Who?: Post 2

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Marina by Cyndy Salzmann (From Crime & Clutter)
Read it on her blogs at http://blog.cyndysalzmann.com and http://canblog.typepad.com/canbookmarketing/

Amateurs! Maria shook her head and stalked over to the tour director of the ART museum. He was spending more time ogling the chick in the black dress than trying to figure out who swiped the book. If she let him handle the interrogation, they’d be locked in this tepee room all night.

Marina slapped Quinn on the shoulder. “Why don’t ya let me handle this, Bubba?”

“Bubba? Did you just call me Bubba?”

Marina grinned and pulled a notebook from her leather shoulder bag. “Just a figure of speech.”

Jessica giggled and Quinn shot her a dirty look.

Marina put her arm around Quinn’s shoulder and lowered her voice. “Listen, we all want to get outta here. And to be perfectly honest, you makin’ time with the suspects isn’t getting us any closer to that goal.”

Before Quinn could respond, Tiffany stepped forward. “Suspect! How dare you refer to me as—”

“Back off, Barbie doll,” Marina growled. “Or would you rather head down to the station to talk about how that strand of auburn hair ended up near the empty display case?”

***

Max by Jill Elizabeth Nelson (From Reluctant Burglar & Reluctant Runaway)
Read it on her website at www.jillelizabethnelson.com/artisticblogger.shtml

Whoa! Maxine Webb jumped and whirled at the crash of a metal gate slamming shut behind the museum tour group. Her gaze darted from the mesh grill, to the furiously flashing red light on the security camera, to the lady’s man tour guide, Quinn, who’d quit making cow eyes at every shapely young thing in the group and was now jabbering into his walkie-talkie.

At least she could see the security system she and her boss had designed was doing its job. The alarm would be raising a ruckus in the control room, but not here. Nothing but excited conversations going on around her. Too bad she couldn’t overhear what the guide was saying to his contact outside this Indian artifact display room where they were now captive. Max stepped closer to Quinn and caught a few words about a missing book.

A book? She turned and squinted toward the barred gate into the room they’d just passed through. Is that what had been in the empty case? She’d thought it was funny the lid was open on an empty case. But not so much that she’d said anything when Casanova Quinn hustled them onward. Museums changed displays all the time.

Marina, a black-haired woman with fire-red fingernails, told the tour guide where to get off, announced she was a cop, and then made a bee-line for the most vulnerable person in the room, an overweight redhead who’d mumbled an introduction as Jessica at the beginning of the tour. Good thing Chief Grandfather flanked the frightened girl, or one dyed-in-the-wool Texan might be tempted to ride to the rescue. But that tough old Nez Perce Indian could handle Lady Cop. Yikes! She was beginning to think like her boss and best friend, Desiree Jacobs, and nickname everyone by appearance or occupation.

The tall, pretty school teacher drifted toward her. Gracie, wasn’t it? The gal had gorgeous auburn hair. Max’d trade her a head full of poofy red curls any day, but the poor thing had goose-bumps on top of goose-bumps chasing themselves up her bare arms. Max ran a hand up her own cardigan-clad arm. She always brought a sweater to a museum, even in the summer time. Experience as a museum security electronics EXPERT had taught her the need.

She smiled at Gracie. “This is so not my cuppa Joe! Bein’ a suspect in a museum theft? Now if Desi were here, she’d be eatin’ this up and figure out whodunit in no time. Not me. I’m happy to add window dressin’ in the background, thank you very much.”

Gracie’s answering smile fluttered a little at the corners. “Maxine, I’m . . . I’m really sorry for my earlier accusations. I’m a little skittish with the confinement and want this over as soon as possible.”

“Don’t we all.” Max ran a hand across her hair. Pesky stuff just wouldn’t settle down. “You seem pretty bothered by the gates. Something got you spooked?”

The teacher sucked in an audible breath, and her gaze darted away. “I’m beyond cold and a tad claustrophobic, that’s all. Can I ask you something?”

“Shoot.”

Gracie flashed an off-white business card. “On my way here, I picked this up near the empty display case in the other room. I’d planned to return it to Tiffany, assuming it was hers, but I wanted to ask you about it first. Didn’t you mention needing to get back in shape to keep up with your friend Desi?”

Max plucked the card out of Gracie’s fingers and studied it. “American Gym? Not on your life. I have two little ones that keep me hoppin’.”

“But didn’t you say—”

“Mrs. Lang? Can I ask you a few questions?” Quinn’s sharp tone brought both their heads around.

Uh-oh! Max pressed her lips together. Third degree comin’ for the lovely schoolmarm, while he eats her up with his eyes. Somebody fit this guy with a pair of blinders like an old plow horse.

Max stepped forward. “Whoever snatched the book was wearin’ high heels. I heard that tell-tale clickety-clack right before I noticed the case was empty.”

Tiffany, the statuesque physical trainer and second biggest flirt in the group, stared down at her stiletto-heeled shoes and went as red as Marina’s fingernails.

Quinn glared at Max.

A bit too fluffy and old enough to be your big sister, am I? She grinned at him.

His gaze fell away—straight toward the spike heels of Gracie Lang’s trendy sandals.

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