Cast On, Kill Off (A Knitting Mystery)

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9780425247594: Cast On, Kill Off (A Knitting Mystery)
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Wedding bells are ringing in Fort Connor, Colorado, and the House of Lambspun knitters are abuzz with excitement. But when a murder interrupts the wedding planning, Kelly Flynn will have to solve this crime fast to ensure the killer doesn’t wind up on the guest list...

Kelly Flynn’s knitting pal, Megan, is about to get hitched, and all the planning is falling into place. Megan has found the perfect seamstress, Zoe Yeager, to create the dresses for Kelly and the other bridesmaids. And each bridesmaid is knitting her own loose-knit shawl to drape over the lovely dresses. But Zoe has more than bolts of fabric and seam-cutters stashed away in her shop—she’s harboring a secret. Bruises on her face show a troubling side of her marriage, and just after she finds the courage to leave her husband, Zoe’s found dead from a single bullet shot.

Though her husband is a key suspect, it turns out there are others who might have had designs on Zoe’s death. One is fellow seamstress Leann O’Hara, who recently discovered Zoe won a bridal gown design contest with one of Leann’s own designs. Now it’s up to Kelly and her knitting pals to use their sleuthing savvy to solve the case, while helping Megan stay cool and collected as the big day approaches. They’ll have to stitch up all the loose ends before they can don their dresses and shawls and escort Megan into the land of happily ever after...



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About the Author:

Maggie Sefton was born and raised in northern Virginia, where she received her bachelor’s degree in English literature and journalism. Maggie has worked in several careers over the years, from a CPA to a real estate broker in the Rocky Mountain West. However, none of those endeavors could compare with the satisfaction and challenge of creating worlds on paper. She is the mother of four grown daughters, currently scattered around the globe. Author of the nationally bestselling Knitting Mysteries, she resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with two very demanding dogs.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

One

Kelly Flynn looked at her reflection in the seamstress’s three-way mirror. The royal blue taffeta fabric shimmered under the bright spotlights shining down from the ceiling. Kelly turned to her left and admired the lines of the bridesmaid gown. Her friend, Megan, had used her own bridal gown’s strapless design to model the bridesmaids’ gowns, except they weren’t floor length. The skirts flared gently past the knee instead. Megan had also chosen strong vibrant colors for the dresses. Kelly’s was royal blue, Lisa’s was lemon yellow, and Jennifer’s was shamrock green. Megan’s sister Janet, who was the matron of honor, was wearing her favorite—fire engine red. Kelly had laughed when Megan told her she wanted “a bold rainbow,” not those pale pastels she saw so often.

Not bad, Kelly thought to herself, admiring the fabric’s shimmer as she turned to the right. She had to admit Megan had a good eye for color. The royal blue set off Kelly’s dark hair and fair skin perfectly.

“How does it feel, Kelly?” the seamstress, Zoe Yeager, asked from the floor, where she sat cross-legged, dressmaker pins in her hand.

“It feels great, Zoe. You did a wonderful job,” Kelly said, feeling the fabric’s crisp texture beneath her fingers.

“You look gorgeous, Kelly,” Megan said from the corner of the room, where she sat making calls on her cell phone. Only three and a half weeks before Megan’s and her boyfriend Marty’s wedding, and all the intricate plans had to fall into place. “I told you that color would look fabulous on you,” Megan said as she paged through her bridal schedule book.

“Right as usual, Color Genius,” Kelly bantered. “I bow to your expertise.”

Zoe laughed from her spot on the floor as she ran her fingers over the hemline. “I swear, Megan, you and your friends make me laugh, especially Jennifer. She is hilarious.”

“Well, that’s Jennifer’s specialty, making us laugh,” Kelly added.

“Stand straight and don’t move for a minute, Kelly. I want to give this hem a final check.” Zoe scooted backward on the floor, leaned over, and peered at the bottom of the dress. “Okay, now turn in a circle slowly,” she instructed.

Kelly did as she was told while Zoe scrutinized her handiwork. Kelly observed a slight blue smudge on the side of Zoe’s face which she hadn’t noticed before. Zoe’s medium-length brown hair had obscured it.

“Looks good,” Zoe decreed, rising from the floor. “Let me help you take it off, and I’ll put this one on the finished rack along with Lisa’s and Jennifer’s.”

Kelly allowed Zoe to unzip the dress and help her step out of it, hoping nothing would happen to the gorgeous creation once she was in charge of its safekeeping.

Zoe shook the fabric and examined it inside. Now that Zoe was closer, Kelly could see the middle-aged woman’s face better. There was definitely a blue bruise along Zoe’s jawline that hadn’t been there before. “What happened, Zoe? Did you fall down or something?” Kelly asked, concerned. “You’ve got a bad bruise on your face.”

Zoe looked slightly startled, then color began to stain her cheeks. “Uh, no . . . I . . . I’m just clumsy. I tripped over my back porch steps, that’s all.” She reached for a satin-covered hanger. “Here, let me put this away in the work closet.” And she hastened from the room, taking the royal blue creation with her.

Megan approached, holding Kelly’s slacks and short-sleeve top. Early September, and it still felt like summer outside.

“Don’t ask her anything else, Kelly,” Megan whispered when she was closer. “Those bruises are from her husband Oscar. Mimi told me Zoe had confessed to her about her husband’s abuse a year ago. Mimi tried to get her to leave him, but Zoe hasn’t so far.” Megan glanced over her shoulder to the doorway. “I cannot understand why women stay in those relationships, Kelly.” A familiar scowl darkened Megan’s pretty features.

Kelly slipped on her crisp slacks. “I think it’s because they’re scared, Megan. Scared of what will happen if they try to leave, especially if there are young children at home.”

Megan’s scowl evaporated and was replaced by a contrite expression. “You’re right, Kelly. I know you are, but there are shelters here in town for women to escape to with their children. I just wish Zoe would think about going. She doesn’t even have children.”

“I’d like to think so, too, Megan,” Kelly said, slipping the lightweight top over her head. “It seems everyone has a breaking point, when they decide enough.”

Zoe came around the corner of the fitting room, a gauzy bit of ribbons and tiny silk flowers in her hand. “Here, Kelly, let’s take a look with the headpiece. I finished this one yesterday.”

Kelly took the delicate confection and fingered the tiny seed pearls and blue and white silk flowers that adorned the taffeta-wrapped headband. “This is so pretty, Zoe. Simply exquisite.”

Zoe beamed. “Thank you, Kelly. I love working with those silky flowers. They turn out so nicely. Try it on and let’s take a look.”

Kelly did as directed, adjusting the headpiece’s small combs into her hair. Gazing at her reflection, she almost didn’t recognize herself. Kelly never wore ribbons or flowery things. But the way Zoe had arranged them, they were very flattering.

“I look like I should be going to a fairy tale ball in some castle, rather than poring over financial statements,” she teased.

“Well, wait until Steve sees you in this dress,” Megan said slyly. “He may invite you to one of those fancy Denver charity balls.”

Kelly deliberately didn’t look at Megan. She already knew what Megan was doing. Smiling. Now that Kelly was working in Denver several days a week, she and Steve had lunch or dinner together whenever they were both in town. Consequently, Megan had made it a point to offer frequent suggestions as to other recreational activities Kelly and Steve could pursue. “Suggestions,” Megan always claimed. Planting seeds, Kelly surmised.

Once Steve started driving up to Fort Connor this past spring and summer to play baseball on his old team, Kelly and Steve had a chance to be in each other’s company on a regular basis. Familiar ground. It had made it easier for them to move to the next step of having dinner together. Of course, Megan and the rest of the gang were careful to maintain a relaxed environment. No expectations, Kelly had told them.

Now that she and Steve had gotten past their sudden and dramatic breakup last year, Kelly figured both of them needed simply to be friends right now, while they figured out what came next. What did the future hold in store? She didn’t know. All Kelly knew was she enjoyed having Steve back in her life. After all, they’d started out as friends before they became lovers once before. Maybe they could again.

Right now, they were two friends who really enjoyed each other’s company. They talked on the phone every day, even when Steve was traveling on business for the Denver company where he worked. Having watched his own small architect and builder business go belly-up in the recession that followed the recent housing debacle, Steve threw his energy and creativity into Sam Kaufman’s construction company. Sam appreciated Steve’s efforts and encouraged him to follow up on new ideas. Steve had jumped at the chance.

Zoe glanced from Megan to Kelly and back again, a smile tweaking her lips. “Who’s Steve? Kelly’s boyfriend?”

Kelly didn’t even have time to answer. Megan did it for her. “He was for over two years. Then they split up last year. All of us are hoping they’ll get back together.” She flashed that Cheshire cat smile Kelly had seen frequently these past six months.

“I haven’t heard a word from Kelly,” Zoe teased. “Why’s Megan answering for you?”

Kelly pretended to continue admiring the pretty headband. “Because she does it so well. Megan’s got an overactive imagination.”

“It’s not my imagination,” Megan retorted. “We’ve all seen you two whenever you’re together. You’re a matched set.”

Kelly had to laugh at that, and so did Zoe. Removing the delicate headband, she returned it to the seamstress. “She makes it sound like we’re bookends. Now I know what I’m going to give you and Marty for a wedding present. A set of monstrosity bookends. Maybe two huge moose heads or something.”

“Please, don’t. Marty would probably fall in love with them, and we’d have them on the living room bookshelves.” Megan rolled her eyes.

“You are so funny, Megan,” Zoe said, chuckling. “Let me put this away and check my daytimer. Now that Kelly’s gown is completed, we’ve finished everything with three weeks to spare.”

“Wonderful job, Zoe,” Megan said as the seamstress headed for the curtained doorway that led to a workroom in the rear of the small shop located in a neighborhood strip mall.

Kelly checked the mirror and fluffed her shoulder-length hair. “You’re right on track, Megan. I hate to sound like an anal accountant, but I am. Planning makes all the difference.”

Megan drew her cell phone from her pants pocket as she returned to her chair in the corner. “You’re preaching to the choir on that one, Kelly. I couldn’t have done it without my lists. Which reminds me that I have to check on those caterers again.”

“And that reminds me I have to finish up one of my clients’ financial statements. I’ve got an appointment with him tomorrow.”

“When will you be in Denver again?” Megan looked up from her cell phone screen.

“Later this week, and no, Steve won’t be there,” Kelly teased. “He’s visiting some specialty building firms at a conference in Oregon.”

“Too bad.” Megan shot her a wicked grin before she spoke into the phone. “Hello, this is Megan Smith. Is Kevin there? I need to change my wedding reception estimate again.”

Kelly felt sorry for caterer Kevin. Megan had been increasing the guest list estimate every week for a month. Kelly grabbed her shoulder bag and started for the door. The sooner she finished those financial statements, the sooner she could take a break at Lambspun, the knitting and fiber shop close to her cottage. She had been burrowed in work for several days for her Fort Collins real estate investor client, Arthur Housemann, and her Denver developer client, Don Warner.

Letting her mind return to matters financial brought another thought from the back of her mind. She needed to pay Zoe for the dress. Kelly was always scrupulous in paying small business owners by check. That way, they kept the entire amount rather than pay credit card fees. It was a small thing, but could make a real difference to a small business owner like Zoe Yeager. Her sewing business had grown substantially thanks to Zoe’s creative designs. Small business success stories always made the accountant lobe in Kelly’s brain buzz. Only the strongest and best survived, especially in a recession environment.

Kelly changed direction and walked through the curtained doorway that led to Zoe’s workshop. She was about to turn the corner into the lighted area when Zoe’s sharp voice held her in place.

“Don’t give me excuses. I told you I needed that gown finished by tonight!”

Kelly didn’t hear anyone reply, so she assumed Zoe was on the phone.

“I don’t care how late you have to stay up. Just finish it tonight, do you hear? Or I’ll take it out of your wages. You can bring it to the shop on your way to work tomorrow morning. And don’t call me again. I’m busy.”

Kelly quickly turned and retreated into the outer dressing room once again, not wanting to disturb what was obviously a heated conversation. She was also surprised at Zoe’s tone of voice. It was sharp and dictatorial. Ugly. Whenever Kelly saw her, Zoe was always so pleasant and cheerful. Kelly couldn’t help wondering whom Zoe was talking to.

Megan was clicking off her phone call, so Kelly approached and lowered her voice. “Zoe is in the midst of a phone call. I can’t wait, so would you ask her to please mail me a bill, and I’ll send a check right away? I need to finish some financial statements.”

“No problem. She needs to send bills to Lisa and Jennifer, too,” Megan said, running her finger down the smartphone’s screen.

“You can add it to one of your to-do lists,” Kelly said as she left.



Kelly walked across the driveway separating her look-alike cottage from the Spanish colonial beige stucco, red-tile-roofed farmhouse that had inspired the cottage’s design. Once the farmhouse for Kelly’s aunt and uncle, it was now a lively knitting and fiber shop. The cottage had become Kelly’s when her Aunt Helen was murdered nearly four years ago. That was the tragic event that had brought a transformation in Kelly’s life. She’d responded to the warmth and camaraderie of the knitting shop family of regulars. They had become Kelly’s family, replacing the ones who’d passed away. Kelly left her life as a corporate CPA in Washington, DC, and switched gears entirely, drawn by the warmth and friendship that beckoned to her from the friends she’d made at Lambspun.

She turned at the sound of her dog Carl’s deep Rottweiler bark coming from the cottage backyard. Carl was standing on his hind feet, front paws on the chain-link fence, warning the golfers on the adjoining golf course not to trespass. Few disobeyed Carl, Kelly noticed.

Kelly admired the colorful annuals that were still blooming in the flower beds bordering the walkway that led to Lambspun’s front door. Bright red geraniums and white impatiens beside deep purple petunias. Fringy dianthus alternated with sturdy orange marigolds. Colorful easy low-maintenance plants. The very same that Kelly had put in the planters lining her cottage walk.

She paused beside the shady patio, debating whether or not to knit here instead of inside the shop. Early September temperatures were still delightfully warm, in the low eighties. The sun shone brightly in the gorgeous blue sky that arched over the golf course. Colorado blue, Kelly called it. Late afternoon, and the sun hadn’t even begun its descent toward the ridges of low mountains on the west side of the university town. The “foothills,” as locals called them. Beautiful was Kelly’s word.

Tempted to drop her knitting on the nearby table or wrought iron chair, Kelly decided she would first see what Lambspun’s owner, Mimi, was doing. She hadn’t had a chance to drop in and visit with her for several days.

Pushing the heavy wooden door open, Kelly stepped inside the wonderland of color and texture and sensuality that always greeted her whenever she entered the shop.

Yarn, yarn everywhere. Wooden crates were stacked one upon the other in the foyer. Shelves lined the walls of the adjacent room. Fat balls and loosely wound skeins tumbled forth from all of them. Tables and chests were piled high with yarns. Sweaters, scarves, and vests dangled from the ceiling and shelves. Long puffy loops of yarn draped along the walls. Wool, cotton, silk, mohair, alpaca, cashmere. Any fiber your heart desired.

“Well, hello, Kelly. It’s so nice to see you,” Mimi said as Kelly entered the foyer. “You haven’t been here since last week.” Mimi was stacking twisted coils of terra cotta red yarn in a tidy pile beside similar yarns in the middle of an antique dry sink. Moss ...

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780425252178: Cast On, Kill Off (A Knitting Mystery)

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ISBN 10:  0425252175 ISBN 13:  9780425252178
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9781471327872: Cast on, Kill Off

Camden, 2013
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9781410450715: Cast On, Kill Off (Thorndike Press Large Print Mystery)

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9781471327865: Cast on, Kill Off

Chivers, 2013
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