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SINS OF MY YOUTH
A Charlie McClung Mystery
BY MARY ANNE EDWARDS
Secrets, lies, and revenge. What a deadly combination! When the owner of a local strip club is found with his throat slit, Detective Charlie McClung has only one obvious suspect: his wife’s best friend, Joan. Even though Charlie finds her clutching a bloody knife while standing over the body, he has been around long enough to know that crime scenes aren’t always as they first appear. But as other suspects become victims themselves, Charlie must delve deeper into Joan’s dark and seedy past to prove her innocence.
What people are saying about Sins of My Youth
“What do you do when the evidence points to your best friend? You drop everything. Newlywed Marion McClung’s search for the truth follows the twisted branches of a tortured family tree in Sins of My Youth. A must read.” Gretchen Archer, author of the USA Today Bestselling Davis Way Crime Capers
“Sins of My Youth is a wonderful crime story tied up with family and friends everyone wants to protect. The kind of story that make you dive into the pages and not come out until all the threads are pulled together at the end. A first-rate mystery and superb ending that will have you remembering all the clues you should have caught along the way.” — Ritter Ames, author of the USA Today Bestselling Organized Mysteries and the Bodies of Art Mysteries
“Edwards deftly reveals layers of secrets and lies in this page-turner. Charlie McClung fans will gobble it up.” — LynDee Walker, Agatha Award-Nominated author of Cover Shot
“Mary Anne Edwards manages to captivate the reader in her latest book, Sins of My Youth, written in painstakingly intricate detail, helping the reader clearly envision the various settings and the characters involved. Edwards has a gift for taming the written word into works of literary genius that play on human emotions, while inserting a sense of humor, combined with realism. Readers are strung along like puppets as new twists and turns are infused into the storyline, culminating in an ending that will leave you breathless!” — Jennifer L. Roche, author of the bestselling book Healing Ties Book One in the Ties Series & CEO of Rainbows of Happiness LLC
The Charlie McClung Mysteries have another heart racing, page turning, I can’t stop reading this book with Sins of My Youth. I look forward to reading the next book with Charlie and Marian and the McClung clan. — Shelby Culbertson, Book Reviewer
SINS OF MY YOUTH
A Charlie McClung Mystery
BY MARY ANNE EDWARDS
“You stupid heifer! Do you honestly think I’m afraid of you?” The tall, aging David Cassidy wannabe with a stupid grin on his face, swaggered toward Joan Delaney, as her hand rested on a slightly curved filet knife.
The petite blonde laughed. “I’m not scared of you. You’re not dealing with the spineless infatuated girl that you used to know.” Joan wondered how she had ever found Mitch Quinn handsome and irresistible as she looked up at him; his six-foot frame towering over her barely five-foot frame. He was still in good shape but the many years of alcohol and cigarette abuse had ravaged his skin, making him look as if he were ready to retire instead of his true age of forty-six.
He stood over her, leaned down and smelled her hair. “Still miss your sweet kisses, baby.”
Joan clinched the knife lying on the preparation table behind her, wanting to carve out his rotten heart and serve it to him with a sprig of parsley. Instead, she smiled. “Well, you’ll never know how much sweeter they are now.”
She heard the kitchen’s double doors squeak. “Andrew, I ordered everyone to stay out until … this person left,” Joan’s head jerked toward Mitch.
Andrew stood his ground. Even though he’d only worked three months for Joan, he was fiercely loyal to her. She treated him with respect and kindness when most people could not see beyond his past.
Mitch studied Andrew, scowled at him, and then chuckled at the man fifteen years his junior. “Boy, you need to stop sniffing around her. She’s way out of your league, son.”
Andrew took a step forward.
Joan glared at the waiter.
He froze. His hands clenched into tight fists. “Sorry, Miss Delaney, I wanted to know if you needed any help.”
Joan smiled at the stocky man with the rough exterior and kind eyes.
“Pfft! Miss Delaney?” Mitch looked at Joan and chuckled, “Barbie, how many times have you been married?”
Her smile froze, anger pulled at her eyes as she gripped the knife tighter. “Andrew, thank you, but I can handle this. Go see if Marian and McClung need anything.”
“Yes, ma’am.” The waiter frowned at Mitch then pushed through the double doors, returning to the dining room of The Primrose Cottage.
As soon as Andrew cleared the doors, Joan released the knife and pushed Mitch away. “My name is not Barbie and you know it!”
The older man rubbed his chest and laughed. “Still a little spitfire.” He walked around the industrial kitchen, looking but not touching anything. “Yeah, Joan, but everyone loved Barbie, even that little boy waiter gotta crush on you. Yeah, everybody still loves Barbie.” Mitch looked over his shoulder for his ex-wife’s reaction.
She picked up the knife.
He turned around and threw up his hands, yellow teeth exposed as he faked a grimace of terror. “Hey now, no need for violence.”
“What do you want and don’t tell me after all these years it’s just a ‘hey, how are you’ visit?” She carefully placed the knife back on the cutting board with a thick filet mignon that needed to be butterflied for one of the guests who wanted it cooked well done.
Mitch scratched the stubble on his cheek. “Well, yeah, you’re right.” He moved in closer to Joan, stopping just outside of striking distance. “I’m in need of some help, not much, but I figured now that you’re the owner of this mighty fine establishment,” Mitch waved his hand around the large brightly lit kitchen, “and I hear tell your last husband … what number was he? Three?” He shrugged. “Anyway, I understand the old geezer was a bit of a cash-cow, left you sittin’ pretty high in the tax bracket, if ya know what I mean.”
“And exactly why do you think that out of all the people on God’s green Earth, I, the stupid heifer, would help you out?”
He studied a short stainless steel canister filled with frilly toothpicks, selected a blue one, and then held it up. “Do you mind? I must compliment your talents as a chef. Don’t want to waste one tiny morsel.” Mitch picked and sucked on his teeth, never taking his eyes away from Joan. “Like I was saying, I’m in a jam and I thought since we were once, you know, in love, that possibly you could remember the good times we had and help me out in this time of need.”
Joan rolled her eyes. “Is that what you call it, love? Really?” She shook her head. “What’s the matter? In too deep with your bookie?”
Mitch hunched up his shoulders, the stupid grin still on his leathery face.
“No,” she answered calmly. “Now will you please leave? I have a hundred guests out there celebrating the marriage of my dearest friends and I don’t recall you being on the guest list. Weasel your way out of my restaurant the same way you got in.”
“Yeah, I know who this party is for, acting chief of police and his mighty fine, upstanding philanthropist wife: Charlie and Marian McClung.” Mitch tapped his graying temple. “I still have connections. And I don’t think you would want your highfalutin pals knowing about your life as Barbie, now would you?”
Joan narrowed her eyes wishing her looks could kill. “How much?”
Mitch’s grin widened. “Mhm, I thought that might get that lovin’ feelin’ back. Fifty-thousand.”
A small squeak of a laugh escaped from Joan. “You must be kidding me.”
“You honestly think I’m going to give you fifty-thousand dollars, just like that?” She snapped her fingers.
Mitch shrugged, “Well, I didn’t think you’d hand it to me tonight, but if you could that would be just dandy. I’m a patient and logical man. I can wait until tomorrow.”
“Boy, you’re more stupid than you look. I don’t have that kind of money lying around,” Joan chuckled. “Tomorrow is Sunday. If, and I stress if, I decide to loan you the money, I’d need to go to the bank.”
Mitch tossed the used toothpick on the floor, pulled out another blue one from the canister, then pointed it at her. “Nope. There’s no thinking about it. It’s either yes or no but I’m a fair man. I’ll give you—,” He looked at his knock-off Rolex watch. “It’s about ten-thirty now. You have until midnight to make up your mind and then it’s, hello, Mister and Missus Charlie McClung, let me tell you a story about a girl named Barbie who you know as Joan Delaney.”
“Fine! I’ll meet you outside. Go out the front entrance, turn right, and then follow the path to the third bench. I’ll meet you there at midnight with my decision.”
“I know you’ll make the right one.” Mitch walked over to another preparation station. “Hmm, I like red bell peppers.” He picked up a thin strip, winked at her, and then slid it into his mouth.
As her hand rested on the razor sharp knife, Joan watched him inspect each station on his way toward the walk-in freezer.
Mitch pulled on the heavy stainless door, a burst of frigid air smacked his face. “Ooo, nicely stocked and big enough to hold a side of beef I see.” He smirked as he nodded. “Impressive. Very impressive, Bar—, I mean Miss Delaney.”
She wanted to shove him into the freezer and lock the door behind him, leaving him in there for eternity. She knew he would never leave her alone. Mitch would bleed her dry if she gave him the money, but she didn’t want anyone to know about her life as Barbie the stripper and everything else that went on during that nightmare. There had to be a way to get rid of him permanently.
A noise from the back of the kitchen caught her attention. It came from the walk-in pantry.
Joan looked at Mitch. “You wait right there.” She jogged to the small storage room; the door was ajar. Flinging it open, there stood her newest waitress, Heather Neeley, hired two weeks ago. The young woman normally wore a constant smile as if she knew a coveted secret. Joan had wondered if Heather’s dull brown hair was pulled back too tight in the ponytail she sported. Now a look of sheer terror replaced her ever-present smile. “What are you doing here? I told everyone to leave the kitchen.”
“I was in here. The door was shut. I didn’t hear you tell everyone to leave and when I opened the door, I heard you tell Andrew to get out, I froze.” Heather shook, on the verge of tears.
“What did you hear? Anything?”
“No, ma’am. Nothing, I swear.” Heather clasped her hands in prayer against her chest. “Please don’t fire me. I need this job. My boyfriend walked out on me and my baby.” Now the girl cried. “Please, I beg you. I didn’t hear nothing.” Heather covered her face with her hands and sobbed. “Please don’t fire me. I need this job. I need it.”
Joan pulled a linen napkin from one of the shelves. “Here, dry your eyes. I’m not going to fire you.”
Heather grabbed Joan’s hands and kissed them. “Thank you, Miss Delaney. Thank you. I’ll work extra hard. You won’t regret it.”
“I know you’re a good girl. Now go straighten yourself up; guests out there need your attention. Go on.”
Heather squeezed Joan’s hands before releasing them. “Thank you.” The young girl, barely out of high school, rushed out of the kitchen, avoiding eye contact with Joan’s ex-husband.
Joan followed her out of the pantry and watched her leave the kitchen. Mitch strolled around like a health inspector. “Will you please leave my kitchen? I need to get back to my job.”
He stood in front of her. With his index finger, he tilted up her chin, his lips almost touching her. “Just one for old-times’ sake?”
Joan smelled his alcohol, cigarette-laced breath as it washed over her face. This time she grabbed the knife and held the point to his neck. A pinprick of blood bloomed from his Adam’s apple. “Get out!”
Mitch calmly backed away as he touched his neck, and then looked at the bright red stain on his fingertips. “Now there was no need for this. What would your buddies, the McClungs, think about this?” He held up his bloody fingers. “Tsk-tsk. You’re still a bad girl but not the kind of bad girl you used to be.”
“I said, get out! Now!”
Laughing, he strolled toward the set of double doors. Mitch put his hand on one of them, turned to face Joan, and with the other hand, the one with the bloody fingers, saluted her as he clicked his tongue. “I’m looking forward to our midnight rendezvous … Barbie.”
With the knife in her hand, Joan took a few quick steps toward her first ex-husband. “My name is Joan. Do you understand? It’s always been Joan!”
Mitch placed his clean hand over his heart. “You’ll always be my sweet baby girl, Barbie.” He walked out the double doors, the stupid grin still on his face.
Mary Anne Edwards is the author of The Charlie McClung Mysteries, Brilliant Disguise, A Good Girl, Criminal Kind, and Sins of My Youth. These are traditional murder mysteries with a touch of romance. There are six more books planned for this series. But her imagination tends to run wild, so you never know when it may end. Mary Anne was born in Mercedes, Texas. She now lives in Georgia with her husband of 35+ years and her Tuxedo cat, Gertrude. She and her husband dream of retiring in … Well, they haven’t decided yet. For years, she only dabbled in writing, but with the encouragement of her husband, she left the accounting world to write full-time. Mary Anne is an advocate for the developmentally challenged and sits on the advisory board of Rockdale Cares, Inc. She is an active member of Sisters in Crime – Atlanta Chapter. Mary Anne can thankfully say that she is a breast cancer survivor. When Mary Anne is not writing, she loves to read, and watch all kinds of mysteries.
Links to Mary Anne’s website, blog, books, etc.
Buy Links Amazon
“Brilliant Disguise” – Amazon – http://amzn.to/1Ur4rws
“A Good Girl” – Amazon – http://amzn.to/25Hsd2M
“Criminal Kind” – Amazon – http://amzn.to/1Y19mK7
Buy Links Barnes & Noble
Brilliant Disguise – http://goo.gl/vTHD3S
A Good Girl – http://goo.gl/c5KmpA
Criminal Kind – http://goo.gl/I6Yuu3
Social Media Links
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Anne-Edwards/e/B00HZ28TIQ
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Mary Anne is giving away a Mobi copy of SINS OF MY YOUTH to one lucky reader who comments on this Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog. Thank you, Mary Anne, for sharing your story with us.
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!