Uhmmmm yeah...I know it's Monday...but I just got an email that even though I set this for Tuesday, it posted today...LOL!...so I'm just rollin' with it!
Happy Monday and Tuesday too!!!
Cozy Cash Mystery #3 - CARATS and COCONUTS - is almost here!
Think Will and Kate gone Bond, James Bond in the gem smuggling world of Brazil's Amazon Rainforest...oh, and with the help of Grams, who now has a Queen of Crabby Maxine fixation.
The CARATS and COCONUTS adventure actually begins with a superfab fun prequel - A CUT ABOVE CRAZY, which picks up right where we left off in my Christmas novella HULLABALOO AND HOLLY TOO (part of the MADNESS UNDER THE MISTLETOE Christmas Anthology).
The prequel can be found now in The WG2E ALL-FOR-INDIES ANTHOLOGY WINTER WONDERLAND EDITION, and it will be included in CARATS and COCONUTS too!
How 'bout a Sneak Peek Excerpt?
Grab a cup of coffee or tea (or a stiff drink), 'cause you're in for a treat...Cozy Cash Mystery-style...
A CUT ABOVE CRAZY
(Prequel to Cozy Cash Mystery #3 - CARATS and COCONUTS)
Then there’s a cut above crazy.
And when your parents are two of the world’s top gemologists, you not only learn to deal with cuts – brilliant, baguette, briolette and the list goes on - but you also get damn good at dealin’ with the crazies that those cuts bring into your life. And by crazies, I mean the smugglers and thieves who transport gems around the globe.
So yeah, as you can imagine, my life to date has been anything but Mayberry. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
I’m Zoey Witherspoon, Designer and Stylist to The Stars, a fairly new PI, and now the Princess of Caserta. And as if that’s not enough of a crazy-packed resume, I’m also the daughter of George and Suzie Witherspoon of Witherspoon & Witherspoon, the world’s premiere gem vault and lapidary.
Not sure what a lapidary is?
My parents are experts on all-things-gemstones, as in diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and the four thousand other mineral crystals of the earth. They also are expert cutters, polishers and engravers of those same stones.
Seems like a luxurious lifestyle, right?
Well, it is luxurious, in a way.
But the sad thing is...this world can’t responsibly deal with the kinds of wealth my parents cut from rocks. Just like the world can’t deal in a socially moral way with the oil drilled out of our oceans and seas.
Y’all think oil is the only thing breeding and feeding terrorists?
Try handing those same thugs fistfuls of precious gems. Or showing ‘em how and where to get their own rock sacks full of ‘em.
The gem trade breeds an entirely different kind of terror. And I’m about to put an end to it...or at least the part of it I know how to stop.
Now you might think that, in order to do such work, you’d find me in the Middle East or perhaps North Korea or somewhere in Africa.
No dice...I’m in Michigan.
Here along the fabulous shores of Lake Michigan, it may be the end of the holiday season, but deep below the snow-covered earth of our Winter Wonderland, it looks like Christmas forever in my parent’s underground gem vault. Or if not that, it could be the main warehouse for all the high-priced, fancy jewels you see dangling and dripping from every jeweler’s ad on your television screen.
People may think my parents are just a crazy couple who believe they’re Santa and Mrs. Claus. And for those of you who’ve heard about our typical Hullabaloo and Holly Too holidays, the crazy couple bit might, on the surface at least, seem true.
But under my dad’s Santa Claus Workshop, through a secret entrance in the floorboards, lies the Witherspoon & Witherspoon gem vault, which makes The Smithsonian’s stone-stash seem paltry by comparison.
While a lake effect blizzard is blowin’ outside, things are really heating up down there...
“I just can’t believe one rogue elf could steal anything from this fortress.”
Those were the words spoken by my prince and fake husband, Prince Roman Bellesconi Umberto-Vittorio Emanuele Vanvitelli, while stepping through the fourth solid, anti-drilling and cutting, magnesium and concrete-embedded door leading into our vault’s main room.
“Let alone The Witherspoon Blue Moon Diamond, and now your Precious Aquamarine too!”
I couldn’t believe it either.
But it was true.
“What bothers me more,” I said, placing the coconut that contained our Blue Moon Diamond on one of my parent’s cutting tables, “is why the hell did he give the diamond back?”
“Are you sure it actually is our diamond?”
I heard my mother’s voice before I saw her.
But I couldn’t see her at all now. All the vault’s lights had gone out.
Roman grabbed my hand and used his body to shield mine.
“Easy. Everything is fine,” my mother’s voice created a much-needed sense of calm.
All at once, our Blue Moon Diamond began to glow with an intense orange-red phosphorescence.
“It’s our diamond all right,” I said, sort of relieved and sort of scared even more.
“How do you know?” Roman asked.
“Orange-red phosphorescence is almost exclusively limited to dark blue diamonds,” I said, as the lights in the vault came back on.
“That said, this effect is never as intense with other stones as it is with our Witherspoon Blue Moon. She’s indeed a rarer-than-rare blue beauty,” Mom said, effectively completing Roman’s first gemology lesson.
“And you can only see the phosphorescence in a dark room, using exposure to ultraviolet light,” my dad piped-in as he joined us in the vault’s main cutting chambers.
“You’re right then, Plum Puddin’,” Roman said. “Why would Stanley give back The Blue Moon?”
“First, I’m usually right. Second, Stanley has major issues besides his dwarfism,” I said, thinking that was as good a place as any to start explaining my theory about our rogue elf. Plus, I couldn’t resist teasing Roman about my golden gut instincts.
“What kinds of issues?” Roman asked, his Dark Knight aura giving the word ‘issues’ a very sinister undertone.
Actually, Stanley’s size was a benefit in this biz. He could get away with a lot that the rest of us couldn’t, but more on that later.
“Let’s just say there’s a major connection to our Blue Moon being contained in this packaging,” I said, knocking my knuckles on top of the coconut’s hard shell.
“Go on,” Roman said.
As his protection mode kicked into high gear, his sentences always got more and more staccato, which meant I didn’t have much time left to evade his questions.
“Stanley giving back our Blue Moon Diamond is probably a sign that it’s small potatoes. Or rocks, I guess, compared to what’s still left for him to steal,” my dad said, having a seat on one of he and my mom’s work stools.
I didn’t like the worried glances passing back and forth between my parents, but they were right to be worried.
“What’s left for him to take? And from where?” Roman asked, again using his preferred short, very pointed and spot-on interrogation-style questions.
“Our Blue Moon Diamond is small compared to what’s left in Brazil,” I said, knowing I could no longer put off what was at stake or where it could be found.
“Brazil? And coconuts?” Roman asked.
“Along with natural beryl crystal,” my mother added to the mix.
“We don’t just mine diamonds in Brazil. We also mine natural beryl crystal. What you know as emeralds and aquamarines and the even rarer still pink morganite, yellow heliodore and the rarest-of-rare, red beryl.”
“Ahhh. Thus the reason for the missing Precious Aquamarine as well,” Roman stated, his mind beginning to sort through what was still missing from our vault inventory and why it was gone.
“But why the Blue Moon in the coconut? Brazil has coconuts?”
“Brazil has much more than coconuts,” my mom said, the normally robust color of her cheeks draining away to match the blizzard howling outside. “They have The Coconut Highway.”
“It’s a coastal road lined with coconut palms, leading to our largest mine,” Dad added, supplying the final piece for Roman’s mind puzzle.
“Thus, Stanley’s inside joke of mixing carats with coconuts,” I said, holding up the now empty coconut shell as my parents began examining our Blue Moon Diamond with their loupes.
While my parents got lost in their precious rock, I pulled Roman aside and out of their earshot.
“Stanley will stop at nothing to gain control of our mines.”
“How do you know that?” Roman asked, his espresso-colored eyes now darker than a ride down one of our mine car shafts.
“Trust me. I just do.”
“Well, one of these days, you’re going to have to trust me, and tell me everything, Zoey. And I mean everything,” my prince said.
And I knew he was right.
But how could I tell him everything, if telling him meant I could lose him forever?
CARATS and COCONUTS will be released later this month!!!
I can't wait to share this latest Cozy Cash Mystery Adventure with you!!!
It's Your Turn, D. D. Scott-ville: What's your favorite gemstone?
Sexy Sassy Smart D. D. Scott-ville Wishes --- D. D. Scott
P.S. My fave gemstones are sapphires - especially Princess Diana's engagement ring - which now belongs to Kate/Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge. That said, I do wear primarily synthetic stones so as not to contribute to the human atrocities caused by the mining and sale of "conflict diamonds" (and/or any conflict stones, although the term does not differentiate among types of stones). Conflict stones are used to finance civil wars and terrorism, and are responsible for horrible working conditions for miners and their families. I'll take you inside the world of conflict gems, deep in the heart of Brazil's Amazon Rainforest, in CARATS and COCONUTS.