A Case For the Yarn Maker
Ainsley McGregor Book 2
by Candace Havens
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Spin a yarn…at your own risk.
Everyone at Bless Your Art in Sweet River, Texas, is excited about the Yarn Goddess (yes, that’s her real name) coming to town. Ainsley McGregor has set up a special event at the local community center, but when old Mrs. Whedon doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the Goddess about using quality yarn, a fight breaks out. Who knew the octogenarian had ninja moves like that?
It’s all fun and games until George Clooney, Ainsley’s Great Dane, finds Ms. Yarn’s dead body in a booth at Bless Your Art. Now the prime suspect is Mrs. Whedon, and while she’s not the easiest woman to get along with, there’s no way she’s the killer. At least, Ainsley doesn’t think so. As this yarn unravels, Ainsley and her quirky friends learn some interesting things about the case and the Goddess’s checkered past. But there’s a killer on the loose, and George may be the only thing protecting Ainsley from certain death.
Before she could get out the back door to head to her hotel for a nap, Mrs. Whedon stepped in her path. The older woman crossed her arms and gave Yarn Goddess a hard stare.
More surprising was that the mean billionaire stopped to listen. I stepped down from the register and crossed the store quickly, prepared to tackle Mrs. Whedon if things became physical.
“You’re hurting people,” Mrs. Whedon said.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Everything in my company is made in America, and we use top-of-the-line dyes.”
Mrs. Whedon was in her eighties—at least—but she had a fancier cell phone than I did. She popped her phone in front of Yarn Goddess’s face. “These are pictures of people who have had reactions to your new line of yarn. You’re selling it at an idiotic price and you’re hurting your customers. You used to stand for something. But people need to know the truth and I’m going to lead the charge.”
“People are always trying to sue people who have money. It’s nothing new. They could have touched poison ivy or any number of things. Doesn’t mean it came from my yarn.”
Mrs. Whedon’s jaw tightened. “All I’m asking you is to do a bit of research. You know what something like this could do to your business. I realize you’re probably richer than Oprah by now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put out a quality product.”
Hilary came in from the back of the store, with a look of sheer panic. She’d probably been waiting for her boss.
“Ma’am,” Hilary said to Mrs. Whedon, “I’m sorry but we have to keep moving.” She’d moved around to put a hand on her boss’s back.
The octogenarian—or perhaps nonagenarian—didn’t budge. Part of me was proud of her, the other part mortified.
I was about to move forward but stopped when Mrs. Whedon held up a hand. “Promise me you’ll look into it.”
“I will,” the billionaire said. “I promise.”
I almost fainted.
Two hours later, a crowd of nearly two hundred awaited Yarn Goddess at the community center for a VIP event. She’d insisted on resting for two hours before taking the crowd through some of her favorite knitting patterns from her latest book. I couldn’t blame her for needing a nap. She’d signed books for four hours.
But when she didn’t arrive on time, I sent Hilary to look for her. The young woman, whose prim suit and thick glasses gave her the appearance of a harried librarian, came back perplexed.
“I left her at the hotel to rest, but she’s not there. I’ve gone into every shop, but I can’t find her. This isn’t like her. She’s a pain in the—well—but she always shows up for her fans. I’m going to check the hotel again. Maybe I just missed her. I’ll be back in just a minute.” She rushed off.
That knot in my stomach came back and twisted so hard, it stole my breath.
“We’re going to need a plan B,” I said.
Yarn Goddess was missing.
A Case For the Winemaker Ainsley McGregor Book 1
The closer she gets to the truth, the more she finds herself drowning in trouble.
It’s an exciting time in Sweet River, Texas, and the whole town's talking. Maybe, a little too much. Former English professor Ainsley McGregor has gambled everything on her new business: Bless Your Art, an artisan market where local artists sell their wares and teach classes.
The bright, white space is filled to the brim with colorful art, yarn, jewelry, pet treats, antiques and even a few medieval weapons. Oh, and there are wine tastings. Everything's better with wine. Ainsley is surprised by how well things are going–right up until the moment her Great Dane finds a dead body. With her friend accused of the murder, it’s up to Ainsley to find the real killer.
As the suspect list grows longer, Ainsley has her work cut out for her. The task is made more difficult by the fact her brother, the sheriff, doesn’t seem to want her help. If she doesn’t wrap up the case soon, she might be the next wine, um, one to die.
It wasn’t so much that I walked him, as he did me. I wasn’t the best at getting exercise, but that had changed in the days since George came into my life a few months ago. I’d already lost two pounds, and my fat jeans weren’t cutting into my waist anymore, so I wasn’t complaining.
I’d been eating my feelings for months, so a little exercise wasn’t such a bad thing.
Behind Main Street on the north side of our building, was a huge park with the Sweet River running through it. There were walking and bike paths, and it had old-fashioned gaslight-style lamps that made it almost as bright at night as during the day. The sidewalks were bordered by gardens, each tended by a different group. The open, green areas were where many of the town’s festivals were held. Handy, since people visiting said events could come through the back entrance into our building. That’s why I’d also had a sign painted on the back.
George dragged me toward his favorite tree. But he stopped a few feet away and whined a bit. I hadn’t heard him do that before.
“George, I need you to hurry it along, buddy. I don’t have time for you to be super picky about the tree. Let’s get it done.” I kept a firm tone with him when we were outside. But I never yelled. He’d pout for days if I did, and besides, who yells at a dog?
He growled. He’d never done that, either. And it wasn’t at me, it was at whatever was on the ground under the leaves.
A shiver ran through me.
Oh, no. That was my internal scare-dar. My gut always told me when danger was near or when something wasn’t quite right. The night I’d been mugged in Chicago, I’d had shivers just a few minutes before. That same sense of dread I’d experienced then slithered through me now.
Whatever was about to happen, I just wanted to run back to the shop and reclaim my happy space. Think logically. There are no muggers in Sweet River.
The weather was cooler, and creepy crawlies were looking for places to hibernate. I’d watched enough Discovery Channel to know they liked leaves to get warm.
Could it be a snake? There were tons of leaves piled there.
The dog growled again, a deep and sort of mean sound.
“George?” I tugged gently on his leash, encouraging him to back away. “Please,” I whispered. Nerves jangled through me. I was scared he might get bitten. “Back away slowly. I don’t want whatever is under there to get you.”
He grunted and sniffed the ground.
Then he sat and wouldn’t budge. He outweighed me by a good sixty or so pounds, depending on how much chocolate I’d eaten the day before.
Stupid dog. The snake was going to strike any second. I pulled him hard, and as I did, his tail swept across the leaves and something popped out. He moved back then.
“Sit, George,” I said firmly, as my heart pounded against my chest.
Not a snake.
A very dead-looking hand lay in the leaves, and it was attached to an equally dead-looking arm.
Bestselling author Candace Havens has published more than 25 books. Her novels have received nominations for the RITA's, Holt Medallion, Write Touch Reader Awards and National Readers Choice Awards. She is a Barbara Wilson Award winner. She is the author of the biography “Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy” and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation's leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities from George Clooney to Chris Pratt. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing classes. She does film reviews with Hawkeye in the Morning on 96.3 KSCS, and is a former President of the Television Critics Association.