Home > Blue Christmas (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #3)(11)

Blue Christmas (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #3)(11)
Mary Kay Andrews

As I was gathering up the magazines, I spied a pink princess telephone. Pink was a prized color for a princess phone, but I frowned. Wrong color for a blue Christmas.

I could spray-paint it blue, but that would ruin the resale value, which was around sixty dollars. I turned the phone over and found the scrap of masking tape with the price I’d paid for it. Fifty cents.

My honor was at stake here. I took the phone out into the alley behind the shop, set it on an old copy of the Savannah Morning News, and quickly created an adorable, if now worthless, powder blue princess phone.

It was time to check on my dye job. The blue netting was absolutely heavenly. I gathered it up in my arms and was on my way out the back door when I spotted one of the many silver-framed photos of family and friends I had scattered all over the town house. This particular picture was of me and Daniel at the beach. I scowled at Daniel. He hadn’t even called yet to find out if Jethro was all right.

Looking at the picture of my boyfriend took me right back to my own teenage angst. I turned the frame over and slipped the picture out of the frame, leaving it on the kitchen counter. I took the frame into the den, sat down at my computer, and did a Google image search. Five minutes later I was printing out a black-and-white photo of Elvis Presley in his army uniform. I inserted Elvis into the silver picture frame, gathered up the netting, and headed back to the shop.

For the next three hours I worked as fast and as hard as I’d ever worked before. I stapled and styled, draped and swagged and glue-gunned, until I was ready to drop. At four o’clock I forced myself to call it quits. The judges would be making their rounds at six, and I still had to assemble all the refreshments for the open house, and bathe and dress.

When I got out of the shower, I moaned at how little time I had left. My original plan had been to get myself up in some glam outfit from my collection of vintage clothes. Maybe a red chiffon cocktail dress from the sixties, with a gold lamé cinch belt. But there was no time now for primping and, anyway, glam wouldn’t go with my theme.

Instead, I slicked my wild mane of red hair into a perky ponytail and caught it up with a big blue tulle bow. I pegged the hems of my blue jeans, rolling them calf-high, and slipped on a kitten-soft pale blue beaded cashmere sweater from my vintage collection that had been my Meemaw’s. But Meemaw had never worn a push-up bra and left the top three pearl buttons undone like I did that night. Briefly I mourned again for the missing blue Christmas tree pin that had started this whole thing.

But I still had the old jewelry box the brooch had come from. I looped three different strands of the faux pearls around my neck and tripled another strand of pearls for a bracelet.

Bobby socks and saddle oxfords would have finished off my outfit, but I’d long ago tossed out the hated black-and-white shoes that had been a required part of our uniform at St. Vincent’s Academy, the all-girl Catholic high school I’d attended. Instead, I slipped on a pair of black ballet flats, and as a last-minute thought, grabbed my daddy’s old maroon Benedictine Catholic High School letter sweater.

I was heading back downstairs to start gathering up the trays of food to take over to the shop when I heard a noise coming from the kitchen. I stopped abruptly on the last stair.

Footsteps, light but audible, were coming from the kitchen. I heard the sound of the heavy door of my Sub-Zero refrigerator door open and then close.

For a second, a chill ran down my spine. Somebody was in my house! Then I relaxed. Daniel. My prodigal boyfriend had come over to apologize for his uncaring attitude the night before.

“Daniel?” I called. “Are you on a mercy mission? Did you bring over the dessert trays you promised for the party?”

No answer. Quick footsteps, and then I heard the sound of the back door closing.

“Daniel?” I peeked around the door into the kitchen. It was empty, except for Jethro, who was crouched under the kitchen table, his tail thumping softly on the wooden floor.

I darted over to the back door just in time to see the wrought-iron garden gate swinging shut. I stepped outside to look. The only truck parked in my two-car carport was my own. The lane was empty.

Another chill ran down my spine. I walked quickly back to the kitchen, stepped inside, and locked the door behind me, throwing the latch on the dead bolt for good measure.

My hands were shaking, I realized. Jethro scooched forward on his belly and licked my bare ankle.

“Jethro,” I scolded. “Why didn’t you bark at the bad man?”

Thump thump went the tail.

I checked the refrigerator. Damn! The silver tray on which I’d carefully arranged five pounds of concentric circles of bacon-wrapped shrimp now held only a limp leaf of lettuce and a hollowed-out lemon half holding the cocktail sauce.

I ran into the dining room and pulled the drawer of my mahogany sideboard open. My grandmother’s wedding silver, all eleven place settings of the Savannah pattern, were intact. My collection of sterling candlesticks on the dining room table was undisturbed.

In the living room, I picked up my purse from where I’d dropped it in the chair by the front door. My wallet was still stuffed with cash and credit cards. My checkbook was untouched.

I went back to the kitchen and picked up the phone and called Daniel’s cell phone. I almost never disturb him when he’s at the restaurant, especially this time of year, but this, I decided, was an emergency. I needed to be reassured by the sound of his voice.

“Weezie?” he said, answering after the second ring. “What’s up?”

“Hi,” I said, willing myself to stay calm. “Were you here just now?”

“No. Where? At your place? No. I’m asshole-deep in shrimp bisque here. Why?”

“Funny you should mention shrimp. Because mine are missing,” I said, sinking down onto a kitchen chair. “Somebody was here,” I said slowly. “In my kitchen. I’d just gotten dressed and I was coming downstairs when I heard somebody in the kitchen. I heard the refrigerator door being opened and closed. I just assumed it was you. But when I called your name, whoever it was left. I think I spooked him. They slipped out the back gate. With all my bacon-wrapped shrimp.”

“Are you all right?”

“Fine,” I said. “They left. That’s all I care about.”

“Was anything else taken? Did you call the cops?”

“No, I called you first,” I said. “All my silver is still here. My purse was out in plain view. Nothing in it was touched, and I had the day’s cash from the shop in my billfold, around five hundred bucks.”

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