Strange Things Done

Strange Things Done by Elle Wild Read Free Book Online

Book: Strange Things Done by Elle Wild Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elle Wild
Tags: Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Noir
screen-ninja: serene and confident, with a smile that spoke of secrets well kept. The woman in the luxurious fur opened her mouth to speak, but just then the mayor invited questions. She looked conflicted, but raised her hand. Something about her made Jo pause to listen.
    The mayor scanned the audience for other hands before finally taking her question. “May?”
    “Yes, Peter, speaking of tourist dollars, I was just wondering about the town’s budget. How are the books this year?”
    “I’m happy to report that we’ve got a balanced budget.”
    May smiled and her finely groomed eyebrows lifted, perhaps a little surprised, perhaps pleased, it was difficult to tell. A few members of the audience applauded, muffling the sound of the door closing behind Jo.

4
    Jo happened to glance through the kitchen window of Sally’s house on the way to the front door. Her housemate was standing at the counter, wearing a retro apron patterned with red cherries. Head down, threads of gold hair obscuring her eyes, she was spooning a powdery substance that resembled baking soda onto a little electronic scale. A series of canning labels were lined up like soldiers across the counter. Sally looked up as Jo passed the window, her lips forming a perfect, lipsticked “O.” Evidently she hadn’t been expecting Jo, who was supposed to be at work.
    By the time Jo kicked off her rubber boots in the entryway and stepped into the kitchen, Sally had her pink mixer running at full tilt, ferociously blending some gooey concoction. Both the little scale and the canning labels had disappeared, but there was a bulge in the pocket of Sally’s apron. A small spiral notebook lay open on the counter. Scrawling, enigmatic notes implied that some dark alchemy had just transpired. Jo was able to read, “two grams of natriumalginat,” “spherification process,” and “perhaps a chocolate coating?” before Sally followed the direction of her glance and casually slipped the notebook into her pocket too.
    “Hey,” said Jo. “Nice apron.” She felt a little sheepish, given that they had not hit it off on their first meeting and then had argued about the cleanliness of their shared space. And now Jo needed a favour.
    “Don’t you love it? Made it myself.” Sally held the frilly apron up at the corners, further emphasizing the contrast between her petite waist and generous hips.
    “Whatchya making?” Jo asked.
    Sally waved her hand nonchalantly. “Oh, a little smoothie. I’m on a health kick.”
    “You?” Jo wished she hadn’t said it with such obvious disbelief.
    “Yes. I find it quite tasty with vodka.”
    Jo snorted a little.
    “Care to try?” Sally offered.
    Jo looked dubiously at the lumpy mixture in Sally’s bowl: it reminded her of the bubble tea sold in malls back in Vancouver and had a suspicious resemblance to fish eggs. “It’s a little early for me.”
    “That’s not what I heard,” Sally said archly.
    “Well …” Jo choked back a retort. “I didn’t mean to disturb … whatever it is that you’re doing. I just needed to ask a favour.”
    “Hmm?” Sally had a way of imbuing anything she said with additional meaning.
    “I wondered whether I might borrow your truck.”
    “Sure.” Sally’s lips were pursed a little. “But it will cost you a bottle of iceberg gin.” Now Sally warmed to a smile. “Keys are on the hook. Chains are on ’er. You crack her up, you die.”
    “I die, I’ll be sure not to come back and tell you about it.”
    “Where are you going?”
    “Just up the Dempster. Need to talk to Christopher Byrne. Do you know where his cabin is? Heard it’s up there somewhere.”
    Something about Sally’s composure seemed to slip. “Sure, everyone knows,” she said. “I’ll give you a map.” She turned away quickly, under the pretense of looking for a map, fussing perhaps more than was necessary with the contents of a kitchen drawer. After removing random bits of paper, numerous corkscrews, bear

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