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Saddled with Murder (EBOOK)

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EBOOK. Book 2 in the Saddles and Secrets Paranormal Women's Fiction cozy mystery series.

A volunteer is murdered at the horse rescue, but that's not the only mystery for sixty-year-old Cally Colt. She has just discovered what the overbearing detective has been hiding, and the stray cat is not what he seems. In fact, the cat's secret could be the most surprising of all.
Cally is left to investigate. Will she put the cart before the horse, or will she pony up and solve the murder?

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Read a Sample


There was a naked man in my stable.
Detective Rick Bronco. That is precisely why I had spent a sleepless night. I had no idea he was a kelpie, the creature of Scottish legend able to shift into a horse.
I had recently discovered that I too was a kelpie. I had not yet recovered from that shock just as I hadn’t recovered from the fact that my childhood friend, Harriet, had tried to murder me the previous evening.
The fact that Harriet tried to murder me only after I had discovered she had drowned her husband’s mistress in the river was no consolation whatsoever.
I had never believed in vampires, werewolves, or anything supernatural, but now I would have to face facts, as my mother used to say. A straitjacket and a nice padded cell sounded tempting.
I didn’t know what to do about the detective. Should I pretend I hadn’t seen him? I knew there was no point trying to wake him up because I’d given him a sedative—when he had been in his horse form, that is. A huge, horse-sized sedative.
A hundred and fifty years before, when my ancestors fled their country in the hopes of finding better lives for themselves and their descendants in Australia, I bet they did not expect that better life would involve this sort of thing. Their great-great-great-granddaughter finding a naked man in her stables. And if they did, I commended their foresight.
I turned, blushing. Hopefully, this person did not notice me staring at my unexpected guest.
The voice belonged to Monica. Tall, slim, and with a love of designer heels that could bankrupt the world’s richest sugar daddy, Monica was the most glamorous person in town. Raised in poverty by a strong single mother, Monica used to spend hours in the warmth of the public library as they could not afford the heating bill at home, reading novels about adventurous young girls and the wild stallions they loved. Now Monica channelled that childhood love into volunteering at my horse rescue sanctuary.
“Monica, hi,” I said, a little breathless.
She said now, “Did you know there is a naked man in your stable?”
“No!” I feigned shock. “Where? How? Where? Why?”
Monica sighed. “It’s okay, Cally. I caught you staring at him.”
“I was not staring.”
“You’re right,” she replied. “You were drooling.”
“Was not.”
“Was too.”
“She was absolutely drooling,” another voice said. This one belonged to Becky, my teenage volunteer.
Both Monica and I squealed. Ushering Becky out of the stable before she could see anything a teenage girl ought not to be seeing, Monica winked at me and pulled the barn door shut in their wake.
I brushed a lock of hair out of my eyes. The air smelt of blackstrap molasses and straw. A scent which usually brought with it the comfort of familiarity now made my stomach churn. Did I wake the man up, or did I leave him here? If I threw a horse rug over him, he would know that I had seen him in all his—
“Ms Colt?” The man looked up. He was awake. How had I not noticed that he was wide awake?
“Det, detective?” I stammered.
“Would you mind going to my car? I have a spare set of clothes in the back seat.”
“Um, sure,” I said.
I was relieved Monica and Becky hadn’t recognised the detective. That would take quite some explaining. I just had to make sure they didn’t discover his identity, at least until he was fully dressed.
My plan was thwarted when Monica tapped me on my shoulder. “Have you called the police?”
“The police?” I parroted.
“About the naked man, of course.”
“Oh, the naked man! Yes, Detective Bronco is here now. He’s asked me to take these clothes to the barn so he can give them to the man. I’ll be right back.”
I grabbed the clothes and took off at a run. I slammed the barn door behind me and hurried over to the stall. I threw the clothes over the door without looking.
I averted my eyes until Detective Bronco, now thankfully dressed, appeared in front of me.
“You’re a kelpie!” I said angrily. “All that lecturing, all that talk about kelpies, and you’re one!” I jabbed my finger into his chest. His chest was remarkably strong and hard, so I poked him again for good measure.
He opened his mouth to respond, but Monica burst through the door. “Is it safe for Becky to be outside when you take that man away, Detective?”
“He’s quite harmless, I can assure you,” Detective Bronco said. “He lives near here. His brother just came to collect him. He’d had a recent car accident and mixed up his medication. He had a rather serious concussion, you see.”
I was surprised Monica swallowed such an outrageous story. She smiled and nodded at the detective. She turned to go but then turned back to us. “But I didn’t see anybody drive in.”
“They were on foot. They went out the back way,” Detective Bronco said. “They didn’t want to disturb the horses. And they wanted to avoid the attention that might be drawn if they had parked in the road.”
“Oh, okay,” Monica said. “That makes sense. Cally, are you okay?”
“Yes,” I said, trying to keep my voice even. “I’m just a little tired after last night, that’s all.”
I turned to the detective, but he was already gone. I stared at the empty space in front of me for a moment before I went back to the stable. There was no one there. The detective had vanished. I don’t know how he had managed it, but my heart was no less thumpity-thumping at the fact.
“Cally!” Monica’s voice reverberated through the barn. “The new volunteer is here.”
Daisy walked inside the barn. She was very pretty, short and slim, with long, silky black hair. She wasn’t dressed appropriately, I was sorry to see. Her pink T-shirt was way too tight, as was her green denim skirt which fell to the top of her green, and clearly expensive, cowboy boots.
She demanded to see the horses, and when I said that we’d need to have a meeting first, she shook her head and pouted.
Monica quickly pointed out the stalls that needed cleaning and the stalls that had already been cleaned.
“What? You can’t expect me to clean stalls! Are you mad?” Daisy turned up her nose. “I can’t believe this barn is so old. It’s in terrible shape.”
“You volunteered,” I said as kindly as I could. “What sort of work did you want to do here? Groom the horses? Stable or fence maintenance? Mixing up feeds? Filling up waters? Cleaning feed bins? Washing rugs? These are all rescue horses, and they need a lot of loving care.”
Daisy’s mouth formed a mean, tight line. “I hear what you’re saying about taking the horses from bad situations to nice places. I’m all for that. But I don’t want to do that sort of work. I want to volunteer by riding the horses.”
“We don’t ride the horses,” I said. “This is a horse rescue sanctuary, not a riding school.”
Daisy had a ready answer. “But you rehome them, don’t you? It would be easier to rehome a well-trained horse. I’ve been riding since I was a baby. You can make an exception for me.”
I forced a smile. “We don’t make exceptions.”
“I’ll sign anything you want,” Daisy said angrily. “Just let me ride a horse.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t make exceptions for anybody.”
Daisy’s response was to storm out of the barn.
Monica and I exchanged looks of concern. I followed Daisy out of the barn, but she was walking briskly toward the parking lot.
“Daisy!” I called.
Daisy stopped and turned around, her lips still tight.
“I’m sorry you aren’t happy about the work we have for you,” I said calmly. “You know, we really need volunteers here. If you want to volunteer, you’re going to have to get used to the fact that we don’t have a riding school here, and we don’t ride the horses. Most of the horses here have issues, at any rate.”
“So, what am I supposed to do?” she demanded. “I don’t want to clean stalls.”
“There are other ways you can help,” I said. “And every horse at our facility has a story. Why don’t you let Monica tell you about the horses, and then maybe you can groom a horse, or just spend time with one.”
“I suppose,” she spat. The look she shot me was filled with venom. “But I’m not going to be happy.”
“We appreciate your help, whether you’re happy or not,” I said.
She stalked back to the barn, her boots clacking like a repeat of a command that had been made and ignored.
Monica shook her head. “She’s a handful.”
“Yes, she is. Thanks for dealing with her.”
For the first time, I noticed Detective Bronco nearby. He was bending over the fence. I walked over to him.
“I hope you don’t mind,” he said. “I noticed this gate was off its hinges, so I screwed it back on.”
“Thanks so much,” I said, surprised. “That’s a big help.”
A bloodcurdling scream made us both jump.

Series Order

1. Sixty, Sassy, and Sleuthing
2. Saddled with Murder.
3. Coming!