Georgia Peach Truffle Murder (EBOOK)

Wendy Meadows Cozy Mystery Georgia Peach Truffle Murder (EBOOK)

Georgia Peach Truffle Murder (EBOOK)

Maple Hills Mystery Book 5
Regular price $4.99 Sale price $3.99 Save 20%
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Like a black cat, Nikki Bates seems to attract bad luck and trouble wherever she goes.

First in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, then on to her new stomping grounds of Maple Hills, Vermont, where she makes chocolate and stumbles onto murders. But this time it is not Nikki that has found the trouble, but her partner, Detective Hawk Daily. When an ex-partner and one-time friend summons Hawk to Atlanta after being shot it reveals an intrigue with International implications.

From east to west, construction happens every day in America. Buildings are thrown up, old ones are torn down and new projects are planned. On those construction sites, workers come and go, yet Nikki and Hawk discover that for the massive Dellington and Haim construction firm, many of those workers are illegal immigrants bought and sold as cheap slave labor. Tricked or coerced by men that value money more than human lives, these immigrants are trapped in a rat’s maze of slavery and death…and Nikki and Hawk have walked right into the middle of it.

Chapter One

Hawk wasn't happy his friend transferred to Atlanta, Georgia from Manhattan; Nikki, on the other hand, was excited. “Oh come on,” she told Hawk, sitting in a traffic jam on I-75 heading into Atlanta, “stop being a grouch, Hawk. After we see your friend, we can drive to my hometown, see my parents, and I can show you around.”

Hawk rolled his eyes. It wasn't that he didn't want Nikki showing her old stomping grounds to him. He was bothered. Jack Mills was brought to Atlanta under the lie that he needed a special cardiologist that worked at St. Joseph's Hospital. Hawk knew better. Sure, Jack had gone into heart failure while the surgeons back in New York were digging a bullet out of his chest, but that didn't mean the man had a heart problem. Jack's heart had stopped due to an allergic reaction from the anesthesia; or so Hawk was told. Even if Jack did need a cardiologist, New York had plenty of qualified doctors. No, something was wrong; Jack was shipped into the Deep South because his life was still in danger. 

Banging on the horn, Hawk raised his hand at a white BMW sitting in front of him. “Move it!” he yelled. Sweating from the heat and choking from vehicle fumes, Hawk glanced at Nikki. “Sorry about the AC,” he said. 

Even though Nikki was sweating, she felt comfortable. The soft, cotton, blue dress she was wearing was keeping her body cool. She also had her long hair tied up in a tight bun, keeping her neck open to any hopeful breeze. Hawk, on the other hand, was wearing a brown button-up shirt that was obviously hot and uncomfortable. Nikki held back a giggle. “You look like a baked potato.”

Hawk glanced down at his shirt. “I want to look presentable when I see Jack, okay?” he said. Reaching down, he snatched up a warm bottle of water sitting in the cup holder. “We're already an hour late,” he complained, chugging the water. 

“Will you relax?” Nikki said, picking up her own bottle of water. “We called the hospital. Your friend knows we're going to be late. Morning work traffic is a disease around here.”

“Is it always this hot? It's barely nine in the morning,” Hawk grumped, wiping sweat from his forehead. 

“Georgia is in a heat wave,” Nikki replied. To her relief, the traffic began to ease forward some. “Hawk...” Nikki said, looking up at the beautiful Atlanta skyline, “what's bothering you? Your friend Jack is alive. You were told he's going to make a full recovery. I would expect you to be thrilled with that kind of good news.”

Hawk began to chew on his bottom lip. He still had to fight his way down I-75 just to get to the 285 bypass. Sticking his left elbow out the driver's window, he eased the jeep forward while absorbing the sights and sounds of Atlanta. The city itself, he thought, was truly amazing. There was something distinct and mysterious about being in the Deep South. Sure, the south had its own share of crime (hadn't crime from the south invaded his cozy hometown in Vermont?). But still, Atlanta felt...well...southern, and all the small southern towns sitting outside of Atlanta, like little children swimming in a cold pond on a hot day, felt...inviting. “Nikki,” Hawk said as a semi-truck eased up on his left, “I...”

Nikki looked at Hawk. She waited. When Hawk didn't finish his sentence, she gently rubbed his arm. “Hawk?”

Hawk waited until a green Honda eased past the jeep on the right before answering. The Honda was blaring some kind of street music that seemed to shake the ground. A kid who looked no older than sixteen was sitting behind the steering wheel of the Honda talking on a cell phone. Hawk shook his head. “How can he even hear himself think?”

Nikki shrugged his shoulders. “Kids today will make hearing aid companies very rich in the future. Now, Hawk, what's bothering you?”

Hawk put down the bottle of water in his hand. “We nearly died on a cruise ship, Nikki; we're lucky to be alive. We could be living at the bottom of the sea right now. The last thing you or I both need is to be thrown into another case.”

Hawk's words confirmed Nikki's suspicion. “Hawk, you believe your friend Jack was transferred to Atlanta because his life is in danger, don't you?”

“Yes,” Hawk confessed. “Nikki, Jack was shot by a man in a suit, not some street thug. He was investigating the human trafficking of illegal immigrants into Manhattan. Now, I'm all for sending illegal immigrants back to the country they came from and making them enter this country legally, the same way our ancestors did, but regardless if people are here legally or illegally, they’re still people with rights.”

“Forcing illegal immigrants to become forced slave laborers is horrible,” Nikki agreed soberly.

Hawk jerked his head sideways and looked at Nikki. “How did you know...why even ask? You heard me speaking to Jack's partner, didn't you?”

Nikki innocently shrugged her shoulders. “Hawk, I didn't mean to hear your conversation, honestly.”

“Sure you didn't,” Hawk said and grinned. “You little sneak.”

“I was worried, okay?” Nikki confessed. “And it's obvious you're still worried. Do you believe the person who tried to kill your friend will try and finish the job?”

“It's possible,” Hawk told Nikki. Looking over at the semi-truck sitting next to his jeep, Hawk shook his head. “What I wouldn't give to trade places with the driver of that rig. Sitting tall in your saddle, America opened up before you, going where the road leads; a man can breathe that way, you know?”

“Maybe on the drive back to Vermont we can take a few detours?” Nikki suggested. Examining Hawk's face, she saw fatigue eating through the man's eyes. “Hawk, you look so tired. Honey, after we see your friend, I'll drive us to my parents’ home. We'll have a good dinner, rest, and tomorrow we'll spend the entire day walking around my hometown. We'll even have lunch at Mrs. Owens’ Café. She makes the best fried okra in the south.”

Hawk liked that Nikki called him “Honey.” It felt right. Reaching over, he patted Nikki’s knee. “Sound's good, Nikki. I guess I am a little tired. I didn't sleep well in the hotel last night; the bed was all lumpy. I think the desk clerk gave you the good room and me the bad room on purpose.”

Nikki smirked. “The desk clerk was an eighteen-year-old boy who wanted to marry me and saw you as the big lug standing in his way,” she told Hawk. “Poor kid seemed like he had never had a date in his life. I felt sorry for him.”

“Feel sorry for my aching back,” Hawk fussed. Finally, to his relief, the traffic began moving at a steady pace. “About time,” Hawk growled, pushing his jeep past the second gear. 

“We could move to Atlanta,” Nikki began to tease. Old memories of her life in Atlanta began flooding her mind. Leaning back in her seat, she grew silent and looked out the passenger's window at the tall buildings. So many memories, Nikki thought...so many memories. 

Hawk glanced at Nikki. Noticing her eyes become sad, he began to say something but decided to remain silent. Sometimes a woman needed to be left alone.

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