Fashionably Dead

By: Robyn Peterman

Acknowledgements



Writing may be solitary, but putting a book out is not. I am blessed to have so many amazing people in my life. Fashionably Dead has been a labor of love and I love all the people who helped me make this dream come true.



Mary Yakovets, your editing makes me look like a better writer than I really am. You are brilliant and you saved me from making an unforgivably gross mistake in my manuscript! LOL! Donna McDonald, your patience with my disastrous lack of computer skill and your mind-boggling editing astound me. You are my hero.



My beta readers, Kim Bloomfield, Kris Calvert, Jessica Hughes, James Kall, Jowanna Kestner, JM Madden, Christi Main-Ehrlich, Donna McDonald and Candace Sword are the best and I adore each and every one of you.



Rebecca Poole, my cover is beautiful. It’s like you crawled inside my warped brain saw exactly what I wanted! Thank you. You are so very talented.



My Pimpettes are amazing! You make me giggle and you delight me. Thank you for your support. It means the world.



James Kall, thank you for the series name. You have made me pee in my pants since we were eighteen and I expect you’ll be doing the same till we’re eighty!



Kris Calvert, you taught me how to cut and paste and you are one hell of a blurb writer. You rock!



My critique partner, JM Madden, you are brilliant and hilarious. Without you I would have written myself off a cliff!



And my girl crush, Darynda Jones...your beautiful cover quote humbled me and made me cry. You are a wonderful friend and I think I’ll keep you!



Last but not least, I want to thank my family. Hot Hubby, you put all my heroes to shame and I have the best kids in the world. None of this would be fun without you guys. Love you.





Dedication



This book is dedicated to authors Donna McDonald and JM Madden. Both of you believed in me when all I had was a pile of rejection letters and a huge dream. You are tremendously talented, generous and kind. I would not be where I am today without you. You beautiful ladies are my anchor and I am so lucky you’re mine.





Prologue



I drew hard on the cigarette and narrowed my eyes at the landscape before me. Graves, tombstones, crypts . . . she didn’t belong here. Hell, I didn’t belong here. My eyes were dry. I’d cried so much there was nothing left. I exhaled and watched as the blue grey smoke wafted out over the plastic flowers decorating the headstones.

Five minutes. I just needed five minutes and then I could go back . . .

“That’s really gross,” Gemma said, as she rounded the corner of the mausoleum I was hiding behind and scared the hell out of me. She fanned the smoke away and eyed me. “She wanted you to quit, maybe now would be a good time.”

“Agreed. It’s totally gross and disgusting and I’m going to quit, regardless of the fact that other than you, Marlboro Lights are my best friend . . . but today is definitely not the day,” I sighed and took another long drag.

“That’s pathetic,” she chuckled.

“Correct. Do you have perfume and gum?”

“Yep.” She dug through her purse and handed me a delicate bottle.

“I can’t use this. It’s the expensive French shit.”

“Go for it,” she grinned. “You’re gonna need it. You smell like an ashtray and your mother is inside scaring people to death.”

“Son of a . . . ” I moaned and quickly spritzed myself. “I thought she left. She didn’t want to come in the first place.”

“Could have fooled me,” Gemma said sarcastically, handing over a piece of gum and shoving me from my hiding place.

“Come on,” I muttered, as my bossy best friend pushed me back to my beloved grandmother’s funeral.

***



The hall was filled with people. Foldout tables lined the walls and groaned under the weight of casseroles, cakes and cookies. Men and women, most of whom I knew, milled around and ate while they gossiped. Southern funerals were a time to socialize and eat. A lot.

As I made my way through the crowd and accepted condolences, I got an earful of information I could have happily lived without. I learned that Donna Madden was cheating on her husband Greg, Candy Pucker had gained thirty pounds from eating Girl Scout cookies and had shoved her fat ass into a heinous sequined gown, for the funeral no less, and Sam Boomaster, the Mayor, was now a homosexual. Hell, I just wanted to leave, but I had to find my mother before she did something awful.

“I loved her.” Charlie stopped me in my tracks and grabbed my hand in his old gnarled one.

His toupee was angled to the left and his black socks and sandals peeked out from his high-water plaid pants. He was beautiful.

“Me too,” I smiled.