Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FIT TO BE TIED (The Granny Series Book 2) by Kelsey Browning and Nancy Naigle

FIT TO BE TIED (The Granny Series Book 2) by Kelsey Browning and Nancy Naigle
$4.99 or FREE for Prime Members

These gals are like Dirty Harry...only over 50, female, and from the south.

Lillian Summer Fairview is settling right nice into the federal pen. She’s even making peace with Big Martha, the toughest broad on the cellblock.

After hearing Lil’s granny friends recently took down a swindler, Big Martha asks Lil for a favor. Her niece has fallen for a guy she met online, and Martha’s convinced Mr. Too-Good-To-Be-True is up to no good. All Lil’s friends have to do is a little look-see on the guy and report back. But when they poke around, they find the guy doesn’t really exist, and that triggers a wild ride through the world of online dating.

Meanwhile, a cantankerous septic system on Lil’s family estate in Summer Shoals, GA has the grannies fit to be tied. If Summer Haven isn’t in shipshape before the historic society’s inspection, they’ll be in deep you-know-what.

Big Martha sweetens the deal by promising to fix what ails Summer Haven if the grannies can find the elusive Romeo.

Will the grannies track him down before the inspection, or will they find themselves in trouble right up to their granny panties?

Chapter One

Maggie glared down at her feet, currently sinking into greenish muck in Summer Haven’s front yard. She wiggled her toes, but her bright orange toenail polish was barely visible beneath the brackish water tickling them. Worse, the unusually warm fall day was already beginning to make it smell.
Why she’d started wearing these dollar store flip-flips Sera loved so doggoned much, she didn’t know. Back in her day, they’d called them thongs. Now that term was used for something that would leave her hind parts looking as pudgy as her toes. Today her winter galoshes would’ve been a much better choice.
Maggie pinched her nose, trying to tone down the odor because the squishy hole she was standing in could only be described as eau de toilette. Wasn’t it enough that she’d replaced the huge house’s upstairs commode after it crashed through the water-rotted boards between the first and second floors?
Apparently not, because now her best friend’s family estate had septic system problems as well. And seeing as Lil was still on that extended vacation at Walter Stiles Federal Prison Camp, the potty problems were all Maggie’s.
She heaved a sigh, but the girls didn’t jiggle quite as much as they had a few months ago. A bonus. Taking care of Summer Haven, chasing bad guys, and wrangling both her life and Lil’s had slimmed Maggie down a smidgen.
Good thing because she had a pile of poop to wrangle today.
Maggie,” Serendipity, Sera to her friends, called from the gazebo across the yard where she was contorted into one of her million yoga positions, “come practice your halasana.”
Maggie did a quick translation in her head. The plough. Oh Lord, she preferred the vrksasana. The tree pose was easy enough and she’d gone from wobbling sprig to strong oak tree. Well, at least in her mind. True, she wasn’t in love with poses that put her fanny in all sorts of vulnerable places, but she’d given in and begun doing yoga with Sera a few times a week anyway. Their roommate Abby Ruth, on the other hand, was still holding out, insisting she got enough exercise by running her mouth and toting her guns.
Maggie glanced down again. Thrusting her derriere up in the air sounded like a pretty darn good alternative to standing here. Then again, when had she ever met a honey-do task she couldn’t master?
Can’t right now,” she called back. “We’ve got potty problems.”
Sera’s graceful, yoga-toned stride had her at Maggie’s side in a flash. “What kind of problems?”
Sticky, oozy, stinky ones. The septic system is being overworked or worse.”
I wondered what that stench was.” Sera’s nose wrinkled. “I’m as much a fan of natural fertilization as any self-respecting Californian, but this might be taking it to the extreme. Will it be expensive to fix?”
Here at Summer Haven, they were always watching their pennies. The Greek Revival house and surrounding land might be dignified, but it was a money pit from Hades. Didn’t matter, though, because Maggie had promised she’d keep the place from falling down while Lil was away. “Not if I do it myself.”
A tiny line bisected Sera’s strawberry blond eyebrows. With her long hair and toned body, she looked about thirty years old at first glance. But when she frowned, it was more apparent she was in the fifty-something range. “Don’t you think some things should be left to the experts?”
Maggie jammed her hands onto her hips and widened her feet. But her indignant pose was ruined when her ankle twisted, tweaking her knee and weakening her stance. Sera grabbed Maggie’s arm just before she toppled into the sloppy mess.
Once Maggie was steady again, she said, “Don’t you think owning a hardware store for decades makes me an expert?”
This sinkhole looks too complicated for a DIY project, especially for a couple of girls over fifty.”
Over fifty. That was polite. Sera was barely that age, but Maggie and Lil had greeted seventy a birthday or two ago. “Aren’t you always saying age is just a state of mind?”
Yes, but—”
Well, this is one helluva mess.” Abby Ruth strode up but kept the toes of her blistering red cowboy boots on the edge of the septic sinkhole.
For a fraction of a second, Maggie wanted to lash out. Abby Ruth was handy to have around—especially with her native Texan knowledge of guns and take-no-prisoners attitude—but every once in a while, she still rubbed Maggie wrong.
Maggie took what Sera referred to as a cleansing breath, and let it out for a five-count before responding. “I’ll get this mess fixed, but until I do, we have to ration our flushes.”
Ration?” Abby Ruth’s icy gray eyes lowered to narrow slits. “What do you mean, ration?”
Well, there’s no need to flush every time you pee.”
Are you telling me I’m gonna have to head down to the sheriff’s office to take a proper sh*t?”
This woman was so inappropriate at times, and Sera’s tinkling laughter didn’t help the situation any. It just encouraged Abby Ruth.
Poops rank a flush,” Maggie clarified. “Pees don’t.”
I knew I should’ve converted that damned horse trailer,” Abby Ruth muttered, referring to the white behemoth where she stored her arsenal of guns, collection of cowboy boots, and other worldly possessions. “Fine. Let’s fix this thing. I’ll get the shovels.”
Maggie checked her watch. One o’clock. She’d promised Lil she’d come for visiting hours today, and it was an hour and a half drive to the prison camp. “This’ll just have to hold until tomorrow. I’m due at the prison in two hours, and I obviously need a shower before I can get on the road.”
Oh, no.” Sera’s lips were rolled in, a sure sign of distress. “You’ve forgotten, haven’t you?”
That sinking feeling Maggie got every time she ate too much funnel cake plunked down in her stomach. What had she forgotten? “Um…”
Abby Ruth shook her head. She was the only person Maggie had ever known who could display so much disgust with a simple left-right movement. “Angelina Broussard and her trumped-up inspection committee are due out here for a pre-inspection walkabout this afternoon.”
That’s today?” The heaviness of that funnel-cake-binge felt as though it had been topped with a double shake of seaweed powder instead of sugar. She had forgotten. That was what she got for failing to check her list. Dang it.
There wasn’t enough air in the entire town of Summer Shoals, Georgia, for all the cleansing breaths Maggie needed right now. Still, she sucked in a double lungful. Another quick peek at her watch told her they had less than thirty minutes until Angelina and her Historical Preservation committee pulled into Summer Haven’s circular driveway.
Maggie backed out of the goo. “There isn’t much time to shield this whole mess from Angelina’s raptor-like gaze.”
So about those shovels?” Abby Ruth said.
Believe me,” Maggie said, “we don’t have time to dig this thing out. Even if we did, it would be the biggest pothole you’ve ever laid eyes on. No way Angelina could miss that.”
She’s right,” Sera agreed. “We need another plan.”
We can use that hay Sherman Harrison stashed out in the old barn to sop up the mess,” Maggie decided.
That’ll work,” Sera said. “Hay is super absorbent. Especially when it’s dried out like that old stuff. Plus, we’ll clear out the barn at the same time.”
Maggie trotted toward the barn, so proud when her breathing remained even. There was something to all that yoga.
With Sera and Abby Ruth right on her heels, Maggie pulled open the sliding barn door. Good thing she’d remembered to gas up the little tractor. “Abby Ruth, can you hitch up the trailer?”
Sure thing.”
Ever moved bales of hay?” she asked Sera.
No, but I’m game.” That was what Maggie loved about the sunny gal who’d recently dropped into her life. She never hesitated to pull her weight, change courses, and go with the flow when needed.
Which was pretty often lately.
Maggie tossed Sera a pair of work gloves. “You’ll need these.” Thank goodness hobby farmer Harrison preferred the small rectangular bales. If they’d been storing huge round bales, Maggie’s scheme wouldn’t have worked.
Trailer’s all hooked up,” Abby Ruth said.
Maggie did a quick mental calculation. “I figure we’ll need twenty-four bales total.”
Within ten minutes, they had a full load of fifteen bales on the little cargo trailer. That meant two trips. Maggie checked her watch again. “We need to hurry. Abby Ruth, you drive. Sera and I will meet you there.”
Maggie’s breath came faster on the jog back to the pit of doom, but she still had plenty of energy to drag bales off the trailer and lay a wall of hay around the mess. Rather than stack the last bale, Maggie snipped the twine with a pair of clippers. “Sera, while Abby Ruth and I grab the rest of the hay, I need you to do some window dressing.” Sera could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
I’m on it!” Sera went to work.
Maggie hopped on the trailer for the ride back to the barn, and Abby Ruth gunned the small tractor, bumping across the driveway and grass. If NASCAR ever started a farm equipment series, Maggie would sponsor Abby Ruth. They’d be flush with prize money in no time.
They didn’t waste time or energy on talk, just loaded the trailer again as though they hauled hay every darned day. When the trailer was full, Abby Ruth shoved at one bale, making a tiny opening. “Hop on.”
Maggie eyed it. That space would hold approximately one half of her rear end.
What the heck, you only live once.
She wiggled into place and Abby Ruth took off.
By the time they made it back, Sera had part of the problem area blocked by a couple of scarecrow people she’d fashioned from hay. One had rounded hips and breasts. Thank the good Lord she hadn’t added any protruding details on the other. “You are going to put clothes on them, aren’t you?” Maggie asked.
Sera nodded absently and kept shaping her artwork.
Abby Ruth nudged Maggie with her elbow. “What? You have something against Adam and Eve?”
Of course not, but you know Angelina as well as I do. She’ll take one look at those naked straw people and decide we’re peddling porn.” She turned back to the trailer. “Let’s get the rest of this hay stacked up.”
They lifted, pushed and tugged, but when they’d put the last bale in place, there was still a gaping hole around the muck. All the work and huffing and puffing and Angelina would still be able to see the septic swamp plain as day. Maggie’s insides felt about as mucky as the hole they were trying to gussy up.
Abby Ruth took a step back and stared at the pit. “Well, dammit.”
Maggie’s thoughts exactly. “We’ll never get this hidden in time.”
Abby Ruth scratched an eyebrow and cast a considering look toward Sera. “Gimme a minute. I think I have an answer to the problem.” Then she hightailed it toward the back of the house.
A couple of minutes later, Sera’s VW van came chugging across the lawn with Abby Ruth bouncing in the driver’s seat. She barreled through the rough terrain and then, just as pretty as you please, that woman angled the van’s flat nose toward the gap in the hay bales. Before Maggie could protest or Sera could look up from where she was looping the scarecrow man’s waist with a knotted belt from the leftover hay bale twine, Abby Ruth maneuvered the van inside the circle of hay, and rocked it to a stop, barely making the bales shift.
That woman could drive, and they had a suitable camouflage, but Abby Ruth had just dumped several thousand pounds of vehicle right onto Maggie’s problem. Not a good long-term solution.
Abby Ruth’s spiky gray hair popped up over the hay wall, and she was grinning like a lunatic. She vaulted over the whole thing and landed on her feet. Just like a cat with nine lives.
Something told Maggie that Abby Ruth was luckier than any cat.
And as dicey as moving that van might be later, Maggie couldn’t give Abby Ruth grief because Angelina’s car was coming up the driveway right this second.
Still, Maggie had to ask, “Why didn’t you park your dually over it instead?”
Sugar,” Abby Ruth drawled, “because Abby Ruth Cady doesn’t ever take the wet spot.”


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