Guest Author ~ Marianne Harden

Malicious Mischief - Marianne Harden - Banner (1)

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Is it strange to have the unemployment office on speed dial? Not for twenty-four-year-old college dropout Rylie Keyes. However, her current job at a small retirement home is worlds more important than all her past gigs. Fact is, if she loses this job, she’ll fail to stop the forced sale of her grandfather’s home, a modest lakeside bungalow that has been in the family for ages. But to keep her job she needs to figure out the truth behind the death of a senior citizen found murdered in her care.

The victim was thought to be a penniless man with a silly grudge against Rylie. However, his enemies will do whatever it takes to keep their part in his murder secret.

Forced to dust off the PI training she must keep hidden from her ex-detective grandfather, Rylie has to juggle the attentions of two very sexy, very different cops who both arouse and fluster her at the same time. And as she trudges through the case, she has no idea that along the way she just might win, or lose, a little piece of her heart.


I managed to look down. Froze. Zach’s jacket had somehow twisted to the front, leaving my butt out in the open. I started to tug it back into place, spied a huge pool of blood nearby, and keeled over. Splat.

“Isn’t that somethin’, you’re wearing a pink thong.” Cokey Bill’s voice sounded distant. “Doris won’t wear one, on account of her incontinence.”

Dizzily, I struggled to my knees, staggered a little, then righted with a hand to one of the orange boxes for support. “Mr. Oley—we need to get—help. Doris needs—help.”

“Ah, that’s the sweetest thing, you moving over like that. I got a nice view now.”

I lapsed into a moment of stillness, hand to my heart. I had a strong feeling nothing could be done for Doris, so I wanted to give Cokey Bill a moment with his wife.

“Rare and beautiful thing, a nice ass,” he said.

Omigod! “Are you kidding me? You pervert. You’re looking at my butt!”

“I’m a simple man,” he said.

“You should be ashamed—” I broke off when his eyes went glassy. “Mr. Oley, are you all right?”

He sunk lower in his seat, grinned, and sagged against the steering wheel, making the horn blare with his pointy nose.

I couldn’t move, couldn’t blink. This wasn’t happening.

Solo popped his head inside the open passenger door. “Holy crap!”

“Where have you been?” I managed.

“Watching some bunnies in the bushes.” He looked from Cokey Bill to Doris and back to me. “What did you do, whisper them to death?”

“No!” I said, gulping air. “Check his pulse.” Then I closed my eyes to the blood and straddled Doris to do my best with CPR. It didn’t matter that I thought it was useless, I couldn’t give up on her or Cokey Bill. A minute later, I eyed Solo. “How’s he doing?”

He shook his head, shoulders slumped. “Dead.”

The blood left my face, I felt it go, drip by bloody drip. “You sure?”

He nodded. “Pretty darn.”

I dragged my eyes off Cokey Bill and went back to work on Doris. The shock and effort made me woozier. My panting and the footsteps outside sounded as one. When the truck’s rear doors flew open, my heart skipped a beat.

“Holy Mother Mary!” Zach said.

Fish and guts streamed out in a silver wave. Zach leaped back. I grabbed for something, anything, but my hands were slimy. The truck’s sharp angle made it worse. I missed a hand strap, but fisted some of Doris’s shirt. She wasn’t moving, probably caught on something. I heard a ripping noise. Ack! She was on the loose.

A jaunty slippery-slide over the rear bumper whipped me higher than a bucking horse. We bounced onto the pavement, bounced again. It turned out Doris was kind of springy. Even so, we went splat, a bouncy splat that whipped me onto my back, my knees heavenward, and my arms above my head. I opened one eye, peered up at Zach; his eyes were steely.

“I can explain.”

About the Author:

I love making people laugh. True, I should probably spend time on an analyst’s couch, but I’d rather spill loads of fun into my books. I’m rarely at a loss for words, which is wicked cool for a writer. And it would be poppycock to say I didn’t laze away my wonder years dreaming of far-off places.

Over the years, I’ve traversed the insanely fun back roads of Australia and New Zealand, trekked the wildly exotic landscapes of Asia and Africa, soaked up the blistering Caribbean sun, survived bitter Arctic cold to witness the Northern Lights, and lost a wee bit of my heart to the awesomeness of Europe.

My goals in life are simple: do more good than harm and someday master the do-not-mess-with-me look. I roost in Washington State with my husband and our two children.

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