The Good Girl's Guide to Murder

The Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Susan McBride Read Free Book Online

Book: The Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Susan McBride Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan McBride
Tags: Fiction, General, Suspense, Romance, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths
vanished into the labyrinth that was her closet.
    As I waited for her to return, I looked around me, inhaling Joy with every breath.
    Mother loved pink, and her bedroom reflected it. Drapes of pearly pink damask, an embroidered raw silk duvet that softly shimmered; and buried beneath, pink Egyptian-cotton sheets with impossibly high thread counts rendering them soft as a baby’s bottom. The furniture was antique, mostly French, the wallpaper imported, and gently worn Chinese silk rugs smothered the floor, so exquisitely done that you could hardly tell which side was up and which was down.
    Such a far cry from my own bedroom, full of flea-market finds and sale-priced irregular sheet sets from Bed Bath & Beyond.
    Atop her bureau sat a cluster of silver-framed photographs, and I went over to look at them, as if I hadn’t seen them a dozen times before. Most of the shots were black-and-white chronicles of my parents’ time together. Cissy and Daddy on the beach in Key West. At the palace in Monaco, a villa on the French Riviera, a yacht on the Mediterranean. In London and Kenya. Posing, laughing, smiling, dancing. There were several of Baby Andrea, cradled in Daddy’s arms, him gazing down in adoration. One of Cissy and me, when I couldn’t have been more than five. We were dressed identically in blue coats with big black buttons. Mother had on white gloves and patent leather pumps. I wore bobby socks with lace and patent leather Mary Janes. We each had wide blue headbands smoothing back our hair.
    So long ago .
    And what felt like a galaxy far, far away.
    I ran a finger across our faces and felt a lump in my throat.
    “Here we are.” I heard the swish of plastic and my mother’s voice as she swept back into the bedroom. “ Violà! ”
    I’d imagined—okay, hoped for—a horrible monstrosity with yards of chiffon and ruffles, garish and overblown, something I’d have no trouble rejecting.
    I turned around to see her fussing with a ripple of color spread atop the pink duvet. Tentatively, I stepped closer to see a short dress with skinny straps and gently ruffled skirt covered in tiny sequins. Deep pink, orange, and green splashed across the design like a painting by Monet.
    Double rats .
    It was gorgeous.
    I felt my resistance weaken.
    Stay strong , I told myself. Be tough .
    “It’s Escada,” Mother reminded me, as if I’d forgotten our earlier conversation. She had her hands pressed together beneath her chin, almost prayerful. “Do you like it?”
    Beside the dress she’d set a matching pink bag and heart-shaped pink slingbacks, also Escada, and I figured I could live for a couple months on what she’d shelled out for the ensemble.
    “It’s all . . . beautiful,” I told her honestly, “but I . . . no, I can’t.” I was actually stammering. “It . . . it’s way too much . . .”
    “No, it’s not,” she interrupted, coming up behind me and snaking an arm around my waist. “Nothing’s ever too much when it comes to my little girl. Let me do this for you, Andrea. Let your old mother have some fun, all right? I’d rather spend it on you now than have you give it all away to animal charities when I’m gone.”
    “Well, if you put it that way.”
    I stared at the lovely creation on her bed and nibbled on my lip, telling myself to be firm, to remember the reason I’d driven down here.
    “Try it on,” she urged, and I felt a little like Snow White being cajoled into biting the poisoned apple.
    “Oh . . . no, I couldn’t . . .”
    “Sure you can, baby.”
    “But I’m all sweaty.”
    “Then stand in front of the full-length mirror, and we’ll improvise,” she instructed, nudging me in that direction. So I went, waiting with my arms at my sides until she’d removed the dress from its hanger and pressed it into my hands. I held it up against me, while Mother fiddled with my hair, drawing it off my neck in a makeshift chignon.
    She leaned her cheek against mine. She smelled

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