Lizzie's plans for Christmas with her private investigator fiance are ruined when a movie star's priceless necklace is stolen from her suite at the posh Roseby Hotel...
ABOUT THE BOOK:
A priceless necklace has been stolen from the hotel bedroom of a movie star actress and the woman in question insists Jack’s the man to track it down and bring it back safely.
Lizzie decides to turn amateur sleuth and tag along to help Jack out – two heads have got to be better than one, right? Plus, she can’t miss out on a chance to get inside the fabulously exclusive Roseby Hotel and admire their amazing festive decorations.
Can they solve the mystery, catch the thief who masterminded the holiday heist, return the necklace to its rightful owner, and still get to celebrate Christmas Day as planned?
“I have a confession to make.” My fiancé-of-one-hour says as he walks back into my farmhouse kitchen.
I stop mixing the snowflake truffles I’m making for Christmas Day and look at him warily. “Oh?” The diamond engagement ring he just gave to me glistens on my finger. It’s all shiny and new and… well, exciting. “You’re not already married, are you? Hiding a wife somewhere?” I tease. “Or have you changed your mind about wanting to marry me and you want your gorgeous ring back?”
Jack walks over, slips his arms around my waist and nuzzles my ear. “Nope. Definitely not changed my mind, and no, I don’t have a wife, secret or otherwise.”
His hand snakes towards the mixing bowl, and I playfully tap it away. “Not until they’re finished! So, don’t keep me in suspense then, what’s your big confession?”
Jack steps back and runs a hand through his dark blonde hair. When he was a special agent for the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency - otherwise known as the CCIA - he used to keep it closely cropped. Now, eighteen months after ditching the agency and setting up his own private investigator and security business, his hair is more casual and enticingly ruffled. He tilts his head towards the door. “You know that phone call I just took?”
My heart sinks. I have the dreadful feeling I know what he’s about to confess. “Oh, Jack, you didn’t, did you?”
Shooting me a smile I know is meant to sweeten my mood, he nods. “Sorry. I did. Look, I know tomorrow is Christmas Day and we have a whole family gathering thing planned with my brother and Emma and the kids, but work is work, I’m self-employed now, and this woman who called, well, she sounded pretty desperate.”
He’s right, I know he is, but still…it is Christmas.
“If I scoot over there right away, I might even have the case wrapped up before tomorrow’s big Mathis Family Festive Gathering,” he says persuasively, taking my hand and planting a string of kisses from fingertips to wrist.
I tingle inside, knowing he’s just trying to wheedle his way around me, but even so, his kisses are warm and inviting and so deliciously tempting. Pushing my thoughts back towards the issue at hand I reply, “You’re good, Jack Mathis, but even you’d be stretching it to solve a case in little more than twenty four hours!” I gently trace a finger over my beautiful engagement ring. “We were going to make our big announcement tomorrow.”
“And we still can,” he reasons. “Even if I have to work in the morning, I should be back in time for dinner, and then we can tell everybody we’re getting married.”
“OK.” I sigh. “What’s the case anyway?” A horrible thought pops into my head. “It’s not another murder, is it? I think the village has only just fully recovered from Armand’s death and, especially at this time of year, another one would be totally horrific and…”
Jack stops me mid-sentence. “Don’t worry. No murder this time around. It’s a stolen necklace at one of the posh hotels in the tourist area. An actress says her priceless family heirloom has vanished from her bedroom. She’s in a complete meltdown about it. I have to get over there and figure out what’s going on. Want to come with me? You could ditch the cake making for now and finish it later.”
“It’s not cake, it’s going to be snowflake truffles.” I glance at the mixing bowl. I’ve only just managed to create cakes and desserts which are actually edible. Before that they were either burnt on the top or raw inside.
Which I why I chose this particular recipe. Even I can’t get it wrong.
“I really shouldn’t get involved,” I say to Jack. “I mean, it’s not like last time, when I was a suspect and we ended up figuring the case out together.”
Jack and I met when he was suspended from working for the CCIA for bending some rules to catch a killer. Whilst he was off work he came up to Cumbria from London so he could help his brother Frazer run Wellbeck Farm, whilst Frazer’s wife Emma had their third child. Wellbeck is just down the lane from my own much-smaller place, Eskdale Top, which I inherited from my Uncle Joe. A while back I used to be a waitress at a local restaurant to help make ends meet and my boss, celebrity chef Armand, was murdered. As I was the last member of staff to leave the kitchen on that night the police put me at the top of their suspects list. Jack helped clear my name and catch the real killer.
“I know, but you could still come along and help me out. The actress in question is staying at the Roseby,” he adds, knowing how much I love that particular hotel.
My chances of getting through its doors as a legitimate guest are zero due to its scarily high prices and its exclusive clientele, but I’ve read about it in magazines and have adored it from afar for ages. The Roseby nestles in the hills about the tourist honeypot of Delamere. It’s set in acres of grounds and has stunning views out over the lake. It’s also the place for the rich and famous to stay in this part of the beautiful Lake District.
“Come on, you know you want to see what the Roseby’s Christmas decorations are like,” he says with a cheeky grin, tugging at my hand invitingly.
He knows me so well.
I debate for almost a second and then shove the truffle mix in the fridge. I’ll finish it later.
“Oh, and did I mention the actress who rang me about the case is Arabella Saunders?” he says, revealing his trump card.
I stop stock still in the middle of the kitchen. “What? NO!” I gasp, coming over all fangirlish.
“Yep.” He nods, knowing he’s got me now.
“Give me five minutes to get changed,” I yell as I sprint for the stairs.
“You don’t need to change. You look great as you are,” Jack shouts after me.
“Jack,” I yell back, halfway up the staircase. “We’re talking the Roseby here! And Arabella Saunders. I can’t go in like this.” Glancing down at my scruffy jeans, fluffy slippers and one of Jack’s old sweatshirts, my cheeks colour at the very thought of turning up at the uber-smart hotel in this outfit.
He shrugs. “OK. You’ve got five minutes, and I’m clock-watching.”
Ten minutes later I arrive back in my rustic farmhouse kitchen wearing a mocha-coloured wool dress and brown knee-high boots. My blonde hair is brushed and pulled back into a neat ponytail – mainly because I haven’t got around to washing it yet today. I even managed to slick some lip gloss on whilst flying down the stairs without falling over and twisting my ankle in the process.
“Do I look OK?” I ask Jack, who is slumped on the battered sofa next to the Aga, checking something on his mobile.
He lifts his eyes from the phone and grins, getting to his feet. “Better than OK, I’d say. Definitely worth the extra five minutes waiting time,” he adds cheekily. “Come on, let’s get a move on. We’ve got a case to solve and a necklace to find. The Roseby awaits.”
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