Monday, August 5, 2019

RELEASE DAY: DECEPTION, DENIAL & MURDER A Stacie Maroni Mystery #3 by Christa Nardi

Deception, Denial & Murder
A Stacie Maroni Mystery #3

A domineering co-worker, a new flirtatious neighbor, and a dead body with way too many questions. 

As HR Specialist and trauma counselor, Stacie Maroni is used to dealing with difficult situations. When her night out is derailed by the discovery of a body, she’s glad she’s not involved. That is, until the murder affects her close friends and makes for awkward situations with the men in her life, her father included. With her friends potential suspects, Stacie works with the police, only the suspect list is slim and she’s grabbing at straws.

Here is an excerpt:

My morning run was invigorating. The sun was shining and the temperature crisp, but not frigid. A great day to get started on those New Year’s resolutions for sure. A quick shower, Jasper, my Maltese, taken care of, and I parked my car in my usual spot at Foster’s Insurance Group.
As the one stable feature of my life for the past year, it was a good thing I liked my job. HR specialist and crisis counselor for the company, my day was predictable enough with the occasional crisis to keep me charged.
Opening the doors leading to my office area, I greeted my assistant in reception. “Hi, Rosie.”
She jumped. “Good morning, Stacie. It doesn’t look like a busy day today. Did you have a good weekend?”
I nodded and didn’t elaborate. Rosie was in her fifties and had a penchant for gossip. Still, she did her job to perfection and kept me organized.
Not stopping to chat, I went down the hall to my office and settled in to work. I smiled at the email from Kevin McNair, the man in my life. A fellow supporter of victims of domestic violence, Kevin earned my trust as we faced down a murderer who was targeting members of the board of the newly established Theodore Noth Foundation.
He made the career change from professional athlete to policeman at about the same time. This week, he was in Quantico at a training seminar and sent me GIFs of flowers and sunshine daily. I could get used to this, though having him in town would be preferable.
A knock on my door broke my concentration. True to form, Jillian didn’t wait for the “Come in.” She burst in and slammed the door so hard I wasn’t sure the hinges would hold. From the set of her mouth to her wide eyes, her mood matched her jet black hair. Jillian was my best friend and I’d never seen her this riled.
“What’s wrong? Sit down, chill.”
“It’s … it’s that woman they transferred from Georgia – Gertrude Butts. Have you interacted with her at all?”
I shook my head. “Only to collect the paperwork. I haven’t seen her since she started. She’s in Special Projects with you, right?”
Jillian slumped over, her head in her hands.
“She is. The woman is a witch. A bully. She wants to add more structure, picks on the women – but is oh so nice to Tony and Jim. Everything I’ve done? She hates. She’s obsessed with being on time and apologetic when she’s late, which she is often. She gets upset if anyone is even a minute late or takes too long in the restroom.”
“Calm down. You have a cohesive unit. You have worked together for a long time. You’re a good lead.”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you. She acts like she knows everything and doesn’t see why the staff should be able to talk to each other or socialize. The tension is building. I’m afraid it will not be pretty. Besides, she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing and keeps missing the details on the projects.”
“The holidays are always stressful and she’s only just gotten here. Give it a few more weeks. Try talking to her. Make her feel like her opinion matters.”
“I know, I know. I’m just afraid she’ll run off my best staff. She keeps pushing my buttons and everyone else’s. She sent me an email demanding I comply with her requests within 24 hours. She’s not my boss. I don’t understand why Reinhardt thought I needed help. We each have a job and I’m afraid she’s wreaking havoc on me and my unit.”
She exhaled and stood up. “I just needed to vent. We’ll work it out. See you at lunch.”
I stared at the closed door after Jillian left. I was confident she could handle the woman. Only I didn’t enjoy seeing her so upset. I sat back and thought about my job.
Most of the time, Foster’s Insurance Group was a well-oiled machine. As the lead HR specialist, I had first-hand knowledge of the turnover and complaints. I’d already had a complaint from one of the people in Jillian’s unit about Gertrude.
A high rate of turnover didn’t happen often. If it did or one unit suddenly wasn’t as productive or had high turnover, I’d have to report to Reinhardt. Lynisha Cook, the other HR specialist, and I “jokingly” referred to her as the “Wicked Witch of the West.”
I shuddered and turned my attention back to my email and the reports I needed to get done. I could only hope this would pass. Engrossed in number crunching, I jumped when my cell rang, the ring tone alerting me it was my dad. I smiled and answered.
“Hi, Dad. How’s it going?”
“Hi, Stacie. Everything’s good here. Working on the final touches for the wedding. How are things with you?”
“Good here, too.” I cringed, anticipating what he would say.
“Deanna and I were wondering when you will arrive and if you’d gotten around to inviting Kevin yet? Deanna is looking forward to meeting him.”
“I have vacation time and requested the week off, hoping to get some skiing and relaxation in. My plan was to arrive midweek. When will Vince arrive?”
I hadn’t seen my brother in at least two years. He made the army his career and deployments kept him away. At least so he said.
“Stacie, you didn’t answer my question. Why haven’t you invited Kevin to the wedding yet?”
I took a deep breath. “You realize we haven’t spent a lot of time together, what with him at the police academy and now the special training at Quantico. He’s starting a new job and I’m not sure he can take time off.”
“You’ll invite him, won’t you?”
“Yes. I think so. I don’t know.”
“Stacie, you’re running – no, you’ve run out of time here. He may be insulted you waited so long and say no.” He groaned and I imagined he was shaking his head and scowling.
“As for your brother, Vince will be on leave for two weeks. He plans to stay at my place in New Jersey for a while to decompress. He’ll come up to Bricksville by Tuesday or Wednesday. Nate is driving up on Thursday. Talk to Kevin today and let me know so we can plan accordingly.”
“Okay. I will.”
      We disconnected and I shuddered at what “plan accordingly” meant. It would be awful if they “found” me a date for the wedding. That would be so uncomfortable. I’d hash it out with my friends at lunch.

Excerpt from Deception, Denial & Murder Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.

Stacie Maroni Msyteries (available on Amazon, with Kindle Unlimited)

Prestige, Privilege & Murder
Foundations, Funny Business & Murder
Deception, Denial & Murder

For the backstory on the series, check out the dedicated Stacie Maroni Mysteries page on this blog!

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