Murder on a Silver Platter (A Red Carpet Catering Mystery Book 1)
window down, bracing against the cold night air. Francis stood at the door of the truck shuffling in his work boots against the asphalt.
    “We’re done, Boss. Everything’s put away and locked up. And the dirty dishes have already been sent to the restaurant. You need us for anything else?”
    “No, that’s it. See you next week.”
    “Me and the guys are heading to Sidewinders for a few beers. You wanna join us?” Francis asked. Sidewinders was a local sports bar outside of town with lots of televisions and cute waitresses in tight short shorts.
    “I don’t think so. I’m pretty beat.”
    “Well if you change your mind, you know where to find us.”
    “Have fun,” Penelope said, starting to roll the window back up. “Oh, hey, Francis, I forgot to tell you, Sal loved your sauce. He was happy with the whole meal, actually.”
    Francis did a mini-fist pump and turned away, heading into the night.
    Penelope rolled the window back up and stared out at the darkness for a minute, her mind still restless. She grabbed her iPhone from the truck’s dashboard and swiped it to life. She tapped open her contacts and scrolled down to the J’s, locating Joey’s name. She stared at the screen, her thumb hovering over the “call” button. She glanced at the time on the top of the screen and saw it was eight thirty. She hesitated a few seconds more before tapping it. Penelope’s heart skipped once as she put the phone up to her ear and cleared her throat. She couldn’t believe that calling a guy at her age still made her nervous. The phone rang six times and Penelope pulled it away from her ear, about to disconnect the call when suddenly she heard a faint “Detective Baglioni.”
    She put the phone back up to her ear.
    “Hello? Detective Baglioni here.” He was slightly out of breath like he had rushed to pick up the phone.
    “Joey? Hi, it’s Penelope.”
    “Penelope, hi…is everything all right?”
    Penelope closed her eyes, feeling awkward. “Not really. There was another incident with Arlena today.”
    “What happened?” An edge came into Joey’s voice.
    “She had an allergic reaction to something on the set. Lemons maybe, but we can’t figure out how it could have happened.”
    “Lemons? Arlena is allergic to lemons?” he asked.
    “No, she’s severely allergic to seafood. But I gave her some water with a lemon wedge in it and right after that she went into a full anaphylactic episode. Had to use her Pen.”
    “Where is she now?” Joey asked.
    “Sam took her home. They had to wrap early.”
    “She was working when it happened?”
    “They were in the middle of a scene,” Penelope said, her cheeks flushing as she recalled the image of Arlena struggling to breathe.
    “Hmm…” He exhaled into the phone. “Wait, why are you talking about lemons?”
    She sighed. “We thought maybe the lemons were cut with the same knife we used to prep the seafood today. Or they somehow came in contact with the same cutting board. But my guy swears he was nowhere near any of it. He was out in the tent, not in the truck.”
    “So you’re saying there’s no way it could have happened by accident?”
    “That’s how I truly feel. But that doesn’t change what happened. She was struggling to breathe and…” Penelope grasped the leather padded steering wheel with her free hand, squeezing it tightly.
    “The thing is, if you say it wasn’t a mistake on the part of your crew, it must have been intentional.” Joey was talking quickly, a note of urgency in his voice.
    “I hate to think that, Joey,” Penelope said. “This movie is Arlena’s big break. She’s been working so hard. It would be awful if someone was intentionally trying to hurt her.”
    “Yeah but think about it. We have two life-threatening incidents in the same week, on top of a murder that might involve Arlena in some way. All of that happening in one week is too much to be a coincidence.”
    “I think you might be right,” Penelope said

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