Shannon here: Cathy Elliott shares a romantic excerpt from her cozy mystery, A Vase of Mistaken Identity. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated Sept 2 – 4 to enter the drawing for a copy of A Stitch in Crime or a Vase of Mistaken Identity. Two winners receive one book each, U.S. only. Deadline: Sept 12th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Cathy:
Excerpt from A Vase of Mistaken Identity (a Cozy Mystery) by Cathy Elliott:
Setup – Thea’s Uncle Nick has dropped by her antique store, accompanied by a handsome stranger….
Thea waved a response from her place beside the shopper. She squinted and wondered who the tall man was beside her uncle.
“There you are,” Uncle Nick said. “Forgot to remind you that dinner tomorrow’s at seven. Your aunt Elena’s orders. But since I’m cooking, it might be eight. Can’t hurry quality,” he called across the store, then picked up one of the paper cups from the table and filled it from the pot. “Anything pressing for me today? Thought I might head on up to the lake, check out the investigation.”
Thea excused herself from the busy shopper and wandered toward the counter, casting a curious look at the stranger. “Actually, I thought you were headed in that direction an hour ago.”
“I was. At least to the police station. But then I ran into an old friend.” Nick offered the cup of coffee to his companion, whose thick waves of chocolate hair reminded her of the curlicues atop a Snickers candy bar. He looked familiar, and Thea wondered if they had met before. No, she would have remembered him. Then she thought of the chain around her neck and the sparkling diamond ring. She felt a rush of disloyalty.
“Thea, here’s someone I want you to meet. He just arrived. Or should I say, returned?” Uncle Nick looked at his companion. “Man, we go way back, don’t we? Twenty years? Remember when I was your Junior Baseball League coach? Good times.
“Cole Mason, meet Thea James, my niece,” he continued. “She runs this fine establishment. Isn’t she cute?”
Cole extended his hand and nodded to Thea, who for once disregarded her uncle’s embarrassing remark.
Did he say Cole? Cole Mason? Thea’s heart did a few impromptu jumping jacks. Many years had passed, but of course she remembered him. Her mind was suddenly blank of witty remarks. Of any remarks.
“A pleasure, Thea. But surely, we have met before. You look so familiar.”
Thea felt a firm grip as she shook his hand. The only reply that came into her head was to remind him her name wasn’t Shirley, but she had the presence of mind to mute that remark. She was pretty sure she said something polite. And she had the uneasy feeling that she was staring.
“Um . . . we were in the same creative writing elective in high school. But . . . ah . . . you wouldn’t remember. You were a few years ahead of me.” Thea couldn’t believe that her old school crush still wielded its power. This is ridiculous. She hung on to the counter for support.
“Of course I remember you, Thea. Mrs. Sanchez’s class, right? Didn’t we work on a project together?”
Thea wondered if Cole’s eager expression was an attempt to hide his discomfort at having absolutely no clue of her identity. Poor guy. Work on a project together? Only in my daydreams. And who was Mrs. Sanchez?
“I think it was Mrs. Sanchez. Or was it Mr. Hughes? I’m not sure which. Sometimes I have one of my Gram’s senior moments.” Thea flushed at Cole’s look of gratitude.
“Well, you two know one another then. That’s terrific.” Uncle Nick seemed as satisfied as when he’d polished off the Gold Rush Special that morning for breakfast. “Cole is covering the murder for the Larkindale Lamplight, Thea. My comrade in crime. Literally. He’s a writer, get it? He’s new on the job, so I am tagging along to keep this guy out of trouble.” Uncle Nick gave him a soft punch in the arm. Cole’s slow smile was unsettling. Dimples. She’d forgotten those.
“So.” Thea attempted to regain her composure. “What brings you back to Larkindale, Cole?” Hadn’t he moved to the city?
“A new assignment from my Seattle-based paper to my hometown newspaper. The view from small-town America. It’s something of a long story; I won’t bore you. For now, let’s just say that I am looking for that perfect fishing hole.” His dark eyes seemed serious behind wire-rimmed glasses, but a corner of his mouth twitched. She saw a phantom dimple appear. Was he mocking her?
Though her first reaction was to plead, “Bore me, bore me,” she said instead, “How nice.” What was the matter with her? Couldn’t she even be civil? And where was her wit when she needed it?
A soft ringing caused Cole to reach into his pocket and pull out a slim flip-phone. He gazed at it briefly and then addressed them both. “Sorry, I’ll need to take this,” he said, excusing himself and ambling toward the exit.
Thea dragged her eyes from Cole’s frame and focused on her uncle. “Uncle Nick, would you drop by Mum’s and check on her and Gram? I don’t like to think of them alone up there at the lake house.”
“Will do.” He topped off his coffee and took a noisy sip. “Hits the spot, Princess. And after that breakfast, a spot is all that I have left, even for your gourmet coffee.”
Cole tapped Uncle Nick on the shoulder. “There’s been a new development in the case.” Cole’s look was apologetic as he pocketed his phone. “I think we’d better go.”
“Let’s move it, then.” Uncle Nick raised his cup toward Thea in a feigned farewell toast. “To the Emporium’s empress.” He grinned and clicked his heels together.
“Good to see you again, Thea. We’ll have to catch up one of these days.” Cole lifted his cup a few inches in salute. “Thanks for the coffee.”
“Sure, why not? I mean, you’re welcome . . . anytime.” She mentally slapped her forehead.
“Tomorrow night. Don’t forget, ’cause I have something special planned,” her uncle called back, as they exited the store.
They had hopped into Uncle Nick’s truck and sped down the street before Thea remembered she still hadn’t asked him about the sirens from last night. And what was the new development that had caused them to leave in such a hurry?
Thea stood in the Emporium doorway, shielding her eyes from the sunlight, and decided that, in spite of its brightness, she felt quite in the dark.
Excerpt from A Vase of Mistaken Identity. © Cathy Elliott. Used by permission.
About Cathy: Cathy Elliott is a full-time writer in northern California whose cozy mysteries reflect her personal interests from quilting and antique collecting to playing her fiddle with friends. She also leads music at church and cherishes time with her grandchildren. Cathy’s other plot-twisting works include Medals in the Attic and A Stitch in Crime. Learn more and connect:
Website & Occasional Blog – www.cathyelliottbooks.com
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/cathyelliott10/
About the book – A Vase of Mistaken Identity: Thea James, proprietress of James & Company Antique Emporium, never thought murder would come to her small, surviving Gold Rush town of Larkindale. But when the Larkindale Lamplight reports the discovery of a body during the renovation of Larkin Lake Resort, Thea is caught up in the mystery.
Her world is further frenzied when she acquires a vintage vase from the town’s only homeless person. Thea finds a puzzling list tucked inside with four names written in a faded scrawl: two childhood friends from a summer camp, her sister Rosie, and . . . her own name!
When the first woman on the list ends up in a coma and another mysteriously disappears, Thea knows she must save herself and her sister from harm. Her attempt to eliminate the vicious threat on their lives propels Thea to places she never wanted to visit.
Will she discover the connection before tragedy strikes?
The book is available for sale in Kindle or Paperback format on Amazon.com: A Vase of Mistaken Identity
Question for Readers: Do you love antique furnishings? Original? Restored? Or painted?
Come back Sept 7th for Laura V. Hilton!