Smoldering flames are still deadly.
Raina Sun is in San Francisco, preparing for her cousin’s upcoming wedding…to her ex-boyfriend. Even though she is a reluctant bridesmaid, she understands duty to her family. When the bridegroom shows an unusual interest in her fiancé, and a dead body drops in during the rehearsal dinner, Raina is drawn into another murder investigation.
She must prove the bridegroom’s innocence, or he will reveal a secret that could change her beloved fiancé’s life…and not for the better. As things heat up, she learns all families have skeletons, and some are more deadly than others. Among the hundreds of guests, could she find this heartless killer before she becomes the next victim? And will this secret stay hidden?
Come join Raina in this next phase in her life—get your copy of Smoldering Flames and Secrets now!
From Inside the Book:
From a distance, Raina could hear Gigi yipping. Her grandma was pet sitting the Boston terrier for an acquaintance. Unfortunately, the dog complained whenever she was within smelling distance of Raina. “I better go inside before Gigi’s barking gets on everyone’s nerves.”
Before she could take a step toward the house, Gigi charged into the middle of the group, her leash dragging a lawn chair in her wake. When she looked behind her, there was panic in her face. As the dog ran to get away from the plastic chair, she crashed into bridesmaids and photo equipment alike.
Po Po, Raina’s grandma, ran after the dog. “Gigi! Stop, girl. Stop.”
“Holy Toledo,” Lucy muttered, covering her mouth with a hand.
“We need to help Po Po,” Raina said.
Lucy shook her head. “Not my monkey, not my circus.” She didn’t bother hiding the grin on her face.
Raina laughed. “You’re so bad.”
“Po Po would film the entire thing with her cell phone and post it up on YouTube. She’s lucky I have restraint,” Lucy said.
Gigi ran away from the patio and onto the lawn. The leash towed a lawn chair, tablecloth, and a watermelon fruit basket. The dog’s tongue lolled out of her mouth. Her eyes were white with terror. Oh, the poor baby.
“We need to get the dog before my cousin has a hernia,” Raina said, kicking off her heels and rushing toward the dog and her grandma.
Lucy followed her lead and soon over took Raina with her longer legs. They spread out, hoping to box the dog in with Po Po coming up from the rear.
“Somebody needs to get this dog off the lawn,” Cousin Jung-yee shouted. Her reddened face and flashing brown eyes made Raina pick up her pace.
Gigi swiveled her head toward the bride. The dog made a wide arc on the lawn to change direction. Po Po lunged and slid like a baseball player to cut the dog off, but all she got for her effort was a face full of grass and the watermelon fruit basket. As the Boston terrier charged toward the bride, the plastic chair legs dug into the lawn and clumps of lush green grass followed in her wake.
Jung-yee’s eyes widened. She grabbed the full skirt of her wedding dress to run away from the animal, but her three-inch heels got tangled on the train. She screamed as she fell to the ground. “Help—”
Before she could finish, Gigi was on Jung-yee. The dog pounced on the bride and licked her face. Gigi wiggled her tail so excitedly that her bottom got tangled in the tulle fabric around her. The lawn chair and tablecloth waited behind her like silent servants. While Gigi hated Raina, she loved Jung-yee with an equal passion. Too bad the love was unrequited.
The patio went silent. Po Po stopped short at the sight. She gave Raina a look of horror, changed direction, and fled back into the house.
Raina stopped running and tiptoed toward the disaster. She didn’t want to spook the dog and have her blaze another trail of destruction. “Come here, Gigi. Be a good girl.”
“Get her off of me!” Jung-yee said. “Get this beast off me.” She pushed ineffectively at the dog.
Lucy trotted forward, scooped up the dog, unclipped the leash, and headed toward the house. “I’ll keep Gigi out of everyone’s hair,” she said over her shoulder. Smart woman. If Jung-yee got her hands on the dog, there was no telling what would happen.
Raina and Blue got to the bride at the same time. Each of them took an arm and hauled her off the ground. Jung-yee was sobbing by this time. Her once sleek up-do was a tumbling mess around her face. Mascara ran down her cheeks. She was trembling, though Raina couldn’t tell if it was from suppressed anger or defeat.
“It’s okay. We’ll have this cleaned up in no time,” Blue said, wrapping his bride in his arms. He kissed her hair, but she continued to sob.
Raina untangled the train and brushed off the grass and dirt. Her cousin would have to change into her red Chinese dress for the rest of the photo shoot. As she straightened another section of the dress, her hands hovered over the fabric. There were red paw prints on the skirt.
Jung-yee pushed away from her fiancé, ran a finger under each eye—not that it helped—and straightened her back. “Bridget! Call the makeup and hair people. See if they can come back within the hour. Thank you.” As the operations manager for her father’s chain of Chinese restaurants, she was used to issuing commands. Though her voice wobbled, it didn’t make her any less formidable.
Raina bent over the paw prints for a closer look. The liquid was thick and dried to a deep burgundy.
Jung-yee’s gaze swept down to her skirt, and she grimaced. “I need a club soda before the stain sets.” She brushed at it, and her fingers came away red. As her face changed from determination to horror, her hand trembled. “What…”
Raina swallowed. “It’s blood.”