Polished Off (Southern Beauty Shop) by Lila Dare

By Lila Dare

Audrey Faye sashays into Violetta's Salon trying to find stylists for the leave out Magnolia Blossom competition. Hairdresser Grace Terhune's chance fast becomes a nightmare with anti-pageant protestors, indignant moms, frantic contestants...and then, a truly useless Audrey. The homicide weapon used to be a nail dossier, making Violetta's manicurist, Stella, the major suspect. Now Grace needs to locate the true assassin earlier than she is polished off completely.

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Even at forty-one, her pale complexion usually had the sheen of a magnolia blossom, but today she looked pasty. She’d secured her auburn hair at the nape of her neck with two enameled chopsticks, but one lock escaped to straggle across her cheek. Strain was visible in the lines around her eyes. “It’s sweet. ” I fluttered my lashes in an exaggerated way. I remembered when Hank and I felt that way about each other. High school, maybe. I hoped I wasn’t too old at thirty to fall in love like that again.

He extended a hand with thin, spatulate fingers. “I’m Dr. Yarrow. ” He gestured at the other demonstrators. ” I shook his hand. His palm was damp. “Great,” I said, not knowing what else to say. Did students get an A for having the best poster? Did they get extra credit for sunstroke in the name of the cause? I pushed a lock of sweaty hair off my forehead. “I’ve got to go. ” “You can count on it,” Dr. Yarrow said as I hurried up the walk, eager to reach the air-conditioned comfort of the theater.

I studied her hair, running my fingers through the thick mass, which had obviously been relaxed and straightened so it hung to her shoulders with a slight flip at the end. “It’s a mess, I know,” she said, as I worked my fingers through the dry strands. “But I have to straighten it. ” She said it matter-of-factly, not bitterly, with a smile that said she and I both knew how stupid that was, but what could you do? ” She tugged at a hank of hair. ” She nodded. “That’s my talent. I’ve played since I was five.

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