Authors: Gemma Halliday
Tags: #General, #cozy mystery, #Women Sleuths, #Weddings - Planning, #Women fashion designers, #Mystery & Detective
Here’s what critics are saying about
The High Heels Mysteries
"A saucy combination of romance and suspense that is simply irresistible."
- Chicago Tribune
"Stylish... nonstop action...guaranteed to keep chick lit and mystery fans happy!"
- Publishers’ Weekly, starred review
“Smart, funny and snappy …t he perfect beach read!”
- Fresh Fiction
" A roller coaster ride full of fun and excitement!"
- Romance Reviews Today
"Gemma Halliday writes like a seasoned author leaving the reader hanging on to every word, every clue, every delicious scene of the book. It’s a fun and intriguing mystery full of laughs and suspense."
- Once Upon A Romance
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IN HIGH HEELS
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Copyright © 201 1 by Gemma Halliday
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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IN HIGH HEELS
* * * * *
I watched as the dark figure moved through the forest. Mist swirled at his feet, the glow of the full moon above casting shadows across his beautifully sculpted face, his black hair curling over his ears in the damp night air as he stalked his prey. She stood, unsuspecting, on the other side of the clearing. A dark-haired woman, her back to him, her slim, pale neck exposed to the chilling night.
He spotted her. Then he smiled, showing off a pair of sharp, white fangs against his full lips.
I sucked in a breath, pulling my feet up to my chest.
Then I watched in horror as, in an instant, he was hurtling through the darkness toward the woman.
I covered my eyes with both hands. “I can’t look. He’s gonna bite her, isn’t he?”
Dana sighed next to me. “Yes. Again.”
I pulled my Snuggie up over my head. “Tell me when it’s over.” I burrowed into the pillows on my sofa where my best friend, Dana, and I were indulging in chocolate covered popcorn and hot cocoa while watching
, last summer’s biggest blockbuster movie. I’d read all the
books but had made myself wait to see the movie until I’d finished the last one in the series. Which, as of this morning, I had. And I had to admit, it was worth the wait. The actress playing Lila was totally convincing as the naïve teenager who inadvertently falls in love with a local vampire.
Dana shifted beside me. “God, I hate this part, Maddie,” she whined.
I peeked over the edge of my pink Snuggie at the screen. Lila was falling into the arms of her vampire would-be lover, Daniel, as his lips gently grazed her neck.
“Know what? I don’t think he’s biting her. I think it’s just a kiss,” I pointed out.
“Yeah, that’s the problem.” Dana crunched down hard on a piece of chocolate covered popcorn. Which was a sure sign she was upset. Dana never ate chocolate. Ever. Her body was a temple that ran on wheat grass, tofu, and mass amounts of exercise. She’d worked as an aerobics instructor, a Pilates instructor and a CrossFit trainer. Chocolate was to Dana was like garlic to Daniel and Lila.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Peachy. I love watching my boyfriend kiss other women,” she said, heavy on the sarcasm.
“Sorry.” I put a hand on her arm. “But you know it’s just acting, right?”
Dana didn’t answer, instead grabbing another handful of popcorn.
While I was caught up in the fantasy of the
world, Dana was stuck in the reality of it. Namely the fact that the sexy vampire currently caressing Lila’s neck was actually Ricky Montgomery, Dana’s boyfriend of the last two and a half years. While Ricky was no stranger to Hollywood, having begun his career as the hunky gardener on TV’s prime time soap,
, “Daniel” was the biggest part he’d landed yet, the
phenomenon launching him from TV hottie to teen idol overnight. Something Dana was not overly thrilled with. Not only had reviewers commented numerous times on the undeniable chemistry between Daniel and Lila - who was actually played by Ava Martinez, the sultry new member of the young Hollywood elite - but the last time Dana had gone to Starbucks with Ricky, no less than three women had asked Ricky to sign their boobs.
Not that Dana had anything to worry about, as far as I could tell. She was herself now an actress slash model slash Lover Girl cosmetics spokeswoman (her latest gig) who was blonde, stacked, and toned from head to toe. If Barbie ever needed a body double, Dana was your gal.
But I guess even Barbie might have issues with watching Ken smooch another girl.
“I don’t get all this vampire fascination,” Dana mumbled, crossing her arms over her chest and scowling at the screen as Daniel sunk his teeth into Lila, giving her “the eternal kiss” of night.
“You’re kidding, right?” I responded, looking away as I grabbed a handful of popcorn. “Are we watching the same movie? Vampires are sexy.”
“What’s so sexy about drinking blood?”
I paused. Okay, she had me there. “It’s not the blood thing,” I countered. “It’s that they’re mysterious. Dark. Forbidden. The ultimate bad boys. Besides,” I said gesturing at the screen, “you have to admit that Ricky looks hot in pale make-up.”
Dana sighed. “Yeah. I know. Too hot.”
“You know, there are worse things in the world than dating the guy every woman in America is lusting over,” I teased her.
She threw a piece of popcorn at me, but smiled at least. “Well, with any luck, after he finishes shooting the sequel there won’t be any more
“Aww,” I whined before I could stop myself. “Why not?”
“Ricky’s invested in this new club, and if it does well he said he’ll be able to slow down a bit with the acting. Which,” she clarified, “means more time with moi and less time with
“Tell me about the club,” I said to cover my disappointment at losing my new favorite film series.
Dana perked up, crossing her legs under her on the sofa. “It’s called Crush, and it’s got this totally chic little spot on Sunset. Apparently Ricky’s business manager suggested investing in it, so Ricky’s now something like a one-sixteenth owner. I’m going to check it out tomorrow night. Oh! You should totally come with!”
I bit my lip. “Me? At a nightclub?” Okay, a few months ago, I would have jumped at the chance to check out a hot new club from the cushy VIP section reserved for one-sixteenth owners. As a fashion designer, people-watching among Hollywood’s nightlife was one of my favorite hobbies. Some of my best inspirations had come from the dance floors of L.A.’s most fashionable clubs.
But recently something had come along to change all that. Okay, I guess you could say two somethings.
Number one: My husband, Detective Jack Ramirez, L.A.P.D. homicide. He was tall, broad shouldered, and built with all solid muscle. His hair was dark and always a week past needing a cut, his skin was a warm honey color year round, and his eyes were a soft brown when they crinkled with laughter at the corners and a deep, rich chocolate when he was in the mood for something a little more naughty. When a girl had a guy like that at home, what did she want to go out for?
And clearly we’d been spending a lot of time “in” together as I now had a reason number two to stay home: The Bump. In about twenty-two weeks I was told that said growth would actually become a living breathing human, but at the moment, it was just The Bump, a basketball shaped growth under my favorite T-shirt. (Which, even though it was stretched to the max I refused to give up in favor of the tents that passed as maternity clothes. Whoever said that maternity wear was “so much cuter” now than in the past clearly had a very loose interpretation of the word “cute”.)
My first reaction to the two little lines on the pee stick had been surprise, then elation, then horror at the idea I was soon to be responsible for an entire life. Horror had settled into a dull sense of panic that I could most of the time smother with chocolate covered popcorn and hot cocoa, but it was still bubbling just below the surface enough that a nightclub wasn’t high on my list of to-do’s lately.
Dana must have seen the hesitation in my eyes as she looked down at The Bump too.
“Come on, it would be good for you to get out,” she said.
“I don’t know. It sounds like a normal person thing not a pregnant person thing.”
Dana shot me a look. “You
a normal person.”
“I’m a whale.”
My turn to shoot the look. “I appreciate your dishonestly for my benefit, but I have mirrors. I know how big I am.”
Dana waved me off. “No one will notice. It’s dark in clubs.”
“It’s also loud. What if it’s too loud for her?”
“Her?” Dana asked, jumping on the word. “Do we know The Bump’s a girl?”
I shrugged. “Well, not technically. It’s too early to know for sure yet. But I saw this to-die-for pink tutu onesie the other day at Macy’s, so I’m hopeful.”
“Well, either way, I’m pretty sure that thing can’t hear yet,” Dana said, staring down at my belly.
“She might be able to. I read in
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
that she has ears now.”
“Even if she does, the layer of fat will insulate her.”
“See, you are calling me fat!”
Dana swatted me on the arm. “Look, if Crush gets too loud or too crowded or too anything, we can leave. But please come with me. It will be no fun without you.” Dana pouted and batted her eyelashes at me.
The effect was so comical that I couldn’t help the spurt of laughter that escaped me. “Okay, fine. I’ll drag my whale-sized self to a nightclub just for you.”
“Yay!” Dana said, bouncing up and down on the sofa cushion. “Trust me, we’ll have a blast. It’ll be like our last little club night before The Bump arrives.”
“Hmm,” I said, grabbing another handful of popcorn to cover the mild panic that always accompanied imagining my world post-Bump.
“’K, so I just have one more teeny, tiny favor to ask,” Dana said.
I rolled my eyes. “What now?”
She glanced at the screen where “Daniel” was tongue kissing the newly vampireized Lila. “Any chance we could watch something else?
The next night found me ditching my Snuggie for the first time in months and letting my sofa fend for itself as Dana drove me through the packed Hollywood streets in her brand new convertible Mustang. Cherry red. With the top down. I had to admit, I was digging this last hurrah already.
Crush was located on Sunset Boulevard between Highland and Vine, in a black, square building set between a posh Italian restaurant and a women’s boutique that specialized in pumps in size 11 and up. A single blue neon sign above the door was the only indication anything interesting lay within. That is, if you didn’t count the line of women in tiny skirts and guys in skinny jeans spanning the side of the building, hopefully eyeing the door. Guarding the unassuming entrance stood a guy who looked like a heavyweight champ, a pair of black sunglass over his eyes despite the absence of sunlight.
Luckily, being that Dana and her plus one were on the list, we marched straight to the front of the line and were let in immediately. I thanked the gods for small favors. My shoes were already starting to bite into my feet as we entered the noisy room. In all honesty four-inch, pale pink, patent leather pumps probably weren’t the most practical choice for when With Bump, but, my like my fav T, they were on the list of things I was not willing to give up, pain or no pain. Especially this pair. They were part of my new spring collection I was calling “Heaven in Heels.” The entire collection was done in soft, ethereal colors, and I was just three shoes away from completing it. With any luck, they would be walking the runways in New York in a matter weeks, and hitting exclusive boutiques everywhere in just a few short months.