Sunday, April 3, 2011
The Witness Wore Blood Bay is the second book in my Leigh McRae mystery series. You don't have to read the first book to enjoy the second one as a standalone. In the following scene, Leigh and her cousin Sammi have just learned that Candy Lowell has been arrested for murdering Richard Swale. They have gone to Candy's home to deliver some food to Candy's husband, Mark, and are discussing events with him in his living room.
“Sammi’s right about the lawyer, Mark. Whatever happened in that stable, Candy deserves a chance to defend herself in court.” I would have suggested my ex sister-in-law, Kendra, the only attorney I knew, except that A) she wasn’t a criminal defense attorney and B) I didn’t like her.
“I don’t agree. That bitch killed my husband and I want her to fry!”
Sammi stifled a yelp and I jumped to my feet, almost spilling what was left of my tea. Francine Swale stood in the doorway between the living room and the dining room, her hands on her curvy hips.
I couldn't help staring at what I judged to be a surgically enhanced chest. The woman could have modeled for Playboy if she were fifteen years younger, and if her face weren’t all blotchy from rage. Or from crying—I couldn’t tell which.
“Ladies, this is Francine Swale. She works with me selling cars.” Mark cleared his throat a couple of times.
Yeah, and she was also the murder victim's widow. It didn’t take a genius to figure out he’d much rather we hadn't found out she was in the house and had obviously been there the whole time, lurking out of sight and probably listening.
“Francine, ah, didn’t feel well enough to go home, so she’s been resting in the guest room. Francine, Leigh McRae and her cousin, Sammi Hollister.”
“Hello, Francine.” I didn’t bother to remind her I’d met her before and I’d seen her last night at the horse club meeting—arguing with her husband, who was now dead. “Sorry for your loss.”
Francine’s dark eyes snapped. “So am I. But the police know Candy did it and she’s going to pay one way or the other. I hope she fries like breakfast bacon.” She strode across the room and dropped onto the couch next to Mark, crossing her long legs and not bothering to tug her micro skirt down over her shapely thighs.
I pasted on the stupidest of smiles for lack of anything useful to say or do. I mean, how do you agree with a remark like that without coming across like a vigilante?
There, there, Francine. If the justice system doesn’t do its job, we’ll bring the firewood and some lighter fluid and help you take care of the problem.
And if I didn’t agree, I might send this woman into orbit. Judging by the way she’d spoken and the look in her eyes, I definitely didn’t want to be on Francine Swale’s “People Not to Like List.”
And what was up with Mark? Shock or no shock, you would have thought he'd want to defend his wife. I couldn’t help noticing that Francine’s skirt, as well as her blouse, were splotched with what I took to be blood. Brenda had said Mark had to pull her away from trying to give her husband CPR, but you would have thought she would have wanted to change into something a little less gory.
Rib nudge from Sammi. My sides were really getting a workout today and I made a mental note to look into buying a flak jacket. I nudged back to show we were on the same page—wondering if Francine really cared about her husband or if she was putting on an act. Funny how murder can bring out cynical thoughts, even in people who normally are pretty tame. But if Francine was as in love with Richard as her comments about wanting revenge would indicate, why was she sitting so close to Mark they could have been conjoined twins? If their body language meant what it said, those two had something going on.