MURDER MOST DESERVING—Lacetown Murder Mysteries: Case Two
By Hank Edwards & Deanna Wadsworth
We would like to give your readers something to smile about, an exclusive excerpt from our just upscoming gay rom-com murder mystery MURER MOST DESERVING—Lacetown Murder Mystery Case Two. —coming March 17th!
We had a lot of fun writing these two books together, and found an easy co-author groove, though Case Two was admittedly harder, which made for an all the more rewarding end product.
If you haven’t had a chance to meet Michael, Jazz, and their adorable mischievous fat kitty Mr. Pickles Furryton the Third, you are in for a treat. Michael is a shy mortician, and Jazz is a hairstylist and as sassy as his name suggests. They first fell head over heels for each other in MURDER MOST LOVELY, when they meet a book signing for Michael’s favorite author, Russel Withingham, who just so happens to be Jazz’s ex-husband and owes Jazz some money. Michael is taken immediately with Jazz, and though a gruesome murder draws them together, romance still blooms as they investigate the murder behind the grouchy sheriff’s back and try to rescue poor Mr. Pickles when he is cat-napped by the bad guys.
Case Two finds Michael and Jazz happily settling into domestic bliss **Spoiler** Mr. Pickles is just fine and loves having two daddies. The romance is still going strong, hot, and passionate, but another murder mystery has cast its shadow over our delightful heroes, and the cast of zany characters that inhabit Lacetown.
Mar 10-17th BOGO sale! Preorder Murder Most Deserving, and get book 1 Murder Most Lovely FREE. https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/murder-most-deserving-by-hank-edwards-and-deanna-wadsworth-11605-b
An acoustic music festival comes to Lacetown, and with it, another dead body—this one found at Fleishman’s Funeral Home. Michael recuses himself from the autopsy, handing the job over to his arch-nemesis from a neighboring county.
Luckily Michael and local hairstylist Jazz are closer than ever. Between a trio of funerals, a blowout BBQ, and a couple of trips on Beulah, Jazz’s beloved scooter, Michael and Jazz do some sleuthing of their own. With the first gruesome murder still fresh in their memories, they can’t help but wonder if notorious murderer and famous author Russell Withingham might be targeting them from jail, where he’s awaiting trial.
The festival, however, brings in a veritable lineup of potential killers, including a familiar—and most unwelcome—figure from their past. As the murderer circles ever closer to Jazz and Michael, Sheriff Musgrave is quick to remind them that everyone’s a suspect until Sheriff Musgrave says they’re not!
“I know this is the worst thing in the entire world for us, but I love the burgers here.” Jazz Dilworth opened the diner door and waved for his boyfriend, Michael Fleishman, to enter Gruff’s Grub ahead of him.
“I’m just glad you called.” Michael gifted him with that shy smile Jazz had grown to adore. “I usually don’t get to see you on Thursdays.”
“Lucky for me I had a no-show.” Being one of Lacetown’s most popular hairstylists, Jazz was slammed on Thursday nights at Misty’s Makeover Palace.
When his elderly client Ruth Blankenship didn’t show up for her perm appointment, the salon receptionist, Lisa Ann, had called her. Poor Ruth had been so frazzled, Jazz wondered if dementia was setting in. So with a big gap in his schedule, he’d texted Michael about grabbing a quick bite before he went back to work.
Adjusting his glasses, Michael looked around the diner’s dim interior. “The smell alone could coat your arteries,” he said, but with a smile that let Jazz know he was kidding.
Well, kidding with a side of serious. Gruff’s Grub gave new meaning to greasy spoon. Tucked away down a short side street off Coastline Road, it wasn’t one of the more popular restaurants in Lacetown, Michigan.
“I know, I know, but I don’t eat here that often,” Jazz said, studying his boyfriend’s face and enjoying the way Michael’s warm brown eyes took in the details of the room from behind tortoise-shell glasses, his straight dark hair combed perfectly in place. “You’ve really never eaten here?”
Michael shook his head. “Don’t think I’ve ever really heard of this place.”
“And you’ve lived here all your life.” Jazz smirked. “I’ve been introducing you to all the hot spots in Lacetown. First Heavy Petting Point and now Gruff’s.” The mere mention of the scenic overlook and somewhat secret make-out point known by locals as HPP conjured images of Jazz riding Michael hard and fast in the front seat of his car. We need to take another drive out there soon….
“HPP and Gruff’s are the hot spots?” Michael said with a serious expression. “I suppose my funeral home is considered a cold spot?”
Jazz laughed and had to resist leaning in to kiss Michael. “There’s that dry sense of humor I adore. You’ll like this place, trust me. The food is far from healthy and so good. And besides, Gruff is a sweet old bear.”
As if on cue, a tall, wide man with a long beard bumped open the swinging kitchen doors. He wore a white apron and carried two plates of food. His eyes narrowed in what looked to be perpetual annoyance, but when he caught sight of Jazz, he flashed a big bright smile and gave a shout of happiness that startled the customers sitting closest to him.
“Jazz Dilworth, as I live and breathe!” Gruff’s voice rumbled like an earthquake. “It’s been weeks since you darkened my door.”
“Oh, Gruff, you old sweet-talker,” Jazz said. “Got an open table for us before the health department shuts you down?”
Gruff gave a hearty laugh and waved toward a booth by the windows. “Take a seat over there. I’ll be over in a minute.”
Grabbing Michael’s hand, Jazz led him on a winding path through the tables scattered about the long narrow space and past a middle-aged couple who looked sad. A young, rather androgynous person with a stern expression, short dark hair slicked back like a 1950s greaser, and fingers clutching a thick hamburger, sat with them. At the next table gathered what Jazz assumed was a family of four—or maybe some kind of freaky cult members, because they were all dressed in matching homespun cotton outfits. The father of the matching misfits stared hard at Jazz and Michael’s clasped hands, and Jazz managed to repress a shudder. The young man chewed his thumbnail, looking lost in his own world, and the two women wore identical bland brown dresses that didn’t complement their mousy hair.
Jazz indicated the women with his eyes after they slid into the booth. When Michael checked them out, Jazz whispered, “Sister wives?”
Casually glancing back, Michael whispered with amusement, “Nothing would surprise me. With the Acoustic Music Festival in town, I’m sure there’s a banjo or two involved.”
Before Jazz could make a Deliverance joke, Gruff lumbered up to their booth and set menus and table settings before them. “Hey there, Dilworth.”
“Since when do they let you out of the kitchen?” Jazz teased. “Where’s Hattie tonight?”
“Off visiting our sister in Wisconsin.” Gruff shook his head. “Never work with your sibling, trust me on this. You know how long since I’ve been to Wisconsin?”
“Five years?” Jazz asked in a flat tone of voice. He’d heard this complaint before.
“Five years,” Gruff said as if Jazz hadn’t spoken. “Guess the cook doesn’t get to take days off.” He gave Michael a once-over. “You’re new, but you look familiar.”
“Oh. Well, yes, I’m new here, but I do live in town. I’m Michael Fleishman.”
Jazz watched over the top of his menu as Michael’s blush spread bewitchingly across his cheeks. So freaking cute. Jazz had to admit, he really was a lucky man. Even if his past romantic experiences made it seem otherwise.
“Yes. I own Fleishman’s Funeral Home. That’s me.”
“You’re the county coroner too, right?”
The blush deepened, and Jazz almost couldn’t stand the level of adorable coming off Michael in waves.
“That is also correct. You seem to know a lot about me, but I don’t even know your name.”
Gruff frowned at Jazz before speaking to Michael. “I’m Gruff.”
“That’s your given name?”
“That’s the name I’m givin’ you, so yeah, it’s my given name.” Gruff turned to Jazz. “The usual?”
“How about you, County Coroner? Don’t tell me you’re gonna order a salad like those vegan-folk-singer types over there.”
Jazz looked where Gruff indicated. It was the table of three, with the miserable-looking couple and the Happy Days throwback. The couple appeared thin and sallow as they picked at their garden salads. Despite the summer heat, the woman shivered like she was cold. Naturally one would be miserable and cold surviving off twigs and berries in a burger joint.
“Are they performers at the festival?” Jazz whispered.
Gruff bent down and motioned them closer. Jazz and Michael leaned over the table, and then Gruff said in what was more or less a normal tone of voice for most people but passed as a whisper from him, “Yeah. Bit of tree-hugging, antifracking folk singers have been coming in since yesterday, asking why I don’t offer quinoa and if everything I make is gluten-free.”
Jazz did an elaborate eye roll for Gruff’s benefit. “The nerve of some people.”
“Right?” Gruff straightened up and jerked a thumb toward the table of four who were all dressed alike. “And don’t even get me started on the von Trapp wannabes over there.”
Michael’s face was so red Jazz worried he might burst into flames. He took pity on him and spoke up. “Hey, Gruff? Michael will have the same as me.”
Gruff looked between them with a critical eye. “Burger medium with a basket of fries and a Coke?”
“Yes,” Michael said, giving Jazz a relieved smile. “That sounds lovely.”
“All right. I’ll get that going for you.”
Gruff stomped back toward the kitchen. Jazz noticed all the diners Gruff had been loudly gossiping about were now giving him and Michael the stink eye. But he chose to ignore them and focus on his date.
Michael was tall and incredibly fit, with a cock to write sonnets over. His dark brown hair was neat and tidy, just like everything else about him.
Jazz was incredibly lucky to have met such a great guy.
Michael had admitted to Jazz he had not dated much—in fact, he’d only had one serious boyfriend and a handful of lovers, unlike Jazz’s wild past. But Michael did not cease to wow the socks off Jazz in the sack. He could go from being a power bottom to a cuddly submissive in one day. Or even the dominant man who bent Jazz over the kitchen table and insisted he keep the kitchen apron on while he pounded Jazz’s ass. After those encounters, Jazz typically had trouble walking and standing behind his salon chair the next day.
Sexual compatibility aside—and oh Lord, were their bodies compatible!—Jazz could not believe how wonderfully their relationship was going. It had been almost two months, and they hadn’t had a single argument. They liked many of the same things and pretty much always agreed on which TV show or movie to watch. Jazz hoped his active social life wasn’t too much for his shy new lover, and though he knew they were still in the honeymoon phase of their relationship, he felt like he was living in a romance novel and every day was a happily ever after.
He never wanted this book to end.
MURDER MOST DESERVING Case Two
Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and adorable cocker spaniels. She has been penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010 and served multiple as President of the Rainbow Romance Writers in 2017. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. An avid reader, she also loves gardening, cooking, music, and dancing. Often she can be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.
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Hank Edwards has been writing gay fiction for more than twenty years. He has published over thirty novels and dozens of short stories. His writing crosses many sub-genres, including romance, rom-com, contemporary, paranormal, suspense, mystery, and wacky comedy. He has written a number of series such as the suspenseful Up to Trouble, funny and spooky Critter Catchers, Old West historical horror of Venom Valley, and erotic and funny Fluffers, Inc. No matter what genre he writes, Hank likes to keep things steamy and heartfelt. He was born and still lives in a northwest suburb of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan, where he shares a home with his partner of over 20 years and their two cats.
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