Saturday, January 31, 2009

Special Feature!!

Worth It's Weight in Old
K.D. Hays

PAINTINGS SLASHED. . . FURNITURE BROKEN . . . SOMEONE IS WREAKING HAVOC AT THE BLUE MOON ART & ANTIQUES GALLERY.Fledgling private investigator Karen Maxwell goes undercover as a salesclerk to find out who’s behind the vandalism—and why. She learns little from Vicki, a friendly clerk who, aside from her designer clothes and sports car, seems interested only in rearranging pictures to display them to maximum advantage. Eric, the shop’s surly, tight-lipped porter, would run her over with a hand truck before he’d answer any questions. The guilt may even lay with the shop owners themselves, despite the fact that they’re the ones who hired her.Karen’s investigation seems to be going nowhere. . .just like her once-promising relationship with Brian, the handsome blacksmith who could sweep her off her feet in a minute—if he’d ever take a break from working with the church youth group. If Karen can’t crack the case soon, she may find herself busted back to plain and old office manager, and her dreams of a career as a private investigator—and a life with Brian—as old and busted as the Blue Moon’s vandalized antiques.

About the Author

Like my heroine, I am a "soccer mom" living in an old town that has become a suburb of Baltimore. But unlike my heroine, I am still happily married, active in my church, and visit every historical site I can manage. It took me almost 35 years to realize that I'd always wanted to be a writer. During those years, I worked at a variety of different jobs, serving as everything from a bookkeeper and preschool teaching assistant to newspaper columnist, hostess in a hospitality suite at Nascar races, and corporate attorney for a pest control company. Being a mom is best the job of all, but I have to say that writing books runs a close second.

And now an excerpt . . .
I found myself smiling back. “I’m here to see Mr. Photopoulos. For a job interview. I’m Karen Maxwell.”
She reached out to shake my hand. Her grip was firm and sure, just like everything else about her. “I’m Vicki Bourbonnais, nice to meet you.” Then she waved me in as if she were inviting me into her home. “Come right in. I’ll tell them you’re here.” I wondered if she was related to the owners.
But her pale, lightly freckled features and petite figure bore no resemblance to the dark coloring and large frame of George Photopoulos, owner of the Blue Moon. He was in the back of the store, bent over, examining the underside of a large, ornate cabinet.
I hung back. No one wants to meet someone with their rear end first.
“Mr. P?” Vicki announced with perfect perky flight attendant intonation. “Karen Maxwell is here to see you.”

“Ah, she is? Good.” His voice boomed as he waved toward a door in the corner. “Send her back to the office.”

Vicki led the way with gestures that made me feel I should be stowing my tray table for takeoff. From the showroom floor, we entered a dark, narrow space with a ceiling that stretched to unfathomable, unlit heights. The only light came from a series of small, wrought-iron wall sconces with battered paper shades. Most of the room was taken up by a scruffy tweed sofa and massive old desks stacked with paper.

“Mrs. P?” Vicki called as she walked in. “Karen Maxwell is here to meet with you and Mr. P.”

At first, I had no idea who she was talking to. All I could see were piles of paper and books. Then, from behind one of the piles, a woman appeared suddenly, her face and hair as dark as that of her husband, but her facial features were small and pointed, where his were large and blunt. “We’re glad you’re here, Mrs. Maxwell,” she said, her voice harsh and raspy, but friendly nevertheless.

I tried not to cringe. I hate being called Mrs. Maxwell, since I’ve been divorced for five years. I am simply Ms. Maxwell unless I decide to go back to using my always-mispronounced maiden name. Of course, the more important issue was her obvious relief at seeing me. It was vitally important for the employees to think I was just another one of them. “Yes, I understand you’ve been shorthanded lately,” I said quickly, hoping Vicki believed the explanation. “And that you need someone to help so you and Mr. Photopoulos can work on some other projects.”

She opened her mouth to say something else but closed it again when Mr. Photopoulos lumbered into the room, instantly filling it with his presence.

“Er, thanks, Vicki,” his voice rumbled. “You can go back out front now.”

With a smile and a gesture that almost looked like a curtsey, Vicki disappeared.

Mr. Photopoulos closed the door behind her with great deliberation, testing it to see if it had latched. Then he put his ear to the door as if to listen for her retreating footsteps. He motioned for me to sit down on a spindly wooden chair while he sank into a cracked leather armchair. “Okay, Mrs. Maxwell.” His voice dropped to a raspy whisper. “What do you need to know before you start?”

“Well, start by telling me,” I whispered back, “if we really need to whisper.” I glanced at the exposed stone walls on two sides of the room. The other two walls were old plaster and seemed solid enough to prevent the transmission of much sound.

“No, we don’t,” Mrs. Photopoulos said flatly.

Mr. Photopoulos looked a little sheepish.

I pulled a pad of paper and pen out of my bag. “So, tell me why you called us.”

Mr. Photopoulos frowned. “I told your brother—that was your brother I talked to, wasn’t it?”

“Yes,” I nodded. “You talked to him when you first called a few weeks back. But I want to hear the whole story directly from you.” Clients often remembered information they hadn’t mentioned the first time around. And I didn’t always trust Dave’s notes. He has a dangerous tendency to spill food on the important details.

“Well,” Mr. Photopoulos’s voice began to drop in volume again, “we think that it might be possible that there’s a chance that—”

“One of our employees is damaging the merchandise,” Mrs. Photopoulos cut in. “Deliberately. On purpose.”

“Why?” I left my question as vague as possible to see what they’d give me.

“We don’t care why,” she snapped back. “We just want it stopped. It’s costing us a fortune.”

Mr. Photopoulos looked thoughtful. “Might be a way to make money outta it.”

“How can we make money selling damaged goods?” his wife demanded shrilly.

“Not us.” He waved his massive arm toward the showroom. “The person doing the damaging. Might be making money off it somehow.”

After looking at them each in turn for a moment to see if they would reveal anything else, I continued my questioning. “So why do you think merchandise is being damaged deliberately? Tell me what has happened.”

Mr. Photopoulos resettled himself in his chair, which creaked faintly in protest. “Well, it started a while back.”

“October 2,” his wife interjected.

“Some furniture arrived from an estate sale in Glyndon. There was a wonderful Shaker-style dining set. But two of the chairs had broken legs.” He shook his head. “They weren’t like that when I purchased the set.”

“Couldn’t they have been damaged by whoever packed up and moved the furniture?”

“Yes. But it’s our guy who brought it down for us.”

“Eric, one of our porters.” Mrs. Photopoulos added.

“So do you think Eric is damaging merchandise?”

“Maybe. The next thing we noticed was a tall clock. A piece of molding was chipped off and the case was dented.”

“An accident?”


Mrs. Photopoulos leaned forward. “But then we had artwork getting damaged.”

To read more of Worth It's Weight in old be sure to subscribe to Heartsong Mysteries

Other Heartsong Mysteries by K.D. Hays:
George Washington Stepped Here
Karen Maxwell, a divorced mother of two, is struggling to balance her life as a soccer mom with her need to have a life of her own. After working as a bookkeeper in her brother's private investigation firm for years, she finally gets the chance to go undercover and handle a case on her own. Her first assignment is to find out who has stolen the local historical society's greatest treasure. Along the way she makes some new friends, one of whom is very attractive, unmarried, and unfortunately a prime suspect in the case.


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