Title: Forever Hold Your Piece
Author: Elizabeth John
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Lily Becker believes the worst day of her life was when her fiancé stood her up at the altar. That is, until she stumbles upon his dead body in her family’s bridal shop. The shop becomes a crime scene, her business expansion plans tank, and brides demand back their deposits. Confused, scared, and certain that she is being watched, Lily struggles to keep her business and her life afloat.
PI Jake Ward, hired to find a priceless stolen painting, tracks the thief’s location to Lily’s small coastal town. As part of his cover, he leases the vacant bait and tackle shop next door to hers, unaware that she and her sisters had planned to rent the place.
The Chief of Police worries that someone close to Lily murdered her ex and he fears for her safety. The chief, a surrogate father to Lily, asks Jake to act as her bodyguard. Jake agrees and pretends to work on his business but never leaves her side. Although annoyed that Jake interfered with her family’s business plan, she admits that Jake makes her feel protected.
Jake and Lily can’t deny their attraction to one another. Lily decides to trust again as their relationship grows serious. The more time they spend together, the more they realize they are perfect for each other. Guilt eats at Jake’s conscience since he must lie about his true identity. Can he solve his case before he’s free to tell Lily the truth and she learns of his deception?
For the first time in her life, Lily Becker got exactly what she had always wanted. Solitude. And she couldn’t believe how much she hated what she had coveted.
Cold morning sea air whipped against her body as she closed the door on the empty home she shared with her two sisters.
She shivered away her regrets.
“Be careful what you wish for,” she muttered to her trusted companion, Leo, a Maltese terrier mix, always glued to her side. “Don’t worry boy, I know you miss them too, but Rose and Chrissy will be back from Italy in a couple of weeks.”
Her sisters were her best friends, her partners in the family bridal shop, and they were rarely apart from one another. With them away on a business trip, being alone wasn’t peaceful. Only a handful of years ago, both her parents were alive and the house was filled with people she loved.
Lily scooped up Leo and whispered against his soft ear. “You’re the only one I can admit this to, but I even miss Sam.”
Although true, her reprehensible, MIA ex-fiancé, wouldn’t dare show his face now, a year later, and she refused to waste another minute thinking about him, especially this morning. A shipment of new gowns from an exclusive bridal dress designer would arrive at her shop momentarily, and Sam was not going to ruin this momentous occasion for her too.
Lily ran down the stairs and pressed the key alarm toward her van. The beep blasted through the silence of the early morning fog rolling off the ocean. Leo woofed at something next door.
She twisted her head and peeked over her shoulder, her heart pounded as she x-rayed the fog for anyone lurking, about to jump out at her. Don’t be a wimp. Like before. No one is going to be there.
Something moved above in her line of vision on her neighbor’s upper deck. Startled, Lily gasped. Through the mist, Aunt Bee, her elderly neighbor, stood using her cane as support, watching. Frozen still, she hovered like an apparition under the glow of the floodlight.
Lily’s heart slammed against her chest, not expecting to see anyone up at that ungodly hour. “Aunt Bee, it’s six-thirty in the morning! And it’s freezing out! Go back inside.” She shooed her away, concerned for her favorite neighbor.
“Couldn’t sleep, dearie. Looks like that storm is going to miss us. Don’t need another storm like last time. We were spared again, you and I.” She grew silent and her lips tightened as she tapped her cane once on the deck’s wood floor. The sound amplified in the eerie morning quiet. “My stove’s out again and I can’t make my tea. I know you’re off to catch that delivery of special dresses, but could you spare a moment?”
Lily nodded, but inwardly sighed. Anything to get her back into the house. She half suspected the old gal was checking on her. The chief probably put her up to it after the incident last week.
She tugged on Leo’s leash and raced up the steps. Once inside, Aunt Bee let Lily go ahead of her. Leo barked and two obese cats suddenly appeared.
Lily let out a nervous laugh. One night last week, soon after her sisters had left, she had sworn someone was breaking into her house. Turned out to be a false alarm, but that incident creeped her out. The chief concluded she hadn’t latched the window to the crawlspace. Crazy thing was, she knew she had secured the metal clips a few days earlier when she and her sisters had begun to ready the house for winter.
Still a little rattled, her hand shook as she dropped the leash. “You can play with your friends for one minute.”
Lily weaved and bobbed through the maze of stuff her neighbor had compiled and followed the path that led into the kitchen. She lit the pilot with the long lighter on the counter and put the kettle on the stove. “Do you have enough to eat today? I can bring something back later for dinner if you’d like.”
Aunt Bee placed her frail hand on Lily’s arm. “You’re a good soul. I don’t know what I’d do without you and your sisters.” She patted her shoulder. “But I have plenty of leftovers from the food you brought over last night. With your sisters away, I’m sure you have a lot more on your plate covering their jobs than worrying about me.”
Aunt Bee hunched over and squinted at a calendar hanging on the refrigerator. “Today’s Thursday. Elsie and Margaret are coming over at lunchtime to play bridge. We’re having Italian. Now, I know you’re in a hurry, so go on.” She slipped Leo a dog treat from her housecoat pocket, then chased them out.
Leo clamped the biscuit in his mouth as he ran down the stairs. He wagged his tail, waiting patiently for her to open the white van embossed with the Betty Ann’s Bridal logo. After he jumped in the passenger seat, he started to crunch on the biscuit, depositing crumbs not only on the leather, but in every cranny available. With no time to clean up after him, she smiled and said, “You’re lucky you’re so cute. I let you get away with murder.”
As she drove away, an older black sedan with tinted windows pulled out from the corner of her street. Normally she wouldn’t have even noticed such a thing, but with her radar already on high alert that morning, Lily got the sensation the car was following her. She almost called the chief, but she didn’t want to look like an idiot again. She could take care of herself.
As her van’s lights gleamed through the foggy streets, the sedan stayed behind her all the way to the family bridal shop. She strained unsuccessfully to catch the license plate as the driver zoomed past her.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Forever Hold Your Piece is the first book in The Becker Sisters Bridal Series. Readers who like small-town coastal mysteries with tender romances will love this series.
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Elizabeth John creates tender romances with a touch of intrigue. She writes at sunrise before her busy day as an elementary school teacher. Admittedly, she’s a TV and movie junkie and has noble intentions to practice yoga daily. In her spare time, she can be found walking her two rescue dogs, researching her family’s ancestry, gardening, or relaxing at the beach with her nose in a good book. She is a member of New Jersey Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, Liberty States Fiction Writers, and Sisters in Crime.
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