- Author: ReGina Welling
Book online «Caught in the Frame (Ponderosa Pines Cozy Mystery Series Book 3) ReGina Welling (readict books TXT) 📖». Author ReGina Welling
Caught in the Frame
Ponderosa Pines Cozy Mystery Series
© 2016 Erin Lynn, ReGina Welling.
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“…and then he kissed me.” Chloe LaRue paused for dramatic effect, remembering the way Nathaniel Harper’s hands had tangled in her hair; the love that poured from his lips and sent her senses reeling. Twin sighs escaped the mouths of her two girlfriends, Veronica and Mindy, as they listened with rapt attention. Chloe relished the rare chance to gush about her up-until-recently non-existent love life.
A large pizza, so far untouched, rested on the coffee table, surrounded by an array of snacks that, if polished off in one night, would send all three of them into total sugar shock. Veronica sipped a bright pink cocktail through a makeshift Twizzler straw, her cornflower blue eyes opening wide over the rim as she absorbed every word of Chloe’s story. Mindy sat stick-straight in a lotus position, her feet tangled, pretzel-like, in front of her. Chloe and Veronica were so used to the yoga instructor’s mannerisms they barely noticed anymore when Mindy twisted herself into spontaneous poses at the oddest of times.
“What happened next?” Veronica wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, correctly deciphering the blush rising to stain Chloe’s cheeks a delicate pink. She wouldn’t—couldn’t—let it go without ribbing her friend just a bit. After watching Nate and Chloe engage in a two-decade-long mating dance they had nicknamed the Will They, Won’t They Waltz, Veronica and Mindy were delighted the pair had finally realized their true feelings for one another.
Pining for each other since puberty—but having lived most of that time on opposite corners of the world—the two of them had now permanently returned to the tiny town of Ponderosa Pines, making a long term relationship possible. However, miscommunication and a healthy dose of insecurity made the transition from friends to more than friends difficult, to say the least.
Chloe rolled her eyes and raised her right eyebrow at Veronica, shooting her friend a glance correctly interpreted as “Duh”, and continued. “I haven’t had enough of these to go into the gory details,” she raised her glass for emphasis, “and I don’t intend to. But, we definitely took our relationship to the next level. A couple of times.” Chloe grinned sheepishly, and her friends dissolved into giggles.
Three short days ago, Nate had burst through her front door to officially declare his love. Chloe would have been quite content to continue spending every possible second since then devoted to memorizing the long lines of his spectacular body. Instead, reality and responsibility pried them out of their love nest, and forced Nate back to his assignment of training Ponderosa Pines’ newest lawman. Rather than sit around and wait for him, Chloe had turned her phone back on, answered the dozen or so messages that had accrued on her voicemail, and acquiesced to an impromptu girls’ night in.
As the last—or second-to-last, if you counted her very closest friend, EV Torrence—one of the group to lose her single status, Chloe couldn’t deny the desire to tell someone about the incredible weekend she had just experienced. So what if they were all thirty-something, and probably too old to be giggling like school girls; you were only as old as you felt, and it still made them all happy to act like teenagers every once in a while.
Veronica, whose near-perfect marriage produced five beautiful, rambunctious children—and Mindy, childless by choice, but very much in love with her longtime boyfriend—were over the moon about the recent development in Chloe and Nate’s relationship. Now, if only EV could sort out her own love life, all of Chloe’s closest friends would be coupled up. Of course, EV had twenty years on the rest of them, so her situation was a bit more complicated than the others.
“You two can pull those canary feathers out of your mouths, by the way. EV already told me you were in on her little plot. Dragging me into situations where I’d have to see Nate was bad enough, but setting me up to date a bunch of losers and make Nate look like the better choice…jerks.” Her grin showed she bore no malice. “I already knew he was perfect, I just let fear get the best of me.”
“Should we expect retaliation?” Veronica smirked. “What you did to EV wasn’t so different from what we did to you, Miss Pot Who Calls Kettles Black.”
Chloe had to admit submitting her best friend’s profile to an online dating service probably went a bit beyond nice. Yet, she defended herself, “As if EV’s one to talk. She and Dalton are perfect for each other, and you can tell he’s totally in love with her. Too bad she’s still holding him at arm’s length.”
“That’s not what I heard!” Mindy sing-songed. “There’s a rumor going around that he was seen leaving her house after a torrid night of lust—at least that’s what Lottie Calabrese’s been telling everyone. Care to confirm?”
Chloe rolled her eyes but conceded, “Yes, it’s true. But they hit another bump in the road, and still have a few issues to work out.” How much should she tell them about recent developments?
Almost no one knew that former resident, Remy Vincent—who just happened to also be EV’s ex—was suspect number one in Ponderosa Pines’ first mystery of note. Unless the evidence lied, Remy had masterminded an attempted coup that would have forced their beloved town into being dissolved and absorbed by neighboring Gilmore. Remy’s blackmail attempt failed miserably when its victim, Evan Plunkett,