Change of Fortune

By: Jana DeLeon

If you’ve never read a Miss Fortune mystery, you can start with LOUISIANA LONGSHOT, the first book in the series. If you prefer to start with this book, here are a few things you need to know.

* * *

Fortune Redding – a CIA assassin with a price on her head from one of the world’s most deadly arms dealers. Because her boss suspects that a leak at the CIA blew her cover, he sends her to hide out in Sinful, Louisiana, posing as his niece, a librarian and ex–beauty queen named Sandy-Sue Morrow.

* * *

Ida Belle and Gertie – served in the military in Vietnam as spies, but no one in the town is aware of that fact except Fortune and Deputy LeBlanc.

* * *

Sinful Ladies Society – local group founded by Ida Belle, Gertie, and deceased member Marge. In order to gain membership, women must never have married or if widowed, their husband must have been deceased for at least ten years.

* * *

Sinful Ladies Cough Syrup – sold as an herbal medicine in Sinful, which is dry, but it’s actually moonshine manufactured by the Sinful Ladies Society.

Chapter One

I was in that state somewhere between finishing up a dream and awakening when I heard the quiet shuffle of footsteps on the hardwood floor, but before I could bolt up and grab my gun, I heard Carter’s voice.

“Don’t shoot.”

I opened one eye and looked up at him, just remembering that he’d spent the night at my place. Since I was now fully awake and there was no way my adrenaline was going to drop down enough to doze back off, I sat up and checked the clock. Eight a.m. Jeez, I’d actually slept late.

Carter shook his head. “I’m going to start hiding your gun when I stay over.”

“I have a knife in my pillowcase and an assault rifle under the bed.”

“Of course you do. Well, if the urge to shoot something has passed, I made coffee.”

I stared. Carter had been downstairs to make coffee and I hadn’t heard him? I was seriously slipping. I held up one finger and scrunched my brow for a couple seconds.

“Yep,” I said finally. “I think I’m good.”

“It would be funny if I wasn’t sure you were telling the truth. Come on. I’ll make some French toast.”

I jumped out of bed in an instant. “You know how to make French toast? Why have you been holding out on me?”

“Because we don’t usually spend breakfast together unless we’re fully clothed and at the café.”

I grinned. “Best thing about breakfast at home. I don’t have to be fully clothed.”

He grabbed me and pulled me in for a kiss. “Best part for me, too.”

I gave him a shove and followed him downstairs to the kitchen, still smiling. When our relationship had moved past the kissing stage, we’d been secretive about it—never staying overnight, always parking in the garage—but really, there was no point. This was Sinful, and everything interesting in Sinful was a topic of conversation among Sinful residents. So we’d skipped convention the past couple times, deciding to throw caution to the wind and live in the twenty-first century.

Based on a couple of disapproving stares I’d gotten at church on Sunday, I was pretty sure our “secret” was officially out. I was just waiting on a call from Pastor Don, wanting to discuss the potential of impending nuptials. Sinful had some really old ideas on relationships and marriage. Of course, over half the population had an AARP card, so that probably factored in.

While Carter grabbed things needed to make French toast, I poured us some coffee, then took a seat at the kitchen table to watch him work. There was something about a man standing in your kitchen, cooking breakfast, and wearing nothing but boxers and a perfect physique that was certain to improve even the worst of mornings. Not that my morning was bad, but it was just getting started. Given my history in Sinful, I was going to wait a little before declaring it a success.

Carter had just put the incredibly aromatic slices of powder-coated greatness in front of me when his cell phone rang. I could hear Deputy Breaux’s frantic voice booming out, but all I caught was “Main Street,” “situation,” “now,” and then my favorite, “Celia Arceneaux.” Carter closed his eyes and sighed.

“I’ll be right there,” he said finally. When he opened his eyes, he looked at me, and at the same time, my phone signaled a text from Ida Belle.

Emergency downtown. Get Gertie and hurry.

Carter raised one eyebrow at me. “Your buddies summoning you to the situation they created?”

“Maybe. What’s the situation?”

“Apparently, Gertie’s alligator friend is terrorizing Main Street.”

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