. She tried to stop the bile from rising, but too late. She retched and fell against a tree, her body slipping downward until she rested on the ground. She gasped, wiped her lips, reached inside her bra and pulled out her cell phone quickly punching in the numbers. “Hello, Dan? Dan, there’s a dead body in the cemetery!”
Her brother laughed. “Ha-ha, very funny, Tizzy. I get it. April Fools!”
“Dan, I’m not kidding. There really is a dead body in the cemetery, and I think it’s Marlene.”
* * * *
Within the hour, the graveyard became the liveliest place in town, cordoned off with yellow crime tape strung from tree to tree. County Sheriff Dan McAlister and Police Chief Earl Dean Ramsey were on the scene. They waited patiently for over an hour until the Dallas forensic team arrived, headed by Dr. Jack Terrell.
Terrell approached Dan, shaking his head. “This is a hell of a mess. Given the thunderstorm last night, I don’t think we’re gonna get much physical evidence. The rain more than likely washed everything away.”
Standing outside the crime area, Dan turned his head and spit, then resumed his chew of tobacco. “Do you have any idea about Cause of Death?”
Dr. Terrell, three months from retirement, looked thin and pale. He pushed his glasses up on his nose. “No apparent sign. No blood. No wounds. No sign of strangulation. We won’t know until after the autopsy, and that’s gonna take a while. According to body temp and rigor, I can tell you she died between nine last night and two this morning.”
"Well, given the location of the body and the time of death, I'd say the circumstances are suspicious enough to treat it as a homicide, until your autopsy proves different. I’ll call the Dallas office and get a Ranger assigned to the case.”
“Has anybody notified the family?” Dr. Terrell wanted to know.
Chief Ramsey stepped forward. “I’m fixin’ to go tell ’im now and I’m curious why he hasn’t reported her missing?”
He‘d no sooner got the words out of his mouth when the dispatcher radioed Carl’s report of Marlene. Ramsey turned to face Dan. “Well, I guess that answers that. You wanna go with me? We can take his statement.”
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