Antiques can be a dangerous business. Especially when you’re dealing with a desperate politician, a sexy ex-cop, and a couple of “spirited” companions.
Anna Yesterday owns Yesterday’s Antiques in small town USA. When she finds an old newspaper clipping lining the drawer of an antique dresser, she realizes she’s never heard the ugly story of rape and suicide detailed on the yellowed newsprint. So she starts to dig, and her sleuthing exposes an ugly cover-up that casts the residents of Crocker, Indiana into danger and intrigue, and leaves them with a corpse.
“Yesterday’s News is a fun cosy mystery with a couple of great ghosts. Anna Yesterday owns an antique shop in small town Crocker Indiana. Two resident ghosts are linked with the shop and their dialogue is superb. Language from yester-year with a full glossary of words at the beginning make their colloquialisms amply fit their characters. For instance; “The boy’s a grafter. He’ll hornswoggle ya faster’n I can spit tobacco into that pan over there” With the help of ex-cop Pratt Davies, Anna digs deep into Crocker’s past and exposes a dirty tale that many would rather forget. A well written story which left me smiling, sign me up for more.”
~5 Stars from Roses are Amber
“With a sexy ex-cop (who doesn’t love a romantic element), ghosts and a mystery that kept me riveted how could I resist? If you like paranormal elements and romance with your cozy mysteries then I recommend this one.”
~Cozy Mystery Book Reviews
“I absolutely loved Yesterday’s News. It’s one of those books that plunges you into the characters’ world and leaves you a bit sad when there’s no more to read.”
~Michelle’s Romantic Tangle
Tatty Baker crouched down behind a large rock and watched the two white men argue. The big man was wearin’ a smooth white shirt under his ’spenders and dark pants that had a crease in ’em sharp as a butcher’s knife. The other man was dressed far less grand, in dingy pants with uneven cuffs and a yellowed shirt that was smudged with something dark. He seemed to be getting’ the worst of the arguin’. The little guy just stood his ground while the other man poked a thick finger into his scrawny chest over and over, and he didn’t punch back. Tatty would have. In his opinion there was nothin’ worse than somebody pokin’ that bone. Tatty knew from experience. He had brothers.
Tatty was too far away to hear what the men were arguing about. The big man had his face close to the other guy’s and was talking real low. Tatty could just hear the rumble of his deep voice as he gave the other guy what for.
Tatty had seen the men before, downtown. They worked in the red brick building on Main Street and had somethin’ to do with tellin’ stories. Least that’s what Tatty’s mama told him. Tatty always thought it would be a fine way to earn your supper…tellin’ stories. He got lots of practice doin’ that every day when his mama asked him where he’d been when he was s’posed to be doin’ his chores.
Tatty figured someday he’d wear a smooth white shirt and fancy pants and tell stories to earn his keep. In the meantime, he wanted to know what the two men was doin’ out in the middle of nowhere. And he really wanted to know what those big stacks of paper was. The small man had unloaded ’em from a dented pickup truck and dumped ’em in the middle of the mayor’s field.
Tatty knew he shouldn’t be there. His instructions was to just leave the jar of peaches with mayor Bethesda’s maid, Wilma, and get on back home, fast as ever. But Tatty had a natural curiosity and when he spotted the truck and the two men he’d just had to hunker down and check it out. Mama always told him his nosiness was gonna land him right in the devil’s lap some day. But Tatty liked to think he had a nose for trouble. He of a certain created enough of it himself.
That’s why Tatty knew them men was doin’ something bad out there.
So he crouched behind that rock and watched. A few minutes later the big man gave the little guy a final poke and turned away. He headed toward the truck and stopped, turning to call out, “…and make sure it all burns. Or we’ll both be out of a job tomorrow.”
Tatty’s eyes widened. They was gonna burn the stacks of paper. Damn but he wished he had a stick and a frankfurter with him. His mouth watered on the thought as the man lit a match and dropped it onto the stacks of paper. He waited and watched for a minute, until the stacks flared into a hardy flame and a dense coil of smoke slipped silently upward, toward a cloudless sky lit by a near-full moon.
Tatty’s nose twitched on the scent of burning paper and he sighed. His brother Will would have loved to see the fire. It was a dandy. The men climbed inside the truck and drove off, bumpin’ and rollin’ on the uneven turf of the freshly turned corn field.
After a minute, Tatty gave in to the urge to move closer to the fire. He picked up a long stick and carried it with him, hoping to have some fun pokin’ at the burning embers to make ’em flare. But as he approached, a soft wind slipped across the field, spicy with the scent of rain, and a hunk of the paper broke loose and flew in his direction.
Tatty dropped the stick and caught the paper, swearing like he shouldn’t as the smoldering edge burned the top of his arm. The words on the paper were small and black and perfect, and Tatty had never seen anything so wonderful in all his life.
He clasped the slightly charred treasure to his chest and started to run, determined to take the stories home to Mama. She liked to read ’em after dinner at night. The thought made Tatty’s smile widen, showing a full mouth of white teeth as he ran through the dark night.
Brilliant white, like the big man’s shirt.
“You want me to move this to the back?”
Anna Yesterday looked up from her pile of receipts and nodded. “Thanks Pratt. I need to clean it out and repair that one drawer before we put it on the floor.”
Pratt Davies was Anna’s new assistant at Yesterday’s Antiques and they were still dancing around each other, trying to find a rhythm that worked. Anna hadn’t decided if he was going to work out. It wasn’t that Pratt was inept, lazy, or even annoying. In fact, he was as far from all of those things as a person could get. But Pratt was new in Crocker, Indiana, and nobody knew much about him. And Anna couldn’t quite shake the idea that Pratt was almost too perfect. At well over six feet, with dark brown hair that he wore military short, golden brown eyes, thick lashes, a strong nose, a broad jaw, and full lips, Anna found his presence in her antiques store more than a little discomfiting. He was smart and intuitive and she had to wonder why he’d settle for an assistant’s position in an antique store, in a tiny town in the Midwest.
Pratt strapped the small dresser onto a hand truck and pulled the strap tight, the muscles in his arms bulging enticingly as he tilted it back to move it. Anna’s chin fell off her hand and she straightened guiltily.
“That boy’s trouble you know.”
Anna jumped and turned at the sound of the husky drawl. Josselin Zebediah was perched on the bookshelf behind her desk, his sexy, dark blue gaze fixed on her with more than a little irritation. She glared at him. “What have I told you about sneaking up on me?”
Joss straightened his long, long legs and stood, tipping the well-worn cowboy hat down on his forehead. “I don’t sneak.” He moved across the store in large, scuffed boots and stood watching Pratt roll the antique dresser into the back room. “The boy’s a grifter. He’ll hornswoggle ya faster’n I can spit tobacco into that pan over there.”
Anna sighed. They’d had the very same conversation at least a dozen times in the week since Pratt had started working at Yesterday’s Antiques. She was growing weary of it. “You don’t chew tobacco.” Turning back to her paperwork, Anna tried to ignore Joss. “We’ve had this discussion several times, Joss. I refuse to have it again.”
Joss didn’t give up easily. “You know nothin’ about that boy. He could kill ya cold as a wagon tire in your sleep.”
“I don’t sleep in the store.”
“That wouldn’t stop a varmint like him.” Joss was as overprotective as a well trained dog, only with a bigger bite. But above all he was a friend and he cared for her.
“I know what I need to know about him. He’s from Missouri. And he used to be a cop.”
“A puke. Figures.”
A cool breeze wafted past and Anna reached for the sweater on the back of her chair without looking up from the receipts. The sweater settled over her shoulders without her ever touching it. She looked up with a smile. “Thanks, Joss.”
He smiled back and Anna felt the familiar twang of desire low in her belly. Joss Zebediah was an old fashioned man, with a cowboy’s manners and an old world way of looking at things. With his craggy, down-on-the-range good looks and husky voice, he was also sexy as hell.
If he were alive Anna would jump his bones in a heartbeat.
Pratt walked back into the store, wiping his big hands on his jeans. He had a spider web trailing off one sleeve and a smear of dust on his lightly stubbled cheek. Anna had to clench her hand to keep from reaching out and wiping the dust off his face. “All set. I put it next to your worktable. I think that bottom drawer’s swollen shut though. I tried to pull it out to see if I could fix it and it won’t come loose. I didn’t want to break it so I didn’t put any muscle into it.” He grinned and Anna’s stomach fluttered. She threw Joss a guilty look and sure enough, he’d pushed his hat back on his head and arched a judgmental blond eyebrow at her. She gave him a quick frown. “Thanks Pratt. I’ll put a heat lamp on it for a while. It’s probably swollen from being down in old Mrs. Baker’s cellar. You can go if you want. I’ll be closing up soon anyway.”
Pratt chewed the sexy fullness of his bottom lip. “You sure? I can finish cleaning out those whiskey barrels before I leave.”
Anna picked up the receipts and slipped them into the top drawer. She’d finish going through them in the morning, before she opened the store. It was quieter then, with fewer distractions wearing snug jeans over muscular thighs and a truly stupendous backside. “No, you go on home. I won’t be ready to put those out until next week anyway. I’m going to sell them with pots of flowers and the flowers won’t be delivered until Monday.”
“Oh. Okay.” Pratt looked toward the door but didn’t move.
Anna watched him, wondering why he hesitated.
“You want me to toss his ass out?” Joss asked helpfully.
Ignoring the cowboy, Anna asked, “Is there something else, Pratt?”
He shoved his hands into his pockets and sighed. “I’m sorry. It’s just that…well…” He smiled a little sadly. “I hate going back to the hotel and sitting around by myself all night. It’s lonely.”
Anna’s heart broke a little. She could only imagine how difficult it would be to start over in a new town, not knowing anyone. “It’s Friday night, you could go over to Ray’s. I hear it can get pretty interesting there on the weekends.” She smiled, hoping he wouldn’t take her words as a dismissal. But she was tired and still had stuff to do. The sooner she could shoo him out and lock the door behind him, the sooner she could finish up and go have a long, hot bath in her claw-footed tub.
“I was wondering if you’d like to go have a bite to eat. I hate to eat alone.”
“The boy’s crazy as a loon.”
Anna threw Joss a glare. “Tonight? Oh, Pratt, I’m really tired tonight. And to tell you the truth I don’t think it would be a good idea. Since we work together.” Anna hated the look that flashed through his eyes but she didn’t believe in obfuscating. She was a straight up, honest sort of person. She’d learned the hard way that honesty was less hurtful in the long run than a well-meaning lie.
“Oh, okay. Well, then I’ll see you in the morning.”
“ ’Night Pratt.
“Dash it! I thought he’d never leave.”
“Shush, Joss. I don’t know why you don’t like him. He’s a very nice young man.”
Joss snorted. “Young man. I think he’s older than you are. And don’t you ever wonder why he’s here? Crocker, Indiana ain’t exactly Gotham City.”
The cowboy had used that term before so Anna knew he was referring to New York City. She shrugged, unwilling to let him know she’d had the same doubts. He was already insufferable where Pratt was concerned. “That’s his business. I’m just glad to have him. He’s a good worker. Lock up for me will you? I need to get tags on all that jewelry in the back tonight. It’s going on sale tomorrow.”
“You got it, darlin’.”
Joss flipped a hand toward the front door and the deadbolt slipped home. A twitch of his fingers turned the Open sign to Closed.
Anna headed toward the large room at the back of the store where she worked on the antiques before she put them on the floor to sell. As soon as she walked through the door she knew trouble was waiting for her.
Trouble at Yesterday’s Antiques wore cloying perfume and had a snotty attitude. At the moment, trouble was sitting on top of the dresser Anna needed to work on and was trying on the jewelry she needed to tag. Anna pasted a smile that she didn’t feel on her face. “Hey, Bess. How are you tonight?” She grabbed the heat lamp off her work table and settled it in front of the dresser, focusing the light on the swollen bottom drawer.
The woman turned a clown-like countenance toward Anna, frowning. “Pshaw! I’m in a fine pucker. You’ve been keeping Jossy tied up all day and there’s been nobody to wake snakes with.”
Anna moved to the sink against the far wall and turned on the water, soaping up her hands while she fought the need to respond to the crabby poltergeist with a snarky remark. Bess hated Anna and the store. It was just her bad luck, and everybody else’s, that something of hers got caught up in the place a couple of centuries earlier and she couldn’t leave. Anna had been afraid to search for the binding item for fear she’d open the front door and chuck it into the back of a passing truck if she found it.
Maybe a road trip would do the cranky saloon girl some good.
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