Murder Takes the Cake Excerpt

From Murder Takes the Cake

I went down the hall to the office and found Edna at her desk. Curly brown hair and mid-forties moon pie face came up out of the pages of the Wall Street Journal, mouth contorting sourly. “I hope your class was more satisfactory than mine.” Edna taught a couple of courses at The Citadel. “Some of these cadets possess the analytical skills of a drain pipe.”

I dropped my backpack and plopped down in a side chair. “No surprise you’re in a bad mood. Under the circumstances you must be devastated. But it’s not healthy to transfer your ire to innocent, hard-working college students. Best to confront the situation head on. And in that regard, I have glad tidings.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Ulrike Ellicott’s murder,” I said. “I know you two were as close as sisters.” Edna’s roots were Charleston high society, and though her politics and passion focused on aiding the common woman and man, she enjoyed hobnobbing with notables, of whom Ulrike Ellicott had been one. Ellicott had begun her culinary career in Charleston and returned frequently for purposes such as annual judging of the Charleston Cake Colossus.

“I heard mention at The Citadel of Ms. Ellicott’s death,” Edna said. “I’m deeply saddened, but she and I were casual acquaintances at most.”

I shook my head. “You’re obviously in denial over the loss of one of your closest friends. The best therapy would be to solve the crime. Which is where my glad tidings come in. I’ve found a person interested in hiring us to investigate Ellicott’s murder.”

Edna pursed thin lips, carefully folded the newspaper, and set it on her desk beside a tall glass of sweet tea. Then she gave me her full attention, eyes narrowing behind bifocals. Brilliant blue eyes that shot beams like heat-seeking missiles detecting and obliterating deception and obfuscation. “What did we discuss at dinner last night?”

“You prayed for a new client.”

… “… I said that with my teaching schedule this semester and my pro bono ACLU work and other activities, I can’t imagine taking on a new case right now.”

“Don’t sell your imagination short.”

“Stop annoying me or I’ll hold back your paycheck.”

“If you hold back my paycheck,” I said, “I’ll have to steal more silver from you.”

“Jerrelle – ”

She was interrupted by another: “Jerrelle!”

An echo? No, the second Jerrelle was Mercado’s voice in the hallway.

“Who is out there?” Edna demanded. “If you’ve brought someone here to speak with me about Ulrike Ellicott’s murder – ” Her uncompleted thought hung above my head like the Sword of Damocles.