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Chapter One

"Pink, you've got a problem," Adele Abrams said as she slowed her car in front of my house. I had been crocheting a snowflake - or trying to- while she drove, and it took me a moment to look up. But when I did -

Lots of strange things have gone on at my house, but the scene that greeted me beat anything I'd seen before. My mouth fell open and I dropped the silver hook and white thread I was holding.

I don't know what was the most shocking. Was it the line of police cruisers along the curb, the uniform stringing yellow crime scene tape across the front porch or the group of uniforms conferring on my front lawn? My house a crime scene?

"What did you do this time?" Adele asked as she pulled to the curb in front of all the cruisers. Neighbors were drifting into the street and the kid who lived a few houses down had his video camera pointed at all the action.

I took a moment to glare at Adele. We had just spent two days together, which was about a day and a half too much. Adele and I worked together at Shedd & Royal Books and More and we were both part of the crochet group, the Tarzana Hookers, who met at the bookstore. I wouldn't call us friends exactly, more like family. You pick your friends - you get stuck with family. Instead of answering, I just shot her a withering look.

A black Crown Victoria roared into my driveway. The car had barely squeaked to a stop when the door flew open and a tall man in a suit jumped out. Before I could call out his name, Barry sprinted across the lawn, breaking through the yellow tape strung across the porch. He had some kind of tool in his hand. I heard the splintering of my front door and a moment later it flew open. I was out of the car by now, though I didn't get far. One of the uniforms stopped me and didn't seem to care when I said it was my house.

Adele was out of her side of the car in a flash, almost catching her jacket on the door. The jacket was part of what she called a more-subdued look. I wasn't sure what was subdued about it. She'd taken an electric blue ready-made boxy-style blazer and added kelly green and fuchsia crocheted trim around the neck, down the front and at the cuffs.

"Pink, you dropped your snowflake." When I turned she was holding out the ball of white thread, my steel hook and what appeared to be a tangle of the fine yarn. She glanced around. "Maybe I better stay here with you." I shook my head and gestured back toward the car. I didn't know what was going on, but I did know I didn't want to have Adele in the middle of it. She hung her head as I got my suitcase out of the trunk. "Pink, I've been you're backup before. C'mon, let me be part of the action." When I pointed toward the car again, she went into a full pout, but she finally got back into the new Matrix station wagon and drove off.

Adele and I were just returning from our trip to San Diego, which Adele kept referring to as a yarn emergency. Since our group, the Tarzana Hookers, had become so connected with the bookstore where I worked, one of the co-owners, Mrs. Shedd, had recently added a yarn department to the store. It was still a work-in-progress because Mrs. Shedd wanted the yarn we sold to be special and high-end rather than what was sold at the big craft stores. When she heard about the yarn store closing in San Diego and selling off their stock, Mrs. Shedd had sent us down there at the last minute.

It was just the high-end unusual stuff we were looking for, and we had packed the back of Adele's wagon solid with yarn. The rest was being UPSed up to us. Adding the new yarn section was good and bad. Good that we were getting all this wonderful yarn and bad because everything at the bookstore was already on overdrive due to the upcoming holidays and our big launch event. Now we had more work than ever.

"Did you find the body?" one of the uniforms asked when Barry returned a few minutes later.


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