Jolene Flannery grew up to become the sheriff of her hometown and county, but she never knew what really lied beneath the small town’s cozy charm. After a fateful night with an old acquaintance, Jolene is sent spiraling into that darkness – but the descent leaves her wondering where to aim her gun.
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Cozy Mystery Series: Book 1
Forty-five minutes past closing time and Mick Lily’s mustard yellow jeep remained outside Folsom City Bank. Jolene Flannery had driven by occasionally throughout the afternoon to make sure he stayed there. Out of respect for the man she once called a friend, she never stopped. She could have gone in at any point, called him out in front of his employees, or rather, talked in his office. No need to embarrass him. He would be embarrassed enough when news hit the street in a small town like Folsom.
Evening came. Street lights came on. Jolene sat in her silver Dodge Charger parked in the same lot the Folsom City Bank shared with Smitty’s Grocery. She blended in, for the most part, despite the strip of emergency lights, currently off, on the Charger’s roof, and big, bright yellow letters outlined in brown on the Charger’s side that spelled SHERIFF.
After the last teller left the bank, Jolene twisted the key in the Charger’s ignition, put it in drive and pulled closer, parked beside Mick’s jeep and stepped out. The Glock 17 rested heavy on her hip, and a backup Smith & Wesson Model 36 was holstered in her boot. She wore a five-pointed golden star over her left breast.
Before being elected sheriff of Bluff County, she was simply Jolene Flannery, the belle of Folsom. Everyone in the county knew who she was, and not just because her daddy served as sheriff for twenty years. Jolene could be summed up simply as breathtaking. Strawberry blonde, cornflower blue eyes, swanlike, and long-limbed. A red-blooded down-home girl. Every boy in high school wanted to take her to prom. Of course, there was only ever one boy in high school for Jolene Flannery.
Her sweetheart, Mick Lily.
They dated each other starting their freshman year. All the way up to graduation. Not far into that summer before college, they broke up. She ended it. Mick was destined for college out of state. Jolene always knew what she wanted. She wanted Bluff County, for all its charms and faults. She wanted to follow in her daddy’s footsteps. Mick knew better than to try and change her mind, not that he wanted to.
Jolene and Mick both knew the end was coming. So he moved off and she stayed.
The third wheel to their high school sweetheart years was C.C. King. The girl who Jolene invited to her house for sleepovers from childhood. They watched movies, fixed each other’s hair. Played with dolls. Cussed together, rode bikes. Eventually, they practiced putting make-up on each other. Talked about boys. Double-dated when Mick finally grew the balls to ask Jolene out. C.C. King was Jolene Flannery’s best friend. Might as well have been her sister.
So when Mick moved back to Folsom with C.C. King wrapped around his arm, and a French pavé diamond engagement ring on C.C.’s finger, Jolene was floored. She never expected to rekindle her romance with Mick but never expected C.C. to start one either. However it happened, it happened. She attended the wedding, in uniform and just a deputy at that time, wished the Mr. and Mrs. Lily long and happy lives together, and from that moment on they were just faces she greeted in passing.
Until now. Despite her reason for standing outside the Folsom City Bank, Jolene surprised herself when she approached her own reflection in the glass door entrance and stopped to study it. Her hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. Wearing a little make-up, not that she needed any of it.
Sheriff of Bluff County.
What would Mick Lily say when he saw her walk in?
“My God,” is what Mick said, “even now, you don’t need that uniform to stop traffic. How are you, Jolene?”
Those cornflower blue eyes had acquired a steely glaze since entering law enforcement, but she couldn’t help but flutter her eyelashes a bit at his compliment. “I’m well, Mick. How are you?” She relaxed against the doorframe, hands on her belt.
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