Trouble Under the Mistletoe – A Familiar Legacy Short Mystery by Rebecca Barrett



Trouble Under the Mistletoe
A Familiar Legacy Short Mystery
By
Rebecca Barrett

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MAYHEM MEETS MISTLETOE–

Trouble, the Sherlock of black cat detectives, finds himself in Turnout, MS on Christmas Eve. Teddy Adamson, that heart breaker, has just walked back into Billie Dean Bailey’s life. But more dire happenings are going on under the mistletoe. Who ends up dead and why? Was it the maraschino cherries in the Tizzington sisters’ fruit compote? Or was it something more sinister?

No clue will go unturned by the suave, savvy, and sleuthing black cat! Find out all the answers in this short story of Trouble’s latest escapade in the Familiar Legacy Mystery Series.

Yes I know it’s July but everyone does a Christmas in July don’t they?

Trouble is staying with Billie Dean a cousin of his beloved Tammy Lynn. This time it’s Christmas and of course we need a mystery for him to solve.

Billie Jean works at her father’s used car lot. Trouble is waiting for her time there to be done, when a surprise visitor appears.

This is a favorite scene, through Trouble’s eyes.

I RAISE MY head from the countertop where I lie in languid splendor and a post lunch semi-stupor. Who would have thought I’d be spending Christmas Eve at a used car dealership but here I am, patiently waiting for Billie Dean to call it a day and close up shop.

The jangling of the bell above the door of Bubba Bailey’s Auto Sales draws my attention to the man in military fatigues entering the show room. My whiskers twitch as he zeroes in on first me, then Billie Dean.

Billie Dean reads to the end of the sentence of the novel, places her finger to mark her spot, and looks up. She stands abruptly and the book slips to the floor.

“Teddy.” The name is barely a whisper.

“Billie Dean.” He stops on the other side of the counter. “Merry Christmas.”

“You’re home.”

Well, now, what’s this? Who is this fellow that makes Billie Dean breathless? Tammy Lynn left her in my charge and I take my responsibilities quite seriously. I twitch my tail, waiting to see which way the wind blows.

“So it would seem.” He says

“How…I didn’t know.”

He smiles. “I didn’t tell Mom just in case things didn’t work out.”

Billie Dean takes a breath and releases it on a soft sigh. “She’s happy then.”

“She will be. I haven’t been home yet.”

“Oh.”

The clatter of rapid footfalls on the metal stairs that lead to the upper story gallery and the offices of Bubba Bailey’s Auto Sales draws my attention to Evan Russell, the number one salesman at the dealership.

“Oh,” Billie Dean says again.

I look from Billie Dean to the man she calls Teddy, and lastly at Evan. This could prove to be interesting.

Evan stops in front of Teddy, gives him a quick once over, and extends his hand. “You must be Mr. Higgins. I’m Evan Russell. How can I help you?”

Teddy shakes hands. “Hello,” he says. “But I’m afraid I’m not Mr. Higgins. I just dropped by to see Billie Dean.”

I detect a subtle change in Evan’s expression. So Tammy Lynn’s suspicions must be true. Bubba’s number one salesman is interested in Bubba’s daughter and only child.

Evan indicates Teddy’s uniform with a slight nod of his head. “You active duty?”

“Not today,” Teddy replies.

Evan looks from Teddy to Billie Dean, then back again. When no introduction is forthcoming, he gives another nod. “Well, Merry Christmas,” he says as he walks away and climbs back up the stairs. At the landing, he looks down at Billie Dean and Teddy once more before disappearing into his office.

Into the silence that falls between Billie Dean and Teddy, I rise from my prone position and walk along the counter on velvet paws to investigate the newcomer who renders Billie Dean speechless and Evan pea green.

Teddy runs his hand along my back. Ohhhh, I do like that.

“When did you get a cat?” he asks.

Billie Dean tickles me under the chin. “He belongs to Tammy Lynn.”

“Your cousin?”

“My third cousin once removed.”

“Right.”

I do believe I detect a note of humor in Teddy’s voice.

Billie Dean smiles. “She and Aiden have gone to New York on the Jingle Bell Tour.”

“I won’t ask.”

“They’re staying through New Year’s Eve.”

“So you’re cat sitting.”

Billie Dean laughs. “Not exactly. Let’s just say I feed, groom, and otherwise cater to the wishes of Trouble.”

“Difficult, is he?”

“Not difficult, just determined, and he knows his own mind. Among other things.”

“Sounds like my kind of animal.”

Another awkward silence makes Billie Dean blush and Teddy look down at his boots before giving her a lopsided smile and saying, “Well, Merry Christmas, Billie Dean.”

He turns toward the door and she finds her voice. “You’re coming tonight aren’t you? To the Christmas Eve party?”

He looks back at her. “You want me to come?”

The color in her cheeks deepens and she nods. “It’ll be nice. Like old times.”

Teddy watches her a moment. “Sure. If Mom wants to come, we’ll be there. Same time?”

“Same time, same place. Just like always.”
Rebecca Barrett. Trouble Under the Mistletoe: A Familiar Legacy Short Mystery (Kindle Locations 22-61). KaliOka Press. Kindle Edition.

It’s at the party where things get crazy, and I do mean crazy. With a spiked fruit salad most folks avoid, and plenty of fun. Including a murder.

I did a lot of laughing in this one, Trouble is a character for sure. There’s that romance with Teddy and Billie Dean, that her father wishes was his lead salesman Evan. Yeah so not happening.

Plenty of suspects, romance and suspense. A wonderful short story.

Oh, and rumor has it there’s a new book in this series coming out next week, watch for it!

5 Contented Purrs for Rebecca!

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Coming Soon!


Rebecca Barrett

Rebecca Barrett writes historical fiction, romantic mysteries, post-apocalyptic fiction (writing as Campbell O’Neal), children’s stories, and short stories of life in the South. An avid reader all her life and a product of “front porch” socializing, she became a story-teller at an early age.

Her current novel, Trouble in Paradise, features that handsome, sleek, black cat detective, Trouble. The game is afoot in Key West, Florida and there’s a dead body in the Toucan Suite of the Paradise B&B. This is Rebecca Barrett’s second book in this series written by multiple authors (The Mad Catters) who follow the antics of super-sleuth Trouble as he lands in first one crime scene then another. Of course, the humans help a little. These romantic mysteries are fun and light hearted and just perfect for a beach read or a rainy day.

Hot SEAL, Roman Nights – SEALs in Paradise Book 15 by Teresa J.Reasor



Hot SEAL, Roman Nights
SEALs in Paradise Book 15
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Teresa J. Reasor

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On leave after a difficult mission, Navy SEAL Tony Gallo steps off the plane in Rome and tumbles right into the arms of the woman who dumped him nine years ago, and they’re both there for family events. He discovers Darcy’s attending the wedding they planned but never had, but now it’s someone else’s.

Darcy Moreau is traveling for the first time and fulfilling a dream. She’s in Rome to be her best friend’s Maid of Honor. But she’s also there to bury the past and start a new life.

When she and Tony meet again, she wonders if the past might not be such a bad thing if her future can include the man she left behind. But can she make amends and convince him to give her another chance?

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Tony is on his way to Rome to celebrate his parents 35th anniversary with his whole family. On the plane he helps out a young mother with a hellacious little boy and spies someone he hasn’t seen since she walked away nine years ago.

Darcy is heading to Rome to be her best friend’s maid of honor. A wedding she helped plan. The last person she expected to see was Tony, but she really wasn’t upset to see him only regretful for the way things played out.

This is a favorite scene.

DARCY BRACED HER hands on the armrests as the plane landed while the jolt of the tires hitting the runway and the sudden tug of the brakes jerked her forward and back. Everyone clapped as they slowed, and the pilot addressed them over the cabin speaker. “Welcome to beautiful Rome, ladies and gentlemen. The skies are clear, and the temperature is eighty-three degrees Fahrenheit, twenty-three degrees Celsius. Have a nice visit, and to those of you who are returning from America, welcome home.” He repeated the message in Italian like a native speaker.

It took several minutes for everyone to gather their carry-on luggage. Her legs felt stiff and uncooperative as she joined the crush and stepped out into the aisle. Thank goodness the lines through customs looked manageable, since there was more than one border agent.

She fell in behind two women and contented herself with looking around the Leonardo da Vinci Airport. She’d seen pictures, but they didn’t convey the size or the busyness of the place. She heard four different languages in as many feet, and she didn’t speak any of them.

While she was arranging all those virtual trips for Chandler, she should have studied a language.

“Il passaporto, per favore.”  The Italian customs agent beckoned her forward.

Understanding “passport” and “please,” Darcy placed the document on the counter in front of him.

“Motiva del a visita?” “Motiva” meant reason, and “visita” meant visit. “I’m here to participate in a wedding.”

“Per quanto tempo si ferma?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

“How long wil you be staying?” he asked, in perfect but accented English.

“A week.” He stamped her passport and handed it back to her. “Have a good visit, and welcome to Rome.”

She smiled. “Thank you.”

A rush of anxiety hit her as she wandered toward signs directing her to the baggage reclaim area. She was in a foreign country. Alone.

She hoped Leslie had sent someone to pick her up, but if not she had enough Euros to pay for the taxi ride to the hotel.

Though it was heavy, she dragged her large suitcase off the carousel and turned to search for one of the overhead directional signs.

Her heart stuttered, then leapt as she caught sight of the man coming toward her. His dark hair, brushed back off his forehead, was just as thick as it had ever been. The shadow of beard that darkened the lower half of his face underlined the more mature masculinity of his features. He looked taller, broader through the shoulders and chest, more muscular. Of course he would. He was no longer eighteen, but twenty-eight, and had spent ten years as a Navy SEAL.

Her legs went weak even as she was striding to meet him. They were but a few feet apart when a child rushed between them and attached himself to Tony’s leg like a little monkey, and Tony tripped.

Darcy was already leaping forward as he twisted to keep from falling on the tyke. They collided, and she went down, her arms and shoulder cushioning his fall.

“Michel!” A woman rushed to them. “Oh, Dio.” A rapid stream of Italian rained down on them, the tone apologetic. She reached for the child and tugged him to his feet. The little rascal was laughing with delight.

Tony waved a hand. He looked up at Darcy, his head stil cushioned on her shoulder but his cheek rested on her breast, and every inch of her went liquid. “Are you okay, Darcy?”

“Yes. I think so.” In truth she was probably going to have a bruise on her hip, but it would heal, and it was a small price to pay if it saved Tony a head injury.

“Michel will one day be a famous rugby player,” Tony murmured, then reassured his mother they were fine with, “Noi stiamo bene, signora,” as he sat up. He rolled his shoulders, got to his feet, then offered Darcy a hand up.

Two airport employees hurried over to them, inquiring about injuries.

Tony’s eyes zeroed in on her once more, and his hand ran down her arm. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Her hip ached a little, but just holding hands with him was enough to distract her from it. “Yes, I’m fine.”

“Michel wished to say grazie,” the mother said in halting English.

Michel’s mother’s expression was half exasperation, half concern, but she continued to offer her apologies. She pointed at Michel, and the boy stepped forward to apologize and give Tony a hug.

When the small family finally continued on its way, he said, “She needs some kind of safety harness on him. The kid’s a wild child. And how will she get her luggage and haul it to the train or a cab while holding onto him and the baby?”

Acutely aware that he was stil holding her hand she said, “It looks like she’s getting help.” An airport employee appeared pushing a stroller with two seats, and while the mother strapped Michel and the baby in, the employee collected her luggage.

When Tony turned to look at her it was like a blow to her heart.

His gray eyes delved deep and made her stomach jitter, and she gripped the handle of her suitcase to steady herself.

“Thanks for covering my six. You hit the floor pretty hard. You’re sure you’re not hurt?”

“I promise I’m not.” Just looking into his face brought everything back. A bruise was a smal price to pay compared to that.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

“I’m here for a wedding.”

His eyes narrowed and he released her hand. “You’re getting married?”

“No. My best friend from college is marrying an Italian businessman and wil be moving here permanently.” She shifted her purse against her hip. “What are you doing here?”

“Family vacation with the folks. It’s my mom and dad’s thirty-fifth anniversary, and everyone’s here to visit Nonna and celebrate.”

She remembered Tony’s grandmother. She’d been visiting when Darcy’s life went to hell. “How is she doing? She must be in her late seventies now.”

“She’s doing fine. Still feisty. I haven’t seen her in person for nearly three years, but Mom keeps me posted, and I FaceTime with Nonna for her birthday, Christmas, that kind of thing. After I get my bag, let’s walk down to the main entrance. Mom and Dad are sending a car for me.” He strode to the luggage carousel and retrieved his suitcase.

He seemed to know where they were going as they strolled down the wide aisle. To keep from staring at him as she wanted to do, she studied the interlocked triangular structures above that held the roof.

The entire building was an interesting mishmash of different architectural designs and seemed to stretch on forever.

“Are you still in the Navy?”

“Yeah. I put in for this leave almost six months ago and stil almost missed it.”

“But you didn’t, and I’m sure your family will be thrilled to see you.”

“And you,” he added. Just looking at him brought to life the loss she suffered after he left. A loss that had been partially numbed by time, but now the ache had been jolted alive again.

“You’ll make some time to see them? Mom said she stopped hearing from you once you moved away.”

She bit her lip. She had no choice back then. It had been too painful to continue communicating with them after breaking things off with Tony, and she couldn’t expect them to split their loyalties between their son and his ex-girlfriend. “I don’t know what Roberto’s family has planned, Tony, but I’ll try.”

“Where are you staying? I’ll drop you off where ever you need to go.”

“I’m staying at the Starhotels Michelangelo, near the Vatican.”

He grinned. “So are we.”

Fate was either playing a joke on her by putting them in such close proximity, or rubbing her face in it.
Teresa Reasor. Hot SEAL, Roman Nights (Kindle Locations 77-141). Kindle Edition.

What ensues is a fun-filled adventure through Italy. With lots of characters from both the bride’s family and Tony’s.

I loved Nona, she is the best grandmother ever. Even she knew Darcy and Tony belong together. All they have to do is get passed the reasons she walked away.

I laughed, cried, envisioned the scenery and Tony and Darcy totally steam up the pages.

I can’t wait to read more in this multi-author series.

5 Contented Purrs for Teresa!

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Teresa J. Reasor

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Teresa Reasor was born in Southeastern Kentucky, but grew up a Marine Corps brat. The love of reading instilled in her in Kindergarten at Parris Island, South Carolina made books her friends during the many transfers her father’s military career entailed. The transition from reader to writer came easily and she was a closet novelist for many years until 2007 when her first book was published.

After twenty-one years as an Art Teacher and ten years as a part time College Instructor, she’s now retired and living her dream as a full time Writer.

Her body of work includes both full-length novels and shorter pieces in many different genres, Military Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, and Children’s Books.

The Pursued – Savage Mountain Men – A Reverse Harem Romance By Mika Lane



The Pursued
Savage Mountain Men Book 3
A Reverse Harem Romance
By
Mika Lane

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My parents are gone. Murdered, actually.

And the assassins who took them down? They’re trying to kill me, too.
So I’m being guarded by 4 burly mountain mercenaries, light years removed from my life of limos, penthouses, bottle service, and designer shopping.
The problem?

This mountain stuff’s just not my style.

The good news?

These guys are as sexy and dangerous as exotic race cars, and I’m thinking they just may offer me a ride.

Note: This naughty, over-the-top romance is about four hunky mountain mercenaries with checkered pasts and doubtful futures, claiming the one woman they can’t live without. If you love outrageous stories with tough military dudes, this might be the book for you.

Philippa ‘Phee’ Erickson’s parents have been murdered. Morrow, the head of her father’s security company, has spirited her out of their house and then her apartment. Now she has been dropped off in the middle of nowhere. Well there’s a gatehouse, but nothing else other than trees can be seen.

Alex and Jack are the one’s to find her, drenched and upset near one of the ponds on the property. They hadn’t been expecting her until the following week.

This is a favorite scene as they trek to the house with all her luggage.

“How did you two come to be associated with my father’s company?” she asked as we carried her crap.

“You mean Erickson Consulting?”

“Yup. My dad’s company. Well, it was his company,” she corrected, her voice cracking a little.

“I knew your dad from my university days. We were recruited to the CIA and started in the same freshman class.”

Axel cleared his throat as a warning signal.

“Axel, I think we can talk about this now,” I said.

I stole a glance at Phee, who just stared at the ground ahead. Maybe I did have to start watching my mouth with her around.

“That’s cool you worked with my dad. He was in the CIA before he started his private security company?”

Shit. We’d already said too much.

“I’m sorry he’s gone, Phee. He was a good man.”

She just kept walking alongside me, shifting her duffel from one shoulder to the other every few minutes, a confused expression on her face.

“You look a lot younger than he,” she said.

“Yeah, I am.” I continued, eager to fill the space before she asked more questions. Guess her dad didn’t tell her everything, which meant I’d better tread lightly.

“We had some missions together early in my career, before he started his company. In fact, we did some work under Erickson over the years, ourselves. And we’ve known Morrow a good long time.”

Christ, her bags weighed a fucking ton. She had a few things to learn about life in the mountains, no doubt about that. And the first lesson was that she needed better footwear.

“Hey, Phee, do you have any boots? Hiking boots?” Axel asked. “They might be better than your sneakers.”

For the first time, her face brightened. Small victories…

“I do have hiking boots, in fact. They’re still in the box in one of my bags. Brand-new,” she said proudly. “I got them for a trip to the Himalayas… which I guess I’m no longer going on.”

Axel and I looked at each other. That she had hiking boots was good. Really good. That she’d obviously never worn them, must less broken them in, told us just about everything we needed to know.

“We’ll have you wear them for a few hours of light walking every day to break them in. You’ll be glad you did,” I said.

Axel stopped for a moment and hoisted a suitcase higher on his shoulder. “What’s in here, anyway? Feels like bricks.”

She smiled brightly. “I have a lot of books with me. I study languages in my free time.”

Really? You’re trying to escape bad guys, you have a few minutes to pack before you’re spirited away to a secret destination, and you pack a shitload of books?

And who studied languages,anyway?

“I guess I didn’t need to bring all this,” she said, gesturing toward her luggage.

Gee. Thanks.

She sure was lovely, though, and now that her clothes were drying and not clinging to her like a mass of rags, I could see she had a lithe figure, probably from hours spent using an expensive gym membership.

While I’d not been in regular contact with her dad in a while, I’d kept tabs on the man and knew the company he’d started had become massively successful. His only daughter was certainly not wanting for anything.

She suddenly dropped her duffel to the ground and rolled her shoulders with a grimace.

“Here, I can get this,” I said. “We’re almost there.”

She tried to pick her bag back up, but it was clear she was done. I hoisted it into my arms and increased my pace.

“Thank you, Jack,” she said with an embarrassed smile.

“How long do you expect to be with us, Phee?” I asked.

“Just a few days, I’m told. Morrow head has to get some things straightened out first before he can be sure I’m safe.”

From what I knew about security measures, which was a hell of a lot, it took a lot more than a few days to untangle a murder, if that’s what happened to Phee’s parents.

Which meant we’d be hosting her for a while.
Mika Lane. The Pursued: A Contemporary Reverse Harem Romance (Savage Mountain Men) (Kindle Locations 207-242). Kindle Edition.

Once a bit settled in the cabin, she does meet her other two protectors, Axel and Spence. However she still doesn’t get that she really is in danger, or the types of danger she could be in.

Phee made mistakes, big ones, life threatening ones. Much to the chagrin of the guys.

In between finding who killed her parents, and now wants her dead, there’s a lot of fun and plenty of kindle melting heat. A nice twist is that most of the intimacy is initiated by Phee.

A page turning read with just the right amount of action to go with the intensity of the situation. Just remember to stay hydrated. *smile*.

5 Contented Purrs for Mika!

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Mika Lane

Writing has been a passion of mine since, well, forever (my first book was “The Day I Ate the Milkyway,” a true fourth-grade masterpiece), but steamy romance is now what gives purpose to my days and nights.

I live in magical Northern California with my own handsome alpha dude, sometimes known as Mr. Mika Lane, and an evil cat named Bill.

A lover of shiny things, I’ve been known to try to new recipes on unsuspecting friends, find hiding places so I can read undisturbed, and spend my last dollar on a plane ticket somewhere. I also drink cheap champagne and have way too many shoes.

I’ll always promise you a hot, sexy romp with kick-ass but imperfect heroines, and some version of a modern-day happily ever after.

I LOVE to hear from readers when I’m not dreaming up naughty tales to share. Join my Insider Group below, So we can get to know each other better.