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Laina Turner

Stilettos and Scoundrels

a Presley Thurman cozy mystery

Gently touching the handle of the front door was all it took to make it swing wide open. It was late, after midnight, and everyone in the house except Tom was asleep. As usual, Tom was in his study working late. Walking carefully and quietly through the foyer, the adrenaline began to kick in. The intruder confidently walked into Tom’s study. Tom was concentrating so hard on the papers in front of him that he was unaware of anything else. Raising his hand, the intruder hit a stack of books sitting on a side table, sending them crashing to the floor. Tom spun around with a look of shock on his face as he recognized the person swinging a sharp object toward him. Tom raised his hands to protect himself but he wasn’t quick enough. The spikey end of the stiletto heel punctured his neck instantly, sending a spray of blood over the papers on his desk. He tried to cry out, but all that sounded was a gurgling noise as his lungs filled with blood. The intruder set the shoe down next to Tom and backed out of the room softly, closing the door to the study and hoping no one would come looking for Tom until morning.

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Book Review

Stilettos & Scoundrels by Laina Turner-Molaski is a quirky tale with all of the essentials: murder, mystery and great fashion! Presley Thurman is just your average single female trying to make her way up the corporate ladder while looking the best she possibly can. So when her boss fires her after she refuses his advances, she naturally prepares thinking of ways she can have a career and her shoe collection at the same time. Quickly being offered a job for a newspaper, Presley heads to her small read more…..

Sample Chapter

Chapter 1

What was I thinking? Did I really just tell off my boss and get myself fired? Presley smiled, thinking back to the moment she told David Ritter she wouldn’t sleep with him if he were the last man on Earth. Even if he promised her the new Louis Vuitton satchel, she wouldn’t sleep with him—and she always said she would do anything for that Louis satchel. By the look on his face, it wasn’t something he was accustomed to hearing. Though she was now unemployed, it was such a small price to pay to finally tell him off. She made her way back to her condo, forgoing the bus in lieu of a brisk walk the few blocks from her office—well, her former office. It was a nice day out and frankly, she hated public transportation. The bus was just a necessary evil on rainy and cold days. Besides, walking the few blocks to her office would take her past one of her favorite boutiques, Element. She could hardly afford to shop there, but she loved to look. They always had the most fabulous window displays and that would be sure to brighten her outlook. Presley thought back to what transpired a few hours earlier. It had started out as a good day. Her hair turned out well because the low humidity helped keep it frizz proof. She wore one of her favorite skirts, a chocolate-colored pencil skirt, and paired it with a cream-colored cowl neck sweater. It was April but the wind in Chicago meant that it was still chilly, and a sweater seemed just the thing on a crisp spring day. She slipped on her brown Jimmy Choos and favorite silver earrings from Silvapada with matching bangle bracelet, and headed out the door. She stopped at Starbucks on the way to work, ordered a venti Chai skinny with one Splenda, and walked in the door to the office with a few minutes to spare. Enough time to chat with her best work friend Tonya, who was smoking surreptitiously out the employee entrance just underneath the non-smoking sign. “Tonya, one of these days you are going to get caught and get in big trouble,” Presley said to her friend. “Whatever,” Tonya said, waving her hands absently. “They can’t afford to get rid of me. I know where all the skeletons are buried,” she laughed. Tonya was joking, but she also wasn’t far off. Working at McLaughlin Industries for the last fifteen years, Tonya was the only one on their floor who had worked there the entire time their boss, David Ritter, had. David Ritter was a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen, and Tonya knew about everything he had done that the company had tried to sweep under the rug. She also had no problem telling him she knew what a despicable ass he was, and for that reason, he didn’t mess with her much. She claimed it was because he didn’t like big women. Tonya was a beautiful, full-figured woman with creamy milk chocolate skin. She had one of the best personalities of anyone Presley knew—fun loving with a great sense of humor. She intimidated David, so he just ignored her whenever possible. She and Presley laughed about it often. “You want to check out the spring sale at Macy’s on our lunch break?” Tonya asked. “You don’t have to ask me twice.” “Good.” Tonya twisted her cigarette against the brick wall to put it out and flicked the butt in the trashcan. Presley was waiting for her to start a fire someday, but so far, she’d been lucky. “We might as well get this day started.” About an hour after they got back from lunch, where, incidentally, Presley had the good fortune to pick up two pairs of Diesel jeans and a cute red DKNY stretchy t-shirt—neither of which she could afford, even on sale, David called her in to his office. Not an unusual occurrence in itself. As the Senior Human Resource manager, she had many meetings with David in his capacity as Vice President of Sales. She didn’t enjoy her meetings with him because he was always coming on to her and it had grown tiresome. A couple of times, Presley had complained to her boss Gary after David wouldn’t stop texting her about taking her out or about how she looked that day. She wasn’t sure what Gary, the Vice President of Human Resources, had said when he talked to David, but David had mostly behaved since then. He primarily ignored her, as he did Tonya. It was no easy feat for him because he worked with her every day. When forced to speak to directly to her, he was curt and tense, but she didn’t really care because at least it meant he left her alone. Alhough lately she wondered more and more why she still worked here under these conditions. Presley didn’t trust him and she was just waiting for his old antics to flare up again. Today she wasn’t disappointed. “You wanted to see me, David?” Presley walked into his office and stood in front of his oversized mahogany desk. “Yes. Have a seat.” David gestured to one of the chairs beside his desk, next to the small coffee table. His office wasn’t very luxurious, but it was definitely a step up from her tiny cubicle. Presley sat down as David went to the other chair. This put them too close in proximity in her opinion, especially with the overpowering stench of his cologne. She wanted to gag, but she knew if she moved away from him, he would notice. “I wanted to talk to you about the workforce reduction reports, Presley. They’re still four percent higher than where I asked you to come in last time.” Presley wasn’t surprised he wanted to discuss this. One of the aspects of her field that she hated most was that she was responsible for cutting jobs. She knew it was unavoidable if the company was to remain profitable, but it was a distasteful job nonetheless. “David, I realize the numbers were a half percent above expectations, but the higher average salary of some of the more tenured employees wasn’t figured into the original numbers. Head count came in on target. One person less actually, but the salary piece was higher.” “Not good enough. You needed to hit those numbers or it throws off the rest of my projections. I’m accountable for those. You need to fix it.” “How do you expect me to do that?” Presley looked at him incredulously. “I can’t just get rid of people because they make too much money and don’t fit into your spreadsheet calculations.” “Hey, I’m the sales guy, you’re the HR person. It’s your job to figure it out.” Presley seethed. There was no way to meet the numbers he wanted and he knew it. There was only so much she could do from a legal and ethical standpoint. He just wanted to make her life difficult, and he was doing a damn fine job at it. “Maybe we could work something out,” David said lecherously, putting his hand on her knee. Presley deliberately took his hand, removed it off her knee, and looked him straight in the eye. “And what exactly would that be?” “Let’s just say if you are nice to me, I could be persuaded to overlook the discrepancy, and you wouldn’t have to lay off any more people,” David said with his version of a charming smile, returning his hand to her knee. She jumped up and faced David, putting her hands on her hips. “If you think I would do anything outside the professional capacity for you, you are sadly mistaken,” she said furiously. “Your behavior is despicable and I’m not going to tolerate it.” David flushed a deep red. “Are you sure about that, Presley?” He sneered. “We’re making cuts all across the company, and if you aren’t doing your job, which you clearly aren’t by being over budget, well…” “Are you trying to tell me that if I am not nice to you, you are going to fire me?” “I’m not doing anything. This is your choice.” David sat back in his chair looking smug, as if he really thought she was going to change her mind. “Well…” David said. “Well nothing. I won’t do it.” “Then I guess you have left me no choice. You’re fired.” “What! You can’t do that.” “Yes I can. I talked to HR already about your not coming in line with the budget and like I said, we need to make more cuts.” Presley couldn’t believe what she was hearing. There was no way Gary knew about this. No fucking way. David got up and went behind his desk. “That’s all,” he said dismissively. “Please clear out your desk and leave. I assume you won’t cause any trouble on your way out. I would hate to call security.” Presley was dumbfounded. She couldn’t believe this was happening. She walked over to the desk and David looked up. “Is there something else, Presley?” “Just one more thing.” David looked up expectantly; she picked up his coffee cup and threw the contents at him. His jaw dropped, in shock. He stood there dripping coffee off what was probably a five-hundred-dollar suit. Presley started laughing. “There, that’s all I have to say.” She then turned around and walked out of his office.

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