Gail Oust

'Til Dice Do Us Part

'Til Dice Do Us Part - pic_1.jpg

The second book in the Bunco Babes Mystery series, 2010

To Beth and Greg, Brianna and Caitlin, and my sweet Caden.

You make my world go round.



Acknowledgments

In a production of any sort, there are always people behind the scenes who help make it a success. I’d like to take a moment to thank those who so generously shared their expertise during the writing of ’Til Dice Do Us Part. Sometimes it really does take a village.

First on my list is Suzanne Burnes, professional photographer, neighbor, and friend. You truly are kindness and talent personified. Next comes Jim Montgomery, lieutenant, Detroit Police Department, retired. Who else would have arrived on my doorstep armed and dangerous and ready to prove the big bang theory? Any errors are mine alone. Then there’s Fran McClain, my all-time favorite steel magnolia. Your wit and wisdom of how things work in a community theater helped me pull this off. I can’t mention community theater without thanking the cast and crew of the Mighty Arts Players of Savannah Lakes Village. In the same vein, thanks to Bess Park, artistic director, Greenwood Community Theatre. Both of these groups graciously allowed me to be a mouse in the corner during rehearsals. Thankfully, no one broke a leg-at least not while I was around. Bob Stockton, I appreciate your PR help. I’m happy you can be easily bribed with food. And not to be left out, John and Ann McNab for sharing the exploits of “that darn cat.” Sorry I had to turn him orange, but we all know why. Angela Koski, you rode to my rescue with your timely list of abbreviations. No one knows texting better than a teenager. Thanks, everyone!

I can’t forget to give special mention to the Babes’ very own fairy godmother, my wonderful agent, Jessica Faust at BookEnds, LLC.

And last but by no means least, my hubby, Bob, who never minds late dinners and will even eat burnt offerings. Thanks for patiently listening to the trials and tribulations of imaginary characters in return for hearing about your great drives, mind-boggling chips, and missed putts. It’s a fair exchange.



Chapter 1

“Yoo-hoo, everyone! I’m baaack!” Claudia Connors Ledeaux burst into the room, looking larger than life in a black leather mini, matching waist-length jacket, four-inch stilettos, and flaming red hair.

The Bunco Babes and I were momentarily rendered speechless. No mean task, let me tell you. The Babes like to talk even more than we like to play bunco, our favorite dice game. We excel at both.

Tonight we were gathered at Pam Warner’s for our bimonthly get-together. Granted, some may think bunco a silly, mindless game, but it’s right up our alley. No skill, no finesse, no strategy. Dice just make it look serious. Shake, rattle, and toss. No previous experience required. The game couldn’t be simpler.

“Claudia, honey, welcome home,” I told her as my addled brain began to function again. I jumped from the sofa and ran to give her a hug. “We missed you.”

“Kate McCall!” Claudia exclaimed, returning my hug. “Missed you, too.”

Claudia is the twelfth member of our little band of bunco players. Several months back, she ran off with a man she met on the Internet. But she couldn’t get away from the Babes. We pride ourselves on being well informed. If cell phones were an Olympic event, we’d be medalists. According to all accounts, this guy, Lance Ledeaux, was unemployed, light on money, and heavy on charm. When he and Claudia first hooked up, he’d been residing in Atlanta, a mere one hundred fifty miles to the west as the crow flies. The pair took off in a rented RV ostensibly to visit the Grand Canyon. Somewhere along the way, their plans took a detour. The pair got hitched in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator in a little chapel off the Strip. Vegas, I heard, was the closest they ever got to a natural wonder. To each his own, I suppose. The lovebirds have just returned to take up residence here in Serenity Cove Estates, a retirement community for “active” adults.