Read Iced Chiffon Online

Authors: Duffy Brown

Iced Chiffon

Fashion to Die for

“Look at this,” KiKi said, waving her hand over the shoppers in the dining room. “Murder truly is good for business. I never knew people could be so ghoulish. Everyone wants to know every gory little detail about Cupcake and the body. I suppose it’s like Cher said: ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity.’ ”

“Cher said that?”

“She would have if she’d thought of it first. We’ve been busy as ants at a picnic. I’m thinking it’s all because of the body in the Lexus, but now we are getting clothes to sell. I took in some costume jewelry that looked kind of nice, and maybe we should start to do furniture. While you were gone, I went and named your store the Prissy Fox.”

Iced Chiffon

D
UFFY
B
ROWN

BERKLEY PRIME CRIME, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL,
England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin
Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community
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(South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over
and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

ICED CHIFFON

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / October 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Dianne Kruetzkamp.

Cover illustration by Julia Green.

Cover design by Diana Kolsky.

Interior text design by Kristin del Rosario.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or
electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of
copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-61152-4

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is
stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the
author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

~A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS
~

Thanks to Faith Black and Roberta Brown for believing in this series. A new author is always a gamble; I won’t let you down.

Thanks to my kids—Emily, Gina, Ann, and David—for believing in me and to the gals at the real Fox, the Snooty Fox. Working with Donna Spigel, Michelle Webber, Emily Gildea, and Trish Goodman is always an adventure and a bit of a mystery. Is that Gucci bag real or a knockoff?

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter One

I
POURED
out the last of the pinot and lifted my glass as I gazed around the dining-room table. “Good-bye, Louis, Donna, Diane, and Ralph.” A vintage Armani cocktail dress and Kate Spade pantsuit were draped over the table, sad and abandoned. “To friends. We’ve been through luncheons together, dinners, weddings, and funerals. You made me feel good when I was PMS-ing and bloated or put on five pounds from a Godiva bender. You’ve been there for me, from country-club dances to the Hobart bar mitzvah, and I appreciate it; I truly do.”

I gulped down another toast as Auntie KiKi, my mother’s only sibling, sashayed in through the back door from her house, next to mine. “Reagan, honey, don’t you think it’s a mite early in the day for tying one on, even by Savannah standards?”

Today KiKi’s hair was frizzed out from the humidity,
and she had on her favorite red floral skirt. When she was born, the angels hovered over her crib chanting “cha-cha-cha” and turned her into a dance instructor. For Mamma, they’d chanted, “Follow the elephant,” which led to her becoming a staunch Republican, which is how I ended up with the name Reagan.

“Who in the world are you talking to, anyway?” Auntie KiKi asked.

I cut my eyes to the grandfather clock in the living room, the only thing left in there since I’d sold off the Chippendale davenport, Oriental rug, two matching chairs, and the Tiffany lamp, which had been a wedding present seven years ago. “Don’t you have fox-trot lessons at nine on Wednesdays?” I blurted, feeling a little stupid for talking to a bunch of designer clothes. “The future beaus and belles of Savannah need to be up to dancing speed for the spring cotillion, or their mammas and daddies will be deeply upset, and that is not good for business.”

“I threatened to play my Sinatra collection if they didn’t keep practicing while I ran over here to see what was happening. Your lights were blazing all night long. Why are your nice things laid out like a Sunday buffet?”

“Hollis Beaumont the third had the social connections in our marriage,” I told KiKi. “Now that we’re divorced, I’m back to being Reagan Summerside the first. I have no need for designer clothes, and I’m taking them to that consignment shop on Broughton.”

I waved my hand over the Ralph Lauren slacks with the cute red trim. “I put this wardrobe together from resale shops and eBay. I did it for Hollis. He said
we
had to look successful so
he
could be successful. Being a real-estate
broker in these times, the man needed every advantage.” I sighed. “Now he’s dancing in the high cotton, and I have overdue bills.”

“And the moral of that particular story is never sign a prenup. Like Cher used to say, ‘If you put everything you know about men on the head of a pin, there’d still be room for the Lord’s Prayer.’” In college Auntie KiKi had been a roadie for Cher, and she’d never quite left the tour. “There’s just no figuring men,” she continued. “Especially the one you happened to pick.”

“Seven years ago, I was young, knew everything, and believed love conquered all. Now I’m thirty-two, divorced, broke, living in a half-restored Victorian, and have learned that overdue bills conquer all.” I gazed up at the crack across the dining-room ceiling, which seemed to be getting wider—or maybe that was one of the aftereffects of cheap wine at nine in the morning. Nope, there was white plaster dust on the Donna Karan navy silk blouse. “Least I got Cherry House.”

“You’re the one who’s done all the work on this place since buying it five years ago. You had your eye on Cherry House since you were a kid, and the only reason Hollis bought it was that he knew it was a good investment and that you’d do all the rehab work. He finally agreed to give you the place so he wouldn’t look like a total horse’s patoot for taking up with that platinum-blonde cupcake fifteen years younger than he is. If he looks bad, no one will list a house from him ever again, and he knows it.”

“The cupcake is twenty years younger.” I hiccupped, feeling a little woozy from bad wine and a lot woozy from being kicked to the curb and having cracks in my ceiling. “Hollis turns forty-five next week.”

The clock chimed, and KiKi swiped the glass from my hand. “Gotta go. The real problem is that Hollis has terminal MLCS—midlife crisis syndrome.” She downed the last sip before heading for the door. “I’ll take that white Christian Dior suit if you’re sure you’re getting rid of it,” she called over her shoulder. “It’s just the thing to get me going on a diet, and you should keep the pink chiffon, Reagan; it’s a killer dress.” KiKi two-stepped across the yard to her stately Queen Anne, which had been in the Vanderpool family since 1888.

KiKi had married the perfect Southern gentleman.

I’d married the perfect Southern philanderer.

I picked up the white Dior and tried to picture my fiftish auntie of ample proportions in a size eight, but my gaze drifted back to the pink chiffon. Maybe I should keep it. Maybe I’d go somewhere snazzy someday. I wasn’t dead yet.

“Yoo-hoo, Reagan, are you in there?” came a voice from the back door. “I have that wallpaper you’ve been waiting on.”

Restoring an old Victorian meant I ordered cornices, entablatures, and other ornate gingerbread pieces online because I couldn’t find them anyplace in Savannah. They always cost the earth, and I’d gotten to be real good friends with my UPS delivery crew.

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