A Simple Heart
A Cupid Falls' Novella
These Three Words
Words of the Heart #2
Carry Her Heart
Words of the Heart #1
Short Stories for the Overworked & Under-Read:
Maid in LA Series Bundle
includes the entire
four book series
Winner of Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice for Best Harlequin Flipside, 2004
Marquette "Markie" Walkowicz, has a lifelong history of losing things. It all started when she was twelve and lost her little brother at the Smithsonian, and now she’s lost the dead body she’d found minutes before on her front porch. In between the two incidents she lost a lot of jobs, lost her virginity...and lost a fiancé, which was bad. Not only did she lose him, but she lost him minutes before she walked down the aisle, which was worse. Now the detective sent to investigate Markie’s missing body is her almost-husband's friend, Zac Marshall. Of course, once upon a time she’d thought Zac was her friend, too, but when he told her that Joel wasn’t the man for her the night before her wedding, then Joel left her at the altar, she was pretty sure who was to blame. Zac must have talked Joel out of marrying her. Talk about worse...having to deal with Zac about this missing corpse is worse-r!
Dealing with a missing corpse is so much easier than dealing with the sparks that are flying between them. Even when the corpse keeps showing up. Markie and Zac solve the mystery, but can they solve the mysterious reaction they have to each other?
"Holly Jacobs’ latest, Found and Lost (4) is a delight. A darkly comic whodunit, it’s her best book yet."
~Catherine Witmer, RT BOOKclub
"As always, Ms. Jacobs delivers a sweet love story filled with humor to enchant her readers...so sit back, relax, and prepare to be thoroughly entertained." ~Kelley Hartsell, Love Romances
This "...amusing urbanized version of the Trouble with Harry is a delightful contemporary tale..." ~Harriet Klausner
"Holly Jacobs is the master of humorous writing." ~Lydia Funneman, Writers Unlimited Reviewer
"Holly Jacobs hits the laugh track again with this fabulously funny tale of love and mystery." ~~Cat Cody, Romance Junkies
"...an exceptionally humorous and delightful tale." ~Nicole Hulst, CataRomance Reviews
When Markie Walkowicz and her friends used to whack each other with snowballs during rare Philadelphia snowfalls that's what it sounded like.
Splat, splat. They'd scream at the top of their lungs as snowballs whizzed back and forth.
It wasn't the fact that it was cold enough for snowballs that brought the word splat to Markie's mind on this particular Monday morning. It was the fact that the porch was rushing toward her face at an alarming rate.
Or rather, she was rushing toward the porch as she'd tripped and fallen.
She landed hard in an inelegant heap. It took her a stunned moment to suck some frigid air into her rather deflated lungs.
It figured, she thought.
It just figured.
Markie was always more accident-prone when she was running late. And she was running so late this morning that she quickly decided a fast fall on the porch was better than the myriad of other accidents she might have attracted. Last time she was running this late her front tire was flat.
She examined her throbbing knee, noting she had a hole in her stocking. She was going to have to go back in and change them, which meant she was going to be even later, but probably not as late as when she'd had to change that tire.
Pantyhose might be torturous to put on, but they weren't nearly as difficult to manage as lug-nuts were.
Markie got up and immediately spotted what she'd tripped over.
It was a man.
A decidedly blue looking man, laid out in front of her door.
A blue man wearing a green and orange plaid suit that was decades out of style.
"Mister?" she said, even though she instinctively knew she'd get no response.
The man's arm was thrown over his face. She reached out to touch his hand.
It was cold.
Markie screamed as she scrambled to her feet.
Screamed like a girl.
Loud, long and piercing.
Marquette Ann Walkowicz was the type of woman who prided herself on avoiding such feminine cliches as shrieking. She just didn't do it. Not about bugs, or even snakes.
No, Markie Walkowicz was not the type of woman who screamed like a girl.
But tripping over a dead body on the porch on a Monday morning when she was already late... well, that warranted a scream or two.
She stood for a moment, staring at the ugly plaid suit the dead man was wearing. It was so hideous that it was easy to focus on.
What to do?
What to do?
It was like trying to think through mud. Her brain had shut down as she stared at row after row of ugly pumpkin orange and avocado green plaid.
What to do?
It wasn't as if she had personal experience with discovering corpses on a front porch.
What to do?
She read a lot of women's magazines and they always had helpful hints on everything from hairstyles to how to please a man in bed, but she'd never seen an article about what to do when you trip over a dead body.
What to do?
What to do?
Those three little numbers popped into her mind, glowing like some sanity-saving beacon.
She'd call 911 and they'd know what to do.
Markie did a ginger little leap over the body and into the house, then slammed the door.
Not only did she slam the door, she locked it. Throwing the deadbolt and hooking up the chain.
After all, who knew how the man had died.
Maybe there was a murderer lurking in the bushes.
She rushed to close the front drapes then ran to the phone. Her fingers were shaking as she punched those three numbers.
"911," the operator said. "What is the nature of your emergency?"
It took a second for her scream-strained vocal chords to respond to her command that they now produce a normal sound.
"There's a dead body on my porch," she finally managed in one quick burst.
"Your name?" the operator asked, no hint of shock or panic.
"And you're address is?" the woman asked, continuing her calm questioning as if people called her all the time because they'd found bodies on their porches.
Markie had worked at a vast number of jobs over the years, but she was sure she'd never want a job where getting calls about corpses on the porch was par for the course.
"Ma'am, your address?" the operator asked again.
Markie told her.
"I've dispatched a unit," said Miss Calm-Cool-and-Collected. "Now, we'd better check the man--"
"We'd?" Markie interrupted, with a hint of a girl-scream back in her voice.
"–-and feel for a pulse," the woman continued.
Purposefully, she forced herself to beat back her rising panic and speak in a usual tone. "You said we and by we you mean me. You want me to go feel for a pulse. Sorry Ma'am, I'm not touching him again. There is no pulse. He's blue. And before you ask, there is no way I'm putting my lips on his for mouth-to-mouth. He's blue and cold. I don't need a medical degree to know that no amount of CPR is bringing him back."
There was a blue man in an orange and green plaid suit on her front porch.
As the realization sank in Markie began to shiver uncontrollably.
There could be a murderer out there right now as well, peeking in the windows and watching her, deciding how he was going to kill her.
Feeling exposed, Markie took the portable phone and stepped into the coat closet.
She felt safer in its dark depths. Safer and just a bit warmer. The shivering slowed a bit.
"Did you recognize the man?" the operator asked, obviously having decided that she wasn't going to talk Markie into revisiting the body for either pulse-taking or CPR.
"I don't know. His hair was grey, so he was old. But his arm was sort of thrown up over his face so I didn't get a good look at him, and I wasn't moving his arm to get a better one. As a matter of fact, I don't know that I could move it. He felt sort of solid when I tripped over him."
"You tripped over him?" There was slight surprise in Miss Monotone's voice--the first hint of emotion she'd shown.
Markie had plenty emotion to spare, not that she could quite identify any one in particular. Her feelings were a mixed up jangle at best.
"Yes, I tripped over him," Markie said. "He was right in front of my door, and it's Monday."
"I was running late, and it's Monday, so I was in a hurry because I didn't want to spend the rest of the week trying to catch up. I have a meeting at the bank today, so I'm wearing business clothes instead of my normal jeans. I haven't even had a cup of coffee."
The fact that she was dealing with a corpse before coffee just seemed to make the situation worse. "Anyway, I was hurrying out and there he was...so I fell right over him and put a hole in my nylons."
"I see," Miss Armchair-Psychiatrist said.
I see. That's all she said, but Markie could hear a sort of soothing quality in her voice, as if she was trying to calm a lunatic.
"I'm not crazy," Markie said.
"I didn't say you were. You're just upset about finding a body. I understand."
"I doubt that you do, unless of course you tripped over a dead body and found yourself next to a blue guy in an ugly plaid suit."
Obviously the operator couldn't argue with her logic, because she didn't even try. Instead she said, "Ma'am, there should be an officer there. Can you see him?"
"I shut the front door, but even if I hadn't, I'm in the closet, so no, I can't see anyone."
She would give the lady credit, not only did she treat calls about dead bodies with professional detachment, but the operator didn't even comment about the fact that Markie was now in the closet.
She just said, "Well, you can get out of the closet and open the door now. The officer's waiting on the porch."
"You're sure?" Markie asked, thinking of murderers in the bushes.
She hung up the phone and climbed out of the closet. Her muscles felt overstretched, as if she'd been doing aerobics all day, instead of squatting on the closet floor. She walked stiffly to the front door.
"Who's there?" she asked, just to be on the safe side.
She opened the door.
A tall, blond officer stood there. He had a baby-face and didn't look nearly old enough to be a cop.
Heck, he barely looked old enough to shave.
It was hard to trust a cop who you might have been babysitting only a few years back. Everything about him was shiny and crisp, as if he hadn't had a chance to break-in his uniform yet.
Her day just kept getting worse. A baby officer had ridden to her rescue. The murderer would probably make mincemeat of him.
"Do you want to come in?" she asked, figuring she could lock both herself and her kiddie-cop safely away in the house, away from the murderer.
"I'm Officer Manning. You called 911 about a body on the front porch?" he asked, ignoring her question.
Markie looked down and felt a spurt of relief. The officer might be young, but he was good at being a cop. He'd removed body so that she didn't have to deal with it again.
He was considerate. His mother was probably so proud.
"Yes, I'm the one who called," Markie said. "Thanks for getting rid of it so quickly. I don't think I could stand looking at it again."
"I didn't get rid of it," the officer said. "When I arrived there was no body here."
"There was a few minutes ago," she blurted out, staring at the spot under the officer's foot where the body had been.
The officer looked skeptical.
"I tell you, he was here. A dead man in a plaid suit, laid out in front of my door."
"You're sure he was dead? Maybe he was just a drunk who decided to sleep it off on your porch," the officer suggested.
It wasn't just what he said that set Markie's teeth on edge, but the look he gave her. A condescending, why-me-first-thing-on-a-Monday-morning sort of look.
"Listen, I know the difference between dead and drunk. This guy was dead."
"Yeah, how many dead guys have you seen before this?" he challenged.
That stopped her.
Other than her grandmother Ida, who passed away two years ago, Markie had never even been to a funeral home before. "None really, at least not like this, but--"
"Markie?" came a voice she recognized immediately. A voice that came from a man she didn’t want to see.
Zac Marshall. He gave a brief nod at the baby cop, then turned his attention back to her.
Detective Zac Marshall was as tall, dark and devilishly good looking as ever. He had on black slacks, a black button down shirt with a black tie, and, as a buffer against the current cold spell, a well-worn leather jacket.
Black leather, of course.
On some people all that black might have a somber, depressing effect.
On Zac it just looked hot.
Not that Markie found him hot. She didn’t want to find him anything at all.
It wouldn’t be fair to say Zac was the last man on earth she wanted to see.
Joel Summers was the last man she wanted to see.
However, Zac Marshall was a close second-to-the-last-man.
|From the book:||Found and Lost|
|Imprint and Series:||Harlequin Flipside|
|® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
For more romance information surf to: http://www.eHarlequin.com
Copyright 2015 by Holly Jacobs. All rights reserved.