excerpt from And Not a Penny More
the second Bay Tanner mystery
excerpt from Chapter 1
... I concentrated on stubbing out my cigarette, avoiding the sharp black letters on the crinkled paper. The last time I had been directed to a seemingly innocuous article in the Island Packet it had unleashed a chain of events that nearly cost me my life. With a sigh of resignation, I picked it up.
I finished reading the lengthy obituary just as the waiter approached with our salads.
Widow of local businessman
found dead in hotel room
Rio de Janeiro, September 5. Leslie Mayne Herrington, 68, wife of the late John T. “Jack” Herrington II, founder of the Bi-Rite hardware stores and local civic leader and philanthropist was found dead last night in her suite at the exclusive Rio Palace Hotel in this South American city. While local authorities have yet to rule officially, preliminary indications are that death was from natural causes.
Mrs. Herrington, who had resided in her native Natchez, Mississippi, since the death of her husband six years ago, was apparently traveling alone when she was stricken. There was no evidence of foul play, according to unnamed sources in the Rio de Janeiro police department, and the presence of a large amount of cash and jewelry among Mrs. Herrington’s effects tends to support this theory...
“And some more of these yummy rolls,” Bitsy announced, handing the empty basket to him with a generous smile. “Thanks so much. Well?”
“Well what?” I asked.
“Don’t you remember them? The Herringtons?”
“No. Should I?”
“Oh, Bay, of course you do! Jack T. Built all those hardware stores? You can’t drive five miles without runnin’ across one of them. And Leslie and your mama were in the Historical Society together. And surely you can’t have forgotten Jordan?”
Bitsy attacked her plate then as if someone would take it away from her. Wiping a drop of creamy dill mayonnaise from the corner of her mouth, she swallowed and plunged back in.
“Jordan Herrington. Tall, black hair, gorgeous? Sort of exotic looking? She got boobs before any of the rest of us. You two got kicked out of school for smoking our freshman year. There was heavy bettin’ as to who would raise a bigger stink with the school board, her daddy or your mama.”
Jordan. I had her now. Exotic was an accurate description. A sharp widow’s peak and slightly almond-shaped eyes, as if there might have been a drop or two of oriental blood somewhere generations back. Which was ridiculous, of course. Both sides of her family, all the Maynes, the Boothes, and the Herringtons, were of pure, well-documented Anglo-Saxon stock. My mother would not have tolerated them otherwise.
“Yes, I remember her now. Didn’t she leave school early?”
“Middle of the year.,” Bitsy said, nodding. “Seems to me there was some scandal, hushed up, at least in front of our tender ears. Her daddy shipped her off to boarding school in Europe, and she never came back.”
“So what’s this all about? Why the urgency? I mean, I’m sorry about her mother, but these things happen. I’ll send a check to the Historical Society.”
“Sshhh! There she is!”
Bitsy rose from her chair and waved toward the doorway. I turned, as did most of the male occupants of the restaurant, and a murmur of appreciation rippled across the room.
Jordan Mayne Herrington von Brandt paused dramatically just inside the entrance. Her short, jet-black hair lay plastered against her beautifully shaped head, a style that accentuated her widow’s peak and dark green, uptilted eyes. The black silk suit was obviously hand-tailored, probably in an exclusive little shop on the Rue de Faubourg St.-Honore, and clung to her tall, willowy frame like a second skin. Full, copper-colored lips parted over even white teeth as she spotted Bitsy. Her progress to our table was slow, unhurried, like a model slinking down the runway at a Paris couturier’s.
“What is this all about, Bits?” I whspered, mesmerized like everyone else by the gorgeous creature approaching.
“She wants to talk to you, honey. That’s why she’s here.”
“Me? What on earth for?”
“She thinks someone murdered her mama.”
Read the rest of this exciting second book in the Bay Tanner mystery series. Pick up a copy of And Not a Penny More at your favorite bookstore or online book retailer today!