Murder of a Stacked Librarian
Murder of a Stacked Librarian: A Scumble River Mystery. By Denise Swanson. There's no place like Scumble River at ...
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Murder of a Stacked Librarian: A Scumble River Mystery
by Denise Swanson
There's no place like Scumble River at Christmastime, and this year, school psychologist Skye Denison has twice as much to celebrate—and to do. In addition to the usual holiday frenzy, Skye's wedding to police chief Wally Boyd is less than a week away—that is, if the groom isn't too busy working to attend. The town's sexy new librarian, Yvonne Osborn, has just been murdered, and the list of suspects is piling up faster than late fees on an overdue book.
Yvonne's strict sense of right and wrong annoyed some townspeople and infuriated others. Did her high standards lead to her death? Skye is distracted by worries about what havoc the crazy Dooziers will wreak on her wedding day and whether she'll fit into her dress. But Skye can't afford to leave any page unturned because unless she works quickly to expose the scheming killer, her happy ending may be put on permanent hold...
Skye Denison adjusted the stack of books in front of her, making sure that she was completely concealed behind their brightly colored spines. It was the morning of December 23, exactly a week before her wedding, and she was hiding out in the Scumble River Public Library.
She was supposed to be working on writing her vows, but in truth, things had gotten out of hand and she was avoiding all the people who were stressing her out. She'd known from the minute she set the date that her mother would drive her crazy, but she hadn't anticipated that others would join May on that trip. As it turned out, the entire town had an opinion. From the flowers for the church to the menu at the reception, people stopped Skye wherever she went to lobby for their favorite selection.
Didn't they realize that all the choices had been made months ago and it was far too late for Skye to change her mind now? Unless she just called off the whole shebang and went back to her nice, boring, regular life. Surely Wally wouldn't mind delaying their marriage another year, or two, or ten. He was a patient guy and didn't deserve the psycho bride she was becoming.
Skye's fiance, Wally Boyd, the town's chief of police, had been strangely exempt from all the hoopla. It might have been his age - he was forty three - or the fact that he had been married once before, or because he was male, but no one was making helpful suggestions to him about the decor or the food or telling him what not to wear.
Sighing, Skye closed "The Everything Wedding Vows Book: Anything and Everything You Could Possibly Say at the Altar - and Then Some" and added it to her camouflage pile. Next up was "Yes! I Will! I Do!: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Wedding Ceremony as Unique as You Are." She examined the pale pink cover, then flipped it open to the index. As she ran her finger down the column, looking for the chapter on vows, a loud voice drew her attention to the circulation desk.
Chip Nicolet, the owner of the new health club, Guns and Poses, had backed librarian Yvonne Osborn against the counter and appeared to be enthralled with the beautiful woman's many assets. The muscular man's expression reminded Skye of her cat, Bingo, just before the Fancy Feast was spooned into his bowl - hunger, impatience, and entitlement all mixed together in a quivering mass of desire.
Yvonne had been substituting for Scumble River's regular library director since June, and during that time, Skye had noticed that although the temporary librarian had the hourglass figure of a Playboy Bunny, her outlook on life was more like Margaret Thatcher's than one of Hugh Hefner's average cottontails. Apparently, Chip hadn't gotten the memo on that, because he was staring at Yvonne's considerable bust line and nearly drooling.
Happy for a distraction from her wedding woes, but more than a bit alarmed at the man's belligerent attitude, Skye pushed aside a pillar of books and leaned forward to hear the conversation. She felt a twinge of conscience at blatantly eavesdropping, but anything was better than thinking about the big day looming on her horizon like a dentist appointment for a root canal. Why, oh, why hadn't she eloped like her brother and his new wife had?
Skye saw that Yvonne was trying to shush Chip, but evidently the health club owner had never heard of the "whisper in the library" rule because he boomed, "Come on. Say you'll go out with me."
"No." Yvonne's expression was adamant. "Now move aside and let me do my job."
"I promise you, you'll have a good time," Chip persisted, edging closer.
"I seriously doubt it." Yvonne took a deep breath, causing her chest to expand and Chip to stare. "Is there a book I can help you find?"
"A book?" Chip looked confused.
"You know, those items lined up on the shelves." Yvonne pointed to the crowded bookcases around the room. "The reason you came into the library."
"I know what a book is. What? Do you think I'm an idiot?" Chip snarled. I just didn't realize anyone still read them."
"Yes. Many people whose attention span is longer than a television commercial still read books."
"I'll make a mental note of that," Chip jeered.
"That might be difficult for you to do since your pencil is obviously out of lead." Yvonne's voice was cool. "And since it doesn't appear you're here for any of the library's usual services, is there something else I can help you with? Perhaps directions to the bathroom?"
"What?" Chip wrinkled his brow. "Why do you think I need to go to the can?"
"Frankly" - Yvette placed her palms on Chip's well-developed pecs and pushed, but he didn't budge - "I don't think about you at all."
"Well, you should." His gaze dropped to her curvy bottom. "A hottie like you should be hooking up with someone like me, not acting like a nun. Who are you saving it for?"
"Myself." Yvonne finally managed to step to the side and wiggle past him. "I've found that I'm much better company than most men."
The library was divided into two main rooms, and Yvonne pushed a cart toward the section where Skye was sitting. A few wooden chairs and tables shared the cramped space with jam-packed bookshelves and racks stuffed with magazines. Yvonne stopped a few feet from Skye and started reshelving novels, pointedly ignoring the man who had followed her.
When Chip moved in front of Yvonne and put his palm on her shoulder, Skye's initial twinge of alarm grew stronger, and she dug her cell phone out of her tote bag, ready to call for help.
"Go out with me tonight. There's a new spot in Kankakee that's supposed to really rock," Chip wheedled.
"No." Yvonne glanced down at the wet spot where his fingers had rested and said, "If you're perspiring this much standing still, I'd hate to see you dancing."
"If you ain't sweating, you ain't doing it right," Chip boasted. He smoothed a hand over his shaved head. "If you don't want to go to a club, we could grab a pizza and go to my place."
"No." Yvonne reached around him and slid a hardback into place, straightening the spine before adding, "Thank you, but I have other plans."
"Babe, you don't know what you're missing," Chip flexed his right arm, making his biceps bulge. Although it was winter, he had on a short-sleeved black T-shirt, formfitting jeans, and leather trainers.
"I know exactly what I'm missing," Yvonne assured him, narrowing her baby blue eyes. "Just because I don't want to date a Neanderthal like you doesn't mean I'm living a life of chastity."
As Yvonne reached around him again, Chip's hands spanned her tiny waist and pulled her against him. "Don't call me a Neanderthal."
"Would you prefer that I call you a caveman?" Yvonne stood perfectly still, seeming unwilling to give him the satisfaction of struggling. "Or perhaps Homo sapiens neanderthalensis?"
As Chip's face turned the color of the Scumble River fire engine, Skye rose to her feet to intervene, but before she could move toward the out-of-control jerk, Chip roared and leaped backward, clutching his groin. Skye's attention had been on the health club owner, but when she turned to look at Yvonne, she saw the librarian tucking a pink palm-size stun gun into her blazer pocket.
Chip stared at Yvonne for a couple of seconds, then threatened in a shrill voice, "You'll be sorry for that, bitch. You may look like Jessica Rabbit, but just remember, she was easy to erase." He hobbled out of the library, muttering about women who didn't know their place.
Yvonne met Skye's concerned gaze and shrugged. "He's not the first man to confuse how I appear with who I am."