Dyed and Gone
An Azalea March Mystery
by Beth Yarnall
Hairstylist Azalea March is looking forward to a wild weekend in Las Vegas with her friends. Oh, sure, they’re supposed to be there on business, attending the biggest hair show on the west coast, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a little fun. But fun quickly turns to drama. On the first morning of the show, Dhane, the biggest celeb of the hair-styling world, is found dead. As it urns out Azalea’s friend, Vivian, not only knew Dhane, but the tale she weaves of how they met is faker than a showgirl’s uh… assets. When Vivian confesses to the murder and is arrested, Azalea knows there’s no way she could have done it and suspects Vivian may be trying to protect someone. But who?
Azalea now has to convince Alex, the sexy detective from her past, to help her prove Vivian’s innocence and comb through clues more twisted than a spiral perm. But the truth is stranger than anything found on the Las Vegas Strip, and proving Vivian’s innocence turns out to be more difficult than transforming a brunette into a blonde.
My past slammed into me like a rake handle to the face, all six-foot-some-odd inches of what-ifs, recriminations, and abs so tight you could bounce a quarter off them.
“’Cause this day hasn’t sucked enough,” I muttered, peeling his fingers off my arms.
“Join the club,” Alex replied. “This day hasn’t exactly been beer and nachos for me either.”
Detective Alex Craig and I had had a very intense, but way too brief, attempt at a relationship. At least I’d thought it was intense. I’d been harboring a little crush on him since I’d first met him a few years ago, but it wasn’t until James’s party when Alex had finally noticed me. We’d gone out fairly steadily until a few weeks ago when all of a sudden he started canceling and postponing dates or running out in the middle of them when he actually did show up.
On our last doomed date, I’d answered the door to his retreating back and a quickly dashed off, “Sorry, gotta go, I’ll call you!” as he jogged back to his car. I’d considered it a sign. A power greater than us was clearly at work here, and we obviously weren’t meant to be.
I just wished he wasn’t so darned cute. Or such a good kisser.
“What are you doing here?” Don’t do it. Don’t look up into those pale baby blues. Don’t…ah, damn.
“I’m here for Vivian.” He crossed his arms over his chest, which made his shoulders double in width.
“Why were you lurking in the shadows?”
“I wasn’t lurking.”
“Then what were you doing?”
I held up a finger. “Wait for it…”
He looked at me like I’d sniffed too much perm solution and was still riding the high.
“Huh. That’s so strange,” I said after a few moments of his phone not ringing and calling him away.
“I’d say the only thing strange here is you.”
“You know I didn’t even recognize you arriving. I’m so used to you leaving.”
He tipped his head back in realization. “So that’s why you haven’t returned any of my calls. You’re mad.”
“Not mad. Just over it.”
“It wasn’t my—”
“Fault. I know. It was obviously fate intervening.”
“Not fate. Just a murder case that wrapped up today. I was gonna call you tomorrow.”
I’d been deceived too many times by was gonnas from men. I was gonna call…I was gonna pay you back…I was gonna tell you about her…
“I almost bought another Laura Ashley dress because of you!”