Just Murdered - Chapter 1

Elaine Viets: A mystery for every mood


Chapter 1

"Uh, oh, here comes trouble," Millicent said.

If this was trouble, Helen Hawthorne wished she had it. A Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud pulled up in front of Millicent's Bridal Salon on Las Olas Boulevard.

This was a vintage Rolls, the car of new movie stars and old money. Its long, sculpted curves were the color of well-polished family silver. The shiny new Porsches, Beemers and Ferraris on the fashionable Fort Lauderdale street looked like cheap toys next to it.

The driver's door opened with an expensive thunk! Out stepped a chauffeur in a uniform tailored to show off his broad shoulders and long legs. His pants hugged the best buns beyond the Gran Forno bakery. His hint of a beard would feel deliciously rough on bare skin.

The chauffeur jogged to the rear passenger door with an athlete's grace.

"Baby, you can drive my car," Helen said.

"Sorry, sweetie, Rod's taken," Millicent said, "and it's battle stations. They have an appointment here."

The chauffeur opened the door. Helen saw a candy-pink spike heel like something from Barbie's dream closet. Was the woman wearing a size-four shoe? Did they make a size four? Helen was six feet tall and didn't know much about petite people-wear.

This woman might reach five feet. She had on a sleeveless pink dress with a flirty pleated skirt.

"Oh, my God," Helen said, as the woman slid out of the car. "She's not wearing any panties."

"Typical," Millicent said. "How can Kiki spend so much money and look so cheap? That dress is two thousand dollars and it's suitable for a child of fourteen."

"On a woman of forty," Helen said.

"Forty!" Millicent said. "Kiki Shenrad is fifty if she's a day —and tucked so tight she has hospital corners."

Kiki threw her arms around the hunky chauffeur and pulled him toward her. She soul-kissed him and ran a slender leg along his muscular one.

"She better pick out a dress quick," Helen said. "I think they're going to consummate the marriage right on the sidewalk."

Millicent didn't hear her. She was pulling wedding gowns from the racks. Helen knew she should help her boss, but she couldn't tear herself from the show outside the shop window.

A small figure emerged from the huge Rolls like a mouse from a hole, and crept around the nearly copulating couple. Miss Mouse was about twenty with no-color hair scraped into a messy ponytail. Her gray sweats were baggy, but Helen guessed a slender figure was buried in that lumpy cloth.

"You'd think Kiki would give her maid a decent castoff dress," Helen said.

Millicent looked up from the snowstorm of white chiffon and satin on the silver display stand. "Maid? That's the bride —Desiree Shenrad."

"Uh, oh," Helen said. "We've got trouble."