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Cereal Killer (Maternal Instincts Mystery Series: Book Eleven) Sneak Peek – Chapter Three Continued

Did you miss Chapter One? Did you miss Chapter Two? Did you miss part one of Chapter Three? From Cereal Killer  Chapter Three Continued… I KNOW WHAT YOU DID. MAYBE ITS TIME TO GIVE UP YOU’RE GRAPES OF WRATH. “Well,” I murmured. “They’re referencing a classic novel but made a mistake on the difference between your and you’re.” “I noticed that,” said Luz with a dark chuckle. “They missed the apostrophe in it’s, too.” Vicente and I traded papers, and I read the other note. HOW ABOUT A MIRACLE? TURN THE WINE INTO WATER. It was printed on the same type of paper. No spelling errors in this one, I noted—but another allusion, this time to a Bible story. And this one explained why Luz had flinched at Gloria’s water-and-wine remark a few minutes earlier. It had been an unwelcome reminder of the strange notes. Glancing toward Luz, I asked, “And what did they send today?” Wordlessly, she passed the last piece of paper toward me. LIGHTS OUT. CLOSE DOWN THE WINERY OR ELSE. My eyes widened. “They’re all disconcerting, but this one reads as a more direct threat. They didn’t even bother to try to be clever with a literary reference.” “I know.” She ran a hand through her dark hair. “I . . . don’t know what to do.” “Let’s start thinking through some suspects, so we have a place to begin investigating,” I said. “Vicente thought maybe your ex has some‐ thing to do with it?” Vicente grumbled his assent. Luz traced the edge of the table. “It is easier for Vicente to think that Thomas...

Cereal Killer (Maternal Instincts Mystery Series: Book Eleven) Sneak Peek – Chapter Three

Did you miss Chapter One? Did you miss Chapter Two? From Cereal Killer  Chapter Three Afraid? Vicente and I glanced at each other, grim expressions on our faces. But Luz waved her hand. “I’m sorry,” she said, regret in her eyes. “I shouldn’t have led with that. We’ll discuss it in a few minutes.” Gloria emerged from the kitchen carrying a tray, and Luz clamped her mouth shut. “Water and wine,” declared Gloria, setting the tray on the coffee table. Luz visibly flinched, but no one else seemed to notice. A moment later, Gloria disappeared back toward the kitchen. “So,” Luz said, “I understand you’ve done great work as a PI. Tell me about an interesting case you’ve solved.” “Well . . .” I reached for a water glass. “The most recent one was a murder on Alcatraz Island.” Her jaw dropped. “At the old prison? What happened?” “Well, it all started when my brother came to San Francisco on business . . .” A sizzling sound came from the kitchen, and a delicious smell wafted toward us. I sat up straighter, realizing all at once how hungry I was. We made small talk about my PI work and Luz’s winery for a few minutes, and despite the stress in her eyes, she was an easy conversa‐ tionalist and a lot of fun to talk to. How could someone as maddening as Vicente have such charming relatives? And then Gloria swept into the room carrying two plates, each holding a decadent-looking pastry. “Tortillas!” she cried, handing one plate to me and one to Vicente. “Thank you!” I breathed. I...

Cereal Killer (Maternal Instincts Mystery Series: Book Eleven) Sneak Peek – Chapter Two Continued

Did you miss Chapter One? Did you miss part one of Chapter Two? From Cereal Killer  Chapter Two Continued… And with that, he knocked on the door. A moment later, we were greeted by a lovely woman in her thir‐ ties, with olive skin and a warm expression. The family resemblance to Vicente was undeniable. Her dark curls spilled around her shoul‐ ders, and her eyes were red-rimmed. “Luz!” Vicente exclaimed. “What’s wrong?” “Vicente!” she replied, barreling into his arms for a hug. “I’m so glad you’re here.” She pulled back and reached out to shake my hand. “And you must be Kate. Thank you so much for coming. I’m . . . kind of desperate for help, to tell you the truth. “It’s my pleasure, truly. Your brother Gary has gotten me out a lot of jams.” Luz smiled but Vicente looked affronted. “Gary? What about me? I think I’ve gotten you—” Luz shoved him before he could finish. “Kate, please, come in.” Vicente held up a hand. “Hang on! You’re going to have to intro‐ duce Kate to abuela as my fiancée. My car broke down on the way here, and that’s the cover story we gave to the tow truck driver.” Luz stared at him, then glanced at me. “Please tell me you ran that story by her first.” Vicente shrugged, a gleam in his eye. Luz smacked his arm, her warmth giving way to exasperation. “Vicentito!” she scolded. “Esta embarazada!” Though her English was unaccented, she’d switched effortlessly into scolding him in Spanish. “Yes,” I muttered. “It was very embarrassing. Can’t believe he didn’t have...

Cereal Killer (Maternal Instincts Mystery Series: Book Eleven) Sneak Peek – Chapter Two

Did you miss Chapter One? From Cereal Killer  Chapter Two In the tow truck, Fred turned the key in the ignition. “Why don’t I drop you folks off at Luz’s place, and then I’ll take the car into the mechanic for you. I’ll call when I have an update.” “That’d be great,” replied Vicente, fiddling with the AC vent. “Really appreciate you coming out so quickly.” “Benefit of being a tow truck driver in a fairly small town—I usually get three or four calls a day from people in the surrounding area, but not so many that I get backed up with multiple urgent calls very often. Which is especially good on a hot day like this. Glad you folks were all right.” I didn’t say anything. I was wedged between Fred and Vicente in the cab of the truck, grateful for our ride to the vineyard but still steaming over the cover story Vicente had invented. Hello, 911? I’d like to report a murder. The victim? My dignity. I shot Vicente a death glare that burned hotter than the California sun, but he ignored me. If he expects me to giggle and hold his hand and act like we’re in love, he’s got another think coming. The tow truck eased out onto the road. “So,” Fred said. “When’s the wedding?” Vicente said, “In a few—” “We’re still discussing that,” I interjected coolly. “There’s been a little trouble in paradise, I’m afraid.” Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a look of amusement on Vicente’s face. Two can play this game. If he was going to dress...

Cereal Killer (Maternal Instincts Mystery Series: Book Eleven) Sneak Peek – Chapter One Continued

Did you miss part one of Chapter One? From Cereal Killer  Chapter One Continued… He let out a sigh. “So, that’s some background of why we don’t want people to know we’re investigating. I told you that she received some threatening notes?” I nodded. “We’ll look at them when we get to her house, but she told me that, whoever this person is, they know she bought someone else’s grapes. She thinks that may be the reason they’re harassing her.” “A rival vineyard?” He let out a sigh and turned up the air conditioning. “Maybe. Or maybe an ex-boyfriend. Thomas.” His lips curled into a sneer. “I always hated him. Smug idiot. He runs a local wine bar, and he recently expanded his business—bought the building next door to his bar and fixed it up as an all-inclusive wedding venue. Luz’s vineyard is beautiful, and people rent it out for events, especially weddings. Thomas is still in love with her and is trying to win her back, but he’s also trying to undermine her business and poach her catering and event contracts. It’s like he’s obsessed with her. The weasel.” “How long ago did they break up?” “About a year. And good riddance,” he muttered. A white Prius appeared, driving the opposite direction. I clumsily leaped out of the car and waved frantically, but I was too slow; the car passed us by. With a sigh, I sank back into my seat and closed the door. “We could always walk,” he said. I pointed to my pregnant belly. “Then again, maybe not,” he conceded. A horn beeped, and I...