Today’s stop is for Laura Bradford’s 30 Second Death. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading 🙂
To help an old friend, Tobi Tobias gets a third-rate thespian a part in
a commercial, and learns that in the advertising business, bad acting
can lead to murder . . .
When Tobi Tobias opened her own advertising agency, Carter McDade was there for her
every step of the way. A brilliant hairdresser, Carter has just
landed his dream project: doing hair and makeup for a theatrical
production of Rapunzel. But the dream turns into a nightmare when he
runs into Fiona Renoir, a cruel, talentless starlet who won’t let
Carter touch a hair on her head.
To get Fiona out of Carter’s hair, Tobi hires the difficult actress for a bit part in
her latest commercial. But true to character, Fiona is a terror on
set, and Tobi is starting to think she’s made the biggest mistake
of her life. But things get even worse when Fiona drops dead in the
hairdresser’s chair, and the only suspect is the man left holding
the tainted hair dye, Carter McDade. And unless Tobi can prove his
innocence, he’ll never do hair in this town again.
swell of background music, no thunderous blast like I’d always
There was simply crunching.
Loud, deliberate crunching.
In fact, it was the cruncher and the crunchee that had turned the
fiery flames of the dreaded underworld into the clichéd icicles referenced
at the end of virtually every nasty breakup.
My best friend, Carter McDade, was standing less than five feet
from my sofa eating a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.
That’s right, Carter McDade—the same guy who lectured me daily
on the gaps (okay, seismic gullies) in my eating habits. The same guy
who could draw a textbook food pyramid in mere seconds. The same
guy who’d willingly and happily choose broccoli in a head-to-head
with a Caramello bar.
Which is why his puff-crunching pointed to one indisputable conclusion:
Carter was stressed. Big-time.
A rarity in and of itself, Cocoa Puffs or no Cocoa Puffs.
My upstairs neighbor was the most positive human being I’d ever
met. One of those happy-go-lucky, always-has-a-smile types. You
know, the kind of person everyone needs in their life, but few are fortunate
enough to have.
I was one of the fortunate.
I was also dumbfounded. Utterly and completely dumbfounded
by what to say and how to say it. So I took the not-so-subtle approach.
“What’s wrong, Carter?”
Now I’ll admit, I have a leg up when it comes to deciphering pufftalk
(it is, after all, my second language), but I was feeling pretty proud
that I could decode it from even the most novice of crunchers.
“Nothing? Nothing?! Do you realize what you’re eating right now?”
Carter looked at the bowl in his left hand and then the spoon moving
toward his mouth with his right. “Uh-huh.”
“They’re Cocoa Puffs, Carter! Co. Coa. Puffs. As in chocolate—
or as you call it, sugar central. You know, void of roughage. In fact, if
I do recall correctly, you refer to them as the downfall of mankind.
The reason for society’s ills.”
I guess I thought if I really hammered home the point, it might
sink in. Then again, I was living proof that tactic failed. Just ask my
Besides, it was hard to hammer home drawbacks when I didn’t
believe a word of what I was saying. Why? Because I, Tobi Tobias,
am a chocoholic. And proud of it, I might add.
So I did what any good chocoholic would do. I sauntered into the
kitchen, grabbed my Bugs Bunny melamine bowl and matching
spoon, filled it to the brim with the last of the crunchy brown puffs
(don’t worry, I’ve got four more boxes in the cabinet over the stove),
and headed back into the living room. I mean, let’s face it, the expression
“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” was coined for a reason,
Not that my commiserating helped. In fact, when I returned, Carter
showed no signs of having noticed my departure or subsequent return.
His facial expression was still void of its trademark smile, and his eyes
held a vacant look. Somehow, though, I managed to coax him onto
“C’mon, Carter, spill it. It’s Fiona again, isn’t it?”
Call it a lucky (or, really my only) guess, but it was worth a shot.
And judging by the look of complete mortification on his face as my
words (and thus, his choice of food) registered in his subconscious,
I’d hit the jackpot.
“Oh, good God, please tell me I’m not eating what I think I’m eating.”
Carter squeezed his eyes shut, then opened them slowly, cautiously.
A tortured gasp escaped his mouth, along with a partially
2 • Laura Bradford
“It’s okay, Carter, really. It’s been a long time coming. And it’s
not a good idea to keep depriving yourself of the finer things in life.”
I reached out and touched his shoulder, a teasing smile tugging my
lips. “Thanks for letting me be a part of your spiritual awakening.”
If looks could kill . . .
He rolled his eyes upward and then frantically wiped his tongue
with the sleeve of his cable-knit sweater. “Ugh, how on earth can you
eat that stuff?”
“Same way you just did, my friend. One yummy spoonful at a
time.” I winked and popped some puffs into my mouth. I knew I was
being ornery, but I couldn’t help myself. Let’s face it, I’d endured
more pontificating about my eating habits from this man than I could
possibly recall. So this was, in a way, sweet justice. Payback. Comeuppance
at its finest . . .
“My mind was compromised.” Carter released a long, slow sigh
and wiped his tongue one more time. “I swear, Sunshine, that woman
will be the death of me yet. Mark my words.”
I took the bowl from his shaking hand and set it on the end table
to my right. It never ceased to amaze me how fast the sugar rush hit
the chocolate virgins. Especially the stressed ones.
“What’d Princess Fiona do this time?”
“In the interest of time, it might be better if I tell you what she
didn’t do.” Carter pushed off the couch and wandered over to the
window. Drawing back the curtain, he peered outside. “Have you
ever noticed the way Ms. Rapple kinda looks like Gertrude? Around
the eyes and snout—I mean, nose?”
That did it. I laughed. And snorted. Loudly.
“I’m serious, Tobi. The eyes droop in almost the exact same spot,
and the nose, well, it’s a perfect match. Right down to the persistent
Ewwww . . .
Thinking about my next-door neighbor, Ms. Rapple, was enough
to make my stomach turn. The old biddy was something of a thorn in
my side and had been since the day I moved into my apartment at 46
McPherson Road. In fact, I’m not sure I’d even turned the key in the
front lock before she’d descended on me with her over-the-top questions,
mean-spirited honesty, hideously bad breath, and her yippity-
30 Second Death • 3
yappity dog, Gertrude. Fortunately, having Carter in the apartment
above me, and Mary Fran and Sam Wazoli living above Ms. Rapple,
made the situation more bearable.
Still . . . was I wrong for hoping she’d win the lottery and move
out into the countryside? Or, even better, to another continent entirely?
Carter, I knew, felt the same way about our elderly neighbor, though
he tried his best to smooth over her abrasiveness with his normally
sunny disposition. When that didn’t work, he resorted to other things.
Like ducking to the side of windows in true surveillance mode.
“You better come away from there, Carter. If she catches
including Silence of the Flans and Éclair and Present Danger,
and the national bestselling Amish Mysteries, including A
Churn for the Worse and Suspendered Sentence.
Under the pen name, Elizabeth Lynn Casey, she writes the Southern
Sewing Circle Mysteries, including Wedding Duress and Taken In.
She lives in Yorktown Heights, New York, with her husband and their
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