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MURDER EN POINTE
Grace’s Augusta Mysteries Book 2
BY CHARMAIN Z. BRACKETT
With a diva ballerina waltzing through town for two sold-out performances, Grace Ward has to be on her toes to make sure the star’s flowers are perfect. Her delivery goes awry when she finds the prima donna dead, and another Augusta mystery lands in her lap.
I walked around and listened.
Silence – an eerie silence, at that.
I seemed to be alone, but for some reason, I felt like someone was watching me. I felt a shiver down my spine. I’d never heard of a phantom at this theater. I felt the urge to get out of there as fast as I could. I wanted to run.
I put my hand on the door handle and paused as I felt another shiver. That urge to run was even stronger. I knocked on the door and waited. Despite the feeling of dread, I opened the door, and what I saw as I entered the dressing room shocked me. I saw a woman lying on her back on the floor. It was Aleksandra. Wearing a beautiful, silk, Asian-inspired robe, the same leotard and tights from earlier, and a pair of pink pointe shoes on her feet, she lay motionless.
I stepped back and paused for what seemed like an eternity. Of course, it was probably only a few seconds. I couldn’t scream, but my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. When I finally got my bearings, I placed the flowers on the makeup counter in front of the wall of mirrors and then stared into the reflection. There was something written in Russian in red lipstick on one of the dressing room mirrors. Another mirror was broken and several of the light bulbs that surrounded it were broken as well. Bloodied glass shards lay on the counter and pulverized purple eye shadow glittered on the floor. Several containers littered the carpet as though Aleksandra had entered a massive struggle right before her violent end.
I noticed a second pair of pointe shoes beside her. Saturated in blood, the shoes’ ribbons were laced around her neck, and orchid blossoms were scattered atop her still body. There was blood on her hands, which were resting by her side. It was odd. It didn’t seem like a natural position. My own hands started shaking as I took it all in. I felt dizzy. Where was my phone? I rummaged through my purse until I found it. Speed dial 2 for my husband.
“Hey, baby. I was just getting ready to call you,” I heard Drew on the other end of the call.
I continued to stare.
“Grace? Are you there?”
“Drew” was all I could say.
“Could you come to the dressing rooms at the Bell?”
The words seemed to be stuck in my throat. I tried to clear it.
“What’s the matter, Grace?”
“I think there’s been another murder.”
“I’m on my way.”
Charmain Zimmerman Brackett grew up in a picturesque Southern neighborhood filled with front porches and retirees. Her closest companions in her childhood and teenage years were the characters she found in the pages of books. In college, her love of literature, language and writing led her to pursue a degree in English. She has spent the past 28 years writing for several newspapers and magazines in the Augusta, Ga. area. In 2008, a story in a series she wrote on returning wounded warriors received second place at the Department of the Army level in the Keith L. Ware journalism competition. She has written three young adult novels, The Key of Elyon, Elyon’s Cipher and Elyon’s Light. Her debut novel, The Key of Elyon, received the 2014 Yerby Award for Fiction. Her fourth novel, Fixed In The Tempest, is inspirational contemporary fiction. Under the name of C.Z. Brackett, she writes the Victoria James mystery series. Her first children’s book, Little Pearl’s Circus World, won the Georgia Writers Association’s 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Award in the children’s category. It’s based on the true story of her great-grandmother, Pearl Clark LaComa, who began performing with her father’s circus, the M.L. Clark and Son Combined Shows when she was only 4. Brackett lives in Augusta, Ga. with her husband, Bret. They have three children, Jessica, Jeremy and Allie and a 7 year-old rescued papillon named Danni.
Links to Charmain’s website, blog, books, etc.
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