A Pizza to Die For
discussion I’d had with Maddy on the drive over, I couldn’t see Gina running it; but then again, I’d been wrong before. “Thanks for the treats.”
    “You’re most welcome,” he said.
    As we made our way to the Slice, I couldn’t help myself and reached in to pinch off a bit of one muffin.
    “Hey, no fair,” Maddy said. “If you’re going to eat yours, I want mine.”
    I looked at my watch. “We’ve got a little time, and the sun feels really warm today. Why don’t we go get a couple of coffees and eat these out here?”
    “That sounds great. I’ll be right back,” she said as she started back to Paul’s. Then she stopped abruptly.
    “What’s wrong?”
    “No more sneaking bites. Agreed?”
    I pulled my hand out of the bag and nodded. “Okay, you win. But if you’re not back in three minutes, all bets are off.”
    She hurried into the bakery, and I found a nearby bench where I could enjoy the sun.
    I must have closed my eyes, because the next thing I knew, someone was blocking my light.
    “That was fast, even for you,” I said.
    “I hadn’t realized you were expecting me,” a familiar voice said.
    I opened my eyes to find Art Young—our well-dressed local shady character—standing there looming over me.
    I started to stand as well, and Art said, “Please, I didn’t mean to interrupt your leisure time. I know how little of it you manage to get.”
    He was a slim man, with light blond hair carefully styled, and he had an air of civility about him, despite all the rumors of his shady activities I’d heard recounted. We’d formed an odd friendship over the years, though no one else seemed to understand it, including Maddy.
    “It’s fine,” I said as I moved over on the bench. “Join me.”
    Dapper as ever, Art brushed at the bench with his gloved hand before sitting down.
    “I understand you’ve had a bit of trouble,” he said. “I just this moment got back into town, so forgive me for not coming by sooner.”
    “It’s okay. I’m not directly involved in the murder investigation,” I said.
    He shook his head. “I know you are not that naïve, Eleanor. When a competitor dies, the second person the authorities look at is the person with the most to gain financially.”
    “I’m curious. Who’s the first?”
    “Love interests: wives, girlfriends, mistresses. There’s more passion there, and murder can be a very spur-of-the-moment event. Has our esteemed chief of police spoken with you yet?”
    “Briefly,” I admitted. Some of the glory of the day was fading under the reality Art was offering, but it was counsel I needed to hear.
    “He’ll be back soon, I have no doubt about that,” he said. “Is there anything I can do?”
    I was about to say no, and then changed my mind. “As a matter of fact, there is.”
    Art looked surprised by my response, and there was a hint of pleasure in his expression as well. “Just name it, and if it is in my power to grant, it is yours for the asking.”
    “Maddy and I have decided to look into the murder ourselves so neither of us gets steamrolled by the police,” I admitted, something I wouldn’t say out loud to many folks in Timber Ridge.
    “A wise precaution,” Art said.
    “I’ve been wondering about the murder victim. There could be lots of reasons he was killed besides trying to wipe out my pizzeria.”
    Art started ticking off the fingers of his gloved hand. “Love, money, revenge, protection, all these things come to mind.”
    “We’re looking into a few of those ourselves, but we don’t have any contacts in the area that Judson Sizemore comes from. Do you know anyone in Chastain?” It was a town twenty minutes from Timber Ridge, the place where the Sizemores had lived. It amazed me that Nathan had been located that close to his brother and yet had still been estranged from him all those years. Then I realized that there are more distances in life than could be seen on a map.
    He nodded. “I have several acquaintances

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