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Death Takes a Letter: Darcy Sweet Mystery, #21

Death Takes a Letter: Darcy Sweet Mystery, #21

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Death Takes a Letter: Darcy Sweet Mystery, #21

3.5/5 (3 ratings)
192 pages
3 hours
Apr 26, 2017


A friend needing help... A suspicious death four decades ago... Another mystery for Darcy Sweet to solve!

For forty years Darcy Sweet's friend Linda Becht has believed that her mother died of natural causes. She has had no reason to question that fact. 

Until now!

Her discovery of some old love letters belonging to her mother would seem to cast the shadow of doubt upon that belief.

Was her mother murdered?

Linda enlists Darcy's help to find out for sure. Well into her second pregnancy and unable to contact the spirit world for guidance, how will Darcy unearth the truth to this decades-old mystery? 

Death Takes a Letter is the twenty-first book in the Darcy Sweet Cozy Mystery series. If you love cozy mysteries with paranormal, and a touch of romance you'll love the Darcy Sweet Cozy Mystery series.

Pick up Death Takes a Letter to read Darcy's latest adventure today!

Apr 26, 2017

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Death Takes a Letter - K.J. Emrick



Being waited on hand and foot was something that a woman could definitely get used to.

Laying in her bed like this, with her feet up on a couple of pillows, eating crackers and sipping a glass of milk while she read the latest book from one of her favorite authors. Yes, being pregnant definitely had its perks.

This was Darcy Sweet’s second child. She liked the attention she got from her husband Jon, but pregnancy had another side as well. Swollen ankles. A waistline that kept growing. An appetite for the most obscure cravings at all hours of the day and night. Those were things she could definitely do without. It was an odd sort of tradeoff, the good with the bad.

She was only five months along, but Darcy was already dreading the last trimester. She remembered that time vividly from the birth of her daughter Colby. She didn’t know if it was something all first-time mothers went through, but those last few weeks before the baby had arrived had been absolute torture for her. Feeling uncomfortable all the time, no riding her bicycle, no work—doctor’s orders—and mood swings that would have made Alec Baldwin look completely sane and rational by comparison. She wasn’t looking forward to going through that again.

At the same time, she was waiting impatiently to meet the newest member of the family she and Jon had started. What would the baby look like? Who would she—or he—grow up to be? She had to admit, even if there was a little bias involved, that she and Jon certainly made beautiful babies together.

So pregnancy was like that. Some of it was enjoyable. Some of it… not so much. She kept going back and forth between the two extremes but either way, she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

She remembered, five months ago on that special Christmas morning, telling Jon that he was going to be a daddy again. She’d joked with him at the time that this was his Christmas present, even though it was going to take nine months to get here. So, a September baby. A Virgo. She never had understood the astrological signs. There was the virgin, the twins, the one named cancer… they never made any sense to her. She had friends who were into astrology and directing their lives based on the stars and the movements of the planets. She had nothing against anyone who chose to follow that path, so long as they were good people, she just didn’t understand it.

Then again, most people would probably laugh if she said she could see ghosts.

In some ways, the ghosts were as much a part of her life as her living, breathing friends were. Everyone in town had always known that Darcy Sweet was a little bit different. She had always known things that couldn’t be known. Seen things that weren’t there. That was her gift.

Over time people had learned her gift made her special, not eerie or spooky. It took a while for Darcy to fit in. It didn’t help that she seemed to be at the center of every crisis that came her way.

Thankfully, things had quieted down once again in Misty Hollow and she hadn’t had to use her special gifts to save anyone’s life since Christmas. The burned out remains of the bakery on Main Street was still there, still boarded up and waiting to be demolished, but in all other respects the town had been able to move on and forget those unsettling events. They were just a sleepy little New England town again, where nothing ever happened.

Darcy felt her thoughts wandering and brought them back to settle on her pregnancy. Five months along. It had been too early to determine the sex of the baby with any certainty at her last doctors visit, but she was certainly far enough along to be uncomfortable in her own skin and have cravings that even she found weird. Like Thai food with chocolate sauce. It had only been the one time, thankfully. She hadn’t gotten to pickle juice and ice cream yet but she had to believe that was coming soon.

Rolling over to a more comfortable position in bed, Darcy found herself facing the door, wondering what the day would bring, and if she could maybe sneak a little more sleep out of a quiet Sunday morning.

As she was thinking about it, the bedroom door began to open.

She craned her neck up to watch the door moving slowly inward on silent hinges. A ghost, maybe? It wouldn’t be the first time one had visited Darcy in her house. Or her bedroom, either, because ghosts didn’t understand the concept of personal space.

This time, it wasn’t a ghost.

It was Colby.

Her daughter poked her head in from the hallway with a smile. Did I scare you?

Oh, I was terrified, Darcy assured her, placing her hand over her chest for effect. "Next time try adding some ghost noises, like wooooo or maybe rattle some chains."

Mo-o-om, Colby protested. I don’t have any chains. You and Dad said no the last time I asked.

We said no to the chainsaw, too.

You never let me have any fun. She folded her little seven-year-old arms across her chest, but she couldn’t hide the laughter in her eyes.

Colby and Darcy were the best of friends, and Darcy certainly hoped it stayed that way forever. Her own relationship with her mother—Colby’s grandmother—had been strained. No, that wasn’t quite right. Calling it ‘strained’ was actually putting it mildly. For years after Darcy left home, they hadn’t talked. It wasn’t until only recently that they’d reconnected. It wasn’t until Christmas that they’d finally come to a real understanding of each other.

She reached out for Colby now, letting her know it was all right to come in. Come here, Starshine.

That was Colby’s new nickname, courtesy of Jon’s quick wit. One night he’d told Colby that unicorns drink the light of stars for their food, and Colby had remarked that it’s just like moonshine to them. Although Darcy was still a little worried about where her young and impressionable daughter had learned about moonshine, they all had a good laugh when Colby went on to explain that starshine was sweet and bubbly and very rare stuff.

She thought that fit her daughter’s personality perfectly.

Colby bounced up on the bed as Darcy set aside a plate of crackers onto the nightstand. No sense putting more crumbs in the sheets than she already had. Not that Jon would kick her out of bed for it, but hey, she had to sleep here too.

Oh, sorry, Colby said, snuggling down next to her mother under the heavy white duvet cover. I didn’t bounce the baby too much, did I?

No, you didn’t. Mommy’s are pretty tough. We have to be, to protect our babies.

Darcy combed back the strands of Colby’s long dark hair. It was a shade lighter than Darcy’s own and had these auburn highlights that came out when the sun caught it just right. There was a lot of Jon in their daughter, in the shape of her jaw and her dry wit. Her eyes were this mysterious blue-green color, part Jon and part Darcy. There was no doubt that she was going to be a force to be reckoned with when she was older. Boys and dating and marriage, oh my.

For now, she was still Darcy’s precious little girl.

So, she said, wrapping her arm around Colby. What’s on our agenda today?

Mom, it’s Sunday. We don’t have to do anything on Sunday.

Well, that’s true, but there must be something you want to do?


You want to watch cartoons?

The little girl shook her head. Draw them. Little Puppy Professor is going to teach gym class. When the kids throw the baseball, he’s going to chase it!

Darcy smiled. Her daughter’s comic strips were simple, creative, and funny. It had started with a gift of a drawing pad and colored pencils at Christmas. Since then, Colby had shown a real knack for sketching out characters in comical situations.

That sounds like fun. Darcy yawned. It was only just after nine in the morning and she was still tired. I suppose we should get out of bed, hmm? Your daddy’s already at work and we’ve got the whole day to ourselves.

No, not to ourselves. We’re going to have to share the day.

Oh? Darcy rolled her body to the side a bit, careful with her growing belly. We’re going to have company, are we? Who?

A book.

Ah. I see.

Colby was a different child than most. She was still a little small for her age, and she was super bright, but more than that she had inherited Darcy’s family gift. She could see ghosts. She could talk to ghosts. Sometimes, she knew things that nobody could know. So whenever Colby said something odd like she had just now, it was hard to tell if she joking or being serious.

So Darcy decided to get up and get dressed, just in case a book came to visit.

She sat up at the edge of the bed, spreading her nightgown out around herself and dangling her legs. Colby bounced over the mattress to her side again, sitting right up against her, and leaning her ear down against her mother’s stomach. I can’t hear him yet, she said after a minute.

Oh, your sibling was kicking up a storm last night, Darcy promised. Made it sort of hard for Mommy to get any sleep. You were the same way, you know.

Was I? Colby’s eyes were wide. She loved hearing stories of when Darcy had been pregnant with her. Was I always moving around?

Yes, Darcy said, hugging Colby tight.

Did I kick really hard?

Yes, Darcy said, tickling Colby’s ribs.

They fell back onto the mattress together, just the two of them, laughing hysterically at nothing in particular.

Did I… Colby had to stop to get her breath, and laugh some more. Did I make you crave all sorts of crazy things?

Oh, yes. Yes you did! I had to make your father go out and buy pickle relish to put on my strawberry ice cream once. Can you believe that?

Ew! Colby squealed. That’s disgusting!

Oh, don’t you worry young lady. One day when you’re much, much older you’ll meet the right man and have children of your own and then I’ll be there when you have midnight cravings for chocolate and fried chicken!

Eww. No!

Oreo cookies dipped in mayonnaise!

No! Not me!

Or maybe, Darcy said in a dramatic rush, it will be tuna fish!

Darcy tickled Colby again, sending them both into more fits of laughter.

This time, attracted by all the noise and wanting to make sure she wasn’t being left out of the games, Tiptoe the cat came padding into the bedroom. She hopped up onto the bed and flicked the whiskers in her silvery-gray face. She narrowed her eyes at Darcy as if to ask, what are you doing to my child?

Tiptoe was definitely Colby’s cat. The only daughter of Darcy’s longtime feline friend, Smudge the black-and-white tomcat, who got to stay behind when all of her brothers and sisters were adopted out. Now, she pretty much had the run of the house. She was fond of Darcy, and she liked to curl up on Jon’s lap, but there was no question that she was Colby’s kitten.

Heya Tiptoe, Colby said to her little friend. Want to come help me draw Professor Puppy?

Tiptoe closed her eyes and looked away.

Oh, come on, Colby coaxed, scratching between the cat’s ears. I know he’s a dog, but he’s a funny dog. Tell you what. Next time I’ll make a comic book about a cat. Okay?

Tiptoe shifted from foot to foot, purring as Colby’s fingers found just the right spot. Then she crawled up into Colby’s lap and pushed her head against the girl’s stomach.

Colby picked her up in her arms before scooting off the bed. That’s what I thought. You can even name the cat in my drawings. How’s that sound?

A meow from Tiptoe was the answer.

Darcy smiled as she watched them. Hey, Starshine? she said quickly, before Colby left the room.

Yes, Mom?

Don’t be in too much of a rush to grow up. That stuff I said about you having children of your own… that’s for after you’re married, okay? Lots of years from now.

Don’t worry, Mom. Colby shrugged a shoulder and held fast to Tiptoe. Donnie at school says he wants five kids, but he said it was okay if I want less.

Wait, what? Colby was already gone, but Darcy made a mental note to ask about this Donnie boy. She wasn’t sure she liked him.

Wrapping her robe around herself, over the bulge of her baby belly, Darcy got reluctantly out of bed. Out in the hallway she found Smudge, just sitting and staring at her. Darcy held the bedroom door open as an invitation for him to go in and make himself comfortable up on her bed. He glanced that way, but didn’t seem to want to go in. It was becoming harder for him to jump high enough to make the top of the mattress anymore. At least, not without help. Most nights Darcy had to pick him up to get him there so he could sleep curled up against her legs.

He was so… old. She had never expected him to get old. Smudge was a part of her life. She’d never thought about him not being here with her. Now she was faced with the reality that he might not be around for much longer, and it was a bittersweet feeling. There had been too many good times together for her to ever be sad, but life without him…

Well. That was a worry for another day. Today was beautiful and sunny and everything was right with the world.

Smudge blinked at her, and then got up on his feet and slowly walked away down the hall, to the stairs, his tail in the air.

Something always goes wrong, his eyes had said to her. After all, this is Misty Hollow.

For Pete’s sake, Smudge. When did you become such a sour puss?

Colby and Tiptoe weren’t the only ones with their own special language.

Before she followed him downstairs Darcy remembered one last thing. From the top of her dresser beside the door, Darcy picked up her rings. Her fingers had started swelling at night, and the rings were becoming uncomfortable. They might have to be packed away in her jewelry box soon. The slim gold wedding band with its matching diamond engagement ring slid into place on her left hand with a little twisting. The ring she wore on her right hand was a little tougher to get on, but she managed. This ring had been her Great Aunt Millie’s. It was an antique, and it was Darcy’s good luck charm. The designs on it were intricate and delicate. Just wearing it made her feel better.

Wearing it also gave her a connection to her aunt. More so, even, than living here in this house did. This had been

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