A Purr-fect Storm Cozy Mystery by Addison Moore

Chapter 1





“I thought you said this place would be loaded with a bunch of oiled-up, sweaty men, Stella?” Stephanie says as she gives me the stink eye for my failure to deliver in the testosterone department.

“Would you hush?” I bring my finger to my lips in a weak attempt to control my sister. Stephanie is about as controllable as a wildfire. And sadly, she’s not the only wildfire in the family. I happen to be her superior in that department. “My name is Bowie Binx. Get it straight, Lola.” The aforementioned name, Lola, would be her cover. Steph thought it up all on her own, while our Uncle Vinnie bestowed my new moniker upon me—at least the Bowie part. Good thing he was listening to good music when that beaut came to mind. As for Binx, there may have been a three-year-old and a cat involved in the making of my fictitious surname, but that’s another story. “And I was right about the men,” I tell her. “Who do you think is in the stands watching these oiled-up, sweaty women going at it in the ring?”

Steph grunts, “You’re lucky I brought cookies.”

“You’re lucky I baked them for you,” I say, taking in the sights right here in the Starry Falls Community Center as the masses have gathered to watch the all-female wrestling circuit. These sweaty, oiled-up girls drove all the way up from Las Vegas to put on this show—or match, or genuine knock-down, drag-out catfight.

To be honest, I’m not sure what’s happening in that ring. All I know is four women are doing their best to pluck out one another’s follicles and knock one another over the head with folding chairs, while screaming at the top of their lungs as the crowd goes wild.

I’m just glad I didn’t have to fork over any hard-earned dollars to see this riot take place.

It’s a cold evening in January, the snow is piled high outside, and it seems as if all of Starry Falls, all of Vermont has poured into this makeshift gymnasium to watch a quartet of feisty women go at it. Although there does seem to be a disproportionate ratio of men to women here, but that’s to be expected under the circumstances. Not only are the oiled-up women scantily clad, but they’re drop-dead gorgeous, too.

Who knew stealth beauty was a requirement in order for them to rip one another’s heads off? Most likely their wise and yet very male manager. That might explain the large sign out front that reads hot girls wrestling now! That also might explain why the community center is packed to the hilt.

The crowd is so rowdy and boisterous my poor ears are practically begging to fall right off. But thankfully, the scent of Nana Rose’s anisette cookies more than makes up for the assault on my eardrums. They’re not really Nana Rose’s cookies, God rest her soul, but I did my best to replicate the recipe.

Stephanie cups her hands around her mouth. “Come and get your Italian anisette cookies! Hot, sweet, and ready to devour—much like yours truly! Three for a dollar will make your honey holler!”

Leave it to my hot-to-trot sister to upsell herself while attempting to upsell cookies.

“They are not fresh and hot,” I’m quick to point out. “I baked those yesterday.”

“Would you hush?” she hisses while arranging the platters on the refreshment table. “You’re lucky I brought something for us to do. Besides, once people see how delicious these cookies are, we’ll have twice as many customers at the Manor Café.”

“I don’t want twice as many customers,” I grunt. “Not a day goes by that I don’t go home with my feet begging to fall off.” I’m sensing a dissention in the ranks theme with my body. But as long as my brain stays put and maybe my boobs, too, I’m good. “Besides, if we get any more customers, we’ll run out of food to feed them. Never mind the fact that I manage the place and am fully capable of ordering more. But I’m tired, and cranky, and—”

“Wanted dead or alive.” Stephanie winks my way. “Don’t worry, sis. Your troubles are my troubles. Except, of course, if it’s a matter of life or death. In that case, sayonara. See you on the other side. Tell the Grim Reaper not to wait up. I plan on staying put for a while. There are far too many men in this world and not enough time to oil them up.”

She’s not entirely wrong about that whole wanted dead or alive thing.

My name isn’t Bowie Binx—at least my given name at birth was nowhere near that playful moniker. My name is Stella Santini, or it was, until I ticked off both the feds and the mob. I’ve got long black hair, light brown eyes, stand at an average height of five-foot-five, and I can see the future. Ditto for my sister, sans the wanted by anyone who totes a gun for a living. But, seeing how she has a penchant for following in my footsteps, I’m sure a target will appear on her back soon enough.