Happy Release Day to Erin Huss! ROCKY ROAD & REVENGE, book two in the Cambria Clyne Mystery series, is available now!
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Rocky Road & Revenge by Erin Huss
Series: Cambria Clyne Mysteries #2
Published by Gemma Halliday Publishing on June 26, 2018
Genres: Cozy Mystery
From author Erin Huss comes another “hilarious and fun” (Huffington Post) addition to the Cambria Clyne Mysteries.
For apartment manager, Cambria Clyne, every day is a bad hair day, and her birthday is no exception. At least the rest of her life is in order. Her daughter is thriving in their new home, Cambria is up for a promotion at work, and she’s got two men vying for her attention—the hunky ex-maintenance man and her dreamy baby daddy. As if that wasn’t enough excitement, Cambria’s best friend, Amy, has just landed the role of a lifetime on the hit prime time drama Ghost Confidential. Yes, things are looking up for Cambria Clyne, and this just might be her best birthday yet!
Until it all goes up in flames.
Celebrations are put aside when the stars from Ghost Confidential start showing up dead. There’s a killer with a personal vendetta on the loose, and when suspicious items show up in Amy’s possession, it becomes evident that someone is trying to pin the murders on her. Now Cambria must figure out who is attempting to frame her best friend, all the while still taking care of her daughter, dealing with the crazy antics of her residents, choosing between two men, and preparing for a property inspection that could make or break her apartment management career. Will Cambria catch the killer before anyone else shows up dead? Or will this birthday be her last?
“It’s the police,” I whispered to Amy, trying to keep my cool.
She fell against the wall like she’d been shot in the chest. I told her to stay put and opened the door enough to shove my head out. Standing in front of me was Chase, wearing the same suit as earlier, though his tie was pulled loose. His partner, Hampton was behind him. His tie was always pulled loose. I was sure Hampton had a first name, but Chase called him Hampton, so I did too.
“Hi, how may I help you?” I smiled in what I hoped was not an I-may-or-may-not-have-a-person-of-interest-hiding-behind-my-door kind of way.
Chase narrowed his eyes. “Can we come in?”
“Inside my house?” Crap. Crap. Crap. “Errrrr…no. Lilly is asleep.”
“Momma, your phone isn’t working! There’s the spinning thing!” Lilly hollered from the bedroom.
I reached my foot back and kicked the router on the television stand. “Never mind. It works now.”
“Sleep talker that one.” I chuckled. “Um, sorry, I’m not…decent.”
“That’s fine with me.” The corner of Chase’s mouth twitched upward. “I’ll come in, and Hampton can stay out here.” He took a step toward me.
I put a hand out to stop him. “I mean, I’m not decent because…it’s…personal. I’m having personal problems. Women’s problems.”
Chase studied me, and I squirmed, refusing to make eye contact. “Have you spoken to Amy today?”
An episode of If Only came to my head. A dialogue between the lead character, Bobbie Dart, and Detective Russell, about successfully lying to the cops. Don’t pause, don’t talk too fast, don’t give out too much information, no hand motions, and stick as close to the facts as possible so you don’t trip on your words.
Of course, on the show, the cop in question wasn’t a romantic interest.
I looked straight into Chase’s eyes and kept my hands still. He had beautiful eyeballs. Bright green with specs of gray… Concentrate, woman!“Yes. I have spoken with Amy today.”
Chase scratched his chin without breaking eye contact. “Her neighbor said she might be with you.”
Yeah, OK, I can’t do this.
“Can you hold on one moment? I…have…to…um…pee.” I closed the door carefully, feeling all shaky. Amy had assumed a fetal position. “He wants to come in,” I whispered to her. “I think he knows you’re here.”
Amy looked up at me with a helpless expression and shook her head. Make him go away, she mouthed.
“Please, please, Cambria. I can’t do this right now,” she whispered. “I have to come up with a better plan before I talk to them.”
“This is a terrible idea. You look guilty when you avoid the cops.”
“Please.” She was on the verge of tears, and I broke.
“Fine,” I hissed through gritted teeth. “Don’t make any noise.” I swallowed a few times. Took a few breaths. Pulled what I hoped was a poker face, and reopened the door. I promptly shifted my eyes to Chase’s feet. He had on black shoes with scuff marks on the right toe. “I’m not sure where Amy is now,” I said.
Chase shifted his weight to his heels.
“Has she ever talked about her relationship with Jessica Wilders?” Hampton asked.
I didn’t have to look to know Amy was on the cusp of a nervous breakdown.I heard the sushi bag crinkle at a more rapid pace. “I think they had mutual respect as actors.”
“Do you know why she didn’t come to work today?” Chase asked.
“I think she’s a bit freaked out about Jessica’s death.”
“Could you call Amy and see where she is?” Chase asked.
“No. If you want to talk to her, then you can call her yourself. She’s my best friend, and I can’t be in the middle of this.” Even though, technically speaking, I was in the middle of the two of them. Quite literally.
Chase and Hampton shared a look, and I had a feeling they weren’t buying it.
“Please let her know we’re looking for her,” Chase said to me. “It’s important. If I don’t hear from her soon, we can put out an ATL.”
“That means an attempt to locate,” Hampton said.
“She knows what ATL means,” Chase said to him. “She also knows what being an accessory is.” He looked at me with those beautiful green eyes. “She watches a lot of cop shows.”
If I wasn’t mistaken, that was a threat. Chase was threatening me. If I weren’t near a stroke, I might have been turned on.
“I will pass this on to her when I see her—if I do, which I probably won’t because—I have a thing tonight. A—” Stop talking, Cambria. Close your mouth and prohibit words from exiting before they arrest you. “OK. I better go!” I closed the door. It bounced off Chase’s shiny black shoe, leaving a new scuff mark.
I may faint.
“Hey, I haven’t had the chance to talk to you.” He smiled, flashing all his pearly whites at me. “Did you enjoy your lunch?”
“Are you sure there’s nothing you want to say to me?”
He studied me, and I almost caved.
“Happy birthday, Cambria,” he finally said.
“Thanks,” I managed. “You too.” I closed the door and fell back against it.
That was painful.
Did I just say “you too”?
I beat the back of my head against the door.
“I told you I’m being framed.” Amy wept from her spot on the floor.
“I just lied to Chase.” I slapped my hands over my eyes. What was I thinking?
“So what? I lie to Spencer all the time.” She put the bag up to her mouth and breathed.
“Your boyfriend is a dentist. Mine’s a human lie detector. That’s what. This isn’t good.” I went back to beating the back of my head against the door while Amy breathed into her bag.