As I stepped through the kitchen door of my ninety-year-old bungalow, my brother leapt into view and snatched the bag of donuts from my hand, nearly giving me a heart attack. Like a retriever with his prize dead duck, Cody carried the donut bag to the kitchen table looking very pleased. I set my empty coffee cup on the Formica counter and leaned against the door, eyeing him. My twenty-one- year-old brother wore loose sweat pants, a wife beater, and bare feet. If that wasn’t enough of a hint he’d slept in my house, his shaggy, dishwater blonde hair still bore a similar bed-head cowlick to mine. I reached behind my head to tug mine down.
“Don’t tell me you’re moving in, too,” I said. “This house can not take another occupant.”
“I remember Grandma Jo saying five kids were raised in this house. One more visitor ain’t gonna shake the foundation,” Cody yanked a sour cream donut from the bag and tore off a hunk with his teeth. “Pearl said either me or the vehicles had to leave the farm. I can’t sell those cars until I fix them up proper.”
“I guess Grandpa’s letting Pearl do his dirty work. He’s been wanting you to clear out those vehicles for years.” I could hear the shower running in the back of the house, which blew my next plan of action. “When did you get here?”
“In time to see you tearing out of the drive in Casey’s Firebird. I thought it was Casey until I poked into the guest room and found her. Where have you been? Booty call?”
I rolled my eyes, threw my satchel on the table, and plopped into a chair. “Sheriff’s office. They needed someone to draw a desscription for a Forks County Most Wanted poster.”
“At two in the morning?”
“Luke Harper picked up a witness to a truck hijacking. They wanted the composite sketch while it was still fresh in his mind.”
“Deputy Harper,” Cody snickered. “Sure it wasn’t a booty call?”
“Booty call?” Todd’s country baritone drawled from the hallway.
I surreptitiously eyed Todd’s stroll into the kitchen. He wore a towel slung low across his lean hips, and his longish blonde hair was slick from the shower. The rising sun streaming through my kitchen window caressed his dewy post-shower skin. Skin stretched over a body riddled with taut muscles and sweet dimples. I needed to remind Todd that roommates wore robes. Which was hard to do, seeing as how I no longer spoke to my sort-of-ex-husband.
“Dude,” said Cody, “put some britches on. You walk around my sister’s house like that?”
Todd grinned and hitched his towel higher, making me slap a hand across my eyes. Todd didn’t care a stitch about modesty. Literally.
"By the way, sister,” said Cody. “Word has gotten out about your nekkid paintings. Better expect some Come-To-Jesus- Meetings.”
“What’s so bad about painting an Ancient Greek styled figure?” I pushed past Todd and tromped down the hall to the single bathroom. “Someone needs to teach the folks in this town about classical art.”
“Someone is. Shawna Branson. And she’s the one showing Red’s customers snapshots of your nekkid Todd pictures.”
“What?” I stopped and spun around. “How does she have photos of those paintings? They went to a gallery in Athens. I don’t even know who bought them.”
“Dunno,” Cody licked powdered sugar from his fingers and grabbed another donut. “Maybe she checked out that gallery when she was up in Athens for a Bulldogs game. She is an artist, you know. Told me so herself.”
“Calling Shawna Branson an artist is like calling Ronald McDonald the King of Steaks.” Shawna Branson and I hated each other since the days when we all hung out at the Tasty Dip. When I found out she was sharing her sprinkles with my boyfriend, I wrote her number on the men’s room wall. Accompanied by an explicit drawing of Shawna’s talents. Pretty good rendering for a cement block wall and a Sharpie. Instead of throwing a hissy, she should have thanked me for making her so popular.
“Shawna’s got a gallery in Line Creek now,” Todd said. “She fancied up her art shop.”
“What new gallery?” I said, forgetting my silence rule. “Something about art,” said Todd.
"Who cares?” said Cody. Powdered sugar dotted his beard. “I tell you what you should care about. Todd, ain’t you embarrassed for people to see you in those paintings?”
Todd shrugged, slipped onto a kitchen chair, and reached for the donut bag.
“Why should he feel ashamed?” I said. “The good Lord’s seen fit to give him the perfect body structure for a work of the High Renaissance. Anyone who thinks differently needs to get their mind out of the gutter.”
“We don’t live in High Renaissance,” said Cody. “We live in Halo, Georgia, and if you see a picture of a naked dude, your mind’s going to be in the gutter.”
Hijack in Abstract by Larissa Reinhart
Cherry Tucker’s love life has shifted into neutral. And her siblings, Grandpa, and sort-of-ex-husband have flipped her personal life to greasy side up. But life in Halo, Georgia, isn’t all bad for the sassy, Southern artist. Her career has pushed into full throttle. A classical series sold. A portrait commissioned. Then Uncle Will, Forks County Sheriff, calls in a favor to have Cherry draw a composite sketch of a hijacker. Suddenly, life takes a hairpin when the composite leads to a related murder, her local card sharking buddy Max Avtaikin becomes bear bait, and her Amazonian nemesis labels the classical series “pervert art,” causing Cherry to be shunned by the town.
Cherry’s jamming gears between trailer parks, Atlanta mansions, and trucker bars searching for the hijacker who left a widow and orphan destitute and Max Avtaikin in legal jeopardy. While she seeks to help the misfortunate and save her local reputation, Cherry’s hammer down attitude has her facing the headlights of an oncoming killer, ready to grind her gears for good.
Growing up in a small town, Larissa Reinhart couldn’t wait to move to an exotic city far from corn fields. After moving around the US and Japan, now she loves to write about rough hewn characters that live near corn fields, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. HIJACK IN ABSTRACT is the third in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series from Henery Press, following STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (May 2013) and PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist. QUICK SKETCH, a Cherry Tucker prequel to PORTRAIT, is in the mystery anthology THE HEARTACHE MOTEL (December 2013). She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website larissareinhart.com or find her chatting with the Little Read Hens on Facebook.
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HIJACK IN ABSTRACT:
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PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY:
STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW: