A Killer Tail – Addison Moore, Bellamy Bloom

My name is Bizzy Baker, and I read minds. Not every mind, not every time, but it happens, and believe me when I say, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Like now for instance. Look at this tall drink of water. My mother shakes her head, her eyes thirsty for more of what she sees. I might just have to slip him my number later. Ugh. There are some people’s minds I wish I never had to tune into, and my mother just so happens to be at the top of the list. It’s not always a gift to inadvertently pry into other people’s private musings, especially the lusty, private musings of the woman who gave birth to me. “Wyatt Sanders.” The tall drink of water in question holds out a hand, and I quickly shake it as the chunky ring on his forefinger gives me a slight pinch. I glance down and note it looks like a class ring, a thick gold band with a black stone with some sort of silver etching over it. “I’m the owner here.” He grins proudly. “Welcome to Killer Books, where every novel is murderously good.

” His dark hair frames his friendly face, and those ocean blue eyes of his look as if they’re penetrating your soul. There’s something about him that makes you believe he’s genuinely interested in you, and according to that look on my mother’s face, she’s taking his interest in her to a whole other level. “Bizzy Baker,” I say in an effort to break the spell he’s inadvertently casting on my mother. “I manage the Country Cottage Inn at the end of the road just above the cove. This is my mother, Ree Baker.” I frown her way, hoping she’ll pick up on my disapproving cues. “Pleasure to meet you,” she coos right at him. “I just love a classic whodunit.” She laughs as if it were the punch line to a joke, and I can’t help but note she’s blushing. My mother is as strong as she is svelte.

Her feathered hair is a throwback from the eighties and so is that popped-collar preppy look she loves to perpetuate. But that’s one hundred percent her style, and to me it’s sort of iconic, just the way she is. My mother had to raise my sister, brother, and me pretty much on her own. Our father was far too busy chasing skirts, although he was still vaguely on the sidelines of our lives. He’s a great guy nonetheless, sort of a man-child, the quintessential boy who never grew up, so in that vein my mother had to be the firm and strong one for her restless brood. “A classic whodunit?” Wyatt leans toward my mother an inch too close. “Upstairs, make a right, second bookshelf over, you’ll find my favorite section. Some say Miss Marple is Agatha Christie’s best work, but I’m a fan of Hercule Poirot.” “Ohh,” Mom moans as if that was some flirtation come-on he just doled out, and since stranger things have happened, I’m not entirely discounting it. “I’m a Hercule Poirot fan myself.

I’d better go check them out.” His smile widens. “There’s a glass case in the middle of the room that contains a first print run of The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Her finest work if you ask me. Holler if you need any help at all.” “Listen for the sound of my voice.” Mom winks before traipsing up the stairs, and I stave off the urge to vomit. Watching my mother work it on a Friday night isn’t what I call an excellent start to the weekend. Wyatt gives a wistful shake of the head. Now that’s one lady with a nice rack of — “Books!” The word jolts out of me.

I can’t demonize the man for having thoughts, but I can sure do my best to intercept them, especially when my mother’s books are in the bounds. His brows pinch as he looks back my way. “Yes, books.” “Do you really have a first print run of an Agatha Christie novel? That must be worth a ton of money.” “Maybe not a ton of money but a significant amount. My grandfather left it to me in his will. We shared a love of great mysteries. And I just don’t have it in my heart to sell it. I’m hoping to pass it down to my own grandchildren one day as well.” “That sounds wonderful,” I say, taking a quick glance at the place.

Killer Books is a shop that specializes in mysteries, and I’m sure all of them are great. The walls and ceiling are painted a flat black with tiny sparkles adhered to the ceiling that make you feel as if you’ve just stepped into a portal that leads to a strange, perhaps alternate, universe. There is a myriad of tables set around the periphery of the room, and each of them has a neat display of the latest mystery offerings as well as a handful of classics. There’s a refreshment table to the right where a couple of coffee urns expel their luscious aromas and, of course, the sweet treats provided by the Country Cottage Café. Tonight, we’re here to shine the spotlight on Killer Books’ one-year anniversary in Cider Cove. And to celebrate the fact, they’ve called in the entire town and are hosting a murder mystery party right here in the bookshop. I turn back to Wyatt. “So are you ready for this evening?” “Ready as we’ll ever be.” He chuckles. “I see you inspecting the ceiling.

Those are rhinestones. My girlfriend and I spent hours adhering them to the walls and ceiling ourselves. I was hoping to mentally transport readers to another galaxy—a better one. This is a rough world, and it’s only getting rougher out there. Books have always been my go-to escape, and I’m sure for many people they are as well.” My sister, Macy, pops up and rests her chin on my shoulder a moment as she looks to Wyatt with a notable sigh. Macy is older than me by a year and we share the same icy blue eyes and dark hair, but I wear mine long and wavy and she’s opted to wear hers in a shoulder-length bob and has dyed it a creamy shade of blonde. “I see you’ve met my sister.” She gives a lock of my hair a quick tug. “She’s the one that brought the dessert.

” Macy owns the candle and soap shop next door, Lather and Light, and she’s become friends with Wyatt over the last year. She’s also the one who volunteered the Country Cottage Café to provide the sweet treats for the evening. Not that I mind. It’s something we do often for local events. His eyes widen as he examines me in a whole new light. “You brought the bite-size lemon tarts? I’ve already had three. They’re amazing. How much do I owe you for them?” “No, it’s fine,” I’m quick to tell him. “It’s on me. It’s your one-year anniversary in Cider Cove.

I’d love to gift them to you.” Macy gives my shoulder a squeeze. “That’s my sister. They don’t call her Benevolent Bizzy for nothing.” I’m about to tell him that nobody calls me Benevolent Bizzy just as a gorgeous golden retriever strides over, and I’m the first to offer him a quick scratch behind the ears. “Meet Gatsby.” Wyatt gives the glorious beast a pat to his side. “He’s the store’s number one employee.” The sweet brown-eyed angel gives a slight vocalizing bark. That I am.

And I sell the most books, too. A laugh strums through me. I can hear the animal mind as well, and I know for a fact they have just as interesting, if not better, thoughts than humans. Macy purrs like a kitten. “Hey there, you sexy beast.” She gives his back a quick scratch. “I know he’s a chick magnet. You leave him out front and the women just flock to him. I’ve seen it play out almost every day.” Wyatt laughs.

“And then they flock right into my store. You’re onto me, Macy.” A thick crowd strides in and Wyatt cranes his neck that way. “I should go. I’ve got a few local authors finishing up a book signing in the back and I’d better herd their fans in that direction. In about a half an hour we’ll start the party. You ladies ready to do a little murderous acting?” Macy balks, “Are you kidding? Bizzy here is a regular serial killer. There won’t be any acting involved on her part.” “Funny,” I say as Wyatt takes off to direct his customers to the back. “And would you keep it down? The last thing I want is my name attached to the words serial killer.

” The door to the shop opens up and a heated breeze filters in. It’s the beginning of a searing hot June and our part of coastal Maine is really feeling the heat. I glance that way just as two older women in hot pink kaftans bound over. “Did we miss it?” Georgie Conner is a woman in her eighties who lives in one of the many cottages at the inn. She has a gray wild mane of hair that shags out past her shoulders, her blue-gray eyes still have that mischievous sparkle to them, and she just so happens to be an artist who specializes in mosaics made from sea glass. She was one of my father’s many mothers-in-law, but her daughter and my father split ways long ago. I like to tease that I got Georgie in the divorce. My father is sort of addicted to the idea of matrimony, and truthfully, I’ve lost track of how many wives he’s actually had. He’s currently dating my fiancé’s mother, which is weird and wild all in itself. But Georgie is family now, and even though her daughter decided to sneak back into the picture after an absence of nearly a half a decade, I’m still laying claim to her.

No matter how kooky she is, Georgie just so happens to be one of my favorite people. “Did we miss it? Did you already hack your next victim to pieces?” Juniper Moonbeam, Georgie’s daughter and one of my father’s infamous exes, stands before me with her freshly dyed blonde hair swept up into a messy bun. Juni, as she’s known to the rest of us, is a younger version of Georgie, with a little more hippie flare and a penchant for getting into trouble. She just finished up a stint in a women’s correctional facility up north for unpaid parking tickets and bribery charges. And since then, she’s taken to living with her new boyfriend, Spike, who happens to be the bouncer at quite a few places, one of them being the pawn shop where she picked him up. “No, you didn’t miss it.” I give a quick look to the crowd. “We haven’t started yet. And I doubt I’ll get to play the part of the killer.” Georgie belts out a dark laugh.

“You’re always the killer, Bizzy. Believe me, the entire town has been warned to stay on your good side.” Juni nods. “Mom’s told me all about the bodies you’ve stumbled upon.” She says the word bodies in air quotes. “And you’re not just pretty good at the slaughtering gig. You’re pretty good at framing people, too.” Georgie snaps her fingers. “That’s her specialty.” I take a deep breath as I look to the two of them.

“I try my best.” Before we can extrapolate on my merits as a killer, the door whooshes open and in strides my own tall drink of water—black hair, silver-blue-gray eyes, and a body that’s put together in all the right ways—my fiancé, homicide detective Jasper Wilder. “Am I interrupting something?” he says as he lands his arms around my waist and dots a kiss to my lips. Georgie gives a playful roar. “No, but it looks like we sure are. I’d say get a room, but you might have more fun in the stacks.” Jasper waggles his brows my way. I say we test her theory. Just a couple of months ago, I let Jasper in on my secret. Only a few other people know about my strange ability to read minds—Georgie and Jasper’s old best friend, Deputy Leo Granger—and a few of my new friends in Honey Hollow.

Come to find out, I’m actually something called transmundane, further classified as telesensual. I didn’t know any of this until Leo filled me in on it. Georgie outed my ability to Leo’s aunt last fall and he quickly tracked me down. Juni leans in. “When are the two of you getting married again? Spike and I are planning our next cruise and I don’t want to miss the show.” I’m not sure if I like my wedding referenced as a show, but I have a feeling she might be onto something. “September,” I offer. “End of the month.” “Perfect.” Juni slaps her hands together.

“That gives us plenty of time to put together a humdinger of a bachelorette party for you.” “Oh no, that’s okay,” I’m quick to protest. But it’s too late. The two of them are off and scheming and I’ve already heard the words Vegas, strip club, and minor felony. “It’s not happening,” I assure Jasper. “Let it happen.” He shrugs as he lands another kiss to my lips. “At the end of the day we’re happening. And we’re unstoppable.” His lips twitch.

“Maybe nix the male strippers, though.” “What’s this?” a female voice trills from behind and we turn to find Mackenzie Woods, a girl I’ve grown up with, the very same girl I can pin this rather strange mind reading malady that’s overtaken my life. When we were teenagers, Mack pushed me into a whiskey barrel filled with water and a few stray apples during a Halloween party, and after that, I happened to hear voices that weren’t coming directly out of people’s mouths. Then in high school she proceeded to steal all of my boyfriends, and that’s when I finally cut ties with her. “Sounds like a spicy conversation.” Mack gives a little wink. She’s wearing her shoulder-length dark hair in a French knot, and she’s donned one of her many power suits. This one is in her favorite color, dragon’s blood red. Mack is beautiful in a cutthroat way, and ironically, she specializes in proverbially cutting an artery or two. “Mayor Woods.

” I lift my chin her way. It’s true. Much like her father and her grandfather before that, she’s procured the coveted spot as mayor in our cozy little town. “This is a private, spicy conversation. What are you doing at the bookshop? Let me guess, you’re volunteering as the victim?” That might change my stance on not wanting to be the killer. Just as she opens her mouth to answer, my best friend in the whole world, Emmie Crosby, pops up with the current man she has her eye on, Deputy Leo Granger. “Bizzy!” Emmie pulls me into a quick embrace. She holds the faint scent of cinnamon from working in the kitchen of the Country Cottage Café and she’s still wearing the same T-shirt and jeans she had on this morning. Emmie and I have been close friends since preschool. We share the same long dark hair and same frosty blue eyes.

We even share the same first name, Elizabeth. But for sanity’s sake, we’ve opted to go through life by our nicknames instead. “Did we miss the part where you run around slaughtering people?” I take a moment to glower at her, and she quickly laughs it off. “So I’m not the only one who said it, huh?” Emmie bites down over her bottom lip to keep from cackling to death. “Don’t worry.” Leo gives a slight wink. “I won’t be making any arrests tonight.” He gives Emmie the side-eye. “That is, unless someone deliberately misbehaves.” Mackenzie retches.

“Gag. Excuse me while I go sharpen a carving knife. It’s nice to know I’ll get a free pass tonight.” A dark smile expands as she looks to Leo and Emmie. “I’m thinking a double homicide might shake things up a bit.” Mackenzie used to date Leo. She was head over heels and he unceremoniously dumped her once the lusty scales fell from his eyes. And then, just as quickly, he fell under the lusty spell of my bestie. But so help him if he unceremoniously dumps Emmie that way. If he thinks Mackenzie’s wrath has been unbearable, he won’t want to try me.

That might just put me in the mood to try out my newly minted status as a killer. Duly noted. He nods my way. It’s so easy to forget Leo can tap into my private musings. But I’ll admit, it’s comforting having someone else like me around. Last month, a woman who shares our transmundane status visited us from Honey Hollow. Unlike Leo and me, Lottie Lemon’s supernatural talent is to see the dead. I don’t think I’d trade my ability for hers any day of the week. But Lottie seemed to be okay with her ghostly quirk. I guess she’d have to be since there’s no way to turn these extracurricular powers off.

Lottie and I grew to be great fast friends. In fact, Jasper and I are already planning on visiting Lottie and her friends in Vermont sometime this summer. The lights in the room go out and it’s pitch-black inside as a series of oohs circle the room. “Ladies and gentlemen,” a deep voice vibrates over the speakers. “Danger lingers in the air. A game is ready to be played. One unfortunate soul in this room will not get out alive. Murder is nigh. It is time for this deadly party to begin.” And just like that, the lights snap back on like a punishment.

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