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FROST ON THE BLOOM
The Holly and Ivy Mystery Series – Book 2
BY SALLY HANDLEY
In this second book in the Holly and Ivy mystery series, one of Holly Donnelly’s former students, Becky Powell, asks the look-alike sisters for help when they all spend Christmas at Skyview Manor, and Becky becomes the prime suspect in the attempted murder of her manipulative grandmother, Lyla Powell. Once again the plucky sisters are reluctantly drawn into a murder investigation, convinced that Mrs. Powell’s duplicitous friends and greedy Powell family members have framed Becky for the crime. Holly’s involvement becomes a source of contention between her and Detective Nick Manelli, threatening their budding romance. Can their relationship continue to sizzle as the investigation heats up and the sister sleuths try to catch a cold-blooded killer?
1 SKYVIEW MANOR/CHRISTMAS EVE
The grey clouds hung heavy and low in the sky. Suddenly, as if they could no longer bear the weight, they began to shed their load flake by flake. As the crystal flecks hit the windshield, Holly Donnelly exclaimed, “This is too perfect! It’s actually starting to snow. We’re going to have a white Christmas after all.”
Holly put on her blinker and turned past the fierce lion sculptures framing the entrance of Skyview Manor, their ferocity tempered by the Christmas wreaths festooned with red ribbons around their necks.
“Thank heaven it waited until we got here,” her sister, Ivy, replied, smiling as she surveyed the grounds. “If my flight had been delayed just an hour more we might have had trouble driving here.”
“I told you not to worry and that everything would work out.” Holly pulled up in front of the Tudor revival mansion’s massive oak front door.
“Yes, but you always say that, even right before disaster strikes,” Ivy teased, unbuckling her seatbelt.
“Well, I just don’t see any point worrying before I have to.” Holly popped the trunk button, opened her door and got out of Pearl, her Cadillac CTS, affectionately named for its color. She stood for a moment looking up at the grand façade of the manor house.
Ivy followed her gaze, pulling her coat tightly around her. “I just love this place. Spending Christmas here this year was the best idea you ever had.”
Holly sighed, her breath visible in the cold air. “Well, with Nick in Boston and Dave… you know, I thought we both would be a little mopey if we just stayed home. We always talked about staying here. The only downside is Lucky has to spend Christmas with the neighbors, but she adores them. When we get back you’ll just have to bake her those dog biscuits she loves and all will be forgiven.”
“I’ll make a double batch,” Ivy said, turning and embracing her sister in a bear hug.
After a moment, Holly pulled back. “C’mon. Let’s get you inside with the luggage. This snow is really starting to come down. I’ll park the car in the lot while you check in.”
“Oh, this is going to be great,” Ivy said, helping Holly get their bags out of the trunk. “I can’t wait to see the decorations.”
Holly arrived at the check-in desk just as the desk clerk was handing Ivy the keys to their room. “Look. Real keys. Not plastic cards.” Ivy giggled.
The clerk smiled and said, “We’ll have your things brought up to your room shortly. Our Christmas Eve dinner begins in exactly one hour.”
“Great! I’m starved,” Ivy said zipping her handbag shut.
Holly rolled her eyes and shook her head. “When are you not hungry?”
Ivy shrugged and laughed. “Let’s go see our room.”
Holly turned to face a slim, rather tall, young woman with ashy brown hair who had come up behind her. “Becky? What are you doing here?”
“I’m here with my grandmother. She arranged for our family and some friends of hers to spend Christmas here. How about you?”
“I’m here with my sister.” Holly turned and put her hand on Ivy’s arm. “This is Becky Powell. She was in my English Composition class this past semester–one of only two A’s in the class. Becky, this is my sister, Ivy.”
Ivy extended her hand. “An ‘A’ from Holly? Congratulations! I know that’s not easy to achieve.”
Becky beamed as she shook Ivy’s hand.
“Becky! Becky, where are you?” A shrill voice filled the entrance hall. The smile left Becky’s face as she looked across the room to where an elderly woman was seated in a wheelchair beside a blazing fireplace. She quickly released Ivy’s hand and said, “That’s Grandmother. I’ve got to go. It was very nice to meet you.”
As she rushed off, Holly called after her, “Maybe we can find time for a chat.”
Without stopping, Becky glanced back over her shoulder, nodding, but slightly shrugging her shoulders at the same time. The sisters watched as the grandmother’s stern face turned into a grimace when she spotted Becky coming towards her.
“Where have you been?” The old woman banged a clenched fist on the side of her chair.
Becky lowered her head and spoke so quietly Holly and Ivy couldn’t hear her reply. The grandmother also lowered her voice, but continued addressing Becky, her finger punctuating the air as she spoke. Becky remained standing in front of the wheel chair, looking down at the floor. The old woman concluded her tirade, raising her chin with the regal air of a grand dame. Becky moved to the back of the wheelchair, clasped the handles and wheeled her grandmother through an enormous stone archway out of sight.
“That poor girl,” Ivy said, lacing her arm through Holly’s.
“She was such a delight to have in class, a really good writer. I’m sorry to see her treated that way,” Holly said frowning.
“C’mon. We need to get up to our room and dress for dinner. I’m…”
“I know. You’re starved.”
Sally Handley, President of the Upstate South Carolina Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), debuted her Holly and Ivy cozy mystery series with her first book, Second Bloom, in May of 2017. Frost on the Bloom is book 2 of the series. She also writes a blog entitled “On Writing, Reading and Retirement” (www.sallyhandley.com).
An avid read, Sally has been a mystery lover since she read my first Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books as a young girl. An English major, she graduated from Douglass College at Rutgers University and earned her Master’s Degree with a concentration in Shakespearean studies from Wroxton College, Oxfordshire, England.
After six years as a public school teacher, Sally transitioned into business, and had a 30 year career as a professional services marketer. She returned to teaching as an adjunct professor of English before retiring in 2015.
Now a resident of Mauldin, SC, she devotes her time to writing cozy mysteries and gardening. A member of the Simpsonville Garden Club, she uses her marketing experience handling the club’s publicity.
Links to Sally’s website, blog, books, etc.
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subscribe to my blog: http://03ca48c.netsolhost.com/WordPress/blog/
- Follow my author page on Amazon.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/sally.handley1
- Twitter: @authorSHandley
- Linked-in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sallyhandleyinc/
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16850782.Sally_Handley
Thanks, Sally, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!