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?”
“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 turned around to see the white Prius pulling
in behind us. A heavyset blonde with a chin-length bob climbed out
and marched toward Vicente’s door.
Sweet relief flooded me.
Vicente rolled down the window. “Hello, quierda,” he drawled.
“Thanks so much for stopping. We stalled out—”
The woman stared at us in unconcealed contempt. “Serves you
right driving around that fancy gas-guzzler.”
I furrowed my brow, and Vicente glanced at me in utter confusion.
“Gas-guzzler?” he practically sputtered. “This Beamer gets thirty-four
miles to the gallon on the highway.”
Her eyes bulged. “And do you think that’s going to save us from
climate change? Did you pay any attention to last year’s fire season?
To the hurricanes in the South? Why, you—”
“I’m on your side,” I interjected, shooting her a winning smile.
“Why, this whole trip I’ve done nothing but try to persuade Vicente to
get a more fuel-efficient car. Something like your Prius.”
Vicente glared at me, but I ignored him. This woman might be
crazy, but so far she was our only ticket out of this mess. If Vicente
wouldn’t charm some help out of her, I most assuredly would.
I rested a hand on my baby bump. “After all, I’m pregnant with
twins! You know what I told this idiot here?” I jerked my elbow
toward Vicente. “I said, What kind of world are we going to leave for our
children if we don’t all pitch in and do our part?”
The woman visibly softened.
I continued. “And it’s just killing me that we’re sitting here and
running the engine for the air conditioning—so many useless emis‐
sions! But I’ve had a complicated pregnancy, and my doctor has told
me I absolutely can’t overheat. Is there any way you might be able to
give us a lift into Golden? To Castillo’s Vineyard?”
She stared at us for a few seconds, her eyes flashing between
annoyance and something kinder. Then she said, “I’m late for
a Go-Green meeting in Sacramento, but I’ll have cell service in a couple
miles, so I’ll call a tow truck for you.”
Good enough! “Thank you!” I exclaimed. “As soon as we broke
down, I sent a plea out into the universe for a good person like you to
help us out!”
She tried to hide a grin. “Sure, anytime!” Then she looked at
Vicente, and her smile turned to a glower. “And get a car with better
She stalked back to her Prius, and as soon as Vicente rolled up the
window, I burst out laughing.
“What was that?” he demanded.
“That,” I retorted, “was creatively getting us a tow truck. You
should know. You pull those sorts of tricks all the time—you just do it
by flirting and calling everyone dear in that accent of yours.”
“You threw me under the bus!”
“Under a solar-powered bus, maybe.” I grinned. “You’re just
perplexed that your charm got you absolutely nowhere with her.”
“How do you know she’ll even call a tow truck? Maybe she’ll get
madder and madder about my so-called gas-guzzler and change her
“She’ll call,” I said, hitting the button to recline my seat. “Just you
Sure enough, a half hour later, Vicente swore under his breath.
“Well, I’ll be.”
I sat up. A big white tow truck was rumbling our way.
“Thank goodness!” I sang.
The tow truck parked in front of us, and we both climbed out of
the car. Heat waves practically sizzled up from the ground, and I
immediately broke out into a sweat.
You could probably fry an egg on this road.
Vicente strode toward the truck, meeting the driver halfway.
“Vicente Domingo,” he said. “Thanks so much for coming!”
“Fred,” replied the driver, reaching out to shake Vicente’s hand. He
was tall, with sandy-colored hair and a kind demeanor. “Got a call
that you folks needed some help.”
Vicente looked mournful. “The car broke down. I’m going to my
cousin’s place—Castillo’s Vineyard.”
“Oh, you’re Luz’s cousin,” replied Fred, his smile broadening. “It’s
so nice to meet you!”
“That’s right,” said Vicente. “And this lovely woman is Kate, my
Fiancée? That’s his cover story? I blanched and instinctively reached
to touch my wedding ring . . . but I’d taken it off two days ago when
the swelling in my hands and ankles had finally reached a breaking
Oh, I could kill him.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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