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Table Of Contents


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Classic Peach Cobbler

About the Author

Murder by Page One

Copyright © 2020 Olivia Matthews

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereinafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either 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.

Print: ISBN: 978-1-952210-12-9

eBook: ISBN: 978-1-952210-13-6




To My Dream Team:

My sister, Bernadette, for giving me the dream.

My husband, Michael, for supporting the dream.

My brother, Richard, for believing in the dream.

My brother, Gideon, for encouraging the dream.

And to Mom and Dad, always, with love.

I’d also like to express my sincere thanks to Maria F. and Toni B. for their invaluable help and insights on Georgia culture.

Chapter 1

“I was promised chocolate.”

I directed the reminder toward my new best friend, Jolene Gomez, after entering the bookstore. I threw my gaze into every visible nook and cranny of To Be Read in search of chocolate-covered pecan clusters.

Jo owned To Be Read, an independent bookstore on the southeast side of Peach Coast, Georgia. It wasn’t that I needed the food bribe to come to her bookstore—or any bookstore—especially when a bunch of authors were signing their books. It was just that, well…promises had been made.

“Marvey.” The tattooed businesswoman’s tan features warmed with a welcoming smile. Her coffee-colored eyes shifted to my right. “Spence. I’m glad you both made it.”

Jo seemed relieved, as though she’d worried we wouldn’t come. Why would she have thought that? I kept my promises, especially those made to another book fanatic. Jo and I had bonded over our love of books, our newcomer status—she was from Florida and I was from New York—and chocolates, which reminded me today’s stash was still conspicuously absent.

“Of course we came. We’re readers. On top of that, we’re here supporting our friend.” I nudged Jo’s shoulder with my own.

“The others are on their way,” Spence said, referring to the members of the Peach Coast Library Book Club.

Spence and I had walked over from the library after our Saturday afternoon meeting. It was about a fifteen-minute walk, and the weather on this May Day had been comfortably warm. As geographically challenged as I was, I’d been glad to have Spence with me. On my own, I probably would’ve still been circling the library’s parking lot.

Spencer Holt was a local celebrity, although he’d deny it. The Holts were the richest family in Peach Coast and one of the wealthiest in Camden County. They owned a bed and breakfast, a hotel, a local bank, and the town’s daily newspaper, The Peach Coast Crier. It was considered required reading among the residents, and Spence was the publisher and editor-in-chief.

The family was also philanthropic: Peach Coast’s answer to Gotham City’s Wayne Foundation. Spence’s mother, for example, served on the board of directors for the Peach Coast Library—which technically made her my boss.

For all his money, prestige, power, and good looks—think Bruce Wayne with a slow Southern drawl—Spence was very humble. He was more interested in listening than talking about himself, and he seemed to prefer comfort over fashion. I once again noted his brown loafers, faded blue jeans, and the ruby-red polo shirt that showed off his biceps and complimented his warm sienna skin.

Spence shifted his midnight gaze to mine. “If you want pecan clusters, we can get some at the coffee shop after the signing.”

After the signing? “It wouldn’t be the same.” Translation: that would be too late. Far too late. I continued scanning the store, my mind rejecting the truth my eyes had confirmed.

“I haven’t put the chocolates out yet, but I’ll get you some in a minute.” Jo waved a hand as though the treats weren’t important. The right sleeve of her citrus-orange knit sweater, which she’d coupled with leaf-green jeans, slipped to reveal the University of Florida Gators logo inked onto the inside of her small wrist. Jo was a proud alumna. “First, let me introduce you to Zelda Taylor. She’s the president of Coastal Fiction Writers. The authors who’re signing today are members of her group. Zelda, you know Spence.”

“Ms. Zelda, it’s nice to see you again.” Spence’s greeting rumbled in his Barry White voice.

“Mr. Spence, it’s always such a pleasure,” the redhead gushed. Her porcelain cheeks glowed pink. “How is your mama?”

“She’s very well, ma’am. I’ll tell her you asked after her.” Spence’s smile went up a watt. The poor woman seemed dazed.

I tossed Spence a laughing look. “Is there anyone in this town you don’t know?”

Spence’s smooth forehead creased as he pretended to consider my question. “Well, nearly one thousand people reside in Peach Coast. I’m sure I’ve yet to meet one or two of them.”

Jo gestured toward me. “Zelda, this is Marvella Harris. She moved here from New York—the city—four months ago. She’s the library’s new director of community engagement.”

Zelda tugged her attention from Spence. Her appearance was flawless: well-manicured nails, perfect makeup, and salon-styled hair. She was camera-ready for a photo spread in a Southern homes magazine.

“Oh, yes. I read the article about you in the Crier a couple of months back.” Her voice was now imposing, as though she were reading a town proclamation. “Welcome to Camden County. What brings you all this way, Ms. Marvella?”

Referring to the county of residence instead of the town was taking some getting used to. I supposed it was like New Yorkers saying we were from Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island. Only people from Manhattan said they were from “the city.”


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